Friday, September 25, 2009

News Flash!

Hi guys! Guess what? I'm a different domain. From this point on, I will no longer be updating this blogspot site, but instead will be operating over at

Please update your readers, blog rolls, speed dials, etc.

I'll be kicking off the relaunch with a bang: Vegan MoFo. More details at the new site. Thanks guys!

By the way, I'm trying to figure out how to redirect this blogger homepage to the new site as well as the old permalinks. From what I've read, it seems possible, just far too complicated for my technologically challenged self. Anyone have any tips?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Insane yumminess at the super posh XIV

Last night, my uber wonderful boyfriend and I had some celebratin' to do so he took me to XIV where we ordered the eight course tasting menu for $64. I am a cash-strapped lass so pretty much the only time I get to eat anywhere fancy is when my dad is in town once every couple years, so going to XIV was a major splurge and I loved every minute of it! Was every single course so Earth-shatteringly good it made me want commit suicide knowing I would never taste anything better ever again? No, definitely not. In fact a couple of courses were pretty ho-hum. But the whole experience was so fun and some of the food we ate I have found myself dreaming about nonstop since we left the restaurant. Let's have a look at the meal, shall we?

DISCLAIMER: These photos BLOW. This is because a) it was really dark in there b) I was far too preoccupied with the food and my cute company to pay much attention to the photography and c) my FRIGGIN viewfinder is broken meaning I just have to aim blindly and hope the frame at least somewhat encompasses the subject.

I wasn't planning on having anything to drink, but the wine and cocktail menus were just far too irresistible. I ordered a glass of Jezebel Pinot Noir more for the cute name and the cheap price ($11) than for any other reason. The menu describes it as "supple with deep berry fruits and a hint of spice." Yeah, sure whatever. I don't know the first thing about wine, nor do I care to. All I know is that it tasted awesome. My boyfriend ordered the Pear Perfection cocktail which was INSANE. It was sooooooo good. You couldn't taste any alcohol, it just tasted like a super refreshing, crisp pear spritzer. I am definitely going to be going back to the bar at XIV for some more of these in the near future. At $13, it was a typical price for a West Hollywood cocktail.

Onto our First Course: Turnip Tartare with Broccolini, Sesame Oil, and Asian Pear.
This was a good first course because it was really light and refreshing. I normally can't stand pears but XIV changed that for me tonight between the pear cocktail and the crispy Asian pears in this dish. Every time I've had a pear before last night they were totally mushy, but these were more akin to fresh apples.

Before our second course came out, we were served little naan points that was the best naan I've ever had. Served hot out of the oven, they were garlicky and lightly salted. My non-vegan boyfriend's came with raita, but I could have eaten an entire batch of these plain and in fact I had already eaten half of them before I thought to take a photo:

Second Course: Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salad with Watercress and Lemon Vinaigrette
When you look at this dish, it looks sorta lame--I mean it really is just two halves of tomatoes and a bite of peach. But holy guacamole these were the best tomatoes I've ever had. The red tomato had the same buttery texture as the peach. I've been thinking about taking a trip to Whole Foods just to see if I can find a similar tomato because this damn dish has been on my mind all day long.

Third Course: Cauliflower Tempura with Passion Fruit and Almonds
This dish was one of my favorites. The fried cauliflower was served on top of a sauce that tasted like apple pie. It may seem like a weird combo, but it was divine. I've never had passion fruit on it's own--does it taste like apples? Because I really swear there were apples somewhere in here, but maybe I'm hallucinating.

Fourth Course: Charred Broccoli Rabe on a Sushi Rice Cake with White Soy Vinaigrette
Not a very exciting dish, but it was tasty. I liked the homemade rice cake (you can't see it, it's under all the greens).

Fifth Course: Padron Peppers, Chantrelle Mushrooms, and Sweet Corn
This course was actually pretty disappointing. It wasn't bad, it just was very "meh." The corn and mushrooms were good, but they pretty much just tasted like corn and mushrooms that I had sauteed myself with some garlic and salt. The peppers had no taste, it seemed like they hadnt been seasoned at all. This was definitely the least interesting part of the meal.

