Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday = Seafood in my book

Jeez, just saying "Seafood" out loud always takes me back to that epic scene from "My Girl."  Do you guys remember that movie from the mid 90's, Macauley Culkin was so cute back then wasn't he? "Do you like seafood? See- Food." Hahaha.

I digress.  I do happen to love seafood, and the more obscure the better.  Still taking advantage of another birthday gift certificate that Van's parents gave him for his 30th birthday, Van and I decided to do a tasting menu with wine pairings at Providence a few Fridays ago.  We had been there once before for dinner with Van's family, but had never been for lunch.  We decided to do lunch, because it was basically a more economic solution to do a five course tasting menu with the wine pairings.  That being said, I could definitely get used to those types of lunches, but obviously since we aren't balling out of control at this point, these types of events will have to be reserved for VERY special occasions. It was nice however to see how the 1% lives. :)

I took A LOT of photos, and the five courses were all delectable.  Van thought the dessert wasn't as good as the main courses.  I'm a sucker for macaroons though. Mmmmm.

We started the evening with this interestingly shaped amuse-bouche, that was basically a shot of a greyhound.
I'd like my greyhound in a spoon, please.

Next up was another shot type appetizer with an airy biscuit.  Van loved the biscuit.  Sorry that I can't be more specific with what these bad-boys were, the tasting menu doesn't have a printed menu and the waiter just tells you once.  Next time I'm going to bring a notepad to take notes!  There were also salmon skins, fried to almost a chip consistency and a trout spread to dip.


Next up, there was a delectable sashimi, crisp and fresh with a tangy sauce.


Then there was the scallop, with peas and truffles.  Definitely one of my faves of the night for sure. 
Then the striped sea bass, cooked very well.

And my wine pairings were piling up...I'm sorry! I don't drink wine quickly!
Then finally as the last main course, there was a veal medallion and veal sausage paired with the only red of the tasting.
And because it couldn't be forgotten, two courses of desserts: sorbet and then a variety of petit fours: caramels  macaroons and jellied candies, paired with a lovely dessert wine.  The macaroons were of course my fave.

And a very satiated Van & Megan, lovely and belated birthday lunch.

Until next time Providence, cheers! Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
xo Megan

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thai Cooking - HipCooks style


Thai food? Cooking class? Yes. Please. This post is dedicated to my lovely friend Leah, who generously gave Van and me a Hipcooks cooking class as a wedding present.  Almost 10 months later, we decided to use it.  Not really for anything special in particular, which is probably what I was saving it for - but decided on the "Thai One On" cooking class.  We attended the class at the West LA location, which is located on Robertson Blvd. Easy parking in a nearby neighborhood.  There's also an East LA location, which would have been much closer, but we wanted to go to the other location to leave our hood and try something new.  Although Hipcooks classes are only offered in certain cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Portland and Seattle I would definitely recommend taking a class if you get the chance.  There is a huge selection of classes to take, ranging from asian inspired cuisine like sushi and thai to a more farm to table menu. The cost is $65/ per person and includes a class, big and hopefully yummy dinner and a bit of alcohol too. Our Thai selection came with a Singha tasting, definitely not enough to get drunk or even tipsy, but enough to take the edge off. ;)  They probably do that because they don't want the classes to turn into a drunkfest.
 So yes, neither Van or I had attended a Hipcooks class before, and we were pleasantly surprised by the comfortable and relaxed atmosphere of the class.  There were about 14 people total in the class, mostly couples but a few singletons.  I believe our teacher was named Jenny, (if I'm wrong- someone PLEASE correct me) she was super friendly and made everyone feel at ease, even if someone did not have a lot of cooking experience.  The set-up was around a large counter space, and basically everyone was able to take turns making different courses.  This class is not for people who want to make everything themselves, because you don't really get that opportunity.


Also, if you're squeamish about other people touching your food- this would not be the class for you.  Basically, even though everyone washes their hands multiple times a night, (are supposed to anyways) everyone is making food for everyone else.  
For example, our menu for the evening was:

Appetizers
Veggie Spring Rolls
Chicken Satay with peanut sauce
Coconut rice with shrimp cilantro

Entrees
(First Course)
Pad Thai with tofu
Papaya Salad
(Second Course)
Green Curry with eggplant and mushrooms
Red Curry with chicken and cashews

Dessert
Black rice with coconut cream

I personally got to help out with making the peanut sauce for the chicken satay, which was good.  Probably my favorite items of the night were the appetizers: Veggie spring rolls and coconut rice with shrimp and cilantro:

 Yes, we hand-rolled those spring rolls. And only ripped a couple of sheets of rice paper in the process.

