Sunday, April 26, 2009

One Sunset

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One Sunset was the next destination for the foodies that were invited by Abby. Owned by the same company (The One Group) but with a different flare, One Sunset is located on Sunset Blvd., adjacent to many other posh restaurants and lounges. I paid for valet because I didn't want to get another parking ticket and didn't want to be late for free drinks (duh).

As soon as I arrived in the Champagne Lounge, I was welcomed by a LUSHious Raspberry (Raspberries - Gloria Ferrer Champagne - Leblon) which was surprisingly crisp and delicious for such a sweet cocktail (I usually don't like sweet drinks) and after being in LA traffic for 1.5 freaking hours, this changed my mood instantly and got me ready to party (in my mouth).

We moved to a secluded spot in the restaurant called the Candle Lounge and divided into a few groups and sat in a giant circular booth. I got to dine with Abby, KevinEats, and the Gastronomy couple. Jason Ryczek, the young and hot executive chef at One Sunset, came out to introduce himself and explain what we'd have that night. We'd be trying the "One of Almost Everything" tasting menu with cocktail pairings (woo!). I later learned that you can come on Tuesdays and get the "One of Almost Everything" tasting menu for $45 and for $1 more you can share a bottle of wine between two people (that night they offered Beringer but not sure if this remains constant).

We started off with the "Master Cleanse" (Belvedere Vodka - Fresh Lemon Juice - Maple Syrup) which is an appropriate name for a drink before a tasting menu. As everyone knows, the Master Cleanse is a cleansing-toxins releasing-diarrhea inducing fasting ritual that a lot of actors and health nuts suffer through for the sake of beauty/health. Interestingly I never heard of the Master Cleanse before coming to LA so it was hilarious that a drink was named after that. Sort of tongue in cheek humor there. The first course was a mini pancake with bacon and maple syrup along with other ingredients (sorry, I missed the info on this one because it was off-menu). It was okay but I liked the tomato four ways from STK a lot better to whet my appetite.

Perhaps it's a personal thing that I don't like to start my meals with something too sweet, unless it's a cocktail, for which I will make many exceptions.



Next, we had the 'Adult Candy' which are bacon-wrapped, blue cheese-stuffed dates on skewers, sitting on a bed of arugula. I was a little confused at the name at first. I expected something more pornographic but it was not as raunchy as first imagined. In fact, I really liked the subtlety of the blue cheese in contrast to the sweetness of the dates and the fatty salty gooeyness of the bacon. You're sitting there eating this gooey soft melty thing and the tastes come alive slowly. It was more sensual than pornographic and I liked that it was on a stick (in case you want to eat like really sexy-like).

Next we had the Spicy Tuna Tartare that came with tempura eggplant and kecap manis, a delicious sweet and tangy sauce. I don't remember the tuna being that spicy but I was fascinated by the use of the tempura eggplant. This tuna tartare is far better in concept and execution than their sister version at STK which was tuna tartare with plantain chips on the side. I talk about this dish to a lot of people and will go back to One Sunset at least to have this dish with my cocktails.


Next, we had the Burrata and Strawberries with cinnamon bruschetta, pistachios, pink pepper, basil. I wasn't for it nor against it but it was definitely interesting. I didn't have more than one bite of it though, if that is a measure of anything.

Next we had the BBQ Sliders with crispy shallots, smoked cheddar and a side of crispy onion rings and horseradish dipping sauce. I am not a fan of sweet meat. This one tasted too much like baked beans (the taste, not the texture) and the bread was too sweet as well. As soon as my genius brain told my fast fingers to put some of the salty crispy onion rings inside the slider, it was gold. I still couldn't finish it though. Too heavy and compared to the delicious sliders at STK, I had to pass on this.



Next were the Korean Chicken Satay, barbecued, with kimchi, cashews, kejap manis. This was my least favorite dish. I honestly didn't taste anything Korean about this dish, not even the kimchi. To me it tasted more Japanese or Thai.

