Archives for category: Downtown Los Angeles

Before I talk about my amazingly delicious dining experience at Best of LudoBites: Foie Gras Night, here are some reasons why I have been MIA:

1. I got bored. Which actually happens quite frequently. I put 110% into whatever I’m interested in at that moment to a point where it becomes annoying and unfortunately, I quickly get sick of it. And frankly, I got sick of talking about food. Compared to most food bloggers my dining experience has been limited and while I may know a little too much information about Tom Ford’s life, what I know about chefs are very limited. My taste buds are not snobby and yes guys, I do eat El Taurino quite frequently and enjoy it. (Carne asada burrito, no beans, with sour cream and cheese. Green and red sauce on the side.) As long as my mouth is happy eating good food, I’m fine dining at a 5-star restaurant or at a questionable hot dog stand on the street.
2. LA in Stilettos was having an identity crisis. Food blog? No. Fashion blog? No. Lifestyle blog? Too general. What is it? I still don’t have the answer to the question. There’s plenty of food blogs you can check out if you want detailed information about where to dine at and what to order and there’s gorgeous fashion blogs where you can really draw inspiration from. Unfortunately, as of now, LA in Stilettos is neither. But I do think Grace and I have something special to offer.
3. Busy with life. I didn’t realize how much time blogging took up and with my upcoming wedding, I’ve had 0 energy and interest. You would also think that 2 people running this blog would mean twice as many posts, but Grace is just as busy as I am finishing courses to graduate early, and working a part-time internship.
4. Does anyone read this?

But despite the reasons that I listed (and others I haven’t), I’ve kind of missed blogging. I may not be a great writer, I’m still working on being a better photographer, and my style may seem just okay, but I’m going to keep blogging. I have no idea where this blog is going, but we all have to start somewhere. Hopefully with age, this blog will only get better (kind of like George Clooney).

——

If I die of a heart attack at the age of 26, please feel free to sue California on my behalf. (A says suing California over my death by foie gras incident isn’t possible, but whatever, I’m going to stick by it.) With the ridiculous foie gras ban going into effect on July 1, 2012, I’ve been consuming an abnormal amount of foie gras. If I’m at a restaurant and there’s foie gras on the menu, I’m getting it. If there’s a special foie gras dinner, there’s a very good chance I’m at it.

Foie Gras Cromesqui “MM”
These balls were such a tease. You pop one in your mouth and it’s an explosion of foie gras and I kid you not, my eyes were closed and I literally moaned. Balls + moaning. We seriously wanted more balls in our mouths. (Insert several dirty jokes and snickers). I’m definitely jealous of the Wednesday diners, because they got two.

Foie Gras Dynamite, Tuna, Lichi

Foie Gras Miso Soup, Radish, Turnips

Foie Gras Black Croque-Monsieur, Grappes
Officially my new comfort food. What’s not to love about Croque Monsieurs? Add some foie gras to it and it definitely becomes a fancy, decadent comfort food that I can see myself devouring on a rainy day. (Seriously, why must this delicious goodness be banned?!)

Foie Gras “Crepinette.” Morels, Pears, Green Asparagus

Foie Gras Sundae, Brioche, Black Berries

Best of LudoBites: Foie Gras Night was definitely one of my favorite foie gras meals. Every dish was fantastic and I generally consume the same “boring” foie gras dish, but all the dishes for this dinner were creative and made me very happy. Not only was the foie gras the star of all the dishes, but it worked so well with all the other ingredients on the plate. I left the meal hoping to return for the 2nd night with A or Grace, but none of them were free until late.

Check back if you want more delicious foie gras photos. You know I’ll be consuming more until the ban! And possibly after if I manage to smuggle some into California.

Best of LudoBites: Foie Gras Night at Gram & Papa’s // 227 E 9th St. Los Angeles, CA 90015

xox Joanna

LudoBites 007
Gram & Papa’s
227 E 9th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
www.ludobites.com
Dinner – Friday, 09/09/2011

I have been fortunate enough to visit LudoBites 007 3 times (Opening Night dinner and 2nd visit here and here) and honestly, I feel a bit selfish since I know several people that still haven’t tried Chef Ludo’s food. But in my defense, the 2nd visit was semi-spontaneous and the 3rd visit came out of nowhere.

