Every week involves a seemingly continuous stream of food, drinks and people. Of course not every taste or conversation is post-able, but my range of experiences is usually pretty amazing. Discover favorites from June 6 – 12, 2011, some of which will help to fuel full posts.
6/7/11 – Raphael pastry chef Kasra Ajdari, who previously worked with executive chef Adam Horton at Saddle Peak Lodge, delivered a dazzling dessert: elderflower panna cotta, blueberry and violet puree, a nearly Möbius-like berry strip, blueberries, Kaffir lime puree and white chocolate pudding.
6/8/11 – During my bygone days as a Beverly Hills resident, Pistachio Grill was popular with Iranian cabbies. For the past four years, the Ruby Room has occupied the recessed space, featuring Italian and French options, but the primary reason to visit the restaurant remains Persian classics like koobideh, a casing-free beef sausage that’s now made using organic meat. Expect the same heaps of basmati rice, stained yellow with saffron.
6/9/11 – Proof Bakery owner Na Young Ma continues to tweak the selection at her Atwater Village bakery based on the seasons, and of course demand. Their most recent scone incorporated cherries and almonds. Sandwiches are another recent addition.
6/11/11 – Nhu Lan Bakery was my Saturday breakfast based on the advice of OC Weekly, including flaky pate chaud, cha gio (both chicken and pork), fried sesame balls filled with mung bean paste, and of course a banh mi packed with grilled pork, mayo, julienne daikon and carrot, crunchy raw onions, scallions, cucumber, jalapeño and cilantro.
6/11/11 – Portola Coffee roaster Jeff Duggan and wife Christa previously operated out of Irvine’s Layer Cake Bakery, and two weeks ago, they introduced a showcase coffee lab at OC Mart Mix in Costa Mesa, a contemporary retail complex not far from South Coast Plaza. The Duggans have introduced what is probably the most ambitious coffeehouse to ever hit Orange County, featuring an eco-friendly in-house roastery, modern lime green and bamboo design elements and multiple brewing methods, including Slayer espresso, pourover, syphon and Kyoto-style cold brew. Since it’s a “lab,” baristas wear white lab coats.
6/11/11 – The Orange County tour continued with OC-based food writer Dave Lieberman and family at Luc Dinh Ky Tap II, a Vietnamese restaurant that specializes in bricks of crispy grilled rice, which they plate with assorted proteins. The standout was Bo Luc Lac, peppery diced beef tossed with onions, which, when paired with the accompanying soy chile sauce, detonated an umami bomb.
6/11/11 – My final Orange County stop of the day was at the Noble Ale Works tasting room, where Mr. Lieberman and I drank pints of Dark Sybian IPA and Alpha Red. Jerry Kolbly launched the knightly business last fall in an industrial park near Angels Stadium, and until recently had been contract brewing out of Dale Bros. Brewery in Upland. He and his team are completing preparations to brew in-house. They’re also readying the release Nobility, an Imperial IPA.
6/12/11 – I organized the Beer Garden for this year’s Taste of the Nation, which featured plenty of great craft brewery and bar tandems, including Firestone Walker and Library Alehouse. Here, Tom Kelley and wife Amanda rep Library Alehouse, and Jace Milstead and wife Alicia rep FW. Eagle Rock Brewery and Verdugo Bar also united, as did The Bruery and Steingarten LA and Brewery Ommegang and The Golden State. Jason Bernstein, co-owner of The Golden State and champion of the L.A. Beer Float Showdown, spearheaded a beer float with cherry flavored Liefman’s kriek and Scoops strawberry yuzu ice cream. Stone Brewing Co. was a great last minute addition to the pyramid-capped gazebo.
6/12/11 – Pastry chef Waylynn Lucas and business partner Nancy Truman previewed fōnuts at Taste of the Nation, featuring several different styles of baked donuts, including strawberry buttermilk and rich version with chocolate and salty, candied hazelnuts.
Michael Voltaggio and his ink. crew anchored the event’s VIP section, offering Wagyu beef tongue and liquid nitrogen ice cream in flavors like bacon, blueberry and olive oil. They dispensed micro-cones for awhile before scooping straight into bowls.