Sunday, August 28, 2011

Video: Saam at the Bazaar

Saam at the Bazaar from foodiefinder on Vimeo.

Recently I recovered a 16GB memory stick that I lost a few months back. I knew it must have fell from a shelf to the back of our head board but I didn't have the time to move our California King mattress to retrieve it. Last Friday when Hubs and I went shopping for memory sticks, I remembered that I had one so instead of having to buy another $25 memory stick, I asked him to retrieve the one from the head board/mattress or wherever it was at. Low and behold, the stick had tons of photos and some video.

Here's an old video from our dinner at Saam at the Bazaar in Los Angeles. We had dinner there on Halloween in 2009. I don't know why I decided we should drive two hours for dinner and back. I think I ended up driving home with a craving for an In-N-Out burger hours later. We came out FULL but after a trip to the throne, I was still hungry.

Anyways, our server was preparing a dish called Dragon's Breath. Essentially it was popcorn dipped in liquid nitrogen. As soon as you chew on it, you breathe out through your nose to find smoke coming out like a dragon. Eh, it was ok.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Las Vegas: é by Jose Andrés

This past weekend, Hubs and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary at é by Jose Andrés. Initially I wanted to dine at Manresa but for some reason I felt that the longer I waited to dine at é, the harder it will be to land a reservation once it got more popular. It was an act of nature (remember Snowmageddon) that landed me a reservation at minibar so I didn't want to take my chances. Besides, anniversaries are great excuses for expensive dinners.

When Hubs and I got to Jaleo, we were first to arrive so we were escorted to the bar to have a drink while we waited for the other diners. I took a look at the menu and saw a drink that I always wanted to try. It was called Clara ($9) and it's beer mixed with raspberry lemonade. It was quite refreshing and the lemonade helped offset the hops from the beer. Hubs downed it within minutes. I think it took me 20 minutes to finish it off.

While we were seated at the bar, I met one of the co-captains of é, Stephanie. She told me she was the one who was emailing me back and forth about the reservation. It's always nice to put a face to a name. Prior to the "show", the captains took everyone's drink order. Hubs and I knew we didn't want to do the drink pairing because it was almost as much as the dinner alone. We opted for a bottle of Estrella InEdit. Yup, the beer in a wine bottle. Serious foodies know about the beer and how it was made to be paired with food. It was a no brainer since it only cost $22.

Sometime after 5:30pm, we were escorted to the private dining room. The room was artistically designed and was filled with trinkets that Jose has collected from his travels.

One of the surprises during our dinner show...female chefs! Yes, two of them. Of all of the places I've dined at in the last few years, this was a first.

And of course the menu. The first few courses are small bites and snacks followed by textures and dessert.

Gin & Tonic

Spanish "Clavel"

Beet Jewelry

Caramelized Pork Rinds

Apple "Brazo de Gitano"

Crispy Chicken Skin in Escabeche

Jose Taco & Artichoke with Caviar

Bocata de "Calamares"


Ajo Blanco

Lobster with Citrus & Jasmine

Chickpea Stew with Iberico Ham

Catch of the Day

Rosemary Wild Mushrooms in Papillote

The top of the bag was cut off to reveal the mushrooms infused with rosemary. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take a better photo prior to the chef putting a dollop of foam on top.

Secreto of Iberico Pork

Orange Pith Puree La Serena

Apples and Red Wine "Fredy Giradet"

Chef preparing our next dessert course. Can't have a show without fire.

Frozen Apricot Coulant

In the previous photo, the Chef was torching this thing so I had no idea it was actually frozen. It was rock hard when I stuck my fork into it. It should have been slighted melted on top but it wasn't. Weird, right?

25 Second Bizcocho

"Crema Catalana"

Fizzy Paper

"Air Chocolates"

At the end of the meal, we received a copy of the menu. The rubber stamp was a nice touch.

We were also asked to sign a guest book which we can leave a brief message to Chef Jose Andres. Hubs and I were guest#1382 and #1383. This is what I wrote:

"I enjoyed é as much as minibar and Saam at the Bazaar. Great work!"

A view of the bill. I like this presentation since regular receipts don't last very long since the ink fades after time. Tax and gratuity was added to the total bill.

The restaurant within a restaurant isn't new to Jose Andrés ThinkGroup establishments. I was lucky enough to dine at all three "secret" restaurants. In Washington DC, there's miniBar within Cafe Atlantico and Saam at the Bazaar in Los Angeles. I feel é is a combination of both miniBar and Saam. é takes the sushi bar lay0ut from miniBar but the intimate seclusion of Saam. The menus are also different. Saam's menu is similar to miniBar yet miniBar acts more like a think tank where dishes are created and tested. é on the other hand does not try to be the Las Vegas version of miniBar. Andrés has stated that é will focus on "pure product" and follow Spanish-inspired recipes with a "Modern" twist. I hate to use the term "molecular gastronomy" because no one can clearly define this style of cuisine.

Overall, I think é should be on everyones bucket list of food destinations in Las Vegas. The food was well executed and courses change periodically so you could possibly have a different menu each year. In my opinion, minibar will always be my top choice since the food and service is unparallel. I just like the vibe in DC in general. No dress code and the drinks are super strong. It just makes the experience that much entertaining.

At last, the trifecta is complete.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Where do you want to eat?

Our 3-year wedding anniversary is coming up so Hubs and I decided to go back to where it all started, Las Vegas! Since I was undergoing chemotherapy last summer, we couldn't dine anywhere fancy. I lost my sense of taste for about 5 months. It was torture! We ended up going to Phil's BBQ because it was the only thing I could taste. At least the food was good.

A year later, I'm coming back in FULL FORCE. Our official anniversary dinner will be celebrated at e by Jose Andres. Unfortunately, I totally neglected to book a reservation for the night that we arrive in Vegas. At this point, I don't really care where we eat at as long as we don't miss the tasting I really care about.

This time I had Hubs choose our dinner reservation for this Friday. The conversation with Hubs went like this...

Me: Where do you want to eat at?

Hubs: Where do YOU want to eat at?

Me: I don't care. You can pick one.

Hubs: I don't know.

Me: How about Lawry's or Gallagher's?

Hubs: Ok, Gallagher's. We've been to Lawry's too many times.

Me: Ok, I'm going to eat fish there.

Hubs: Why?

Me: I can't eat that much meat any more. Besides, it's cheaper.

Hubs: Cool! You're treating. :)

Me: :P

I think I need to hit up the High Roller slots this weekend.