The palate of colors change at my nearby farmers market, bringing out old favorites and a host of new dishes to explore; for this very reason, I offer two variations on a fall menu. One celebrates Indian summer with a grilled calamari and radicchio salad, and lavender honey brushed lamb chops served with a Moroccan couscous and chickpea salad. While the other, a soupe au pistou and daube of pork cheeks gently reminds us of the heartier fare that will soon provide comfort and solace during the darker nights….
The day started early, very early, as it always does when you have a two and a half year. I just wish his coordination matched the age of his mind and he could act firmly on his sweet intentions. Beau shook me awake and whispered promises of ‘presso. My half awake brain conjured images of the perfect espresso in Beau’s little thoughtful hands so vividly I could smell the rich, full-bodied scent topped with a perfect crema. Thoughts wandered to Antoine St. Exupery’s passage from his amazing book “Wind, Sands and Stars”:
“The joy of living, I say, was summed up for me in the remembered sensation of that burning and aromatic swallow, that mixture of milk and coffee and bread by which men hold communion with tranquil pastures, exotic plantations, and golden harvests, communion with earth.”
My java dream bubble rudely popped when Beau proceeded with an impromptu impersonation of a dinosaur complete with screaming at the top of his lungs and menacingly lunging at us. I suppose in the long run, a two year old screaming Dinosaur gets me out of bed faster than coffee.
Lately mornings have been more tolerable as cooler weather patterns have moved in. We decided on a walk in the Desert just south of the Top of the Cove, where we live. The slow season out here is great in the sense that you rarely see anyone walking in the Desert. The explanation is two fold, (a) most people leave this are for the hot summer months and (b) only a fool takes a long walk in the Desert with 126 degree temperatures. We walked through an area that a flash flood recently ravaged. The devastation was amazingly surreal and permanent, forever altering the landscape, where piles of rocks once stood, only dried plates of dirt and sand remain. Beau enjoyed himself jumping on these natural tiles and smashing him imploring Daddy to join the destruction.
I was set on cooking an Asian based fest for Gary and Joan, Lisa, myself and Beau. I had purchased three pounds of calamari, one whole Tai Snapper, fresh pork from De La Ranch and some ground beef to cook with. The menu was Tibetan Beef Dumplings with Ginger Tomato Sauce, Pork and Cabbage Dumplings with a Ginger dipping sauce, Salt and Pepper Calamari, Crispy Tai Snapper with Green Papaya and Scallion Oil, finished with barbecues Pineapple with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream drizzled with a (Pyrat) Rum and Vanilla Bean butter sauce. I prepped feverishly for two hours trying to get as much done as quickly as possible. Strange, you’d think I hated cooking on my day off. Truth be told, cooking is love and what a great way to show love, one stomach at a time!
Dama and Putz, Beau’s current names for Grandma and Grandpa, arrived and Lisa elevated the mood with her Golden Lion cocktail. I started preparing the Asian based feast we shared Together, Sha Momo (Tibetan Beef Dumplings), Chinese Pork and Cabbage Dumpling, crispy fried Tai Snapper, Salt and Pepper Calamari and a refreshing roasted Pineapple with Vanilla Bean and Pyrat rum sauce…
- [br]Momo Filling:
- 3/4 pound ground Beef
- 1/2 cup Onion, chopped fine
- 1/3 cup Scallions, chopped
- 1/4 cup Ginger, minced
- 1/4 cup Garlic, minced
- Salt and Sichuan Pepper
- 2 tablespoon Canola Oil
- 6 tablespoons Water
- [br]Dumpling Dough:
- 2 cups Flour
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- [br]Momo Filling
- Mix everything together, rest one hour
- [br]Dumpling Dough
- Mix in food processor with plastic dough blade, rest two hours.
- [br]Assemble the Momos
- Cut small lumps of dough and roll thin with wine bottle or rolling pin.
- Take a big spoonful of meat and wrap around.
- Put into a cabbage leaf lined steamer and cook 12 minutes.
- Serve with a tomato sauce made from scratch adding cumin, hot peppers, copious quantities of ginger root, mint and cilantro.
Diver Scallop, Piquillo pepper granite and Lime Crudo $16
Mexican Diver Scallops drizzled with Kaffir Lime Ginger vinaigrette
Piquillo Pepper Granite, Bautista Creek Finger Limes and Organic Sicilian Hot Pepper Olive Oil
Squid Ink Chitarra pasta with uni $18
chilled hand rolled Chitarra Pasta with fresh Dungeness Crab
Sea Urchins and Zucchini Blossom Pesto
Please visit Joni’s webpage at http://www.raventv.net/helloparadise.html
My wife Lisa and I decided to celebrate our 10 year anniversary by dining out in Los Angeles sans Beaumont, our 2.5 year old son. Sure, he loves great food too and I love being with him, but sometimes you just need adult time. I told Cathleen Newmann, Figue’s Vivreau water rep, about our plans and she suggested Bestia, also one of her accounts. The wait list to get a reservation for Bestia is so long that Beaumont would probably have a better chance getting a reservation in his lifetime than me in mine. Cathleen said she might have incriminating photos of the Chef/Owner Ori Menashe, formerly Chef of Angelini Osteria and a certain inflatable goat from a recent trip to Las Vegas and perhaps they might be helpful in getting a ressie. I eagerly asked her to pursue the coveted reservations by all means necessary. The day we wanted to go was only five days away so we started forming backup plans just in case. I hadn’t heard anything from Cathleen till Tuesday when she sent a coded message telling me my reservation at Bestia was secured. In retrospect, the message could of said forget about it, Ori is proud of those pictures, go ahead post away. Hey what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas or something like that.
We arrived ten minutes early for our reservation and were told that no such reservations existed. Devastation. I had already figured out what 18 dishes I had to try on Ori’s kick ass menu. I almost started crying, throwing a Beau like tantrum spewing different names and phone numbers that the reservation might be under. It was a little like a scene from the movie Date Night when Steve Carell and Tina Fey are trying to eat at a trendy city restaurant. Apparently some combination worked and we were seated outside in an atrium-esque industrial setting. It gave the dining experience a wonderful ambiance.
Our waiter quickly arrived at our table and dropped off the cocktail menu and dinner menu and gave a brief history of the restaurant from it’s opening the day after Thanksgiving in 2012. We were so amused by the Bespoke option on the drink list that we asked to learn more. Our waiter told us of their mixologist Julian Cox who apparently is a genius and loves challenges. Tell him an alcohol and at least one characteristic and the guy will blend the most amazing cocktail you ever tried. I went mainstream and said Rum and Sweet. Lisa tried to stump him with Campari and delectable.
I could hear Julian chuckle at our novice attempt to confound him as he sent over two of the best cocktails we ever had in our lives. Mine was called something like a beesting and Lisa’s was appropriately called ‘refreshing’. Her cocktail had this super cool metal stirrer/straw. The evening was starting so perfectly, setting the pace for the culinary onslaught waiting to be unleashed from the Bestia within.
WE sipped wonderful cocktails and looked at the fig tree and cactus’s next to us. I ordered four small plates and asked the waiter t space them out in the proper sequence. We wanted to enjoy each one separately and deliberately. Chef Ori is known for several things. The thing that attracted me to him was the home made pickles and charcuterie, with the pizzas and pasta not far behind. The first dish out was a amazing Kanpachi crudo with Squid Ink bottarga, breadcrumbs, chili oil, lemon and scallions.
The honey flavors in my rum cocktail actually worked well with the dish. My only complaint or comment was it could have used a touch of salt. The crudo did what it was suppose too, it whet the appetite for the next round. We ordered a bottle of 2007 Kabaj Cuvee Morel, a Slovenian Cabernet/Merlot, Cab Franc blend while waiting for the next dish. The waiter could exactly take our desire for an earthy old world wine and translate it into liquid love. I wish I had gotten the name of the waiter as he was extremely knowledgeable, enjoyable to talk with and exactly what a waiter should be.
Chef Ori’s selection of house made charcuterie came next. The Coppa di Testa with house made mustard was delightful. I loved the fact that no one mentioned what part of the pig this came from. You just ate it. Us Americans are needlessly so squeamish about eating certain body parts. The earthy wine sang songs with the various salumi on the wooden board.
Next up was the pan seared Octopus and Calamari with fennal, mixed mushrooms, arugula and aged balsamic. The mushrooms worked so well with the octopus and calamari. Yummy!
Next up was Grilled Lamb Tongue Crostino with Garbanzo Bean Puree, Salsa Verde, heirloom Carrot and Lemon Cucumber pickles. An explosion of yummy flavors and textures. Lisa loved the lamb but kept thinking of Mick Jagger’s tongue. I made a few ill timed imitations of our son’s lamb doll asking where his tongue went. By this time we were getting full. WE debated purging ourselves and continuing… the food is that good! We were up between Pistachio pasta with a goat ragu, a sea urchin pasta or the Agnolotti alla Vaccinara, Cacao parcels with braised Ox Tails, Burro Fuso, Grana Padano, Pine nuts and Currants. We decided on the last one and were completely blown away by the depth and range of flavors.
Sufficiently replenished and satiated we passed up more pasta, pizza and possibly an orata for two desserts. I normally rarely eat dessert. In America desserts are just to one dimensional and sugary for me. However, Ori’s wife Pastry Chef Genevieve Gergis makes unbelievable desserts that could forever change my mind. I won’t repeat what I said to the waiter about the desserts… but it was all good.
The desserts we choose were the valrhona fair trade bittersweet chocolate tart with salted caramel and the ricotta fritters with fresh strawberry jam, brown sugar gelato and whipped cream. The crust on the chocolate tart was everything a perfect crust should be, crisp, flaky, sugary, yummy. The ricotta fritters were my kind of dessert. I may have to try to make them at Figue when I go to work this weekend.
All in all, we had a fabulous time. The food and service were unbelievable, I do not know Ori so I apologize about my bad humor. You rock! Dining here has revitalized me in my quest for culinary perfection. It is so nice to go out and be stimulated and blown away!
I highly recommend eating there. Location: 2121 7th Place Los Angeles CA, 90021; Telephone: 213.514.5724; http://www.bestiala.com/index.php