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Jim & Rocky’s Barback Pro-Am, Part 5: Neener Neener

Jim and Rocky’s next victim — my friend Tatsu Oiye, professional drinker and fellow member of the board of the Los Angeles Cocktail Community (we help organize monthly social, networking and educational gatherings for local bartenders). Tatsu’s shift was at 320 Main, easily the best bar in Orange County and one of my very favorite bars in all of southern California. Tatsu had it somewhat harder than the rest of us — 320 was closed to the public that night, and the entire restaurant was filled with bartenders, cocktail enthusiasts and friends. Really, who will abuse you more heinously than all your closest friends and fellow drinkers? Hats off to Tatsu for remaining alive and standing under fire. 🙂

by Jim Romdall, Vessel, Seattle

1-1/2 ounce Dos Maderas PX Rum
3/4 ounce Ramazzotti Amaro
1 egg
dash simple syrup
dash Angostura Bitters
float Green Chartreuse

Combine the first five ingredients in a shaker and dry shake WITHOUT ICE for at least 20 seconds. Add ice and shake to chill. Double strain into a Irish coffee glass and float with green Chartereuse.


L.A.’s Best Cocktails, according to Jonathan Gold

It’s a Los Angeles-centric cocktail post, folks … so if you don’t live in the City of Angels or don’t plan to visit soon, this one might not hold your interest.  You never know, though — you could end up here one day!

Jonathan Gold, Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer from the L.A. Weekly, has been drinking his way across town for quite a while now. (This is a job I would not mind having.) All the while, he’s been thinking about essence:

We have, I think, nearly come to agreement on what an essential restaurant might be in Los Angeles, a place that may have transcendent food or occupy a niche in the social ecosystem, but explains something to us about ourselves. Our ideas on the subject are firm. The nature of an essential cocktail may be more subjective. To one man we know, 55 essential cocktails means 55 glasses of Chivas, because that’s all he’ll ever drink. To us, an essential cocktail says something about L.A. […]

Three years into the cocktailian revolution, there remains little agreement about what an essential bar should be, but a rough consensus about how an essential bar should be run. At the best bars, be it The Varnish or Tiki-Ti, syrups are fresh, juices are prepared daily, and the ice, whether chipped from a giant block or made by a $10,000 machine, is clear and cold. Even a novice can tell a great bar from a mediocre one by the sharpness of the report from the shakers.

But 55 essential cocktails? Why not 99? Why not 82? Why a number associated with that which Sammy Hagar cannot drive? Because I drive. Because I have a human liver. Because however much you may adore the saketini at that little place in Torrance, it is only essential if you happen to be eating a sliver of yellowtail sashimi there at the time.

Bottoms up!

He’s come up with his voluminous list of what he considers to be the 55 very best tipples in Los Angeles, at a variety of places undoubtedly familiar to most of us locals, as well as some I still have yet to try. I think you’ll find it’s a pretty solid list; perhaps it’ll give you some inspiration for a formidable (and, one would hope, weeks-long) bar crawl.


Where to drink great cocktails in Los Angeles

It’s hard to believe that just over four years ago, Los Angeles was a (relative) cocktail wasteland.

The city had yet to recover from the near-death of bartending and mixology, the nadir of which gave us the once-ubiquitous artificially-colored and -flavored green “apple-tinis,” and more often than not the best you could do (other than drink beer, wine or straight spirits) was an overly-sweet (and equally ubiquitous) Cosmopolitan.

Things began to look up for us in the early ’00s, when Wes and I became regulars at a wonderful (and now-closed) restaurant in Glendale called Cinnabar. Our friend Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh worked with them to put together an amazing menu of classic cocktails, and on our first visit we were thrilled to see it. Finally, a place where we could go out and get a really good classic cocktail! We also quickly became thrilled with the food, and drank and dined there regularly until they closed in 2005.

