Breakfast = Carbs + Salt

The best part about the 26 hour fast of Yom Kippur is breaking it!

Best to start with some wine on a really empty stomach.

Parker 91. “Bottled the week before I visited, his 2005 Morey-St.-Denis en la Rue de Vergy displays aromas of fresh, ripe plum, black cherry, bitter herbs and toasted nuts. Ripe plum and black cherry along with deep rich meatiness mingle in the mouth with notes of mineral salt and iodine and sweet nut oil nuances. Creamy in texture and boasting remarkably fine tannins for a village wine and no hint of its 50% new wood, this finishes with a flattering persistence of crisp, subtly-bitter fresh fruit skin and fascinating mineral suggestions. It should drink fabulously over at least a 5-7 year period.”


Traditional, of course, is deli (i.e. bagels and lox etc.). We get ours from Brent’s Deli, which is my favorite for dairy and fish.


The bagels.


Rye bread of course.


A variety of cream cheeses, old school, new whipped, veggie, and my personal favorite, honey almond (I like the whole sweet and salty thing).


The all important “monster cheese” (what my three year-old calls it).


Various bagel toppings: lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber.


Brent’s lox is so thick 18 of us toasted 3-4 pounds of it.


Chopped marinated herring. An acquired taste, but I spent too much time in the mid east not to.


Tuna salad (this is homemade by my sister-in-law Wendy).


My personal favorite, whitefish salad. Oh so good.


Salted cod, another classic.


Brent’s slightly sweet cucumber salad (like that) and cole slaw.


And old school pickles.


And fruit.

Plus a bit of homemade chinese chicken-less salad.


Parker 90. “The 2009 Rosso di Montalcino is totally beautiful and elegant in its expressive bouquet, silky fruit and understated, harmonious personality. This is a wonderful, impeccable Rosso from Le Potazzine. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2017.”


And my plate of gluttony. Four bagel halves. I even had another afterward.


The dessert spread is even more deadly.


Parker 99! “A monumental effort, the 2001 Rieussec boasts a light to medium gold color in addition to a fabulous perfume of honeysuckle, smoky oak, caramelized tropical fruits, creme brulee, and Grand Marnier. The wine is massive and full-bodied yet neither over the top nor heavy because of good acidity. With intense botrytis as well as a 70-75-second finish, this amazing Sauternes will be its apogee between 2010-2035.”

It was that good too!


Most of the desserts come from Viktor Benes, an old school Czech bakery with really good Eastern European baked goods. This is a chocolate fudge cake. My in-laws are chocoholics.


Apple pie. Halfway between American style and strudel.


Same with the cherry.


And an assortment of decadent baked goodies. Cookies, macaroons, apple fritters, rugelach, almond strudel-like things etc.

Afterward I stumbled upstairs in a pleasant salt and carb coma. I still felt bloated the next morning too.

Beverly Hills Hotel – Polo Lounge

Restaurant: Polo Lounge

Location: 9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California 90210. 310-276-2251

Date: September 10, 2011

Cuisine: American

Rating: Good but pricey

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My wife and I were married (10 years ago) at the Beverly Hills Hotel so it’s a tradition of ours to go back there once a year. We usually wander around and then eat at the Polo Lounge (even though the lounge itself had no part in the wedding, which was in the Crystal Ballroom).


This is an old school and iconic spot in Hollywood history. The hotel is still gorgeous too, having been heavily renovated by hot black oil cash from the Sultan of Brunei.


The patio.


Old school Hollywood style in the dining room.


And the bar.


The current lunch menu. Brunch is available only on Sunday.


What would a visit to the Polo Lounge be without a cocktail, in this case a mimosa.


They also have good bread. Same exact basket (basically) was served at our wedding LOL.


I’ve totally been on a gazpacho kick recently (made it at home here). This is “golden tomato gazpacho, garlic crostini, basil pepper relish.” Despite the yellow color it tasted classic. Very nice smooth refreshing summer texture and flavor.


Pizza margarita.”


Salmon burger, tomato salad, cucumber & yogurt, dill bun.”


The usual condiments, but stylishly presented.


“Lobster cobb salad, gem lettuce, tomato, bacon, avocado, quail’s egg, tarragon.” Pretty much a great cobb, the only thing to complain about being the price. The juicy bacon cubes sold it.


Cappuccino to combat the coma.

Overall, the Polo Lounge has great lunch/brunch food in a stylish setting. Really the only disadvantage is the price, which is pretty punitive. But this is pretty much the usual high end hotel tax — making it a special occasion kind of thing.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

Osteria Latini 3

Restaurant: Osteria Latini [1, 2, 3]

Location: 11712 San Vicente Blvd.Brentwood, CA 90049 310.826.9222

Date: August 20, 2010

Cuisine: Italian

Rating: Excellent neighborhood Italian

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We have a regular rotation of neighborhood Italians. There are so many of them, but only a few make the cut as genuinely good. Osteria Latini is one of them. You can see my previous reviews here and here.