Next we had the Salade Ni coise with pistachio crusted albacore, caper aioli. The chef said that there weren't any anchovies in the dish and although I usually wouldn't miss anchovies, I did this time. Was it psychological? I don't know.

Next pranced in the Turkey Meatballs with marinara, parmesan, basil. I'm so glad this dish came when it did because I think I craved something hot by this point that hit the spot and this sure did! I was also glad I got to taste it because it's not that intuitive to order meatballs off a dining menu when you're cocktailing or how does it even really meld with any of the other food that had come thus far? It doesn't but I think it stands on its own. It was piping hot, juicy, tender, delicious, and awesome.


Next were the Roasted Clams on the Half Shell with chorizo, chowder sauce, crushed oyster crackers. I think the chorizo and the oyster were both too flavorful, competing for attention. I wasn't a fan of slurping the rest of the goo after eating the goods.



Desserts finally came and started with the Panna Cotta with blackberry sorbet, lavendar poppy seed crisp, Meyer lemon panna cotta drizzled with lavendar oil. This was delicious. I only wish it was less sweet but it's dessert and other people like it sweet. The panna cotta was more palatable to me than than the sweet blackberry sorbet. The crisp was a nice way to pick up all the elements in the dessert.



Then came the 'Velvet Rope' Cupcakes which is basically a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. There was really nothing special about this cupcake. Very innocent compared to...

The Vegan Godiva Chocolate Gelato with Disarona. After we took our respective pictures, we poured the Disarona into the cup of gelato and ate the gooey mess which completely woke me up from my food coma. Delicious and genius way to end the meal.

The last two drinks that accompanied our meal:



Long Island Lolita
Belvedere Vodka - Bacardi Run - Hendricks Gin
Ocho Tequila - Cherry Herring

Tropical Sidecar
Hennessy - Pineapple Chunks- Cointreau - Blueberries


They were both a bit too sweet and I couldn't drink all this alcohol in one sitting because I didn't want to get drunk but they were also not as pretty as the cocktails at STK.

If I were to go back to One Sunset again, I'd make sure to go on a Tuesday night to get the $1 bottle of wine per two people with the "One of Almost Everything" tasting menu. 10 plates for $45 plus $1 extra for a bottle of wine is a pretty good deal. This is a good place to go to have some fun and experience Sunset Blvd's glitz.

As for the food, if I were getting a la carte, I'd get the adult candy, tuna tartare, and the turkey meatball all over again. As compared to STK, this place is better if you want to taste a lot of different flavors without feeling weighed down and overall, the concept is more hollywood. But, I could argue that plate by plate, STK's was more craveworthy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

STK

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In doing this foodie documentary, I had the pleasure of meeting so many interesting foodies. If only I could get paid for continuing to do this documentary, I'd be more than happy to dedicate the rest of my life to filming food and foodies.

My network has just expanded to include over 50 new people - all of them foodies. I'm now on Menuism, another restaurant review site, and finally joined Pleasure Palate, a dining group. I was already on yelp, foodbuzz, and had my own food blog and now all I need is a digital SLR and I can really feel like I'm prepared for combat.

I even got invited to dine at the One Group's two restaurants STK and One Sunset with some other food bloggers. I feel very validated. I got to eat all this food for free but I would be willing to go back to eat some of this stuff again.

Last Thursday, I went to STK and met up with Abby's cohorts, some whose blogs I've been following (Choisauce, Mattatouille, Sinosoul, Glutster, Gourmet Pigs, Wandering Chopsticks), and others who I've heard of and will now be following (Alli 411, Food She Thought, Gastronomy, Kung Food Panda, The Liquid Muse, Matt Bites, Street Gourmet LA, When Tara Met Blog).

