Apéritif & Amuse Bouche ~ {Local LA Bites & Delights}

Julia Child said, “Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” I am a passionate woman, and much like Julia, I do love to eat. So being a sensual foodie, there are many food adventures that I have taken great pleasure in (with much thanks and endless gratitude to Darling), and not enough time to write about them (i.e., eating, dining, and luxuriating in gourmandise abandon). I've allowed the memories to simmer on my mental stove, stirring the pot, and checking the temperature in my oven. Some articles are not quite done. So I'm calling this post "Apéritif & Amuse Bouche" to whet your senses. Here are some bites to keep your eyes and mouth ready for more...

My love of Thai food knows no bounds. Here are some sexy and spicy dishes I've enjoyed at a few local Los Angeles Thai spots:

Pad Thai Noodles at Thai Chaba.

Thai Chaba is a sweet little surprise hidden away in Calabasas. Every detail of our meal was full of care and the people that run Thai Chaba were absolutely darling. We got the overall feeling that they put themselves into each dish--- presentation, flavor, fragrance, texture. The Pad Thai Noodles were gloriously good.

Ah, the Ginger Pork Curry at Spicy [Thai] BBQ was one of the most delicious curries I've ever had. Richness and depth of flavor, velvety like a stew. Sumptuous. Soul satisfying. And, I do believe the large slices of ginger were truly of an aphrodisiac nature. The ginger was everything to this curry. The sexiest curry of my life. The pillowy sticky rice drenched in saucy rich curry, peanuts, and ginger sent me over the moon and back.

Jitlada. Pumpkin Salmon Curry. Since childhood I have loved Thai food, and frequented many Thai restaurants in Los Angeles, and so I can say from experience, of all the Thai restaurants, my heart and soul belongs to Jitlada.

Spicy Curry Turmeric Fried Rice at Jitlada. 

I haven't known Jitlada long, but it's begun a passionate affair with their Southern spicy Thai cuisine. I'm madly in love. And did you know that turmeric is an aphrodisiac? Yes it is. Period. The Turmeric Fried Rice has intense spice that doesn't overwhelm the flavors, and wow wow.

Like a whirlwind romance turned long term, I'm getting serious about Jitlada, and I'm crazy for the family that owns it, Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong and her brother Suthiporn “Tui” Sungkamee. Jazz is warm and welcoming, beaming with sunny hospitality. A beautiful lady with a big heart. Her brother, "Chef Tui" is a masterful chef of Southern Thai cuisine.

I had the great fortune of a four-hour-and-some long lunch with the lovely Jo of My Last Bite and friends, along with my Darling. Visiting with Jo was her brother Greg Barnes, Scotsman and musician extraordinaire. Not only did I derive such pleasure from Jitlada's exquisitely spicy food, but the company was such that it made it a memorable day, full of serendipitous events such as it being Chef Tui's birthday celebration. Jo is the queen food blogger of My Last Bite, and someone I have admired. I love Jo's passion for food. What struck me more about Jo before meeting her was the About Page on her blog. I knew when I read about her I would absolutely adore her. And I do! Jo is a dedicated diner-turned-family member of Jitlada, going through every dish on the extensive menu (I think that particular lunch she mentioned reaching dish 254 on the menu). Read the article "Food Blogger's Extreme Eating Challenge" by Los Angeles Times writer Betty Hallock for more about Jo

Chef Tui and his wife Oun (Ratchanee) during his birthday celebration are pictured (right) during the end of our epic luncheon. It was a happy moment full of laughter, smiles, posing for photos, and more dessert! We had already indulged in two desserts (I can't end a Thai meal without mango sticky rice) before we knew that Jazz was coming into the restaurant, lighting up the birthday cake, and serving it forth with her generous soul and radiant smile.

The mussels at Jitlada were fabulous, but even more so was the broth. It was sublime with sticky rice in a bowl full of delicious broth after the mussels were all eaten up.

Dynamite! Chef Tui's signature spicy dish. We had it with tofu. Our eyeballs burned deep in the farthest recesses, our ears buzzed, our tongues savored with dangerous abandon. We got our endorphin rush and high off of this superbly spicy Jitlada dish. Chili is an aphrodisiac, however, kissing should be done with caution. 

