Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Gold Standard

So a good 6 hours after I've left Jonathan Gold's Gold Standard event, I finally feel like a normal person again. It took me 6 hours to digest all the yummy food I ate and sober up from all the delicious wine and beer I drank. With food from 40 uniquely different restaurants and countless wines, beer, and whiskey that were free-flowing...I felt like I'd died and gone to foodie heaven.

In my opinion, the event was so worth the $60. The only booth that ran out of food before I got to try it was the Mozza booth. I didn't get any of the burrata/ricotta cheesy goodness :( However, it was okay because I was too busy trying to fit everything else in my stomach anyways. I have a pretty big appetite--especially for a girl--but even I couldn't try a little bit of everything before I felt like exploding or just laying down and going into a food coma. I somehow managed to avoid both scenarios which I would say is an impressive feat after 4 hours of non-stop food and drink consumption.

The event was held in the Petersen Automotive Museum which was actually a pretty cool place. The only ridiculously long line I was in was the line trying to get into the event. Luckily as we were standing in line, we were also surrounded by awesome cars and motorcycles. For the 10ish minutes we were in line, I stood by a HUGE motorcycle-like thing that looked like a giant bike-riding skeleton. I was a little scared of it, to be honest, but now I wish I'd taken a picture of it and some of the cool vintage cars instead of only taking pictures of food. Overall the atmosphere of the event was just wonderful. I sighted Jonathan Gold himself twice throughout the day which was a little exciting for me. The perfect weather today also helped to make this day of food and wine even more amazing.

Now I'm gonna share some of my favorite bites and not-so-favorite bites from today...if you weren't there today, be at least a little jealous ;)

LA Weekly 2nd Annual Gold Standard Food and Wine Event

*Not pictured but also very tasty are the albacore ceviche with aji amarillo sauce from Mo-Chica (the fish was so delightfully fresh), some muffin-like thing (amazingly moist for such a little bite) from Huckleberry Cafe, and the pork tostada (nice sweet and tender shredded pork) from Beacon. They were all very tasty. I just either forgot to take a picture or took a bad picture and ate the food before I could take another one*

This is a bad picture but I figured I should include a picture of the first bite we had. It was also a pretty decent bite. It was a Braised Kurobata Pork with Crispy Leeks and Beet Risotto Cake from Upstairs2. Their booth was right at the entrance to the event. In all the chaos of people entering the event, I wasn't able to get a very good picture.

We then moved onto The Hungry Cat which had this nice offering of salmon over picked red onions and some kind of spread. The bread was pleasantly soft instead of being crunchy like a crostini. Tasty, but wasn't tasty enough to merit seconds!

This was my first time tasting any of Chef Ludo's food and I have to say, while it was not my favorite in taste or texture, the overall experience of eating this veloute was certainly interesting. I enjoyed the sourness of the cornichon sorbet with the spiciness and creaminess of the soup but the texture of the cold, coagulated chorizo oil was a little off-putting for me.

My descent towards eating myself silly began with Loteria Grill. Their tacos probably were not even the most authentic tacos in the building but that tender beef tongue got to me. I ate two of those little suckers. Each bite was tender beefy goodness mixed with creamy fresh avocado. I'm bad at saying no to beef tongue in any kind of cuisine. The chicken was only okay--interesting only because of the nuttiness of the sauce. I only took a little bit of the meat from that taco. However, the mushroom taco was amazing. For not being meat, those mushrooms packed a whole lot of flavor. So good. However, after that little bout of taco eating frenzy, I was too taco-ed out to try any of the other tacos in the house. My loss :(

Oh that beef tongue taco went SO WELL with my Mighty Arrow beer in a wineglass

Bistro LQ tempted me with this mini baby slider with rabbit and oxtail in some kind of phyllo square. Sadly that rabbit didn't look very appetizing and its taste didnt make up for it. The little bun was hard and dry and cold. It just didn't work for me. The phyllo square was a little too buttery and oily. I didn't taste much oxtail flavor either. However, the little cups of tapioca with sea urchin and a kumamoto oyster at the bottom was a nice surprise. Actually, I guess I just liked the oyster part of it...

