Monday, September 17, 2012

5x5 Collaborative Event @ Ink Restaurant 2012

What an Amazing Night!!
Since we arrived early we decided to go next door to Ink Sack and try M. Voltaggio's Jose Andres Sandwich (a mini one at that) but extremely tasty and very well done, with Manchego cheese and Spanish Chorizo, I loved that they "dress" the greens in the sandwich with a light vinaigrette, it makes all the difference.

Later arrived at Ink Restaurant and started at the bar with one of there great drinks... mine had honey & ginger amongst other things and it was strong but balanced and very good. I do have to pick at one little thing (though minor and understandable due to the special event) I wanted an "off the menu" drink, but they politely declined to make it saying they are only serving from the menu proper, if that would have been any other night, that would have put me off a bit, however it's excusable due to the nature of the event.

Thanks to my dining companions who had arranged for us to be seated at the Chef's Table... we had the whole back room of the restaurant to ourselves, away from the louder music and commotion of the main dining area.

Service, as I have always experienced at Ink. was superb.  Water glasses never reached more than the half line before they were filled again, waiters and the manager checked in on us often, if not more.

I believe we were the only table who all 7 chefs came out to take pictures with and thank us.  What an honor that was.
A few times, the manager came out and asked us about our favorite dishes of the evening... and I think it was pretty unanimous: The Gazpacho Granita from Josiah Citrin of Melisse and the Monkfish from Michael Cimarusti of Providence... we had not yet had the dessert (Alex Talbot from Ideas in Food) but when our final dish arrived, we found ourselves scraping the bowl! it was that good... the ice cream tasted of corn flakes and milk! Delicious!

The overall experience, for $150 was a bargain in my book... 7 talented chefs including Alex Talbot and guest chef and brother to Michael Voltaggio, Brian Voltaggio in one night... its a rare occasion many of us get to experience in one night.

My Favorite dish was of course Melisse's Gazpacho Granita.  It's much more difficult to perfect a dish when its so light, and a cold dish at that, and to also make it so flavorful and comforting, I wanted a whole bowl of it and I could have eaten it all summer long.

The only dish of the night that was a little off was Angelini's Maltagliati di Polenta...The "pasta" a little thick and too aldente... taste was excellent, though a bit salty however texture-wise it was a "miss" in my book.

Also much to my surprise, Brian Voltaggio's Lambchetta, though delicious and nice combination of flavors... was too dry and the accompanying Almond and other dish components did not help... I would have liked the lamb a bit more rare - Au Jus, It felt like eating meat with a spoonful of Peanut Butter... Not to say the lamb was dry, because it was not, but there was a lack of juices in the dish.
sorry Brian, but it's true...
Still loved to have been in such presence of amazing chefs and to have the opportunity to see both Voltaggio Brothers cooking at the same event, which does not happen very often!

Overall, Lovely Evening! can't wait for 2013!

All the Chefs from last nights event... todos los Chefs del evento de anoche! Gino Angelini from Angelini Osteria, Michael Cimarusti from Providence, Alex Talbot from Ideas in Food, Brian Voltaggio from Volt, Josiah Citrin from Melisse, Rory Herrmann from Bouchon and my favorite: Michael Voltaggio from Ink

Me with Brian Voltaggio (left) and Michael Voltaggio (right)

Not Champagne Cocktail 
Michael Voltaggio - Ink

Tiny Bouquet
Michael Voltaggio - Ink.

Cool Ranch "Doritos, Pho
 Michael Voltaggio - Ink.

Avocado Gazpacho - Hokkaido scallop, king crab, oyster, mariscos cocktail granite
Josiah Citrin - Melisse

Hawaiian harts of Peach Palm - Heirloom beets, young fennel, candied macadamia nut & beet vinaigrette
Rory Herrmann - Bouchon

Wild Monkfish, blood sausage, weiser farms piquillo peppers, pickled celery
Michael Cimarusti - Providence

Maltagliati di Polenta - Lobster amatriciana sauce
Gino Angelini - Angelini Osteria

Lambchetta - Smoked almond, cocoa, raisins
Brian Voltaggio - Volt

Blueberry Pancakes
Alex Talbot - Ideas in Food

ink. on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Saam @ The Bazaar, SLS Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA

How do you ever get through 22 courses in a meal?

This was my question in anticipation of what I knew would be at the very least an impressive and fun experience, filled with lots of play with food (call it Molecular Gastronomy if you'd like) although chefs are moving away from that term more and more... but why? Who cares what you call it... it was a food-fun-tasting 4 hr marathon!

The making of liquid cheese, spherification with Creme de Cassis imitating caviar, cocktails with Jalapeno, etc, etc... the evening was filled with anticipation as most of our large group of 10 decided against perusing the menu prior to our meal... we went all in blindly, without any knowledge of what they had in store for us, hoping some of the "favorites" would be included... but they were not.

We missed the Liquid Olives (although I have tried them before, as well as Mr. Adria's in Barcelona), and would have liked to try the Philly Cheese Steak or the mini Foie Burger, but sadly none of these made their appearance that night.

