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food/research suggestions for baja/ensenada - por favor!!!!

Also worth noting, Wendlandt has an outdoor bar with three revolving taps set up next to the killer Troika truck in the Valle de Guadalupe.

Jul 12, 2014
jdwdeville in Mexico

food/research suggestions for baja/ensenada - por favor!!!!

Oh dear god was Doña Esthela an absolute highlight of our trip last week!! Highly recommend trying the wines at the next door biodynamic winery, La Lomita.

Jul 12, 2014
jdwdeville in Mexico

Factory Kitchen this week (longish!)

Ah, cursed spellcheck.

Jul 10, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

Factory Kitchen this week (longish!)

I make my pasta by hand at home, and can make the sauce if needed, too. That's not my problem with the dish. It is admittedly quite good, if not one of their best dishes. My issue is that it is about 3 pasta sheets on a plate for 20 bucks.
I mean, I already suspect the reason they are touting the sauce as "almond pesto" is the sky-high price of pine nuts these days, and the pasta itself is by nature a cheap ingredient, so why couldn't they pile up some more on my (pricey) plate?

Jul 09, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

2014 Soccer World Cup viewing locations in L.A. area

Great post! We've been watching the games at Terroni downtown- they have a screen up in the bar and cup specials during the games. If any hounds are down there tomorrow for our game look for me!

Jun 30, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

Alimento Silver Lake

Stopped at Alimento in Silver Lake this weekend, the new "neighborhood" joint from Sotto's Zack Pollack.
Friday night, no reservation, the wait was 20 minutes (they keep half their tables open for walk ins, thankfully), just about long enough for a dozen oysters across the street at L&E.

The place is tiny, the tables are very close together, and it could perhaps use some art on the walls, but all of this perhaps adds to the overall "neighborhood Italian" vibe, so long as you don't mind moving the tables in and out if you need to sit or get up.

Wine list is interesting if small and fairly affordable, and while I do bemoan the discarding of the more established "classic" DOCG areas like Barolo and Brunello that seems to be an epidemic on LA lists, we did enjoy a nice red from Etna.

Started with a delicious roasted lettuce dish- can't remember which green it was exactly, escarole maybe? The dish was advertised as containing anchovy, though I though it could have used quite a bit more.

Mackerel "conserva" was well made, served over small firm white beans (I've never been able to get my home cooked beans to turn out so perfect). It was a bit too much mackerel flavor for my dining companion, but I found it enjoyable enough.

The was a well-executed lamb belly dish over greens, surprising less gamey than I would have liked, and another pasta that I can't remember that was much enjoyed (was it strotzapreti? Much wine and less memory).

The highlight for me was tortellini "al contrario"- an inside-out tortellini soup dish, or to put it in Chowhound terms: THEY SERVE ITALIAN SOUP DUMPLINGS!!!
These were excellent, very homey/comfort food-y, with a very rich broth and heavy parmesan umami notes. Before we all collectively freak out, let me point out there was not XLB amounts of soup in each, just a nice rich burst of broth, but man-oh-man these were awesome!

We went a day after they opened so I won't make statements about service or pacing. The kitchen did seem to have some issues, and we saw some plates being dropped at the wrong table, but I figure all that will get ironed out over time.

All in all about $120 before tip for 5 dishes and wine. Very enjoyable and I will be back as soon as possible.

Jun 30, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

DTLA Night Market reports?

Humor! apparently he has a string of ramen shops using his "original sichuan" recipes....

Jun 21, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

DTLA Night Market reports?

oh I'm not related to chef Kinichi at all.

Jun 21, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

DTLA Night Market reports?

Went last night- $10 cover is true. $7 for a 12oz Asahi also true. Not so much "funky" or "challenging" options there- no stinky tofu, etc. Had:
takoyaki- there are 3+ places serving this. I chose poorly.
taiwanese sausage- on a stick. simple. good.
lamb skewers- booth 16. awesome! Chinese muslim style.
squid roe balls- fried, salted, sugared. very good.
"chinwich"- from a chinese lamb place. SKIP.
roti prata- good oily roti, okay curry, one bit of chicken.
sichuan black ramen- holy crap good. got this because we were the only people to recognize the picture of Chen Kinichi on the sign.

Jun 21, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area
1

Ummm, futures offer . . . "Simply The Best Price Anywhere!" Really?

It's unfortunate, but I believe that a large portion of wines in this category and price point are purchased as an investment with the goal of reselling it down the road rather than enjoying it....

Jun 17, 2014
jdwdeville in Wine

Buy Softshell Crabs

the Seafood City in Eagle Rock did not have them on Saturday.

Jun 16, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

mangosteen sighting!

Not sure if these things are as rare as they used to be (this is the first time I've ever seen there in the US).

Seafood City in Eagle Rock had fresh mangosteens today, $9.95/lb.

Interesting flavor, citrus/mango/lychee? don't know a damn thing about the fruit so don't know how to tell if they are ripe...

Jun 14, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area
2

Lacha Somtum's "Super Spicy Fish Curry"- WOW, I'm in love!

wonder if that was what they meant by "chicken ovary"?

Just read TonyC's review- I'm glad this place is getting some notice, it was fairly empty when we went.

Jun 14, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

Lacha Somtum's "Super Spicy Fish Curry"- WOW, I'm in love!

A small city in northern RI that became ground zero for Laotian and Cambodian refugees in the early 80s.

Jun 14, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area
1

Buy Softshell Crabs

I was just thinking Fish King. Call them a day before and they'll have them for you fresh. Last year they were $8.99/ea, what did you pay this year?

Jun 14, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

Lacha Somtum's "Super Spicy Fish Curry"- WOW, I'm in love!

Based on a conversation on this board I tried Lacha Somtum last night. First impressions were not looking good- the place was... clean... and groups of teenagers were eating platters that involved wings, somtum, and noodles and drinking blended drinks.

But then we found the page of "specialties" on the menu.
Several items were explained to us as "Laos style" by a server frantically trying to warn us away from that page "wouldn't you like a platter with wings and Pad Thai?". I am unfamiliar with Laotian food these days, despite having grown up in a majority Laotian/Cambodian area. Anyone know enough to describe it for me?

Anyway, the "super spicy fish curry with kenom jean" caught my eye for $6.95. After convincing the server that yes, yes, yes this is indeed what I want, I was presented with something entirely unfamiliar.

The "fish curry" is a bowl of fish paste-based curry, no coconut milk, screamingly spicy, served with a huge plate of accouterments for dipping in: fresh noodles (Thai hounds, is this what kenos jean means?), bean sprouts, pickled mustard greens, hard boiled egg, long beans, cabbage, mint and dill. I've never had a combination of fresh dill and mint in anything, henceforth I declare I will use it on everything.

"Super spicy" is no joke, the only times I had spicier was after like ten visits to Jitlada always asking Jazz to make me something super-hot.
My SO was hiccuping and crying after 2 bites, but bravely, foolishly soldiered on because "it's just too good"!

Has anyone else tried this place? What do I need to order next?

Jun 14, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area
1

First Dunkin' Donuts Lands in Santa Monica

EXACTLY!
Again, not caring about the donuts, but the iced coffee is perpetually in a ginormous cup sitting next to me in my upholder throughout the day.

mmm... memories.

Jun 14, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

First Dunkin' Donuts Lands in Santa Monica

Well, yeah, like I said the doughnuts have nothing to do with it, it's all about the iced coffee... if you don't drink coffee I understand your indifference.

Jun 13, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

First Dunkin' Donuts Lands in Santa Monica

Wow. I expected more of an "ohmygodohmygod" reaction from at least the reformed New Englanders on this board... (looking at you Mattapoisett in LA).

Personally I'm over the moon about this. Not that I give a damn about the doughnuts, mind you, but I can't wait to be cruising around LA with a "laaage iced regulaah" in my cupholder!

Jun 12, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

Trencher in Echo Park has potential!

was your potato salad a tad undercooked when you tried it? I thought the flavors were excellent but the taters themselves could've used another 2 minutes in the boil.

Jun 12, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

Trencher in Echo Park has potential!

So far I've had the brisket, the pulled pork, and the fried chicken sandwich.
All were very good, though I will say there is a fair size difference between the sandwiches on sliced bread like the brisket ($10) and the chicken and pork ($8.50) which are served on a bun.

Jun 11, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

Fifty Seven- a couple thoughts

Tried the new menu from new "chef in residence" Josh Drew. All in all I think this one is a bit more... realized... that the previous incarnation. A lot more options, though I can't quite say I saw a theme other than "name every farm you use". Once again the killer wine list was my friend, especially in the $100 bottle of excellent Burgundy that matched our meal.
-Parker House rolls topped with uni and sweet pickled chiles (awesome idea. I could eat quite a bit of these)
-oysters, both raw and baked Rockefeller-esque (these were very good but then again it's hard to F up some perfectly fresh oysters)
-Local squid braised in ink (this was the best thing! rich, with a crunch from puffed buckwheat and topped with an amazing green garlic aioli)
-100 day aged Ribeye (this may have been our only misstep- the aged flavor was perfect but the cut was very tough. Is aged beef generally tough? For the $60 per person price I expected butter-soft beef...)

