Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Wonderful World of Sundance (Part Two)

Today’s post is a mishmash collection of other things Edible Skinny experienced while at Sundance!

Branding is a BIG part of Sundance and one of the largest brand integrations in Park City, Utah was the Acura Studio.  Designed as a place for festival attendees to charge their phones with complimentary chargers (drained batteries are death at Sundance), take a photo in their new 2015 TLX, and refuel with complimentary Intelligentsia coffee. Boom!!! 

According to my tasting companion the coffee (she sampled their Black Cat Classic Cappuccino) was the best on Main Street (sorry La Colombe).   

Because they like to be fancy and such, Intelligentsia also offered two Pour Over Coffees: a Finica Santuario from Colombia and Zirikina from Rwanda.   As I’m off the hardcore caffeine berries so I partook in the Golden Needles Reserve Teas with a flavor profile of Malt, Chocolate, and Baking Spice it was the divine jolt I needed on our last day at Sundance. 

While at Sundance we were invited to the Chobani party at Park City Live (via Twitter, based on our last blog post!).  While there we ate waaaaaay too much cheese and were introduced to soul singer-songwriter Miss Tess Henley out of LA by way of Seattle who is absolutely Auh-Mazing!!!

Last March, soul singer-songwriter Tess Henley caught the ear of multi-Grammy winning producer, Don Was (Rolling Stones, John Mayer, Bonnie Raitt), who described Tess as “a true voice & a strong sense of who she is.  When I listened to her perform, I could envision the complete record we would make together. She has a true gift.  Was selected Henley from over 10,000 performers as part of Guitar Center’s Singer-Songwriter Artist Discovery Program.  Not only does Tess have her Wonderland EP coming out on February 10, which was produced by Don (and you should totally get), but she recently made her national TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel's show.

We were also lucky enough to get back to High West Distillery for one more drink! As I said in my previous post, High West distills amazing and awesome craft whiskey and spirits.  Their Park City restaurant offers a unique experience as the world’s only ski-in distillery and gastro-saloon. 

This time I sampled Dead Man’s Boots made up of Rendezvous Rye, El Jimador Reposado Tequila, Lime Juice, Ginger Beer, and Simple Syrup!  The blend of tequila and rye was the perfect pick me up on a toe freezing Utah afternoon.  

Uncompromised flavor in a cocktail from one of the best distilleries West of the Mississippi!  That’s the Sundance spirit!

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Elevated Aussie Food Culture Has a Home on the Westside

Edible Skinny was sampling the Sunday Santa Monica’s Farmers Market a few weeks ago when we finally got the chance to check out delectable Aussie Pie Kitchen on Main Street.

Since opening just 100 days ago in October of 2014, Aussie Pie Kitchen has made its mark.  It passed over 100 5 star reviews on Yelp, was identified as the 20th best restaurant in Santa Monica by Trip Advisor (ahead of both JiRaffe and Melisse) and was one of Consuming LA's 10 best things consumed in 2014.  APK (as its affectionately known) creates gourmet savory pies inspired by the classic Australian Meat Pie, delicious sides, and organic Vittoria espresso coffee for the neighborhood gastro foodie who’s looking for the perfect savory bite.

Geri Chua & Nick Bishop thought that the West Side of LA could use something really new and interesting in the food space.  They felt the humble "Aussie" savory pie would be a great base to create something really interesting and provide a great blank and broad canvas for amazing variety of new and amazing tastes.  The two then contacted their great friend and "Chopped" Champion, Chef Joe Youkhan of Tasting Spoon fame to try and get him on board.

Chef Joe told them repeatedly that getting into the restaurant business was nuts, but they persevered.  Joe sampled some Aussie pies - to see what they were thinking, and then said: "You really are nuts. I'm not making these things - they are too bland."  Eventually the bar got raised, in both terms of the pies and their tastes.

