Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Culinary Event that Promises to De-Liver

Next month, my friend who works for a non-profit is helping to plan what's probably going to be a fun wino event in Woodside.

The event, hosted by Thomas Fogarty Winery, is hosting its annual Flavors Culinary Gala in which the proceeds will go towards the American Liver Foundation.

I know what you are thinking -- may be a little odd that a wine event is going to give the proceeds to a liver foundation. But, the American Liver Foundation's VP doesn't think its weird considering a little moderate drinking never hurt anyone. And, when drinking, in moderation, it's not likely that you'll get liver disease. All in all, you can just show up for a little vino and help out a good cause.

And, what would wine be without a little food? For this event, they've lined up 10 local chefs who will be preparing unique, five course meals for a table of ten lucky diners. Each chef will make sure that each course will pair nicely with the Thomas Fogerty Wine - ensuring you'll get a nice balance of food and wine.

There are some BIG names who will be cooking things up:
John Bentley, John Bentley's; Emmanuel Billaud, Hotel Sofitel; Edwin Caba, Creola; Salvatore Calisi, Dio Deka; Bruno Chemel, Chez TJ; Maurice Dissels, Birk's; Cosimo Luca d'Oria, Bella Saratoga; Tony Flier, Kingfish; Alicia Petrakis, Astaria; and Miriam Russell-Wadleigh, Piacere.

Information:
When: June 23rd at 6:00 p.m.
Where: Thomas Fogarty Winery, 19501 Skyline Blvd., Woodside CA
Price: Individual tickets on sale for $300/tables of 10 are $5,000
Contact: Michelle Flatley, mflatley@liverfoundation.org, 415-248-1060
URL: www.liverfoundation.org/flavors

Monday, May 25, 2009

Events: Anthony Bourdain at the Cupertino Flint Center

Thursday, May 28th at 7:30 p.m.

Woo hoo - the Bay Area is finally getting a nice visit from one of the culinary world's most famous reviewers/chef/American author... Anthony Bourdain.

For those of you aren't familiar with Anthony, here's a brief background...

First, Anthony was known for his NYT's best-selling book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. Second, Anthony has hit stardom with his hit TV show, No Reservations. The show follows Bourdain as he travels throughout the world eating some of the weirdest food (um, the man once ate a raw seal eyeball and a whole cobra - yes, including the beating heart and blood). Aside from the questionable food he chooses to consume, he also explores how culture impacts the local fare. In addition, Anthony has also made numerous guest appearances on Top Chef and various Food Network shows.

This should be an interesting talk, where talk about his experiences eating around the globe and perhaps even touch on his past.

Full deets can be found here: http://events.mercurynews.com/cupertino-ca/events/show/86287840-anthony-bourdain
Price: $50+

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Top Chef Masters

For those of you addicted to Top Chef - and, if you have an ounce of sanity, you were probably bummed during the last season of Top Chef when our beloved Italian – Fabio – was kicked off during the second to last episode and didn’t quite make it to the finale.

You were probably even more mad that Hosea-I-claim-I-cook-fish, Stefan-nobody-likes-me and Big Bird were the last three (see previous entry here).

Well, this next season, Bravo is cooking things up. Top Chef Masters will take 24 renowned chefs, make them cook-off, then donate the winnings to charity. The judging will be done a little differently, with six weeks of competition followed by four episodes in which the top six compete. Then, da da da da...one winner will be named.

It’s also interesting to note that a lot of the contestants are previous guest judges on the show. Sadly, Padma, Gail and Tom won’t be sitting at the judges table.

You’re bound to know some of the contestants if you’ve ever watched the Food Network or prior seasons, here are some worth noting:

• Rick Bayless – little white guy with a passion for Mexican food. You may have seen him on his regular KQED show, “Mexico - One Plate at a Time.” This guy is known for his Mexican cuisine with restaurants in Chicago and Mexico. He's one guy that would certainly give any abuelita a run for her money.

• Michael Chiarello – started off on KQED and has made it to the big time with his Food Network show. Michael lives in Napa, California so his Italian food is somewhat non-tradition since he's been inspired by the lovely NorCal. I’ve eaten at the iconic Tra Vigne (his first restaurant that he no longer owns). His food has a harvesty feel to it – warm plates, lots of locally grown vegetables and of course, all are paired with wine.

• Elizabeth Faulkner – actually known for her pastries more than her culinary skills. Elizabeth is based in San Francisco and is the Executive Chef and Owner of both citizen Cake and Orson.

• Suzanne Tracht – Executive Chef and Owner of Jar, an amazing steakhouse and celebrity hotspot in LA. And, Suzanne is also the Executive Chef and Owner of Tracht’s in Long Beach.

Others worth noting and keeping an eye on during the compeition: Hubert Keller, Wylie Dufresne, Roy Yamaguchi and John Besh.

After looking at this roster, I still can’t believe it. I’ve eaten at a few of these places and each were exquisite meals. This is one season you won’t want to miss.

Series premieres on Bravo on Wednesday, June 10th at 10pm.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Review: Lilly’s French Café & Bar

A Foodie in L.A. – Part 2 of 3

After a lack of sleep, a three-hour graduation, the pounding sun, and having to miraculously ward off biotchy parents since I was saving 14 seats (no sir, these programs weren’t just nicely placed here – I got up at 7am to put them here for my relatives). As you can tell, my little granola bar was wearing off and I couldn’t have been happier to eat.

Lilly’s – a little wine bar also located in Venice, had a cute outdoor patio seating. Luckily, my organized brother had planned this luncheon in advanced and had selected a prefixed menu. I think the two of us are on the same wavelength as I couldn’t have selected a more perfect menu.

From my options, I chose a caprese salad, a steak sandwich with fries and a chocolate soufflé.

I was either so hungry that even a cow’s tongue would have tasted good, or it was the food; I think it was the latter.

One thing that set this place apart from a majority of restaurants I go to was the presentation. The chefs in the back must have been artsy farts, as they certainly know how to create a beautiful plate – that tasted just as great as it looked.

My caprese was light, perfectly salted, and assembled with a beautiful light pesto sauce decorating the plate. And, in between each wedge of mozzarella and tomato, was a smudge of a savory olive tapenade.


My main lunch dish was a steak sandwich served with a side of fries. The sandwich was comprised of a NY steak, sautéed mushrooms and onions and Dijon mustard. Overall, I think steak sandwiches should never be made with anything other than a filet mignon – its lack of fat is a nice feature when eating a sandwich so you don’t look like a cow grazing. The sandwich was nothing special and wasn’t seasoned. Oh if only it had just a little bit of salt!

But, hands down, the chocolate soufflé was amazing.

Disclaimer: I could eat chocolate everyday, with every meal. I don’t quite get the phrase; “oh this chocolate is too rich for me” NO chocolate is ever too rich or fatty for me. And, obviously, dark chocolate lowers your blood pressure. No joke, it’s science.



The soufflé was like a moist brownie with the molten fudge in the inside. And, a nice little dollop of pistachio ice cream is always a complement. Basically, I have no reminisce of this dish since I inhaled it. Sorry.

Well, in less than 24 hours I had dealt with the LA drivers, warded off rude parents, eaten two things of fries, a measly granola bar, a steak sandwich, salad and chocolate goodness.

So, how did Lilly’s pan out you ask?? Well, if the steak had just a pinch of salt this could have gotten a perfect score. But, without that flavor, it just missed it...

Information
Name: Lilly’s French Café & Bar
URL: http://www.lillysfrenchcafe.com/
Pricing: $12 lunch special; $20-25 per dinner dish
Address: 1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291
Byte Rating: 4 out of 5

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Review: Beechwood Restaurant

A Foodie in L.A. – Part 1 of 3

Apologies for not posting sooner, but last week I was on the road in the fast paced L.A. (Los Angeles, not to be confused with Ms. Spears’ beloved Louisiana – another foodie hub).

The weekend was jammed packed with celebrating my little sis’ grad from college, road rage, avoiding the swine flu, but of course, I fit in some time to eat and drink.

The first place I went to was Beechwood Restaurant, a non-descript-looking-like-a-little-shack in the beachy town of Venice. Considering it was probably 5 or so on a Friday, I was surprised by how empty the restaurant was. It had a cool bar atmosphere, nice outdoor seating, oversized couches and a nice patio with a fireplace.

Since we were rushed for time, we only had drinks and apps. My half of the table was obviously the more heiferish side, ordering a platter of fries (shoestring, normal and sweet potato), plantains and an upscale serving of grilled cheese served with a side of arugula topped with a light balsamic dressing and red onions.

Fries – well, you can’t really go wrong with fried + potatoes. Each
variety we ordered were delightful and were served with a traditional ketchup, spicy ketchupy BBQ sauce and an amazing mayonnaise-based olio. The mayo-like sauce was by far the best since it was the perfect consistency and had a hint of garlic? The spicy ketchup BBQ was a little off tasting, since it wasn’t a good blend or balance of the BBQ/chili taste with the ketchup.

Next up, the plantains – delish – but a miniscule portion for this hungry girl. These plantains weren’t dehydrated like your traditional banana chips. Instead, they were seasoned lightly and still moist – think caramelized bananas – brilliant.

And, the grilled cheese. Probably the biggest disappointment – it was a mixture of brioche, fig paste, truffle pecorino, gruyere and goat cheese. But, because of the different cheese textures, some melted nicely, others were crumbly, overpowering and smelly. But, the arugula salad was actually a huge surprise. Speaking of overbearing, usually arugula is bitter and gross but this salad was a fresh spring mix that was topped with tasty red onions.

And, who could forget the drinks…..I stuck with a blood orange martini. Yum! Not too much vodka to cause me a to have a horrible headache, but just enough to make, as my friends and I say, buuzznebriated (just kidding Mom)!

Overall, Beechwood was a great atmosphere that, if you ordered the right dishes, I think would be a lovely experience. Unfortunately, I wish we would have swapped the grilled cheese with the scallops that were calling my name at the other end of the table.

The Verdict:
Name: Beechwood Restaurant
URL: http://www.beechwoodrestaurant.com/home.php
Pricing: On average $10 bucks per app plate; $15-20 per dinner plate
Address: 822 West Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292
Byte Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Check back for my two other reviews coming this week...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Foodie on the road...

Sneak peek - check back later this week for a series of blog entries on my recent trip to LA....I ate at some Hollywood hot spots, but was it worth it?

Check back to hear my take!