All in all the meal was amazing despite a couple missteps that I could write off as the restaurant was literally full to capacity (two of our dishes did not arrive, some finished plates sat at the table for some time). I will definitely be back to try more of the new menu- abalone crudo? Pork loin-belly-jowl entree? OK, sure!

Jun 10, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

Brisket Sandwich

Highly recommend the brisket sandwich at Trencher in Echo Park... on toasted sourdough, with swiss, wilted kale, and parsnip puree.
It's definitely not a deli-style sandwich but it is very good!

Jun 09, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

Paninoteca -- Scarpetta's New Sandwich Shop

Jeez was today an informal Chow "almost" meet?

Jun 02, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

Fifty Seven- a couple thoughts

Thanks! Personally I loved the pork, but it was fairly mild, save for what I could only describe as a "heritage" (i.e., quality) flavor. For all the world I am convinced they roast the pork whole to temp then cut off slices, a la prime rib, but I could be wrong.
I'm excited to go back and try the new menu this week.

Jun 02, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

Fifty Seven- a couple thoughts

according to the staff, the chefs are there for 3 months stints, give or take.
I got a table both times fairly easily...

Jun 02, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

Fifty Seven- a couple thoughts

You know I read that too. I get the idea of wanting more of a grilled chop, however this was more about having a slab of heritage pork "prime rib" than anything... and that's the best comparison I could make to it.

Jun 02, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

Unpleasant experience at Bestia

Y'know, just my $0.02 here but I've been to many of the "foodie scene-y" type places in LA, including several trips to Bestia, and I can't think of a single time that we were turned down when we ordered several more dishes mid-meal. No one, and I mean NO ONE is going shut you down when you ask to spend more $$$.

"I'd like another bottle of that Chateau Lafite"
"I'm sorry sir, you should have thought of that when you sat down"

That said, it does sound like some poor customer relations up front soured your experience, so I'm not saying you're entirely wrong here either. Please do try Bestia again, I think it's one of the best places around. Or don't, maybe I'll get a reservation that much easier!

May 31, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area
1

Fifty Seven- a couple thoughts

Got to go to Fifty Seven the other day- here's a couple quick thoughts slightly in order on what I think is going to be an exciting idea:

-Wine list is EXCITING! Somm Max Coane is to be commended. all kinds of price points available, by-the-glass options are strong and well priced.

-"Salmon Tartine"
somebody remind me to buy salmon roe and creme fraiche next time I cure some salmon. bread is delicious, too. fairly pricey for one-slice-of-bread size... note to self- look up what a "tartine" actually is.

-"La Tur"
is this cheese foam? cheese mousse? I'm assuming La Tur is the name of the cheese. would be a really funky cheese but the foam/mousse presentation tempers the funk. nice touch with the radicchio cups and apple slices to scoop it up. they should serve this with a spoon...

-"Pickled Garden"
I, an unabashed carnivore, love this. makes me want to go to the farmer's market and then start pickling everything. dunno how "sour cream sauce" is supposed to "cut through the acidity" but it tastes good with the pickles...

-"Pork Belly"
ordered it just to know what a mandarinquat tastes like. turns out, exactly like it sounds. belly is done well but I'm a bit pork belly'd out these days...

-"Heritage Pork Chop"
funny there's no beef dish on the entree menu. huh, not one on the apps, either... this is literally the best pork chop I've had in LA, though. huge, juicy, full of flavor. totally forgot about the lack of steak after the first bite.

I would say this is about to be one of the heaviest places in my rotation except we are about to touch on the major wild card with this place- their "chef-in-residence" David Nayfeld's stint is up this week. The key here is how the transition to the next "CiR" is handled/executed and I think the whole success of the concept hangs on that. I'd say my first dinner here was wildly successful, so much so that I'm headed back in a week to try Josh Drew's take on the kitchen... I hope it's as good as the first time!

I'm also wondering how much changes with each chef switcheroo- does the kitchen staff changes? the plates? the cocktails and wine? Is it possible to love a restaurant that is a different iteration of itself on each visit? TBD I guess...

May 31, 2014
jdwdeville in Los Angeles Area

Rose wine I should seek out for the long hot summer.

Try out the Chateau Leoube rosé from Provence- it's made by Romain Ott and IMHO better (and cheaper) that the wines with his family's name on them...

May 29, 2014
jdwdeville in Wine