Girls on Food

Dinner

Pop-Up Italian Style: SAOR Project in LA

A trend in the Los Angeles foodie culture is the concept of the pop-up restaurant which offers a limited time dining experience in a temporary space with a specific focus on a particular type of food.

SAOR Project, started by Gianluca Zago and his wife Alessandra Manias, take the pop-up concept and aim to make it more of a permanent fixture, with monthly intimate meals and special dining events celebrating the best of classic Italian cuisine.

SAOR PROJECT
Private Residence, Sherman Oaks
https://www.saorproject.com

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the experience. But the word “experience” definitely sums up the evening. This was one of the most memorable dinners I’ve had in a very long while, and not just because of the excellent food.

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Clucking Around in Lewisville, TX: Prohibition Chicken

Prohibition Chicken is the collaboration of Josh Babb and Sean Clavir (formerly of Musume, The Chop Shop and Chop Shop Live) and Chef Roger Kaplan (Restaurant Innovations). In addition to its great location, they chose Lewisville for the restaurant’s site because it lends itself to the old country vibe they were seeking.

Prohibition Chicken
201 W. Church Street, Lewisville, TX 75057
http://www.prohibitionchicken.com

The dining room is wonderfully rustic yet chic. The walls are covered in wood and the comfy booths are covered in flour sacks.

Rustic interior with natural lighting. Check out the phone booth door leading to the speakeasy.

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Can a Plant-Based Dinner at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s abcV Satisfy?

I came into my dinner at abcV a bit hesitant. Eating a complete meal (in ABC, a home decor shop) with just veggies? Especially when my favorite meal is dinner? I didn’t know just how impressive a vegetarian meal could possibly be. Restaurateur and Chef Jean-George Vongerichten is the genius that teamed up with ABC Carpet CEO and Creative Director Paulette Cole to change your outlook on what a dinner focused on the vegetables can look like. With the right pairing of flavors, experimenting with spices or roasting vegetables in butter, the team at abcV knows exactly how to make you forget about meat. You will be too preoccupied with the creamy green chickpea hummus and raving about how the roasted beets are the best ones you’ve ever had to even miss chicken or beef. abcV is a place meant for sharing plates so definitely bring a friend or two. I also suggest that you take a chance and forgo the cocktails for one of the juices or tonic drinks both of which are refreshing and pair excellently with dinner. No matter which way you decide to conquer this vegetarian menu, you will leave feeling full, satisfied and so excited to come back to try the rest of the menu. 

ABCV
38 E 19TH ST, NEW YORK, NY 10003
WEBSITE 

Green chickpea hummus, Thai basil, fresh pita or crudité

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Il Vecchio in Pacific Grove, CA

Our first stop after unpacking in our rental was for dinner at Il Vecchio. Il vecchio is Italian for “the old”. This place screams old, but not in a bad way. It screams old world…Rome to be exact. The decor, the people and the food all have a familiar and comforting feel to them…like an old tradition.

Il Vecchio
110 Central Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950
http://www.ilvecchiorestaurant.com/

pane e olio

For a starter, I ordered the pane e olio (bread and oil). It arrived at the table on a wooden cutting board branded with the restaurant’s name. The ciabatta was fresh and perfectly complemented the balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and the sweet roasted peppers. The key here was the vinegar and oil; both were the best quality. The vinegar was aged and thick. The oil green with a rotund flavor.
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17th Annual All-American Summer Rib Fest at Lucques in LA, Sunday, 8/13

If you’ve been paying attention to my posts, you know I’m a fan-girl for The Lucques Group (owners Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne) who own LA spots I’ve blogged about in the past, like Tavern, Larder Baking Co and even the catering at The Hollywood Bowl. But Lucques is the only spot they own that I haven’t dined at yet, but I’ve been dying too.

Recently, I had time to kill before a dinner near by, so I bellied up to the Lucques bar for a glass of wine. I sipped on a lovely pour of Paul et Jean-Marc PASTOU Sancerre Blanc ‘La Côte de Sury’ Vieilles Vignes (it’s a must order!) and I was in awe over the beautiful fine-dining atmosphere, which is becoming a rarity in LA. As I read over their dinner menu, I was a bit envious of the diners and wishing my dinner was there.

But, one way you can experience dining at Lucques, (with a relatively less expensive pre-fixe menu), is their upcoming 17th annual All-American Summer Rib Fest, Sunday, August 13, 2017, Noon – 9 p.m.. This feast features slow-cooked ribs, hot wings, and sides that have become a Lucques tradition since 2000.

Photo by Kristen Honey Photography

Although Lucques has a refined atmosphere, you are more than welcome to sport your favorite cowboy hat, Wrangler jeans, and Stetsons. You won’t look funny; you’ll fit right in!

The Lucques dining room and patio will completely transform into a family-style summer BBQ, with butcher-papered tables and wet-naps, since eating with hands are strongly encouraged. The menu will feature Saint Louis-Style Pork Ribs; Braised Beef Back Ribs; Spiced Lamb Spare Ribs and Too-Hot-To-Handle Chicken Wings. 

Also included are sides of Cole Slaw & Baked Beans; Long-Cooked Collard Greens; Buttered Corn-On-The-Cob; Tomato & Watermelon Salad; and Grilled Cornbread & Wonder Bread (just to keep it real!). A mouth watering dessert of Warm Peach Cobbler with Strawberries & Buttermilk Ice Cream by Executive Pastry Chef Sahar Shomali completes this yearly Rib Roundup. I have had this dessert at Tavern’s Low Country Boil this past summer, and it was fantastic! Totally worth going back for!

Photo by Kristen Honey Photography

Head Barman Christiaan Röllich’s Cowboy Cocktails, including the Longhorn Lemonade and a “Beer in a Can,” will also be served. There’s also a promise of old school country jams, like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Willie Nelson playing through out, so my inner-cowgirl is so excited for this!

Pricing for the dinner is $55 per person, exclusive of beverages, tax, and service.

This is a ticketed Sunday supper event, advance ticket purchase is required. Tickets are available by calling the restaurant directly: 323.655.6277. For further information and full menus at Lucques visit http://www.lucques.com

The Top of Dallas: Mirador Restaurant

The question I’m asked the most is “What’s a good new restaurant in Dallas?” Fortunately for Dallas residents and visitors alike there are usually at least two new options every 6 months. In this case my new favorite spot is in downtown Dallas on the top floor of a very posh boutique (Forty Five Ten) with a terrace that overlooks the art piece that locals call “The Eyeball”.

The Eyeball.

Mirador
1608 Elm St., Dallas
http://www.mirador-dallas.com

I had a feeling that Mirador would be great simply because of the culinary backgrounds of the two collaborating chefs, Josh Sutcliffe (executive chef) and Nilton “Junior” Borges (executive chef of The Joule Hotel). Sutcliffe, most recently, was executive chef at Filament and before that worked at FT33, both led by Food and Wine’s Best New Chef-Southwest and James Beard nominee, Matt McCallister. Borges also had a stint at FT33 as an executive chef. Prior to that, he was executive chef at Uchi when they earned 5 stars from the Dallas Morning News. Uchi, by the way, is also owned and operated by another James Beard winner, Tyson Cole.

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Cheese Board 101 With Work Sharp Culinary

cheese board fruit meat

Cheese boards are perfect for Summer entertaining. With endless options, preparing a board at home can seem overwhelming, but it shouldn’t be. All you need to prepare a beautiful board at home is a platter, a sharp knife, and your food items.

Work Sharp Culinary
Work Sharp Culinary has created a new line of knife sharpeners, the E5, an electric sharpener, and the M3, a manual sharpener. In celebration of being picked up by Williams Sonoma, they generously sent me both these new sharpeners, along with their MicroForged Japanese Knife, and tons of other goodies to review for our Girls on Food readers!

To prepare the items on this cheese board, I used the Work Sharp Culinary M3 sharpener to sharpen my favorite paring knife. Since I use it so frequently, the blade on the knife was quite dull, using the M3 was easy, and restored my blade to it’s original sharpness (maybe even better than new!) I used the diamond rod to shape and restore the blade, and followed up with the ceramic rod to create a razor-sharp edge.

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Coconut Ginger and Lime Noodle Salad with Shrimp

When the weather is hot, the last thing I want is to make my house—or myself—hotter. Turn on the oven? No thanks. A million different varieties of salad are a culinary snapshot of my summer.

Anything quick with light, fresh, and bright flavors is right up my alley in the warm summer months. Coconut, ginger, and lime dressing on chilled rice noodles with shrimp, cilantro, and cool crunchy veggies? A little bit of summertime heaven! I want to dump this dressing on everything. If carrying a bottle of it in my purse wasn’t frowned upon, you better believe I would be doing it!

