Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Old Fogey Finally Tries Kogi

I'm really lucky to live where I live. I don't need to track food trucks on Twitter. They come right to me.

I was excited to finally try the one and only Kogi, the original spiffed-up, non-roach-coach food truck. Chef Roy Choi and his mobile Korean-Mexican cuisine are veritable media darlings, having been featured in Time, Gourmet, Bon Apetit, Food & Wine, and The Wall Street Journal.
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Kogi is a new institution. I felt like I was the only one in all of L.A. who hadn't sampled it. I'd heard tales of serpentine lines and hour-long waits for Kogi. Not for me. Again, lucky!

Here's what started the food truck craze -- Korean short rib tacos and Korean spicy pork tacos ($2 each).
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I can see how these little babies could draw throngs of fans. Good flavorful stuff, but I still wouldn't Twitter-stalk or wait in a long line for them.

Kogi Dog ($5).
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Really great with an excellent snap. Liked it even more than the tacos. But this was nothing compared to the Japa Dogs I had in Vancouver last year.

Kogi Sliders ($5).
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Easily my favorite of the day. Smoky, yummy, and cute. No shortage of meat.

Just so it's clear, I didn't eat all of this. Mr. Monkey ate most of it!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

High Tea at The Bazaar by José Andrés

It's no secret that I'm a tad obsessed with The Bazaar by José Andrés. I was thrilled to go to high tea there on Sunday with Food Fashionista and sinosoul.
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High tea is at the Tres space, which is accessed through a different entrance from the main doors to The Bazaar. Tres has a similar through-the-looking-glass design, but, unlike The Bazaar, Tres is transcendently tranquil. Come in and feel the calm.

From 3 to 5 p.m. daily, you can experience peace, tea, and dainty goodies for $26.

We each got a personal Bodum press with the tea of our choice, which was refilled by our server intermittently.
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I went caffeine-free with the Nobo Whole Fruit, which was a gorgeous warm red tea infused with wild strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. So fragrant and so bright. I drank it sans sugar and loved it.

Everything comes at once. I began with some savory items -- bagel and lox cone, foie gras sandwich with quince, caviar steamed buns with crème fraiche.
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Exquisite as always. High tea may be the most economical way to experience the creative wonders here. Each of these tidbits usually costs $5.

And this was just my salty beginning.

Our beautiful tiers.
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FYI, when you eat chocolate pop rocks, the noise is not, in fact, only in your head. Those things are like super loud firecrackers -- Chinese New Year in your mouth. Everyone at the table can hear the poppin' party.

Raspberry pipette.
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Eat the berries. Squeeze the juice into your mouth. Fruit science.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
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Mille-feuille-style. Light crisp layers of classic kid lunch awesomeness.

It's not an exhaustive list of everything on the tiers, but here's my plate -- almond orange tart, hazelnut volcano cookie, saffron pâté de fruit, financier, mint chocolate after eight, beet macaron with goat cheese, chocolate tablets.
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Absolutely delectable. All of it.

This would be the end of high tea for most people.

But we're not most people. We're lucky people.

Our friendly waitstaff gave us some extras that had not been served at brunch.
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I'm quite certain that the pastry chef here is a genius. The pink nougat, mousse, and panna cotta were particularly dreamy.

Even the leftover bags here are adorably chic.
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Gotta love that brilliant SLS marketing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dining Under the Stars at Bouchon

My dear MsBlake flew all the way down to join me for a lovely evening of Castle and French food. I'll explain the Castle part later. Let's do this out of order, shall we?

For someone as sophisticated as MsBlake, only the best will do, so we headed to our local Thomas Keller establishment -- Bouchon in Beverly Hills.

Yes, I just posted about brunch at the Vegas outpost. I doubt I'll ever tire of Bouchon.
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Now, I normally don't visit a place like this without a reservation, but we didn't know when the Castle portion of our night would conclude. I figured we'd be fine walking in after 9. I was right. Sort of.

We arrived at Bouchon around 9:30. There were no open tables in the main dining room, so we were seated on the beautiful balcony -- extraordinarily romantic with flickering intimate candlelight under the starry sky.

It felt like we were on an incredible date somewhere in Europe.

Perfect for lovers. Horrible for bloggers. Ha!
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'Twas so dark that our server gave MsBlake a tiny flashlight to peruse the menu.

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Warm and buttery.

Beignets de brandade de morue -- cod brandade, tomato confit, fried sage ($14.50)blake 100
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Light, gloriously fried, and filled with amazing, flavorful, flaky salt cod. My favorite bites of the night. When I think of these, I sigh. That good, people. That good.

Macaroni au gratin -- macaroni and cheese ($7.50).blake 111
Not bad but definitely over-zealous with the browning of the cheese on top.