I also loved the papaya salad.  Van was disappointed that the pad thai was not stir-fried, but it was obviously healthier the way we made it, which was basically boiling the noodles and then combining the ingredients in a "pasta salad" way.
Finally, the dessert was really light and delicious.  At this point though we were so full though that Van and I chose to split one, it was black sticky rice with coconut cream:
Also, because we took this class in West LA on a Friday night, the woman sitting next to Van and I worked behind the camera on a lot of major motion pictures, so she took this cool pic of us.  Check out the ceiling.
All and all fun Friday night activity, I believe the entire class was 3 hours, so we didn't leave until around 10pm, and DEFINITELY come hungry. I hope to try another class in the future, but probably at the East side location next time.
xo Megan

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Saturday Happiest Hour


Last Saturday in the late afternoon, Van and I were deciding how we wanted to spend our Saturday night. We had originally planned to use a gift certificate birthday present from his parents, at the amazing Providence restaurant. However, after Van checked the menu, we decided that we wanted to move the reservation, so that we could attend a special lunch with wine pairings that the restaurant does only on Fridays. Don't worry- in a couple of weeks, after the lunch, I will be blogging about it.

So, we decided to check out Saturday Happy hours in our hood. After a quick Yelp search, we saw a bar that we hadn't really noticed or been to before named: "Jay's Bar", aptly named for the owner, Jay. The bar is situated in a strip-mall in Silverlake, walking distance from our apartment, and in the same complex as where Van get's his haircuts and I get at my amazing blowouts at Jun Encarnacion International Beauty Salon. Apparently Jay also owns Garage Pizza, which is in the same complex. I've never had the pizza, so can't comment on it.

Anyways, we noticed that the happy hour was from 4pm-7pm eveyday, with specials on both drinks and foods, so we decided to give it a try.

*Pro-tip* If you check-in to the bar on Yelp, you also receive 25% off of your first order. Boo-ya.

So yeah, we walked over and conveniently noticed the sandwich board on the sidewalk outside.
The sandwich board outside- it kind of looks like I'm grappling for something. :)
We sauntered up to the bar, and found seats immediately, as it wasn't too crowded at 5pm on a Saturday, which we liked. A few people were at tables in the restaurant, and a few were on their lap-tops, also for sports fans, there are two huge big-screen TV's that are apparently always playing whatever game you sports-lovers want to watch. The interior had a clean design, and was super comfortable. We really liked it.
One of the TV screens.
Unfortunately, there is no liquor yet- just wine and beer for now, but they are getting their liquor license really soon. As you probably know, I'm more of a wine drinker, as opposed to beer, but since there were so many beers on tap, I wanted to give one a try.

Typically, I like either white beers or porters, and our bar tender was super friendly and knowledgeable and let us try different tastes of a couple of options. Eventually, I chose to start with a white beer, and Van had an IPA, shocker.

And the two of us...
We also wanted to try some of the food, since apparently Yelp has labeled the bar a dive bar/ (questionable- it is in a strip mall, but it's not at all "divey" on the inside) gastropub. From the happy hour menu we ordered the poutine, since I had never really tried it, even though I know my Canadian friends love it. If you don't know what it is, think french fries and cheese curds in gravy. Good. And we also wanted to try the chicken wings from the happy hour menu:
Ain't no thing, but a chicken wing.
Both food items were really solid and delicious. I think we both liked the chicken wings a little bit more than the poutine, but glad we tried it. Also, for another time, I've heard the burgers are amazing.

So yeah, if you're looking for a cool little bar in Silverlake, with a great beer selection, excellent food and and awesome happy hour, then Jay's could be it. We definitely enjoyed our experience, and will be back. Also, you can get a great deal on a haircut next door.

xoM

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oysters on the Half Shell

I'm always looking for outings that combine my two favorite things: Wine & Seafood. I recently learned through my glorious Facebook feed that a local wine and beer bar/shop in Atwater Village, 55 Degree Wine, has an oyster night on the first Tuesday of every month. Basically those were the only two things I needed to know: that there would be oysters for $2/each and wine pairings. I was in.

Van and I arrived approximately a half hour after the event began in the evening, (fashionably late) and had never been to the location before.  It's located on the left on Glendale Blvd. as you are entering Atwater Village from Silverlake. Trendy, trendy. When we arrived we first saw a wine/beer store with only a few people milling around, and wondered if we were in the right location. When we asked about the oysters, we were told to go downstairs into a dimly lit, intimate, warm, brick basement. Very sexy vibe, with friendly service. We were immediately seated, and told that the oysters were in another little room downstairs.

I quickly recognized the two guys who were selling oysters, as the Oyster Boys from the Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market. Oh yes, I knew this was going to be good. Below is the menu that we had to choose from:
And the oysters, in all of their glory:

I don't like my oysters too briny, I like them small and sweet- so Van and I chose a selection of 7 each to start, and then may have gone back for 3 more each. You do the math...what can I say, I LOVE oysters, and the Oysters Boys are extremely friendly and knowledgeable - you just want to support them! In the iconic words of the belated ODB, "Ooh Baby, I like it raw." Van's favorite oyster was the Hood Canal, and I preferred the Kumamoto.
We paired the oysters with a Sauvignon Blanc for me and a Rose for Van. We also wanted to try something from the 55 Degree Wine kitchen, so we also split the cheese plate. It did not disappoint.
So yeah, basically I can't wait for April and to have another wine and oyster night. It was a fabulous experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves wine and oysters.
xxM