We met at 7pm for drinks before eating and we got to sample a variety of cocktails. Some were interesting to look at but tasted way too exotic for me. Case in point:

capsicum mojito
bacardi, lime juice, mint leaves, bell pepper rings

This drink tasted like bell peppers. I know some other foodies loved this though. I ended up drinking most of it anyway because it wasn't too popular and I didn't want to feel bad about hogging a drink all to myself but it seemed like no one minded that I hogged this one.

My favorite out of all ten thousand cocktails we got to try was the uva caipirinha.
uva caipirinha
leblon cachaca, red grapes, lime, clover honey

Now THIS is what I'm talking about! You could taste the grapes in this one and the sweetness was very natural (prolly the honey) and not too sugary. Obviously, I felt bad about hogging this one but I couldn't help it.

When everyone got there, we mosied on to our table(s). We split up and sat in three different tables. It's so fun to eat food with foodies. The facial expressions alone are noteworthy and addicting.

We were introduced to the STK peeps and got menus in case we got too drunk or insane to remember all the food we were about to stuff in our faces. It came in handy as I'm writing this review but I still can't tell the difference in my picture of the mac & cheese vs. the crack corn (will get to that later). Next time I will be taking a note pad with me.


First, we got this bread that was exploding out of two containers stuck on a wooden thing with a dipping sauce. The bread was soft and buttery but I only ate one because I knew what I was in for (smart).

On to the food extravaganza:

1) Tomato 4 Ways (Special Appetizer from Chef Todd)
Absolutely beautiful in taste, texture, and aesthetics. I wanted to eat the whole thing by myself and I am not your biggest tomato fan. This reminded me of that one time I went to Joe's and had their tomato based tasting menu. I loved starting with this because it was light, flavorful, and crave-worthy.


3) Roasted Beets (coriander, micro mint, yogurt, curry)

This dish was good. Nothing to write home about but still pretty good. I think I'm not the biggest beet fan. I always thought they tasted too much like dirt and hated the color. I think the only beets I ever liked were at Fraiche when I first had them all pale pink and candylike but then I noticed that every restaurant started doing this and now the novelty's gone and I'm not sure if I'd still like the beets at Fraiche if I go back.


4) Arugula Salad with apples
2) Jumbo Lump Salad (green melon, avocado, mache greens and kaffir lime)

This is an example of how I don't remember what this dish was. It could have been the arugula or the lump salad. I don't remember much about this dish. I may have gone to the bathroom at this point and missed the other green stuff to photograph.

5) lil' big macs (Japanese wagyu, special sauce and sesame seed bun)


Oh to the Em to the JeeH!~ This was So Freaking Good. How the HELL do you make a slider this good? I think this was a controversial dish but I loved it. It was crunchy, soft, tender, juicy, sweet, salty, all in a few bites. I was already full by this point but dayam, I didn't have trouble finishing this one off.

6) Tuna Tartare (citrus yogurt, jalapeno, orange and plantain chips)
The tuna tartare + plantains is an interesting combination. I am not a fan.

7) Cowboy Steak - Rib Eye Bone In (Dry Aged)
I think I wet my pants a little when I had this. Sure it could have been a bit warmer but the juices and the fat and the tenderness was a party in my mouth. I wish I wasn't stuffed by this point because I would have eaten way more than a slice and now I'm craving it.

8) Filet with Foie Gras Butter (Wet Aged)
This one was aiite. I am more of a rib eye person so it wasn't my favorite. Didn't really taste the foie gras.

9) Organic Roasted Chicken with turmeric, baby carrots, chive


Pretty random dish. I have a few places where I go to for good chicken and I never really like the gourmet versions of roasted chicken. It's all about the pollo a la brasa, man!

10) Red Snapper with ponzu, shitake brown butter
This dish almost tasted like the kind my dad makes but not quite. I was still waiting for the next awesome dish.