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Kaizen & Cocktails: Uchi at Parliament Pop-Up in Dallas

Three forces collaborated to produce one heck of an event dubbed Kaizen & Cocktails. The Uchi Dallas team brought their culinary smarts to the Parliament team of all-star Adult Beverage Chefs (I suspect they hate being called mixologists) for Japanese-inspired cocktails and food all in the name of charity. A $25 ticket gave guests a choice of one out of five out-of-this-world cocktails and unlimited bites from Uchi. While that price seems quite high for one cocktail – additional drinks only cost $5 each – 100% of the proceeds went to an outstanding non-profit, Promise of Peace Gardens (P.O.P.), a group that transforms unwanted land into thriving gardens.

Kaizen and Cocktails Pop-Up.

Additionally, P.O.P. teaches low-income families about sustainable living and portions of produce grown in P.O.P. gardens supply several Dallas-area food pantries. Eddie “Lucky” Campbell, the mega-star Dallas bartender with a personality to match tells it better here.

How did this idea come to fruition? Hold on tightly…Elizabeth Dryer, founding director of P.O.P. tells me that Alex Astranti, current Chef de Cuisine at Uchi Dallas leased two garden plots from P.O.P. when he worked at Top Knot. According to Dryer, Astranti and his team would come to garden while his wife and baby sat on a picnic blanket. Astranti then moved to Uchi and met current Uchi Sous Chef Chad Graybill, who falls in love with Parliament upon moving back to Dallas. Listen to Graybill describe the rest of the story here. 

Uchi                                                      
2817 Maple Ave, Dallas 75201
http://www.uchidallas.com

Parliament
2418 Allen St., Dallas 75204
http://www.parliamentdallas.com

Black lava salt, watermelon and tequila.

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M Cocina Creativa: A Mexican-Vietnamese Birthday Dinner in Guadalajara

Last weekend I went to Guadalajara, one of the biggest cities in Mexico. Filled with culture amazing food and lots of tequila, this city is a true Mexican gem. Tequila region is just an hour away from there and you can actually ride a tequila train that leaves from Guadalajara. A cousin of mine lives there and since he knows I’m a food blogger he picked a special restaurant so that I had the chance to blog about his city, he took me to M Cocina Creativa, which means “creative kitchen”. This restaurant totally justifies its name. It’s a Mexican-Vietnamese fusion restaurant that implements ingredients you wouldn’t normally see in a menu in Mexico, like pork stuffed squid (which were delicious).

M Cocina Creativa
Av. Aurelio Ortega No. 611, Seattle, 45150 Zapopan, Jal., Mexico
http://www.mcocinacreativa.com/

Another thing that makes the place unique is the really big two story indoor patio with a rustic feel, a fountain made out of half a tree, really tall ceilings and filled with plants. It’s not only relaxing and romantic but it really makes you forget you’re in the city.

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Chang’an Restaurant and Bar in SGV

One of the best things about living in the San Gabriel Valley is the sheer abundance of Chinese food (which just so happens to be my favorite cuisine!)

So I was more than excited to have to opportunity to attend a tasting at Chang’an Restaurant and Bar along with some other LA foodies.

Chang’an Restaurant and Bar
227 West Valley Blvd, #358 (Hilton Plaza Top Floor), San Gabriel, CA 91776

Chang’an is literally a hidden gem, tucked away on the 3rd floor of an unassuming strip mall. I had a little difficulty finding it at first, and I hope others won’t be discouraged by its elusive location, because this place is certainly worth seeking out!

Upon entering, I was greeted by Minda Zhang, who along with her husband, Hao, runs the place. Her enthusiasm and passion for her restaurant was evident in every dish that I tried, as you’ll soon see.

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Can-Can Fatbois Eat All of France?

This May, the Fatbois were STAYIN’ IN PARIS (s/o to The Chainsmokers, more specifically, Drew) TO GET AWAY FROM OUR PARENTS (like… sort of… we still live at home… don’t judge). As we embarked, baguettes, blocks of cheese, and croissants can-canned through our heads.

Upon arrival to our hotel, Opera-Daunou, we ditched our luggage and ventured out into the city. We stumbled onto La Colombe, a cozy café, located on 2 Rue de la Paix. We were greeted by the friendliest staff, who excused my pathetic attempts at speaking French. One thing we’ve noticed is that Europe does coffee very differently from the states. It is typically stronger, poured into a smaller serving. Discovering the equivalent to our medium Dunkin iced coffees became a series of trial and error. The key to success is to order either a café au lait or a café americano. We topped off our café with chocolate-filled croissants, which easily became an everyday staple. 761BAC8B-5C5D-483E-B9FB-B5571631029D

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