For me, the moment when the switch got flipped was at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in 2007. I had just finished participating in a seminar on homemade and defunct cocktail ingredients in which I did a presentation on my homemade allspice liqueur when a young bartender approached and introduced himself. “I just helped open a bar in Los Angeles — we’ve been open for three months now, and I really want you to come.” I had actually heard about this bar, although being God Emperor of Procrastination I hadn’t made it over there yet. The bartender was Marcos Tello, the bar was Seven Grand, and the rest is history. Los Angeles’ cocktail renaissance — for me, at least — had begun.

Now … we have such a mindbogglingly large number of truly wonderful cocktail bars (many of them world-class) in this city that I cannot keep up with them all. I thought it was about time I made a list of them, and I’ll make it sticky somewhere on the site so that it’ll be easy to find.

These are bars in which bartenders (and their trusty barbacks) squeeze their own juices (which is now de rigueur in a bar in which I’ll drink cocktails, as far as I’m concerned). These are bars in which you won’t have to ask if they have rye whiskey, unless you want to know how many different ones they stock. You won’t have to remind the bartender that a Manhattan contains bitters, and you’re unlikely to get a muddled Old Fashioned in which the orange slice and fake neon red artificially flavored cherry are mashed into a nasty pulp. They’ll have menus of classic and creative new cocktails. Many if not most of them use large, clear ice cubes and crack their own ice for stirring or shaking; some actually make their own ice. Fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs are used. Housemade syrups and bitters are not uncommon.

This is where to drink in L.A. (and environs). Most are free-standing bars, some are restaurants, all of them will serve you a really good drink. Many of them will serve you an amazing one.

View Where to Drink in Los Angeles (and thereabouts) in a larger map

320 Main, 320 Main St., Seal Beach, CA 90740. (562) 799-6246. Jason Schiffer, co-proprietor. Erik Trickett, Matt Robold et al., bartenders.

A-Frame Restaurant, 12565 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066. (310) 398-7700. Bar program by Brian Butler.

Areal, 2820 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405. (310) 392-1661. Rich Andreoli.

Bar 1886 at the Raymond, 1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105. (626) 441-3136. Cocktail menu by Marcos Tello & Aidan Demarest, and the crew of 1886: Head bartender Garrett McKechnie and bartenders Danny Cymbal, Brady Weise, Greg Gertmenian, Lacey Murillo, et al.

Bar | Kitchen, O Hotel, 819 S. Flower St., Los Angeles, CA 90017. (213) 623-9904 x105. Bar program by Alex Day and David Kaplan.

Bar Bouchon, 235 N Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. (310) 281-5698. Small and casual, downstairs from and to the right of the restaurant’s main entrance.

Bar Centro, The Bazaar at SLS Hotel, 465 S La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211. (310) 246-5555.

Bar Marmont, 8171 W. Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90046. (323) 650-0575.

Big Bar at The Alcove, 1929 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027. (323) 644-0100. Juan Sevilla et al., bartenders.

Black Market Liquor Bar, 11915 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604. (818) 446-2533. Tricia Alley, Ray Ewers, et al., bartenders.

Bottega Louie, 700 S. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90017. (213) 802-1470. Across the street from Seven Grand.

Bouchon Bistro, 235 N Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. (310) 271-9910. The upstairs bar in the bistro has a separate staff and menu.

Caña Rum Bar, 714 W. Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015. (213) 745-7090. Enter at the first private driveway south of Olympic on Flower St. Members only; membership is open and is $20 annually. Allan Katz, general manager.

Church & State Bistro, 1850 Industrial St., Los Angeles, CA 90021. (213) 405-1434.

Cole’s Red Car Bar, 118 East 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014. (213) 622-4090.

Comme Ça Restaurant, 8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90069. (323) 782-1104.

Copa d’Oro, 217 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 576-3030. Vincenzo Marianella, proprietor.

Craft Los Angeles, 10100 Constellation Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90067. (310) 279-4180.

La Descarga,1159 North Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 466-1324. Steve Livigni, general manager. Pablo Moix, Ken Arbuckle, et al., bartenders.

Drago Centro, 525 S Flower St., Suite #120, Los Angeles, CA 90071. (213) 228-8998. Michael Shearin, sommelier & beverage director. Jaymee Mandeville, Jen Len, Mark Blackhart et al., bartenders.

The Edison, 108 W 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. (213) 613-0000.

El Carmen Restaurant, 8138 W Third St., Los Angeles, CA 90048. (323) 852-1552. Large selection of tequilas.

The Eveleigh Restaurant, 8752 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069. (424) 239-1630.

First & Hope Supper Club, 710 W 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. (213) 617-8555.

Harvard & Stone, 5221 Hollywood Blvd. (at N. Harvard), Los Angeles, CA 90027. (323) 466-6063. Bar program by Steve Livigni & Pablo Moix of La Descarga. Matt Wallace, head bartender, with bartenders Rich Andreoli, Nathan Oliver, Francois Vera & Mia Sarazen, opening crew.

Hemingway’s Lounge, 6356 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028. (323) 469-0040.

The Hungry Cat, 135 N Vine St. at Sunset, Los Angeles, CA 90028. (323) 462-2155.

Jones, 7205 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069. (323) 850-1726. Eric “E.T.” Tecosky et al, bartenders.

Las Perlas, 107 E 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014. (213) 988-8355. Across the street from Cole’s. Tequila & mezcal.

Library Bar, Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028. Matthew Biancaniello, Ryan Green, Brady Weise et al., bartenders.

Malo Taqueria, 4326 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029. (323) 664-1011.

Mixology 101 at Planet Dailies, 6333 W. 3rd St., Ste. O20, Los Angeles, CA 90036, (323) 370-6560. Bar manager Joseph Brooke.

Musso and Frank Grill, 6667 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028. (323) 467-7788.

Neat, 1114 N. Pacific Ave., Glendale, CA 91202. (818) 241-4542. Owner Aidan Demarest. Bartenders Cari Hah, et al.

Next Door Lounge, 1154 N Highland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 465-5505. Head barman, Joe Brooke.

Osteria Mozza, 6602 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 297-0100. Finest collection of Italian amari in Los Angeles, perhaps anywhere.

The Parish, 840 S. Spring St. at 9th, Los Angeles, CA 90014. (213) 225-2400. John Coltharp, head bartender. Leo Rivas, Edwin Cruz, Brian Summers, et al. Chef Casey Lane.

Picca Peru, 9575 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035. (310) 277-0133.

Plan Check Bar, 1800 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025. (310) 288-6500.

Playa, 7360 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036. (323) 933-5300.

Pour Vous, 5574 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90004. (323) 871-8699. Pablo Moix, Dave Fernie, et al.

Providence Restaurant, 5955 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 460-4170. Zahra Bates, bartender.

Rivera Restaurant, 1050 S Flower St., Los Angeles, CA 90015. (213) 749-1460. Julian Cox et al., bartenders.

The Roger Room, 370 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048. (310) 854-1300. Damian Windsor, Jason Bran et al., bartenders.

Seven Grand, 515 W 7th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014. (213) 614-0737.

Sotto Restaurant, 9575 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035. (310) 277-0133. Cocktails by Julian Cox and team.

The Spare Room, Mezzanine Level, Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028. Two bowling alleys, backgammon and chess tables, board games.

Sunny Spot, 822 Washington Blvd. at Abbot Kinney, Venice, CA 90292. (310) 448-8884. Brian Butler, et al.

The Tasting Kitchen, 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291. (310) 392-6644. John Coltharp, Justin Pike et al., bartenders.

The Thirsty Crow, 2939 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA. (323) 661-6007.

Tiki-Ti, 4427 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027. (323) 669-9381. Mike Buhen Sr. & Jr., bartenders.

Tlapazola Grill, 11676 Gateway Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90064 (310) 477-1577. Edwin Cruz, bartender and co-proprietor.

Tony’s Saloon, 2017 E 7th St., Los Angeles, CA 90021. (213) 622-5523.

The Varnish, 118 E Sixth St., Los Angeles 90014. (213) 622-9999. Entrance through a non-descript door in the back of the dining room in Cole’s French Dip. Eric Alperin, co-owner & bartender. Chris Bostick, manager & bartender. Devon Tarby et al., bartenders.

Villains Tavern, 1356 Palmetto, Los Angeles, CA 91003. (213) 613-0766. Dave Whitton, co-owner & bartender, et al.

Westside Tavern, 10850 W Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064. (310) 470-1539. Kylee Van Dillen, Dan McClary, et al., bartenders.

If I’ve missed any, shout at me in the comments. Also … I know it’s fraught with peril to list any bartenders in bar listings — it’s almost a full-time job keep track of where my bartender friends are working. I’ve thrown in a few more well-known names of people that I know are relatively settled, for the time being at least.

Next stop … where to get a great cocktail in New Orleans.

Creole Cuisine in Los Angeles

Yes indeed, you can get good Louisiana food in Los Angeles, but you have to be careful.

There’s my usual credo (with very few exceptions ever granted), in which I do not patronize a Louisiana restaurant outside of Louisiana unless someone from Louisiana is in the kitchen. Back during the 1980s “Cajun craze” there were a lot of places that switched to or offered menu items labelled as “Cajun” without knowing what the hell they were doing, and putting out a lot of really bad food. Primary among these sinners were the people who thought that Cajun food was regular food encased in red pepper. Then there were those who thought Cajun food came from New Orleans … the litany of offenses goes on and on.

But for years there have been solid, reliable places in L.A., driven by a black Creole community who’ve been out here since the 1940s. Old favorites like Harold and Belle’s (dress up and bring a fat wallet) or Stevie’s Creole Café (former owner of Stevie’s on the Strip, which closed in 2006) in Encino; late, lamented places like Sid’s Cafe (owned by the wonderful Mr. Jase, and almost a second home to me when it was open) and other places that have come and gone.

Apparently, though, another one popped up a couple of years ago, and I didn’t even notice until I got an email from a co-worker which included this appeal:

Click to embiggen

A New Orleans restaurant needed our help? Our help was to go there and eat? Well … I can do that! And so off to New Orleans Vieux Carré Creole Cuisine we went. (4317 Degnan Blvd., LA 90008 in Leimert Park.) The timing couldn’t have been better, either — the day we went was the 5th anniversary of the arrival of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, followed by the failure of the Federal levee and floodwall system, and I needed some New Orleans food in me that day.

Spacious, plenty of New Orleans-local decoration and appropriate music, very friendly and welcoming service … I felt right at home. The place was just shy of half-full on a Sunday afternoon, so they can most certainly use the business (although we may have missed out on the after-church crowd).

Let’s get right to business. Iced tea. I figured I didn’t have to do my usual L.A. move of asking whether the tea was real, regular iced tea or some kind of Tropical PassionBerry Explosion kind of abomination. Nope, real southern iced tea — thumbs up. (They kindly offer both unsweetened and “sweet tea,” the latter of which I usually avoid pretty much anywhere.) Next, the test of mettle of a Louisiana restaurant — the gumbo.

Filé gumbo

Dark roux, very flavorful, although a bit salty for me (I tend to be sensitive to it, however). Plenty of seafood (big chunk of blue crab and shrimp), plus smoked and fresh hot sausage. I didn’t need to add any hot sauce to it, either. All in all a fine gumbo.

Crawfish & Corn Chowder

This is what blew me away in the soup category, though. What the menu describes as their “famous” Crawfish and Corn Chowder came next, and it seems to me that whatever fame it has is more than justified. Thick, rich, lots of crawfish (Louisiana crawfish, I was assured), freshly cut corn, beautifully seasoned. Next time I’m getting a whole bowl of this.

Those of you who may know my taste know how much I love New Orleans’ beloved Creole hot sausage, and especially hot sausage po-boys. If I had to choose a last meal, it’d probably be a hot sausage po-boy with fries, and a big plate of red beans ‘n rice. I didn’t order the red beans — I don’t usually order that dish in a restaurant, because I make it at home all the time and because mine is, well … the best (*cough*cough* … okay, I really should try their red beans next time) — but I had to have a hot sausage po-boy, despite the massive amount of food we’d already ordered.

Hot sausage po-boy

My first question — links or patties? Patties are the way to go for me, but NOVC serves theirs with links. That’s fine, of course! It’s just my personal idiosyncracy, and it depends on the type and style of sausage, and these were hot links, perfectly seasoned and nicely grilled with crisp edges. Then there’s the question of the bread … sigh. It’s nearly impossible to get proper New Orleans po-boy bread out here — Vietnamese baguettes come the closest — even though Leidenheimer’s say they ship nationally. The bread was good, but it was the soft variety. Still, a very solid hot sausage po-boy, probably the only one you can get in Los Angeles that I know of, and for that reason it is to be celebrated. (The fries were good too.)

Next came their featured dish of the day:

Shrimp & Crawfish Étouffée

Shrimp and Crawfish Étouffée, loaded with seafood, big fat shrimp and a ton of crawfish, and easily enough food for two people (I took half mine home and had a wonderful leftover dinner the next night). A marvelous dish, and I’ve heard good things about it at this restaurant, but if anything that day it seemed a touch underseasoned. (I added a few sprinkles of Creole seasoning to my leftovers and that really did the trick.) I suspect that this was just an inconsistency of that day, though, given how well everything else was seasoned, and I’d most certainly order it again.

Stuffed Catfish

Wes got the Stuffed Catfish, beautifully fried and seasoned, and stuffed with a seafood and ham dressing. This is exactly the kind of dish I’d expect to get at Mandina’s back home, even down to the little dish of green beans (just like you get at Mandina’s, if you know what I mean. 😉 )

Desserts were offered, but we were more than stuffed. That will have to wait for next time, when we come back in force with the Fat Pack in tow, and tear our way through as much of that menu as we can (entire dishes ordered “for the table,” as we’re fond of saying). I’d prefer to have at least a couple more visits under my belt before writing an actual review, but we were happy enough eating there, and we want to help them enough as well, that I decided not to wait until I had tried more dishes. (Sheesh, it’s already been six weeks, with me being God Emperor of Procrastination and all.)

If you’re looking for very good, relatively inexpensive Creole food in Los Angeles, this is where you need to go, and go often.


An evening with Chef Ludo

The intense and immensely talented French chef Ludovic Lefebvre just finished up the fourth incarnation of his “pop-up” restaurant LudoBites, a few weeks ago. This time it was held from early April ’til May 28 at what’s normally a small, respectable lunch-only spot in downtown Los Angeles, Gram and Papa’s (whose motto, “Slow food, fast” is almost just like that of our beloved Oinkster, which is “Slow fast food”), but during those dates, at night, it became one of the best restaurants in the city.

When LudoBites 4 was announced, apparently reservations for the entire run sold out in 18 hours. Thanks to our friend Noelle grabbing a table for eight on Saturday, May 8 we were able to enjoy Ludo’s food, and for starters I’ll say it’s one of the most extraordinary meals I’ve ever had in this city.

Some people don’t like Chef Ludo. These tend exclusively to be people who’ve never met him, never eaten his food and have only seen him on the TV show “Top Chef Masters,” where his demeanor has been described as “cantankerous.” (What, a chef, cantankerous? No! I don’t believe it!) Remember, folks, that that show is TV, and TV ain’t real, no matter how often the misnomer “reality TV’ is bandied about. These shows are edited to make good TV, so let’s get any perceptions based on a TV show out of the way.

I got to meet him and his fabulous wife Krissy (who runs the front of the house) only very briefly, but Ludo was charming and friendly yet very serious and passionate about food, all of which was reflected in every single plate that came to our table. Krissy was the consummate host, made us all feel very welcome and remembered Wesly from the last LudoBites (which I had to miss, as I was out of town, phoo).

Chef Ludo

Ludo recently did an interview with the “creative culture blog” yello!, where he talked about his previous versus current clientele:

We have the food trucks now (we have a lot, a lot of food trucks in LA). I think food trucks are amazing. I really love it. A chef like me, I worked all my life in high-end expensive restaurants … and now, to be affordable to everybody is just amazing. Because before, when I was at Bastide or L’Orangerie, there were a lot of customers who couldn’t afford to try my food. And now, it’s just so amazing how I meet different clientele. To be very accessible like this is how I want to be. I want to cook for everybody, not just for rich people. And I don’t need to use caviar every time to do good food. I can really create a menu that’s not very expensive for my customer. I want my customer to be able to come every week. That’s what makes a restaurant. I don’t want to be anymore “the special occasion chef,” when people just come to celebrate their birthdays or anniversaries. No. We need to be accessible.