Moules au safran maine -- bouchot mussels steamed with white wine, mustard, and saffron served with French fries ($28.50).
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Ok, so these are just the French fries. If you're really dying to see some mussels, you can take a look at Mr. Monkey's dish during our dinner at the Vegas location.

Magret de canard -- herb-roasted duck breast with fennel bulb, citrus confit, red radish, mizuna, and duck jus ($36.00).
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You know I always order duck if it's on the menu. This night was no exception. Was it the best I've ever had? By no means. Did I enjoy it? Hell yeah.

Tarte au citron -- lemon tart ($9.50).blake 125
So tart, this tarte! We were so stuffed that I took most of it home. Mr. Monkey gobbled it up with gusto the next day.

Ile flottante -- meringue with vanilla creme anglaise, almond, and caramel ($9.00).
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A floating island, indeed. Dreamy. I'm not big on sweets, but this dessert gave my beloved fried cod a run for its money. Light and airy. Cloud-like. Other-wordly texture. So enamored with this.

Enamored with the look of the bar, too.
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Sort of an old-school feel.

This enchanted evening started at the nearby Paley Center, where we watched a yet-to-be-aired episode of Castle and listened to a session with the cast, writers, directors, and producers moderated by Tom Bergeron, host of Dancing With the Stars.
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The episode screened was quite the cliffhanger. MsBlake was thrilled not only to have experienced this sneak peek, but she was giddy to have gotten a live glimpse of one of her fashion icons, Stana Katic, who plays Detective Kate Beckett.

She is beautiful, no? I love how she looked right at me as I took this photo.

A captivating evening from start to finish -- thank you, MsBlake!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Brunch and Baked Goods at Bouchon

We had brunch at Bouchon at the Venetian during both our December and April trips to Las Vegas. This post memorializes both visits.
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Note the Christmas tree in the background. Yes, it was December.

You will never forget where you are dining.
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Every plate reminds you.

Beignets du jour -- house-made spiced doughnuts with Bouchon Bakery jam and Nutella spread ($7).
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Enjoyable but nothing at all like the hot deep-fried wonders at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. As promised by the menu, these were "just" French spiced doughnuts. If that's what you expect, you'll be pleased enough. I used the Nutella liberally.

Omelette du jour -- spicy chorizo, spinach, cheese ($17).
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Simple but lovely. No need for our usual Tabasco for this egg dish.

Steak and eggs Benedict ($26.95).
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Morning decadence on an English muffin. Big fat meaty eggy yum.

Side of potatoes accompanying the Benedict.
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As the Lucky Charms leprechaun would say, these were magically delicious. Like they're-always-after-me-lucky-potatoes delicious. Like oh-my-God-why-are-these-so-good delicious. Like facking-derishus delicious.

When the Oros said they had breakfast cravings during our April weekend together, we knew exactly where to go. Back to Bouchon!

Raspberry beignets ($7).
Fancy jelly donuts never tasted so good.

Omelette du jour -- Dungeness crab, cherry tomato, spinach, cheddar ($17).
Another hit, although Mrs. Oro did shake some Tabasco on it.

Breakfast Américaine -- two eggs any style served with bacon, country sausage, pommes frites, toasted brioche, choice of a breakfast pastry, fresh juice, and Bouchon blend coffee ($22). (Fries, juice, and coffee not pictured.)
Bouchon's version of a Grand Slam -- way more awesome than Denny's version, as it should be, given the price. We all shared Mr. Oro's strawberry croissant, which was more like a crumble than a croissant. Crumble, croissant, who cares? It was the equivalent of breakfast candy, and that made us all very happy.

Chicken and waffles -- roasted chicken, bacon and chive waffle, Tahitian vanilla bean butter, Sauce Chasseur, maple syrup ($25).
I liked Mr. Monkey's dish the most. The chicken was exquisite -- so juicy, tender, and well-seasoned. Loved it with the Sauce Chasseur, but it didn't even need it. The waffles were the star, though. Slightly salty and paired with Vanilla butter and syrup, they were perfection.

Oeuf du jour -- creamy grits, prosciutto, English peas, piquillo peppers, scrambled eggs, fine herb Hollandaise ($26).
When I see grits, I order grits. These may have been the hoity-toity-est grits I've ever had. And, in case you don't speak French, oeuf du jour means "egg of the day." Good stuff, but the chicken and waffles stole my heart.

Bouchon French toast -- bread pudding-style with warm layers of brioche, custard, apples, and served with maple syrup ($12).
You can get this as your meal, but we opted to share one for dessert. Genius! I think it would be far too sweet for a main course. Split between the four of us, however, it worked wonderfully -- a few sugary bites to cap off a splendid brunch.

After brunch, we headed downstairs to the bakery to pick up some goodies to go.
It's not hard to guess what was bought from this bakery.
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