Sunday, December 26, 2010


Ever since attending L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade, I had been wanting to visit Tavern. Suzanne Goin did such a spectacular job putting the event together, I figured any of her three restaurants must also be amazing. Although I'll admit, my desire to have a full-sized "Snickers" dessert all to myself was perhaps the driving force behind my urge to eat at Tavern.

Before I get into the food, let me just say that I am completely in love with the design of the restaurant. Roughly divided into three sections--the larder, the bar, and the atrium--each area had a completely different ambiance that I equally admired. We entered through the larder, which felt rustic and homey, with bacon and pecan studded sticky buns behind the glass display cases. The high back chairs in the bar area, upholstered in various shades of purple and lavender, are whimsical, yet chic. The high-ceilinged atrium serves as the dining room and is airy and spacious, with natural light flooding the room during our lunchtime meal. Live, potted trees in the center of the room adds color and life to the space, while the mirrors lining the walls made the room feel even larger. I felt so comfortable, I could relax in one of those couches forever.

11648 San Vincente Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049
tel: 310-806-6464

sourdough bread

little gems, shrimp, crab, avocado, green goddess dressing

SO unfortunately over-salted. How in the world do you over salt a salad? Other than that, the salad was very fresh, the crab very sweet, and the shrimp cooked to a perfect snappy texture.

The Spaniard--grilled mahon, lomo, romesco, quince, fried egg

I really wanted to love this sandwich. I thought it'd be the perfect balance of sweet and savory with the cured meats and quince paste. I also tend to gravitate anything topped with a fried egg. In the end, I didn't love it. It was too rich, too salty, the bread too hard and crusty, and the egg just wasn't enough to help it. The remarkably thin sweet potato chips on the side were enjoyable though.

market fish with carrot orange purée and beets

This ended up being my favorite out of the three dishes we ordered. The fish of the day was halibut and it was cooked to a tender, flaky perfection. I have a phobia towards anything involving a carrot, orange, and fish combination after an unfortunate dish at LudoBites 4.0, but it was actually quite tasty in this dish. I didn't order it, but I ended up stealing several bites.

wine poached pears

I only had two bites of this dessert and can't really remember much about it. It must not have been that great because otherwise I would've taken more bites.

"Snickers" Bar--salted peanut caramel and vanilla ice cream

Bigger is not always better. This giant "Snickers" bar was nowhere near as delightful as the miniature ones I had at L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade. Too much of a good thing?

Sadly, the food was not nearly at the level I expected it to be at. Everything was decent, but I wouldn't order any of the dishes we ordered again. It kind of felt like food from a mediocre hotel restaurant, not to mention someone in the kitchen was overzealous with the salt. However, I would give Tavern another chance...mainly because I'd like to sit in the atrium with a bacon pecan sticky bun.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

pâtisserie Sadaharu AOKI paris (Bamboo)

Taiwan is gastronomically blessed with many things--night markets, niu rou mian, Din Tai Fung, Robuchon, and the list goes on and on...

Among that which we are culinarily endowed with is Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki. As far as I know, this god of a pastry chef only has locations in three countries: France, Japan, and now Taiwan. I can't walk past the display case without having a serious urge to purchase one of the meticulously crafted creations. Each one has a different color scheme and flavor profile that is curious, yet intriguing. I've yet to try all of them (I'll be honest, I kind of want one of each for Christmas) but my favorite, hands down, is the Bamboo. I plan on having many of them during my two week stay in Taiwan.


pâtisserie Sadaharu AOKI paris
Bellavita, B2
28, Song Ren Rd
tel: 02-8729-2759

Similar to an Opéra cake, the Bamboo is the perfect fusion of French technique with Japanese flavors. With repeating layers of matcha infused joconde, chocolate ganache, and matcha buttercream, in alternating shades of green and brown, it is a thing of beauty and perfection. Not too sweet and perfectly balanced, each bite has the texture of the almond biscuit and silky creaminess of the buttercream. The slight bitterness of the matcha flavor counteracts the sweetness of the chocolate. Granted, the flavor of the chocolate is not very apparent, but I believe it's presence is still subtly felt.

Reasons why I love the Bamboo:
1) it comes in amazingly cute packaging
2) green is pretty much my favorite color...especially when you put multiple shades together
3) matcha powder has recently become one of my favorite thing to bake with
4) look at that pristine layering! (I think Aoki and I may share similar OCD tendencies)
5) it's simply delicious

Be jealous.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gingersnaps & Gingerbread Men

It's finally December, which means I can start celebrating the Christmas season to my heart's content. I'll be honest, I've been listening to Christmas music since the week before Thanksgiving and baking gingerbread cookies since the day right after, but it definitely seems more appropriate to do these things in December.

I love both of these ginger cookie recipes. Both recipes are great, and although their ingredients are similar, the different proportions of flour to leavening and sugar to butter make them taste completely different. And the smell of these cookies when they're in the oven is magical! I promise your house will literally smell like Christmastime.

Also, these are great recipes to make simultaneously. The ingredient list is practically identical, and the baking temperatures are both at 350 degrees. Both require a quick chill in the fridge, so while one batch of gingersnap dough is chilling in the fridge, you can whip together a batch of gingerbread men dough.

EAT MY BLOG official logo
I just finished making these gingersnaps and gingerbread men for this Saturday's Eat My Blog bake sale. For those of you who don't know, Eat My Blog is a charity bake sale put together by Cathy of Gastronomy Blog. All proceeds go to Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. I've been wanting to participate in it ever since she started the event, but this was the first time I've had my own kitchen to do some baking in. My cookies have some pretty humble ingredients compared to some of the exotic and elaborate treats that are going to be for sale, but they're perfect for the holiday season. Make sure you stop by on Saturday, December 4th, at Tender Greens (8759 Santa Monica Blvd) in West Hollywood from 10:00am.m-4:00p.m. for some sweet treats!

Incredibly Crisp Gingersnaps
makes about 50

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
12 tablespoon (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
sugar for finishing

1. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
2. In another bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and continue beating until well incorporated.
3. Add half the flour mixture then add in molasses and combine before adding remaining flour mixture. Mix only until just incorporated.
4. Chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The dough can be made the day before.
5. Using an 1-inch cookie dough scooper, make balls of dough to roll in sugar before placing on a silpat-lined baking sheet. Leave plenty of room between the cookies (3 inches) because they will spread in the oven.
6. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes.


Gingerbread Men

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoons finely ground pepper
3/4 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses

1. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
2. In another bowl, cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Then add in spices and salt. Combine before adding the egg and molasses. Mix until incorporated.
3. Add flour mixture and mix on low until just incorporated. Divid the dough into two parts. Wrap each individually and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
4. Sprinkle some flour on a flat surface and roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out the gingerbread men and place on a silpat-lined baking sheet.
5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the cookie cutter you're using. A 2-inch tall gingerbread man takes about 8 minutes in the oven.

Royal Icing recipe for decorating:
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons meringue powder
1/4-1/2 cup water
Food coloring gels

Mix together with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Feel free to adjust the consistency with either more powdered sugar or more water. Decorate!