For the 2nd LudoBites 007 dinner post, I wrote some tips on how to get a table at LudoBites. I listened to my own advice and by chance got a table for 6 through OpenTable the night before. I took 4 other people that have been dying to try LudoBites and was more than happy to introduce more people to a delicious dining experience.

Lavender Ginger Lemonade

Choucroute Tarte Flambée

Prawn & Scallop Ceviche, Aji Amarillo, Red Berries

Masala Fried Chicken, Chicken Fat Vinaigrette

Foie Gras Crudo, Raw Mushrooms, Grapes, Brioche, Hazelnut Oil

Salt Cod Panna Cotta, Whipped Fingerling Potato, Smoked Tapioca

Braised Oxtail Beef, Rainbow Carrots, Shallots, Amaranth

Squid, Black Ash, Baby Leeks, Spring Onions, Chorizo

Pig’s Head Compressed, Mimolette, Barbeque Gelée, Pickles Melons

Egg, Sea Urchin, Caviar, Champagne Beurre Montee

Crispy Tandoori Octopus, Yogurt, Cauliflower, Grapefruit

Duck, Cherry, Spicy Saucisse, Beets, Radish

Foie Gras, Corn, Coconuts

Lamb Cooked in Fat “Moroccan Style”, Artichoke, Mint

Pick-Up Stick Cantal Cheese, Curry White Chocolate

Chocolate Cake, Chipotle, Orange

Lavender Tropezienne Tart, Aloe Vera, Peach

All 3 dining experiences for LudoBites 007 were delicious and I can’t wait to see what 8.0 will bring. If you can’t get a reservation for 8.0, please follow my tips and just be patient. A friend listened to my advice and arrived early for a walk-in and guess what? He got a table!

Once again, these are the tips so keep them in mind if you don’t get reservations for 8.0!

Since LudoBites reservations are hard to come by, here are some tips on getting a table:
- Do not angrily Tweet, message, etc. Chef Ludo and his wife, Krissy.
- Follow Krissy Lefebvre on Twitter (@FrenchChefWife) and keep your eyes open for cancellation Tweets.
- Check OpenTable periodically and hope for a cancellation!
- Walk-ins! Yes, there are some walk-ins available. At 6.0, there was a communal walk-in table available on a first-come, first-serve basis. For 007 there are 2 2-seaters on the sidewalk. Go early for these walk-ins.

xox -

Joanna

LudoBites 007
Gram & Papa’s
227 E 9th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
www.ludobites.com
Dinner – Wednesday, 09/07/2011

I was lucky enough to dine at LudoBites 007 for the 2nd time (Opening Night dinner here) with my friend PIGletventures (aka Violet Kim), a LudoBites virgin. We didn’t have reservations for this dinner, but we arrived at Gram & Papa’s at 4:50 PM to grab one of the walk-in tables on the sidewalk or try our luck at a table inside (there’s always cancellations). Since it’s the last week of LudoBites, there were no cancellations, but we had no problem enjoying the open air of Skid Row. The LudoTruck was also parked right next to us so we enjoyed episodes of LudoBites America while eating.

Since LudoBites reservations are hard to come by, here are some tips on getting a table.
- Do not angrily Tweet, message, etc. Chef Ludo and his wife, Krissy.
- Follow Krissy Lefebvre on Twitter (@FrenchChefWife) and keep your eyes open for cancellation Tweets.
- Check OpenTable periodically and hope for a cancellation!
- Walk-ins! Yes, there are some walk-ins available. At 6.0, there was a communal walk-in table available on a first-come, first-serve basis. For 007 there are 2 2-seaters on the sidewalk. Go early for these walk-ins.

