Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fantastic Dinner at Colori Kitchen Downtown

Saturday night of Labor Day weekend we met two of our favorite dining companions, a couple as equally obsessed with food as we are (maybe a little more so, but luckily they don't think I am weird for taking pics of what we are eating), for an early pre-theater supper at Colori Kitchen downtown. Truly a hole in the wall in all senses of the word, and housed between a low brow beauty salon and an underground hostess bar. You're going up several notches on the commercial scale simply walking into Colori. Revolving art hangs on the exposed brick walls and enthusiastic young Italians attend to your needs ("I'm not a waiter, I'm a musician.")

With no liquor license it is BYOB with no corkage, woot! We sucked back a couple of bottles of nice red, a California merlot and a French red courtesy of Silverlake wine. However the food was so good the wine was very secondary. My mouth is watering in anticipation of telling you all about it!

They started us off with bread served with hummus for dipping. Non sequiter, yet delicious.

Next we shared rounds of appetizers. Crustini. Very fresh and tangy. The bread was not to thick and not too soppy.

Yellow tomato bruschetta. Very nice late summer tomatoes. I always love my bruschetta made with burrata...but this bufala mozzarella was very nice.

The standard tri colori.

And both my choice and my favorite, beef carpaccio. I love what they did with this. Two things. 1) Very generous portions of beef, so much that we didn't finish it, and 2) the thin slices were draped over a large pile of lightly dressed greens. Delicioso!

The mains were what amazed me. I cannot believe everything at the table was this delicious at these prices. All entrees had a hearty, rustic approach, just beyond wonderful. I honestly cannot remember having had Italian this wonderful...Dattilo's in Hemet comes to mind. But that was some time ago and quite a commute for home cooked Italian and gnocchi made to order.

The most beautiful entree was a giant bowl of cioppino. Wow. The broth was delicious, but I would have liked my squid a hair less chewy.

I ordered the black cod en papillote. This dish was stellar. Diced tomatoes on top and julienned vegetables underneath, and the paper wrap left the fish so moist it melted in my mouth.

Both D's ordered the waiter (musician) recommended canolini which was earth shatteringly delicious. He said the noodles were nice and soft, but I actually found them to be perfectly al dente. Inside was a wonderful spinach and ricotta mixture.

They serve a wonderful coffee that must come from an espresso machine. It had that slight foaminess on top, and was steaming hot.

For dessert, the adorable waiter (musician) strongly recommended the canoli and a bread pudding. Ya'll know I am not a sweet eater, but the bread pudding was nice, The canoli fell a little short for all of us. I thought it was because I just don't understand canoli, but our friends have traveled through Italy and they were not thrilled either. Oh well, no one if perfect.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Which came first, the expletive or the internet phenomena?

When your favorite expletive becomes an internet phenom, along the lines of a lesser LOLCats....

Entire websites are being devoted to the term "fail".

Do I get any points whatsoever for adding the term to my lexicon and overusing it liberally prior to the arrival of said websites?

All images from Fail Foods.

Clearly, I FAIL.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Churches of Bakersfield, CA

I ran out of decent restaurants to explore and food to write about in Bakersfield, CA this summer. What's a blogger to do? I took my camera with me everywhere I went, and decided a photo essay on the churches between the Doubletree Inn and my school site was the perfect antidote.

Being a hedonistic/agnostic/atheistic type of person, I always look at churches and wonder about the spiritual connections people are making within their walls.

Rarely do I ever enter a church myself, save for a brief stint studying anthropology in Davis, when I regularly attended a variety of churches to complete a series of upper division coursework including but not exclusive to a course on cultural linguistics.

When traveling internationally, I have seen many different and awe inspiring churches.

Westminster Abbey in London, of course.

Notre Dame.

I have also visited the Catedral Metropolitana in the center of Mexico City, during a restoration project in the mid-90's.

Obviously, the churches of Bakersfield have nothing on any of these behemoths, in size, architecture and economic funding.

There must be something they all have in common, religion not withstanding.

But drive-bys of these buildings this summer left me unenlightened.

My all time favorite church, like the Catedral Metropolitana, is located in Mexico. On the Baja peninsula at the east end of the infamous Puerto Nuevo village, very close to the ruta libra. Outside the tourist strip of this village, there is abject poverty. There are shanties connected to one another via extra long electrical extension cords, held up by 2x4's and a little luck.

This chapel is tiny, maybe 5 pews on each side. But late one evening just a few nights before Christmas, I felt the spirit in there as much as I ever have anywhere.

I felt no such connection in Bakersfield. Maybe if I had gotten out of my car.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I forgot I had a nice time and good fried green tomatoes last spring at Magnolia in Pasadena.

The entry hall.

The outdoor bar, under the magnolia tree.

Eda mame in a light miso brothy-sauce.

The pizza was veddy nice.

And last, but definitely not least, the fried green tomatoes. Good.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Stalking Kris Morningstar at 750 ml

Located in an adorable neighborhood in South Pasadena on an adorable block with adorable shop fronts, situated on an adorable corner with signs and architecture reminiscent of the Whistle Stop Cafe and a light rail speeding mysteriously by every 20 minutes or so...

sits 750 ml, a wine bar & restaurant with Kris Morningstar of Blue Velvet temporarily at the helm.

We inquired delicately about Morningstar, asking if he was still in the kitchen, to which our server replied, "No, I think he went upstairs."

