Monday, April 21, 2008

Grilled Cheese Invitational

On Saturday April 21, we were lucky enough to attend the Grilled Cheese Invitational !!
Basically this is a grilled cheese contest where over a 100 chefs come out and compete to be the Grilled Cheese Champion. Each grilled cheese is paired with a ballot with the chef's name and you get to be the judge on how delightful the grilled cheese is prepared.

This year it was held in Griffith Park Crystal Springs Picnic Grove and I thought the area was a good size for the crowd. But supposedly it was overbooked! Luckily for us, we live close enough to bike and luckier still because we had the chance to work off that grilled cheese. But I did feel like I was sweating cheese on the bike ride home. Plus I thought I had found us a good shortcut, but it ended up involving carrying our bikes up an insanely steep staircase. I must of been drunk from cheese!
Anywho, there were many wonderful sites to behold at the Invitational!

Like the Grilled Cheese Wedding Cake.

Though we were not sure how good that would taste. Because part of the beauty of grilled cheese is eating it piping hot! But it was definitely a wonder to behold. The icing was cream cheese and the decorations were Cheez Whiz!

Kraft Singles was there which is Mr.Phi's favorite Cheese I'm sad to report.

How could I fall for such a man! My mother had warned me about the type, but I can't deny I enjoy a kraft single now and then! The Shameeee! (I hope I'm not kicked out of any LA cheese shops for such an admittance!) But a lot of people were getting the Kraft grilled cheese sandwiches, because they were easily available with no line. Plus Kraft was giving away free shirts and spatulas! Who can pass up a free spatula?

After I dragged Mr.Phi away from the Kraft booth, and we found ourselves in the trenches. Basically there is a huge line of tables. And you wait behind people to make your way to the front of the tables. Once you get to the front, you compete with about a 100 other people for a sandwich. How do you compete? You cry, beg, please, wink, proclaim your need of cheese, etc, etc....

How can this be worth it you ask? Let me introduce you to who made it worth it...

Spoon's Truffle Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
*Garlic-Cheddar sourdough, cheddar, comte, truffled Italian cheese, truffled butter

It became worth it for Mr.Phi when he got a grilled onion sandwich.

We waited at least 3 times through lines and these were definitely our favorites. The saddest part of the festival is you don't get to try all 140 sandwiches unless you are a judge. Sigh another dream job to add to my list. Grilled Cheese Sammich Judge. With the long waits to try sandwiches, we were lucky to get to try 5 different grilled cheeses.

Was there any good sandwiches I missed? I bet a ton! I was very curious to try the artisanal cheese gallery's huge cheeese sandwiches!

Or the Foundry with their Short Rib Grilled Cheeses! There was a strawberry cream cheese one I was curious about as well. Also, I'm very curious about Clementine's who is having Grilled Cheese Specials all month and have an amazing site as well to support it! Cheese you can believe in! !!
Well I guess there is always next year for those others grilled cheeses....sighhhh..

Not only was there cheese but cheese related entertainment as well!! cheese-lovers coming up and reciting poems they had written dedicated to grilled cheese. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to read my cheese poem as I was too busy trying to get to the front of the line to try all the different deliscious concoctions. So for closing, here is is for all of you to marvel at!

Ode to My mom’s grilled cheese sandwich
Would it have killed you to buy me whole fat processed cheese?!

My friend Rachel always got it!
Bestest cheese sandwiches EVER!
Glistening butter substitute on both sides,
And the glutenest of breads,
Her mother lovvvvved her.

Instead you gave me….
2% cheddar toasted on Oat Bread. No butter.
What did you buy yourself with the 2% you saved?
Certainly not more Nintendo games for me!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Mozza Christmas

So over the next few weeks, you'll find me doing catchup on some restaurant experiences.
Got toooo behind in updating with various distractions of a possible HUGE wedding party thats now been converted into something far more manageable for me and Mr.Phi. But thats another story entirely....