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ace'd

Last week my friend Leah and I decided to take a quick girls trip to get out of LA for 24 hrs. to Palm Springs. It was also because we were picking up Leah's lovely sista who was there with her boyfriend's family. We scoured the Internets looking for a good price on a hotel room, and had decided between either staying at the Saguaro or the Ace Hotel. I had stayed at the Ace once before with another friend and really liked the dog-friendly, relaxed vibe. I also liked the aesthetic and design of the hotel and how comfortable it felt. Staying there also helped me to fill my hipster quota for the year. :)

I decided to call the Ace to see what types of room rates were available, as opposed to just looking online. Luckily, they were offering a "Summer Special" - which was basically a regular room with a king-sized bed and a bucket of beer (read: 4 Lagers) for $100, I think it also included a spa credit that we didn't end up using.  Uh-mazing. I immediately booked the room, and definitely recommend this deal, hopefully it will be going all Summer!
The Ace- Palm Springs

We made it to the desert in less than two hours from Los Angeles, absolutely no traffic, which was pretty amazing, and although we couldn't check into our room until 2pm, we immediately got cocktails and brunch at the hotel restaurant and spent the day at the pool.
Prosecco for me, and a Margarita for Leah.
A shot of the pool nestled in the mountains.

We also decided to explore the grounds, and take photos- two things I love doing.

We stumbled upon this super cool wall, and had to strike a pose: Girls in Red.
Loved experimenting with colors with my new camera.

Even though we were just there for one night, it was a perfect and affordable get-away, and very close to the city, but also just far enough away.

Below is the view from our room at dusk.
Thanks for the ideal get-away Ace, I'll be back. Next time with Lola.

xoM

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Abbot Kinney Love

Admittedly we don't frequent the west side of LA , or take advantage of the beach cities as much as we probably should. I love the ocean, but it's a trek and traffic can make the entire traveling experience frustrating and annoying. I'll put it this way...the 101 to the 110 to the 10 to the 405. In other words, 2 hours to Venice beach on a weekend...kill me.

Anyways, Van and I ventured out of our normal area for dinner last night, with the help of a very generous gift certificate from Van's sisters for his birthday.  We ate at a delicious restaurant on Abbot Kinney named The Tasting Kitchen. We had to make reservations a couple of weeks in advance, and the best time we could get for a Saturday night was 6:45pm, but it was fine.  We found street parking on Venice Blvd., which was free until 10pm, and provided a nice little walk to the restaurant  flanked on one side by a boutique and the other side a sushi restaurant. Lemonade is also only a couple of doors down, so lots of people-watching.
Restaurant exterior and blurry Van.
We arrived at the restaurant, and because we had reservations were immediately seated. The interior was lovely - dimly lit, with olive trees and twinkling white lights.  Although it wasn't precious by any means. This was evidenced by the late 90's/early 2000's steady beat of rap music that played the entire night. I'm not complaining as the Chronic 2001 is one of my favorite albums of all time, and who doesn't like chair dancing to Tupac, I'm just not sure it would be everyone's cup of tea.  Definitely a trendy vibe inside as well.

Our server was exceptional, and although we chose to bring our own bottle of wine, ($35 corkage FYI) we began with a cocktail and olives. I was feeling daring, so instead of my favorite spirit of choice, vodka, I chose a gin cocktail named The English Garden: gin, fennel, cucumber. Yes. Van ordered a tequila drink, called a Valkryerie, we also started with olives of course. My fav.
Green Olives.

Moi avec English Garden.

English Garden
Unfortunately my new camera was malfunctioning last night, so I had to rely on my trusty iPhone, so that's why the photos aren't quite as clear. Also, it's a constant struggle when out with Van about my flash going off in a dimly lit restaurant- but I don't know what else to do?! I love foodie pix, you dig?

Next, we ordered a clam/chorizo dish - unfortunately no photos. Then decided to split two pastas, yes- it was a lot of food. I should add that the clams and olives were incredibly, but the pasta is made in-house and sometimes there is nothing better than fresh pasta. We split a ravioli (one large one- stuffed with egg and ricotta) see below (again, these photos don't do it justice.)
Ravioli with ricotta and egg.

And a Gigli, Luciana, Squash blossom dish- very delicious too, but I definitely preferred the ravioli dish.
Gigli, luciana and squash blossom

Finally, it was a belated birthday celebration, (kind-of?) so we HAD to order dessert. We chose to go with the Milk and Honey, based on a recommendation from our server.
Rich, but very tasty and well-portioned. Van won the "no-flash" battle on this one, so I just have a dark image.
Milk and Honey Dessert.

Apparently the head chef and restaurant owner is from Portland, so I like that Pacific Northwest connection as well. All and all the meal was rich, tasty and definitely fulfilling  Obviously a bit on the pricey side, but the gift certificate was very generous- thanks sistas!

It was also fun to explore Venice a bit, and walk around the Abbot Kinney area, which is so cute and trendy these days. We definitely enjoyed our night out on the West-side. Until next time Venezia.

xxM