11) Sweet Corn Pudding

And here it came! The crack corn. It either looked like the pic above or the pic below. I can't tell by looking at my pics which is which cuz my dumb butt didn't take a pic of the inside of these dishes. Well, the corn was sweet and salty and gooey and delicious. It was like crack. I kept coming back to it to snort another line ever 15 seconds. It was wiped out in a few minutes. They should have given us a tub.

12) Macaroni and Cheese

The Mac & Cheese was good but nothing to write home about. My fave Mac & Cheese might be at Taste.

13) Broccolini

This might have been asparagus because that's what it looks like. I don't think I had more than one spear. It was good and a good contrast to all the starch and fat by this point in the dinner.

14) Parmesan Truffle Fries
Sauces: Creamy Horseradish, Herb Bearnaise, Red Wine Sauce, Blue Butter, STK, Lemon Mustard, Bold STK and Toasted Peppercorn
I had a few fries. They were really good but I would have enjoyed it more if it was one of few starches. I kept eating so much of the crack corn that I don't think I paid enough attention to all the other carbs around. Sorry, fries.

We had a few drinks with our meal.

la cienega
corzo silver, lime juice, cucumber slices, mint leaves

capsicum mojito
bacardi, lime juice, mint leaves, bell pepper rings

"great gatsby"
hennessy, cointreau, lemon juice, orange juice

stk's delicious

patron xo, raspberries, mint leaves, lime juice


I think my favorite was the delicious. There is a reason for why it is called that plus it has everything I love - patron, mint, lime, and sometimes raspberries. It was a nice finish to the meal and it felt like it cut the grease just a little bit.

All in all, I'd go back for the sliders, the crack corn, the rib eye, and the uva caipirinha and the delicious.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hatfield's

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I've been dying to go check out Hatfield's for almost two years now but I sort of forgot about it. Then, while doing this foodie documentary and asking around for recommendations, we had hlf a dozen foodies telling us to go here. Now I couldn't pass it up!

Finally my boyfriend brought me here to celebrate my birthday. We arrived around 7pm but it was still beautifully gold outside. I couldn't resist taking pictures of the pink and orange clouds and the golden beams of light peeking through.

I didn't realize that it was on Beverly Blvd., really close to The Grove. Also, it's next to a restaurant that decided they are too cool to have a name. It's just a logo or maybe the logo spells something out but to my untrained eye, it just looks like a crowded and pretentious place. Thank goodness Hatfield's was the exact opposite of that - quiet, upscale, and romantic.

There was no wait and possibly due to the recession, I was able to reserve a table just a day beforehand.


As soon as we got seated in a cozy little spot, we were greeted with some shot glass soups and deviled quail eggs. We chose to do the Spring Special Menu for $49 which included 3 courses.


House made ricotta and mustard green agnolotti,
braised bacon, melted leeks,
chanterelles and fava beans

These were my boyfriend's choice. I really enjoyed the soft and cheesy and savory combinations of all the ingredients in these. I would have liked to have switched mine with his because mine was a lot heavier and I still crave the ricotta.


"Croque Madame"
grilled brioche, hamachi,
prosciutto, quail egg

For all the right reasons and ingredients, this dish was delicious but definitely on the heavier side of things. I only ate half and I was already feeling full. This dish reminded me of something Dylan had made at his home the night before. I think quail eggs are sexy right now.



Pan roasted hanger steak and
slow cooked horseradish dusted short ribs,
spring onion confit, smoked potato purée

This was my entree. Definitely way too much food. I had expected smaller portions because most other places would have given you half as much for twice the price. The short ribs were a fatty delicious juicy party in my mouth and the steak was nice and tendery. I gave most of this dish to my boyfriend because he didn't like his entree that much.


Branzino filet,
roasted haricot vert, red onion soubise,
dried apricot, crispy almonds and caper crunch

Afterwards, we realized that our foodie friends had told us to get the duck or lamb or anything with foie gras, which we did not. Instead, my boyfriend got the Branzino filet. We didn't even know it was a fish until we asked. I didn't like it too much because I prefer my fish less fishy tasting. My boyfriend prefered the steak as well so there was a lot of this left over.