Lavender Ginger Lemonade

Masala Fried Chicken, Chicken Fat Vinagrette

Gloves for the Chicken

Egg, Sea Urchin, Caviar, Champagne Beurre Blanc

Plancha Tandoori Octopus, Yogurt, Cauliflower, Grapefruit

Squid, Black Ash, Chorizo

Lamb Cooked in Fat Moroccan Style, Artichoke, Mint

Foie Gras, Corn, and Coconuts

Pistachio Brown Butter Cake, Mascarpone, Red Berries

Since it was only 2 of us, we didn’t order everything off the menu and the few dishes we ordered, we were barely able to finish, but of course, every bite was delicious. Like opening night, everything about dinner was great and I know Violet really enjoyed her first time at LudoBites. And of course, being the little piggies that we are, we grabbed a snack from LudoTruck after.

xox -

Joanna

Jonathan Gold’s Pancake Breakfast
Vibiana
214 S. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
www.laweekly.com/microsites/pancake-breakfast
Event Date – Sunday, 08/28/2011

Whenever I go to breakfast or brunch, I always end up ordering way too much food for myself. I always want a bite of something sweet, but I also want something savory. Since I can’t order a bite of french toast or waffle, I usually end up getting a full order with a side of bacon and/or sausage, and another dish that’s a bit more savory. Even though I have a big appetite for a girl, even I can’t finish my breakfast order.

Jonathan Gold’s First Annual Pancake Breakfast was held at Vibiana on a Sunday morning. The low priced ticket ($25) drew a large crowd and the event was sold out. People were seen sitting on the floor of the venue enjoying their food and lots of families and children were in attendance. Jonathan Gold himself was also seen at the event mingling with exhibitors and guests and even local Food Network celebrity, Aarti Sequoia, was at the event.

The following is a list of some of the restaurants that participated in the first Pancake Breakfast: Kobawoo House, Square One, Marston’s, FIG, Xoia, Tiara, BLD, Playa, Glowfish Food Truck, 101 Noodle Express, LAMILL, Dupar’s, Mayura Restaurant, Warszawa, Dinah’s Family Restaurant, Meals by Genet, Nickel Diner, Original Pancake House, Salt’s Cure, Zona Rosa Caffe.

Nickel Diner Salted Peanut Cake and Maple Bacon Doughnut

LAMILL Iced Coffee

LAMILL Coffee

Meals by Genet Fava Beans w/ Ethiopian Butter and Spices and Pita Bread

Dinah’s Family Restaurant Swedish Pancake w/ Lingonberry

Glowfish Food Truck Okonomiyaki w/ Shrimp and Bacon

Salt’s Cure Oatmeal Griddle Cake w/ Honey Cinammon Butter

Xoia Pork Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Crepe)

Warszawa Potato Pancake w/ Applesauce and Sour Cream

BLD Blueberry Ricotta Pancake

Square One Pancake w/ Bacon Caramel Sauce

Kobawoo Seafood Pancake

Fig Lemon Ricotta Pancake w/ Blueberry Butter and Almond

Dupar Pancake w/ Boysenberry Syrup

Buttermilk Pancake w/ Meyer Lemon Fluff

Playa Maize Cake Salsa Semilla w/ Burrata, Arugula Salad, Salsa Verde

Mayura Restaurant Butter Chicken w/ APPAM

This is definitely an event I would attend every year since the ticket price is so reasonable. There was plenty of food and only one exhibitor ran out of food before 2:00 PM. Even though I didn’t take advantage of the open vodka bar, I drank plenty of great coffee from LAMILL.

xox -

Joanna

Plate by Plate 2011
Vibiana
214 S Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
www.platebyplate.org
Event Date – Saturday, 08/06/2011

Oh gosh, I’m not going to lie. I mean…I remember everything that happened at Plate by Plate (PbP), but I don’t quite remember the fine details due to running around, over stuffing my face, and of course, downing shots at the open Kettle One bar. At one point, I was with the DJ bouncing around and pretending like I was DJing (don’t worry, he’s a friend). Feel free to judge and shake your head.

So instead of describing all the lovely dishes I tasted, this will have to be one of those posts with just photos. You’ll be lucky if you even get the name of the dish and the restaurant it was from.

Lesson learned: Don’t drink and eat, especially if you plan on blogging about it.