Olive and chickpea/squash/bean pastes.


The 1997 Biondi-Santi Brunello. This is a solid Brunello I had bought years ago in Italy (probably in 2000). It probably scores somewhere in the low 90s, maybe 91 or 92 points.


A special, lobster bisque.


“BELLA SALAD. Arrugola, pears, dry cherries, goat cheese, shaved parmesan.”


A special, calimari steak stuffed with lump crabmeat and drizzled in ponzu sauce. This is unusual, and certainly has a bit of fusion about it — but it’s good.


Gnocchi genovese (in classic basil pesto).


“ACQUERELLO RISOTTO. Organic carnaroli, sea urchin, truffle scent, lemon zest (Please allow 20 Minutes).” A very nice subtle sea urchin risotto. This special hand shaved rice takes 20-30 minutes to cook.


OSSOBUCO ALLA MILANESE. With saffron risotto.” Latini’s version of the classic dish. Certainly good with a very nice meaty bone. The risotto could have been perhaps a tad creamier.

Two “rounds” of freebee desserts. This mixture of prosecco, lemon sorbetto, and meringue is very refreshing.


Chocolate chip cookies and biscotti.

Osteria Latini is always reliable. They have a big menu of modern Italian favorites and pretty much everything is very good.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

Or for a legion of great eating in Italy itself, here.

Eating Montalcino – Le Potazzine

Restaurant: Ristorante Le Potazzine

Location: Montalcino, Italy

Date: June 20, 2011

Cuisine: Tuscan

Rating: Tasty traditional

ANY CHARACTER HERE

We took a most excellent wine tasting tour of Montalcino (the home of the one and only Brunello). This was led by a top flight young guide named Matteo Perinti, who took us to a pair of top flight small wineries (but more on that itself later). In between we stopped at Montalcino the home base for Brunello.


Montalcino is one of Tuscany‘s long list of ugly locales — just kidding. It’s a gorgeous mediaeval village — with a LOT of wine for sale.


We went to the restaurant owned by the Le Potoazzine vineyard, which was one that we visited. Not only was their wine incredible, but they run a nice restaurant.


For lunch we actually had their IGT Tuscan, slightly down the curve than this amazing Rosso Di Montalcino, but I didn’t get a photo. If you can find the above wine in the states do — it was incredibly seductive.


Tuscan Prosciutto.


And a wider selection of local cured meats.


Panzenella, the very traditional “salad” of stale bread crumbs, onions, tomatos, and fresh olive oil.


Bruschetta with tomato, basil, and olive oil. Tuscan’s have no fear of serving bread too many ways.


Minestrone soup.


Gnocchi done the simple way, with cream, butter, and cheese.


Risotto Brunello. Very fitting, and very tasty.


Local wide pasta fresca with vegetables.

This was a nice little lunch place. Certainly nothing radical about the cooking but every dish was delicious.

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Crafty Little Lunch

Restaurant: Craft

Location: 10100 Constellation Blvd. Century City, Ca. 90067. 310-279-4180

Date: May 26, 2011

Cuisine: Farmer’s Market California

Rating: Nice little power lunch

ANY CHARACTER HERE

I was meeting a friend in Century City at the Annenberg Space for Photography (which I hadn’t even known existed), and we decided to catch lunch at nearby Craft. I’ve eaten dinner a couple times here before and thought it a very good “New California” style restaurant using a sort of large American tapas style. I think they may have ditched this format (at least the lunch menu shows no evidence of it). This seems to happen a lot and really bums me out as I completely and utterly prefer the small-plates style to the appetizer/entree dinosaur.


The menu. We both went for the little $30 “power lunch.” Craft is right in the heart of Century City with all the lawyers and CAA, so it’s obviously a spot for those putting lunch on the expense account.


Bread.


“Wild Mache, pistachio & raisin.” Really great little salad. The greens had a nice peppery quality, complemented nicely by the light dressing and the sweetness of the raisins.


“Rabbit tortellini, pecorino & baby onion.” Very nice little pasta too, in that buttery tortellini school. Inside was some good solid chunks of rabbit meat. The sauce was basically butter, cream, pecorino and onion.


Sea Bream, leeks, fennel & watermelon radish.” The sauce was on the side as my friend preferred.


The leeks, fennel & watermelon radish.


The dessert menu.


Expresso.


“Ricotta cheesecake, poached cherries.” A slightly new format of an old classic.

“Profiteroles, mint chip ice cream & chocolate.” This should have been delicious, but for some reason it was muted. The pastries were really good, like a Beard Papa cookie shell, but the ice cream, while creamy, didn’t taste enough like mint. Not like the powerful mint leaf flavor of say Sweet Rose Creamery. The chocolate too was a bit muted.

