Friday, December 28, 2007


What's this? A new blog entry? Yes....finally....we're back. For all you friends and family members (and girlfriends) that have been patiently anticipating our return, I (Suni) take full responsibility for neglecting this space. However, the two of us continued to eat and explore and snap photos, so we've got a lot to catch up on. Let the blog backlog begin!

Many of you may already know about our annual Pre-New Year's Eve dinner ritual. In fact, our second ever blog entry featured our 4th dinner! Typically, Andrea and I, along with our friends Nimo and Nisha (and others when possible) spend the weeks of December exchanging recipes and slowly developing the menu. Then, a day or two before a big New Year's Eve bash, we gather at one of our houses to prep and cook together, and drink plenty of wine.

In 2007, however, not only did we lose a couple of guests, but busy schedules and family obligations kept us from fully planning our meal. But rather than let the tradition die, the four of us decided to relieve ourselves of the planning pressure and just splurge at Alexander's Steakhouse in Cupertino, CA.

Alexander's is a TRUE steakhouse in many respects - the entry reveals samples of every cut of meat displayed behind glass, provoking salivation immediately. It's dark and moody, with large comfortable booths, an attentive team of servers and sommeliers for each table, and a menu that includes many traditional cuts of meats and classic sides. And in many great ways, the restaurant throws creative and delicious twists at diners. Some such highlights for us were the Hamachi shots to start (somehow I stole 2 of those, yum) and cloud of cotton candy as a centerpiece for our dessert course. The entrees at the table included cuts of filet mignon (one paired with lobster), a huge porterhouse, and a seriously flavorful ribeye. And of course, each bite was paired with some great wine.

Check out the photos below, and enjoy our 5th Annual Pre-New Year's Eve dinner. Coming next, our Anniversary tradition at Ruth's Chris.

Amuse Bouche
hamachi with soy, daikon, frisse, and wasabi

Popcorn Crab
jumbo lump crabmeat, tempura fried, spicy tuna sauce

Hamachi Shots
red chili, frizzled ginger, avocado, truffled ponzu

Intermezzo - Blood orange gelée

Filet Mignon with seared foie gras

2lb Bone-In Ribeye
shiitake mushroom, ginger beurre fondue, scallions

Dry Aged Porterhouse
cheddar cheese popovers, candied bacon, pimenton oil

Steak & “Steak” petite filet mignon & maine lobster “steak”
shiimeiji mushrooms, what’s this here sauce?

Mac ‘N Cheese
white truffle oil

Dark chocolate raspberry mousse cake bombe with red beet ice cream and cocoa grapes

Chocolate soufflé with crème anglaise

Cotton Candy

Friday, December 14, 2007

PERBACCO, San Francisco, CA

Located in the heart of the Financial District in San Francisco, Perbacco is one of the most popular spots for business lunches and the like. So when I was sent to SF on business, I of course used the opportunity to call up Evan to meet me for a power lunch. Suni also joined us, and the three of us had a nice time checking out the business lunch scene.


Don't be fooled - "lune" is just a fancy word for round ravioli. But it doesn't matter what shape it's in, butternut squash lune/ravioli in a butter sage sauce is so classic, so simple, and so good.


This gnocchi was made with ricotta instead of potato, which resulted in an extremely light and fluffy version of gnocchi. The wild mushrooms were fresh and woodsy, and the roasted onion gave the dish a nice hint of sweetness.


Evan was nice enough to order the other dish I was eyeing, which consisted of tender short rib ragu over fresh pappardelle pasta. Hearty and satisfying, it was a perfect dish on a chilly fall day.


We decided to splurge and order dessert, and of course went for the chocolate soufflé cake. The highlight of this particular version was the addition of the hazelnuts, which added a wonderful crunch and saltiness to the gooey chocolate. The hazelnut ice cream was a perfect complement to the rich layer of fudgy chocolate on top of the cake

Friday, November 30, 2007


The good thing about living in LA and having to fly into the Oakland airport on a regular basis is that Suni can pick me up and whisk me away to a nearby hotspot that would normally be a bit far for dinner. We've tried several places in Oakland, Berkeley, and other surrounding areas, and most recently stumbled upon Levende East in downtown Oakland. This "wine and small-plates" restaurant was dark, sexy, and exactly what I needed to unwind from a long week of work.

roquefort stuffed dates/fried spanish chorizo

Stuffed dates being one of our newest discoveries, we were anxious to try Levende's version. The chorizo added a nice salty and spicy kick to the sweet date and intense Roquefort. It was interesting that the chorizo was served alongside the dates and not stuffed in them, but this way we were able to taste all the components separately, and then see how they blended together perfectly.

indian spiced mini lamb burgers
onion chutney/cumin yogurt sauce/pickled cukes

These little lamb sliders called out to us, even though I'm not a huge fan of lamb. But I must admit, they were very tasty, and the wonderful Indian spices made me temporarily forget that I was eating a cute baby sheep.

guava BBQ glazed babyback ribs
mashed japanese sweet potatoes/rocolla/chalula & honey vinaigrette

These just sounded so good. The guava BBQ sauce was sweet and rich, which is why the peppery taste of the rocolla was essential to the dish. We devored them so quickly that we forgot to ask for more sauce on the side.

mac & cheese
applewood smoked bacon/sage

How could we NOT have the mac and cheese?

chocolate peanut butter pie
oreo cookie crust/caramel whipped cream

I begged, pleaded, and Suni finally gave in and let me order the chocolate peanut butter pie. I'm hoping that one day he develops a similar love for peanut butter (or even just a tolerance for it), but it wasn't at this dinner. He took one bite and proclaimed it too peanut-buttery. Of course, not all was lost as that just meant more for me.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

CUT, Beverly Hills, CA

When my New York-based cousin Eric and I discovered our mutual love for food, I was even more excited when he told me that he and Rhonda would be coming to LA for 1 night and that we would go out somewhere amazing. He did his research, and decided that Wolfgang Puck's trendy CUT steakhouse at the Beverly Wilshire was worthy of our all-out dinner splurge. Of course, Suni didn't think twice about making a special trip down to LA to attend. After all, what is 700 miles of driving compared to a good steak? Cousin Lauren also joined us, which meant more dishes to try and more laughs. Needless to say, the 5 of us had a blast.

Pink Lady & Fuji Apple Salad, Fennel, Red Endive, Medjool Dates, Marcona Almonds, Parmesan

Rhonda's starter was the lightest and most refreshing of the bunch. Shreds of crunchy, sweet, and tart apples blended nicely with the bitter endive and fennel. Nutty parmesan and sweet dates rounded out the dish.

Bone Marrow Flan, Mushroom Marmalade, Parsley Salad

Although this is known as one of the "must have" starters, I [Andrea] wasn't quite brave enough to order it myself - so I was delighted when Eric did. After swooning over his first bite, he spread some on a piece of toast and passed it across the table. Trying not to think about what it really was, I took a bite and promptly melted in my chair. SO good. Suni didn't even want to entertain the idea of taking a bite (after all, we are talking about eating bone tissue), but I think I enjoyed it enough for the both of us.

Blue Fin “Toro” Tuna Tartare, Wasabi Aioli, Ginger, Togarashi Crisps, Tosa Soy

It's a challenge to take classic (almost passé) tuna tartare and make it interesting. But Cut succeeded with their version, which was beautifully presented and full of flavors and textures. I think Lauren was quite satisfied.

Maple Glazed Pork Belly, Asian Spices, Sesame–Orange Dressing, Bartlett Pear Compote

On a pork belly kick, I didn't think twice about ordering this as my starter. Compared to Craft's, this was juicer and meatier, although Craft's had the wonderful crispy exterior. I'm definitely torn. But it was fantastic and I reluctantly passed it around the table so others could share in my joy.

Kobe Steak Sashimi, Spicy Radishes

Suni here. Were it not for Andrea's relentless foodie influence, dishes associated with the words sashimi, tartar, or RAW would be nowhere near my end of the table. I actually surprised myself ordering this starter, but I figured if I'm going to engage in a raw meat experiment, why not make it Kobe at CUT. Of course, now I'm ruined. The seasoning and texture of the steak was amazing, and I found myself nearly scooping up every last piece before sharing. I'd definitely order this again.

New York Steak
U.S.D.A. PRIME, Nebraska Corn Fed, Dry Aged 35 Days

And if there weren't so many other interesting meat options on the menu, I'd be ordering this New York steak again, too. Normally I'd go for a ribeye, but I was just too intrigued by our server's description of this flavorful cut. This was by far the best seasoned steak I've ever had, and it has me wondering what sort of magic Wolfgang cooked up for the other aged steaks on the menu. My wallet isn't so thrilled, though. Go figure.

With the following sides...
Potato Tarte Tatin
Creamed Spinach with Fried Organic Egg
Sautéed Autumn Greens, Garlic
Matsutake Mushrooms

Mushrooms, Potato, Greens & that order. The mushrooms just complimented the salty steak well, and the potato was an interesting change from more traditional potatoes. The greens were tasty on their own, and the spinach was really just typical creamed spinach to me. This meal was really about the starts and the steaks. And now, back to your regularly scheduled Andrea...

Petit Fours

We were so full that we decided to skip dessert (although if it were just Suni and I we would have found room). But it was a good thing since their tray of petit fours was substantial enough to qualify as a dessert.

The verdict? Cut definitely lives up to the hype. Not only was the food fantastic, but the service was arguably the best we have ever experienced - or at least tied with Daniel in NY. And to top it all off, the icing on the cake was getting to meet the master chef himself.

Monday, August 27, 2007



While Andrea has taken over most of the blogging duties lately, I haven’t let her touch this one. Beer is my territory, and THIS MUCH beer is my responsibility to [finally] write about. While a number of you (Andrea included) might sample a craft beer or microbrew and typically respond, “It tastes like beer”, there are plenty that have already discovered what I love about beer. Beer is as varied as wine in flavors and complexity, and it can pair well with all sorts of foods. Below you’ll find the foods and beers that the chefs and beer experts and Rustic Canyon decided to pair for their Summer Beer Bash.

Summer salad of watermelon, feta, wild arugula and soaked walnuts with lemon and olive oil
Biere De Blanco: Craftsman Brewing Company

As expected, a lighter beer with citrus qualities is paired with a salad. The salad combines the sweet, nutty, and tangy flavors which welcome the cool rush of the Biere De Blanco to finish it off.

Fried green tomatoes and burrata with heirloom tomato relish
Red Barn Ale: The Lost Abbey

For me, this was too much tomato, not enough burrata. That’s likely why I knifed off little slivers of the tomato to eat with the sauces on the plate. There was nothing wrong with the beer, however, which cut the tomato with richer, hoppy flavor.

Mussels steamed in beer with preserved lemon and chili flakes
California Ale: Telegraph Brewing Company

The mussels in this dish really just served as a rich textured vessel for the substantial chili and lemon flavors, which was fine by me. Combined with the starchy garbanzos, this dish seemed to coat my mouth with flavors that really needed to be washed down with a good beer. The California Ale is the richest beer among these first courses, which was a nice contrast to the sharp sting of the lemon-heavy mussels.

Craftsman IPA

Beer as a palate cleanser. Awesome.

Beer braised short ribs with chantrelles and creamed polenta
Biere De Mars: Craftsman Brewing Company

Once again, braised short ribs and polenta. Do short ribs ever come served WITHOUT polenta? To be honest, I don’t remember much about this dish. Given how many times we’ve had a version of this dish served to us, I was likely done with short ribs by the time this dinner rolled around. What I do remember is that of the beer pairings, this seemed the most out of place. The beer was good, but the short ribs didn’t make me FEEL like drinking a beer.

Baked goat cheese in pastry with wild honey
Lost and Found Ale: The Lost Abbey

Of all the dishes, this cheese and honey combo was my favorite. The sweetness of honey with the rich saltiness of the cheese all baked into a pastry? Can’t go wrong there. Also, I’m quickly becoming a fan of The Lost Abbey brewing company, and the Lost and Found Ale, red and hoppy, is my favorite.

Oatmeal stout cake with porter ice cream
Oatmeal Stout: Telegraph Brewing Company
Stock Porter: Telegraph Brewing Company

This just makes sense, doesn’t it? Two types of beer go into the dessert complemented by a glass of each beer. Even though, at this point, the sheer VOLUME of beer was threatening to overwhelm any appetite I had left, I still managed a sip with each spoonful of dessert. A winning combo.

Overall, I enjoyed every beer, and most of the courses. However, I wasn’t thrilled with all of the pairings nor the AMOUNT of pairings. A beer with the starter/salad and then a beer with the main course would be perfect for me. Any more, and beer and food will be fighting for space in my belly (which isn’t a great feeling). I have to applaud Rustic Canyon for giving everyone an opportunity to really experience a variety of pairings and demonstrating how versatile beer can be. It’s not just for BBQs and football games anymore.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

VIOLET...again, Santa Monica, CA

Although we always strive to try new places to post on our blog, we really enjoyed our initial visit to Violet and wanted to return for their Sunday Night Dinner special. On Sunday, Violet features a seasonal 3-course menu for $25. With 2 selections for each of the 3 courses, we were able to order one of each and thus try everything. In addition, they offer the option of adding a $10 bottomless glass of wine - we didn't hesitate of course.

white onion soup thyme

This soup was a pleasant surprise and a first for us. It had the rich onion flavor of classic French onion soup, but was smooth and creamy. A perfect dish to warm us up on a chilly evening.

wild rocket cherry tomato, ricotta, balsamic

This salad was simple, but the refreshing flavors were a nice contrast to the rich soup. The wild rocket, fresh ricotta, and sweet tomatoes reflected the "seasonal" element of the summer dish.

creamy carnaroli risotto mushroom, roasted shallot

We were of course excited that mushroom risotto was part of their special Sunday menu. This risotto was unique in that it was made with Carnaroli rice, which is superior to the more common Arborio. I was able to tell the difference in texture, as each grain of Carnaroli is more plump and firm than the traditional Arborio.

grilled skirt steak, eggplant caviar, red wine

Although weary of any dish with "eggplant" in the name, the highlight of the dish surprisingly turned out to be the eggplant caviar that was resting underneath the tender and perfectly seasoned steak. However, it was more a chunky puree than a caviar, since it didn't have any sort of fish taste at all. Instead of asking for clarification from the staff, we simply concentrated on enjoying the great combination of flavors.

manchego sheep's milk cheese honey

For dessert, one of the options was a cheese course. Normally, (and unfortunately) we usually have to pick between cheese and a more traditional dessert - and the traditional usually wins. However, this menu gave us a chance to enjoy both. And sharp manchego with sweet honey? Can't get much better than that.

coconut charlotte

We were a bit worried when our server placed this down on the table. Not general fans of coconut, we were relieved when we were told that it was made with coconut milk and not with coconut flakes. But then one look at it and out first thought was that it was going to have the consistency of flan (again, not big fans). But instead this dessert turned out to be a nice surprise and we polished it off quickly. It was light and creamy, yet dense enough to avoid any flan-like resemblance. Definitely a winner and a refreshing end to a fantastic meal.


Just next door to Osteria Mozza lies another one of Maria Batali and Nancy Silverton’s creations. Although more casual than the Osteria both in food and ambiance, Pizzeria Mozza still focuses on fresh ingredients and classic Italian flavors. Their thin crust, Naples-style pizza is the main attraction, with about 15 different versions. The pizzas are baked in 700 degree ovens, which results in a wonderfully puffy crust that is crispy in some spots, chewy in others, light, and airy. You really need to try it to get the full effect.

Fried squash blossoms with ricotta
Having enjoyed our lobster-stuffed squash blossoms at Jar, we didn’t hesitate to order these as our starter. They were light, crispy, and the ricotta oozed just perfectly. They got our taste buds warmed up and ready for the main attraction.

Funghi misti, fontina, taleggio & thyme

Really. . . what's not to like about this combo? Woodsy mushrooms, 2 kinds of cheese and some herbs. Simple, high quality ingredients that blended together perfectly.

Coach farm goat cheese, leeks, scallions & bacon

We decided to get a bit fancier with our next selection. The strong goat cheese was balanced nicely by the sweet caramelized leaks and salty bacon. Definitely a winner, and it was a nice contrast to the more mild mushroom pizza above.

Butterscotch Budino

On another visit to Pizzeria Mozza, I broke down and ordered the butterscotch budino as many veterans had recommended. Silky, creamy, rich, sweet, and topped with a wonderfully thin layer of caramel with a sprinkling of sea salt. A must-order, even for people who aren’t crazy about butterscotch