Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reservation for Two: Osteria Mozza

Really, what more is there to say about Osteria Mozza? This was our first time at the Osteria (I'm so ashamed!) and we fell madly in love. I'm not sure why, but we just didn't think we were going to like it as much as the Pizzeria. Oh were we wrong. There were times I thought my husband was going to fly away in ecstasy. Really!

Lucky us, my father and his girlfriend treated the two of us to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversry. Grandma babysat! It was less formal than I had imagined and the food was incredible. The one and only so-so dish was the burrata from Puglia. Surprising, but Gioia's was creamier and richer than what we had at OM, though the bread it came with, soaked in EVO was perfection.

Our waiter was predictably everything Batali's servers always are: real, knew the menu inside and out, really wanted us to LOVE our meal, and a perfect guide to figuring out the dishes we would love (no calf's brain raviolis for me!).

We split the Ribollita "Da Delfina" - amazing. Like a savory french toast/bread pudding. Bread soaked in minestrone that's been reduced, then pan-fried. Ok, that description so does not capture how good it was. After the aforementioned burrata, we moved onto pastas. The orrecchiette with sausage and swiss chard was wonderful but the fresh ricotta and egg raviolo with browned butter was a showstopper.

For our mains, I had the Grilled Beef Tagliata, rucola, and Parmigiano with aceto balsamico and M had the Grilled Quail wrapped in pancetta with sage and honey. Again, perfection.

The bombolini with mountain huckleberry compote and vanilla gelato put the whole meal over the top and we agreed that this was one of our best meals ever.

The icing on the cake was meeting Ms. Silverton herself. What an honor and yes, I did feel like such a dorky groupie. But it was a thrill nonetheless. I just wanted to take a picture of her from a distance, but a server mentioned that she'd be happy to take one with me so now I have a pic of the two of us! That poor woman must get approached constantly by food-obsessed groupies.

Anyhow, here are some highlights from our meal. Entrees and desserts were dark so I'm not including.
Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 297-0100

Friday, April 17, 2009

From an Empty Fridge to an Especially Good Lunch

Empty fridge...nothing for lunch. Someone's at the kitchen making brittle all day so he got dibs on the leftover Thai. Then suddenly I noticed a bounty:

~ avocado
~ greens
~ pepperoncinis
~ feta
~ red onion
~ yellow bell pepper
~ radish
~ cabbage
~ rosemary
~ whole wheat bread
~ the last drops of dressing Daddy recently made

Bless his heart, Tater sat patiently in his high chair watching me prepare lunch all the while dictating and singing every step to him. He even nibbled on a tiny piece of avocado. This ended up being an exceptional lunch, with the rosemary unexpectedly elevating the salad to greatness.

Woo-hoo, BabyCakes NYC Headed for Downtown LA!

In a sudden turn of events, BabyCakes NYC, originally headed for Beverly in West Hollywood, is now landing closer to our neck of the woods in the Old Bank district in Downtown. Thanks for the good news tweet, Angelenic!

From their Twitter and blog post, it sounds like there are some folks who are disappointed by this decision. But c'mon Beverly Blvders, you have so many baked goods options to choose from: Joan's on Third, Susina, Milk, La Brea Bakery, Toast, and more. And you can get your vegan cookies at Whole Foods and Real Food Daily. We do have our share with Delilah's, Lark, and Auntie Em's close by, but BabyCakes NYC sounds like a completely different animal, so to speak!

BabyCakes NYC caters to those with sensitive systems with baked goods that are vegan, gluten-free, wheat-free, casein-free, soy-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free, and kosher. Honestly, I have no idea what casein is or why one would need to abstain from it, but I'm glad BabyCakes NYC is there for these intolerant folks.

And let me just say that it took me awhile to come around to the idea of vegan baked goods. I mean, the thought of using anything other than butter and eggs seemed sacrilegious, unnecessary, and downright wrong. But as someone who loves to bake and share the wealth with her coworkers, I started feeling guilty for contributing to an unhealthy work environment with my fat-laden creations. So I started looking into low-fat baking and found Isa Moskowitz's recipe for vegan pumpkin oatmeal cookies on the Post Punk Kitchen website. After some modifications (I couldn't resist throwing in some vegan chocolate chips and used whole wheat pastry flour), I made what turned out to be some of the most deliciously tender and all-around scrumptious cookies. Seriously, my co-workers and skeptical husband raved. But I digress - long story short: I'm no longer opposed to vegan baked goods.

