Monday, August 26, 2013

Packing up & moving on . . .

Since my life is — more or less — one big foodventure, and regularly goes beyond the confines of LA & OC, I decided to start blogging under "H.C.'s food•venture"; on top of being more encompassing of my adventures (food- and drink-focused, certainly, but not exclusively so), it's a little sleeker-looking too.

This blog will continue to be up as an archive, of sorts -- and I might even repost & repurpose some existing content here on the new space too.

Hope you continue to read & follow along, and embarking on worthwhile adventures of your own too!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Giveaway: Tickets for 2 to Le Grand Fooding Paris-LA Crush Preview Dinner, 4/25

from Wolvesmouth's crawfish-themed dinner in June 2012

Le Fooding, a French culinary movement described by The New Yorker as "what the New Wave was to French cinema. The hidden goal was to Americanize French food without becoming American, just as the New Wave, back in the fifties and sixties, was about taking in Hollywood virtues without being Hollywoodized" will be making its mark on L.A. on April 26 and 27 a series of events melding "eleven incredible chefs, a fine Champagne, gutsy fromages, acclaimed DJs and graphic designers to feast your senses and do some conscious good."

While two-day gastronomical affair is sold out, thanks to an opportunity sponsored by Mastercard's campaign, you and a guest will have an opportunity to attend a preview dinner on April 25 at 7 p.m., where you can mix and mingle with the chefs of the event while enjoying a meal prepared by Craig Thornton of Wolvesmouth and Miles Thompson of Allumette.

To enter simply follow me @LAOCFoodie and tweet:

"I've entered @LAOCFoodie & @Mastercard @Priceless' #giveaway for @LeFooding LA preview dinner on 4/25"

I'll pick the winner at random around noon PDT on Wednesday, April 24 and direct message the winner with request for name, contact info, etc. (solely for fulfilling the giveaway.) In the event that the winner doesn't respond promptly, I'll pick & contact an alternate winner from random as well. Good luck!

Official disclaimer: “These tickets were given to me by MasterCard for promotional purposes to award to a reader of my blog & twitter, but I am responsible for this promotion.”

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Quick Bite Highlights @ Umami Burger, Mendocino Farms, Drago Centro & VegeUSA

Just trying to jumpstart into a regular blogging routine again, so gonna attempt a weekly habit of recapping favorite bites that I've Instagrammed from the past week or so . . .

Umami's Greenbird & Smushed Potatoes
At Umami Burger in Los Feliz, I lunched on one of my favorite turkey burgers in town, the Greenbird that's piled high with assorted green toppings: butter lettuce, sprouts, green goddess dressing, crushed avocado and even a ever-so-slightly "green cheese" (which I found out from LA Weekly is a combo of more green goddess with ricotta & goat cheeses.) I love that the burger isn't dried out or too crumbly, and the assorted toppings gave it an interesting flavor and texture (I even appreciated the green cheese, even though I normally prefer a more melty cheese for a burger.)

The Smushed Potatoes with a smear of aioli were great too, love the contrast between the salty crisp skin and the buttery, fluffy interior. Alas, this was a side meant for sharing and I couldn't finish this on my own!
Mendo Farms
While working in downtown LA, I lunched at Mendocino Farms with a very yellow meal of Turkey Leg Confit sandwich with a side of Curried "That's a Choke" Couscous deli salad. The sandwich was messy (the housemade "yellow rooster sauce" was pretty watery) but worth it, giving a subtle heat to the juicy pulled turkey leg and providing some balance against the papaya slaw and pickled red onions. Of course, I also asked for a side of their jalapeno relish, which kicked up the heat factor a hundred times with repeated dipping.

The side deli salad was also great, but again, too much food for me to handle after the sandwich. So I'm thankful it already came in a to-go container, which allowed me to convert it into a breakfast (topped with diced avocados) the morning after.
Prosecco & Oysters
While debating dinner plans that same day, I also made a stop by Drago Centro, which has one of the best bar menu deals in downtown (and possibly LA) with a variety of tasty bar bites and drinks on their all day long happy hour menu. Normally I wouldn't give a second thought about dining at Drago but after the Mendocino carb fest for lunch, I couldn't bring myself to indulge in pasta here (and not ordering it would've been sacrilegious!)

So I indulged on a simple snack four of Crystal Point Oysters topped with rhubarb "caviar", 4 for $5, and a glass of Le Vigne de Alice Prosecco. I was also lucky enough to taste some of their Spring cocktail experimentations, but will keep that hush hush until they're perfected for debut later this month. (Ok, maybe I'm not so great at keeping a secret, particularly after a glass of bubbly.)
Vegan Tacos
And lastly, this past Friday I had a chance to finally check out VegeUSA, a vegetarian marketplace with a small cafĂ© attached. I went for a trio of their Vegan Tacos ($1.90 each) and even though I'm not big on faux meats, the "fish" taco had surprisingly great flavor and texture -- might've even fooled me for real fish if not for its perfect slice shape, even after a deep-fry.

I wasn't so hot about the other two fake meats ("spareribs" and "BBQ chicken") but the fish taco is promising enough that I'll give some of their other dishes a try (definitely curious about their faux-crabcake salad), and shop from their market as well -- particularly stockpiling on their frozen vegetarian steamed buns!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tasting Omni Hotels' Simply Street Food Menu @ Noe Restaurant & Bar

As far excitement goes, those in hotel restaurants — particularly chains — tend to be pretty bleh. The drill and the menu reads all too familiar. Overdressed Caesar salad, a minestrone that’s been simmering for who knows how long, and of course the “just kill my tastebuds” club sandwich.

So when Conbon and I were invited to check out Omni Hotels’ Simply Street Food menu, I was definitely surprised to see them do a little risk taking with the bar fare offerings.

Wary travelers looking for comfort grub, don’t fret; Noe still offers the familiar fare of burgers and mac ‘n cheese, though I would definitely steer you towards their seafood-focused offerings, or the more exotic bites of the Simply Street menu, regionally inspired from chefs across the Omni Hotel chain. And out of that menu, these are the ones we loved the best.

Chicken Musakhan Sandwich
Chicken Musakhan Wrap
A great Middle Eastern spin off a chicken salad sandwich; tender, succulent pieces of chicken are roasted with aromatic spices (the sumac was the most noticeable for me) then wrapped in a pillowy flatbread with tomatoes and sweet onions. It’s festively flavorful and finger-friendly, making it a great bar bite (especially if you have a hoppy beer or an herbacious cocktail in the other hand.)

Duck Confit Empanada with Smoked Tomato Mayonnaise
Duck Confit Empanada
A lovely high-meets-low snack, sweet duck confit is mixed with cabbage then baked into a crispy pastry crust, rounded out by the tangy & smoky dip. Like the Musakhan, I love that this is also fairly robust in flavors, and can easily hold its own against a more potent & aromatic drink.

Short Rib & Vermont Cheddar Grilled Cheese
Short Rib & Vermont Cheddar Grilled Cheese
Probably the most familiar of the Simply Street menu, I love this elevated take on the classic with short rib that’s been braised for hours, accented with the nutty tang of cheddar and smacked in between two crisped slices of sweet brioche.
Vineyard Margarita
And since we were at the Noe Bar, we took the time to check out some of their libations too. While I was impressed with the Vineyard Margarita pictured above (the addition of Sauvignon Blanc gave this usually-too-cloying drink a refreshing, spritzy feel), Conbon and I definitely gravitated towards Noe's Prohibition-era drinks, including a fantastic Boulevardier
… and an old school Sazerac made with Cognac (which Tyler Dow, Noe Restaurant's General Manager, illuminated me as the original base spirit of the cocktail, before a trade embargo of sorts steered New Orleanians towards Rye; he also share similarly fantastic lore with Conbon while making her Aviation, with Creme de Violette of course!)

Needless to say, we both had a fantastic time at Noe Bar and so glad to know of this Bunker Hill gem where we can grab a fantastic classic drink, and satisfying bites to go with.

That being said, the Simply Street Food menu is expected to run through June, so hope you have a chance to try before then. Though if you're daring in the kitchen, you can always try making them at home with these recipes!

Noe Restaurant & Bar at Omni Los Angeles
251 S Olive St 
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 356-4100
Facebook (for Omni)
Twitter (for Omni)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Recipe: Rocky Road Fudge

Rocky Road has been my go-to ice cream flavor since childhood; it's like getting three treats in one - indulgently rich chocolate, soft & fluffy marshmallows and the nutty crunch of almonds.

Of course the weather isn't always right for ice cream, so when I later found out that rocky road can mean any number of chocolate-marshmallow-crunch concoctions, I started experimenting with other sweets with that combo too. Fudge quickly became a front runner; it's infinitely more evergreen, more portable and arguably more healthy too, considering that I can get my chocolate fix satisfied with one little square (OK, maybe three.)

But of course, what's absolutely great about this Rocky Road Fudge is that it's a cinch to make and they're perfect bite-sized treats to bring to a party, box up as an edible gift, or simply stock away in the fridge to polish away whenever that craving hits.

Ingredients: (for approx. 60 bite-sized squares)
12 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks (my usual go to are the 60% cacao bittersweet chips from Fresh & Easy, which has a deep fruity cocoa flavor but not overly bitter or intense.)
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
6 oz. raw almonds, coarsely chopped (walnuts/pecans work fine too)
4 oz. mini marshmallows
Optional: 1 oz. Amaretto, Coffee or Frangelico liqueur (the last is my favorite to add)
Making fudge
1. Line a 8"x12" pan with aluminum foil, pressing carefully along edges & corners so you don't pierce the foil.
2. In a skillet, toast the almonds over medium heat on the stove, tossing regularly so that they don't burn. Once you smell roasted nut aromas, about 3-5 minutes, turn off heat and set aside.
3. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat -- when it is nearly completely melted, turn the heat to low and add chocolate chips, extracts and liqueurs, stirring slowly but steadily until you get a seductively smooth molten puddle.
4. Slowly pour about a third to a half of the melted chocolate mixture onto the foil-lined pan, using a wooden spoon or spatula to spread it out to completely cover the entire bottom of the pan.
5. Generously scatter the toasted almonds and marshmallows (as photo'd above), then pour the remaining chocolate mixture on top, covering everything evenly. 
6. Cover the pan and put it in the fridge for at least two hours (or overnight) until the fudge is set.
7. After it is set, invert the pan over a clean surface and peel off the foil.
8. Cut the rectangular block of fudge into bite-sized squares (or whatever size you choose, really) and serve right away or store in the fridge.

Obviously, it'll be a bit firmer when eaten chilled straight out of the fridge and more squidgy-soft after it comes to room temperature. I love it either way!


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