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End of Summer Must: Malibu's Sunset Restaurant

California’s Zuma Beach is arguably one of the most beautiful in the state, making it a popular destination in the Summer months.  As you drive along the beach access road, you will eventually meet a landmark, The Sunset Restaurant. Appropriately titled for it’s breathtaking view of the Zuma sunset.  This bungalow-style building with large glass windows offers diners a memorable experience — they can savor California-meets-Mediterranean inspired dishes throughout the bar and dining room while gazing out to the crash and hum of the ocean and the painted sky and cliffs framing it.  The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner and brunch on weekends, but, I will warn you, if you go other than the sunset hour, you are cheating yourself.  

Executive Chef, Enrico Glaudo, has returned to the Sunset kitchen after a 3-year stint in Houston, Texas.  Clearly you can leave Malibu, but it will never leave you.  He takes a two-hour motorcycle ride along the coast almost daily from Redondo beach to work in this kitchen — something that he says keeps him grateful.

Chef Glaudo’s ultimate goal for all of his diners, is that they leave satisfied with a warm, happy feeling.  Good thing there is something for everyone on the menu — especially the seafood connoisseur.  The restaurant has a beautiful raw bar for fresh oysters and clams in addition to lobster, jumbo shrimp, ahi tuna tartare, hamachi crudo, clam chowder, fish tacos, grilled octopus and more.  For those who prefer the turf over surf — there are Korean style ribs, meatballs, new york steak, Mary’s rotisserie chicken and of course a burger.  In addition to all of this there are salads, pastas and sides.  

The most popular item is the Mediterranean Grilled Octopus; served with cherry tomatoes, cannellini beans, Tuscan style potatoes and herb oil. It is absolutely the most important thing you must taste. It is lightly boiled in water with carrots and onions to soften but not enough to lose it’s purple radiance, then gently placed on the grill with a coat of olive oil to crisp.  This truly delicious octopus could win over the most timid of diners — you know, the one who thinks that all seafood is slimy and fishy.  They’s probably say it was the best chicken they ever had and order seconds. Personally, my very favorite bite is the crispy pointed end of the tentacle. 

Also worth trying for taste and the beautiful presentation is the Ahi Tuna Tartare.  It is so light and refreshing on a hot summer day.  The cool tuna layered with citrus hinted avocado sings classic California Cuisine at it’s best.

The burger is made with grass-fed beef and served with caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and roasted garlic aioli.  Cheese and/or bacon can be added for an extra fee. Oh and it comes with fries!

Surprisingly enough, the chef’s very own Carrot Cake on the dessert menu is just as mind-blowing as the octopus.  His unique recipe will leave your plate utterly crumb-less.  The secret is that he mixes lemon zest into the cream cheese frosting and it adds an incredible brightness through the usually heavy cream cheese.  Not something you often get in a carrot cake bite, but maybe you should.

Although Chef Glaudo hasn’t made any menu makeovers yet — he says that perhaps with the changing of the seasons and cooler weather to come, we can expect some specials paying homage to his Torino roots such as Ossobuco. A classic Northern Italian dish on a chilly Malibu evening with red wine and a sunset? I’m sold. 

The Sunset Restaurant

6800 Westward Beach Rd, Malibu, CA 90265

 310-589-1007

www.thesunsetrestaurant.com

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Donut Report July: Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

Are you ready to find out how amazing the July doughnut flavors are at Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken in Downtown Los Angeles? You've come to the right place! I have personally sampled all four new flavors for you -- so you can get an idea of which ones you want to go in and try! There is the Blackberry Lime Tart, which I awesomely on accident referred to as the Blueberry Lime Tart, the Peach Melba, the Chocolate Caramel Machiatto and the Passion Fruit Boston Cream.  As you can tell, these flavors have taken Summer into account! I love that every month Astro Doughnuts creates four specialty flavors in addition to their classic line-up.  Way to keep things interesting! Oh and don't forget they also have delicious fried chicken -- I even tried one of their savory doughnut and fried chicken sandwiches! You'll have to watch below for the details...

Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken

516 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

213-622-7876

www.astrodoughnuts.com

 

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The Food Pervert on NBC's Today Show

Last week, with zero expectations and an hour before the contest was over -- I decided to submit my recipe for Cocoa Tangerine Pancakes to The Today Show's "Cook-Off" Contest.  This week, I found out that my recipe was chosen and I get to make my pancakes live on the show this Monday, May 15th!  Myself and one other finalist will have a breakfast cook-off and the show hosts and a panel of celebrity judges will decide which recipe was the best!  I have high hopes for my pancakes!  Thank you for your support and I hope you can watch.

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Naughty Bites: Jimmy's Famous American Tavern

I recently visited Jimmy's Famous American Tavern in Santa Monica -- a restaurant known for old fashioned American comfort food such as Burgers and Fried Chicken.  I came in with no expectations, just hoping for great tasting food!  I ended up enjoying everything about my visit!  I loved the rock n' roll vibe, the central bar, the spacious patio and of course, the impressive comfort food dishes! Watch "Naughty Bites" for my full review...and of course plenty of food porn!

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Book to Plate Goes to Seattle for WCR National Conference!

GiGi (GiGi Eats Celebrities) and I will be headed to Seattle this upcoming weekend for the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs National Conference!  We are so excited to be leading the seminar: Lights, Camera, COOK! A Beginner's Guide to Starting Your Social Media Cooking Show & Recipe VideosIt's hard to believe we started shooting our YouTube Cooking Series, Book to Plate, four years ago, but what a journey it has been!  We are looking forward to sharing our knowledge and helping others to get started on their digital cooking dreams!
 
The WCR Conference takes place in Seattle May 6th - 8th and will be hosting incredible female talent from all corners of the culinary industry -- we are honored to be a part of this event!

Make sure to tune into our Facebook Live at 10 am Monday, May 8th on our Book to Plate Fan Page, so even if you aren't there you won't miss anything. 

If you're interested in attending, please click HERE.

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LA Food Bowl is Coming: Q & A with LA Times' Noelle Carter

The first ever LA Food Bowl, presented by the LA Times, kicks off May 1st and runs all month long!  This is an incredible celebration of food and chefs not only based in Los Angeles, but from all over the world! I had the opportunity to hear about some of the events from the LA Times Test Kitchen Director, Noelle Carter.  Check out the interview below and if you are interested in attending, which you should be, visit www.lafoodbowl.com

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Happy Brunch Surprise at Vernetti

When some friends and I stumbled upon Vernetti in Larchmont Village we were unaware of the delights that were to come to our table.  After reading the menu posted outside we walked in. It was a Saturday at noon, the peak of brunch-rush in LA, but there was a windowside table open - score!  I was immediately charmed by the bar and dining room decor - modern, classic and clean with tall white walls and plenty of natural light.  I don't know how this restaurant slipped under my radar - but regardless, I was happy to be introduced finally!

Okay, a darling Italian restaurant, ordering a cappuccino was a must.  Ever since my trip to Italy last year I have become obsessed with finding the most authentic Italian cappuccinos in LA.  Some have failed miserably and some have come very close, but the cappuccino at Vernetti has nailed it.  An Italian cappuccino is all about the milk foam to espresso ratio, the perfect balance. I truly felt like I was back in Rome just looking at it.  Then of course, it tasted amazing.

For a starter we ordered the cinnamon roll, since the rest of our orders were savory - something sweet was needed...also we were very hungry.  I had never seen a cinnamon roll like this before, it was made of flaky pastry dough and lacking in thick icing.  It was delicious.  Sweet cinnamon and butter clung to the walls of the dough - it didn't need icing!  Also, it looked like a piece of art.

We also ordered the Avocado Toast, Morning Carbonara and Crispy Polenta Cake.  The Avo Toast was served on delicioius multigrain bread drizzled with balsamic which was a new twist to the usual LA avocado toasts!  I loved the sweet and tangy flavor in contrast to the salty egg. 

The carbonara was overall a great order.  There was no shortage of crispy guanciale or grated cheese, that's for sure! I only wished that the noodles had been bathed in slightly more egg yolk, they were a little dry for my taste.  They didn't leave much lip-licking post bite.  

The Crispy Polenta Cake was a sweet potato polenta served with soft scrambled eggs, sautéed chantrelles and sage.  Basic, but satisfying and they certainly made the most of the mushroom serving. The key was to line up all three on the fork for one special bite.   The sweet potato was unexpected and turned out to be incredibly delicious.

