Birthday dinner at Providence (Part 1)

Providence

Ever since I read Gastronomy’s post about the dessert tasting menu at Providence, I’ve been mentioning it on and off to Husband and whoever else would listen.  Along comes my 10th 21st birthday and Husband arranges to have dinner and dessert here with some friends.  Awwww…what a keeper!  🙂

My first birthday cocktail

Husband's girlie drink

Husband and I arrived about 20mins early for our 8pm reservation due to misjudging just how bad traffic would be on the side streets…  Turns out, our side-street route was faster than the freeways!  Muhahaha! LA traffic can’t stop us!  Anyways, there was a private party at the bar area so we couldn’t hang out there but our table was ready so we were seated….in the middle of the room. It was a little conspicuous being just the two of us at a table for 10.

We started off with a couple of cocktails while we waited for the rest of the group.  I don’t recall the name of our cocktails or even what went into them (bad me!) but mine was something a little fruity without being overly sweet.  Husband got something I consider more “girlie” due to the fact that it was in a martini glass with a little flower.  I don’t think he liked his as much as I liked mine, though, because he switched to something else as his next drink.  I stopped after one since I figured I was going to end up driving home.  Plus, I was getting a bit fuzzy from it.  I’m a lightweight.  Plus, I came with an empty stomach.

I did notice they had a Dark & Stormy on the list which is a drink I want to try due to friends raving about various versions they’ve had.  It was also recommended by one of our waiters.  Next time….

Roll and nori focaccia

Once everyone arrived, we started perusing the menu.  A variety of bread was served – warm bacon rolls which were quite good, regular rolls and a nori focaccia that was yummtastic!  A plate of butter and a little bowl of salt with the cutest little scoop accompanied our bread.

Despite knowing that I was about to down 8 courses of dessert, I decided to indulge.  After all, I only turn 21 for the 10th time once…  I ordered oysters as a starter and the foie gras ravioli as my main course.  Husband opted for chowda and the prime New York steak.  Most of our table ended up ordering  just an appetizer to save room for the dessert tasting menu.

Amuse Bouche

Before our orders arrived, everyone at the table was served an amuse bouche.  This consisted of a house-made marshmallow dusted with wasabi, a cheese-stuffed bread bite and an incredible little glass filled with fish (I think the waiter said trout?), caviar, some crunchy little bits and edible gold.  The marshmallow was a pleasant bite with the wasabi being a sweeter version than the more familiar hot one. The cheese bread was delicious, a little tart.  The concotion in the glass was one of the highlights of the evening’s meal for me.  I absolutely adored this…so much so that I ate Husband’s and another friend’s since they weren’t fans of the fish.  I think I would have licked the glasses clean if I weren’t in public….

I am the Walrus...

Chowda

Our appetizers showed up a short while later.  Oysters! *slurp slurp slurp*.  There were 6 oysters in this order, served on ice with seaweed decorating the plate.  Very fresh, a little briny, and served with two different vinegars, these were excellent.

I stole a couple of bites of Husband’s chowda and oh my gosh, so good!  Thick, creamy, just like a proper clam chowder should be.  There was definitely a good amount of clam and it was grit-free.  I don’t know how many times I’ve ordered clam chowder only to encounter a little grit here and there…or a lot.  Seriously, nothing ruins a good chowder like grit…

Heavenly cheese cart

Cheese please!

There was a cheese cart that we spied that had all sorts of amazing looking cheeses so some of our table ordered a plate to nibble on.  The selected cheeses were served with bread and complimentary fruits like fig, apricot and apple.  The variety was quite impressive – sheep’s milk, blues, soft and hard cheeses, an herbed goat cheese, cheese with truffle bits in them.  I tasted one of the blues which was mild for a stinky cheese.  The herbed goat cheese was okay but not my favorite.  I adored the truffled cheese though.  So   delicious…

Beautiful fish dish

One of the couples split the Hawaiian Yellowfin Tuna.  I have no idea how this dish tasted but if appearances are anything to go on, this must have been a spectacular dish!  The tuna looked to be barely seared, just kissed by flame.  The sungold tomatoes and blossoms really added nice color contrast that makes this bowl look more like a work of art.  I’d be hesitant to dig in…but only for a split second.

