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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Osteria Mozza UPDATE - Los Angeles

Ah, the I hate the holidays. The holidays have a way of bringing out everyone's crazy, and every year, there are so my kinds of crazy. The one crooked ornament on a tree will send one aunt into a frenzy, and a hastily stolen white elephant gift is grounds for a major meltdown. Keep your holiday gifts to yourselves, crazy people. I'll just give myself one of the best dinners in LA and call it a day. 

I may hate holidays for their drama, but I don't hate all the traditions. The Amuse Bouche, for example, is a classic that never gets old. It's olives and burrata just like the last time, and this time, it's just as awesome. A dark, juicy tapenade spreads its wings as salty olives ski across creamy peaks of burrata, a combination as ageless as making an angel in the snow.

Have you seen what Osteria Mozza can do with cheese? Skip the mozza tasting and dig into some of their craftier collaborations. The Burrata & Artichoke, for example, is a savor-haven. The braised artichokes are all heart, and the robust pine nuts and currants light up the branches of a mint pesto tree.

On Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen...On to the Burricotta & Spiced Walnuts... Whoa. Whoa those nuts are nuts! Each nutmeat is bold, encased in a thick shell of spices not so small. They add some zing to the otherwise mellow burricotta. The needles of fried rosemary crackle like a chimney fire, and a veil honey soothes the walnut burn.

The holiday spirit is all about sharing, 'tis better to give than to receive. Nothing nips that in the bud like a plate of Warm Black Dates & Speck. It's a plate made for multiple mouths, but gooey dates and hard-cured ham are a sweet and savory supremacy that I'd rather keep for myself.

The holiday spirit is all about sharing, and the SoCal spirit is all about...seafood. The Linguine stings with mighty ocean waves of fresh, briny clams and burns with the wrath of spicy Fresno chiles that make my 22 in-laws fighting over white-elephant gifts look tame. It looks like just another bowl of pasta, but wow, those peppers make it pop.

I once introduced a friend to snow for the first time in her life. She was from Florida, and she gaped at the two full feet of fresh powder like it was the prettiest sight she'd ever seen. The Goat Cheese Ravioli tastes like that. The cheese is sticky and smooth inside an al dente cocoon, and the five lilies captures a fleeting fragrance, a waft of joy you can taste.

Next comes a peace-on-earth Pappardelle. Good-will-to-men and women alike, as a soft tomato sauce snuggles under ribbon blankets with a hearty niblets of rabbit ragu.

The Duck al Mattone main is probably Osteria Mozza's greatest gift. The skin is super crispy, the fat crackles underneath, and it cackles as it sears the strips of fall-off-the-bone flesh. It's a regift; duck that has been done before, done exquisitely with its own special touch. Wrap it up in a smooth pear mostarda and break through the gristle with bites of sharp sauteed brussels sprouts, and suddenly, it's even better than new. 

We probably didn't need the side of Crispy Sunchokes, but actually we did. I am in love with this love-child of artichoke and potato, an-almost creamy root that finishes like chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

Sharing is caring, and this dinner perfectly captured my holiday spirit. A magical dinner split between the love of my life and two of the best people I've ever known is the only way I see fit to celebrate all the things for which I am thankful. Tis' better to give than to receive, and sharing is caring, but I still disagree because they gave us all the leftovers, and I believe we got the better end of the deal.
Osteria Mozza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Los Angeles Ale Works & Falasophy Food Truck - Hawthorne

A Friday night beer with the boys is my happiest hour. We don't stray from the South Bay, and we rarely leave a 5-mile radius, but this time we live it up at LA Ale Works. 

The new kid in town has hit the ground running,  

The Joose IPA is sweet but strong. Fresh hops and a hard gulp of orange to bring out all 8.4% of it's potency. 
For a bolder body, there's a fantastic Centennial IPA that's worth every cent.

For those who hate beer or can't hold their beer, there's always a friendly game of giant Jenga to give your steady hand an advantage.

Just the joose will justify the drive to Hawthorne, and they have food trucks almost every night for those that don't drink hungry. 

A New York Style Falafel Pita is pocket of midnight munchies, channeling the tail end of a New York bar crawl. The falafel is fried crispy and light. Red cabbage carries a small sour, and a thinner tahini drapes over the hummus and cucumber. 

The Spicy Garlic Fries are bearably barely spicy, and the chopped cilantro shows strong through an oil-based sauce. It's perfect over fresh fries, but I do wish they gave a little more of the good stuff. 

When I'm looking for a good time, Hawthorne doesn't come to mind. But that is looking to change. LA Ale Works acts as a shelter for SpaceX, and the brewery houses all sorts of off-work engineers. I hope there's always room for hop-happy hospitalists because I will gladly work for an after-work ale at LA Ale Works.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Charcoal Venice - Marina Del Rey

I gotta feelin' that tonight's gonna be a good night.
That tonight's gonna be a good night. 
That tonight's gonna be a good, GOOD niiiiiight,,,

I'm no black-eyed pea, but I got a parking spot a quarter-block from Charcoal for free. Street parking in Venice?! Whaaaaaaaatttt...