Compressed Watermelon, Basil Oil from Chaya

Hamachi Mole Pressed Sushi, Aji Amarillo Aioli from Chaya

Chicken Cau Cau from Picca

Pandan Donut Hole from Starry Kitchen

Malay Coco Pineapple Chicken from Starry Kitchen

Kettle One Open Bar

Potato Dorado from Chef Walter Manzke

Ahi Tuna Slider from M Street Kitchen

Chilled Tomato Gazpacho and Goat Cheese & Watermelon Salad from Chef Anahita

Spiced Apricot Cake w/ Salted Caramel from Chef Anahita

Housemade Charcuterie from Wood & Vine

Maison Akira

Laurent Quenioux

Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s

La Cachette Bistro

Four Seasons Catering

The Gorbals

Sushi Roku

This event surpassed my expectations and I absolutely loved it. Not only was this at one of my favorite Los Angeles venues, Vibiana, but the vibe was great and you can tell that everyone put a lot of hard work into the event. I also want to thank Yelp and Plate by Plate for my two free tickets, which I won through Yelp. I was glad my first PbP experience was great and will definitely be back next year. Oh, and I promise not to guzzle down all the alcohol ;)

xox -

Joanna

LudoBites 007
Gram & Papa’s
227 E 9th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
www.ludobites.com
Dinner – Wednesday, 08/03/2011

A picture is worth a thousand words… here are 15 photos. You do the math. Enjoy!

Open kitchen at Gram & Papa’s

Lavender Ginger Lemonade

Onion Tart, Bottarga

Dorade Ceviche, Cucumber Water, Cornichons, Borrage Flower

Tomato Soup, Carrots, Squid

Salt Cod Panna Cotta, Whipped Fingerling Potato, Smoked Tapioca, Black Olive Bread

Pig’s Head Compressed and Cheddar, Barbeque Gelee

Egg, Sea Urchin, Caviar, Champagne Beurre Blanc

Plancha Tandoori Octopus, Yogurt, Cauliflower, Grapefruit

Foie Gras Ravioli, Crispy Kimchi, Sake-Black Truffle Cream

Duck, Cherry, Spicy Saucisse, Beets, Radish

Roasted Beef, Horseradish Cream, Green Beans, Dried Mollet

Epoisse Cheese Risotto, Hazelnut, Egg Yolk, Herb Salsas

Peach Melba Vacherin, Lavender

Crustless Lemon Tart, Limoncello, Thyme

Park sisters with Chef Ludo

xox -

Joanna & Grace

Monique Lhuillier Sample Sale
1201 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
www.moniquelhuillier.com
Sale Date: Sunday, 07/10/2011

Monique Lhuillier Sample Sale.
There are usually two sample sales every year around July and November.

What girl doesn’t dream about walking down the aisle in a Monique Lhuillier wedding dress? Unfortunately, when every girl is dreaming, she doesn’t consider the $10,000+ price tag of the dress. That’s where the semi-annual Monique Lhuillier Sample Sale comes in handy. The sample sale happens around July and November every year in a warehouse in Downtown LA. Women start lining up at 3 AM in hopes of finding their dream dress 40% to 90% off retail price.

I completely forgot that the Monique Lhuillier sample sale was happening until I stepped outside my building and saw a long line of women. I knew the sample sale was around my neighborhood, but I didn’t realize that it was literally a few steps away from my building. Since I haven’t started wedding dress shopping yet and oddly enough, don’t really care to, I was more interested in checking out the RTW (ready to wear) items. I wasn’t dying to check out the sale so I decided to stop by in the afternoon after running all my errands for that day.

Line of women at 8:30 AM.
I was surprised that the line wasn’t longer!

I got in line around 12:15 PM and even though there were only about 40 people ahead of me, the wait was about an hour. I was hoping the line would move a lot faster, but they were only letting in people as they were coming out. Several girls came out empty handed, but the few that did walk out with a wedding dress were beaming. I also saw a few girls that walked out with gorgeous, floor length, RTW dresses.

Most of the wedding dresses that pique my interest are something classic, but with a twist that makes that dress stand out and of course, something utterly feminine. The following are just some photos of dresses that stand out the most to me and I would be interested in buying:




All 4 photos are from The Knot and are recent collections.

Unfortunately, none of the dresses I posted above were available. Most likely because the dresses are from recent collections and I think the few elaborate dresses available were purchased earlier in the day.

The chaos you see when you first enter.

Rows of wedding dresses.

Rack of wedding dresses.

Some of the wedding dresses available were:

Countess
Originally – $7,920
Sample Sale Price – $1,800

Mandy
Originally – $5,060
Sample Sale Price – $1,000

Name of dress unknown.
It was a very simple, strapless, mermaid style dress.
Originally – $3,410
Sample Sale Price – $300

Name of dress unknown.
This was one of the few dresses that stood out to me, but the condition could have been better.

Selection of RTW items.
A decent selection of long dresses were available, but not marked down as much as wedding dresses.



Selection of bridesmaid dresses.
The bridesmaid dresses only covered one rack and the selection was not great. None of these dresses looked flattering and I don’t think it would look good on anyone except Victoria’s Secret models. On the bright side, dresses were marked down to around $50.

Bridal accessories.

Rack of veils.

When I stepped out a little after 1:30 PM, there was no line. I would recommend the sample sale for soon-to-be brides that are looking for a simple, plain dress and don’t care that dresses are from the 2006 collection. Elaborate, detailed dresses were definitely lacking and the few that were available were not in the greatest condition. I highly doubt you’ll find dresses from their newer collections so don’t go in hoping you’ll find a Spring 2012 collection dress in perfect condition marked down at 90%.

If you insist on getting a Monique Lhuillier or some other designer named wedding dress at a fraction of the price, I recommend checking out websites like PreOwned Wedding Dresses and Once Wed. Yes, these dresses have been worn before by brides and most people are hesitant at the thought of wearing a wedding dress that has already been worn. But keep in mind that dresses at sample sales have probably been tried on by hundreds of people and the condition of these dresses are usually far worse than dresses that have only been worn for a few hours. Or if you’re like me and don’t really care for the designer name, there are cheaper alternatives like getting a custom dress made.

xox -

Joanna

Starry Kitchen
350 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 617-3474
www.starrykitchen.com
Lunch – Tuesday, 06/28/2011

When I first met Nguyen, he asked if I wanted some balls in my mouth.

Whenever a stranger comes up to me and asks me that (yes, it happens a lot more often than you’d think), I do one of the following: 1) run, 2) yell, or 3) get ready to punch. Thankfully, I didn’t need to do any of those, because Nguyen was referring to Starry Kitchen’s delicious Crispy Tofu Balls.

My first taste of Starry Kitchen was at the 2010 LA Street Food Fest at the Rose Bowl and since those tofu balls touched my mouth, I was hooked. It took me a lot longer than I thought to actually go to the restaurant and try the food, but a few months ago, I finally made it! (The Yelp review of that lunch can be read here.)

Not only is the food at Starry Kitchen delicious, but Nguyen’s energy is also very contagious! Since Grace didn’t get to try the food at the LA Street Food Fest and didn’t come with me for the first lunch, I had to bring her for the second visit.

Before you continue reading, knowing about parking is a must! We all know that parking in Downtown can be a !@#$% and very costly. Thankfully, Starry Kitchen validates, which means, a $30 parking charge in a fancy office building is free! Just drive north on Olive (don’t go past the Omni Hotel) and park in the structure that says “350 South Grand”.

Menu.
Don’t be confused by all the writing on the chalkboard. The steps are easy…
1) Pick a Protein
2) Pick a Vessel (What you want your protein to go on/in.)
3) Pick a Side
Just remember that the menu changes on a weekly basis so your favorite item may not be there next week.

Chinese Hoisin Hamburger on Banh Mi with a Side of SK Spicy Viet Salad.
We wanted to try the Spicy Korean Black Pork Belly, but they ran out. (Which only means we’ll be back later this week…) I love Banh Mi, but the typical Banh Mi sandwich can get very boring after awhile. I love all the non-boring proteins that Starry Kitchen offers.

Crispy Tofu Balls on Chopped Salad.
Salads for meals can be a bit boring, but the Tofu Balls worked perfectly with the Chopped Salad. The balls are crispy and the slightly spicy sauce that the balls come with is great.

Korean Glass Noodles aka Japchae.
Okay, most Korean restaurants can’t even make Japchae properly and it’s usually an oily clump that I refuse to touch. If you want to know what real Japchae tastes like, you’re looking at it.

Pickled Jalapeno & Siracha.
If you love spicy food, just grab the whole container of pickled veggies and dip them in Siracha. Your mouth will be on fire, but it’s so worth it. I kept saying, “my mouth is screaming ‘YES’ and ‘NO’ at the same time!!” while taking gulps of my drink and shoving bread in my mouth.

Yes, please!

Joanna, Nguyen, Grace.
Our “Diorama” dinosaur faces! ROAR.

I am so glad this formerly underground and illegal restaurant that ran out of Nguyen and his wife, Thi’s North Hollywood apartment turned legal! It only means that everyone can enjoy Starry Kitchen for lunch Monday through Friday and the occasional dinners. Starry Kitchen is also hosting LQ @ SK, a pop-up between Chef Laurent Quenioux and Starry Kitchen, which I will definitely be back for.

xox-

Joanna

Church & State Bistro
1850 Industrial St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 405-1434
www.churchandstatebistro.com
Dinner – Saturday, 06/11/2011

Joanna went to Church & State a couple months ago…without me. But all I kept hearing about was how amazing the food was especially the fries. So I knew we would definitely be returning sometime soon. And we did end up going spontaneously about a week and a half ago for a late dinner at 10:30 pm. Joanna and I agree that we’re starting to really like the “late dinner” vibe especially on weekends.

The menu
The photos were taken with a Canon G10 and this was the first time we took it out to a restaurant. Dim lighting + no flash + Joanna pressing random buttons leading to disaster. Some of the photos are out of focus.

Le Cachat
herbed goat cheese, lavender honey
I love goat cheese, and the lavender honey added the perfect amount of sweetness to the creamy texture of the cheese. Our party of five ate the entire jar, grabbing different pieces of bread throughout the meal.

Moules Marinières
p.e.i. mussels, cinzano vermouth, french fries, aïoli
The mussels were delicious as was the “soup” that we dipped pieces of bread into. Unfortunately, a few of the mussels were closed, but I still enjoyed this dish. But the most important part – the fries Joanna could not stop raving about. And yes, one bite definitely made it clear why she couldn’t! They’re cooked to perfection with the just the right amount of salt, and the aioli is definitely one of the best I have ever had. I could probably eat these fries all day everyday.

Oreilles de Cochon
pig’s ears, sauce bearnaise
Ordered per suggestion of Chef Austin Szu. Joanna and I really liked them!

Escargots de Bourgogne en Crôute
burgundy snails, garlic butter, puff pastry
I haven’t had escargot since approximately 10+ years ago. I had my first escargot when my family was traveling through Europe. I did like this version because it was different than simply putting the escargot onto a piece of bread. But this dish wasn’t my favorite of the night. I just couldn’t seem to get the right about of the escargot, garlic butter and pastry in a bite.

Moelle de Bœuf
roasted marrow bone, marinated radish salad

Noix Saint-Jacques
sautéed diver scallops, white asparagus, sautéed morel mushrooms, parsley coulis


Poitrine de Veau
braised veal breast, mousseron mushrooms, roasted baby gem, veal jus
So incredibly soft. We didn’t even need a knife to cut through it!

Gratin de Macaronis et Fromage
macaroni, comte, gruyère, emnthaler, bechemel
Personally this was too cheesy for my taste. I took a couple bites, but I couldn’t eat more of it. However, I did enjoy the strong flavors. I also know that in our group the ones who loved cheese really enjoyed this dish.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to Church & State. Even though it is a little bit “out of the way” in relation to the other restaurants in Downtown LA, I think the fries alone justify coming out. And in all honesty, who doesn’t love fries?

xox-

G

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