Foie gras ravioli with shaved black truffle

Prime New York steak

It was main course time.  My foie gras ravioli dish was placed in front of me and the waiter shaved a black summer truffle over it.  Um…more, please?  In fact, I’ll just take that whole truffle…  😀  This dish was amazingly decadent but didn’t feel heavy considering what was in it.  The pasta was the perfect thickness and cooked beyond al dente without being mushy.  The little bits of vegetable in the sauce added a crunchy texture contrast.  It was fabulous.

Husband’s steak didn’t wow him.  It was good but it was too “fancy” for his taste and didn’t care for any of the veggies that garnished his plate.  The bite I tried had was cooked at the requested medium well and wasn’t melt in your mouth but was still tender and moist.  But I think I agree with Husband that the best steak is still at Mastro’s.

Black winter truffle risotto

And the prawns were parted...

One of our friends ordered a black winter truffle risotto while her boyfriend got the salt roasted Santa Barbara spot prawns.  Like the foie gras ravioli, they shaved truffle over the risotto.  The prawns were quite impressive.  They came out in a skillet covered with salt.  Rosemary had been added as well and you could smell it.  Everyone at the table was taking deep breaths because it was just so deliciously fragrant.  Each prawn was fished out and split table-side.  I was offered a bite and these were fantastic.  The prawns were cooked perfectly and you could taste the rosemary.

At this point, I was pretty much full but dessert was still to be had!  Stay tuned for part 2 – the 8 course dessert tasting menu!  Yup, I still went for it…

You can find more pictures on my Facebook page.

So far, Providence gets 5 NOMs in my book.

Providence
5955 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 460-4170
Providence on Urbanspoon

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Portugal Imports

On Saturday, my half-Portuguese friend, the ever-talented Tanya Bjork, introduced me to Portugal Imports in Artesia.

Olive oil, sardines, jellies...

Linguica, cheese...

It’s a small grocery shop/deli that serves up some pastries, bread, sandwiches and various imported items from Portugal and Brazil.  Here you will find cheeses, linguica, olives, wines and other specialty items.  And of course, port.

Since we got there in the early afternoon, most of the pastries were gone. I did get 2 natas (egg custard in a flaky cup) and 2 almond pastries.  The natas were decent but apparently, not quite authentic according to Tanya.  I enjoyed the almond pastries which was a cake-bread type thing with an almond filling and almond slivers on top.

There were only two pieces of bread left so we claimed those for our sandwiches.  I noshed on a delicious linguica (Portuguese sausage) sandwich.  This was a simple sandwich…bread and sausage which seems a little wimpy since we’re used to getting overloaded subs.  But it is surprisingly filling!  The bread was good but a little dry from sitting out all day.   The linguica was juicy and plump and really flavorful.  I wish there had been some cheese but I think you could ask for it.  Next time…  I did try a little bit of the Sao Jorge (St. George) cheese which Tanya told me only comes from the island of St. George…sort of how champagne only comes from that region in France.  The cheese had a mild nutty flavor.  I picked up a package of the linguica and some wedges of the cheese to bring home.

I also tried the bacalhao bolinhos (deep-fried potato cakes with salted cod) which were awesome.  Crispy outside, soft inside, it wasn’t overly salty or fishy which is a sign that the bacalhao (dried salted cod) was rehydrated correctly.  Bacalhao can be quite salty if it is not soaked long enough with regular water changes.   Also known as Pasties de Bacalhao, these are made in house and can be purchased frozen in boxes of a dozen.

The workers here are really friendly.  We chatted about various Portuguese dishes, alcohol and Rockband with the man and woman behind the counter.

If you’re in the Artesia area, I recommend stopping by just to see the shop and, if you get there in the morning, pick up some of the pastries!

I give Portugal Imports 4 NOMs for their food, grocery items and especially their service.

Portugal Imports
11655 Artesia Blvd
Artesia, CA 90701
(562) 809-7021
www.portugalimports.net

Portugal Imports on Urbanspoon

Playa Vista Farmer’s Market

The husband and I decided to check out the Playa Vista Farmer’s Market since it was on the way to where we were seeing “Inglourious Basterds” (or however Tarantino is mis-spelling it…). This Farmer’s Market is fairly small…only about 20-25 vendors with 1/3 of them being food vendors. The rest are either businesses or fruit and vegetable stands. We browsed around trying to figure out which food vendor we wanted to try. I stopped at the Eat booth while the husband decided on an omelette from a neighboring stand.

Eat - Turkey and Swiss on a Cranberry Scone

Eat - Turkey and Swiss on a Cranberry Scone

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Eat - Turkey and Swiss on a Cranberry scone close-up

Eat’s menu changes every week according to the lady at the booth. This week, they offered up a turkey and swiss sandwich served on a cranberry scone (a refined slider, if you will), bbq chicken sliders and regular beef sliders as well as a yogurt parfait. I couldn’t pass up on the scone sandwich (2 for $5) and ordered that. In the back was a grill that slices of turkey were placed on.  Once they were warmed up, the chef placed them with slices of swiss in between a halved cranberry scone and served it with some cranberry jelly.

These sandwiches were roughly the sized of my palm.  The scone was a bit on the dry side but did not crumble too much.  However, it did overpower the turkey and swiss a little and I didn’t taste too much cranberry.  The cranberry jelly was quite nice and had a little bit of spice to it.  I wish I had more of it to put on the sandwiches as more “wetness” would have helped.    Overall, it was an okay sandwich and it certainly got my creative juices running as to what other types of scone sandwiches could be created.

Ham and Swiss Omelette

Ham and Swiss Omelette

The omelette my husband got was a simple ham and swiss since he’s so anti-green stuff.  Still, it seems that he can’t escape the plants since the cook still put greens on his plate even though my other half asked for it to be omitted.  The omelette was quite good; the eggs were cooked to a nice fluffy consistency though I think it was slightly overdone.  There was a good amount of ham in each bite but I couldn’t quite find the swiss.  With the salt and pepper packets my husband added to the dish, the omelette ended up being quite flavorful.  As for the greens, it was a mix with tomatoes.  I didn’t taste any dressing on them.

Playa Vista Farmer's Market - Roasted Corn

Playa Vista Farmer's Market - Roasted Corn

We were still a little hungry and the tamale stand was calling to me.  The husband opted to get a huge ear of corn that we saw quite a few people walking around with.  The corn was incredible -very moist, buttered and tender.  The stand had an array of seasonings one could sprinkle on the ear, salt n’ pepper as well as lemon pepper and paprika.  The other half opted for black pepper, garlic salt and Lawry’s seasoning.

Playa Vista Farmer's Market - beef n' chile tamale

Playa Vista Farmer's Market - beef n' chile tamale

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Playa Vista Farmer's Market - tamale unwrapped

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tamale

The tamale booth seemed to be doing well given how many people I saw eating them and buying them in bulk.  The menu boasted about 6 different tamales ranging from chicken to beef to vegetarian fillings.  I chose a beef and chile filled one which cost me all of $3.50.  I decided to go with their medium salsa which had a very slight kick to it.  The tamale was nice and moist, very flavorful and had a good amount of filling.  The beef was tender.  This was a great tamale.  I would have gone back and bought some to take home if we weren’t going to be out for the rest of the day.  Maybe next week?

There were other booths that looked yummy.  A crepe booth next to Eat was serving up both sweet and savory dishes.  The usual Nutella and strawberry/banana crepes were on the menu but there was also a tomato and basil crepe that sounded positively delicious. A booth selling seafood had smoked salmon cakes that I sampled with a very spicy aoli.

This market looked like a good place to pick up local grown organic fruit.  I saw a variety of berries, nectarines, peaches, pluots and figs.  There was also a flower vendor that was doing very good business. We passed by a booth selling chocolate that was stone ground and used unrefined sugar and had some interesting flavor pairings.

It’s not as big as some of the other Farmer’s Markets around but it is new so hopefully it expands as more time passes and more people find out about it. For right now, it’s a decent place to get some eats and produce and a few other items.

There’s plenty of parking, which is nice, but not a lot of seating if you want to eat.  When we went towards the end of the hours, it wasn’t terribly crowded but there was still a steady stream of people coming in and out which was a positive sight as I rather enjoy farmer’s markets and want this one to stick around.

Playa Vista Farmer’s Market
Every Saturday 9am-2pm
Parking lot on Seabluff Drive, just south of Pacific Promenade