Sixth Course: Falafal Burger with Tahini Sauce and Fries
Best. Falafal. in. the. World. And it's a recipe that chef Michael Mina stole from his mother. The falafal had a nice thin crunchy crust but the inside was extremely creamy. Not counting the dessert courses, this course was my favorite. That falafal is just heavenly. The accompanying fries were also really good. They tasted just how I remembered McDonalds fries tasted, which I'm sure the chef would find insulting, but I mean it as a compliment! I seriously recommend you stop whatever you are doing and get your butt to XIV just to have that falafal.

Seventh Course: Compressed Strawberries with Fruit Sorbet and Violets
After doing some googling, it seems that compressed fruit is a common menu item at upscale restaurants. Apparently, the technique involves sealing up the fruit, then vacuuming the air out and somehow injecting flavoring into the spaces that used to be filled with air. The berries were yummy and the sorbet was great but the best part was this amazing little white chocolate ball out of which gushed a thin berry sauce. It was a delightful little surprise.

Eighth Course: Coconut Sorbet with Peanut Butter Crunch and Basil Syrup

I can't get this dessert out of my head. I just keep reliving every tasty morsel in my brain. Mama pajama it was just absolutely perfect. The peanut butter crunch is hard to was sort of like if a graham cracker and some peanut brittle had a baby. It was chewy, gooey, and crunchy all at the same time. The coconut sorbet was really rich and there was also some sort of coconut dust on the plate as well. Although the menu calls the sauce basil syrup, I swear that our server called it mint jam and it did indeed taste minty. Mixing the syrup, the crunch, and the sorbet together was the most delightful trifecta.

I had a truly awesome night at XIV and I love patronizing a place that is so accessible to vegans. Maybe someday I will actually have a respectable salary and be able to afford patronizing this place more often. Siiiiigh, a girl can dream. In the meantime, I am off to concoct my own dessert recipe that involves coconut, peanut butter, and mint to tide me over until I can go back!

8117 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jose Beans: The Ultimate Comfort Food

The best thing about dating my boyfriend, is getting to spend a lot of quality time with his awesome roommate! I can't believe I spent 24 years of my life sans the wonderful Jose. Rarely do we call him Jose however. Instead we know him as Jose B (pronounced hose bee). The nickname stems from the most hilarious joke: "What did Jose's mother name his brother? hose b! (get it?! you know like jos A and jos B! oh man it tickles me every time.) Jose B is a delightful ball of wit and sarcasm and he just generally brings a little bit of sunshine to my life. On top of all this, he is a really good cook and one of his go-to family recipes has quickly shot to the very top of my comfort food list. It's a soupy bean concoction that has come to be known as Jose Beans (say "hose" beans.) The recipe comes from Jose B's Puerto Rican family. I bug Jose B to make them for me so often that finally he insisted I start making them for myself. He dictated the recipe to me and now I automatically fill up on pinto beans at Nature Mart in preparation for my weekly fix.

This is not a crazy, outrageous new way to make beans. It just happens to be a perfect storm of delicious ingredients. They're kind of like the mac 'n' cheese of Puerto Rico. The cilantro is key. If you don't have fresh cilantro, just don't even bother making these. I usually serve these beans over brown rice but half the time I just end up eating it like a soup.

Jose Beans (hose beans)
4 cloves garlic
1/2 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 good handful of fresh cilantro
1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 eight oz. can of tomato sauce
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
2 cans of pinto beans, or about 1 cup dried pinto beans soaked overnight
a couple shakes of garlic powder
sliced jalapeno pepper, for garnish

Put the garlic, bell pepper, cilantro, and onion in a food processor and blend until you've got an even mixture of minced veggies. This is called Puerto Rican sofrito. Add sofrito, tomato sauce, cumin, and coriander to a sauce pan and saute over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Shake some garlic powder into the pot. Add pinto beans and one or two tomato-sauce-cans-full of water to the pot, depending on how soupy or thick you want your beans. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer for 25 minutes or so. Plate and garnish with slices of jalapeno pepper.