Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What You Should Be Eating Right This Very Instant at The Church Key

This time of year can get really, really depressing. Everyone declares "summer is over," yet, it is not, in fact over for another two weeks. At the same time, you can't really declare it fall either. Sure, there are pumpkin lattes to be had, but they just don't feel right in 90 degree weather. Everything's wack.

Thankfully the kind folk at The Church Key, a restaurant late last year I declared as one of the most fun dining experiences in town, wants to hold onto summer for just a little bit longer. The Modern American/Dim Sum joint recently introduced a "Late Summer" menu full of seasonal ingredients, and like most of their menu, the offerings are pretty damn tasty. 

Are you too trying to shake off the not-end-of-summer-yet doldrums? Here's the three menu items you should absolutely unlock your tastebuds for (unlock-church key, see what I did there?)...

Harry's Berries Strawberry Salad - This is a strawberry salad for a man. And a woman, sure. This salad certainly isn't sexist, but rarely are salads, with strawberries, appeasing to the male appetite. Church Key does everything they can to erase that by throwing in heaps of Rogue blue cheese, pinenuts and fried onion strings to compliment the creamy vinaigrette-dressed spinach. The 'berries (strawberries) are also fresh to death, like all the products from Harry's just up the 1/101 in the 'Nard (Oxnard). 

Cranberry Bean Hummus - This dish expertly spins the classic Middle Eastern staple on its noggin. First, TCK uses cranberry bean instead of the ho-hum chickpea, which provides the hummus with a much nuttier taste than expected. The dish also has a very Indian feel with the addition of fresh, grilled paneer cheese, Indian spices and pillow soft Naan to scoop it into your mouthpiece. Some garlic chips and heirloom tomatoes further add dimension by providing a modern, Los Angeles feel to the appetizer. 

Brown Butter Glazed Brioche Donuts - Okay, you got me. These have been featured on the menu since Day 1. That said, you still need to go eat them right this very second. They are that good. Even when it's hot as heck, there's never a non-ideal time to consume The Church Key's signature dessert. They're hot, dense, heavily frosted, topped with a sweet cinnamon caramel AND THEY COME WITH A SIDE OF HOUSEMADE MOCHA ICE CREAM. It's almost unfair how effing good these are.

8730 W. Sunset Blvd, Hollywood/LA
Mon-Sun 5:30 pm - 2 am; Sat/Sun Brunch 10 am - 3 pm

Thursday, September 4, 2014

2014's The Taste "Sunday Brunch" - 5 Best Bites and the Best of the Rest

Earlier in the week I highlighted the 5 Best Bites and the such for The Taste's "Field to Fork" event, so now it's time to do similarly for Sunday's late morning/early afternoon bacchanalia, the simply, yet aptly titled, "Sunday Brunch." Co-hosted by LA Times' Test Kitchen Director and (swoon) Thomas Keller (French Laundry and Bouchon and food that is way too good to be true), "SB" featured many local favorites and some welcoming newcomers as well. 

Trends spotted: chicken and waffles and chicken and waffles and chicken and waffles.

(((All photos by Lindsay Flinn)))

The Five Best Bites from "Sunday Brunch"

Chicken Fried Bacon and Waffle (Muddy Leek) - Even though I knew this was going to be available at the event (it was my favorite dish at the The Taste Preview last month), I still got schoolgirl giddy  when I spotted it at the Muddy Leek booth. A waffle with bacon coated with fried chicken batter is simply brilliant. Also brilliant: the fried swine is on the everyday dinner menu at the restaurant as well.

Cinnamon Roll (Farmshop) - I eat too many cinnamon rolls. I probably have never met a cinnamon roll I didn't like. If a Malibu retreat for Cinnamon Roll Addiction existed, my family would probably enroll me without my knowledge. No doubt. That said, the Farmshop 'mon roll is killer. The picture-perfect amount of icing and crumb on top (a lot), an idyllic cinnamon swirl in the middle and the flawless balance between flakiness and buttery pastry throughout. 

Crespelle Alla Sorrentina and Meatballs (Angelini Osteria) - The high temperatures weren't exactly conducive to lasagna ("Italian crepe" to be exact) and meatballs, but with Osteria Angelini, it doesn't really matter. The meatballs were as tender as a baby's bottom, the sauce as sweet as grandma and the pasta, well, angelic. 

Fried Chicken and Churro (Dia De Campo) - As noted above, "Sunday Brunch" featured A TON of chicken and waffles. It was a sight for sore eyes when the waffle was swapped for... a churro. Fried chicken + churro + cotija cheese + fresh salsa = reason to go to Hermosa Beach for a meal very soon.

The Best of the Rest

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

2014's The Taste "Field to Fork": 5 Best Bites and the Best of the Rest

Over the Labor Day Weekend I attended/gorged/ate like it was my Death Row Last Meal at The Taste food festival, which once again took place at the historical Paramount Studios in Hollywood. First up was Saturday's "Field to Fork" event hosted by LA Times Food Editor Russ Parsons and Mozza maven Nancy Silverton. 

Rather than bore you to pieces with my word things, I thought I'd just show you the awesome pictures Lindsay took. First are my five favorite dishes and then a neat little gallery with the best of the rest.

(((Note: A similar post on Sunday's "Sunday Brunch" event will be up later this week. So check back. Or don't. But you should. But you don't have to. I recommend doing so though.)))

The Five Best Bites from Field to Fork:

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Sliders (Pedalers Fork) - Real conversation I had with myself upon my initial bite of this mini-"burger": "This is really good-- wait, the patty's made of quinoa and sweet potato?-- wait, the bun is actually made of friggin' flaxseed?-- wait, this heirloom tomato is awesome-- Pedaler's Fork isn't even a vegetarian restaurant?-- This is probably the best veggie burger I've ever had-- wait, do I even like veggie burgers? Guess so." Pedalers Fork may be all the way out in Calabasas, but I'll be visiting real, real soon.

Duck Neck Pansotti (Michael's on Naples) - The pizza of Michael's in Long Beach is beloved, but this tortellini cousin stuffed with shredded duck and topped with ricotta, pistachio and radish makes a gallant case for the menu beyond the 'za.

Burrata Tostada (Diablo Taco) - There's nothing fancy about Diablo Taco's entry, but that doesn't mean it wasn't the perfect, creative bite and epitome of "Field to Fork." Fresh burrata, a little pesto and a basil chip atop the most adorable little tostada shell these eyes have ever seen.

Truffle Slider (Umami Burger) - Maybe it had been a while since I last experienced Umami Burger. Maybe I forgot how no burger in town, big or small, offers a better char crisp than Umami's patties. Yet, it can not be ignored that this was best burger at the event, amongst multiple competitors. It also doesn't suck to have truffle aioli, glaze and cheese.

Red Velvet Ensaymada (The Ensaymada Project) - Every year The Taste introduces my stomach to a new dessert/future oft inhabitant. Past examples include Waffles de Liege, Manhattan Beach Creamery and Schulzie's Bread Pudding. This year it was The Ensaymada Project, which specializes on the traditional Philippine brioche dessert, stuffed with both classic (ube) and unorthodox (maple bacon) fillings. My favorite was the Red Velvet and soon it will be yours too.

The Best of the Rest of Field to Fork: