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April 1-9, 2007
April 9, 2007
I ducked into The Bowery for lunch and ordered the grilled vegetable sandwich ($9.50) with a side of sweet potato fries ($3.00 supplement with lunch):
The sandwich was heavy on the bread which concealed peppers with blistered skins but were raw aside from their scorched exterior. Grilled eggplant and squash were infiltrated by anemic tomato slices. Pesto did it’s best to perk up this bread-aterian meal, but the high point was the orange, tangle of sweet potato fries which were crisp on the outside and sweetly starchy on the inside.
I like the design of this little New York themed bar and bistro and even though I wasn’t crazy about my sandwich, this seems like it would be a good place for a beer and some fries rather than a full meal.
April 8, 2007
I wish that Picco Pizzeria was open for lunch everyday (instead of weekends only.) I don’t think that they would have any problem filling their outside tables with appreciative mid-day customers filling their pie-holes if they kept their wood burning oven going non-stop.
We loved this plate of cold Zuckerman Farms asparagus ($8.95):
It was made from the freshest, most flavorful spears that were grown locally and prepared simply with care. The orange aioli and basil chiffonade spearheaded this delicious salad. It was so delectable that we ordered a second plate after we devoured the first generous serving.
New Ibis pizza ($13.95):
... is the perfect seasonal ‘za. Pea tendrils, white prawns, garlic and spring onions meld together with mozzarella and parmesan to create a fresh and light seafood pie.
Now that the weather is pleasant, the outdoor tables are difficult to come by but you can always get your order to go (or one of their flash frozen ‘zas) if it’s too crazy-busy.
April 7, 2007
I walked into AOC at 8:30 and was seated immediately without a reservation. I tucked into a bowl of chili spread and oil cured olives alongside their crusty and chewy housemade bread while I perused their small plates menu. Featured items include those produced from their wood-burning oven, charcuterie, cheeses and a variety of market driven dishes.
The fish special was sole ($14.00):
... which was gently sautéed and served over black rice and strewn with pea leaves and pods. This petite, fresh, light and tasty curry scented dish was balanced by the rich bowl of long-cooked cavolo nero ($9.00) a dark leafed, robust green seems to be everywhere now (and for good reason, it’s delish.)
The upside of eating small plates is that you often have room for dessert.
At the advice of the waiter, I got the gateau Breton ($9.00):
.... A wedge of rich, buttery pastry was served with lightly whipped cream and spiced smokehouse apples. It was on the doughy side for my taste but had the relief of the apples and cream which helped to break up this heavy carbo-note.
Suzanne Goin has done a remarkable job with her mini restaurant empire. The Hungry Cat has become a regular Bunrab haunt due to its impeccably fresh and well prepared seafood and we find Lucques to be a great place for a casual business dinner for people more impressed by substance than façade. I enjoyed my AOC meal but it didn’t divert my attention from the other Goin establishments. Perhaps I should have taken a seat at the cheese bar and sipped on some of their wines while having a mousy snack.
April 6, 2007
Out of sheer convenience, I went to Kabuki for lunch and was greeted with decent service and mediorcre chow.
I started with a seaweed salad ($4.95):
... which came on some slightly tired baby greens. Nothing special, but nothing horrible.
My omakase sushi ($12.95):
... was comprised of some mushy and hot sauce revived chopped tuna in a loveless maki.
The nigiri was better than supermarket standards because the rice hadn't been sitting in a cold case, but the fish (hamachi, maguro, ebi, albacore, and salmon) was about par with what you get in the average ready to eat display cabinet.
To be fair, my pickiness is enhanced by all the cool strip mall sushi bars that populate Los Angeles. This Japanese chain restaurant was passable, but not my thing.
April 5, 2007
I decided to take my chances without a rezzie and headed to Lucques for dinner. My bet paid off and I was shown a table immediately. I plunked down and scanned their menu while munching on delicious green olives, almonds:
... AOC bread with Plugra butter and sea salt. They were so tasty that I could have eaten these snacks as my meal.
The Sea Bream ($28.00):
... was absolutely delicious. This fresh filet was moist and flavorful with a bit of crispness to the skin. It was doctored at the mayo clinic with a toasted pinenut aioli and sat upon a mix of tasty veggies. I ate every morsel of this delicious entrée.
For dessert, I couldn’t resist the sweet potato beignets ($10.00):
... which came with a ramekin of bourbon cream for dipping purposes. These sugar coated pillows were good, but ever so slightly underdone (but not enough for me to send them back.) I loved the pecan-studded, crispy and sweet caramel corn in this posh county fair fare.
The service was extremely friendly and helpful in providing suggestions for wine and food. Lucques is the sort of restaurant that I just love. They start with top notch ingredients and cook them up simply in this casual and welcoming eatery.
April 4, 2007
I hopped into ZenZoo Tea Café:
... for a quick lunch. It had been over a year since my last meal there and I decided to try something other then their dim, dim sum (that I sampled on that visit to the Brentwood branch.)
The Zen steamed fish filet ($10.98):
... was a generous slab of sole that was marinated and steamed to a nice level of moist doneness. Despite it’s visit to a marinade, it only absorbed a faint flavor of ginger, sake and soy sauce. The steamed spinach also had a minimalist approach in it’s seasoning. White rice completed this trinity of healthy yet bland chow.
To be fair, they are really all about beverages but I am wary of the “tonics” that they sell on their carefully worded menu. They say that some of their added herbs are “designed to help burn excess fat” or that an ingredient “has been used for centuries to promote longevity.” This is a little too snakeoily for me. I stuck with simple, straightforward tea which came with a little timer:
... to help measure my longevity while I burned fat.
The people who work here are friendly and efficient. They use care in the preparation of their zenny food, but their philosophy trumps flavor at this popular chain. It’s clear that they have their target audience who line up for their goods, but I am not part of that demographic.
ZenZoo Tea Café
April 3, 2007
Airline Food Roundup
Airline food is a self parody. It is the only in-flight disaster for which you don’t have to restore your tray tables to the upright and locked position (in fact, they encourage you to do the opposite.)
The sad truth is that they are too ambitious. If flight attendants handed out some decent bread with cheese and an apple we’d all be better off (except for the gluten, lactose and apple intolerant.)
In flight meals are mostly a way to pass the time. Removing lids, unwrapping little packets and mixing dressings into wilted leaves are a welcome diversion from the monotonous hum of the engines and the sensory degradation of your taste and smell from the dehydrating air. The food isn’t so much food as a small project to keep your hands from becoming the tools of the devil (who incidentally, is the chef responsible for airline cuisine.)
Here are some of the culinary works that were paraded before me during my trip:
The barley and corn salad and a green olive foccacia:
... benefited from my lowered standards. I actually enjoyed these in the same way the Tom Hanks character in that shipwrecked movie welcomed the company of Wilson, the soccer ball.
The winner of the best packaging award goes to this smoothie bottle:
... which was designed by someone on an LSD flashback.
I appreciate the effort in preparing what they believe to be the least offensive and least gas inducing variety of meals but they seem to run all of it through the same deflavorizer.
The Spicy Szechuan Chicken with cashews and rice didn't look particularly appetizing:
...but it actually brought a bit of texture and flavor on board alongside some noodles and roast pork. They should have quit while they were ahead since the cake tasted like they had gouged a chunk out of the Great Wall, but the lack of failure for the bulk of the meal makes up for this dessert.
The picture of asparagus stalks:
... looked enticing, but this was clearly a bait and switch. Soggy calzone:
... and other food that should have been subject to FAA restrictions made it on board. I did like the mini-stroopwaffle to remind us that this was a Dutch airline. Ummmmm.... stroopwaffles. They should've just filled the box up with them and forgotten about everything else.
April 2, 2007
Andrei drove us on a tour of the Romanian countryside where we saw quaint houses:
... as well as power plants:
... (which we were assured were non-nuclear – but they have that Homer Simpson workplace look to them, don’t they?)
... so we didn’t do the time warp (which is unadvisable when suffering from jet lag.)
... confirmed my suspicion that I should stick with the regional chow without an Irish twist. This dish tasted like it was imported from Ireland in a can.
...took the form of animal balloon length and stubby tootsie rolls of finely-ground mystery meat called "mici" or "small one" translated directly into English. By the end of this trip I expect to be a card carrying anti-tein enthusiast. But for now, I focus on chowing down on meaty cylinders with all ate.
I learned that as long as you obey the warning signs:
...taking a tour through the Romanian countryside is a fine way to spend a day.
April 1, 2007
Pat Kuleto’s design influence does not extend as far as the restaurant in my Bucharestian lodging facility:
But do not take this to mean that I have no appreciation of foreign sensibilities. The cool thing about visiting somewhere new is that it is just that (even when it’s old.)
Before venturing into the outside world, I had "The Fufu" breakfast:
... which consisted of an omelet with “beef meat” with a side of veggies, cheese, olives and chicken sausage (which tasted exactly like it looked.) The Fufu restaurant cannot be accused of being frou frou.
I took a break from the film fest to check out a local outdoor market:
... which had me scratching my head. There were so many vegetables for sale:
... yet all of my meals were meat-centric. Perhaps the vegetarians cook for themselves at home.
There doesn’t appear to be a non-smoking section in this town:
... but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
This was the last day of the "NexT" festival and a good time was had by all.
It was gratifying the they gave such a warm welcome to lagomorphs in this far-flung land. They truly could look past the long ears and fluffy tails (as cute as they are) and see us for the aesthetic creatures that we are.
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