Wednesday, May 26, 2010

MUST TRY HOT OUT OF THE OVEN - PappaRich in Pasadena

PappaRich - The Father of All Buns
100 W Green St
Pasadena, CA 91105

Add Photos Hours:

Mon-Thu 6 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Fri 6 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Sat 8 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Sun 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.

One of my hairstylists, michael, who is the owner of Union Salon right down the street on Delacey actually was the one who introduced PappaRich to me. 

While I was sitting in the chair, waiting for my hair color to process and starving my ass off, Michael came in with this brown box and for me, i hear crinkling paper and out comes this little brown bag....I could feel that the bag wasn't just warm, it was nice and HOT! 

Since I was already salivating I couldn't wait to rip that bag open and shove that whole thing in my mouth.  But I had some self control and just peered into the bag and saw this cute little beige bun that had a crust all the way around it. I put my nose into the bag and took a huge breath in...the aroma filling my nostrils. I immediately smelled a faint coffee smell. Michael was no where to be found for me to ask him any questions. I was going crazy because I wanted to see if I was right!!  While I was thinking about this cute little aromatic bun, I thought...I wonder if this is from an Asian bakery!

I remember breaking it open, and the flaky crust on the outside of the fragrant bun kind of flaked away in pieces.  I took a piece of that crispy crust and put in on my tongue, trying to savor it and figure out the flavors.  mind you, I don't drink coffee, typically, nor do I drink other coffee flavored beverages.  But I just knew some coffee aroma was in there and i was trying to figure out how the made this.  The hot crispy bun was kind of sweet on the outside, but the center was soft and tender and it was filled with butter.  OMG...melted butter in the center of this delicious, hot bun!  Seriously, i felt like this was a little bit of heaven in my mouth!!!  i was hooked!  i wish i lived closer to pasadena so i can have easier access to these little babies!! 

And before I forget...I was pretty close...the outside of the bun has a mocha paste and the buns are from Korea!  yeah baby...my bloodhound nose and discerning eye which has a good sense of products from other countries was pretty much right on!  woo hoo!!

These shots are taken of the second bun I from the store.  My only sadness was that the buns were not freshly baked and pulled out of the oven that moment, so it didn't have the same effect that it had on me the first time I ate.  That did kind of make sad...you know how I love it when things are consistent!  I want to eat the same thing and have it tastes the same everytime!!

I will go back again and next time I will ask them if they could please bake me a fresh batch.  I would buy a dozen!!  FINE!  i'll even share them with who ever wants to come join me for a hot, crunchy, soft butter PappaRich bun! 

Thank you Michael for sharing these precious little buns to me!  I do wish they served tea their instead of just coffee...but i'll make a super weak coffee with LOTS cream and sugar. 

If you guys go down, ask if they can make them fresh and hot!!!  Or at least heating it up a little more?  I'm not sure what they an do, but I will ask next time I go.

happy eating and enjoy those PappaRich buns! 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Awesome Creamy Refried Beans @ Puente Hills Mexican Cafe

Puente Hills Mexican Cafe
18250 Gale Ave.
Industry, CA 91748

Have you ever noticed that even though there are a million Mexican restaurants, like there are a million Chinese restaurants, you're never quite sure if you should go in and try it...for fear you'll be disappointed?  Yes?  No?  I can't tell you how many times I've felt that uncertainty about a trying a new place as I search for the best restaurant in whatever cuisine that may be.  Anyhow, I've passed by this restaurant so many times on my way to Home Depot, but never really paid much attention to it.  Plus the name, Puente Hills Mexican Cafe, I wasn't sure how authentic the food was going to be.  Let me just say, don't ever let the name of a place fool you.  Except with the exception of perhaps a sushi restaurant...with a name like Sushi Fever...man, that was a bad experience for me!!!  

So what finally prompted me to check it out?  It was a late night of working and my friend anna and I were starving!!  We had passed by the Mexican Cafe earlier and we debated back and forth on whether we should go or not!  Finally we said screw it, let's just go and try it!  We arrived 15 minutes before they closed, and I always feel bad when I get to a restaurant right before they close because I know they are cleaning up and getting ready to go home, but the waitress said to come in and said it was ok, so we sat down and tried to order quickly.

She brought us chips and salsa...

We went through two baskets and 3 bowls of salsa...need i say more?!  haha  The chips were light and crispy (I do wish they were warm which I think would've made them even tastier, but that obviously did not stop us from gorging ourselves) and the salsa had great flavor.  It wasn't spicy, but it tasted really fresh and we couldn't stop eating them!

I ordered crunchy shredded beef tacos...

Miss piggy that I am, I ordered two tacos and I seriously should've only ordered one taco.  Plus I had the meal with rice and beans!   You know how it is when you're totally ravenous and you can't stop munching on the chips and salsa, ESPECIALLY when they are so tasty! 

The taco was nice and crispy, but my favorite part of the whole plate was the beans!! OMG!  I have to say, Anna and I both make some pretty freaking awesome refried beans which we both individually get TONS of compliments on!  So, this is a really big deal for me!  I know, not everyone is a bean lover, put perhaps it's because you've never had great beans...or you may be thinking...it gives me too much gas and I don't want to fart!!  For crying out loud, vegetables give you gas too!!  You just have to suck it up and eat the beans, but ONLY when they are great beans!!  And anyone who says that they don't fart are liars.  Everyone has gas and must emit it somehow!! 

Which reminds me of my own naiveté when I was a kid in elementary school, I remember there were always the really cute girls in school and I thought, they are so "perfect" they don't look like they would EVER fart!  Hello!!  EVERYONE FARTS!  DUH!!!  ahhh, the little things we finally realize as we get older.  hehe

Anyhow, back to the beans...most places don't make their beans creamy and flavorful and these were SOOOOO delicious!  People kind of take beans for granted and just look at it as side dish that has to be there, and it seems like so little effort is ever made to make them shine!  But that is so not the case here at the Puente Hills Mexican cafe!  If I were ever too lazy to make my own beans, I'd drive down and pick up some of their beans in a heart beat, buy my favorite Daisy Sour Cream (light, because I'm trying to lower my fat intake), and have a side of fresh salsa and just eat it with those light, crispy chips!  So freaking good!!  There is nothing like a really great bean dip and if you combine all the right components together....perfection!

I asked the waitress how long they'd been around and she said 17 years, which I think is great!  It makes me so happy to see a restaurant that has longevity and can survive all these years, especially during these hard economic times.  They have a full bar, really reasonable prices and daily specials Monday-Friday:  ALL DAY!   I'm so excited because I now have a new (non-Asian) restaurant to go to near my house.  That's NOT a chain restaurant! I know that my love right now is for the beans, but I do want to go back and give the rest of the menu a try, especially the chile colorado!

Writing this post and looking at the chips and salsa and beans is making me so hungry!  Many of you tell me how reading these posts makes you super hungry...can you imagine how it makes me feel, remembering how delicious it was and then having to talk about it?!  It can drive a person mad!  haha 

Thank you all for reading my blog and being so patient during some of the big gaps in my posts...but I am trying to put some good stuff together for you!!

Happy eating to you all!!! 

Their two other locations:

Uptown Mexican Cafe
7040 Greenleaf Ave.
Whittier, CA 90602
(Beer & Wine)

Harbor Mexican Cafe
1460 S. Harbor Blvd, CA
La Habra, CA 90631
(Beer & Wine)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mario's Peruvian Restaurant - La Mirada

Mario's Peruvian Restaurant
15720 Imperial Hwy
La Mirada, CA 90638-2509
(562) 902-8299‎

Los Angeles Location
5786 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 466-4181

so i was craving mario's peruvian food the other night, remembered that some friends had mentioned that there was another location in la mirada, so i thought i'd see if anyone would like to join me.  i put it out on my fan page to see if anyone was up for a little drive to la mirada and some peruvian food. 

i was so happy to hear that some friends had the day off and said they'd come join me, so we set it up and planned to meet.  my friend dave had his dog, hapa with him so we figured we'd just get take out because they don't have patio seating.  fortunately, the restaurant next door had some outdoor seating and there were no customers sitting outside so we were super lucky and got to sit and eat. 

this whole video and luncheon is a little different from my normal posts i've done in the past.  not only did i want to see how the food was and compared to the mario's in l.a., but i wanted to just introduce my friends to something new...whether it was the restaurant or a new cuisine that they've never had or thought to go try.

i will say this, i wish they had noodles like they do at the other mario's.  omg!  those noodles looked like giant udon noodles, stir fried with anything from beef, chicken or seafood!  i had a serious craving for that, but sadly they didn't serve it...but that's ok!  the food was still great!

i wanted to keep this video short and to the point,  and basically to hear my friends' thoughts on trying peruvian food and mario's of course.  plus, i didn't want to keep shoving a camera in their face as they're eating, you all know i don't mind stuffing my face while on camera, but i can't assume the same for everyone else.  so it's not as indepth, but i will make a few comments after the video is done.

i really enjoyed brian's dish, the jalea de mariscos.  i'm normally a huge tartar sauce fan!  i love mayo!  i love squeezing fresh lemon juice on crispy pieces of deep fried seafood and just dunking that sucker into the tartar sauce.  i have no shame in asking for more tartar sauce either!  i'm so hungry just thinking about it!  anyhow...it wasn't as super crispy because we had it in "to go" containers so the steam softened it a bit, but it still had a ton of flavor.  there wasn't any lemon, but when you eat it with that vinegary red onion, tomato salsa it was perfect!!  it was refreshing and light and didn't feel greasy at all.

the ceviche mixto is always light and refreshing and the seafood is so fresh.  the octopus was tender and not super chewy...that was steph's favorite part of the mixto.  don't pass up the mixto! 

what i like about peruvian food is that the flavors are simple and straight forward.  whoever is cooking in the kitchen is not afraid to season the food and make it just taste good!  the chicken was nice and tender which is always a big worry for me when i'm eating chicken.  dry chicken sucks...we all know that.  i didn't try the lomo saltado, but it looked great and steph really enjoyed it.  i love meat with onions and tomatoes!  so good!!  my mom used to make tomato beef and i loved all the gravy she'd make with it which you could mix into the rice.  oh!  and you CANNOT forget to add the green onions in the end!  i could eat a big bowl of that right now!!  my sister robin makes awesome tomato beef too!!  yum!!!

back to earth...i'm so happy to know that i have a mario's close by me...a 1/2 hour drive is better than a 45 minute to 1 hour drive...and that's if the traffic isn't bad!  PLUS!  there's a parking lot and the restaurant looks quite large inside!  i do wish they had noodles as a choice instead of rice, but it won't stop me from going back! 

if you've never had peruvian or mario's, don't be afraid to check it out!  and if you're a peruvian newbie, try the ever popular lomo saltado is always a hit!  if you don't eat beef, have it with chicken or shrimp! 

i really loved how spontaneous this was and the fact that it was a great way for people to make new friends while sharing a meal together.  food is social, food is fun and i love that it has the ability to bring us all together!  so next time i put up a post on my fan page to go try a new place or an old favorite, let me know if you want to join me!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jitlada - Thai Cuisine...a must eat!

Jitlada Thai Cuisine
5233 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(i found this number on a picture from their awning)
(323) 663-3104
(i tried this number and its a fax machine)

monday:  5pm-10:30pm
tues-thurs, sun:  11am-10:30pm
fri-sat:  11am-11pm

they only take reservations for 5 people or more, i suggest you find five people if you don't want to wait during peak hours, or go during off peak times.

i have to give credit to my friend alexis for finding jitlada...thank you alexis!  i love this restaurant...i have to say this is my favorite thai restaurant so far...perhaps one of you might have another favorite...please, do tell...i will try it too.  anyhow, quick note about the phone numbers, i tried calling them to make my reservation, and the number they have listed on yelp and on their website seems to be a fax number, and let me say, when i couldn't reach a human voice and all i got was that ringing/beeping sound of the fax machine, i started getting really anxious because i wanted to, no, NEEDED to make a reservation!  it was imperative...because the first time i went with alexis, marty and paul, we waited for about an hour or more.  the second time i took alison, we went mid-afternoon, around 2 or 3 and it was great because there was no wait. 

since i wanted to go this sunday evening with some friends, i didn't want my guests to wait around for an hour.  anyhow, after frantically looking at different websites for their phone number, double checking that i didn't dial it incorrectly, i finally saw a picture on their website and it showed the awning with another phone number, i tried it and hallelujah!  a human voice!!!  i was like...yeah baby! (no, i didn't say that to her!  i just thought it because i was so happy someone answered the phone!)  so i started to tell the girl on the other end of the line that i needed a reservation at 7pm for four people and then she says, "you need at least five people to make a reservation."  aiyah!!!  i was like...omg, are you serious?!  and i thought, awwwww jimminy crickets!!!  i need to find a fifth body to come eat!!!  so i told a couple of my guests to find a fifth person, but they both said, just make the reservation!!!  what's even better about bringing in another mouth???  we can order more food to try!!!

these signs are all over the restaurant...i believe some comments on yelp saying that the food takes too long may have prompted the signs to be put up, but i can't be certain if that is the case.  the two times i've been here, i didn't feel like the food took an excessive amount of time to come out. 

fried wontons!!! 

can i just say, light, crispy and perfect! this might seem a bit "unauthentic" but growing up, deep fried wontons have always been and will continue to be one of my favorite things to eat!! and they have some of the most delicious wontons i've had! the skin the use to make their wontons is so good!! i could snack on these crunchy packets dipped in the sweet chili sauce everyday like i do chips. in fact, i'm going to order them on sunday too!! 

ok, let's be totally real, growing up, especially in an asian home and asian communities, so many dinners and potlucks always have some type of deep fried dish, and wontons was one of the popular ones that always made an appearance.  lots of times, because they had to be made a little bit ahead of time, we didn't always get to eat it hot out of the fryer, but it was still so good.  my auntie lily and auntie mary would make THE most delicious mini-egg rolls!  holy crap!  i wish we could have a bbq and potluck at either of their homes and cook!  so freaking good!  they'd make thousands of these little egg rolls and freeze them.  i wish i could have some now. i could eat a hundred of those little cripsy babies right now!  ok, it's almost 3 am, i need to go lay down, but i'm almost done with this post.  it might not seem like it to you, since i'm just near the beginning, but i'm just coming back up to make some additional changes. 

thank you alison for picking the next dish, Tod Mun - fried fish cake...

these fish cakes were really good!  i was not expecting it at all...but there was a really good amount of heat in this dish.  there was a hint of curry in the fish cake as well, which was also another pleasant surprise.  the sweet chili sauce with cucumbers was the perfect compliment to the spicy, almost salty fried fish cake.  i'd order this again.

the first time i went to jitlada, i had ordered a chicken dish that was so good and a hit with the whole group of us.  so on this second visit, i was trying super hard to remember which dish it was...and i thought i had it right till the dish came out. 

this is the spicy sugar brown chicken...

stir fried crispy chicken and green beans in a southern curry sauce.  as soon as the dish came out my heart sank, i knew i had gotten the wrong dish.  i thought, damnit!!  i was totally craving the other dish and wanted alison to try it!!  not much we could do but try it...so we dug in.  the curry southern curry sauce was actually quite good and alison really enjoyed it.  the fresh beans and carrots had a nice crunch to it...but the chicken.  *sigh* it had a bit of a slimy texture that we were not too keen on.  how can i better describe this to you so you can understand what i'm trying to say.  it was like it was coated with too much cornstarch or something...it was kind of slippery on the tongue...it was kind of weird.  i wish i could describe this better to you, but you really have to just try it yourself to understand what i'm trying to say.  according to joe (who is the brother of the chef/co-owner tui sungkame) this is just a little different and perhaps not something everyone might like.  but like i said, the sauce had really good flavor and spice.

green curry...

served with bell peppers, thai eggplant, bamboo and thai basil.  even though i don't eat bellpeppers, the red bells in here were sweet and subtle.  the curry itself was so light, not heavy and thick, and was so wonderfully fragrant on the steamed rice.  i love the crunchy slices of bamboo, chunks of eggplant and fresh basil.  one of those staple dishes that so many of you enjoy...made just right! 

spicy mint noodles a.k.a. drunken noodles or pad kee mao...

pan fried flat noodles with chili and thai basil leaves, we added beef.  i don't know about you, but i can't have thai food without getting some type of noodle dish...and for me, its typically flat noodles that i crave!!  i love rice noodles...who doesn't?!  and if you don't, perhaps you have not had the good fortune of trying good rice noodle dishes.  the flat noodles are coated with just the right amount of sauce, lots of great spice from the chilies and again, the fresh basil!!  simple and oh so good!  if i had to just pick one dish...well, you know i really can't, it's too hard!  i love having a variety of foods and flavors while i'm eating!  but this would be definitely near the top if i could only eat one dish...because this is comfort food for me. 
alright, that somewhat slippery brown sugar chicken dish wasn't my favorite and i was really bummed that i hadn't gotten the right dish.  so i had to flag down the waitress and ask her to see the menu again, and with her help, ended up ordering the correct dish.

chili paste crispy chicken...

stir fried crispy chicken with chili paste and green beans. do you see some of the darker looking leaves on top? it's deep fried basil!! don't let the name, chili paste chicken, scare you away, it might be spicy, but it's not unbearable in any way! it has great flavor, tender chicken and the crispy basil adds both great texture and flavor to the whole dish!

talking about spice, alison had introduced me to this little mom & pop thai restaurant in vegas, prommares, right off sahara behind big dogs. the first time we went there, when we ordered our food, the owner asked us how hot we wanted it, on a scale of 1 to 10. al and i looked at each other and decided on 8. well, auntie (i don't know her name so out of respect i will call her auntie) looks at the both of us and shakes her head and says, oh no, you can't do 8. and i thought what the hell? how are you going to tell us we can't handle the level 8 spice!? you've never even met us! so, we again, al and i look at each other, then look up at auntie and ask...7? it was more of a question, and of course she shook her head and said no. basically, it was this, try again look. 6? nope! she wasn't going to let us do a six either...so finally we say 5??? and she nods and says ok. seriously...we must've had this look of amateur written on our faces, though perhaps i was more of the amateur than alison, but come on!

well, let me just say auntie knew what she was talking about, unless she still had her sister make those dishes at a level 8! i swear, i was sweating and i think i had two ice cold cokes and then a pitcher of water (which i made her leave at our table because i was literally dying. i felt like adam in man v. food). my nose was running, and i'm sure plenty of you what i'm talking about...lips burning, nose dripping, trying to find anything that'll cool your mouth off while you keep shoveling that crazy ass spicy food in your pie hole! why do we torture ourselves? because it tastes sooooo good!!

so why am i telling you that story? i'm telling you the story because i feel like i may have graduated from amateur to a more seasoned thai eater. why would i feel that way? well, when we ordered the food, the waitress never asked us how hot we wanted to food, it just came out as they thought it should for us. i felt a twinge of proudness...hehe everything had great spice, without losing the flavor.

joe, was so great...he talked to us about the food and told us that the next time we come...leave the ordering to him. wow, that's a huge commitment for me...to completely submit and allow someone else to order all of my food.(that doesn't make me a control freak!  just a discerning eater who knows what they like!)  i did say ok, but i'm scared he won't include the fried wontons! i think i may have to make a special request...haha damnit!! I NEED THOSE CRISPY WONTONS! 

ok...joe, such a sweet guy, brings out these little cups filled with his sister, jazz's special blend of thai iced tea. some of the flavors were reminiscent to some of the milk teas i've had...but this had a rich creaminess to it. it was really delicious and i can't wait to order it on sunday!! he even cut the straws to fit in our little cups! so thoughtful!!

joe - our wonderful host!  so friendly and helpful.  he was so willing to teach us more about the cuisine that we enjoy, but i love learning more!

not only did joe give us a sample of jazz's special thai iced tea blend he even taught us a few thai words.

i really love the food here, i've eaten here twice and i know that it makes me so happy that i keep wanting my friends to try it too. i think the food "ped mak kha" (very spicy) but was extremely "aroi mak kha (delicious).
so to chef tui, joe and jazz, kob koon kha!!! (thank you!)

i'm looking forward to seeing you all, Joe and his staff at jitlada, and bringing my friends to your restaurant on sunday to enjoy a delicious feast! 

excuse the typos!  the lunesta is fully taking over!!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Saam @ The Bazaar by Jose Andres

The Bazaar
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 246-5567

i had the extreme honor of joining my friend jack and his esteemed wine friends for dinner at Saam @ The Bazaar. it was such a priviledge to be dining with such seasoned world travellers and wine connoisseurs; whose palettes have tasted many a fine wine and delectable morsels from around the world. i felt as if my palette was just a "baby" in comparison to my fellow diners...but i knew i could hang! jack's wine friends all brought wines from their personal collections for us to enjoy with our 23 course meal...i was eagerly anticipating this fantastical meal accompanied with what i expected to be some amazing libations! since there are 23 courses...i will just give a brief description of each dish, if i went into detail about every dish i'll be here all night and it's already 11:10 pm as i'm typing this. but i will embellish on the dishes i really enjoyed.course one...

i also want to preface this by saying that i rarely drink nowadays, so i was a bit nervous about trying eight different wines...thank God jack had the good sense to arrange for us to all ride in a cab!! you all know...drinking and driving do not mix! ok...let's get to this bad boy...

first course...

the golden boy

cava and sherry...in the light you can see the flecks of gold floating up in the bubbles from the cava. i was super hungry when we got there...and since this was the first thing to hit my stomach...you KNOW i started feeling the effects of the liquor immediately!! seriously, i thought, oh God...please don't let me get drunk and not be able to properly taste and enjoy this meal!

course two...

beet "tumbleweed"

hard to see this, but it was pretty cool...

i love the name...tumbleweed. it had a nice crunchy texture, kind of funny to put the whole thing in your mouth and chomp down on it, as your tongue is trying to wrangle it in your mouth so you can chew it up properly. on a side note since we are talking about "tumbleweeds"...i remember one time i was driving onto the 10 fwy connector from the 15, and it was super windy and all those big ass dried tumbleweeds were flying across the freeway and i was thinking...oh please don't fly up onto the ramp as i'm about to merge onto the freeway and hit my car! plus! there was nowhere to change lanes because i'm trying to merge onto the freeway and someone is next to me on the ramp! so you know, that you if it’s coming at you, you cannot swerve out of the way to avoid it...and i swear, it always feels like my car is a magnet for tumbleweeds...and you know how when that thing hits your car, it’s so dry and sharp its scratches up your car! well, sure enough, it flies right into my front end! oh well...such is life.

course three...

tuna handroll 2009

i don't want to compare, but i must...i would pick thomas keller's over this one...why?  because the overall textures of the whole thing and crispiness of the "cone" was more balanced at french laundry.  the flavors were good here...but i think that there was a bit too much soft textures in this handroll and the "cone" was a bit soggy.  several of us felt the same way about this dish.  please note, it wasn't bad...the dish was still good, it's just that when you've had it from other places and the dishes are so similar, it's hard not to compare the two.

course four...

olive oil bonbon

this was an interesting and fun little dish...it was like crunching into a piece of candy and then suddenly there is this gush of olive oil filling your mouth and coating your tongue. i wouldn't on a normal day pop an olive oil bonbon in my mouth...but this was fun. and as you're chewing it, the bits of candy get stuck in your teeth and you feel like you have to pick it out...or you have to suck on the molars it's stuck on, hoping to quickly dissolve the candy before the next course appears...or the possibility that you are feeding a new cavity you feel coming!!! (which in fact i think i do! so i have an appointment to see my dentist on thursday. and i just have to say...Glide is my all time favorite floss to use...if you don't use it already, you should switch...i highly recommend it!) (p.s. just to be very clear...i am not a spokesperson for them and they did not pay or give me any gifts to say that. i just love their product so much i had to say it.)

course five...

black olives ferran adria

ferran adria is like THE god of molecular gastronomy...and i believe he was the one who "invented" this encapsulated "olive". yes...it looks like a black olive, but your eyes deceive you...many of you may have already had the opportunity to try this, but this was my first time. eating this olive must be done swiftly and smoothly. lift the spoon, open your mouth and let it slide right in...don't bite in mid slide or you'll have liquid dribbling down your face. (that would totally suck! especially if you're on a date and you get embarrassed easily!) as soon as it's safely in your mouth, close it and bite down...its a mini explosion in your mouth.

why must you close your mouth? well...i'm sure almost everyone has experienced some type of cherry tomato tragedy. where you pop it in your mouth, bite down, without closing your mouth and the juice and seeds of the tomato come shooting out of your mouth! and if your lucky and you're not oh say, my friend jack...you would never experience the agony of squirting tomato juice, seeds and all on some young girl's white linen dress (a celeb no less). sorry jack, i had to say it. lucky for jack, she was totally cool and did not throw a fit or slap him in the face for defacing her virginal white dress.
omg...i got so caught up with my cherry tomato story i forget to finish telling you about it! it was super salty...whoa! i felt like a deer in utah licking those salt licks. (wait, does any one else remember hearing about that?) anyhow...it was interesting...another flood of liquid enveloping your tongue, it was really overwhelming and like i said, extremely salty.
course six...

bagel & lox steam bun

it was like eating ikura at a sushi restaurant, except it was on a little steamed bun. 
course seven...

jose's combination
jamon iberico & caviar

this was one of the crowd favorites...salty(but not overly), meaty and loved the popping of the caviar in the mouth. in one word, delicious.

course eight...

boneless coconut thai chicken wing

this was ok...i was hoping for more flavor...and it just lacked that punch you think of when you read the word thai on a menu or in this case heard the word. knowing you are going to have a thai dish immediately invokes the idea that you're palette is about to be hit with some serious flavor and/or heat!  

course nine...

crispy nigiri

the back side of the crispy nigiri

a couple of the other guests really enjoyed this dish. the cracker reminded of shrimp chips. when we were kids our family would go to chinese restaurants, we'd always order the whole chicken that you dip in the salt and it would come with tons of colored shrimp chips. of course our parents were always so nice and let us eat all the shrimp chips. it only sucked when you got a chewy chip that was either kind of stale or not fully cooked. (kind of like getting a bad nut in your peanut m&m's) and you know that when you get a bad chip its such a downer because you totally expect to bite down onto this light airy chip that kind of melts on your tongue.

have you ever noticed that when you just put the chip on your tongue it kind of shrinks up and makes your tongue tingle? try it next time you get shrimp chips at the restaurant! really!!! and don't worry about looking weird with your mouth open, tongue hanging out with a shrimp chip clinging to it! oh yeah...back to the dish...their chips looked like a butterfly. pretty. =)
course ten...

chiperones en su tinta
(stuffed Baby Squid in its own ink)

not crazy about this dish...the flavor was just so so to me, others didn't even bother finishing it.

course ten for jack...

jack's special
roasted beets

jack is allergic to shellfish and certain seafood, so he got a substitute dish...oh how i wish this was my dish instead! i know i've mentioned before how much i love beets. jack was so generous and shared his beets with us and the red beets were DEEEEE-VINE!! perfectly roasted and seasoned...it was so good. the yellow beets didn't have has much flavor, but overall, i wish i could've had the option to pick this over the squid. they really should consider putting this dish on their tasting menu. it was excellent. if you should go, and i don't care if you're not really allergic to squid...ok...well, i don't want to encourage any form of lying, but just say you'd like to get the beets instead of the squid. (well, that's only if you don't hate beets!!) it's so worth it!

the cool bathroom

i just wanted to share what the women's bathroom looked like! 

course eleven...

linguine and clams

they used miso soup and gelatinized it, then cut it...add clams and voila!  linguine and clams!

course eleven for jack...


again, jack got a sub...his noodles were made from gelatinized feta water. i liked his dish better than mine...nice flavor. i think the concept and execution of both of these last two dishes was really cool.

course twelve...

japanese baby peaches

this could've been such a great dish, but the yogurt, oil and balsamic just didn't feel necessary. it was heavy and cloying on the tongue and really took away from the bright flavor of the baby peaches and apple. this was a consensus amongst all of us i believe.

course thirteen...

hot & cold foie soup with corn

this was one of my favorite dishes of the evening...it was so simply foie and corn with bits of corn nuts and chives. the flavors were both individual and clean...it was a lovely combination...with the surprise crunch from the corn nuts. this was a crowd favorite. 

course fourteen...

norweigan cigalas
norwegian lobster with brioche and lobster essence

*sigh* this was ok...the essence tasted a bit like the shells were burnt, so it wasn't something some of us enjoyed drinking. not my favorite dish...but if i had had a substitute dish like jack, i would be singing another tune all together...so let's just get to his.

jack's fourteenth...

another jack special
63 degree egg, potato puree, bacon bits

OMG!!!! this clearly had to be my FAVORITE dish of the night!! holy crap!!! i swear...i would petition for this to be on their tasting menu. so simple but so beautifully prepared, and the taste...it reminded me of home. what do i mean? it was comforting...the perfect egg, mixed with potato puree and bits of bacon...who doesn't love that combination? like breakfast perhaps? now you get what i'm saying? but using just the tiniest little spoon...so it not only fits in the hole at the top of the egg, but it kind of forces you to savor each little bite. genius and incredible. "the incredible edible egg!" remember that commercial?!

course fifteen...

smoked artic char with tzatziki

i'm not a big fan of smoked foods, but this artic char was not bad but what i really liked about this dish was the compressed cucumber and the tzatziki! now THAT (tzatziki) was the star of the plate...it was so flavorful and really just made the dish.

bread with olive oil

course sixteen...

not your everyday caprese

encapsulated mozzarella with tomato "hearts" and cherry tomato with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, this was fresh and light.

course seventeen...

wagyu beef cheeks

this had a tangerine reduction, toasted pumpkin seed sauce, and roasted cippolini onions. the meat itself was tender, but not necessarily super moist; it needed the other sauces to make it pop. the toasted pumpkin seed sauce seemed like they over toasted the seeds...but i think the best thing on this plate that really made it better was the cippolini onions. after i finished the onions and i could no longer make that perfect bite, it just felt like it was a bit lacking.

course eighteen... 

special of the day
spanish risotto with mushrooms and spring truffles

we were all so excited about this dish...i believe all of us have a deep love for truffles and really anticipated eating this. we could smell the intoxicating aroma of truffles coming from the other diner's tables. when it came out...you could just smell truffle, but when you ate the shavings it didn't have any flavor, this was notable to all of the seasoned diners. where is all of this truffle aroma and flavor coming from if it's not the actual truffle? truffle oil. one of our companions who is also a chef and has eaten in the finest restaurants around the world made a great point. when they were telling us about the special, it would have been appreciated if they told us that the risotto was also drizzled with truffle oil along with the fresh truffle shavings. a little disclosure would’ve been great.

course nineteen...

philly cheesesteak

light and airy...filled with melted cheese

this is one of his signature dishes. raw slices of wagyu beef on their air bread filled with melted cheddar cheese. the beef was extremely tender...i know what you're thinking...it's raw! of course it’s tender! but sometimes raw beef can be chewy! come on...i'm sure some of you have had not so high quality raw meat! steak tartar?? anyhow...the cheese was incredibly rich. i think the interpretation was cool and i loved the monkey statue that they used to present the dish. quirky, innovative and fun.

course twenty...

dragon's breath popcorn

this was more of a novelty than anything...the popcorn squares are dipped in liquid nitrogen and you have to eat it right away and breathe out of your nose to create the "dragon's breath" effect...as demonstrated in the picture above. though it was fun, our only complaint was that it was so cold it burned our tongues and left it kind of numb and tingly. actually somewhat painful!! haha the popocorn itself was ok...it was like i said, just a novelty.

course twenty-one...

rose clementine

rose scented sabayon...i think we all agreed that this was more of a mousse than a sabayon. it was interesting...normally i would cringe at the idea of rose scented anything because it reminds me of when i was a kid, everyone and their mother made rose scented things from perfumes to bathroom sprays! *gag* but this was alright with the clementine sorbet. 

course twenty-two...

lychee and coffee

the lychee sorbet was light and flavorful, the coffee was an interesting combinations. i ate it all, but i think that my brain and my palette were in conflict about how they truly went together. again, i think this combination somewhat baffled most of us.  

course twenty-three...

sexy little sweets

everything you see was made from chocolate except for the skewers. but we were fore warned NOT to eat the big giant gold ball or the stand the chocolates were presented on.

our amazing wine selection for the evening
all brought by each of the guests

2005 Aubert - Rueling Vineyard
Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

THE most incredible chardonnay i've ever had...

1996 Araujo Estate - Eisele Vineyard

to date, this was THE best syrah i have tasted so far.  incredible.

i still feel conflicted as i write this review...after our dinner, four of us discussed the entire meal and what we thought about it. and i think the struggle was that though the meal itself was lovely and there were some interesting things, it wasn't THE most memorable meal of our lives. i think i was expecting more of a spanish influenced dinner, as did the other chef...but that wasn't quite the case...which is fine. there were definitely a few items that i really enjoyed and hope that they would add to their tasting menu.

again, this might not be fair to compare, but my all time favorite chef is thomas keller and i still remember so clearly one very specific course i had at the french laundry...mind you this is like over 10 years ago when i ate there. the dish was a cauliflower panna cotta with a maquechoux oyster glaze with osetra caviar. omg...the soft, smooth texture of the panna cotta, so tender and velvety on my tongue exploding with cauliflower flavor, and the salty oyster glaze with the salty, crunchy pop of the caviar, it was a symphony of flavors and textures that just sang in my mouth! i cannot tell you or express to you how much i LOVE that dish! and to this day, i can still see it in my mind and taste it on my tongue!
when i eat somewhere, i want to look back and remember how much something completely moved me and burned itself into my memory and tastebuds. THAT is amazing food and thomas keller is such an incredible chef! i really admire his love of ingredients and his ability to combine them together. there is so much more i could say about him, but this review isn't about him or the french laundry.

so i think you understand what i'm getting at about how i have a difficult time writing about the Bazaar...it didn't have that same umph factor...where some dishes impacted me so greatly that i can't seem to forget about it. i know there were some good dishes...but i guess the real test will be years from now and i can go back into time and deep into my mind and bring up those dishes. but honestly, i shouldn't have to go too deep...it should just be there...something that always stands out in my mind.

i think it was a great experience and i'm really happy i had the opportunity to join such a distinguished group of food and wine connoisseurs. to try molecular gastronomy for the first time and the ability to discuss the food at length, knowing that many of us were in complete agreement about what we ate was something i enjoyed. (not that we just all agreed, but that we discussed why it was good or just ok...i don't expect everyone to agree with me...food is way to subjective...and that's what makes it so interesting). i still want very much to eat at alinea in chicago (grant achatz's restaurant) and el bulli (adria ferran's restaurant in spain - but i know that won't happen since it's closing and the wait list was already ridiculous).
thank you again to jack for the invitation! overall it was fabulous evening of food, wine and great conversation, and i know that i will never forget those beautiful, luscious wines!!! they were incredible!! hmmm...do you see??? i get more excited about the wines than the food. i know, i loved the egg, foie and corn soup and beets...but the wines...amazing.  if you should go and check out the Bazaar yourself and are wanting something more quiet and intimate, definitely request to be in Saam.  if not, you'll be out in the open areas where the decibel level is pretty high...so holding a conversation will be much more difficult.  BUT if people watching is your thing...and you don't mind all the noise...then get a table in one of the open areas.

they have a dessert bar area that you can buy all kinds of little treats. there was one in particular that really caught my attention and it was the chocolate pop rocks. i have yet to try them, i will have to defer to jack for his thoughts on them! i think they make great little gifts...so when i'm in the area again, i think i'll stop by and pick some up for myself to try!