When Sunday comes along, what better way to begin it than with a warm almond croissant, fresh from the baker's oven? Tarte Tatin is the place if you want to taste a real honest-to-goodness freshly baked flaky and buttery croissant.

And Tarte Tatin is quite a discovery.

When you have had a warm croissant freshly baked in the morning, the frangipane paste in generous daubs within its belly of mille-feuille layers so delicately buttery, golden with lightness, the toasted almonds dusted with powdery confectioner's sugar like an angelic pastry, well.

My three year old daughter knows what is good.

She could not help but lick the plate clean of all the powdered sugar. Of course.

Ohh yes... My ultimate pizza foodgasm happened the moment I sunk my teeth into Osteria Mozza's squash blossom pizza. Thank you Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali for making this wondrous creation of heavenly pizza. Joe Bastianich, you too. Osteria Mozza is one pizza spot that puts Los Angeles on my gourmand map of fabulous discoveries. 

And if I ever wondered if there was a possibility of multiple foodgasms to be had in one sitting, it was again over their butterscotch budino.

Really and truly. I did have a real orgasm in my mouth. There are no words for what my moaning and sighing can express in aural/oral eloquence. No wonder the waiters were staring at me with amusement. Did I look like I was having an orgasmic moment? Ah, but I was. The butterscotch budino was smooth, creamy, buttery, caramely, it sang with its fleur de sel on the tongue. What poetry could I write about butterscotch budino? Creamy wealth of egg yolk, gold of munificent pleasure, essence emulsified, heavy cream, dark brown sugar, you make me want you. Your custard body tastes like the tongue of a secret lover, stolen in the shade of an Italian alleyway. 

Late evening comfort food dinner adventures. It was fairly late and we wanted some comfort food. Something good and cheap. Chego. Chef Roy Choi's little spot on Overland in Culver City/Palms was the place. I had the Buttered Kim Chi Chow Bowl. 

Darling had the Chubby Pork Belly Bowl. Good thing he is skinny.

We also began with the grilled romaine lettuce and finished off our Chego bowls with an dessert of potbingsu. Now you would think the potbingsu would be a small portion for five dollars? Oh, think again. It was a stromboli of an shaved ice dessert. A huge bowl of shaved ice with homemade strawberry syrup, fresh and preserved fruits, mochi, condensed milk, azuki (red bean) and toasted grain powder topped the sweet thing.

On another night, we thought Chego might be open, but they were closed. So we ended up at AFrame in Culver City, another Roy Choi endeavor. Again, naughty girl (or hungry girl) no photos. I loved the sweet potato fries.

Another adventure. We took a little jaunt through downtown Los Angeles' hidden gems, and had a quick glass of vino at Swill. Sorry, I was a bad girl and ate up the olives and tater... I mean, ahem, hotten tots. And, silly me, I forgot to take photos (no evidence of the guilty little pleasures).

But right close to Swill was Mexicali Taco & Company (secretly tucked away in the alley at 1820 Industrial St. in the DTLA Arts District). Mexicali's amazingly sensual vampiro was just as good as the first time I experienced it, with garlic sauce dripping down my chin, and warm cheesy deliciousness filling my mouth.

It was dark in that alley, but alas, the perfect way to enjoy my secret little rendezvous with a vampiro. I'll keep the naughty details to myself. I attempted to cover up my wanton delight with a mere paper napkin. It was much like trying to hide nudity with a hand towel. Why bother? The boys at Mexicali are just lovely and I finally had the pleasure of meeting Esdras, the owner and chef that orchestrates the delicacies of Mexicali's renegade grill like a seasoned cowboy that knows his lasso. You have roped me in, Esdras, and I'm just melting for your vampiro quesadilla like queso in your hands.

 

After the Mexicali moment, we went to another DTLA treasure--- KTCHN 105.

This open and airy urban loft space is quite romantic. We enjoyed the leisurely ease of dining at KTCHN 105, and each dish was a pleasure. The casual ambiance complimented the sublime culinary expertise of Chef Felix Barron. My favorite dish was the Shirred Egg.