Around Christmas, I had the distinct pleasure of dining with 2 or our favoritest eatout companions! They had commented they had never been to Mozza Pizzaria and we all agreed that they must give it a shot. It was the first time going to Mozza without a reservation but we went on a weekday during the afternoon and had no trouble grabbing a table.
We had the Affetati Misti(cold meat platter) which is always a pleasure. I love the story of the stolen salumis that happened before Mozza even opened!! That was one of the reasons I made a reservation right away when they opened. Salumi Thief!
To accompany the platter, we ordered some Pane bianco with olio nuovo which for $3 is one of the best deals in LA. I could seriously just come to Mozza and eat 3 orders of this grilled bread and I would die happy. Everyone adored the bread so much, we almost placed a second order even though we had 2 pizzas coming.
The pizza was good but nothing too special. Except for the Egg, guanciale, radicchio, escarole & bagna cauda pizza! One friend commented it tasted like ramen in pizza form but I think she just had a temporary lapse of sanity. What makes this pizza for me is the guanciale, soooooo good it makes me swoon!
Now for dessert we had butterscotch budino and I had a cioccolata calda(hot chocolate) with something so precious. 2 cookies shaped like piggies with string to hang them up like X-mas ornaments. How precious and foodie and sorta slaughterhouse morbid at the same But I'm sure it brings a warm feeling into the stomachs of all foodies around christmas time.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Valentine Dinner at Larkin's

Usually for Valentine's Day, I cook me and Mister Phi a nice dinner at home. We both despise the crowds, overworked servers and pre-fixed steak meals that are on par with the usual wedding food.

BUT this year I was tricked by Larkin's in Eagle Rock into attending their Valentine's Day dinner.

I'm on an assorted number of email lists for restaurants, wineries, specialty food shops, etc and I started receiving emails about various valentine specials for Feburary. As each email arrived filled with promises of a beautiful meal I deleted them. But then Larkin's arrived with promises of meal inspired by the book/movie 'Like Water for Chocolate'. I hesitated over the delete button...Could a soul food joint do justice to the recipes of one of my favorite books? Would this opportunity ever come up again for a 5 course dinner inspired by the book? And would there be christmas rolls?

So obviously I didn't delete the email and after a week of pondering it, I suggested the idea to Mister Phi. He at first was hesitant but after realizing how many times I had made him watch the film version of 'Like Water for Chocolate' he had no choice.

So I made reservations at Larkin's for their 8:30 seating and put away my pots & recipes for once. The night came and of course Mister Phi was late getting home.
Twenty Minutes past our reservation late and how could I help but me seething mad.
We decided we would attempt going and see what happened. Very lucky for us the first seating had started late because of an accident on the 134. So when we arrived they were only halfway done with seating everyone, and we actually had to wait 10 minutes to be seated.

After a glass of wine, Mister Phi and I were reconciled and ready to begin the courses.

The menu was as following....

-Lobster Cheviche with Chile Oil on savory tart

-Northern style Chorizo & Bean soup

-Chocolate Rose Petal Chicken

-Champagne & Rose Sorbet

-Chocolate Cream Cheese Layer Cake

*Each course was paired with a wine selected from the Colorado Wine Co.

The first course of lobster Ceviche was a lil bland and too much raw onion for my taste. The tart tasted like it was pre-bought. Actually chose to just eat the cheviche out of the tart at the end.

I loved love LOVEDDD the soup course. Very rustic in style and I practically licked the bowl. There wasn't too much beans or too much chorizo, it was perfect. Nicely spicy.

The Chocolate Rose Petal chicken was moist but nothing special. I felt the same way about the mole sauce. It was good but not amazing, mostly forgetable.

The sorbet was a nice refresher but almost felt like an extra dessert. But who am I to question an extra sweet or ever refuse one. Plus I love any kind of homemade sorbet, gelato, ice cream....yums!!

The cake was definitely the grand finale for me. The cake was nice and moist. Not too chocolaty, and not too rich. Matched the sweet cream cheese filling perfectly and I attacked Mr.Phi's after I devoured all of mine.

The wines throughout the meal seemed to match everything nicely and I always enjoy how Larkin's serves wine in small size jam jars. Usually I go to SilverLake Wine so it makes me curious to go visit the Colorado Wine Co.

Overall, the dinner was really good and it was fun going out to dinner for Valentine's Day. I would of loved some christmas rolls! Those on the side would of really made the meal for me! But in the future I will definitely be willing to go to smaller restaurants with a set seating time on holidays. Woot!