Sunday, February 7, 2010

Going Hog Wild at Cafe Pierre


There are still eight more days of Costa Rica coming your way, but allow me to interrupt my vacation recap.

Sometimes people who don't know me ask, "Are you a food critic, or do you just eat out a lot?" This cracks me up, as it is an affront to real critics. I'm nothing but a chubby girl who likes to take photos. But my hobby does have its perks, such as the occasional comped dinner.

About a dozen food bloggers and I dined at Cafe Pierre last Thursday night.
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I knew it was going to be a good meal when the warm fresh bread came with olives and a delectable eggplant caponata.

The caponata and baguette provided a small glimpse into the success story of Cafe Pierre, which has remained popular for over 30 years. Restauranteur Guy Gabriel was raised in the French culture by Italian parents. His eatery features a seamless melding of the two cuisines.

We started with an abundance of housemade jarred goodies -- head cheese with frisee and mustard dressing ($8), pig trotters with frisee ($8), foie parfait with pain d'epices and black mission figs ($7), hand-cut prime bavette beef tartare and shelling beans ($14), pork rillete with cornichons and crostini ($10), and sardines (market price).
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I loved the pig trotters and pork rillette. I'm a sucker for salty stuff that used to oink. But my ultimate favorite jar was the foie parfait. I declared at the table, "This is like candy!" So sweet and smooth and awesome with the spiced bread.

Several starters followed our jars.

Roasted bone marrow, pickled radish, red wine onion compote ($11).
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Always decadent and always a crowd favorite.

House-cured Tasmanian trout, lemon, serrano, honey mustard ($13).
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Quite lovely and the most visually appealing dish of the night.

Escargot, garlic flan, parsley ($12).
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I adored the garlic flan at the bottom. The escargot was perfect after we added a sprinkle of sea salt.

Brandade Provencale (salt cod and potato puree), toasted bread, olive oil ($12).
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Tasty but not particularly memorable to me. Maybe my little bite wasn't enough.

Stuffed baby calamari, sweet pepper, saffron, wild arugula ($14).
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Well-prepared and had a good consistency. Needed a bit more oomph, though. I threw some more sea salt on this.

And then there were the mains.

70-hour beef short ribs, cipollini onions, Swiss chard, fries, red wine sauce ($28).
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Rich and meaty, but could've been more tender. Not sure how many hours that would take if this is what 70 hours yielded.

Barramundi, lady peas, watercress, prosciutto and basil jus ($27).
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Enjoyable. Jus was very good.

Veal breast, shelling beans, arugula, jalapeño veal jus ($24).
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This dish was more flavorful than some others. Thumbs up.

Veal sweetbreads, roasted carrots, parmesan jus ($28).
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Very well-prepared. Could hardly tell it was a sweetbreads dish.

The pièce de résistance -- the Becker Lane organic acorn-fed pork special ($28).
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Crrraaazzzy deeelicious. All the other mains were fine, but this wowed me. No question that this was the big winner of the night. Why do acorn-fed piggies taste so much better? Now I want all my animals to eat acorns before I eat them. The housemade sausage was amazing and the accompanying boneless short ribs so incredibly luscious.

Chef Remi Lauvand chatted with us briefly about how special this pork was.
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He was so passionate about the pork. Loved it.

All desserts are $8. We sampled vanilla brioche bread pudding with caramel sauce, Mamma Rina tiramisu, poached pear and shortbread cookie with pistachios and dark chocolate mouse, and the Remi apple tarte with See Canyon Ranch Winesap apples.
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After I photographed these, most of them disappeared down the table before I got a bite. This is what happens when you don't pounce during these dinners.

I did get a chance to try the hazelnut cream profiteroles and baba au rhum with poached pineapple.
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Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah! Roma roma-ma! Gaga ooh la la! Want this big baba!

I don't make it to South Bay often, but I'd return to Cafe Pierre in a heartbeat for the acorn-fed pork. The foie parfait could get me out there, too. And the baba. Oh, so gaga for the baba!

Thank you, @tinynancer and @thatsSlife, for this opportunity. I enjoyed both the dinner and the company.


  1. first off, you're not chubby.

    second, i think you should quit your day job and become a food photographer for food & wine. your photos are so amazing.

    third, yummy!

  2. Your pictures are always so beautiful! I've been pining for some good rillettes for quite some time now. I'm jealous!

  3. Remind me not to read any of your posts on an empty stomach. Geez, I was so proud of myself for skipping dinner and now I want a pork product. Wow. Looks like a luscious meal. Love the jars. I have heard so much about bone marrow, but never have had the opportunity to try it, the idea of it intrigues me.

  4. PS-I should add that I skipped dinner because I totally pigged out all day at the mall--Mrs. Field's, Sbarro, Annie's Pretzels etc...I am not some psycho starvation girl!! (obviously, lol!)

  5. I love the presentation of all those dishes. And now I will make it a mission to try acron fed pork.

  6. I love the jars that the food was served in, so cute :) I also love that you are a sucker for things that used to oink - funny ;)

  7. That dinner was phenomenal! It was a pleasure to finally meet you...and after meeting you in person I can say you are NOT chubby! Also your pictures are wonderful! I think I need some photography training from you!

  8. 1. my mouth is watering like mad now.
    2. i MUST get the lens. MUST.
    3. totally jealousE over your fun comped food blogger outings!

  9. I was enjoying everything about this post until you got to the profiteroles. Now I hate you a little bit because I'm sure a gained 1/2 a pound just by looking at them.

    Just kidding. Still love you, pics are fab and Cafe Pierre is in my neck of the woods, I may have to try it out. :-)

  10. LOVE being overfed at blogger dinners!

  11. I can't believe the bone marrow was on your plate. It is, after all, what I buy for my dogs at the pet store.

    And, this just might be my favorite line ever: I'm nothing but a chubby girl who likes to take photos. Watch out, I might steal it.

  12. damn! all of this looks great - i didn't even know this place existed out in the south bay.

  13. Your photos turned out great! Mine, not so much :/ Oh, and I appreciate your Lady Gaga reference ;)

  14. I love that intro. Great pics. I'll be suggesting Cafe Pierre to my South Bay friends.

  15. Your photos are spectacular! Talk about a steady hand. :) My husband is going wild for the short ribs and demanding that we go to Cafe Pierre. Thanks a lot, LOL. I'm going to my first blogger dinner in March and from the looks of this, I need to start dieting NOW!

    Christie Bishop

  16. Dear Weezermonkey, loved your post on Cafe Pierre. I especially like the image of the bone marrow and went back for a second look. All I can say about your post is OMG! Incredible presentation. Loved your site, very professional. Photos were crisp and clear. I shall be back for a bite of more.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Cheers, Gaby
    You can visit me at

  17. I love that you get comped meals! Btw, I was showing Jim your pics from dinner and saying how great they were. He totally agrees and said "she really has a knack for getting the lighting right." :) Now, how can you parlay this into a paid gig?

  18. You are my idol. Comped meals = celebrity status! ;)

  19. I must try this acorn-fed pork. Everything looks amazing!

  20. lol at the 70 hour short ribs. Great pics as usual!

  21. Looks good WM! Always down for some fun blogger dinners :)

  22. love the warmth in these photos. yay for somewhat closer to me food. although we all know i'm at my second home more often and closer to your usual eating.


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