So it finally came, I’m 21 (Booze, Blood and Punk Rock)

So it finally came, I’m 21. Who would of known I would of made it this far? I swore and lived by the punk Manisfesto of “Live Fast, Die Young”, albeit a little bit more responsively than most of my friends apparently.

What does this mean for a burgeoning young foodblogger?

THE WORLD IS MINE.

No more getting sadly turned away from food events for being “underage”, no more ordering drinks with know-it-all terminology to better the chances of not being checked ID, no more using “I’m not 21” to rationalize from not going out and the most significant for me…no more having to depend on a passerby bum or guy with a beard to buy me some craft beer at Ramirez Liquor.

And what better rite of passage than throwing my own backyard gig in my house in East L.A?

the hb strut
Punks Not Dead

Almost every single weekend since 6th Grade, I’ve been coming to these in and around East L.A. They have served as the ultra-thin lifeline that has kept the local punk scene stable since the 1970’s.

For my shindig, I had gotten the evolved, bluesy sounds of The Shag Rats, old friends from Middle School, these guys broke out of the stereotypical power-chord punk rock rut and have developed a mellow, groovy beat of their own.

groovin shag rats
Dance Inducing and Fun Producing: The Shag Rats

And my nephew, DJ H1N1 spinning all classical and requested genres of punk.

dj h1n1 spinning puro pinche punk
Spinning It Up

Declaring it BYOB (Had food rather, not common in gigs but then again it was me!) I found out I had some really generous friends…

Chuy Nomas showed up with three bottles of Real De Mexico Tequila, two Blancos and the other Reposado. He works for them so he hooked it up like no other, setting up an impromptu cocktail bar out of my backyard shambles. He just happened to always carry Jalapeños, Cilantro, Pineapple Juice, Simple Syrup and Limes I guess, constructing their signature cocktail, The Real Mexican, an authentically spicy, tangy sweet drink that my dad even loved. Muddling the ingredients and everything, he came through profusely for the first half of the night.

chuy nomas hooking it up!
Hookin’ It Up Sick!: El Compa Chuy Nomas

A gift from the blue-haired homie Lance Thomas, my second drink of the night was a pint of an Imperial IPA from Rogue Brewery, the ceramic bottle and nifty, metal hinged top had caught my attention back at Ramirez Liquor.

Imperial IPA
Bitter, Syrupy with Hints of Raw Cacao Without The Exclusive Heaviness of a Traditional Stout: 9.5%

scotch whiskey
At 86 Proof, This Was By Far The Most Complex Whiskey Ingested Thus Far (Sorry Jack): Smooth and Smoky Taste Reminiscent of Mezcal

Third of the Night was a shot of Lagavulin, a Single Islay Malt Whiskey given to me from the infamous Noah Galuten of Squid Ink blog.

straffe hendrik
Fourth was a pint of Straffe Hendrik, this heavy Belgium Bruges Triple Ale. At a bold 9% proof, this was remarkably bitter since its made with a few different Hops, A nice winter brew for sure.

Fifth of the night was a Leffe longneck, a Blonde Belgium Ale with an interesting light bite, notes of toffee mostly with aromatic hints of chrysanthemum. A gift from Angel Rodriguez, we used to drink Popov vodka in water bottles during lunch back in High School.

leffe
Smooth: 6.6%

Ok, by this point I was pretty much thrashed and plastered, double fisting strangers bottles and doing the H.B Strut nonchalantly by myself in the circle pit.

But I kept on going of course.

Sixth of the night was half a bottle of this Malbec that my yoga buddy Blair Whittington had gotten me from Fresh N Easy. But I have no idea what year nor what vineyard, I could only tell you it was smooth enough to be drank by swigs…l would of drank all if Bricia hadn’t fortunately taken it away from me and refilled it with water.

Mezcal
Seventh of the night was a couple of cringing swigs of Ulises Ruiz, a snazzy bottled complex Mezcal from Oaxaca with the most elegant of burns and deep of tastes, courtesy of the Oaxacan Restauranteur, Bricia Lopez.

And last but certainly not the least, a pint of the beer that started it all for me: Delirium Tremens. Chocolaty and robust, this cork-topped Ale is bottled from a family brewery in Belgium. Fernando Lopez, the other power behind the Guelaguetza restaurant dynasty, was responsible for this tasty night clincher.

delirium

After all this drinking, The Shag Rat’s were done and another friend’s band wanted to play: Informal Society. Their music is probably the complete opposite of the Shag Rats, hard, fast, loud and proud that warrant a little more vicious chaos in the pit. And these sort of pits are no mans land for lanky, intoxicated, Spaghetti framed people like me…

alcohol!
Bloody and Boozed: Christening Adulthood

All I remember is a sudden colorful flash like those
made famous in loony toon cartoons and people wrapping bandana’s around my head. Sure enough someone had knocked me down, probably the local gangbangers not understanding the friendly concept of slam dancing.

I was not about to let that ruin my Birthday night in the least though, within ten minutes and half a hydrogen peroxide bottle later, I was back down and dancing again. With those same gangsters giving me hard high-fives and saying, “you’re pretty down”. They left shortly after that.

no rest till you're dead
Bad Influence: Bloody, Boozed But All In The Name of Punk

The singer from my old band kept badgering for us to play, so we made drunk fools out of ourselves trying to stay in sync. I played both bass and guitar for the night since our bassist had already passed out earlier, surprisingly enough, some random people actually know how to play our songs on the guitar and volunteered.

And I am happy to say I woke up with NO HANGOVER, but only a bloody pillow and a bunch of leftover love…

my life now (blur)
Responsible Adulthood…Here I come

Addendum:

I totally forgot to add a pint of Pulque I babied all through the night, I had smuggled it into the states and had been saving it for this big day. Stayed true to my roots…

A Mexican Christmas Winter Ponche Recipe & My Last Two Weeks of Illegal Drinking-Driven Debauchery

So, as you all may have noticed, I fell DEEP into ‘Holiday-Relax’ mode this last year.

For the first time in the whole year, I took some damn personal time to be twenty finally. You know, enjoying complete meals without ever whipping out a camera? Ok, ok…I did sneak in a couple of shots of my moms awesome Duck Tamales, Buñuelos and Ponche but nonetheless enjoyed a couple of meals without exercising my hunger’s last moment discipline…it felt great to just eat.

best tamal shot
Duck Mole Tamal, Achiote Spiced Guacamole, Nopal (Cactus) Salad, Refried Great Northern Beans, Radishes: My Christmas & New Year Dinner

moms bunuelos
Buñuelos (paper-thin flour tortilla fried in Grapeseed Oil & dusted in cinnamon-sugar)

ponche!
Ponche: Mexican Christmas Cinnamon Tea Filled with Anything and Everything eg. Guavas, Mexican Crab-Apples, Prunes, Sugar Cane etc. (Recipe Posted Below)

dessert christmas spread
My Older Sisters Dessert Spread: Chocolate Chip Cookies, Tea Cookies & Sweet Potatoes in Piloncillo Syrup

Uhhh…it also kind of just hit me that I am turning the big, effin 21 in just two weeks, two freakin weeks. Do you guys know what this means for a restaurant blogger? YES! I am now going to be able to legally drink, no more using the risky technique of “Walk in like you own the place” or hope that my glasses and increased posture will get me through. No more GETTING DENIED entrance to a food event for not being of age, and most importantly…not having to ask a passerby bum or stranger to buy me beer and end up with the wrong kind!

Ok, so not much will be different since it hasn’t really stopped me from drinking before but somewhere between blogging, writing 100 word radio commentaries and getting mentioned in the New Yorker…I tend to forget that I am twenty sometimes. So for the last couple of weeks (ooh-ee New Years Eve, jeez!) and until I turn twenty one, I will live up my last two weeks of illegal drinking driven debauchery…

since I was sixteen
A Pair of 40 oz. King Cobras at Fourteen: My Introduction to Alcohol in Moderation via the East L.A Punk Scene

A Dear Recipe From My Holiday Break:

Ponche
(Mexican Holiday Cinnamon-Fruit Tea: Familia Cabral Style)

1 Gallon of Water (Purified or Tap doesn’t matter, will boil)
4 Medium Sticks of Cinnamon
1 Small Handfull of Dried Hibiscus Blossoms
1/2 lbs of Fresh or Frozen Sugar Cane
1 Large Apple, Deseeded, Quartered (Fuji, Gala or Granny Smith; No Red Delicious please)
1 Large Orange, Peeled and Segmented
1/2 lbs of Tejocotes, whole (Mexican Crabapples; available frozen in Mexican-American Markets)
1/2 lbs of Small Fresh Guavas, whole

*this is a mix that I have habituated, feel free to alternate amounts or even add dried fruits like prunes, apricots, raisins, fresh pomegranates…possibilities are virtually endless.

1) In extra large stock pot, lightly crumble all the cinnamon sticks in the one gallon of water, add the hibiscus blossoms, turn heat highest and boil until color changes and the scent makes people in your household swoon…

2) Once color changes, lower to low heat and carefully drop in the fruits.

3) Simmer under low heat for 1-3 hrs until fruits become tender and soft.

4) Enjoy, while contemplating winter, family and life.

–Con Piquete (A generous shot of Tequila traditionally thrown in it to truly keep one warm) is up to you!

…my mom fancies Sauza brand Blanco though if you do.

The Taco Task Force of Los Angeles: Assignment #1 (Baja Ensenada Style Fish Tacos)

Let’s face it, the Los Angeles Taco scene has been in desperate need of some strict regulation. There ARE Tacos of sufficient quality in this Mexican’s home away from home known as L.A. But in a time where Crispy Tacos and haphazardly spiced Al Pastor continue to receive inexpert praise…the urgency has never been higher.

The Taco Task Force of Los Angeles was assembled by Bill of Street Gourmet LA and me after several delightful trips to the Taco Motherland in its closest proximity to us; Tijuana and Ensenada. Taco’s are the foundation there, serving not only as a cheap, filling convenient street food but a fundamental staple to Mexican Gastronomy as a whole. The basic Carne Asada is a complex structure comprised of three to four different cuts of beef in almost any Taqueria you walk into in Mexico, where as in the U.S…you will be lucky if you get a good quality cut of just properly tenderized Flap meat.

But when a two and a half hour trip is simply unattainable, the Taco Task Force of Los Angeles will strive to optimize your local Taco experiences of Los Angeles and beyond…

Other members of the Force include:

Joshua Lurie of Food GPS
Cathy & Vern of Gastronomy Blog
Matthew Kang of Mattatouille

Following a recent trend of interest in Baja California, our first objective was the Baja Ensenada style Fish Taco.

A signature item originated in the warm Ensenada fishing docks, the Baja Fish Taco is believed to have its roots in the influx of Japanese immigrants that once habituated the Baja coast. The abundant, fresh seafood lived harmoniously with their advanced frying Tempura techniques. It was only a matter of time until it interbred with the tortilla culture of Mexico…

With only a few tweaks that worked for the bettering of it–such as the common sense switching of oil to lard and the required addition of Mexican grown spices & local (softer) wheat flour–the Fish Taco was born.

Typically, Fish Tacos are to be adorned to your personal preference, from the essential fresh garnishments of finely minced cabbage, a simple Red, Green or Pico de Gallo Salsa and either Mayonnaise, Mexican Crema or a thin, creamy blend of the two. Handmade tortillas are beside the point as it will clash with the delicate flake of fish, thin, no frill’s, small taco Tortillas is its usual vehicle.

Five components of the Fish Taco were to be graded from a a range of 1 (unsatisfactory) to 5 (exceptional).

Those components were:
Key Ingredient (Fish; Freshness?)
Authenticity (True to Ensenada style?)
Cooking (expertly fried; greasy?)
Overall Flavor (blanket flavor)

With that said, the following will be posted in accordance with the Force’s consensus of least favorite to best:

5th Place:

El Taconazo (South El Monte)

taconazo storefront with cute-ish girl
Best Fish Taco in The World Since 1978? Really now?

A family run small franchise with locations all around Southern California…kudos for that. BUT, the most driest, blandest and unbalanced fish taco ($1.69) of the the round up.

DSC07035
Is Anybody In There?

The fish of choice was a scroungy Pollack. A popular fish amongst the food business for its friendly, light flavor and usually moist flake. Here, that was not the case with a strange off flavor and and lumpy, papery batter. The over compensation in mediocre relishes only made it even more underwhelming.

The Final Score (as transcribed by Josh of Food GPS; his score is first, followed by B standing for Bill, J for me and C for Cathy and her fiance Vernon)

Grade of Key Ingredient: 1.5, C 2.5, J 2.5, B 2.5 AVERAGE 2.25/5

Condiment: 1.5, C 2.5, J 2.5, B 2 AVERAGE 2.125/5
Authenticity: 2.5, C 2, J 2, B 2.5 AVERAGE 2.25/5
Overall Flavor: 1.5, C 3.5, J 2.5, B 1.5 AVERAGE = 2.25/5
Cooking: 1.5, C 2.5, J 2, B 2 AVERAGE 2/5

OVERALL FISH TACO SCORE: 2.175/5

El Taconazo on Urbanspoon
El Taconazo in Los Angeles

Address:
9516 Garvey Ave
South El Monte
CA 91733

4th Place

Señor Fish (Original Location in L.A: Eagle Rock)

señor fish signage
Colorful Façade but What About Your Tacos?

Other veteranos of Fish Tacos being around since 1988, there’s actually a few of these sprinkled around the L.A basin. I remember always walking by the one in Alhambra on my way to school back then but always being repelled by that gimmicky fish character, plus, this went under the Pricy Taco category ($2.50).

señor fish guey
Clumpy Batter but Good Fish N’ Toppings

With the myriad of other fresh, grilled options on the menu, they seemed to have lost their focus of a traditional ‘ol fried fish taco. The Cod itself was outstanding. flaky and moist! But the batter was soggy and just peppery as far as spices go. Kudos though for touching up on the the Ensenada tradition of personal customization of toppings, already dressed with slivered cabbage, Crema and a Pico de Gallo but one of the few with a exceptional Salsa bar.

salsas at senor fish
El De Guajillo Era Chingon

Grade of Key Ingredient: 3.5 C 4, J 3.5, B 3 AVERAGE 3.5/5
Condiment: 4, C 4, J 4.5, B 4 AVERAGE 4.125/5
Authenticity: 2.5, C 2, J 2, B 2 AVERAGE 2.125/5
Overall Flavor: 3.5, C 3, B 2, J 3 AVERAGE 2.875/5
Cooking: 3, C 2.5, B 2.5, J 3 AVERAGE 2.75/5

OVERALL FISH TACO SCORE: 3.075/5

Señor Fish on Urbanspoon

Señor Fish in Los Angeles

Address:
Eagle Rock
4803 Eagle Rock Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90041
(323) 257-7167

3rd Place

The Best Fish Taco in Ensenada (Los Feliz)

"Best Fish Taco"...HA!
Those Quotes Are There For A Reason…Best in Ensenada?!

Newcomers to the Fish Taco slanging scene (Since 2007), this place was quite cracking with locals. Behind the counter, an assembly line of Fish Tacos was hard at work. This, along with being the only entirely D.I.Y topping customization spot of the day, made it look very promising.

Fish Taco Assembly Line
The Model Fish Taco Assembly Line

DSC07043
D.I.Y!

ALTHOUGH entirely customizable, the Angeleno-ized accouterments were seen as “goofy” by the Street Gourmet shifu, with stuff like Pineapple Kiss (“tropical refreshing bite”), a watery Hot Guac, Mad Mango Salsa, a Mango Less (“all of the passion – none of the mango”), Mild (“delicious, but wimpy”). Plus points for perfectly uniform, finely shredded cabbage and free flowing Crema Magica (“the final ingredient”).

naked tacos
Pretty Good Naked Tacos

The fish itself was the most flavorful of the day thus far, albeit chewy instead of soggy, the batter touted a mysterious irresistible deliciousness with not much actual spice flavor, perhaps a little MSG in the mix? No idea, but the fatty Basa (Vietnamese Farm Raised Catfish) was an endearing choice. Tortillas were nothing special.

Grade of Key Ingredient: 4.5, J 4.5, C 3.5, B 3.5 AVERAGE 4/5
Condiment: 3.5 B 2.5, C 3.5, J 4 AVERAGE 3.375/5
Authenticity: 2.5 J 2.5, B 3.5, C 3.5 AVERAGE 3/5
Overall Flavor: 4, C 3, J 4, B 3.5 AVERAGE 3.875
Cooking 3.5, C 3, J 3, B 3 AVERAGE 3.125/5

OVERALL FISH TACO SCORE: 3.475/5

Address:

1650 Hillhurst Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 466-5552

The Best Fish Taco in Ensenada in Los Angeles

Best Fish Taco in Ensenada on Urbanspoon

2nd Place

Tacos Baja (East L.A)

fish taco facade
The East L.A Gem

This place has not been short on national coverage for its fragile-fried fish. Magazine and newspaper pieces are framed on every wall and they have continually been adding more tables since they opened up ten years ago. They have built a loyal following, coming from East L.A, its fun to observe the interaction between people in the lines that form sometimes.

hot blondies
Hot, Chile Powder Kissed Blondies

I used to eat here pretty often since my dad actually grew a liking to this place (very rare). I remember at times eating 15 of those delicious Chile Gueros at a time. They are kissed in oil and dusted with a savory, chili powder that reminds me of Lucas, a Mexican staple Chile Powder candy of Latino youth. These serve the same purpose to fish tacos that french fries do to burgers, not absolutely necessary but certainly nice if you come across some that are done expertly.

manta ray tacos from TBE
My Old Favorite and Still Perfectly Fine
(Rear Taco)

Seemingly small at $1.59 a pop but these tacos are packed with 1-2 moist, soft and flaky fat piece(s) of Catfish that are crispy on the little edges. Tortillas deserve an honorable mention for their superior quality, petite, chewy and thick. A smoky salsa and a cool crema only increase the experience with its zing and fresh-crisp qualities.

Grade of Key Ingredient: 4, B 4, J 3.5, C 3.5 AVERAGE 3.75/5
Condiment: 2.5, B, 2.5, J 3, C 4 AVERAGE 3/5
Authenticity: 3.5, B 3.5, J 2.5, C 2 AVERAGE 2.875/5
Overall Flavor: 3, B 3.5, J 3.5, C 4 AVERAGE 3.5/5
Cooking: 4.5, B, 4, J 4.5, C, 4.5 AVERAGE 4.375/5

OVERALL FISH TACO SCORE: 3.5/5

Address:
5385 Whittier Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 887-1980?

Tacos Baja on Urbanspoon
Tacos Baja in Los Angeles

1st Place

Ricky’s Fish Tacos (Silver Lake)

rickys stand
Dunking That Basa

A eager newcomer to the L.A Fish Taco scene, Ricky has been charming the local bloggers with his Ensenada raised swagger. He touts his brief weekend taco show times on twitter and is proud of his rare 5 Star rating he has received on Yelp.

rickys fish taco champion
Announcing The New Premiere F
ish Taco of Los Angeles at The Moment
($2.50)

With his skilled frying technique that involves piercing the fillet while frying and his secret frying medium that adds a unequaled deliciousness all too common to….lard, shortening, a mixture of the two perhaps? For him to know and we to find out, but all I know is that it produces a light, non-greasy, perfectly spiced crisp! His Basa batter involves imported Mexican wheat from his homeland and a significant amount of mustard to give it that signature zing. He thins out mayonnaise with skim milk to get the crema to the right texture and slivers his cabbage razor thin, just like they do it back home. The salsa is minimally chunky with a decent kick. All it needs to be absolutely perfect is a griddled tortilla instead of a the steamed, blandish Superior brand Tortilla he uses. But I do tend to be a tortilla elitist and most public will not even notice.

…Introducing the new, TOP, most authentic Ensenada-Style Fish Taco of Los Angeles County.

Grade of Key Ingredient: 4, J 5, C 4.5, B 3.5 AVERAGE 4.25/5
Condiment: 4.5 B 4, C 4.5, J 4.5 AVERAGE 4.375/5
Authenticity: 3.5 J 5, B 4, C 4 AVERAGE 4.125/5
Overall Flavor: 4, C 4.5, J 5, B 4 AVERAGE 4.625/5
Cooking 4.5, C 4.5, J 5, B 4.5 AVERAGE 4.625/5

OVERALL FISH TACO SCORE: 4.4/5

Ricky's Fish Tacos in Los Angeles

Follow Ricky on Twitter to find out when and where he will set up taco base.

Our next assignment will be….Birria.

Jack & Ted: Greek Masters of Lamb, Ouzo and Tailgating (USC vs. UCLA)

Many food events ago, at Rivera restaurant, Alexia Haidos–who works the PR for them–overheard my excited fervor over this Secret Backyard Barbacoa Restaurant I had recently found out back then.

I love, love, love pit roasted mutton! Its diverse textures in pink flesh, chewy tendons, succulent skin and of course the fat! All sharing that unique wild bite, in my pantheon of protein animals, definitely my number one. I’m not even going to get into its wonderful cheeses and other milk products it produces…

In equal enthusiasm, she told me about these two friends of hers that did a Greek Roasted Lamb from time to time…she swore it was the best, and that I HAD to have it one day.

Well, that day fortunately came really soon:

greek roasted lamb
Salt, Garlic, Oregano, Lemon, Pepper, Olive Oil and Two Greek Guy’s Dedication: Best Roast Lamb Thus Far In My Life

It was the tailgate to beat all tailgates, the L.A prideful classic of the local–expensive tuition-prestigious rivals: USC vs. UCLA.

But this was the lamb roast to beat all lamb roast as well.

Jack Stumpus and Ted Tarazi are two Greek guys that just love food, to be more specific, they love roast lamb, and they have might have damn nearly perfected it. It starts with a whole fresh New Zealand lamb that they get at the food-service exclusive Restaurant Depot.

They marinate it that bad boy until gametime in only the textbook-classic of Greek seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Garlic, Lemon and Olive Oil. But not after having to personally defrost it, running in warm water. This means having to suspend the animal on its hind legs from ropes, tied up on a broom handle, that is clenched on the top of the shower. It’s a three man job, they take turns as one rotates so all sides get an event amount of water, while the others massage the frozen skin until thawed. A kitchen sink doesn’t cut it for a whole frozen carcass.

jack smiling
Jack Stumpus Pridefully Cutting the Fruit of His Labor

“It went on at about 11:00 AM” Jack tells me exhausted but still smiling, after having to turn and tend the 30+ lbs animal for the last four and a half hours.

DSC07221
Four Hours Later

It takes about 150 lbs of Kingsford [coal] to do this and a special rotisserie spit that they had to custom order, but this is a small price to pay for tender, charred, crackly, salty, garlicky, peppery lamb perfection.

leg
A couple of ribs here, a shoulder and shank there

Four years of trial and error practice has resulted in a nonpareil flavor and texture that has even made a long time vegetarian friend of theirs change his dietary restrictions. Not to say there has been a couple of flops, they used to depend on their car batteries to mechanically turn the spit. It took killing both of their car batteries and a jump start to make them realize…why not just do it by hand?

Besides, half of the time most passerby’s are completely awestruck by it, instantly becoming captivated to spin it for the sheer thrill of turning a live roasting aliment. Lines have formed. This primordial allurement of roast game has even enthralled the local fire Marshal, where instead of shutting them down, very understandably actually asked them for their number so he can call them to cater at one of his family gatherings…

And astute vegetarians need not frail, if somehow you don’t find yourself nibbling on a piece of charred divinity, Ted Tarazi‘s pops is actually responsible for the original Falafel King falafel recipe. Now if only he could personally get them to taste like the ones he had growing up, his dad never wrote down the recipe after selling it, so its been lost ever since. He’s also been trying hard to recreate it ever since…and everyday he gets closer.

DSC07244
Holding the Perfect Falafel Scoop, Another Terazi Invention

And last but not least, a Greek gathering would not be complete without some potent and pungent Ouzo, the Anise flavored national spirit of Greece that would make even the most hardcore of alcoholics cringe like a novice lightweight. Especially this kind, the last of Tarazi innovations, homemade and bottled at the Tarazi household, its some hard–but tasty–stuff.

ouzo
Ted’s Mom

Definitely not Mexican pit roasted Barbacoa, but equally–if not even more–damn good.

I asked them if they would ever cater, guess what they said…

Jack Stumpus
Cell 310-592-5194
jwstumpus@aol.com

Ted Tarazi
Cell: 818-512-5077
tedtarazi@gmail.com

…tell them the Javier the lamb-loving, skinny foodblogger sent ya’!

Ludobites at Royal-T Fooddigger Preview Dinner: He’s Back

better ludo shot
The Berzerk French Chef

Ludo Lefebvre is back at it yet again, this time going with the Japanese feel of his new venue Royal-T, an Akihabara fangled art space and–gorgeous maid served–cafe located in the center of the continuously restaurant booming epicenter of Culver City.

royal t

cathys picture maid

Thanks to the food enthusiast folk over at Fooddigger, a set preview dinner for a few fortunate bloggers was set to take place a day before the highly anticipated opening night of Dec. 2. An esteemed position indeed, given how he will be slinging his skills for only Fourteen day’s hereafter this event, I heard some rezziez were even being sold on ebay or something?

I myself just couldn’t wait to taste how his rendition of my families Mole would turn out and what the hell he was going to with it, after the day-long Cabral Mole Boot Camp Session, I knew he had the technique down, but knowing Ludo’s unruly approach? I had no idea…

Keeping with the Fooddigger passion for good food, good drinks and good times, the early birds were greeted with a couple of splendid liquid ice breakers, boy they smelled good!

san tomas
San Tomas: Slovenian and Smooth

brut
Chartogne Taillet: Dry and Crispy

In a matter of minutes, I was socializing around and got to see which other foodblogger homiez were around:
Caroline on Crack
Gourmet Pigs
Food She Thought
Kevin Eats
LA-OC Foodventures
Active Foodie
Kung Food Panda>
Gastronomy Blog
LAist
FoodGPS
Elina Shatkin from The Los Angeles Times
Rachel Hirschfeld

Not wasting too much time, we were showed to our designated eating quarters and the French-Japanese Fusion was to shortly begin.

Before anything started, I was personally lured away by Chef Ludo into the small kitchen, actually smaller than what he had to work with over at his Breadbar series before.

kitchen confrontation
Kitchen Confrontation

And then…there it was! In all it’s sweet, rustic and frenchified glory: A black olive enhanced rendition of my Mom’s Mole. Keeping ENTIRELY old school, keeping the rustic texture, its sweet and spicy balanced dominance over only the subtlest of subtle notes of fruity olive. My mom would be proud.

ludos transalation of moms mole
Mexican-French Mole

Back at the table, Ludo’s significant other, Krissy, made every foodblogger realize what they really wanted for Christmas and actually got a professional food photography artificial light box. No more complaints about incandescent lighting in restaurants anymore! She said the box will be available everyday for the patrons food immortalizing pleasures.

food paparazzi
All The Better to Look At You My Pretty…

But enough of this required ambiance stuff already, on to the food finally!

1st
scallop
Creamy and Buttery

Scallop, Brown Butter, Pineapple & Black [Squid Ink] Powder
Just when I thought the natural creaminess of a good, raw scallop couldn’t get any better, its highlighted even more with the aid of the nutty, smooth brown butter and the naturally protein-tenderizing bromelaine of the pineapple. Squid ink powder was only my palates suspicion for its dull, and characterless flavor, and turned out to be true after inquiring, did not do much more other than adding a stunning visual appeal though, nonetheless, genius.

Was totallly harmonious with the accompanying white, a light and oaky ’08 Spanish Nava.

basa

2nd
bread soup
This Can’t be Carbs..or Could it?

Bread Soup [and Rare, Coddled Egg] with Gruyere Marshmallow
Like shaving all the deep, dark crust off an artisan winter bread and eating it–buttered of course–in liquefied form. For the crust oriented, this will be great. The Gruyere marshmallow turned out to be fluffy and super light, not what you would expect. Best part was the hidden egg within the soup, yolk caught right before the stage of soft-boiled, a congealed, lipid induced swoon!

foie gras beignet
2 oz. of Foie a Pop! : Almost knocked Out The Glutster Even

Foie Gras Beignet [w/ a Port Glaze], Celery Root Remoulade
Just when you think the Ludo-meister couldn’t get any more animated with his Foie Gras antics, he busts out with this, probably the premiere epicurean indulgence of L.A at the moment, elegantly brimming with two unctuous ounces of the high quality stuff. This is only my third time having the stuff, so it’s still an acquired decadence I have yet to master, yes I couldn’t finish it. Like eating duck flavored butter..
.straight up!

The next flight of wine was a dominating, tannic and beefy 2003 Chateau Charmail: Haut-Medog Bordeaux that tamed that rich duck and rekindled my appetite for fat yet again.
red red wine

3rd
squid with kimchee puree
Lean Squid to The Rescue!

Squid, Chorizo Oil, Kimchee Puree & Red Onions
Lean squid was like a godsend after the richness assault of the previous course, Chorizo oil was everyone’s favorite, Red Onions and the Kimchee puree cleaned up our palates with their spicy zing.

4th
udon soup
Veal Stock meet Udon

Veal, Udon, Kombu Dashi, Mushrooms & Sesame Miso
This dish best captured what Ludo was going for in this edition of Ludobites, melding his incorruptible French upbringing with this venues theme. The Broth was beautiful with those caramelized onions, the Udon noodles were kept in tact, with that signature snap and slurp. Veal itself was a bit tough and stringy but that wasn’t the point here.

5th
striped bass
Wide Flaked but Still Tender

Wild Striped Bass, Garden Vegetables, Aioli
At this point, I’m realizing Ludo is pretty much always solid when it comes to Seafood. The Aioli picked up in richness where the fish leaves off. Vegetables were also something to go home and write about with such an elegant texture on their own.

6th
mole
What You Guys Have All Been Waiting For

Marinated Hanger Steak, Crunchy Escargot, [Grilled] Baby Corn, Bok Choy & Black Olive Mole
Ludo definitely had his way with it (Crispy Escargot?!) that’s for sure, demoting it to a supporting role in the plate with that meager smear of it, instead of the exuberant star, which it always is–and should be. But then again, it was a lot sweeter and unrefined. Nonetheless, it was fine for a first time attempt from a guy that’s never had it before other than the time I taught him, it’ll due Ludo, it’ll due. The grilled baby corn–husk and all–was an awesome touch, purveying that deep, sweet corn taste that fresh, handmade Tortillas deliver when one is eating it. Don’t know what the Bok Choy was doing there though?

7th
cheese tart
Like a French Cheesecake

Fourme d’ Ambert Tourte, Red Pears, Honey-Balsamic
Creamy, sweet, nutty french cheese encased between two really flaky puff pastries…need I say more? Red Pear slice finished faster than the tart. Balsamic was sweet and sour–

8th
chocolate cake
Mmmmm….Spicy and Chocolaty

Chocolate Cake [w/pink peppercorns], Coconut Sorbet [soup], Caramel Coffee
Ethereally creamy and flourless-like in texture, the simple addition of crispy and spicy peppercorns is what makes this stand out, creating this stimulating feeling of wanting more! Coconut soup was nice n’ coooool.

With such experimental food, the humble and always curious Ludovic Lefebvre is the living example that not all French Chefs are snobby.

To many more infinitely progressive Ludobites and perhaps a permanent spot soon!

And thanks again to the food-serious people at Fooddigger, for making the effort to make spectacular events and dinners like these happen and finally providing a effective measure for all to reliably find out about Los Angeles restaurants.

LudoBites and Royal/T
8910 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
310.559.6300

Ludo Bites at Royal/T in Los Angeles

Eat My Blog: Glutster’s Mom ‘Sweet Wheat’ Pumpkin Empanadas!

empanada
My Mom’s Empanadas de Calabasa con Piloncillo (Pumpkin and Mexican Unprocessed Brown Sugar)

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For Saturday and Tomorrow only, over 35 Los Angeles Foodbloggers of both the recipe and restaurant kind will be baking up a storm for all of ya’ll to enjoy!

I (ok, ok with the help of my mom) will be making Empanadas de Calabasa, a traditional Zacatecano, sweet, spicy and wholesome fall treat that my mom used to bake in clay ovens back in her home village in Mexico. I’ve been eating these even before I discovered my love for food, since I was a wee little Glutster…

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Hay los veo!