Saturday, October 22, 2011

LA's Osteria Mozza

Okay, I have to admit that I am not a big fan of the City of the Angels - Los Angeles.  The traffic, smog and the Hollywood effect does not inspire or motivate me the way other cities do - like San Francisco, New York City, Chicago...

But because my work takes me to Los Angeles a couple times a year, I am determined to find a inspiring connection and for me it is FOOD.

The last couple of trips to LA, I've made a point to get restaurant referrals from my foodie friends here in Hawaii.  So last year, I was able to go to acclaimed celebrity chef, Suzanne Goin's AOC Wine Bar and Restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Sat at the bar next to a porno director and his wife - so pretentious!

Earlier this year, I got to have breakfast & brunch (once at their nextdoor counter & at the actual restaurant for Saturday Brunch) at JGelina in Venice and loved the food, atmosphere and service.  So I am slowly warming up to Los Angeles and giving it a chance into my foodie life.

This past Tuesday, I was able to get a reservation to Mario Batali's popular "Osteria Mozza" with executive chef Nancy Silverton really leading it.  So reservations were made on, but the only time I could get a table was 9:15pm, I booked it anyway, and went early at 8:00pm to try to get in.  And I did on the Mozzarella Bar, which I think is the best seat in the house, especially when eating by yourself, because you really are not by yourself.

I was so pleasantly surprised to see Nancy Silverton herself, working the bar, not as the expediter, but as a line chef filling orders.  Now that is a class act!  She moved and interacted with staff, chefs and guests with much grace & ease.  She did not act as the boss, but as one of the line team.  When dishes needed fixing to comply with her standards, she just spoke to her co-worker as a coach and showed them how it should be.  I really give her so much respect, I was there for 2.5 hours and she worked the entire time and the place was hopping.  WOW!  I think that is one of the reasons she is called America's mozza master.

Let me start with the Mozzarella Bar, is not part of the drink bar, but a bar where all of the cheese and antipasti is prepared.  The bar is a marble counter bar filled with ingredients that is used in the primi dishes - salt, braised leeks, hazelnuts, a pepper shaker (one that everyone on the line shares), plates, milk glass vases of seasonal white flowers, and brass figurines of ducks, insects, pigs, on it - I just loved it.  It felt like how her kitchen at home would be. 

Before I go into what I ate, the service was delightful and easy.  Everyone that served me was personable and helpful - 5 stars for service, atmosphere and food!

So this is what I had:

I started with a glass of Italian rose.  I believe it was from Tuscany and was recommended by my waitress.

This was my pre-appetizer, a crostini with fresh ricotta, tapenade and fresh basil.  It was fresh, light, simple, delicious and a great palate opener.  The ricotta was lemony with a smooth milky texture.
My primi (appetizer) was Pane Pomodoro with Burrata, Speck and Pickled Shallots.  The burrata blew me away with it's silky sweetness, the smoky salty speck, the sweet/sour of the tomato salsa and acid from the pickled shallots were a perfect marriage of texture and the whole spectrum of flavors on a toasted piece of garlic baguette.

My dinner was a selection from the secondi menu (pasta) Green Pappardelle with braised lamb ragout and a side of grilled broccolini.  The pasta was a green pasta which in the Mozza Cookbook says it's made of fresh nettles and they were wonderful ribbons of silky pasta and the lamb ragout braised with red wine, pancetta and a flavorful soffritto (carrots, onions, tomato & celery).  My broccolini was seasoned with good olive oil, balsamic and garlic.

I was so full by the time it came for dessert, but I could not say no, so I had the Poached Yali Pears Almond Gelato with Toasted Almonds and baked pieces of crispy puffed pastry.

I had to purchase the Mozza Cookbook and asked Nancy if she could sign it for me and she did graciously.

I will have to blog about the first recipe I make from this wonderful cookbook.  

I would recommend Osteria Mozza and please, please sit at the Mozzarella Bar, you will love it.  And say "Hi" to Nancy for me!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

EAT LOCAL Challenge Ho Family Tomato Tart

I am keeping this as local as possible.  The tomatoes are from Ho Farms, fresh thyme and Naked Cow Dairy butter in the crust and fresh Ho Farm tomatoes, macadamia nut oil, and Kona salt in the filling.  I wish I could find taro flour to make the crust 100% local, maybe next year.

This recipe is as easy as 3-2-1 (3 parts organic unbleached flour, 2 parts butter and 1 part ice water).
Locally grown Ho Farms Family Tomatoes, fresh oregano, garlic, salt, pepper and macadamia nut oil (enough to coat tomatoes).  The easiest filling every, but very colorful and delicious.  The tomatoes keep their shape, but are cooked enough that they pop in your mouth.
Place dough in a tart pan and shape, no prebaking necessary. Toss all filling ingredients and fill in tart crust.  Preheat over to 375 degrees and bake for approximately 30 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes and sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese and basil.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

2011 Kanu Hawaii EAT LOCAL Challenge

Tomorrow starts Kanu Hawaii's EAT LOCAL Challenge 2011.  This is the third year I've participated in this challenge.  In fact, I try to take this challenge every day.

Shopping, cooking and eating LOCAL takes on another meaning here in Hawaii.  When I visit other cities in the country and talk about the challenges we have here in the islands, people can't believe that we only have enough food to sustain the islands for 3 days, if we were to be cut off by the rest of the world.

So buying, cooking and eating local is a very important thing we need to do as part of our daily lives.

Fresh Onaga Fish Stock

Today the first catch of the Onaga season came into Whole Foods Market Kahala, and I had to reserve the head for some fresh fish stock for future paella.

Onaga or also known as Hawaiian Red Snapper has beautiful bright red skin with an elegant long swallow-like tail. In the days of the Hawaiian Kings, the fish was caught specifically for them.

See how gorgeous this fish is.  It is usually sold at $24.99 per pound, but when you buy just the head it is $3.99 per pound.
Following are the ingredients you will need for the stock:
1 onaga head (average 3 lbs)
2 organic carrots (roughly chopped)
1 yellow onion (cut in quarters)
1 leek (just the tops, roughly chopped)
4 small fresh bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
7 cups of filtered cold water

Put everything in a large cast iron pot, cover with filtered cold water, and bring just to a simmer.  Skim off the foam, reduce the heat slightly, and simmer gently, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Strain the fish stock through a strainer. 

You may store the stock for 5 days in the refrigerator, in the freezer to store longer.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Happy 40th Birthday Chez Panisse & Congratulations Alice Waters!

I finally made it!
I've always dreamt of eating at Alice Waters', the godmother of the organic food movement, remarkable restaurant "Chez Panisse", and I finally had the opportunity to do so last week Thursday.  The week of their 40th Anniversary.  I've read numerous articles, saw documentaries, and heard wonderful reviews of Chez Panisse, so I had very high expectations.  And after dinner, I was very pleased to have my expectations exceeded.

Writing about my experience at Chez Panisse today is very appropriate since I am gearing up for my 2011's Kanu Hawaii EAT LOCAL Challenge for September.  Current challenges like this is a tribute and reflection of Alice Waters' accomplishments with the Slow Food Movement that she started in America back in the 1970s, 40 years ago.

When you buy organic produce from Whole Foods Market, or if you notice the promotion of local produce in the mainstream of restaurants, and if you have eaten at restaurants like town in Kaimuki, or Heeia Pier General Store & cafe, you indirectly have Alice Waters to thank.

When my friend Patty made reservations 1 month before we had all of our travel plans, we were given a choice to eat downstairs or upstairs.  Downstairs featured special preplanned menus and upstairs in the cafe, a menu of different items to order from.  We decided to go with the upstairs menu, so we could try a number of different things.  Since there were 3 of us, we would have 3 different appetizers, 3 different entrees and 3 different desserts = 9 tastes of 9 dishes.

I invited my French Canadian friend Louis Vachon, just in case our waiter was French, but Louis didn't have to bust out his mother tongue - shucks.  I love it when people can speak French - I wanted to feel the whole experience...oh well we were in Berkeley, California.

First, they gave us the best table in the cafe - by the open window and under the tree with vines of greens beans.

For appetizers, we had:
Grilled anchoiade toast with cherry tomatoes and marjoram
Avocado and beet salad with ginger vinaigrette
Tartare of local halibut Tahitienne with tomato, mint, and Little Gems lettuce
For entrees, we had:
Gigot aux olives noires - grilled Watson Ranch lamb leg with little turnips, green beans & black olives

Fried Devil's Gulch Ranch rabbit with corn, romano beans, squash blossoms & tomatillo salsa

Fish and shellfish stew with tomato, saffron, fennel and rouille
For dessert, we had:
Flavor King pluot tart with framboise cream
Bittersweet chocolate pave with coffee-chocolate ice cream
A bowl of Sunny Slope Orchard Black Mission figs and Cal Red peach

We had a bottle of Rose from France for our appetizers and a bottle of Green & Red Zinfindel for our entrees and desserts.

The menu for downstairs was:
King salmon tartare with cucumbers and watercress
Summer squash and squash blossom risotto
Grilled BN Ranch grass-fed Bolinas beef tenderloin with olive sauce and Chino Ranch green beans
Cannard Farm raspberry ice cream vacherin

Every dish was beautifully composed and the flavors perfectly matched and we got to taste 9 different dishes, so we were very happy with our choice of eating upstairs in the cafe.

It is really hard to imagine that Chez Panisse in 1971 was so revolutionary now.  The restaurant is modest and tiny, but it surely is an example that fresh simple food, treated with respect can achieve huge influence.

It was an honor, thank you Alice!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Week 2 - Day #14 Engine 2 Challenge

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Today, was a pretty boring day, but learned that Zippy's has a couple of vegetarian options. 

For breakfast, I stuck with the Rip Big Bowl Breakfast at home with a banana - I am getting pretty tired of this but it does keep me pretty full until lunch.

Since it's Mother's Day, my sister took my mom and I to Zippy's because it wouldn't be as busy as the fancy restaurants.  She was wrong, everyone was at Zippy's for Mother's Day.  I went in thinking that I would be eating a salad with no dressing, but they had a tofu patty sandwich on a whole wheat bun.  I ordered it with extra mushrooms and no mayo with a side salad.  I have to say that the sandwich was pretty good.

I had to work for a couple of hours, but got to go home and spend the afternoon doing nothing, so I decided to bake myself a Mother's Day Engine 2 Dark Chocolate oil, no eggs.  I got the recipe from the E2 book and instead of oil I used applesauce and instead of eggs I used Ener-G an egg substitute mixture of tapioca flour and other binding ingredients.  It was an easy recipe and delicious.  Moist and very chocolaty.  Next time, I would add more applesauce and less time in the oven.

YUM!  Happy Mother's Day to me.

For dinner, I decided to have leftovers, salad and lentil soup with kabocha.

Breakfast - Rip Big Bowl Breakfast and a soy cappuccino
Lunch - Tofu patty sandwich on whole wheat
Dinner - Salad and Lentil soup
Dessert - E2 Dark Chocolate Cake

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Week 2 - Day #13 Engine 2 Challenge

I had enchiladas on the brain since Thursday, so decided to make it for dinner.

Breakfast - Rip's Big Bowl Breakfast with Almond Milk
Lunch -1/2 E2 burrito at Whole Foods Market Kahala
Dinner - Enchiladas ala Natalia

The TSP (textured soy protein) was okay for Thursday night's soft tacos, but I wanted to create my own from scratch.  So here is my new recipe for enchiladas.

2 small sweet local onions (diced)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup white wine
2 medium dried chipotle chiles (soaked in hot vegetable broth & minced)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 box of crimini mushrooms
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 box extra firm 365 tofu (drained and minced)
2 tablespoons ground chili powder
2 tablespoons fresh sage
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning (basil, oregano)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup cooked white navy beans
Cook all ingredients listed and added in the order above.  Let mixture cook for 10 minutes and until all liquid has evaporated.

Make fresh corn torillas (see #Day 11 for directions).  Place in plastic bag to steam and soften.

Also, made my own salsa.
In a dry small pot:
2 small halved sweet local onions
1 halved jalapeno
Heat and blacken onions and jalapeno, on all sides.  Add cup of vegetable broth and cook for 10 minutes.  Take off heat, add one medium Hawaiian hot pepper (take half the seeds out) and let sit until cool.

Place cooled onion, jalapeno & vegetable broth mixture in blender and add one can of 365 no-salt diced tomatoes.  Blend, taste and add salt to taste.

In a baking dish, place 1/2 cup of salsa on the bottom of the pan, roll tofu mixture in soft corn tortillas and place on salsa in baking dish.  Place enchiladas side by side until pan is full.  Cover salsa over enchiladas and sprinkle nutritional yeast on top.  Bake on 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Serve with a salad and guacamole.

This meal was so satisfying and hearty.  You will have to try this recipe.

You will have leftover tofu mixture, tortillas, and salsa.  Just right for another great meal.

Week 2 - Day #12 Engine 2 Challenge

Today, was a day to clean the refrigerator and to eat the week's delicious leftovers!  What great way to safe money and enjoy the highlights of the week.

Breakfast - Rip Big Bowl Breakfast w/ fresh strawberries and almond milk
Lunch - Kale salad and leftover TSP Mexican mixture with rice
Dinner - Leftover Thai Bibimbap

Week 2 - Day #11 Engine 2 Challenge

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!

Okay, it's time to make fresh corn tortillas.  I decided to make soft tacos with a textured soy protein in place of ground meat.  I bought a popular TSP, Smart Ground, Mexican Style.  I needed to make it taste less premade and more homemade.  So I did the onion in the dry & hot pan with vegetable broth and white wine technique, but also added a small amount of tomato paste, chili powder and garlic.  It also needed a little more texture, so I added a cup of black eye peas.

I made fresh corn tortillas with a Masa Harina mix.  Follow directions on the package.  After you've make fresh tortillas, you will never buy another already made bag of tortillas.  It's too easy

I bought already made salsa and guacamole from Whole Foods Market Kahala, because I did not have time to make my own and you cannot have soft tacos without the condiments.  And forget the shredded romaine lettuce for a fresh crunch.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Week 2 - Day #10 Engine 2 Challenge

Okay, it is getting a little boring for breakfast and lunch.  Had my homemade Engine 2 Big Bowl Breakfast and for lunch leftover lentil soup and kale salad with fig balsamic dressing.

For dinner I decided to make my version of a bibimbap with a Thai influence.

I made the peanut/almond/tofu sauce for my quinoa pasta with three vegetable sides - sauteed carrots with thyme, sauteed mushrooms with onions, garlic and white wine and sauteed garlic kale.  Bob came by and brought his tofu in 5 spice.

All of the vegetable dishes started with onions in a very dry & hot pan, then vegetable broth and at this point lower the heat and cook for a minute, and finally add main vegetable ingredient with seasonings.

When heating the peanut/almond/tofu sauce (see previous entry for recipe), in a large saute pan heat some vegetable broth with some of the liquid in the mushrooms.  Add 1 cup of tofu sauce whisk and then add the cooked quinoa pasta.  I would've added green onions, if I had some.  This is so creamy and delicious - with no dairy!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Week 2 - Day #9 Engine 2 Challenge

Having the Rip Big Bowl cereal for breakfast has been such an easy and fulfilling breakfast, but I know I will need to change it up soon.  I purchased two new cereals and both E2 approved - Uncle Sam Toasted Whole Wheat Berry Flakes and Flaxseed and Nature's Path Organic Millet Rice Fruit Juice Sweetened and will started using them tomorrow.

For lunch, I decided to purchase the NEW E2 burrito with the flaxseed torilla.  The burrito bar will let you get a vegetable item from the salad bar to put on the open face E2 burrito, today I got the garlicky kale salad to put on the burrito filled with rice, beans, sauteed vegetables, shredded cabbage, salsa and guacamole.  All for $7.99  It was so huge that I could not eat the entire meal, so will save it for tomorrow.

Tonight I wanted to have some pasta, so I made an easy Italian tomato sauce.  Here is the recipe:
1/2 diced white onion
1 cup white wine
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 diced medium sized tomatoes
1 cup reserved pasta water
salt to taste
1 cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 cup shredded fresh basil
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1 bundle of brocolli, blanched and chopped to 1/2 inch pieces)
1/2 box Quinoa pasta (cooking instructions on the box)
minced flat leaf parsley

In a very hot clean pot, drop the minced onions until brown, then add white wine and reduce for about 2 minutes.  Add garlic, diced tomatoes, pasta water and salt to taste, cook for 2 minutes.  Add vegetable broth, thyme, chili flakes, fresh basil and grape tomatoes, cook down for 5 minutes.  Before serving, add cooked Quinoa pasta.  Serve with fresh minced flat leaf parsley.

Breakfast - Rip's Big Bowl Breakfast
Lunch - Whole Foods E2 burrito with garlicky kale salad
Dinner - Quinoa Pasta with fresh Italian tomato sauce and a mixed green salad w/ E2 Fig Balsamic
Dessert - Small bowl of frozen E2 Chocolate Mousse

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Week 2 - Day #8 - Engine 2 Challenge

It is getting so easy to stay full.  Because I've been able to cook my meals, I always have leftovers for another lunch or dinner meal.  This is a great way to save money and to recycle the wonderful "new" recipes.

For dinner tonight, after our support meeting at Whole Foods Market Kahala, my friend Bob made a baked stuffed green pepper.  He did not use a recipe, but used what he had in his cupboard and refrigerator.

Steam fry diced onions (1/2 onion)
Cooked quinoa (1 cup)
Diced no-salt can tomatoes (1/2 cup)
Fresh corn (1/2 cup)
No-salt black beans (1/2 cup)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Chili powder to taste
Mix the above ingredients in a pan and cook thoroughly.  Stuff peppers with mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until pepper is cooked.  Top cooked peppers with nutritional yeast as a cheese topping substitute.

For dessert, we used the Chocolate Mousse E2 recipe, added fresh chopped organic strawberries and put it in the ice cream maker.  It was delicious and tasted like Tofutti.

It was a great day!

Breakfast - Rip Big Bowl Cereal mix
Lunch - Leftover collard luau and vegetable stew
Dinner - Stuffed Peppers with steamed broccoli and mixed green salad

Monday, May 2, 2011

Day #7 Engine 2 Diet

It is my day off again and went to Zumba with Charles.

Today is May Day and invited to a Hawaiian Luau themed lunch at Darlene's house.  So I needed to cook something in that theme, because I knew that they would not have much that I could eat.  They served great food like poke (6 different types), lau lau, steamed mahi mahi with a creamy mushroom sauce, lomi lomi salmon, fried chicken, fried rice, fruit salad, sweet potato and poi.  The only items I could eat was the fruit salad, sweet potato and poi.  So I brought 2 dishes that were E2 compliant.

I made a luau made with collards, onions, garlic and light coconut milk.
Here is the recipe:
2 bunches of organic collard greens
1/2 cubed white onion
4 cloves garlic
water to saute onions and garlic
1 can of light coconut milk

And also made another vegetable stew with the extra vegetables I bought from last night's stew.  Lunch was so substantial that I did not even think of cheating.

The night before I soaked some dry black eyed peas & cooked them before my Zumba class, so Bob made a bean spread with the peas, roasted red peppers, garlic, lemon, cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper and water.  The spread was delicious and perfect for a pupu, even the others enjoyed it.  I think?

Happy May Day!

For my evening dessert I made a decaf mocha affogato - espresso, mocha powder and a scoop of coconut milk cream with strawberries.

Breakfast - decaf soy cappuccino
Lunch - black eye pea spread with Wasa light rye crackers, ogo salad, vegetable stew, collard greens, fruit lomi, poi, sweet potato, and papaya salad.
Dinner - left over chili w/ brown rice and vegetable stew
Dessert - decaf espresso, chocolate, coconut milk cream with strawberries

Day #6 Engine 2 Diet

Here are the three cereals I mix to make my own Rip Breakfast Bowl:

I had plans to have dinner at a friends house and the theme was Filipino food.  So I made an E2 version of a Filipino eggplant stew called Pinakbet.  It has ginger, onions, kabocha, eggplant, tomatoes and wing beans cooked with some water.

For dessert, I grabbed a frozen pre-made gluten and dairy free cake and put the E2 Chocolate Mousse and fresh strawberries on top.

Breakfast - homemade cereal
Lunch - leftover dahl and vegetable curry from Weds. dinner
Dinner - vegetable stew with kabocha, eggplant and wing beans
I had to have a Filipino dish my friend Bill made it was made of eggplant, battered in egg (yes, I did cheat).
Dessert - gluten and dairy free cake w/ chocolate mousse and strawberries

Day #5 Engine 2 Challenge

Today was my day off and decided to workout at Zumba by Jen at the Hawaii Kai Towne Center with Charles.  I felt so good after the workout and also had so much more energy than usual.

My friend Christine told me about a new cafe that serves vegan dishes and specific sandwich which is compliant to the guidelines of the challenge.  So we all decided to meet there, 4 friends on the challenge.  I had half a sandwich and miso soup.

This is their version of BiBimBap with brown rice and no beef or egg.  I looked yummy!
Also got to try a Grain Mocha Latte.  Shared some with Kara and we both loved it.

After working at ARTafterDARK at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, Charles and I went to town.  I figured I could get a great salad with no dressing.  And I did, but also was thrilled to learn that they had a vegan lentil soup, minus the yogurt topping.  My salad was an arugula, beet, fennel and orange salad.  YUM!

Breakfast - Big Rip Bowl w/ watermelon
Lunch - Peace Cafe - 1/2 Popeye Sandwich, miso soup - daikon, collards, squash
Dinner - Dinner @ town restaurant - Vegan Lentil Soup, salad - beets, arugula, fennel, orange wedges
Snack - Wasa rye bread with crunchy almond butter and strawberries x2