Thursday, January 16, 2014

Something to Check Out: Coolio Live to Benefit Food Forward

Los Angeles based non-profit organization Society of Young Philanthropists (SYP) is holding their next fundraising event this Saturday, January 18th at Bardot in Hollywood. Over three hundred young professionals and entrepreneurs will be attending, including the tech power players of the wildly popular app, Tinder that will also be sponsoring this event.

Guests will enjoy a live performance of the musical hip-hop styling of Coolio (unfortunately the author of Cookin’ with Coolio with chapters that include: “SaladEatin’ Bitches”; “Appetizers for That Ass”; and “It’s Hard Out Here For A Shrimp” won't be in the kitchen also!) followed by DJ Touchtones spinning all night.  The event will also feature an open bar sponsored by Infuse Vodka and Anheuser-Busch, as well as a Cult Gaia photo booth known for celebrating grace, glory, and good times.  All proceeds raised will be donated to Food Forward, a volunteer powered grassroots group of Angelenos making change around urban hunger.

SYP is dedicated to contributing to organizations and causes that focus on building the strength of local and global communities through social, education and volunteer events.  For this event, SYP sought to make a difference in the fight against hunger.  They believe that Food Forward does exactly that.  SYP and Food Forward wish to emphasize the importance of sharing food abundance.  By gathering from those who have excess and giving to those who are in need, they hope to promote a sustainable solution to the problem of urban hunger.

Food Forward is a volunteer powered grassroots group of Angelenos who care about reconnecting to our food system and making change around urban hunger.  Food Forward rescues fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste, connecting this abundance with people in need, and inspiring others to do the same.  They convene at properties they have been invited to and harvest their excess fruits and vegetables, donating 100% to local food pantries across southern California. Combined, their numerous distribution partners provide food to over 40,000 clients a month across Southern California.

The Society of Young Philanthropists (SYP) is a 501(c)3 organization headquartered in Los Angeles.  They are a creative consortium of like-minded young professionals driven by tireless collaboration to build and sustain positive change.  They believe problems of our local and global communities are best solved when the best minds come together.  They recognize that people love celebrating for a cause.  Since their 2004 establishment, they have raised nearly $300,000, hosting 12 fundraising events and 20 community service projects, which has supported needs in areas such as human rights, hunger, domestic violence, and education.

To purchase tickets click HERE.  For more information on SYP click THIS ONE.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Nic’s: What Every Restaurant Should Be

Nic’s in Beverly Hills is exactly what every restaurant in Los Angeles should be. With the perfect blend of daring elegance and creative combinations, this restaurant has captured the eclectic essence of LA and everything that defines it.  Bold, beautiful and curiously courageous, Nic’s knows how to take risks.  And the reward pays off.  Nic’s has created a refreshing juxtaposition, the perfect blend of funk and class, to show masterpieces are made when you have the courage to combine the unexpected.

Nic’s founded by Larry Nicola, has crafted an “urban cuisine where steaks and spa are equally at home.”  Nicola’s outside the box pairings of delectable diversity is inspired by his extensive travel and global culinary consultant work.  Additionally, his latest venture as the vodkateur has allowed him to spread his knowledge and exquisite taste to conduct special vodka tastings for private parties and/or events.  But Nicola’s heart extends further than the kitchen.  Active in the community Nicola donates his time and talent to AIDS benefits, Christmas dinners for the homeless, public television fundraisers, and working with diabetic children to demonstrate the benefits of good nutrition.  It’s the innovation of Nicola’s vision, his involvement with the experimental and his care for the community that transcends into everything Nic’s menu offers.  It is a restaurant of eye opening tastes, a place that puts every ounce of life into its efforts, making every detail delicious.

Walking into Nic’s, with its sixties inspired décor; you feel the buzz of an era that knew how to live it right.  Crystal chandeliers back dropped by shades of avocado and orange show that at Nic’s personality is just as important as presentation.  Nic’s crowd, a mix of après work Hollywood business types and young and glamorous trendsetters, sip martinis made from some of the most premiere vodkas offered in United States.  Patrons greet one another like old friends, and managers shake hands, announcing this place may be cool, but is never cold.  Edible Skinny visited Nic’s in December for an exquisite dining experience.

Nic’s, famous for its vodka selection and VODBOX, has arguably the most delicious and innovative martinis in LA.  Nic’s famous mixologist masters have concocted a list of cocktails that are elegantly inspired with an organic twist.  Every martini on their list has a personalized touch with a twist of surprise.  From their humorous names to unexpected ingredients, Nic’s libations create the perfect pre-dinner palate prep or luxurious way to unwind at the end of the day.  Martini’s like Nic’s "What A Nice Pear You Have" served with Grey Goose, Le Poire Vodka and fresh pear juice, showcase Nic’s innovation and boldness with the simple addition of shaved Parmesan to the rim.  Similarly their decadent drink "Coco Cabana" made with VuQo Vodka (Distilled from Coconut Nectar), Vita Coco, Coconut Milk, and Pomegranate Juice shows that when you take the risk to put something unexpected together, the results are delicious.  And Nic’s approach to food is equally as daringly delectable.

Nic’s has managed to tailor their dining experience to perfectly personalize the LA lifestyle.  Without overemphasizing the fact, the fare at Nic’s is full-flavor but also adapted for a health conscious crowd.  Nic’s offers bite-sized appetizers that enhance the palate without expanding the waistline.  Appetizers like Nic’s Oysters, which are served on top of sautéed spinach and walnuts, drizzled with a champagne cream sauce, dance between robust and refreshing.  The contrast of nuttiness and tang create a new twist on an old staple, tasting both youthful and established.  Perhaps one of the most delicious appetizers the Edible Skinny has ever sampled would be Nic’s Lobster Beignets with habanero nasturtium drizzle. These perfect pieces of paradise are stuffed with Maine Lobster, fried to golden perfection, and then rolled in sugar.  The combination of sweet, spicy and savory, unique and sophisticated, play so well on the duality incorporated throughout Nic’s menu.

However, it was until our salad course, that Nic’s completely blew us away.  Nic’s Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad with toasted Pistachio, Radish Sprouts, & White Balsamic is nothing short of edible art.  This dish exemplifies how Nic’s menu combines the unanticipated and extraordinary in a way that makes us wonder, “why haven’t we been doing this all along?” Using the unique blend of watermelon and goat cheese, Nic’s shows that creative doesn’t always have to be convoluted.  That taste is not defined by tradition.  This modern take, on an often uninspired course, leaves us wishing more restaurants were bold enough to ditch the lettuce and see where inspiration leads them.  For those looking for a more robust dish, Nic’s filet mignon paired with blueberry puree and crispy onion offers that sweet and savory combination that Nic’s seems to achieve so flawlessly.

Any visit to Nic’s wouldn’t be complete without steeping into the VODBOX.  The VODBOX is mecca for vodka enthusiasts.  Acting as a walk-in, drink-in exhibition freezer, this glass walled and stainless steel room offers hundred of the world’s most exclusive and fashionable vodka’s all the for the tasting.  Before entering the VODBOX, guests are provided with faux fur coats/hats (leopard or black).  Once patrons are escorted into the 28°F freezer, the vodka expert walks through the selection, redefining the limits of what you thought vodka should be. Vodkas like Pinky Holland combine hints of violet, rose, mango, and peppercorn for a sweet but spicy finish.  More traditional bottles like the Jewel of Russia Classic, made with wheat and rye showcase the sophistication of simplicity.  The great part of the VODBOX is that Nic’s offers something new without the commitments.  Flights or bottle service are offered with a complete history and highlights about the unique qualities of each label.

Nic’s is so much more than a restaurant or bar, is an education of all the things we’ve been missing.  Culinary creations that dare to be courageous and a list of exclusive vodkas that redefine elegance, show that there is still so much left to explore, but for now, Nic’s is the perfect place to start.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pinotage: Cheers to a New Year and a New Varietal

Drinking wine is like listening to a great symphony, with each sip, new notes layer upon the next, to create a euphonic blend.  But as wine lovers sometimes we get stuck with the familiar, finding comfort in the full flavor boldness of big Cab, or the refreshingly zesty zing of a Sauvignon Blanc.  But why not celebrate a new year with new experiences?  Any vino enthusiast looking to expand their palate in 2014 can add a new favorite to their list.  The Edible Skinny visited the Wines of South Africa tour when it stopped in Los Angeles, and it didn’t take long to fall in love.  While excited to try South Africa’s take on some California favorites, we found a new varietal we can't live without, South Africa’s Pinotage.

Pinotage is a red wine grape that is South Africa's signature variety.  It is a deliciously drinkable varietal that pairs perfectly with a variety of dishes and seasons.  Pinotage was first discovered in 1925 when Pinot Noir grapes were crossed with Cinsuat.  This velvety smooth and delicately rich wine is known for in contrast and deep in flavors.  Most Pintoages combine a blend of smoky, earth flavors, crossed with notes of banana and other tropical fruits. The majority of the world's plantings of Pinotage are found in South Africa, where it makes up just 6% of the vineyard area but is considered a symbol of the country's distinctive winemaking traditions.  However Pintoages can also be found in Brazil, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, United States and Zimbabwe.

While Edible Skinny still has many more tasting in their future, here are a few Pintoages that had us craving more.  Aaldering was by far our favorite, bold but smooth, its velvety finish would be the perfect compliment to a hearty steak or robust pasta.  Another notable label was Barista, which combines flavors of rich coffee, mulberry, cherry and chocolate.  These decadent notes can be savored as a dessert course with dark chocolate or cheesecake.  Other Pinotages or Pinotage blends to try include: House of Mandela, Seven Sisters, Kaapzicht and Honey Badger.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Shattered Gingerbread: An Ode to Shaky Shattered Sugar

Happy 2014!!!

ES contributor, Kelly Grace Thomas, wrote a fitting end of the holiday poem in regards to our confectionary Christmas creation.  The adobe in question was then featured in sugar snow photoshoot by our other contributor (moi!) Kat Thomas.

Here's to the Thomas sisters creative endeavors in action and, as always, life being delicious in 2014!!!

Shattered Gingerbread: An Ode to Shaky Shattered Sugar

By Kelly Grace Thomas

After all the holidays are spent, belts have loosen and the snowstorm,
like little white feet kicking at that ground, grounding flights,
remind us we have no control, we build.
Construct our sugarous ode. 
It’s true, our Gingerbread house will never be pretty,
we have dealt with that fact.
Used a hot glue gun where there should have been confection.  
Instead of cavities we will have calking.
Award kitsch and accessorize, remind us that a good sense of humor goes a long way,
farther than perfectly trimmed rooftops.
The Gingerbread house was supposed to be loved,
the family project that would keep us at the table,
thirty minutes longer after dinner that night.
It’s structure was built. The father a project manager, the oldest daughter the visionary.
The youngest a skeptic.
And after the filet arrived medium rare and graham cracker crusted cheesecake
danced between diabetic and decadent, the fall of the house of ginger began.

On a hard wood floor swept all to cleanly, in the hands of a mother, trying to clean up the contagious house
guest  clutter, it shattered like stained glass at war time.
 The roof, the doors, the foundation jigsawed themselves, parted into pieces of apology.
One week later, in post-new year’s pity, with a mother who won’t shut up about weddings,
we have created a Frankenstein cottage.
On January 2, spackled and exhausted, we decorate the best we can.
Take turns with tacky, wish the holidays back, as outside wintergreen turns to spearmint.
“Im putting down the gun,” my mother says. “Shubbery is not so easy, is it?”
“I having a Hersey’s Kiss to deal with the stress.”
“We all are,” I say, as the hard candy speaks of this year’s American Hustle influence.
There is something to be said about plastic stepping in for sugar.
Something so real about the way it broke, slid across a compass of oak, that wild geese in search of
somewhere warm.  
Like we needed to put it back together again,
flaws and fractured flavors,
needed to build with love instead of beauty,
just to know, for once, it was possible.