Having been to The Bazaar and Bar Centro, I would describe them as a hip, over the top decorated establishment, bordering Gaudy... Filled with trust fund babies, women who look like sausages in tight dresses, and if you are allergic to makeup... just don't go in! LOL

Don't get me wrong, I love, love Bazaar & Bar Centro, don't feel intimidated, especially if you wait until midnight, when the crowd has sort of loosened up... with $18 cocktails... :)

But Saam (sort of a private dining room behind The Bazaar restaurant), was a breath of fresh air from all that commotion, with superb service, very attentive staff who anticipates your every need.
A grandiose fine dining experience, only slightly tinted by an exuberant charge of $15 per person for Water! (Total of $150) ...There better be some booze in that water! LOL

In hopes not to bore you to death, I won't go into detail of all 22 courses, instead, I will give you my "Hits" and "Misses", however, as always, if you have any questions I will be more than happy to elaborate.

* The Maitre D' was amazing, starting from the moment we were waiting in Bar Centro and grabing some drinks... once our tables were ready, he took our drinks and delivered them to SAAM.

* The lovely waitress from Bar Centro remembered me from the prior time I was there... that makes you feel special, right?
*The service all night was superb and elevated leaving us with the feeling of royalty.
*The Halle Berry Drink- Amazing! Sweet notes from the Berries, hints of spice from the Jalapeno and as soon as you move the martini glass towards your mouth, an almost instant whiff of the spicy chili hits all your senses, but in a sort of soft, subtle way... this will be the one drink I must try to replicate at home!
*Beets & Yogurt: this little Amuze melted in your mouth, the Beet crunchy merengue filled with tart, rich and thick Greek Yogurt.
* Parmesan macaron: spicy notes of the Parm, though very light.

* Uni & Eel Risotto: Admittedly never having tried Uni... it was surprisingly yummy... I really couldn't describe the taste...but it was very mild in flavor and the risotto was as should be, creamy and al dente (being a Risotto fanatic... I seldom order it, because I'm usually disappointed...but not this one.

* Mini Banh Mi- I loved this little Vietnamese sandwich delight!...soft mini baguette, rich & delicious with a hint of spicy and notes of acidity from the pickled veggies.

* The Foie Gras & Mushrooms were my favorite of the night... I think i even made a sound on my first bite, because the rest of the night the joke was "I'm having a moment"... "are you having another moment"?? LOL anyways, I guess you had to be there.... It was super rich tasting, the broth with a bit of heavy cream, and tasting of the woodsy mushrooms, the rich Foie Gras and Mushroom dish was a hit throughout.

* Dragon's Breath.... of course this was a hit!... lots of fun! took turns capturing each of us on film!

* Our first dessert was Apricot Timbale with Amaretto, a Rich, delicious frozen Apricot puree with a crust that seemed "caramelized" ... not sure how that was done... but it was superbly rich and almost creamy, flavorful yet refreshing at the same time.

Misses: Not many misses, but there's were some...

* $15 per person for water... Totaling $150 in our bill for water... we didn't request any "special water"... not sure what happened, but it was a lot!

* My Wagyu beef was delivered overdone... no pink in the middle as all the others... but they happily took it back, even agreeing with me that it was so.  The fact that they remedied the situation without blinking... won me over.

* The Sexy Little Sweets did not impress... I wished the chocolate would have been richer, more depth of flavor...I did like the white chocolate with the pink peppercorns... but the dark chocolate with salt could have used a heavier hand on the savory component.

Total 1 person: $223, including 2 cocktails, 1 $5 coffee, the famous $15 water, tax and tip. ouch!

Smoke on the Water Drink

Inside SAAM (Private dining room @ The Bazaar) SLS Hotel, Beverly Hills

Kaviar Kir Royal

Beet & Greek Yogurt

Oyster & Jamon

Seabeans in Tempura

Parmesan Macaron

Jose's Combination - Jamon Iberico de Bellota with Caviar
Patatas Bravas

Chicken Skin and Cigala

Not your everyday Caprese - with Liquid Mozzarella spheres

Crispy Nigiri

Uni & Eel Risotto


Banh Mi - Mini Vietnamese Sandwich

Carrot & Scallops
Halle Berry Cocktail - Spicy & Amazing!
1 Slice jalapeño
7 Blackberries
2 oz Gin
¼ oz Cointreau
¾ oz Lime juice
¾ oz Simple syrup
1 Twist of lemon


Wagyu Beef & Mushroom Escabeche

Mushroom & Foie Gras
Waiter mentioned they are not allowed to use the words "Foie Gras any more!... they are calling it Duck Liver... Guess who's going to be still serving FG after the ban in California starting July 1?
Inside the pouch
Japanese Baby Peaches

The making of the "Dragon's Breath - Tableside

"Dragon's Breath" Popcorn ... I have been waiting for this dish not only all night...but for weeks! It was soooo fun!

Frozen Apricot Timbale with Amaretto

Dessert Desert
Sexy Little Sweets - Mignardise

At the end of the night, and a record for me of a 4 hr dining extravaganza, I was rather content and satisfied, although by no means "full" as the portions are somewhat minuscule and someone with a rather larger appetite might need to supplement this 22 course marathon with a pre or post 4th meal.

SAAM at The Bazaar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Lunch can get pretty boring day after day, especially here in Pasadena, where it's not exactly a Foodie Paradise!

So this cute little cafe called Abricott opened on Lake Ave and came to our rescue!

Obviously I had to take advantage of the closeness this is to my work... So I made my way out there for lunch the other day and decided to try their most popular item: Pork Belly Bahn Mi!

Now, I'm not an expert in Bahn Mi sandwiches and therefore cannot tell you if its close to a "traditional" one, I am however, an expert on "Deliciousness", and it was delish!

Being as persnickety as I am with food and specially fat on meat & smells...I was a little worried the Pork Belly would  be just too fatty for me, but it wasn't at all... in fact, I loved it's slightly sweet taste ever so gently caramelized onto the charred meat... yummy, right??

The Bread was a soft french style baguette, lacking in crispiness, but fresh and easy to bite into.
The traditional accompaniments such as the lightly pickled veggies and fresh cilantro added a nice balance.

Bahn Mi Sandwich
Pickled Veggies, Cilantro, Shoestring Fries

Abricott on Urbanspoon


Think of Petrossian in West Hollywood as everything you'd want in a Restaurant all rolled into one; Superb service, as in your water glass never empty, beautiful minimalist decor (loved the white chairs by the way!), and great modern french inspired cuisine...oh...and did I mention they specialize in Caviar?  Oh yes, those tiny, gorgeous black pearls enhanced every single dish. 

Transmontanus Caviar is  nutty, smooth and robust at the same time, similar Ossetra (My favorite of the Caviars), and I was really happy to have found a substitute if you will, that will lessen the whole in your pocket, yet still indulging in those amazing flavorful little pearls.

Our group was unanimously delighted with Petrossian, the service was attentive, thus not pretentious at all, with a waiter always close by, that would anticipate our every need. I am a sucker for good service, and Petrossian definitely delivers.

Egg Royale
Scrambled Egg, Vodka Whipped Cream, Caviar

The Egg Royale was simply amazing... I know other famous restaurants also have their version, and will eventually try those as well, but Petrossian's was sublime... you could really taste the Vodka in the Whipped Cream.  This starter was super creamy, a hint of booze is always welcomed of course, as is the caviar for a nice nutty, salty addition to finalize the dish. A definite hit.

Caviar, Trout Roe, Salmon Roe
Classic and traditional combination... From left to right we have: Salmon Roe, Transmontanus Caviar, and Trout Roe... I was surprised that I really liked the Salmon Roe as much as I did, with a hint of smokiness, delicious.

Classic Cold Borscht
Warm Yukon Gold Potato, Chives, Crème Fraîche, Caviar
Classic Cold Borscht, a Ukrainian soup, also widely consumed in Russia and Poland, was a refreshing continuation of the meal.  A nice contrast with the Warm Yukon Gold Potatoes, Creamy Creme Fraiche, and nutty caviar, with a notable hint of citrus.  Needless to say, you must love Beets to love this dish, so if you do, this is not to miss.  
Tomato soup
brioche, 2-year aged white cheddar, and caviar

This soup was in the tasting menu, which I opted out of, however, I did get lucky and got to try the amazing Toasted Brioche with the tangy, semi-strong White cheddar and ample amounts of caviar!
I really wished I could have asked for some to go!... these were comfort food on steroids, with a lot of class.  Who would have thought to put caviar on a sandwich?
But these are not your ordinary sandwiches... the bread is thinner than your usual sliced bread, and toasted to a buttery perfection, with an amazing tasty strong,nutty cheese and caviar...I am definitely going to figure out how to make these at home!

Napoleon tartare
Transmontanus caviar & flat iron steak with Porcini sauce, sauteed mushrooms, Fresno chili, spring garlic, onions, and herb salad
Our main dish (we all opted for the same, as great minds think alike, right?) LOL, was the only slight, and I really mean slight disappointment of the night... the Steak Tartare was a bit under seasoned we thought, however the Flat iron Steak, cooked rare was flavorful, well seasoned and delicious, and nicely accompanied by the Porcini Sauce and Sauteed mushrooms.
The Fresno Chilies were not as spicy as I would have hoped, but did add a hint of heat.

Foie Gras Ice Cream
Raspberry Jam, Brioche, Honey, Sea Salt

Foie Gras (duck liver) in an ice cream??
Oh yes! it was soooooo good... very rich, creamy and sweet; You could really taste the Foie in it.
I just wished I could have grabbed that Brioche, made it into an ice cream sandwich! LOL
It was that good.
I've read reviews that say they don't understand why the Brioche is there... I think It did add another texture and element to the dessert, and the Raspberry was a nice fruity touch that added a bit of freshness if you will along with a bit of tartness to cut thought the rich, buttery flavors.

I can't wait to come back to Petrossian, next time I will get the Tasting Menu for sure... I left very happy both service-wise and with the Cuisine.

I also want to note that they were very willing to make changes to the Tasting Menu's, something other restaurants just don't do.


Petrossian Boutique & Cafe on Urbanspoon