Nickel Diner's donut holes were surprisingly dense and surprisingly good. The famous Maple Bacon donut hole had a nice smokey finish on the tongue and the bacon was nice and crunchy. I also tried part of a Strawberry Shortcake donut hole and that was pleasant as well. They would've been nice with a cup of LA MILL coffee but at that point in time I think I had some wine in hand.

This unassuming plate of pot roast from Jar was actually surprisingly delicious. It was tender and full of flavor. The horseradish creme on top also added a nice touch. If I wasn't already so full by then I would've eaten an entire plate by myself. Sadly, I could only take two bites.

Ahhh this Banh Mi with Pork Belly+Pig Ears, Kumquats, Pistachios, and Lardons by Octavio Becerra Palate Food+Wine was my favorite bite of the event. The flavors all worked together so perfectly--a little spicy, a little savory, a little sweet. The french bread was nice and crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside. The pig ears were cooked to perfection--still a little crunchy from the cartilage but otherwise sticky and soft. I even took a second serving to save for later hehe...

Sona had been pretty high up on my list of booths to definitely hit but with all the chaos and amount of food I had to eat through to get there, I had almost forgotten about them. However, I did manage to still eat this nice little bite of salmon smoked with Vietnamese flavors on a shrimp chip. I think that was what it was described as. Nonetheless, it was a refreshingly simple and light bite in contrast to everything else I had had...definitely more refined.

At this point, it was time for a switch from savory to sweet. We had just tried a little bit of the beef from Jitlada and it was spicy as hell! I couldn't take it. I didn't even take a full fledged bite of the stuff and my mouth was on fire. I got a cappuccino from LA MILL and realized that it was a damn good cappuccino that deserved to be friends with the sweet little cupcake from Tiara Cafe. It was a nice little sweets break. The itsy bitsy cupcake was a "black velvet" cupcake which was nice because it tasted exactly like a red velvet cupcake (which I love) yet it didn't contain any red food colorings. Then I had a nice little scoop of guava ice cream from Saffron Silk. That was also incredibly delicious and rich yet fruity. I made another trip back to Saffron Silk a little later in the day...

We then ventured out into the outdoors area and ran into these nice little bites of sausage from Wurstkuche. I was already stuffed but then Duck and Bacon caught my eye and I reasoned with myself. "There just little bites of sausauge. What harm would it do? Besides, this is savory, what I just had was sweet..." So I ate one. It was yummy. Then I saw Rattlesnake and Rabbit...whaaat? I had to try one of those. It was also tasty though probably more rabbit than rattlesnake. And just like that, I put two more pieces of bread and sausage in my stomach.

I kept assuring my stomach that it was time for a break but then I saw Little Dom's and I just had to have one of those Fried Oyster Po'Boy bites. The crispy batter that broke into the creamy oyster inside was perfect with the little bit of fried crispy prosciutto(?) When I first saw Little Dom's on the lineup of restaurant that would be participating in this event, I knew they wouldn't bring pizza. That would've made no sense. So I hoped and hoped that they would be bringing their oyster po'boys so that I could finally try one. My dream came true and I was a happy girl :)

I think at this point, my stomach had some to terms with the fact that it would NOT be getting a rest at all today. I kept smelling fried chicken...I had a cup of beer in my hand...everyone else around me had some of these KyoChon chicken wings...I had to have some! The garlic sauce on the crispy wing was pretty tasty but eh, it was still just a fried chicken wing.

La Casita Mexicana's Chiles en Nogada was the last savory thing I had today. It was very good, something I had never had before, but it was cold...was it supposed to be cold? Or was it because things had already begun to dwindle down? It didn't matter to me anymore. I was on my second glass of Two Hands Gnarly Dude Shiraz and I couldn't have been happier. Finding out that that was the name of that bottle of Shiraz later on was just the cherry on top. That was definitely my favorite wine of the day.

Last thing was did was chill on some more delicious ice cream from Saffron Silk--this time in Rose(yum!) and Cardamon flavors--while this lady did her thing in a gold sequined jumpsuit. Not gonna lie, I was a little jealous of her sequins and big hair.


We also got these cappucinos from Urth Cafe that I meant to drink on the way home but there was waaay too much milk in it for me. It didn't even taste like coffee--just milk. However, the designs they poured were so pretty!

Finally, after a long and satisfying day of eating and drinking, I somehow made it back into my bed with my second helping of pig ear banh mi :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pismo's Coastal Grill

Pismo's Coastal Grill recently opened in Fresno. Before Pismo's, the only option we had for seafood was Red Lobster. I have nothing against Red Lobster (I love those cheddar biscuits) but Pismo's is really something special. For the first time, you can actually find a raw oyster bar in Fresno. I don't think I've ever seen a plate of fresh oysters in Fresno before this past weekend. Even better, the oysters were fresh. They also have a "fish market" within the restaurant. Although, I have to say I wasn't impressed with the fresh fish they had in the display case but the food that came out of the kitchen was pretty damn tasty.

My first impression of Pismo's was this: good-tasting food in hefty american portions. The salads are HUGE. However, the unexpected surprise was the flavor of the food. Although the portions were not delicate, the flavors were. The salad was not just a bunch of vegetables carelessly thrown together. Everything had been carefully prepared. The cioppino I had on a previous visit featured a delicately flavored broth with perfectly cooked seafood. In a dish like cioppino it's easy to, for example, overcook the mussels while undercooking the scallops. However, Pismo's managed to bring out a steamy iron pot of cioppino that impressed me.

That being said, Pismo's is still a relatively new restaurant and although the service was decent, there were some obvious kinks that still needed to be worked out. Luckily, both times that I went, we were served our food rather quickly. However, I've heard of other people complaining of slow service. Also, one of my pet peeves is being served hot food first when raw oysters were ordered. We were served fried oysters before raw oysters. It should definitely be the other way around. Other than that, my dining experience was pretty good.

Pismo's Coastal Grill
7937 N. Blackstone Ave.
Fresno, CA 93711

Fanny Bay Oyster

Oysters on the Half Shell [$7.99]
half dozen, cocktail sauce, horseradish, mignonette

There were nice and briny Fanny Bay oysters, not too creamy, that exceeded my expectations in freshness. They were also expertly shucked and a very good deal at only $7.99 for a half dozen. That's a deal that would be hard to find in LA...

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder [cup $3.99, bowl $4.99]

It's certainly not the best clam chowder I've had, but it's not bad either. The restaurant is still having problems with consistency--the first time I went it was a little thick, the second time it was a little looser with nice distinguishable pieces of clam

Fried OystersOlive Tapenade

Fried Oysters [$10.99]
green olive tapenade

The salty, briny green olive tapenade with capers and fruity olive oil was the highlight of this appetizer. It was pleasant and expertly fried but I could have been eating fried anything. It's not noticeable that it was oyster.

Albacore Salad

The Albacore Salad [$10.99]
house poached tuna, romaine lettuce, picked red onions, green beans, tomatoes, kalamata olives boiled Yukon potatoes, hard egg, and dijon vinaigrette

The picture does not do this salad justice. The size of this salad was MASSIVE! And more than worth the $11! It was enough to probably last me three meals and I'm a big eater. The humongous size of this salad also led to its less appealing appearance. However, don't let that fool you. This was easily one of the best salads I've ever had. There was so much going on but every ingredient was carefully prepared and taken care of. The green beans were mandolined...mandolined. Who does that? They also seemed lightly picked which was delicious. Also pickled were the red onions which definitely made the salad. They were perfectly sweet and sour with just the right amount incorporated in the salad so that you get a little bit with every bite without it being overpowering. The poached tuna is nice and the potatoes were delicious after soaking up some of the dressing. I almost forgot the boiled egg pressed through a strainer to get that crumbly texture. It added a much needed richness to a light and delicious salad. Needless to say...I love this salad!