I would love to visit again and try other menu items; Caramelized French Toast with candied citrus, whipped mascarpone, the Semolina Waffle and the House Cured Lox Plate with tomato, capers, red onion, cream cheese, toasted ciabatta.  I would also love to come in for dinner and sit at the bar and swirl a glass or two of wine!   

Rating: XXX

For more info visit: www.vernetti.la

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Restaurant Opening: the Ponte is coming

When Chef Scott Conant's Scarpetta, left Beverly Hills last year, I was devastated! Where was I going to get that magical Spaghetti Pomodoro?  It doesn't matter now because Conant is back! He has partnered with Stephane Bombet, of Bombet Hospitality Group (Faith & Flower, Hanjip), to transform the recently closed Terrine into The Ponte, a modern Italian restaurant with the classic technique Conant is known for. After uncoupling with all Scarpetta Italian Restaurants last year, he was ready for a new project. 

“Scott has had such an impact on modern Italian cuisine throughout his career, and I am honored to be a part of this project with him,” says Bombet. “His signature dishes have made a lasting impression in L.A., and exemplify what we’re striving for at The Ponte—just good Italian food with warm Italian hospitality that keeps you coming back. The fact that Marc was able to collaborate with us is serendipitous—his roots in both France and Italy could not be more perfect for designing this restaurant.”
 
Inspired by the tight-knit community of Pontelandolfo expats—nicknamed Pontes—in Conant's hometown of Waterbury, Connecticut, The Ponte will offer guests a relaxed and sophisticated experience complemented by Conant’s soulful Italian cuisine.

"I love the spirit and energy of L.A., so I was thrilled for the opportunity to get back behind the line in one of my favorite cities," says Conant. "Stephane and I have known each other for years and I've always admired his thoughtful approach to hospitality; you feel like you're among friends when you walk through his doors. That sense of conviviality, of warmth and comfort that comes with community, is exactly the vibe I wanted to create with The Ponte. I hope L.A. enjoys it!"
 
Conant's menu will offer a wide selection of charcuterie, antipasti, and pasta, including Spaghetti Pomodoro with his signature ragu. Assorted vegetables and pizza from the kitchen’s wood-burning oven will also be served, along with dishes that celebrate the best of local California ingredients, including Roasted Lamb Neck with raisins, smoked eggplant, goat cheese & pine nut crumble; and Prawns with celery root purée, salmoriglio & crispy sunchokes.  

The Ponte’s beverage program, helmed by BHG fixture, Ryan Wainwright, will feature classic yet bespoke Italian aperitivo- and digestivo-themed cocktails to pair with Conant’s cuisine. Best enjoyed in the restaurant’s spacious bar and lounge, The Ponte’s bar will celebrate California citrus and Italian herbs and bitters, in addition to housing an impressive collection of amaro and several varieties of housemade limoncello.
 
Wainwright’s bar menu will feature six classic and six house drinks, all in the spirit of the aperitivo tradition: an Old Fashioned with caramelized Fernet; bitter lemon tonic and grappa; and a Negroni flight with classic Camparinette, white Negroni, and mezcal variations; among many others.

I am salivating like crazy over here and can barely wait to take a seat when the restaurant officially opens it's doors toward the end of this month.

The Ponte Ristorante
8265 Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles, CA. 
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Palm Desert Food & Wine: Sneak Peak

The Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival, presented by Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, returns for its 7th year this March 24th - 26th.  This is a food event that I have heard a lot about and this year, I am finally going!  Not only is the chef talent going to be epic, but who doesn't love an excuse to go to Palm Desert?  This week I attended a special preview event with some of the chefs; Brooke Williamson, Stuart O'Keefe and Casey Thompson and it absolutely got me excited for March.

The evening started with poké samplers from The Venue, a sushi bar in Palm Desert run by Chef Engin Onural who will be participating in the event.  All were delicious!

After our mouths were nice and juicy from the poké, we got to watch two recipe demos! The first was from Irish Chef and Cookbook Author Stuart O'Keefe, who you might have seen on the Food Network.  His new book, The Quick Six Fix, features healthy, delicious recipes that take no more than six minutes to prep.  He prepared Angel Hair Pasta with Tomato, Lemon, and Large Shrimp...don't you find that the simplest meals are often the best tasting?  Great recipe...and it was not at all hard to watch him work if you know what I'm saying (wink).  

Up next was Chef Brooke Williamson, LA restaurant empress and Top Chef contestant. Her restaurants include Hudson House, The Tripel, Playa Provisions and the recently opened Da Kikokiko.  It's a good thing I like poké because that's also what Chef Brooke prepared for us!  She wanted to share the signature flavors of Da Kikokiko, which pays homage to Hawaiian street food.  Poké shops are turning up all over Los Angeles, this was definitely one of the best bowls I've tried.

Chef Casey Thomas, also a contestant on Top Chef, wasn't able to perform a demo, but she did show her support for the other chefs and got us all excited for March!

If you need more convincing for attendance here are some of the events that will be going on.

  • “An Evening in New Orleans” at Toscana Country Club, where Chef Tory McPhail will kick start the revelry on Thursday, March 23
  • James Beard Gourmet Four-Course Luncheon on Friday, March 24 with emcee Gail Simmons, food expert, Food & Wine Special Projects Director, and judge on Bravo’s Top Chef
  • “Celebrity Chef Reception” at the Ford Estate on the evening of Friday, March 24, where guests can meet and mingle with Gail Simmons and indulge in a one-of-a-kind meal expertly prepared by Brooke Williamson, along with a tour of the restored home
  • Two Days of Grand Tastings on Saturday, March 25 and Sunday, March 26, featuring tastings from 42 celebrated restaurants plus demonstrations from excellent culinary talent, and wines poured from over 60 vintners


*Tickets are on sale now, individual events range from $35-200, with additional package and VIP options. Please continue to visit palmdesertfoodandwine.com for updates and details on full programming of events, chefs, wineries, sommeliers, and breweries participating at the 7th Annual Palm Desert Food & Wine presented by Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa.

Bonus, Palm Desert Food & Wine will donate 35 meals for every festival ticket purchased to Coachella Valley’s FIND Food Bank, which provides food and essentials to those in need throughout the community.

I hope to see you there! 

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Unicorn Hot Chocolate, It's a Thing

It's pink, layered with whipped cream, rainbow sprinkles and pastel marshmallows -- say hello to the world's prettiest white hot chocolate fantasy, Unicorn Hot Chocolate. I'm a little disappointed that my mind didn't come up with it first, but the woman who beat me to it is Joanna Czikalla and now I worship her.  

Czikalla started serving cakes, ice cream, coffee and specialty beverages last year at her dessert café, Créme & Sugar in Anaheim Hills, California.  Her Lavender Latte was the most popular beverage--until now.  The Unicorn Hot Chocolate, which is a secret menu item, has quickly become the biggest seller and an instagram superstar leading to recent features on The Huffington Post and Cosmopolitan.  

So, I bet you're dying to know what it's like! After your tongue swirls through the dense cream, chewy mallows and crisp sprinkles, the first sip hits you with the very forward flavor of white chocolate, it floats down your throat, wrapping it in a warm, soft blanket and you realize you have tasted peace on Earth. You don't even care that it's dripping down the side of your mug and coating your fingers.  This is not an order you would want everyday, but on special occasions, I don't know if there is anything better. Beware, you will experience a severe sugar coma if you decide to finish your entire mad-hatter sized mug.  

If you want to contine down the Unicorn road, Créme & Sugar also offers Unicorn Cake, a Unicorn Milkshake and Unicorn Bark (A rainbow swirled white chocolate bar). The cake looks like it came straight from a My Little Pony's birthday party -- three layers of colorful vanilla cake dressed in sparkly rainbow frosting.  It is the best vanilla cake I have ever tasted. The texture is dense and wholesome.  It is clear that Czikalla has sourced the best flour, eggs, butter and sugar for her creation. I tasted a hint of cornmeal, though I don't think there is any in the recipe, but I liked it! 

Rating: XXXX

For a complete menu listing and information visit: www.cremensugar.com

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Comfortable AF! My Top Five Comfort Foods in LA

December is an interesting month, for one, it’s my birthday month (thanks), also it’s the end of the year - the last hurrah before it starts all over again. I nicknamed December “f*ck it” month.  Seriously, just have fun in December and be comfortable.  The best way to do that is to eat all of the comfort food that you want!  I have decided to make a list of my Top Five favorite LA comfort food spots! 

Sack Sandwiches
I’ve been coming here for a few years.  Thank you Michael Voltaggio for having a concept for sandwiches that is always delicious and always consistent.  Any sandwich here is awesome, but recently I have fallen in love with the “Frenchy” - turkey, brie, fruit chutney, arugula and mayo. It’s the bread that really makes these sandwiches special. Soft, bot not too soft.  It’s an easy and always satisfying go-to for me.

8360 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(323) 655-7225
www.sacksandwiches.com

33 Taps Silverlake
This is a new one, but I recently had their nachos and buffalo cauliflower and was very into it!  Nachos are one of my very favorite comfort meals, but I rarely think to order them! These ones are dressed up classically in cheddar, pico de gallo, beans, jalapeños, enchilada sauce, guacamole and sour cream and the serving is huge.  The buffalo cauliflower, which we have seen as a trend here in LA, is by far the best of any other version I’ve had.  Yes, even Mohawk Bend has nothing on the 33 Taps version!  The skin was perfectly fried and crispy, I didn’t feel like I was eating cauliflower at all!  Last note, they have wine ON TAP and it’s great. (They also have a Hollywood location FYI)

3725 W. Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
323-338-7777
www.33taps.com

Blue Star Donuts
Like this one needs a lot of explaining…Blue Star is batsh*t crazy delicious.  I take great pride in the fact that it was founded in my home state of Oregon, but thank God they opened shop down here!  Doughnuts have always been one of most reliable pick-me ups.  Had a bad day? An amazing doughnut will make things better, always!  Sometimes it’s hard to choose which flavor to get because they are all incredible, so I say get a few, but you have to get their signature Blueberry Bourbon Basil. (They also  have a Manhattan Beach location)

1142 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
310-450-5630
www.bluestardonuts.com

bluestardonuts

The Oaks Gourmet Market
Because Cheeseburgers.  That was not an actual sentence, but it’s true. I’ve been eating cheeseburgers all over LA for 10 years now and the one at The Oaks Gourmet is especially endearing to me and yes, makes me feel incredibly comforted! Go in, order the Dry Aged Burger. It’s a half pound dry aged beef patty with bacon, baby arugula, red onion, tomato, jalepeño and pineapple compote, taleggio cheese served on a toasted brioche bun.  I know you just had a fantasy in your mind and it was goooooood.

1915 North Bronson Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90068
(323) 871-8894
www.theoaksgourmet.com

Photo by Benji Dell

Photo by Benji Dell

Public School on Tap 21
I have said it before and I will say it again, this is a PMS-ing woman’s paradise, also great for dudes any day of the month!  Tons of fried, gooey, cheesy, meaty, sweet and salty things to choose from.  The shrimp and grits is my favorite entree, but what really soothes my soul is the Nutella Cookie Sandwich with bacon brittle, chocolate chunk cookies and vanilla bean ice cream.  It’s everything naughty and is really fun to try shoving in your mouth.  I recommend sharing with a friend. (They also have locations in Culver City, Sherman Oaks and Thousand Oaks)

612 Flower St.
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 622-4500
www.psontap.com

Photo courtesy of Dog and a Duck PR

Photo courtesy of Dog and a Duck PR

Believe me when I say, making this list was very difficult, there are definitely more favorites of mine, but I feel good about sharing these with you.  What are your favorite comfort food go-to's?? 

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Umami Burger Set for National Cheeseburger Day!

umamiburger

You may or may not know that cheeseburgers are my favorite thing to eat.  I love to tell the story that I'm made of them...my mom ate a ton of cheeseburgers when she was pregnant with me! Dandy burgers to be exact.  My last meal would absolutely be a double cheeseburger with avocado and bacon.  In honor of National Cheeseburger Day, coming up this Sunday, September 18th, I have tasted all four, location-specific Umami Burgers so that I can tell you which ones you can eat where...and so you can drool over this mad burger porn, duh!

Umami Burger Santa Monica - Loco Moco
beef patty, rice patty “buns,” gravy, fried egg, chives

The Loco Moco is not actually a cheeseburger, but I wanted to include something for you lactose intolerant burger lovers! I will warn you, this burger is rich, therefore best enjoyed with a side of crisp Umami pickles.  You will want some tang to cut through the gravy!

Umami Burger Broadway - Trattoria Burger
bacon lardon & beef patty, crispy capitol, arugula, parmesan frico, roasted garlic aioli, roasted pine nuts

Out of the four new burgers that I tried, this one was my favorite.  Probably because mixing bacon into beef is the way to my heart.  I wasn't sure how the pinenuts were going to work, but they were surprisingly tasty and added an earthy flavor that paired well with the salty parmesan and capitol. 

Umami Burger at The Grove - Kinoko Burger
portobello mushroom buns, grilled chicken breast, basil pesto, parmesan, arugula, cherry tomato confit, goat cheese, balsamic glaze

Living that carb-free life?  This is the burger of your dreams!  It does require a fork and knife to devour it though, unless you don't mind having sticky balsamic hands!  I really liked this burger, the tomato confit was delicious and I also felt like I was eating something healthy...haha.

Umami Burger Pasadena - Pepperbelly Burger
house beer-cheddar cheese stuffed beef patty, Umami chili, Fritos crumble, pickled serranos, roasted garlic aioli

Oh snap, this burger is HOT.  The Pepperbelly was my second favorite...because chili, cheese and Fritos on a burger? YES.  If you like your burgers wild and spicy, here you go, eat this thing!  That crispy Frito crunch really is something special and should probably be on more burgers.

Thanks for reading and I wish you all an awesome National Cheeseburger Day! 


For more info please visit www.umamiburger.com

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The Taste 2016: Greatest Hits

Hanging out with awesome friends, chatting with chefs, tasting wine and cocktails and EATING for a full two days and nights, I survived The Taste 2016...barely!  After attending four back to back food events all last weekend at The Taste I can say that I truly feel like a champion of sorts...a food champion. I also feel exhausted after eating and drinking so much and it will probably take me all of this week to recover. And guess what?  I get to do it all over again THIS weekend at the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival!  I am a crazy person!

Back to the events I attended at The Taste, you will notice below that only three are documented and that is because during the last event, I wanted to participate as a normal, food-loving person and not feel the need to take a picture of everything I touched.  I let my "blogger" persona have a break and just had fun enjoying the deliciousness without being worried about getting the perfect Instagram shot.  Check out my favorite bites below! 

FIELD TO FORK

DINNER WITH A TWIST

BLOCK PARTY

Did you go to The Taste?  What were your favorite bites?  

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The Taste Returns!

his is by far the busiest time of year for LA food lovers. Right after the LA Food & Wine Festival comes The Taste presented by The LA Times, taking place all Labor Day Weekend at Paramount Studios.  What's unique about The Taste, is that in addition to bringing great bites and drinks, it also has several panels and speaking events for attendees to participate in! Everything kicks off Friday night with a party and ends Sunday night with Flavors of LA.  There are a total of five events you can attend, don't miss out! 

OPENING NIGHT
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2 | 7:30 – 10:30 P.M.
AN EVENING AMONG THE CULINARY STARS
Hosted by Noelle CarterJonathan GoldJenn Harris and Amy Scattergood
Featuring a focused collection of tastings, distinctive cocktails and wines, it’s a unique chance to mingle with all The Times’ hosts and many of the weekend’s participating chefs and mixologists. 

FIELD TO FORK
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3 | 11 A.M. – 2 P.M.
FRESH TASTES FROM LA’S BEST CHEFS
Hosted by Amy Scattergood and Michael Cimarusti
Bite after bite, experience the amazing possibilities of fresh-focused dishes inspired by the bounty of California as leading LA chefs display their mastery of cooking with locally sourced ingredients.

DINNER WITH A TWIST
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3 | 7:30 – 10:30 P.M.
LET THE GOOD TIMES POUR
Hosted by Ray GarciaJonathan GoldJenn Harris and Michael Lay
With a great cocktail, a premium wine or your favorite spirit paired with the extraordinary culinary creations of the city’s best chefs, this evening becomes an unforgettable stroll through a studio backlot.

SUNDAY BLOCK PARTY
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4 | 11 A.M. – 2 P.M.
SUMMER’S LAST HURRAH
Hosted by Noelle Carter and Mary Sue Milliken
It’s a holiday weekend. LA’s best chefs and mixologists will be there. And they’ll be serving up some incredible indulgences on a historic movie backlot. It’s all the ingredients for the ultimate block party. 

FLAVORS OF LA
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4 | 7:30 – 10:30 P.M.
ONE CITY, COUNTLESS TASTES
Hosted by Jonathan Gold and Kris Yenbamroong
Let our Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic take your taste buds on a tour of this city’s vibrant collection of eclectic cuisines. This can’t-miss event is a culinary exploration of what makes LA, LA.

For all info please visit http://events.latimes.com/taste

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LA Food & Wine 2016: Greatest Hits

Great, looks like I will be hitting the gym every day this week thanks to all of the glorious food I devoured over the weekend at LA Food & Wine!  I would like to thank all of the chefs from near and far who brought their A game to give LA food lovers an amazing experience last Thursday through Sunday.  

My favorite tasting experience was last Saturday evening, at Live on Grand hosted by Tyler Florence.  Two chefs really stood out to me because not only did they create great tasting dishes, they also took into account the "event" element and created dishes that the attendees could visually see come to life.  Of course, you could see all of the chefs putting their dishes together, but Chef Tyler Florence (Tyler Florence Group) and Chef Fernando Darin (Ray's and Stark Bar) went beyond what was expected.  For them, it wasn't just about arranging food on a plate, it was executing individual meals from start to finish.

Florence served California Shrimp & Grits.  To see his team cautiously stirring the grits and gently spooning out shrimp one at a time, then drizzling with oil and sprinkling with seasoning was a testament to the passion behind the flavor.  There was true care being showed.  

Darin served elegant tangles of green spaghetti with Brazil nut pesto and cheese foam. He stood all night rolling the pasta fresh from his hands, hanging the noodles until they were ready to be cooked.  It was like a culinary art exhibition that was visually stunning, but also incredible tasting. 

To see more of my favorite bites, keep scrolling! 

EAT THE WORLD HOSTED BY EMERIL LAGASSE

LEXUS GRAND TASTING AT BARKER HANGER IN SANTA MONICA

LIVE ON GRAND HOSTED BY TYLER FLORENCE

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LA Food & Wine 2016 is Here!

Last night was the opening of Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival 2016!  I have attended this event almost every year since it began in 2010 and it never lets me or my tummy down! There are incredible chefs not just from LA but from all over the U.S. who come to our beautiful city to share their talents.  All weekend long there will be lunches, dinners, and tasting events with world-class food, wine and cocktails.  

To check out this year's best bites follow on insatagram and twitter @thefoodpervert @lafoodwine

For all ticket information please visit www.lafw.com 

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Pitchoun Bakery: As French as it Gets!

I was intrigued with Pitchoun the first time I ever walked in last year.  It had that hustle and bustle feel of a well-known neighborhood bakery.  While looking through the pastry case, the beautiful desserts began to entrance me.  Then, they reminded me of standing in line at a little patisserie in Paris with my mom when I was nine years old.  The only thing I wanted that day was a chocolate eclair.  We stood in line for nearly 15 minutes, not knowing if we would survive among the little old ladies stocking up on baguettes for dinner, scarves wound around their soft gray and white hair, shouting for the best loaf.  My mother handed me the eclair and whisked me out the door to the sidewalk where I ate it. Still a fond food memory of mine!  Pitchoun, the french saying for “kiddo”, brings that authentic patisserie experience to Los Angeles, thanks to husband and wife team Frédéric and Fabienne Souliés.

Fabienne’s accent is like lavender-honey, earthy and sweet. She grew up in Monaco, while her husband, grew up in the countryside of Southwest France.  Together they have brought the best of their French upbringings to Pitchoun.  Frédéric comes from three generations of bakers, so you could say he has good instincts.  There is something to be said for keeping things “all in the family,” the chefs and bakers are also French. Many of the ingredients are also imported from France -- most definitely the butter.  If the items don’t come from France, they are sourced as locally as possible. This is why the food tastes so real in my opinion.  “The chefs, we know them from France.  This is why we have them come here.  They are very skilled and we are on the same page. The whole team is French.  This is why I say we are truly an authentic french bakery.  I think we are the only one in this big city like this.” Fabienne says. 

The menu will serve you well from early morning through late afternoon, with traditional breakfast and lunch items: Parisian Omelette, Provencal Eggs, Croque Monsieur, Quiche Lorraine and Salad Niçoise to mention a few.  And of course there are many different breads and pastries ready to go home with you. “In our concept, we wanted to have recipes from our youth that we have grown up with because those are simple recipes, but very good. That was part of our authenticity, so for instance, all the sides that we’re doing, this is all what we would be making at home. Like the carrot salad (Carrots Like in Paris), very simple, very traditional. Then we make our French Vinaigrette. My father would make Provencal Eggs for me growing up with the roasted tomatoes.  All of these recipes have history.”

