Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Late Summer at Drago Centro and the Taylor Swift Experience

Saturday a very dear, dear friend came to town for a special one night only appearance. After spending the hot humid afternoon showing her LA's original Farmer's Market, we escaped the heat for an early and climatized late summer dinner at Drago Centro. Afterward, we took in a mega-concert at Staples. The two together made for an epic evening of intense experiences. A trifecta of sight, sound and taste.


Above, the amuse. Perfect tiny cubes of watermelon in a white balsamic drizzle with micro-basil. Pop goes the bright burst of flavor!


My starter was actually from the degustation menu. I almost always plead for something on their tasting menu as a starter. I guess I am that customer. They seemed pleased to oblige, so I don't care. Heirloom tomatoes with cuttlefish, arugula and dehydrated pesto. The highlight of the dish is the scoop of Bloody Mary granita on top. I made everyone taste. This salad epitomizes what I love about Drago's food. The best ingredients with classic Italian partnerships and something else just a little interesting. Not Jose Andres interesting, nothing that will overpower the Italian-ness of it all or put your life at risk. But just a little something to talk about.


For my entree, seared scallops on a tomato panzanella with zucchini, fresh and pureed arugula. The bread chunks under the scallops were perfectly soaked in cool watery tomato juice and the bright verdant mix of arugula textures have me scheming about how to recreate this in my own kitchen. Don't think I won't try.


The three of us lingered over coffee and dessert, not caring if we missed the opening act. We shared but didn't finish a chocolate mousse. I am eternally spoiled by my mother's cooking, and this case is no exception. Mom's mousse is much lighter than this, this was a mousse/cake hybrid. I'm really not sure what characterizes an Italian mousse as opposed to the mousse recipe my mom still makes that she has been carrying around with her from her gourmet supper parties in the seventies and early eighties. But hers stands out in my mind as the mousse against which all others shall be judged and found lacking. Taix on Sunset makes a mousse akin to my mother's. I once scooped out the lingering mousse along the sides of the bowl with my fingers, my husband was appalled and said so. Ooops.


The basil ice cream over crunchy chocolate cookie bits? Amazecream. So good I am thinking about exactly how to add basil essence to a creme anglaise next time I am ice cream making in Lake Havasu with Carrie. Best part of the dessert. The cookie bits held their crunch and the sweetened basil flavor, herbaceous and sweet at the same time.


The exclamation point on our day was the Taylor Swift concert. To the right of the middle of the photo you can see a bright white kinda square shaped thing floating through the darkness. That's Taylor in a basket swooping through the glitter and fireworks. I hadn't expected a show to rival the likes of Madonna and dozens of dancers in camouflage on yards of scaffolding extended above the crowds or J. Lo descending on a giant swing, but that's exactly what we got. I expected something a little more down home. Nevertheless, I enjoyed every minute. The combination of Vegas meta-musical, Disney Princess, Americana and pop concert is every tween's dream show. It might have been a bit much, but I enjoyed the music and the spectacle. 


Gastronomer said...

You know, I walked away from the Taylor show with a totally different impression. I thought she was the fakest bitch I'd eva seen! I wanted to punch her face every time she stared in awe at the audience for cheering. I was under the impression that Taylor was anti-Disney princess. Oh, well.

Glad you loved it, Liz. You can have my Swifty CDs ;-)

Food, she thought. said...

Gastronomer, I think love is too ardent an adjective to describe my feelings about the concert. I enjoyed it, for sure. Some phenomena are there for our viewing pleasure in life, even if they don't meet our intellectual and emotional expectations. TS is nevertheless a gifted songwriter and musician, despite the machinations for the crowds.

Nastassia (Let Me Eat Cake) said...

i feel like i'm the only person who has yet to enjoy Drago! looks like a great summer meal and if you recreate the scallop dish please share :)