Overall, this was a nice little lunch. I’ll have to go back for dinner again, although if they totally abandoned the small plates I’m bummed.

Locanda Portofino – In the Neighborhood

Restaurant: Locanda Portofino

Location: 1110 Montana Ave. Santa Monica, Ca 90403. 310-394-2070

Date: May 20, 2011

Cuisine: Northern Italian

Summary: Tasty neighborhood Italian

ANY CHARACTER HERE

For whatever reason Los Angeles has a lot of Italian restaurants. There’s a lot of competition and innovation, and as far as I can tell we’re about tied with NY as the best town in the US for this wonderful (and justifiably popular) cuisine. This also means that there is a total and ridiculous excess of neighborhood Italians. I’ll try any of them once, but I pretty much never go to 75% of them a second time. There are just too many good ones to eat some ho-hum boxed pasta. In any case, Locanda Portofino is one of the good ones.


The menu.


I’m very partial to Amarone. They’re pretty much all drinkable (and grapey).


“Ceasar salad.”


“Bresaola con rucola. Thinly sliced cured beef with virgin olive oil, lemon, rucola and shaved parmigiano.” A very nice rendition of this classic.


“Penne vodka. Penne with light cream tomato sauce, shallots and vodka.”


“Tagliatelle alla boscaiola con salsicce. Green and white egg tagliatelle in a light cream sauce with pancetta, ground sausage, mushrooms and green peas.” I love love this pasta. It’s not far off from al carbonara either, but isn’t eggy in the same way. I love the combo of the peas, the two types of pig, and the peas. No wonder my cardiologist gives me a hard time.

Pretty much anything on the menu here is well done, but this was just Friday date night and so there are only a couple pics. Still, if you live on the Westside, forget those chain Italians, or the lame kitchen “red sauces” and go to Locanda Portofino, Delfini, Palmeri, Osteria Latini or the like. Or if you want higher end: Capo or Drago.

Sam’s by the Beach 3D

Restaurant: Sam’s by the Beach [1, 2, 3]

Location: 108 W. Channel Rd.(PCH), Santa Monica, CA90402. 310-230-9100

Date: May 14, Sept 4, & Oct 30, 2011

Cuisine: Cal French International

Rating: Stellar food and unparalleled service.

ANY CHARACTER HERE

I already covered the background to Sam’s in my FIRST REVIEW. Let’s just say this is a local place with an unusual and inventive menu that’s worth a drive.


An amuse of tuna tartar on endive.


I’d never heard of this “lesser” Bordeaux, but Sam opened this half-bottle and it was very nice. Characteristic Saint-Emilionsmooth. The 8 or so years gave it just enough age to settle the tanins.


The glass.

Today’s menu.


“Roasted Beet Salad, mixed with onions and tomato in Aged balsamic dressing, served with Feta Cheese croquet.”


This salad was a special, heirloom tomatoes and sashimi grade salmon with a bit of greens, orange, and a mustard vinaigrette.


Another special salad, this time with Santa Barbara shrimp (with roe), corn, and a lovely vinaigrette.


Sam’s grandmom’s butternut squash soup. Vegan with some olives. A lovely bit of fall flavor.


A special today, boar lasagne. The sauce is a tangy tomato cream sauce. This was a really good lasagne. The boar meat was tastier than ground beef.


“Vegetarian Crepes. Homemade Crepes filled with Swiss chard, wild mushrooms and zucchini served in tomato coulis.”  This is a very nice vegetarian option, and surprisingly hearty. The sauce is bread dippingly yummy.


Sam’s has a pizza oven and a variety of pizzas served mostly on Sundays. This is the margarita.


And the Shawarma pizza, which given my penchant for homemade interesting pizzas, I found very interesting. The sauce is a bit more like a harissa, and the pizza is covered with shawarma and pine-nuts.


And served with a tangy yoghurt dip. Good stuff.


Medditeranian seafood soup. But it comes with the traditional toastes and garlic aioli.


Prepping the breads.


The soup itself. Lots of different seafood and a fantastic tomato garlic broth.


With the toasts. They sog up nicely and make for gooey garlicky goodness.


“Grilled Wild Salmon. Served with braised Swiss chard, Pine Nuts, and roasted Sunchoke, with fresh oregano sauce.”


Special rack of Lamb in a dijon mustard vinaigrette. The lamb was tender. The sauce has a fantastic vinegary tone, bright with the mustard, but not overpowering. I had to sop it up with bread afterward. Served with various vegetables and ratatouille.

Green apple sorbet, with a true apple mouthfeel (even a bit mealy, like real apples).

His creme brulee is straight up traditional, and it’s the second best I’ve ever had in the world (there was this one in Avignon…).


My personal favorite, the bread pudding. Topped with a creme anglais, it is warm, rich, and soft, with a chocolate botom.


A few freebee biscotti for dessert.


The room (or technically, half the room).

For other reviews of Sam’s, see here or here.