Posts tagged ‘french food’

August 14th, 2011


We have a healthy Sunday morning ritual that probably came into existence to balance our not-so-healthy Saturday night tradition of eating out at our favorite restaurant like prisoners eating their last meals.  Still in our food comas when the first glimmers of Sunday morning arrive through the shutter’s slats, we do our best to linger in bed just a bit longer, before waking up and heading to the Studio City Farmers Market.  After that, our next stop is yoga class, where we attempt to use the wisdom of the East, to repent from the sin of the West, gluttony.  This week, it was even more difficult to listen to our yoga instructor preach detox, when our minds were somewhere else…namely, 50 feet away, in our car, where the Nutella croissant we bought, was sitting…waiting.

Don’t assume we go to the farmer’s market purely to indulge on baked goods.  Trust me, we buy fresh fruits and vegetables too, which is tough when you’re surrounded by kettle corn, fresh roasted peanuts, cookies and cakes.  With strong wills, we are able to avoid most temptations.  Still, there is still one vendor we must visit weekly, if nothing else, just to say hello…or more accurately, “Bonjour.”  The vendor?  Top Bakery out of Long Beach, California.  What makes Top our top choice?  Simple, buying French bread from an actual French person just adds that touch of authenticity that makes every bite just a bit better.  With a quick ‘bonjour‘, and a fresh baguette, for a brief moment, regular, ordinary, suburban Los Angeles magically transforms into cosmopolitan Paris.  While we would love to continue our French adventure by buying everything in sight, we usually show some restraint, only buying one baguette, and sometimes, just to keep it company, pain de campagne (country bread).  However on our last visit, there was one item, so awe-inspiringly decadent, we just couldn’t resist.  That bit of baked goodness was:  the Nutella croissant.

I developed an obsession for croissants when I moved to America.  Sure, we have croissants in Japan, but made to Japanese tastes, they’re just not the same. Basically, they’re too flaky (read: light), so they turn messy, breaking in pieces when you try to eat them. I would gladly sacrifice some of the flakiness for moistness, which brings me to the topic of filled croissants.  We all know that Japanese sized portions are smaller than their international peers, but sadly, that trait applies to filling as well.  Order a chocolate croissant in Japan, and you’ll be in for a non-chocolately surprise.   So when it comes to foreign-made croissants, America, the land of plenty, wins hands-down.

Waiting in the car in the summertime heat, while we stretched to the strains of our yoga instructor, our delicious croissant filled the air with its delicious aroma.  It was all we could do to wait until we made it home before ripping it apart like hunger-strikers finally ending their protest.  But, being the good fake Parisians that we are, we waited just a bit longer to make some French-pressed coffee, to go along with our chocolaty reward.

Finally, the moment of truth had arrived.  The first bite, as promised, was flaky on the outside and moist on the inside, with Nutella filling every inch.  Suddenly, my English faded, replaced by French, leaving me with only two words to describe the beautiful creation sitting in front of me — si bon!

See you next Sunday at the Top Bakery stand.

August 12th, 2011

When LudoBites 007 bites

One of the inspirations for this blog is the continuing food complaint adventure I share daily, with my husband.  When we got married, I knew going in, that my husband and I had VERY different tastes in food.  Now, as a married couple, we would be eating virtually every meal together till death do us part.  How is that even possible when I like every kind of Asian food that he consistently hates?  I love fresh seafood dishes that he wouldn’t come near unless they were fried to oblivion.  I love complex European dishes while he describes them as pretentious, small-portioned foods, encircled by sauce, served with too many forks. If menu planning were up to him, we’d be eating American comfort food and Mexican food, seven days a week, which would be perfect for me, except for the fact that I hate heavy foods prepared with too much cheese, butter, cream or oil.
With that in mind, how do you think our dinner at Ludo Bites 007 went?  First of all, what is Ludo Bites?  LudoBites 007 is the seventh installment of the ever-trendy pop-up restaurant by Chef Ludovic Lefebvre.  Instead of having a permanent, fixed address location, a pop-up restaurant like Ludo Bites runs for weeks at a time using various restaurants around  town, chosen by the chef.  These days, reservations for LudoBites have been some of the most difficult to get in all of Los Angeles, so when I actually secured a spot for dinner for the two of us, I should have been excited, right?   Well, I was and I wasn’t.  My mind instantly flashed back to that time when I brought home fried chicken from Ludo’s famous food truck, and anxiously awaited my husband’s opinion.  His response after one bite?   “Not worth it.”  I was speechless.  For him not to finish a piece of fried chicken is really something.  The problem is basically that my husband likes less complicated food, while Chef Ludo’s is known for its layering of exotic, international flavors.  I had to cross my fingers as I could only imagine what might appear on the menu.

We arrived to a trendy and energetic scene.  When handed the menu, I was excited to see such savory dishes as “Squid, Ash, Chorizo”, “Egg, Sea Urchin, Caviar, Champagne Beurre Blanc”.   Many of the offerings had some kind of interesting Asian twist like “Foie Gras “French Dim Sum Crispy Kimchi, Sake-Black Truffle Cream”.  While I was excited and impressed, my husband wasn’t, which was obvious from his expression, that if could talk, would’ve undoubtedly asked, “How late is In ‘N’ Out Burger open on a weeknight?

We both had trouble selecting dishes, but for the complete opposite reason.  I had a hard time choosing from the amazing selection of seafood plates, while he had a difficult time finding something on the menu that was not a delicious sounding, exotic seafood plate.  He had to resort to doing something he calls ‘ordering by default’ which he describes as ordering something that you have to, rather than something you want to.  After a few minutes of debate, I picked the seafood dishes: Machkerel Escabeche and Egg, Sea Urchin; while my husband chose Roasted Beef, Horseradish Cream and Epoisse Cheese Risotto from the few non-seafood selections.

I loved the sea urchin and roast beef most.  The sea urchin was very rich and creamy, but not heavy, with a  texture resembling polenta.  This was definitely one of the most creative and delicious sea urchin dishes I’ve encountered.  I found the beef to be perfectly roasted, with a delicious horseradish cream balancing its flavor.  The cream itself was light on the horseradish, and had a potato-like flavor.  If these were the only two selections on the menu, I would have still been satisfied. But was that feeling shared by my spouse, across the table?

Well, I feared the worst, and I wasn’t disappointed.  My husband didn’t like one thing. Not a huge surprise.  What was a big shock, was that out of all the dishes, he took TWO bites of the sea urchin, instead of the one bite he gave everything else. While I hoped it was because he was beginning to develop a taste for sea urchin, his two bites were more likely due to the fact that the server had brought all the seafood dishes first, leaving him, sitting across from me with no choice but to hungrily watch me savor my food.

I enjoyed virtually everything, with the exception of the risotto.  I just don’t have the taste for the pungent epoisse

For dessert, we ordered the Smoked Vanilla Bacon Creme Brulee, which came with Melon Gazpacho.  As we all know, everything is better with bacon, right?  Well, most of the time.  While it wasn’t the greatest bacon dish, it was very interesting, to say the least.  It was very, very bacon-y, with a nice balance of savory and sweet.  If you can imagine eating a smooth bacon cream for dessert, you’re almost there.  (FYI, there was no bacon bits in it)  While my husband finished his half (for the first time that evening), I know deep down, he would have preferred a tall piece of chocolate cake.  Alongside the Bacon Creme Brulee, was Melon Gaspacho.  I found the pairing to be confusing as, in my opinion, it didn’t go well with creme brulee, and was, in general, a little too acidic for my taste in dessert.

So while I enjoyed the adventure that was dining at Ludo Bites, I felt bad that my husband didn’t.  I find myself in this predicament fairly often, because he’s VERY picky.  I always tell him that he eats with his brain instead of with his taste buds, convincing himself he’s not going to like something like tongue, no matter how tasty it might be, purely on the basis of it being called tongue.  While he likes his comfort foods, and could eat the same egg breakfast 365 a year, I’m more adventurous and am always open to new flavors and combinations.  Do you have any suggestions for a restaurant we BOTH might like?  I’m serious, as they’re few and far between.  When we try something new or exotic, he usually sits in misery while I try to savor the experience, but it’s hard to, knowing your companion would rather be somewhere else. Why can’t he just enjoy the fact that he’s taken me somewhere where I’ve really enjoyed my meal?  Maybe it has to do with the fact that he’s about to leave the restaurant penniless and hungry with the arrival of the over-sized check for the undersized portions he took two bites of.

There’s a long, winding culinary road ahead of us.  Thanks for keeping us company.