Wednesday, March 31, 2010

hot la restaurants firenze and the counter

I was in LA a couple of weeks ago and Brendan and I had a couple of amazing culinary experiences. We had a lovely dinner at Firenze, a Northern Italian cuisine restaurant headed by former Top Chef contestant Fabiano Viviani. This warm space with an open kitchen, live music and private dining area delivered some exceptional food. First up was the fritto misto with calamari and zucchini complemented by the house made bread with a delicious garlicky tapenade. A salad of baby greens with Chianti soaked pears, goat cheese and candied walnuts was amazing only to be topped by the short rib stuffed raviolis laced with a creamy melted taleggio sauce.
I can't wait to go back for rabbit with black olives and a burrata salad with roasted mushrooms with pine nuts. The choices are unique and mouthwatering. The other hot spot in LA we visited is The Counter. This LA phenom is a franchise that has a line out the door. What is is the hook? A stylish interior, clean and modern, a hip bar that eases the wait for a table and a extensive choice of options for the perfect burger. Sit down, take a pencil and fill in the options--included is 100 percent Angus beef, cheese, four toppings, sauce and bun. The combination onion strings and french fries come with 2 sauces and are outrageous.
Another delicious visit to LA. Also a happy birthday to Kevin Alpert, you are the best. XXX, D.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

dinner at 2223 market

Had dinner last night with long time friends Michael Perricone and Tom Brocato. Michael and I worked at the Rotunda together for many years and he is now in New York at Bergdorf Goodman and going strong. Tom is Director of Facilities/Real Estate, Charles Schwab, and I met him through Mike nearly as long ago as I have known Mike.

We reminisced about some of our memorable meals, one of which was a birthday party at 42 Degrees. Do you remember that great restaurant? Out next to Espirit at 16th and Illinois, 42 Degrees served some of the best food in this town (the marrow bone with toast points was absolutely killer) all with a sliding glass wall that opened on beautiful days and nights to views of the bay. I miss that place.

Last night we ate at one of our favorite haunts that one returns to again and again, 2223 Market. This San Francisco favorite close to the Castro remains successful because they don't mess with the winning dishes. The hearts of romaine is probably the best twist on a caesar salad I have ever had--I have tried to recreate this salad at home but it is never as good--grilled onions, capers, cornichons, creamy garlic dressing and big asiago crostini on top. Follow this salad with the best chicken in town, a roasted crispy skin thigh/leg combo on creamy garlic mashed potatoes, PERFECTLY al dente blue lake string beans, topped with onion rings and surrounded by a divine pan jus. Absolute perfection.

It's nice to know that long term friendships and favorite restaurants remain constant.