These bites inspired me more than any others over the past year.
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Learn about the Top 15 Los Angeles dishes that I ate in 2008, regardless of cuisine or price level. These devastating dishes appear in alphabetical order, not according to my level of enjoyment, which was considerable in every single case.
Delux – Hollywood – Tuna Melt [CLOSED]
I attended the grand opening of Delux, an Art Deco restaurant and bar in the middle of the increasingly sizzling Cahuenga Corridor from designer Kristofer Keith and partner Adolfo Suaya. Eric Greenspan, chef-owner of The Foundry on Melrose and Suaya’s long-time friend, constructed a unique menu featuring 14 shareable small plates. Every dish incorporates alcohol, and there’s no need for utensils. In fact, there are no utensils. Every dish was good, but the Seared Tuna “Melt” was phenomenal, containing silky strips of tuna, vodka spiked peppers, oozing cheese, a creamy swipe of aioli and a fluffy rye roll.
Heirloom LA – Pumpkin Lasagna
Three days a week, George Cossette, Randy Clement and April Langford host tastings at their sleek wine shop, which specializes in “small production, high quality, artisanal wines.” On Sundays, they host the most ambitious of the events, with food from talented local chefs. On October 12, Silverlake Wine hosted a special 90-person blowout with food from up-and-coming chefs Matthew Poley (savory) and Tara Maxey (sweet). Their pumpkin lasagna was especially fabulous, Kabocha and butternut squash puree layered with pasta sheets, Parmigiano, brown butter sage glaze and gobs of hand-pulled buffalo mozzarella, topped with cubes of al dente squash and greens.
Ingredients – Glendale – Pork Shoulder [CLOSED]
Former Bistro Verdu chef-owner Michael Ruiz resurfaced in the north Glendale neighborhood of Sparr Heights in December 2007. His blackboard menu changed according to the seasons, showcasing at least 20 Mediterranean small bites each day. We sampled seven dishes, none better than the pork shoulder, slow braised with sweet Cara Cara oranges. Ruiz covered the pig meat with a glass dome and introduces swirling applewood smoke. Ruiz lifted the lid to reveal the luscious shredded pork, garnished with roasted green peppers and ringed with parsley oil.
Chef Ruiz was forced to close Ingredients, and promptly became Executive Chef for Steven Arroyo’s Cobras & Matadors restaurants, along with Sgt. Recruiter.
Jitlada – Hollywood – Steamed Mussels
Jitlada was the talk of Thai Town for almost two decades, but the restaurant suffered from a culinary coma in the years leading up to March 2006, when Chef Tui Sungkamee and younger sister Jazz Singsanong took over. Chef Sungkamee cooked for a dozen siblings in southern Thailand and had a restaurant on Pattaya beach before coming to America. Of the dozens of great dishes at Jitlada in 2008, including crocodile slathered with a dry curry, the green lip mussels were the most incredible, submerged in a lemongrass broth with whole chilies and Thai basil. The bivalves were massive, easily two inches across. Chef Sungkamee cooked them masterfully, until sweet and supple. Not that the finished product needed any help, but we spooned on a sauce of minced garlic and green chilies.
Little Dom’s Deli – Los Feliz – Blackberry-Grape-Rosemary Focaccia
Warner Ebbink and Brandon Boudet (Little Dom’s, Dominick’s, 101 Coffee Shop) debuted their Los Feliz deli on December 17, sharing their Italian specialties with the neighborhood. Chef Boudet is handling the seasonal savory items. Ann Kirk, the pastry chef at Little Dom’s, makes all the sweet items. Opening day offerings included a phenomenal blackberry, grape and rosemary focaccia, heated until the fruits’ natural sugars caramelized.
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