Tonight's the night, let's live it up. Gimme the specials menu, and let's get some those out-of-this-world entrees and apps. 

Persimmons & Burrata
: two varieties, two ways. The Fuyu and Hachiya are detectably and delectably different, one is pulpy and slick, the other is subtle and soft. The burrata breaks down to mozz-wrapped cream in a honey vinegar rain.

The Grilled Kanpachi gives you the toughest of choices: Collar or belly? I can't resist the decadent meat-mix the composes a good collar, but this pillowy bite of belly with a splash of yuzu has no regrets. Small, fatty flakes fall apart with the gentlest touch, and this flame-kissed filet starts to melt before it even hits your mouth.

Beef is easier on the palate, but this Lamb Tartare has some serious game. The flavor is strong, and it doesn't alight, it hits. It clatters like the stealthy cymbal, its own orchestra of dense, slick brawn with a shawl of fermented turnips to soothe the sting and pine nuts to iron out the rougher edges.

Smoked Lamb Ribs
are rich and heavy, and both lambs make their own bold statements. The barbecue is dark, the smoky fat cuts deep, and you can savor the soot for hours.

I could have used more boldness with the Smoky Grilled Chicken Wings, but they are enjoyable all the same. I would have liked more heavy smoke to sink down to the bone and permeate the meat, like a wing of coal. Not quite reduced to ash, but the wings are infallibly tender with complements of a vinegar veneer.

Everything is go big or go home at Charcoal. The flavors are of the big n' rich variety, even in the dessert. The Banana S'mores Panna Cotta is a thick base of chocolate mousse with a blanket of toasted marshmallow. This meal-ender is a beast and requires at least 3 spoons to tame.

The Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Cake is a satisfying layer cake...that you don't really need. The McConnell's double peanut butter chip ice cream steals the show; delicate slivers of PB flakes crunch in rich vanilla, the best scoop of my life.

Absolutely lovely. Charcoal proves that you can put anything on a grill and make it good, and they do it with style and skill. You get the grit, but it comes with a fine-tuned finness, a polished profile for the palate. Charcoal gets some points for creativity and even more for taste.
Charcoal Venice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Republique - Los Angeles

It's beautiful. I walk in and catch my breath. My eyes wander, and I can't help but look. Long tables lounge across a bubbly cobblestone between vestigial windows, setting the scene for a leisurely lunch-brunch on the cafe patio of a Parisian city street. It channels an old-school simplicity, the glamour of days gone by. 

Sip a delicate Mimosa while people-watching, and let the prosecco shines sharp through a delicate fresh-squeezed juice of orange.

Luxuriate in a 
low and sloe House G&T, smooth and bitter brightened with spring citrus and wintry thyme.

Let the Watermelon Spritz sweep you away in summer sugar, a whiff of candied fruit over-ripened on the vine. Dashes of lime and aperol cut through to finish with a bitter snap.

I sip from my glass, and I raise it in a toast to all of the toast. 

The Ricotta Toast is the first toast, one for the sweet tooth for sure. A bed of bold, crusty sourdough, a topping of thick, creamy ricotta, and honeyed stone fruit. The peaches and pomegranates are kissed by the last rays of summer sun, juicy molecules that graze the tongue, riding on a golden stream of honey that hangs heavy and sweet. 

The Mushroom Toast is for the savory tooth. Airy crevices of comfort-bread, crammed with fluffy eggs and squares of tender ham. The wild mushrooms are a velvety confluence with silky spinach and a waterfall of hollandaise. 

The Croque Madame gets a honorable mention, a salty house-cured ham, thick with gruyere and a runny fried egg that works wonders.

The Mushroom Omelet sings of enchanting chanterelle, porcini, and cheese. The 
herb sprinkles disperse through the thin wrapper of egg like fragrant fairy dust.

I've had my fair share of pastries, but Republique bakes in a class of its own. The entrees may be out-of-this-world, but the pastries can almost eclipse them entirely.

Even the simple Danish is the peak of perfection, sweet slices of roasted apple stack on layers of flaky pastry, grounded by a sweet cheese anchor.

The Berry Crostata is crusty with character; moist crumbs with a black berry burst.

The Key Lime Cake is a fragile column, a pristine cup that stings sharply citrus-lime with the mere flick of a fork.

None are a match for the Raspberry Matcha and Almond Bostock. Moist brioche-y bread and bold matcha give structure to sugary raspberries against a robust almond backdrop. I've never had anything so superb, and I doubt I ever will.

I never thought I'd see the day I was blown away by brunch. I've had plenty of hangover lunch, but Republique brunches on a whole new level. There is so much complexity in their simplicity, so much cleverness in their combinations, so much beauty in their execution. Republique is easily the best brunch I've had in years.
République Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato