Monday, November 29, 2010

My Umami Burger Carol

Truffle Burger, umami burger

Oh Truffle Burger, Oh Truffle Burger!
How lovely is your bite!
With truffle cheese and truffle glaze,
You're savory and flavorful!
Oh Truffle Burger, Oh Truffle Burger!
How lovely is your bite!

(To the tune of "O Christmas Tree")

At Umami Burger, this truffle burger with truffle cheese and truffle glaze truly satisfies! There's no lettuce, tomato or anything else to get in the way of experiencing the fifth taste sensation of umami found in truffles - their rich, earthy, full-bodied deliciousness.

Definitely one of the Best of LA!

Umami Burger
street: 850 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles 90036
tel: 1.323.931.3000
hrs: M to S: 11a to 10p; Su: 11a to 9p

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Confession: I Love Food TV

The Foundry on Melrose

When MS and I were in NYC last summer, I made sure that we visited Chelsea Market. Too bad we didn't see Bobby, Emeril, or Alton along the corridor of shops on the first floor.

And during this season of football and basketball every weekend, whenever I have access to the remote, the Food Network is the channel of choice.

If I'm lucky, I'll catch an episode of Good Eats, Chopped, or the Best Thing I Ever Ate.

One show featured the Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Short Ribs from The Foundry on Melrose, and I knew... we'd have to try it.

So try it, we did.

We headed to Melrose for a quick bite to eat a little early to beat the dinner crowd, and scored with some free street parking nearby. We were one of the first patrons (if not the first) to be seated, and we promptly placed our order for the famed grilled cheese with short ribs on raisin bread (along with a couple of entrees).

In hindsight, we should have skipped the dinner plates and just ordered a couple of these sweet and savory, gooey and crunchy sandwiches with a nice green salad and some tots.

Was it the best I've ever had?

Maybe... but then again, I haven't had too many grilled cheeses with short ribs. Actually, I've only had the one from The Foundry.

Would I go back for more?

In a heartbeat!

The Foundry on Melrose
7465 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Tel: (323) 651-0915

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Three Ladies, 13 Courses, 10 Wine Pairings & 5 Hours Later

Melisse, round one
We celebrated KW's 30th birthday at Chef Josiah Citrin's Melisse and spared no expense.

The Carte Blanche for three, please.
Wine pairings? - Yes.
Truffle risotto? - But of course.

We took our seats at 7pm in a booth that had a special Happy Birthday card and box of homemade chocolate truffles.

The kitchen brought out exquisite plates of grapes covered with goat cheese and pistachios, along with spoons full of grape gelee that burst in the mouth.

Blue mackerel sashimi served with a light citrus salad was a nice tease, but the seared sea scallop with uni and roasted cauliflower in a sea urchin froth was a great way to start our meal of extravagance... and was one of the highlights of the meal.

Melisse, round two
Round two brought out rich caviar in a poached egg with lemon-chive creme fraiche - which was heaven in a little cup. You bet I scraped every little bit of egg out of that shell.

Next out came the artichoke soup with confit tomatoes and parmesan cromesquis (a savory croquette). Was pretty interesting to have the soup poured for me at table-side, but I enjoyed the smooth broth that warmed the palate.

The maine lobster in cippolinni onion chowder with geoduck clam and cuttle fish was tougher than we had anticipated, and thought it was a tad overcooked. Good thing for Top Chef - we all knew what geoduck looked like and the texture reminded me of abalone, a bit chewy and fishy.

Melisse, round three
Now when the staff brings out the gilded box of white truffles, ask for a closer look and take a deep whiff of the earthy goodness that they shave atop your risotto.

The foie gras cooked three ways was served with quince, blueberry and yuzu. My favorite had to be the seared liver as opposed to the cold cooked foie gras - the terrine or the mousse-like consistency.

Melisse, round four
The next round brought out the reds, along with some of our meat courses.

At left was the braised partridge with celery in a light jus, and on the bottom right was another one of my favorites of the night - prime rib eye and braised wagyu beef cheeks with root vegetables in a red wine herb jus.

Melisse, round five
The fromage cart was a delight - even to the lactose intolerant at our table. We nibbled on soft cheeses, goat cheeses, sheep cheeses, and more!

Then came a flurry of sweet desserts and palate cleansers - from the vanilla yogurt with strawberry compote and strawberry sorbet to the frozen passion fruit parfait with pistachi crisp in a coconut, lemongrass broth with tapioca pearls.

We ended the night with a platter of chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate - with a chocolate souffle injected with more molten chocolate, a chocolate peanut butter crunch, a chocolate bon bon ice cream dipped in white chocolate, and a coffee parfait - all too decadent and way too rich to finish.

The one thing I have to say is for a group of three young ladies who chose to eat their way through 13 courses and drink through 10 different wine pairings over five hours of fine dining, I was a little disappointed that the Chef only came by once to say hello.

More saddening was the fact that our servers didn't always share the details of our meal with us. At times, we had to ask... "Excuse us, but what are we eating? What are we drinking?"

For the time and money invested for this birthday dinner out, I guess I was hoping for just a little more star quality. Maybe a special birthday wish from the Chef himself. Maybe a special toast with the Sommelier. Or maybe our names on some sort of hall of fame. (OK, maybe not the last one, but a girl can dream.)

In any event, the special night out was definitely memorable and one that we still can taste and envision - weeks later. It was an evening that was at least six months in the planning, and we're already getting ready for our next big birthday dinner in June 2011!

street: 1104 wilshire blvd, santa monica, ca 90401
tel: 1.310.395.0881

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Cupcakes!

Thanks to my DailyCandy LA emails, I know that Sprinkles has something extra sweet for today's Black Friday!

Until noon today, you can get a FREE cupcake with a purchase of any one of their holiday flavors: Orange Cranberry and Maple Spice, according to the website.

I was lucky enough to get a box delivered on my birthday last month thanks to DT and The holiday cupcakes were a special treat for the Halloween season, and even my nephew, Shane, got in on the deliciously sweet fun! Can't wait to try out the new flavors for this fall and winter months!

Sprinkles Cupcakes
street: 9635 little santa monica blvd, beverly hills, ca
b/w bedford & camden; 2 blocks west of rodeo drive
tel: 1.310.274.8765

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks during the Holidays

Rather than complain about getting sick and not being able to go to Costa Rica as planned, I'd like to list what I am most thankful for:
  • My loving husband who made me soup and rice porridge - something I craved last night.
  • My supportive family who plated my Thanksgiving care package to go, along with giving me some Asian-style face masks popular in winter months on the subway.
  • My understanding friends who love me for me.
  • My cat who's affectionately known as "momma's girl," sits by my side as I type this entry.
But when I think of the holidays, perhaps there is a bigger reason why I'm here in Los Angeles right now.

It's the first Thanksgiving without my grandfather, without his quiet laugh and his love of sports...his gentle ways of showing his love and affection to his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren. And with the Christmas season just around the corner, I am reminded ever so humbly of the importance of family and friends.

My Ji-chan... will always be remembered as a man of few words,
but with the biggest heart and the kindest spirit.
He is greatly missed and forever loved.
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