Monday, November 30, 2009

sights - tilden park botanic garden

after treating the parents to chez panisse, we stopped by the botanic gardens at tilden park, way up in the hills of berkeley. it's a beautiful and tranquil 10-acre garden which houses many of the state's endangered plants, trees, shrubs & flowers.

here's a look at some prickly pear along with a closeup of a strand of an oak plant:

and here's a neat look at two separate artists finding inspiration in the same spot (pay particular attention to the painting of the woman in the turquoise shirt):

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

eats - chez panisse

finally had the pleasure of dining at the birthplace of california cuisine - chez panisse in berkeley. the main restaurant opened its doors in 1971 by founder alice waters, and is distinctively known for their fixed menu of what is most seasonal and fresh that particular day. the more affordable upstairs café was born in 1980 and is a nice alternative to the set menu.

since it was my parents' wedding anniversary last week, what better way to celebrate than with a great meal? here's a neat look at the downstairs kitchen, which was busy prepping for dinner service this evening. lunch is located upstairs, distinguished by an open kitchen along one side of the room.

here's today's menu and a quick recap of all the dishes at our table, which of course, i tried:

six hog island sweetwater oysters w/mignionette - tasting right out of the sea, citrus & buttery goodness down the chute.

cannard farm rocket w/roasted sunchokes, chervil & bottarga di muggine - simply prepared, i only wish there were more sunchokes!

hand-stretched mozzarella w/grilled jimmy nardello peppers, rapini & iowa prosciutto - balanced quite nice w/the sweetness of the fresh cheese and the acidity of the peppers

BN ranch heritage turkey cooked two ways w/pancetta, polenta & brussels sprouts - both white and dark meat here, balanced texturally by crisp nettle, creamy polenta & firm brussels sprouts.

grilled local opah w/saffron, cauliflower, currants, pine nuts, marjoram & toasted bread crumbs - this savory dish was highlighted by the fish being cooked to precision

penne rigate pasta w/pasture raised veal ragu & parmesan - wholesome goodness, it went even better w/some crushed hot peppers

pizza w/tomato sauce, eggplant & mint - so delicious one forgot that there was a lack of meat on this bad boy...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

tic tac to cat

captured from today's training session at UCLA...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

eats - gjelina

treated my cousin for her birthday at gjelina on abbot kinney in venice, but midway thru the meal i felt as though i was the one being treated. the dinner was nothing short of amazing, and to think we barely touched meat! the room radiates a warm and casual vibe, as the stone wall carvings and the upscale alpine lodge feel bring a sophistication to the proceedings. chef and co-owner travis lett's food most resembles ATL supergroup outkast, since everything was so fresh and so clean...

a quick rundown of the dishes we inhaled i mean consumed:

grilled asparagus w/frisse, fried farm egg, parmesan & bacon vinaigrette - the first bite into the asparagus resembled breaking the casing on a perfectly cooked hot dog. snap! and so good. also, i don't eat fried egg, so you can only imagine how tasty it must have been...

wood roasted sunchokes w/salsa verde
- kind of a cross between a potato and ginger root, these was earthy, seasoned spot on and we couldn't stop eating.

charred brussels sprouts w/dates, vinegar & bacon
- brussels sprouts are another item i don't care for, yet these were delectable delights counterbalanced perfectly with the dates and disappeared within minutes.

pumpkin & mascarpone ravioli w/chanterelle, sage, brown butter & parmesan
- perfect blend of sweet and sour, these flat rectangular ravioli were a pillowy treat. a nice rustic touch especially with halloween just behind us.

mushroom, goat cheese & truffle oil pizza
- the crust is usually the deciding factor when it comes to pizza, and this did not disappoint. super thin, yet just strong enough to withstand eating each slice by hand.

butterscotch pot de crème w/salted caramel & crème fraiche
- bar none, this was one of the best desserts i have EVER had. i can't speak for the budino at pizzeria mozza (i've never been), but something would have to be earth shattering to top this. silky smooth texture + salted caramel = heaven.

1429 abbot kinney blvd.
venice, CA 90291

Sunday, November 1, 2009

eats - jin patisserie 2.0

here's what i like to call a little slice(s) of heaven. had the fortunate chance to stop by the lovely jin patisserie on abbot kinney for some afternoon tea, and somehow found these delectable hand-crafted pastries forced upon me. the horror! XD

clockwise from the top:

* lavender gateaux - lavender butter cream layered with dark chocolate ganache on lavender sponge
* mysterious - passion fruit with hazelnut cream filled with spiced diced pineapple
* inspiration - soft caramel with bitter-sweet chocolate with a touch of sea salt (my personal fave)