for September, 2010
Photo by Anne Pak
One of my favorites from Four’s summer menu was undoubtedly their Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho. A departure from the traditionally chunky preparation, this vegan soup is a smooth purée of tomato and roasted red peppers topped with chopped cucumbers. Also setting this gazpacho apart from the rest is the tangy-sweet balsamic reduction that’s swirled on top. Unexpected but welcome.
This hot weather gave me a serious cold soup craving, and as luck would have it, it’s still on the menu until October 6, when their seasonal menu changes. Get it while it’s hot…I mean cold.
2122 1/2 Colorado Blvd
Eagle Rock CA 90041 (Map It)
Elements Kitchen just became one of my new favorite restaurants. For one thing, it’s very accessible—we took the train and walked just a few blocks to its location, right next to the Pasadena Playhouse—and for another, it’s not a snooze. And that’s saying a lot, considering much of the fine dining in Pasadena plays it too conservatively.
I liked Elements from the moment we walked in. The service was friendly, the crowd very mixed, the music (mostly) good, and the décor leafy. Plus, I like the confidence that an open kitchen exudes, and this one, helmed by Owner/Chef Onil Chibás, really lights up the dining room.
Constructed by Michel Dozois of Névé Ice, the cocktail menu features 4 main themes: Berry, Rhubarb, Citrus and Spirit. I chose the French Maid, a none-too-sweet mixture of brandy, lime juice, cucumbers, simple syrup and mint. Josh got the refreshing Blueberry Southside Fizz with gin, lime juice, soda mint and blueberries.
Angelic. That’s how I would describe this cake from Ruby Bakery in Eagle Rock—it was one of the highlights of my birthday weekend. I’m usually a sugar frosting girl, but the whipped chocolate frosting, teetering between airy and substantial, may have made a convert of me. The yellow cake was light and spongy, as you’d expect from a Chinese bakery, but this one was fluffier than you can imagine, with a whipped cream filling.
The overall effect was very subtle…until the fresh mangoes came into play. That’s when things got interesting. The mangoes were ripe, adding punch in terms of sweetness and texture. Happy Birthday, indeed.
Ruby Bakery has been around for 25 years. They also sell cupcakes, crème puffs and a signature strawberry crème cake that gets a lot of raves.
5042 Eagle Rock Blvd
Los Angeles 90041Map It
“Ooh, we gotta get that,” my husband Josh said when he spotted Shmaltz on The Gorbals menu last night. He’d never actually tried the fatty spread, which made its debut during happy hour yesterday (the waitress said we were the first to try it. Yay!), but it had always held folklore status in his mind. “As a kid, I’d hear my grandma and her sister talk about schmaltz with nostalgia, but nobody really ate it anymore because it was so bad for you.”
It’s not that I’m anti fake meat. I actually enjoy a good “chicken” mole or “B”LT once in awhile, and places like Flore and Cinnamon do the veg-meat thing really well. However, there’s a special place in my heart for Echo Park’s Elf Café, where whole foods are the focus of their all-vegetarian cuisine, and there’s no tofu, tempeh, or wheat meat to be seen…or tasted.
With a creative and drop-dead delicious menu, this tiny restaurant with no sign to speak of has become a mainstay on Sunset Blvd. since opening in 2006, and even carnivores like me lust after their eastern Mediterranean fare. There’s nothing I love more than introducing “I-have-to-eat-meat-every-meal” friends to this place and watching their looks of skepticism (read: complete and total resistance) turn into utter satisfaction.
The starters at Elf are very tempting, and I love going with a group in order to justify getting at least two. One must is the Labneh, which I’ve praised here before. The light, fluffy texture and tang of the goat yogurt cheese is the perfect match for the richness of the date and kalamata tapenade that sits atop it. Spread on the whole wheat pita with a bit of roasted garlic to punctuate it, this is exactly what I look for in an appetizer.
LA is so huge that, even if you grow up here, you might never venture into some of its many nooks and niches. Case in point for me: Brentwood. Aside from the repeated news footage of the Mezzaluna restaurant during the OJ Simpson trial, I never set eyes on the neighborhood until this very weekend.
My maiden voyage landed me in the Brentwood Country Mart. I’m not judging the whole neighborhood by one little shopping district, but this probably wasn’t the best entrée. While it’s a perfectly beautiful place—very peaceful, with lots of greenery and pony rides to boot—it just wasn’t my scene, and I quickly felt like a stranger in a strange land. The stores were frightfully out of my price range, and the closest thing I could relate to was the taqueria in the middle of the shopping center.
Truffle Burger from Umami Burger in Los Feliz
Here’s what I read and liked this week:
- The Teenage Gluster writes from Puebla, Mexico and makes me want a Cemita in the worst way.
- Peanut Butter cookies, anyone? The Gastronomer shows us how to make some à la Bouchon.
- Street Gourmet LA illustrates the talent of Baja California’s best chefs in 39 dishes.
- Table Conversation tells us where to get the best shrimp taco, outside of Mazatlan. I was there for this taco, so I can vouch for the veracity of this claim.
- New beer store from the minds at Colorado Wine Company! The Eastsider has the sudsy details.
- In more drink news, Echo Park Now lists the best margaritas in the neighborhood. Cheers!
Have a great weekend, and eat good stuff!
I’ve never really been one for ice cream sandwiches. The traditional rectangular chocolate cookie/vanilla center version sold by ice cream men and lunch ladies is just too mushy for me—the ice cream always melts so quickly and that limp, cakey cookie gets cemented to the roof of your mouth. Not my idea of a good time. There is, of course, the more appealing Chipwich, but alas, the cookie is a little overpowering for my tastes.
This has been my sad ice cream sandwich reality for far too long, so I decided to find a solution. My vision: an ice cream sandwich with a crisp, not-too-sweet cookie that would complement any ice cream. Result: Success!
Here’s how I did it: