Friday, September 26, 2008

Stand by...

In St. Petersburg Russia.. Much more to come on that, you can bet on it!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Recettes Secrètes: Didi Emmons' Hip Dip

I met vegetarian celeb chef Didi Emmons back in 2003 when Marché hosted a prix fix dinner featuring dishes from her new book Entertaining for a Veggie Planet. At the time I was the only practicing vegetarian on the Marché staff, and she signed my book with what I took as a wink of added appreciation! Little did I know that long after my herbivore days this award-winning veggie-Bible would remain one of my quintessential go-to cookbooks for almost every occasion.

A heavily treaded page which has become my summer potluck staple is Didi's trendy party twist "Hip Dip". With a deceptive guacamole hue, this more robust dip is refreshingly light and zesty, and obviously a health-concious alternative to pure avo.
So for that last BBQ of the season or your next cocktail party, try whipping up this dip with some dry-baked flour tortilla triangles. I promise you that people will ask for the recipe.

What you'll need:
16 ounces frozen, shelled (podless) edamame
3/4 cup fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 small, skinny chile peppers, minced
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (juice of 2 limes)
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons water
Lime slices for garnish (optional)

Place the frozen edamame in a colander and rinse under hot running water until they are mostly thawed, about 30 seconds.
In a food processor, coarsely purée the edamame and the remaining ingredients with 2 tablespoons water, leaving some chunks. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and, if you like, place lime slices on the sides of the bowl. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within a few hours.
Makes 3-1/2 cups.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Croquer: When In Malibu

Before the Summer sun sets behind the breakers (for the slightly-less-warm Autumn sun) make sure to head out to the "Riviera of America" for a Mai Tai topped with seabreeze on the deck of the fabulous new Malibu Pier Club. Part of the newly reopened historic Malibu Pier this past spring, the Malibu Pier Club and sister restaurant The Beachcomber offer tasteful coastal dishes with a hefty side of vintage surf ambiance. Out on the deck, only the bar menu is available - but fear not - the Kobe burger was one of the best I've had in LA, a heaping 1/2 pounder dripping with melted gruyere and bacon grease from the impossible-to-bite-around artisan roll. The second half was even better later that night, cold. THAT'S a good burger.

Inside the compact bar, tucked away in the far corner is one of the best private dining rooms/tables I've seen in town, a tiki homage aptly titled the Tonga Lei Room (pictured) where I might just have to host my next post-beach 10-person special event.

Spoiler: The restaurant and bar are NOT at the end of the pier over the ocean as the pictures insinuate, rather over the beach at the mouth of the pier (but trust me, if you take a walk down to the end of the pier past the fisherman's buckets and vagrants, you'll be happy to return to the warm, candlelit safety of the Beachcomber!)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Star Was Born

Oh what a blessed day for food lovers - Today marks the birth of rock star chef Nicole Burrows! From vegan pastry culinary student in Manhattan to sous chef in Louisville to cooking instructor to the stars at a Tucson resort to head chef at fine vegetarian institution Carmelita in Seattle, Nicole has not only made an reputable name for herself nation-wide, but also made one of her oldest friends incredibly proud.
I don't need to tell you how talented this woman is, salivate over this recent menu she created at Carmelita. Anyone for a Duo of Ice Cream Sandwiches? (blackberry-mascarpone ice cream, pistachio-orange cookie / lemon curd ice cream, ginger-pine nut cookie). YUM!
Note to self: Open a restaurant with Nicole in the next 5 years.

Check out my favorite blogger Catherine's interview at a fly on the wall to learn more about Nicole and her craft.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Croquer: The Village Idiot