That, my friends, is someone who understands great food and hospitality. That, my friends, is also what I’d like to aspire to as long as I’m living in this city — eating Ludo’s food every week.

He went on to say, “[W]e have people who come to the restaurant, sit down and tell the waiter, ‘I want to eat the whole menu.’ [He stares, bewildered.] No, it’s crazy. I mean, people come to LudoBites and eat the whole menu.”

Um … ahem.

Okay, here’s the deal. This was our one shot at LudoBites this time. Even though he does tweak the menu a bit during the run, and perhaps a dish drops off and a new one joins in, or it’s made in a slightly different way, this was still more or less it. It wasn’t like we could try a few dishes now and try a few later on; there were no more reservations available (although one of our dining companions managed to get in a couple more times before the end of the run). And everything looked fantastic.

So … the eight of us ordered every single dish on the menu. Two or three servings of each. For the table.

It was kind of like taking off and nuking the entire site from orbit. It was the only way to be sure.

Let us begin.

Warm Baguette with Honey-Lavender Butter and Smoked Lard

That Ludo was able to drive me nearly insane with a warm baguette and two things to spread on it is rather telling. The honey-lavender butter was amazing, but the smoked lard … not only did I want a bucket of that stuff to smear on bread and nom nom nom all night long, forsaking all other menu items, but I practically wanted to rub it all over my body. Now that I’ve left you with that disgusting imagery … ’nuff said.

Whipped Brie Chantilly with Honeycomb, Frisée Salad and Balsamic Vinegar

Next, Whipped Brie Chantilly with Honeycomb, Frisée Salad and Balsamic Vinegar. The brie was whipped for a light texture, then had chantilly cream folded into it for an even lighter (but much richer) texture.

Scallop with Spinach, Yogurt-Curry Sauce, Spring Garlic and Violet Flowers

Scallop with Spinach, Yogurt-Curry Sauce, Spring Garlic and Violet Flowers. Perfectly cooked scallop, surprisingly mild roasted spring garlic, and the foamy-but-not-foam texture of the sauce was great with the scallop.

Marinated King Salmon, German Butterball Potatoes, Crème Fraîche with Red Wine Vinaigrette

Marinated King Salmon, German Butterball Potatoes, Crème Fraîche with Red Wine Vinaigrette. I had to fight off a bit of apprehension due to the fact that salmon had not passed my lips since I got food poisoning from a bad piece of salmon last year. I knew that wasn’t going to happen this time, and dove in. The salmon was divine; fatty and tender and buttery, marinated enough for the flavors to penetrate the fish but not enough to “cook” it into ceviche, with the crisp carrot slices and strips of red onion offering textural contrast. Then those potatoes! The tangy crème fraîche on the potatoes and the vinaigrette on the salmon balanced the richness perfectly. This was terrific; I think my temporary fear of salmon is now gone. And we’re still only getting started …

White Asparagus Velouté with Mozzarella Mousse, Candied Olives, Shaved Fennel and Salmon Roe

Next, White Asparagus Velouté with Mozzarella Mousse, Candied Olives, Shaved Fennel and Salmon Roe. If you’re unfamiliar with a velouté, it’s one of the “mother sauces” of French cuisine. In its most basic form it’s a light stock (chicken, veal or fish) thickened with a blond roux (made of butter and flour). The term is derived from the French word “velour,” or “velvety,” and that’s a perfect description of what a sauce velouté or a soup derived from it feels like in your mouth. Here it’s puréed white asparagus, with a creamy cheese mousse, crisp fennel and the delightful little *pop* you get from the salmon roe all providing a wealth of textures as well as flavors. We were starting to get dizzy. Steady, boy …

So as not to kill your browser or mobile reader we’ll continue with the rest of this staggering meal after the break:

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