Shirred Egg ~ Baked egg with creamy grits, chorizo, roasted pepper and baguette.

Chef Felix's menu that night was elegant. We started with the Leek and Watercress "Dual Soups" combined in one big bowl. The Ravioli filled with sage, ricotta, soft egg with a rich pea puree, shaved radish and parmesan. The Shirred Egg. Then the entrees were: my Portabello Vegetarian Wellington, and Darling had the Special of Pecan-Crusted Ahi on a bed of baby bok choy and rice (and I'm hoping I remembered all of that correctly).

A Romantic drink before dinner at The Perch, overlooking the downtown skyline. The view, the glass of wine, and Darling. What more could a girl ask for? My cup runneth over. For after a romantic drink, we had a reservation for two at Starry Kitchen. And that is something starry and magical indeed.

So if I save my last foodie mention, it is leaving the best for last. Starry Kitchen. Darling and I went to experience Chef Laurent Quenioux's marvelous and magical culinary talents, and to indulge in his orgiastic cheese cart. Fooding around in Los Angeles has been a beautiful experience.

The Oxtail Grilled Cheese. Horseradish bechamel. Superb. Decadent. Heavenly. Marvelous. Exquisite. Gastronomically Gorgeous. Sensually Luscious.

We dined for several hours, enjoyed wine we brought along from DomaineLA, and lingered at Starry Kitchen like two foodies in love with the chef's ambrosial culinary palate, intoxicated by the magical spell of Chef Laurent's food.

Chef Laurent is charming, sparkling with warmth and a great talent. Here he is photographing his artistic creation in the Starry Kitchen. The menu began with an amuse bouche of a Carlsbad Oyster and Lemon Tapioca, then the Oxtail Grilled Cheese. Cod in Lobster Bouillon with Kumquat Fennel Jam, then Foie Gras, Smoked Eel and Green Apples. The Scottish Wood Pigeon in a Vin Chaud Varnish, Lentils, Parsnip, Chanterelles, "Poirvrade" and followed by...

...the splendid Persimmon Cake with Chai Tea Foam, Quince Gel, and Ginger Barley Ice Cream.

After the dinner and dessert, we enjoyed the cheese cart which finished our beautiful meal {Post to come}.

All of these delicious foodie adventures were special in their own way. Some were concerto meals, others were minuets. Music to the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Stephanie KordanAFrame, almond croissant, aphrodisiac, aphrodisiacs, baguette, broth, buttered kim chi chow, butterscotch budino, chai tea foam, chanterelles, Chef Felix barron, Chef Laurent Quenioux, Chef Roy Choi, Chef Tui, Chego, chili, chorizo, chubby pork belly, cod, creamy grits, croissant, Culver City, curry, downtown LA, DTLA, dynamite, egg, foie gras, food adventures, foodgasm, foodie, fooding around, fried rice, garlic sauce, ginger, ginger barley ice cream, ginger pork curry, green apples, horseradish bechamel, hotten tots, Jazz, Jitlada, Jitlada Jazz, Jitlada Thai, Jo, Jo My Last Bite, JoAnn Stougaard, Joe Bastianich, Kitchn 105, kumquat fennel jam, LA food, leek & watercress soup, lentils, lobster bouillon, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Thai food, Los Angeles Times, Mario Batali, Mexicali Taco, Mexicali Taco & Co, Mozza, mussels, My Last Bite, Nancy Silverton, olives, Osteria Mozza, oxtail grilled cheese, pad thai noodles, parmesan, parsnip, pea puree, pecan crusted ahi, Perch, persimmon cake, pizza, portabello vegetarian wellington, potbingsu, pumpkin salmon curry, quince gel, ravioli, ricotta, roasted pepper, Roy Choi, sage, Sarintip Singsanong, scottish wood pigeon, shaved radish, shirred egg, smoked eel, Southern Thai, Southern Thai cuisine, spicy, Spicy BBQ, spicy curry turmeric fried rice, Spicy Thai BBQ, squash blossom pizza, Starry Kitchen, Suthiporn Sungkamee, sweet potato fries, Swill, Tarte Tatin, Thai Chaba, Thai food, The Perch, turmeric, Vampiro, vin chaud varnishComment