Showing posts with label pasta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pasta. Show all posts

Monday, June 21, 2010

Croquer: Lasagna Lab at Cube

There's really no excuse for NOT eating out this Tuesday night. Finely curated marketplace and café Cube on La Brea is a couple of weeks deep into its summer-long Tuesday Night Lasagna Lab, where $20 buys you a farm-fresh meal of chef Erin Eastland's homemade pasta lasagna, imaginative side salad (no "mixed greens" here), and a glass of wine paired by Cube's wine director -and owner- Alex Palermo.
The other Tuesday, I nabbed a last minute reservation at the cheese bar to check it out. The small café and sidewalk patio were bustling but not overstuffed, the charming server still able to immediately present an amuse-bouche and dole out some charm. We ordered the lasagna prix fixe, and in addition a starter of the Hamachi crudo. This "Italian sashimi" is composed with house pickled kumquats and leek scapes, drizzled with fruity olive oil. The puckish kumquats add a satisfying zing to the sea spray fresh dish.
After the hamachi our server returned to regretfully inform us that (at 7:15pm) they were already out of the special lasagna prix fixe... In frank disbelief we asked if she was certain. Our orders had been in, and I knew the books were filled up all night for the special menu - seemed early in dinner service to have run out. She returned saying that they had one left, so we gratefully claimed it, and in place of the other ordered the sweet corn stuffed pasta with brown butter, bacon, red cow parmesan. 
The sweet corn pasta was delicate and fresh. Refreshingly, the bacon was not overpowering, rather the rich cheese dominated the flavor profile. A nice addition to the meal.
The special this week was a white lasagna with baby zucchini, squash blossoms, and also the delightfully pungent red cow parmesan. My disdain of 'fallback zucchini' diminished with the crisp paper-thin slices of farmer's market baby zucchini here, layered between delicate pasta sheets and bolstered with conservative amounts of cheese. The salad of spring baby greens, grilled peach, cipollini onions, thick cut bacon, and aged balsamic was fantastic, all rounded off nicely with the 2004 Ca'Rossa Roero Nebbiolo.
Definitely plan a Tuesday or two at Cube before September, but book a reservation for early in the night so you don't miss out! And if lasagna is not your steez, swing by for Dessert Bar Mondays featuring $5 sweetmeat small plates (like Tres Leches Cake with Vanilla Bean Parfait & Milk Meringue) from Executive Pastry Chef Jun Tan, mini cheese plates by Cube Gourmet Buyer Rachael Sheridan, and of course more paired wines by Palermo.

Cube Cafe & Marketplace
615 N La Brea Ave. LA; 323.939.1148
Cube at Divine Pasta Co in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Cube Cafe on Urbanspoon

P.S. On the topic of awesome homemade lasagna... The recent lasagna special at my new favorite neighborhood haunt Osteria Mamma was also delicioso!

Osteria Mamma
5730 Melrose ave. LA; 323.284.7060

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Buvare: A Sunday at Silver Lake Wine

Thank you Silver Lake Wine for a pretty perfect Sunday afternoon!
I have been meaning to attend their popular Sunday at Three food paired wine tastings for ages, and the exuberance from Silver Lake Wine leading up to this past weekend's pairing of fresh hand-made pastas from Heirloom-LA and stellar wine from Brewer-Clifton and Palmina sold me. Winemaker Steve Clifton was in the house to introduce each tasting, while Heirloom-LA's Matthew Poley explained what they in turn created to pair with each delicious wine. The folks of Silver Lake Wine ran the 100 person event in their small shop like a well-oiled machine, and with their signature casual, good natured dispositions. Kudos to all involved, it was an experience my palate won't soon forget!Steve Clifton waxes poetic about our first taste, Palmina Botasea Rosé 2008. Actually a "Rosso Biondino" (a very small bottling of a Rosato), Botasea (translates to “Red Blonde”) is a creamier pink wine, initial floral, plum and vanilla layers melting into crisp acidity and mineral notes for a drier finish.For the next taste, a Brewer-Clifton Chardonnay Santa Rita Hills 2007, Heirloom-LA passes around Organic Spinach and Confit Baby Artichoke Stuffed Borsette with Parmesean Cream. This is when the tasting really got fun. Wanting to showcase the flavors of Central Coast California, not the flavors of toasted French Oak, Clifton opts to age his wines in stainless steel and keep the focus on the fruit. Thus, this is not your mother's vanilla-rich Chardonnay. It is fresh and vivacious, quince and citrus sparkling on the palate. The delicious tender Borsette ("bank burglar bag") was a stellar match, the herbs popping like a fresh garden next to the wine. As I was, I saw the people around me also scraping every last drop of the drizzled English pea puree from their plates!The next pair was the afternoon's highlight. Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills 2007 paired with Pappardelle w/ Housemade Pancetta Amatriciana and Nutmeg Ricotta Cheese. The first thing out of my mouth tasting this Pinot was "this is so good it could be Oregonian!" (haha!) From me, that is an incredible compliment, as I hold [my old home] Oregon's Pinot Noir as a cornerstone of brainy, complex, and transcendent winemaking. Clifton's fermentations are largely carried out as whole clusters where the stem inclusion contributes tannin and savory notes from within the fruit, and this Pinot Noir couldn't make that more apparent. With a heavy mouthfeel bursting with rich fig, pomegranate, and dark berry fruit, this wine just tastes like luxury. The Pancetta Amatriciana (made with Guanciale - salt-cured pork cheek) was similarly indulgent and BIG, rounded out by plump ripe cherry tomatoes, creamy ricotta and the heavenly fresh pappardelle. A slam dunk (my date and neighbors all agreed - we could do simply with more of this.. Lots more).Though it was difficult to let our empty Pinot glasses go, the Palmina Dolcetto 2007 with Hand Rolled Potato Gnocchi w/ Colorado Lamb Ragu and Pistachio Gremolata came next. Dolcetto (loosely translated as “the little sweet one”) is the wine of Italy’s northern Piemonte region and is meant for casual enjoyment with good food. What better wine for today?? In a very different, modest way the Dolcetto won us with its no-nonsense drinkability, lush dark cherry, pepper and cocoa notes and bright acidity. This is actually the bottle I took home. The gnocchi was perfectly prepared, a delicate form for the flavorful lamb ragu. Back and forth between the Dolcetto and the gnocchi... I was not alone in my enjoyment, the room may have been its quietest then.Could this really be ending? Our last pair was the Palmina Barbera 2007 served with Carrot and Romanesco Lasagnette w/ Sage Maple Brown Butter and Burrata. Perhaps since Clifton had already found my sweet spot, the Barbera made the least impression on me, not to say it wasn't tasty! Another lovely food wine, the Barbera is bright and fruity, the sage of the lasagnette bringing out more herby floral notes from the currant and berry-full wine. We saved some Barbera to enjoy with the tray of lovely soft and buttery coconut cookies being passed around afterward, drizzled with fresh caramel and chopped almonds over a pillowy milk chocolate button.Yes, on the too-short walk back to the car, my date and I rubbed our bellies, happy as clams, feeling refreshed rather than bogged down following a large meal, and decided Sundays should really always be just. Like. This.

This Sunday 6/7 at 3:00pm: Heirloom-LA takes on Qupé Wines.
Be sure to call and make reservations.

2395 Glendale Blvd. Silver Lake, CA 90039; 323.662.9024