If a cupcake tastes as good, if not better, than the real thing but is a little less unhealthy I'm totally into it. Ok, I do have to say that baking w/o butter and eggs, not to mention refined sugars is a very tricky operation often resulting in cakes that taste like bricks, cookies reminiscent of hockey pucks, and frostings that are gummy. But I say hoorah to those magicians who are able to master the craft.

I've never tried anything from BabyCakes NYC (feel free to send samples or sign me up for a preview tasting, BabyCakes NYC! I have no shame.), but if their positive press (Gourmet, W, In Style and more) is any indication, these folks know what they're doing. They do it all: cookies, cakes, cupcakes, scones, muffins, cookie sandwiches, cinnamon rolls and more. I, for one, welcome the BabyCakes family with open arms!

A few comments to BabyCakes:

~ Yes to the dessert truck in Silver Lake or Echo Park. Park outside the Echo after a show and you'll sell out in no time.

~ Yes to the free parking in Downtown. Parking is such a pain during the week.

~ Please consider accepting cards for any amount. I rarely carry cash but sometimes just want a little something.

~ Look into collaborating with another NY transplant, Two Boots in Echo Park. I seem to recall they have some sort of dessert, but your cupcakes would fit right in.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

And The Scary Chinese Restaurant in Silver Lake is now.....

David - The Restaurant on Sunset!

A little background: I lived a stone's throw away from the Sunset/Silver Lake intersection for years and for the whole time, LA Chinese Restaurant was technically a functioning restaurant, though I'm certain I never saw anyone inside. In fact, it was so scary that Eating LA included it in her "Scariest Restaurant" contest a few months back. (This Losanjealous review (and photo below) is a hilarious must-read, seriously lol funny)

For some time now, LA Chinese Restaurant has been shuttered and appeared to be going through some sort of renovation. I seem to recall a few chowhound posts wondering just what was going in but it seemed like one big mystery. Noticing an open door on a drive-by last week, I stopped by and chatted with two of the guys working inside. They kindly gave me the owner's phone number and after a quick phone call with owner David Sutton, the mystery is solved!

Sutton, who's had his own catering company for 5 years and has been in the restaurant business for 40, is planning a fusion/comfort food hybrid for David - The Restaurant on Sunset. Opening for breakfast and lunch at first, the menu will most likely include homemade breads and muffins, oatmeal brulee, salads & sandwiches, Vietnamese garlic noodles, Korean BBQ (is Korean BBQ going to be the next "ahi tower" that every restaurant puts on the menu?).

Other ideas he's considering include Hawaiian shaved ice with homemade syrups and a stuffed hamburger. He plans to change the menu every two weeks and is hoping to open somewhere around June/July.

Sutton imagines David to be a dog- and baby-friendly restaurant that will have reasonable price points (unlike some recent Silver Lake openings) and a welcoming, neighborhood vibe. Still many unknowns, but it will most certainly be less scary than its previous occupant.

David - The Restaurant on Sunset
2852 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, 90026

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Winner of Cupcake Challenge - Polkatots in Pasadena

While I agreed that $40 was just too much to spend for an afternoon devoted to mini-cupcakes, that doesn't mean I wasn't sad to miss last Sunday's cupcake challenge at the Roosevelt Hotel. Thankfully, the LA Times' Elina Shatkin was twittering from the event and then posted a zillion pictures on the Daily Dish, but I was still bitter. So when the winners were announced, I had to hurry over to try Polkatots shop to try their Dulce de Leche cupcake which won best original and best overall.
The two owners had just found out that morning and were understandably thrilled. Cute, little shop tucked away in a mini-mall on Lake north of the 210. I picked out a bunch of minis and a large Dulce de Leche and had to devour one as soon as we got to the car. While the flavor and texture of each cupcake was spot on, I made a discovery: I hate coarse sugar on cupcakes and all of theirs had a generous amount sprinked on top. But aren't they just the prettiest little guys?

For any upcoming cupcake cravings, I'll stick with Delilah's chocolate chocolate chip cupcakes with orange Jack Daniels frosting which I can get on a five minute walk from home.

720 North Lake Avenue
Pasadena, 91104

Canele in Bon Appetit

Atwater Village Newbie, one of my favorite local blogs, just noted that Canele, one of our favorite local spots, is mentioned in the new Bon Appetit. Somehow I missed it in my quick flip-through this morning.

Canele totally deserves the attention. Thanks for twittering it, AVN! Now when are we ever going to make it out for brunch?