Toasted coconut cream "macaroon",
marinated pineapple, vanilla tapioca,
passion fruit sorbet

By the time dessert rolled around, I found myself asking if we could just take it home with us. But, the server said that desserts did not keep well and I'm actually glad we just ate it there. It was so delicious and the macaroons were light and the sorbet and all the flavors in this dessert reminded me of Thailand or Costa Rica. Delicious. I still dream about this.


"Cheesecake" crème caramel,
strawberry and tangerine salad, shortbread crust,
blood orange sorbet

I got this one, which was also delicious but definitely a lot more heavy. I think if you like the sweet and tart combination of strawberry and tangerine AND you love cheesecake, this is your dish. For me, I found it to be a little too heavy at the end of my heavy dinner.

The chef sent us these two little chocolate mini cupcakes. I forgot what the filling was because I only had a bite out of courtesy because by this point I was tipping over my chair.


But I had ordered coffee so I could wake myself from my comatose and I'm so glad I did. The coffee here is superb. I like it better than their cocktails. Who would have thought?

All in all, Hatfield's did not disappoint. But, I want to go back and try the duck or the lamb now before giving it any sort of star rating. That brazino was probably not their best dish nor the dish that they want people to remember them by.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cenaduria Jorgelito en Los Angeles aka McBistro

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Tonight I had the privilege of attending a private dinner for 14 at the house of Jorgito (he prefers this over "Jorgelito" but the title above is the name of his menu).

We started off with a glass or two of the Sangria de la Casa, which were delish. There was a sweet and tangy kick to it. As soon as we were liquored up a little bit, we started with the best tasting quesadillas I've ever had; the
Quesadillas de Chorizo y Cebollas con Queso Mexicano. It was absolutely wonderful because it had sausage in it. Well, also because there were green onions and other stuff but woot! The Sausage was an unexpected surprise. We had the quesadillas with the Jalapenos Escabeche and homemade salsa. Jorgito made the Jalapenos by pickling them for three days. He put so much thought into his menu and it really showed.

Next, we had the Cocteles de Camarones Vera Cruz which can be described as shrimp cocktail on crack and slurpable. It comes in a glass and a spoon is optional but trust me, you're going to need it if you want to demolish it like I did with mine. There were bits of avocados and shrimp and veggies swimming in a tomato based cold liquid. Describing it does no justice because the seasoning and the ingredients made it pop.


Then we had a plate of Enchiladas Verdes con Pasillas, Pollo y Tomatillos and Enchiladas Colorados con Adobo y Queso Mexicano. Red and green enchiladas next to each other. I absolutely LOVED the red one because it reminded me of the sauce that comes with lengua in Bolivian cuisine . The green one was the favored one at the table but I just have such a stronger connection with my memory with the red one.


Next up we had the Caldo Calabaza Bellota con Mantequilla de Savia, which is basically a butternut squash with sage butter. OMG it was heaven in my mouth. Imagine buttery mashed potatoes making love to a sweet squash. All in a soup. I could eat this every morning.

The entree was the Puerco Adobado, Asada Despacito del Horno con Frijoles Negors, Caserola de Calabacitas. These were slices of pork bathed in the beautiful red adobo sauce that makes me think of Bolivia with a side of black beans and sauteed veggies. If I wasn't full by this point, I would have demolished it but I think my stomach can't physically stretch any further.


Finally, we were graced with Flan Kahlua con Mango. These were really creamy flan (thicker, the way I like it) with caramel and coffee with sliced mangoes perched on top (with some whipped cream). We drizzled some Kahlua on top to give it a kick. omg. I squeezed every last bit that I could into my mouth. If I had a ziplock, I would not have minded looking like a fool putting a flan in a ziplock bag.

I came, I sat, I ate, I filmed. All my passions rolled into one night of awesomeness. How can I stop filming now?
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