God bless whoever came up with the concept behind the Gastropub. Any foodie has a soft spot for comfort pub fare, but knocking it up a notch with premium ingredients and epicurian flair is the bee's knees. I decided to drop into Melrose's young gastropub The Village Idiot to see how well it balances a fresh approach to classic British creature comforts. Given the faux-trendy, very "LA" neighborhood, initially I had my doubts.
Surprisingly, once inside the wide-windowed, brick and dark wood interior the tacky mess of Melrose instantly vaporized into a cozy haze of oak wood smoke. After settling into an open-window-side leather booth with a freind we appropriately ordered Black and Tans (which were not on the beer/drink menu?!). Large chalk boards high on the walls touted the grub, and we decided it was an afternoon fit only for an Oak-grilled Pub Burger (with Balsamic Onion Relish and Hand-Cut Fries).
We enjoyed our beers in the hazy sunlight whilst eschewing eye contact with countless vagrants outside, occasionally having to speak over the din of passing gaggles of fashion victims. Our burgers arrived promptly, oozing with gruyere, half-covered by a pile of magnificent fries. First bite scored high on the burger-meter - my only complaint was that my medium rare patty was disappointingly cooked-through (a burger lover pet peeve) - saved however by a remarkable moistness and deep smokey flavor. The onion relish seemed like a bit of an afterthought, living in a small outcast ramekin - and outshined by the rest of the flavors in the burger. Though satisfied and full after the meal, somehow our server convinced us that a light summer dessert was in order. We said absolutely to the nectarine trifle she explained in detail, layers of house-made poundcake, a light vanilla bean custard, sliced nectarines and a fresh mint-leaf-infused whipped cream. Sounds like a somewhat average trifle perhaps, but all of these house-made components were in fact incredibly light and airy, delicately sweetened by their natural flavors (and yes I'm sure some sugar). Like Jell-o, there's always room for such a dessert. This called for a glass of bubbly, and indeed the sparkling wine made this the perfect pair. Palates refreshed by the raw fruit and mint, spirits lifted by the effervescence, we paid the bill without looking at the check in order to extend the pleasance. This was late afternoon weekend dining done right.

Next on Tavern Talk: The York...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Buvare: The Richmond Gimlet

One of the most intensely nostalgic flavors for me, one which I tasted the other night for the first time since college days, is the delicious and brilliant Eugene-native concoction now widely known as the Richmond Gimlet.
Coddled into ageless grandeur by superstar NW mixologist and bartender extraordinaire Jeffrey Morgenthaler, the Richmond Gimlet was pretty much invented before my eyes one lazy summer in Eugene, late nights at the hidden treasure that was the traincar-narrow bar tucked in the back of Bamboo restuarant. After brutal shifts at Marché around the corner, manager Daniel Richmond and I would park in Morgenthaler's bar and let him pick the drink. Daniel's picky nature and Jeffrey's drive to impress and perfect led to the simple and elegant marriage of fresh ingredients that make up this refreshing cocktail. Not too sweet, not too sour, not too stiff - The Ricmond Gimlet truly is a definitive cocktail and modern classic. The herbaceousness of the Tanqueray No. 10 gin, hint of fresh mint and fresh-squeezed lime will win you over too.. Just follow these simple but important steps.

2 oz Tanqueray No. 10 gin
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
large sprig mint
Shake ingredients well over ice and strain into a chilled 9-ounce (at least) cocktail glass.

Be sure to check out Morgenthaler's wicked website of all-things-wet, where you will find many more genius recipes, advice and forums like "How To Make Tonic Water", "How to Make an Angostura-Scorched Pisco Sour " and "How NOT To Make A Mint Julip".

(Thanks Jeff, borrowing your image temporarily!)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Carne Asada: STILL Not A Crime!

Breaking news in the fight between East Los Angeles' beloved taco trucks and the county! I got the following email proclaiming a victory for the Taco:

It’s a great day to stand on the side of hardworking Angelenos, fair capitalistic competition, and delicious food. Today in Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Dennis Aichroth ruled in favor of our hardworking taqueros stating in part that the recently enacted law effectively banning taco trucks was “too ambiguous to be enforceable” and was “arbitrary and not based upon any rational, intrinsic or natural basis”. Furthermore, Judge Aichroth agreed with an argument we’ve championed from the beginning, writing, “this attempt to restrict the operation of catering trucks […] is a pretext for creating a “naked restraint of trade” and, as such, must be declared invalid”. In short, Gloria Molina and her developer backed cabal of myopic gentrificationists have lost. The people of Los Angeles have won.

The Taco may have won round one, but this is surely only the first battle. Get and wear your Carne Asada Is Not A Crime t-shirt proudly, write your county supervisors and urge them to stop legislating against street food, and keep up with Aaron and Chris' updates at

¡Viva Los Tacos!