It’s been a few years, and then some.

I’m jumping back on the bandwagon to get some practice blogging in before taking a stab at “professional” blogging – if such a thing really exists.

My goal going forward is to learn and share about various sheet masks – which ones seem to be the most effective, which ones don’t seem to be worth the price and the different effects of each. Sheet masks have been around forever, especially in Korea, but it seems they have recently become more popular, perhaps because they are made with better ingredients (than they were 15-20 years ago). There are definitely hundreds of different types of sheet masks available to consumers and I know it can be overwhelming to figure out which one is a good fit (because it was for me). I plan (and hopefully can do so throughly enough) to try as many sheet masks as possible and share my experience with anyone who is unfamiliar or wants to learn more about different sheet masks.

Here goes. Woot!

I know – this has been a super slow build-up but I shall keep writing…one entry at a time.

I had the pleasure of getting a taste of Chef Susanne Tracht’s creations. Due to another party’s last minute cancellation, we were able to walk in and sit down at our table about ten minutes after a phone call to the restaurant. The two things I noticed when we sat down were that we were way too close to the tables on either side of us and that the place was too dark. I could barely see across the table! The small candle on the table was the only source of direct light. However, once the food (and the wine) came out, the ambiance was no longer of (major) importance.

Maine Lobster Cocktail, oro blanco, avocado, shaved fennel, jalapeno vinaigrette
The lobster was fresh, the vinaigrette was tangy and refreshing, and the avocados added the perfect amount creamy texture to the dish (after all, it is impossible to go wrong with avocados).

Asparagus soup with a touch of cream
This dish was a pleasant surprise – they really meant “a touch” of cream. The soup was light and was just enough to get us excited for the next course.

Coq au vin, red wine, applewood smoked bacon, pearl onions, crimini
This dish had so much flavor. My taste buds were going crazy! The texture of the chicken, light red wine reduction, fattiness from the bacon, and the veggies. I loved it!

Prime Rib-Eye
The flavors of the steak were great. It was cooked well, but I liked my dish better.

Baby Broccolini
My B thought the greens were tastier than I did. Personally, I could have gone without, but we needed some sort of vegetable on the table.

Butterscotch pudding with salted caramel and creme fraiche
I seriously could not get over this dessert. I was so full by the time we got to dessert but I was wishing that the pudding came out on a plate so that I could lick it clean. If anything, you must try this dessert. I’m curious as to what the other desserts are like.

I would definitely go back to Jar. The dishes seem somewhat simple but the flavors are full and complex. I’m curious about their Crab Deviled Eggs and Chopped Sirloin dishes along with the rest of the dessert menu.

Of all the days, my B’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day. Of all the days, this year, Lunar New Year was on Valentine’s Day. So, this year, for us, the B’s birthday was Friday, February 12. We have both been fans of Top Chef from early on – but last season, we were big Voltaggio Brothers’ fans. He rooted for Michael while I was hoping Brian would take the win. So, for his birthday I decided to surprise him to a big meal at the The Dining Room at The Langham Hotel where Michael Voltaggio is now the Executive Chef. I’ve heard/read criticism about the aesthetic and atmosphere of the restaurant but upon entering, it didn’t bother me so much. With that said, below, is The Tasting Menu…

Complimentary birthday champagne and a glass of wine for the meal.

First Serving of Bread:  sourdough and bacon roll
The sourdough was average and I was hoping the bacon inside the roll would be more crispy but the butters that came with were at the perfect temperature to spread.

Amouse-bouche:  parmesan churro with spiced mayonnaise
It was a lovely dish that whet my appetite – I could definitely feel my heart beat.

1st Course:  Japanese Shima Aji
Pickled Baby Peach, Sea Sponge, Bonito
I wasn’t sure if I’d like any of the ingredients listed but I was pleasantly surprised.

Goat’s Milk Butter

Truffle Brioche
The roll came out warm with just the right amount of truffle mixed in.

2nd Course:  Langoustine
Young Fennel, Lobster, Mushroom Lasagna
The texture of the lobster and lasagna, along with the sauce, was perfection.

3rd Course:  Autumn Harvest
The idea of having 2 plates of foie gras was overwhelming, so I asked for a substitute dish. I didn’t think I would like any of the vegetables that came with this dish, but I cleared it. Yay for trying new vegetables!

3rd Course:  Foie Gras
Blood Orange, Salsify, Aerated Brioche
Smooth, heavy, and rich.

4th Course:  Skate Wing
Brown Butter, Scrambled Cauliflower, Caper Powder
I’m still not sure how I feel about skate, but the caper powder just melted on your tongue  and brought out complex flavors to complement the fish.

5th Course:  Pastrami Pigeon
Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut, Rye
Pastrami flavored bird – this was not my most favorite dish, but it stuck out the most. The taste and texture combination threw me off at first but in the end, I was amazed at how the flavors were so on point.

6th Course:  Japanese Kuroge Beef
Marrow Toast, Matsutake, Bordelaise Sauce
This was my favorite dish (unfortunately, I was over-stuffed, and couldn’t manage to finish). The mean was perfectly marbled beef and the mushroom and sauce combined very well with the dish. The marrow was as expected, very rich and generously portioned.

Palate Cleanser:  Raspberry Sorbet
I wished we had a whole bowl full of these little dippin’ dots, but I guess it was just enough to prepare us for dessert – super refreshing.

7th Course:  Fools Gold
Chocolate, Salty Hazelnut Praline, Milk Sorbet
Chocolate and gold – how can you go wrong with either?

7th Course:  Sticky Toffee Pudding
Jasmine “Rice Cream”, Lime, Banana Custard
My B didn’t like the lime foam so much, but I thought this dessert was out of this world – a perfect combination of sweet, rich, sour, and smooth.

Post-dessert:  Passion Fruit Jellies wrapped in Rice Paper, mini-Lemon Macaroons, and Pop-rock dark chocolate Lollipops (throwback)
A fantastic way to end the meal.

As you can see, I had a number of camera difficulties. Of the many pictures we took, some were epic failures – see above.

Michael told us that the restaurant will be going under renovation soon. We will definitely be going back!

So I’ve decided to start off 2010 with an entry about the most memorable dining experience of 2009. It was a close call between Bouchon and craftsteak, but I had to go with the steak house (a Bouchon entry will follow in a few). Prior to dining at craftsteak at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, I was already a fan of Tom Colicchio from my experience at craft (Los Angeles, CA) and of course, Top Chef, but craftsteak was a new level of simple deliciousness (‘wichcraft, also located at the MGM Grand, has delicious quick bites to offer as well!). The overall experience was impeccable – the fall-themed decor, the tall glass windows, the warm lighting, the service, and the perfectly prepared food were all memorable.

I ordered the smallest portion of meat on the menu, which was a Roasted 8 oz. Flat Iron Angus and my B ordered a  Grilled 16 oz. Ribeye. We also ordered a side of Roasted Asparagus and Butternut Squash.

Next time you go to Las Vegas, make sure to stop by craftsteak for an unforgettable dinner experience!

I personally cannot wait to go back.

I am lucky to have a friend that is a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Last year she started taking me to some of the screenings that were open to SAG members. I have lived in Los Angeles for a number of years but this was a whole new world that I never even knew existed. I now see movies not just days but sometimes weeks or months before it is released to the public. On top of that, many of the starring actors attend the Q&A sessions that follow after the movie. Here’s one I went to most recently…

Movie Review

NINE

Director:  Rob Marshall
Cast:  Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren, Stacey Ferguson (Fergie)

The movie is based on the Broadway musical which stemmed from Fellini’s autobiographical film, 8 1/2. Fergie’s “Be Italian” was hands down the best performance – I didn’t want it to end! We all know she’s a great singer and performer but the tambourine work was unique and her acting was unexpectedly up to par. On the other hand, Nicole Kidman’s “Unusual Way” was uneventful and  Daniel Day-Lewis’ accent was inconsistent throughout the entire movie though the second half seemed more polished. I was expecting a lot more with the A-list director and cast but was somewhat disappointed with the lack of depth of each character. Rob Marshall said that he basically let the actors do what they do, and in turn, the film felt undeveloped.

Though the film didn’t blow me away, seeing Rob Marshall, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, and Stacey Ferguson (Fergie) made the evening much more exciting (from the front row!). They all stopped by after the red carpet premiere in Westwood so they were all glammed up and looked gorgeous. I don’t know if I’d jump to recommending the movie to my friends but it definitely had its moments.

My favorite number was hands down

Jumping on the bandwagon! You’ll see snipbits of my life – restaurant adventures, thoughts on movies, baking attempts, meals created at home, and more. Brought to you from Los Angeles, CA!

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