Thursday, May 7, 2009

Industrial Strength

The first time I went to Church & State (1850 Industrial Street, Los Angeles), the place was so new that it didn't even have the meager website that it does now.
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I had a blast with my husband and the Diabolinas back in December, so I was thrilled when Will at FoodDigger invited me to dinner with seven other food bloggers. You should check out the FoodDigger site. It's pretty neat!

I love the vibe of Church & State. As I said in my original post, it reminds me of the Meatpacking District in New York City. Note that I made this observation in December 2008, whereas the L.A. Times said the same thing in March 2009. Stop copying me, S. Irene Virbila!
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More important, though, is the food, which is fabulous, thanks to Chef Walter Manzke, who took over the kitchen just shortly before my first visit.

And it's even more fabulous now, several months later.

Chef Manzke and Sommelier Josh Goldman crafted a special 10-course meal with wine pairings for us. It was quite the fancy affair, complete with placecards.
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Aperitif -- Floc de Gascogne and a gougère
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Lovely little starter cheese puff.

Beignets de brandade de morue and iced Kumamoto oysters
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I loved the fried cod -- little balls of perfectly salted yumminess paired with creamy saffron aioli. And I sucked that fresh oyster off the shell in one fell swoop. Mmm. Slurpy. Chewy.

"Bistro Sushi"
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Another lovely little salty bite. The smoked herring was quite the contrast to the fingerling potato salad.

Gambas à la niçoise
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These Santa Barbara spot prawns were so fresh and meaty. Dressed simply with lemon, olive oil, and some vegetable relish, they needed little embellishment.

Assiette de charcuterie
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We were in awe when we got this huge selection of artisan and housemade pâtés, saucisson sec, terrine de foie gras with port wine gelée, and rillettes de porc with prune confiture. Porn for fans of salty cured meats! I was particularly enamored with the foie gras and rilletes. Slathering my brioche with them was heavenly. Some places are stingy with this stuff. Not Church & State. Huge jars, my friends. Again, heavenly, I say.

Asperge à la Tashiro
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In an homage to Marshal, one of our beloved FoodDigger dudes, Chef Manzke whipped up this fantastic Maine lobster (provided by Marshal) and Hog Farm's asparagus. So simple. So good. I could've eaten the whole plate myself.

Escargots de Bourgogne
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These snails baked in garlic and parsley butter were just as delicious as I remembered from my first visit to Church & State. You absolutely must get this when you come. The puff pastry is such a happy, flaky, buttery blanket over the luscious garlicky snail. Oh, man, nom nom nom.

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Caramelized onions + bacon + Gruyère = Sweet Jesus! I adored this sugary, thin, crisp masterpiece. I thought my dining companion on my left was crazy for not feeling the same.

Moelle de boeuf
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Ok, so this is where people might think I'm crazy...because I'm just not that crazy about roasted marrow bone, whereas everybody around me seemed to go bananas for this. As Mr. Monkey said the last time we were here, "It's just a fat cracker." We may lose cred for this statement, but, hey -- you can't tell me it's not a fat cracker, can you? Fat. Cracker. We're so gauche.

Steak Frites
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Surprisingly, the steak was overdone. Sad face. Thankfully, it was well-seasoned, and there were béarnaise and au jus if we were really desperate for some juice. The frites au lard were freakin' fantastic, though -- hot, glistening, and irresistible. Like, duh! They were fried in lard!

Crème brûlée, cherry tart, apricot tart, croustade aux baies, pot de crème au chocolat
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The desserts were pleasant, but none of them truly impressed. This is something that Church & State could stand to improve.

At the end of this eating marathon, I pulled out my wallet, but then I noticed nobody else did. I whispered to a nearby blogger, "Sooo...are we paying now or what?"

And we weren't. I'm such a rookie. Heh. Thank you so much, FoodDigger and Church & State!

That being said, my love of the food was genuine and relatively uncolored by the comped meal, seeing as how I was under the impression the whole time that I was paying for my meal. Ha!

Before we left, we chatted and took photos with Chef Manzke. He is vibrant, friendly, and so passionate about his food.
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We closed the place down. See the soap suds on that open kitchen counter?
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I happily clutched my autographed menu as I walked to my car. You can click to enlarge to see all the wine pairings, as I didn't list them above.

My fellow bloggers:
i nom things (her charming account here)
Kat's 9 Lives
kevinEats (his gorgeous documentation here)
Kung Food Panda
L.A. and O.C. Foodventures
Right Way to Eat!
Thanks again, FoodDigger, for inviting me! I had an amazing time!


  1. Your photos turned out quite well! What body/lens combo were you using? ISO? Shutter speeds? I'm assuming you were shooting wide open.

  2. You are going to laugh, Kevin.

    Nikon D40
    18-55mm (kit lens)
    All shot...on AUTO!

    I credit my steady hand. ;)

    But my photography class starts soon. We'll see if my pics get better over the next seven weeks....

  3. It's like foodie heaven! Yum.

  4. I wish I had your steady hands, WeeMo. The food looks soooo delicious! Wow. I'm getting so hungry at 8 in the morning.

  5. What a spread! I should really stop reading food blogs before I eat breakfast.

  6. I love that you're getting the star treatment your blogging deserves! Meanwhile I have been craving steak frites like you wouldn't believe lately. This did not help.

  7. so fancy! I love me some good charcuterie...nom nom nom.

  8. Who knew that blogging could lead to fabulous free meals? Love it!

  9. ugh so jealousE. i really need to give church&state another chance soon. bleh to the old chef.

  10. So timely. Headed there tonight.

  11. Dude! That meal was reDONKulous. Wish we could do that every week. Mmm! Fooddigger rulez.

  12. starter cheese puff!
    starter cheese puff!
    starter cheese puff!

  13. yayayay for a free meal and yayayayya for a photography class!!!!!!!!! can't imagine your photos getting better - they already blow me away.

  14. Great photos WeezerMonkey! I also need to also give a shout out to the "AUTO" function. I heart "AUTO"

  15. I can't even imagine how awesome your pictures will be after a class.

    Besides that, color me green with envy over such a fabulous and free meal!

  16. this meal looks so yummy, and i can't believe we used to live just down the street from it! maaaan, you downtowners now are getting all the good stuff! haha

  17. Your photography reached a whole new level with this entry. So good!

  18. jealous with a capital J!! everything looks scrumptious...especially since i'm reading this at midnight. ;-)

  19. Hi WeezerMonkey,

    Nice review. :) I still have to make it out to Church&State. Hopefully soon. :)

  20. Thanks for coming out and being such great company. These events have been so much fun. Hope to see you soon!


  21. i seriously let out a moan at the meat porn.

    not even kidding.

  22. you've convinced me to try church and state again... what a fantastic dining experience for you!

  23. Please believe me when I say that a dribble of spit-drool just rolled out of my mouth.

  24. Dude! That's an amazing meal!

    Even moreso because it was FREEEEEE!

  25. I was searching for this post in your blog last month and couldn't find it.

    Now that I do, I'm glad you took such of good notes and those pictures turns out well. Great job!


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