Chef Joe challenged the traditional ingredients, and pushed pie making in both the preparation and production techniques leading their pies taking 3 days to make, having all their side made fresh from scratch each day, and baristas that are trained for a minimum of 5 hours under the close direction of Vittoria, Australia’s leading premium organic coffee roaster.  All of which has caused APK to get consistently asked the questions: “Why don't the pies taste like this in Australia?"

Aussie Pie Kitchen’s pies are works of Art (with a capital A).  And like all good Art, APK’s pies take time.  On Day 1, APK marinates all the ingredients for their fillings and then they let it rest overnight.  On Day 2, they braise those filling for 2-4 hours, and then let it rest again in their own juices overnight.  Finally Day 3, Aussie Pie Kitchen finishes the pies by adding the filling to a blind baked pastry crust and adding a croissant top before cooking it for another 35 minutes.  Which selections like Steak + Shiraz (Syrah), Surfer's Paradise (Green Curry Chicken with sweet potatoes and coconut milk), and Ratatouille Veggie (for me the Veg) there’s a golden encrusted pie for everyone. 

Another awesome thing about Aussie Pie Kitchen is their coffee (since apparently all the LA based Aussies were asking when they could finally get a decent cup…).  APK uses exclusively the Australian based Vittoria Organic Roast, a 3rd generation, family owned roasting company with 56 years premium roasting experience using beans that are 100% Arabica, sourced from varying origins in Central and Latin America.  The roasting is done in Australia on one of the most advanced roasting facilities in the world.  APK then flies the beans in to the West Coast where they are at their machine within 10 days.  APK uses FAEMA espresso machines exclusively make all their coffee drinks (which cost about the same as a small car…).  I was planning to get my cup of Joe at across the street at Urth Café, but when my plans deviated I was delighted in graduating my caffeine to the next level!

Their signature coffee is the "flat white" (which has gotten super popular as late as it’s now even featured at Starbucks).   A coffee drink invented in Australia in the 1970s, it is prepared by pouring microfoam (steamed milk with small, fine bubbles and a glossy or velvety consistency) over a single or double shot of espresso.  As Aussie Pie Kitchen’s lead barista, Chris Norris calls it "the Goldilocks of coffee", because as he says "It's not too long, it's not too bold and it is not too milky.”


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Edible Skinny Does Sundance 2015!!!

Edible Skinny is Park City, Utah for Sundance 2015 (in our opinion one of the most magical places on Earth… you never know when you’ll end up in Tutu on Main Street)!!!

And everywhere we go there’s food and luxury branding! 

So far we’ve check out the Chobani Park City cafe at 268 Main St, inside Sundance TV HQ, a Chobani Creation pop-up bar that includes delicious sweet & savory creations and hot La Colombe Coffee (with a custom Chobani blend). 

Chobani estimates it will distribute more than 4,800 sample creations each day, both sweet and savory, as well as a number of other Chobani-related foods such as soups, pastries and even Greek Yogurt Truffle & Parma Popcorn.  Our favorites were the decadent (yet healthy) dark chocolate and hazelnut yogurt and their Chobani yogurt oatmeal cookie sandwich.  Both a different take on how to use this powerhouse Greek yogurt!  

Edible Skinny also got to savory the magical experience known as High West Distillery!!!

High West distills amazing and awesome craft whiskey and spirits.  Their Park City restaurant offers a unique experience as the world’s only ski-in distillery and gastro-saloon. 

The waiting line to get a drink at the bar and then take it outside (yes you read that right… to get a drink at the bar and then take it outside) was 20 minutes but when I finally got to that first sip of their take on a Manhattan (using their spectacular Campfire Whiskey and totally out of season blueberries) while sitting standing next to their hand crafted camera ice sculpture donned ice bar it was worth it! 
High West Distillery crafts spirits for people who want great taste and appreciate quality ingredients, small batches, and the owner’s personal touch.  They use the best local, mountain ingredients and distill in a traditional copper pot still.  Their Campfire Whiskey is the world’s only (and possibly first) blend of Scotch, bourbon and rye whiskeys (and its fantastic!!!).

High West is totally bought for most of Sundance 2015 but if you can get on the wait list to get a drink at the bar and then take it outside do it!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bánh Mí: the Classic Vietnamese Sandwich Shop Comes to Venice Beach

In the last few months a new Bánh Mì, the classic Vietnamese sandwich shop, has opened in Venice aptly named Bánh Mí (go figure…).
According to the wonderful world of Wikipedia, Bánh Mì is a Vietnamese term for bread.  Said bread, or more specifically the baguette, was introduced by the French during its colonial period.  The bread most commonly found in Vietnam is a single serving baguette, therefore the term Bánh Mì is synonymous with this sandwich bread.  Bánh Mì is known to be more airy than its Western counterpart, with a thinner crust making it crunchy in texture.  It goes by the street names of "Vietnamese sandwich,” "Vietnamese Po-Boy,” or “Vietnamese Hoagie.”

At the new Venice location, Bánh Mì sandwiches are served with pickled daikon & carrots, cucumber, fresh cilantro, jalapeño, country pâté spread or house-made chili mayo, and baguettes (that’s baked fresh daily).

Offerings include their most traditional Vietnamese sandwich OINK MÌ, caramelized pork belly: golden-browned shallots, garlic, country pâté spread, and the MOO MÌ, braised short ribs with  mortar-pounded chili paste, kaffir lime, lemongrass, ginger, galangal, house-made chili mayo.

I partook in the VEG MÌ, chili roasted tofu: tofu sautéed with green onion and chili oil with crunchy garlic.  Crispy, spicy, and fresh it is everything that epitomizes Bánh Mì: light crunch bread, spiciness, and a great blend of street food flavors!

Bánh Mí offers a few tables for dine in or, for those in a rush, you can take your sandwich to go crispy wrapped with their logo and twine.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cheeses of Europe: A Sure to Cheese Event

When we think of artisan cheese, we think of the velvety cream of a French Brie, or the bold and robust taste of Bleu de Gex or even the tang and nuttiness of a Munster. And when we think of artisan cheese we think of Europe.  A region responsible for crafting some of the world’s finest, with such simplicity and sophistication.  And while many of us have all savored an amazing cheese board (or two) at an outdoor café in Paris, wouldn't it be nice to have the same experience here.

Now you can, this Friday, January 16 the Cheeses of Europe will host a one of a kind cheese tasting event at Santa Monica Place in Los Angeles. This event which runs from 11am to 7pm, is FREE and open to the general public.  This delicious sampling, which has already had a successful pop-up cafes in San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Miami, Austin and New York, will feature delectable cheese tastings, a cheese-themed art exhibit, and cheese for sale at special prices.

The Cheeses of Europe was created as part of the Make it Magnifique, a marketing campaign created by the CNIEL (The French Dairy Inter-Branch Organization whose mission is to promote cheeses of Europe worldwide).  This tour de fromage was also launched in conjunction with the brand new website which makes identifying European cheese types, origins and tastes, interesting and accessible.

The Cheeses of Europe would love to show American consumers not only the quality of taste European cheeses hold, but how extremely adaptable and versatile they are, a worthy addition to any staple recipe.  For those hungry for more than cheese Damiens and numerous representatives from the respective cheese companies will be present to answer any cheese related questions.  Among them will be Mounia Briya, the official spokesperson for Les Cercle Officiel des Filles à Fromages.

So for those who are craving the craft of European cheeses without the airfare price tag, the Cheeses of Europe event is a can’t miss. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mediterranean Cuisine is Afoot at the FIG with Chef Yousef Ghalaini

Spicy Crab and Avocado Toast (Minus the Crab)
Edible Skinny was lucky enough to check out FIG Restaurant in Santa Monica and we’re here to report there’s some fun movement afoot!

I’ve always had a sweetheart spot for the Fairmont Miramar.  Their staff is the definition of hospitality (seriously it’s like they’re characters our of the Grand Budapest Hotel) while they walk the perfect Santa Monica balance of cutting edge and beachy casual!  And if you haven’t heard since October 2014 FIG Restaurant has been under a new captain!

New Executive Chef Yousef Ghalaini has been switching up it up at the Fairmont Miramar shifting FIG’s cuisine from Ray Garcia’s street taco inspired dishes to a more Mediterranean perspective that uses the freshest California ingredients from local farmers.

Blistered Shishito Peppers
As a native of Lebanon, Chef Ghalaini was immersed in the culture of food at his grandfather’s bakery where he learned the art of the wood-burning oven at an early age. Today he’s a master; Ghalaini eagerly awaits the installation of his wood-burning oven at FIG (which should be showing up in the next month or so).  

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, he honed his food and wine skills at Go Fish restaurant and Robert Sinskey Vineyards, before landing at the Michelin-rated REDD restaurant, mastering one of the most celebrated styles of California cuisine.  Most recently, Chef Ghalaini spearheaded the opening of the Bench at the Lodge at Pebble Beach, a casually elegant restaurant on Stillwater Cove featuring California-Med inspired dishes prepared on open flame, as well as stunning views of one of the most famous finishing holes in golf.
Quinoa Salad

One fun dish we sampled while dining at FIG last week was their Blistered Shishito Peppers tossed with lemon, California Olive Oil, and Fleur de Sel ($11).  Spicy and clean tasting it’s the choice compliment for a glass of wine. 

The perfect tea sandwich was the Spicy Crab and Avocado Toast built out of Dungeness Crab (sans for Veggie me), Meyer Lemon Oil, and Radish Sprouts ($16); simple and elegant.

Peanut Butter Crunch Bar
An Edible Skinny favorite is the Quinoa Salad composed of Persian Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes, and a creamy French Feta ($15).  Healthiness disguised in creamy sheep’s milk cheese!  Yummm!

Luckily we finished the night off with Peanut Butter Crunch Bar (or Peanut Butter “Crack Bar” as Jackie over at the Fairmont Miramar calls it!).  Popcorn, chocolate, and peanut butter creaminess that is probably illegal in most states.  It was absolutely divine!

So if you’re wanting to voyage into a more Mediterranean cuisine at one of Santa Monica’s best hotel hamlets it’s time to re-explore FIG.

Here’s to life being delicious!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Stealing More Shots at the SM Farmers Market

Edible Skinny was able to swing through the delightful Santa Monica Farmers Market last Sunday.   A cacophony of colors, this Santa Monica mainstay is always a enchantment to any Westside Food!  Enjoy!!!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A La Jolla New Year's Eve!!!

A Blonde, Brunette, and Redhead....
Tiny Bubbles of Fun!
Edible Skinny was lucky enough to be in La Jolla is New Year’s Eve dining with the vivacious Gina Elise and Julia Reed Nichols of Pin-Ups for Vets!

We started the night out Right, sipping some delightful Perrier-Jouët House Grand Brut Champagne housed in an “Enchanted Nature” Cooling Case designed by Tord Boontje!  Hello tiny bubbles!!!

After toasting the impending 2015, a redhead, brunette, and a blond walked into the Crab Catcher restaurant (which totally sounds like start of joke), a fresh California and Pacific Rim seafood inspired restaurant.  Set high on a cliff overlooking the spectacular ocean view of La Jolla Cove with breathtaking views of the caves and Pacific Ocean.

The Crab Catcher
Being Veg, I dined on delectable Brussels Sprouts with Shallot and Slow Roasted Garlic ($10) and Locally Seasonal Vegetables with lemon, shallots, cilantro-garlic butter ($8).
Brussels Sprouts
The brunette and the redhead, went with the more classic seafood route sharing bites of Crab Ravioli and Main Lobster.   According to the Pin-Up Gals the Crab Ravioli was the perfect balance of lump crab stuffing, locally farmed oyster mushroom, savoy spinach, and Meyer lemon garlic cream ($30).  The 1 ½ lb. Live Maine Lobster was super succulent with garlic- chive fingerlings, local seasonal vegetables complimented by a Grand Marnier blood orange butter sauce ($62). 

Crab Ravioli
After ringing in the New Year and dancing ‘til in the wee hours of the morning, a New Year’s Day brunch sounded like the perfect compliment a night of debauchery.  The Cottage is located in the heart of La Jolla, a quaint house with outdoor seating it was the perfect New Year’s Day event. 

This hidden La Jolla gem is the perfect place for relaxing morning over coffee and a newspaper and sample a bite of their signature scone with homemade jam.   The Pin-Up Gals shared the Stuffed French Toast (considered the best in town), a country style French Toast with strawberry compote and mascarpone cheese ($14).   I concocted the Wild Mushroom Medley, a blend of 4 wild mushrooms, goat cheese, spinach and roasted shallots substituting black beans for eggs, it was totally divine ($14).   Our Cottage meal was the perfect start 2015 with some super sassy and successful dining companions!   

And speaking of those Pin-Ups Gals, they’ve got quite a big event coming up on January 17th with the Dollface Dames!!!   The second annual Hollywood Cantina: Salute & Shimmy will raise funds to support hospitalized Veterans and Deployed Troops!  From the moment guests enter the event, they will be treated to an event that would make Bob Hope proud.  The Hollywood Canteen’s goal is to recreate the grandstand magic of the Hollywood Canteen that operated during the 1940’s as a club offering food, dancing and entertainment for servicemen, usually on their way overseas.
So don your spiffiest outfits and join them (and me as I’ll be performing a brandy new Poi Routine for it!) for a WWII-Style party, open to the public and FREE for Veterans & Active Duty Service Members to attend at the Historic American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood.

Reserve your tickets HERE: Hollywood Cantina: Salute & Shimmy

Happy 2015!!!

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's Day Delights with Adam Gertler

Wild Mushroom Medley
Edible Skinny was lucky enough to be at Mister Adam Gertler’s New Year’s Day Beans, Greens and Butts Party!

Hoppin' John
The Silverlake backyard soirée brought together such classic Southern classics as Collard Greens, Black Eyed Peas, and Pork Butt (which according to Kelly was awesome!) along with fun morsels at Grilled Jalapeno Cornbread and a Garlic Lemon Wild Mushroom Medley (which the Veg of the Thomas Gals (that’s me!!!) got to try and were totally awesome!!!)

Adam Gertler is an American chef, television personality and occasional actor.  He was the runner-up on season four of The Next Food Network Star and is a host of FX Movie Download.

The Prepping
In 2009, he hosted Food Network's primetime series Will Work for Food, where he gave viewers behind-the-scenes access to countless food-related jobs as he learned how to do everything from ice sculpting and truffle foraging to competitive eating and cranberry harvesting.

There was a lot of reason behind all these New Year’s Day’s delights!  According to Epicurious, cooked greens (including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard) are consumed at New Year's in different countries for a simple reason: their green leaves look like folded money, and are thus symbolic of economic fortune.  In the South, collards are the green of choice.  The New Year’s Day lore states that the more greens one eats the larger one's fortune next year. 
Pre-Cooked Wild Mushroom Medley

In the Southern United States, it's traditional to eat black-eyed peas or cowpeas in a dish called Hoppin' John.  This traces back to the legend that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ran out of food while under attack.  The residents fortunately discovered black-eyed peas and the legume was thereafter considered lucky.

The custom of eating pork on New Year's is based on the idea that pigs symbolize progress.  Pork, due to its rich fat content, signifies wealth and prosperity.

So hopefully you got some greens, beans, or pork in your belly ‘cause 2015 is going to be a Hell of a ride!!!