We couldn't have had a better atmosphere on a balmy Sunday evening, and we couldn't have had more personal service. Kip waited on us, guided us toward dishes that would suit our palates perfectly and made sure our meal was headed in the right direction. This is a man with a passion for food. He is pretty much passionate about all his endeavors, it would seem. He is founding a company called Eco-Kids, which makes a playdough-like product for kids and sells them in eco-friendly recycled and recyclable packaging. He actually brought a container out and I got to play with it. I love that salty smell of playdough. The packaging is cool, toys with an eco-conscience.

And, onto the food.

I started with a hamachi tartare, decorated with crispy pork belly flakes and diced summer melon. Hamachi is my favorite raw fish. But I would have liked more than two bites. I shouldn't be surprised, and I really wasn't. But I needed 2-3 servings of this to satisfy my appetite and tastebuds because it was a beautifully constructed dish.

Kip strongly reccomended the sweet corn agnolotti. In a review somewhere on the innerwebs, someone ate this and swooned. So D ordered this for an appie, and all reports were true. This dish is amazing. The pasta is house made, the corn is sweet and thick, and this dish was adequately sized for a starter. Kip tried to talk us into the entree size, and he was right. We would have eaten it all.

For an entree, I ate another small plate. This was a marguez sausage, on a fennel and olive salad with honey sauce. The mix of flavors was nice, and the size was hearty enough to assuage my hunger.

D ordered the tilefish. What the hay-yell is a tilefish, you ask? One of my reviews was referred to as the Cliff Claven of Chowhound, so I feel compelled to share with you what a tilefish is.

The University of Delaware has an informative little page on the tilefish:

"The tilefish is sometimes referred to by names such as golden bass or golden snapper. It is olive green or dark tan above, changing to yellow or rose on the lower sides. The back and upper sides are dotted with brilliant yellow spots, and the belly is white. The tilefish is further characterized by a fleshy protuberance on its back, just in from the dorsal fin, which looks like a miniature rudder balanced on its head. Although this species can reach 50 pounds, tilefish are usually marketed at 4-8 pounds. Crabs and crustaceans are their favorite foods.

Tilefish occur from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico and are most abundant from Nantucket to Delaware Bay. They are known to occupy a narrow band of the ocean floor on the upper part of the continental slope where a belt of warm water is found. A significant commercial fishery exists, especially off the Mid-Alantic coast.


According to the New Jersey Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service ("From Catch to Kitchen or Catching and Cooking Your Own Fish Dinner"), "If you love lobster, you'll like tilefish". This expression has been making the rounds. But those who know how tasty tilefish is and how well it sells have turned this saying around to "If you love tilefish, you'll love lobster".

Tilefish has firm, pinkish white flesh that provides a lobster- or crab-like taste. Once cooked, the meat is mild-flavored and succulent. The meat remains very moist after cooking; therefore, it is ideal for baking or broiling. Tilefish is delicious in seafood stews or chowders. This fish is excellent poached or microwaved, then cooled and used in a salad."

This particular dish was nice and tasty. Served on a bed of quinoa with grilled grapes and long slices of grilled eggplant, I am guessing this filet came from a tilefish of the 4 lb size. Not enough food for the big guy.

Despite the oftentimes small sizes of Morningstar's portions, I have every intention of following him to Casa. I love his flavors, and frankly, it gives me something to do with my time.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fast & Dirty Dinner at e3rd Steakhouse

e3rd Steakhouse is a sibling in the Zip Fusion family. There is actually a Zip Fusion Sushi two doors down on that awesome little angled strip of E 3rd Street just south east of Little Tokyo. There is also an inviting little wine bar, Blue Dhalia, in between the two.

I have been to e3rd Steakhouse one time previous, for an Obama rally generated within the Asian community of young hip folks. A very good friend of mine, R, is Chinese, hip and very much about town. He occasionally invites us to events that his friends have organized, and we are typically two of the very few non-Asian folk there. These events are always very classy, populated with well heeled and well groomed young people and have nothing of the Sky Bar/Sunset strip feel to their gatherings. People are incredibly friendly, polite and elegant in behavior. This Obama rally was not an exception. And that night e3rd was packed out.

Last night was quieter, but it was early. Being that there is a nightclub element to the restaurant, I am sure it gets busier later in the evening. By the time we left, nearly every table was taken and there were a few large parties.

The food was very good, and the prices are reasonable. The style is Pacific fusion, with overt Korean and Japanese influences. I ordered a small spicy tuna sashimi salad, with a tangy sesame dressing. Even the small size had lots of chunks of fresh red tuna, lots of tomatoes, crisp fresh lettuce, crispy apple slices and dry, savory sea weed.

I also ordered a side of kim chee mashed potatoes. Wow. Just wow.

For a started, J & L ordered the pepper crusted ahi tuna. It was lightly seared and drizzled with a miso orange vinaigrette. Lovely. I barely got in a picture before they inhaled it.

D & L ordered the grilled salmon, which came with choices of two sides. D had his with green beans, which were those long Chinese types green beans that I adore. He also ordered sauteed mushrooms. He said they were great.

J ordered the e3rd rib steak, marinated in pear and soy. So delicious my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

We came in for supper as their doors opened and they were still prepping the bar and kitchen for the night, so we got off to a slow start. Aside from that, service was good, food was very good and I am looking forward to going back again very soon.