The best selling item is the Almond Croissant.  Fabienne believes it’s the specific technique they use.  “I would say we are known for the almond croissant. We make the almond croissant the French way, not the American way. The difference is that you use a baked plain croissant, you dip it in a homemade syrup and then you fill it in with the almond paste, which is homemade. And then you put on the top, some slivered almonds and then bake it again.  This is why it is flat. Then you put on the powdered sugar. That’s also why, thanks to the syrup, this croissant is less dry than the American croissant.” I tried one, trust me, they are fantastic! 

Another pastry item I don’t think you should leave without trying is the Raspberry Morning Bun.  It looks like a rose and tastes like a muffin, a croissant and garden fresh raspberries had a baby. You really can’t pass it up! Other menu items I sampled were the Summer Sandwich - proscuitto, mozzarella, grilled zucchini, tomatoes, pistou vinaigrette, basil on ciabatta and the Parisian Omelette with everything - ham, swiss, mushrooms and spinach.

I’ve been to Pitchoun three times now and although I haven’t seen any long lines of little old ladies, I can say that each experience gets better than the last.  Frédéric and Fabienne clearly care a lot about their business, it is an extension of their family.  “With the quality of the ingredients, the sourcing of the ingredients and the knowledge - the savoir faire, this is why I believe we are the best in this city.”  Either that Fabienne, or there’s something in the butter…

Rating: XXX

Pitchoun Bakery
45 S Olive Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
213.689.3240
www.pitchounbakery.com

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Oh, hey Norah!

Norah Restaurant, helmed by Chef Mike Williams, automatically got points when I found out it was walking distance from my West Hollywood Apartment.  I had heard a little bit about it so when I looked it up and realized that it was where "Don't Tell Mama's" used to be, I was jazzed.  I made a reservation to check it out ASAP!

When I walked through the doors I was immediately impressed with the vibe and overall decor.  The aesthetic looked like something I would create with an unlimited spending limit. I loved the black marble tables, even if they were purchased with the intention of easy instagram fame.  It's all about the marble y'all.

Location, awesome.  Decor, awesome.  Cocktails, awesome.  Food, awesome.
The cocktail I ordered was delicious because it involved cucumber and egg white, two things that I love in my cocktails!  I can't remember what it was called and it's not on the menu anymore so that might make me one of the worst dining reviewers ever, but I'm going to keep going! You can see how pretty it was in the photo.

Based on the imagery you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.  The Cast Iron Cornbread with Rosemary-Honey Butter was so moist that it crumbled apart the second you tried to lift it from the skillet floor, personally I like it that moist.  And yeeaaah, that butter could make rocks rolled in tar taste like heaven.  The two together were a real smash...in my mouth! 

Roots and Burrata, Roasted Carrots, Beets, Pistachio Puree and Onion Escabeche.  I Thank god the roots were carrots.  I would have been miffed with a plate of roasted radishes. Well, radishes did make an appearance, but only a one liner, the carrots were the star. The warm carrots and cool burrata tasted so good together, earthy and slightly sweet.

I ordered the Little Sausages with Kaffir Lime Chili Jam, Herb Salad and Toasted Rice Powder, specifically for the Jam.  I love Jam and this one sounded incredibly unique and tasty. It was and I couldn't help but fantasize how good it would be on avocado toast. Dangerous! I didn't love the sausages as much as the the jam, they were a little too spicy for me.

The pasta dish, Nettle Gnocchi was my favorite.  I do not remember the fine details of this dish and like that cocktail it's not on the menu anymore so all I have to reference is my wordless palate.  I remember the flavors though, and the textures quite vividly.  The sauce was rich and creamy and coated each bite thickly. Chopped peanuts added an intense crunch that was needed to cut through the sauce.  Greens cleansed after each gnocchi bite.  I experienced the sensations of a well balanced plate, that's what great dishes give you, a smart chef knows this.

I just found out that Norah has started their brunch service and I can hardly wait to trot down to it! 

Rating: XXXX

Norah Restaurant
8279 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, California 90046

323-450-4211
www.norahrestaurant.com

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