Louie SaladLouie Salad 2

Ultimate Combo Louie [$17.99]
jumbo prawns, shrimp, dungeness crab, louie dressing, hard egg, gherkin garnish

This was also a ginormous salad. Similar in composition to the albacore salad but with a different dressing on the side. I don't have much to say about this other than the seafood was very fresh. I stuck with my albacore salad. It was large and tasty enough to keep my attention and wandering fork to myself.

Beach BurgerBeach Burger Innards

Beach Burger [$12.99?]
Cheddar, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions

This burger was deliciously juicy although I only got to steal two bites. The menu indicated that the beef used involved some kind of Kobe beef...I don't know if it was actually Kobe beef but it was definitely tasty and juicy and beefy. The sauteed mushrooms were also delicious. I don't know what part of this burger makes it a "beach" burger but overall, a solid standard burger.

Given Fresno's lack of really outstanding restaurants, I have to say that Pismo's Coastal Grill is a great new addition. I might hop on a train and go home right now just for one of those salad. If you ever find yourself stuck in Fresno for some reason, and happen to be in the mood for some seafood, treat yourself to one of the better meals in town and go to Pismo's.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Green Scallion Pancakes

Last weekend was the start of Chinese New Year. I went home for a nice weekend of cooking and in honor of Chinese New year, I decided that everything I made would be Chinese in some way--of course, I couldn't help myself and some macarons snuck into my weekend baking (post on that coming soon)

I started off the weekend with these green scallion pancakes. When my grandma used to make these for me , she would make a super wet batter--much like an actual pancake batter--and just add in some chopped green onions. She would pour a ladle full of the batter into a greased pan and they would turn out looking like your typical pancakes except savory and with bits of green. Those were her version and although they bring back memories of my childhood, they are nothing like the green scallion pancakes I was craving this past weekend. To me, green onion pancakes should be chewy. When you bite into one, you should be able to see layers of dough and scallions inside. This recipe gave me just that. My first time making green scallion pancakes was a success!

Green Scallion Pancakes
makes 6

2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of boiling water
6 stalks green onions/scallion
flour for sprinkling
vegetable oil

1. Mix together the flour and boiling water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix until a nice smooth ball of dough forms. (Could this be any easier?)

2. While the dough is mixing, finely chop the green onions.

3. Dust the counter with flour and divide the ball of dough into six smaller balls.

4. Take one of the balls of flour and roll out as thinly as possible--it does not have to be in a perfect circle, just make it super thin! The thinner you can get the dough, the more layers there will be in the final pancake.

5. Brush on a layer of vegetable oil and sprinkle with chopped green onions. Also, sprinkle on some salt at this point.


6. Starting from one end, start rolling the dough into a long snake shape.


7. Take the long snake of dough and roll it back onto itself so that it looks like a cinnamon roll.


8. Once all six balls of dough have been rolled and filled with green onions, brush the tops with some more vegetable oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let them chill in the fridge for about an hour or up to a day. The longer they sit, the more the flavors meld together.


9. When you're ready to cook the pancake, roll the cinnamon roll shape flat and cook in a pan. You can roll them as thin or as thick as you want. I liked them a little thicker. To cut down on the amount of oil used, I didn't even grease the pan. The oil in the dough should be enough to keep the pancakes from sticking. Cook until the dough is cooked through and nice and golden brown on both side.


The final result should be crispy on the outside with chewy, mildly oniony, layers on the inside.


I couldn't decide between saying "green onions" and "scallion." I thought that by the end of this post I would've been able to make up my mind. Obviously, I still couldn't--thus, the two were used interchangeably. I hope it wasn't confusing...