Archive for March, 2010

Mo – Chica, Peruvian Restaurant – Los Angeles

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

By Sandy Driscoll

Mo Chica (image credit: Sandy Driscoll)Mo – Chica, Peruvian Restaurant with a definite Japanese Influence

Mo – Chica
3655 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles CA 90007
Tel. 213-747-2141
Opening Hours: Mon: 11-4pm/ 6-8pm; Tues-Sat: 11-4pm/ 6pm-9:45pm
No License to serve alcohol: Hence it is not allowed on the premises
Dress Code: Casual
Credit Cards: Yes
Prices: Inexpensive

Looking for reasonably priced, adventuresome eating, where every bite is a sensational taste revelation?

This is it!   A little gem . . . a Peruvian Restaurant just off the 110 freeway, near downtown & USC.   Los Angeles Magazine has already crowned them as one of the top 10 new restaurants of the year.  Most on the rest of their list are fancy dancy high end spots.   This is not . . . just delicious, fresh food, artfully prepared and presented by a former sushi chef who will probably make the Bon Appetite list of top chefs in the next couple of years.

Enjoy it while you can!   This is why we foodies love living in LA . . . to find a place like this!!  (Thank you, Merion & Tom!)
This tasting menu was a very reasonable $35!

Napkin & Tasting Menu (image credit: Sandy Driscoll)Mo – Chica Napkin and Tasting Menu   02/25/10

Quinoa Soup (image credit: Sandy Driscoll)Soup,  Quinoa, Jerusalem Artichokes

Causa (image credit: Sandy Driscoll)Causa, Santa Barbara Sardines, Escabeche Sauce

Cerviche (image credit: Sandy Driscoll)Ceviche,  Seared Albacore, Gooseberries Aquaimanto Marmalade, Leche de Tigre

Cau-Cau (image credit: Sandy Driscoll)Cau-Cau de Mariscos,  Confit Potato & Garlic, Mix seafood, Aji Amarillo Mint Sauce

Corn Nuts (image credit: Sandy Driscoll)Corn Nuts, Peruvian Style

Cerviche de Pato (image credit: Sandy Driscoll)Ceviche de Pato,  Braised Duck Leg, Ceviche Orange Sauce

Chocolate Nikkei (image credit Sandy Driscoll)Chocolate Nikki,  Guava moose Chocolate Tempura, Pistachio Ice Cream

Ntsiki Biyela, First Black Female Winemaker in South Africa

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Ntsiki Biyela, First Black Female Winemaker in South Africa

This is quite an unusual story in that, Ntsiki Biyela grew up in the small village of Ulundi, in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa without any knowledge of wines or how to make them, and her first taste of wine was unpleasant to her.
She graduated two years ago from Stellenbosch University with a degree in viticulture and enology to become one of the country’s first formally qualified black winemakers and the first black female winemaker.
She is now working at Stellekaya, a small winery specializing in boutique reds, and her first batch of wine is fermenting and will be ready for consumption in three years time.

Mayor Bloomberg: You Can Always Add Salt; But You Can’t Take It Out! – New York City

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

The Culprit is SaltIn January 2010, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made headlines by asking for a 25 percent reduction is salt over the next five years. Last week, the New York State Assembly took it a step further with a new piece of legislation that would ban salt from all restaurant cooking completely. Restaurants would be fined up to $1,000 per addition of salt before, during, or after cooking. Of course, this piece of legislation is way too strict and far-fetched and will never pass. However, in Mayor Bloomberg’s latest heath initiative, he has asked restaurants and food companies across the country to voluntarily reduce the salt content in food. Because it’s an issue that is almost impossible to legislate and regulate, the administration and partners in other cities are hoping the public pressure and enticement of positive PR will compel those in the food industry to comply. Companies and restaurants that commit to the targets set by the city have five years to reduce salt in their products and menu items by 25%, a target reached after over 60 talks with officials at huge manufacturers like PepsiCo and Kraft. This is a step in the right direction.

As was the case with Bloomberg’s smoking and trans fat bans and calorie count requirements, some are exclaiming nanny state, while others praise the move as progressive. The National Salt Institute, of course, is not happy as they are quite cheerful while making money on the slow poisoning of America.
The Health Department Announces Proposed Targets for Voluntary Salt Reduction in Packaged and Restaurant Foods and a new city plan pushes for 25% reduction of salt in nearly all food products

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has become New York City’s nutritional watchdog, banning the use of trans fats, forcing chain restaurants to post calorie counts and exhorting diners to consume less salt. Now he is at it again, directing his campaign at sugary drinks with a new series of attention-getting advertisements that ask subway riders: Are you pouring on the pounds?
During his term as mayor, the city has declared sodium an enemy, asking restaurants and food manufacturers to voluntarily cut the salt in their dishes  and encouraging diners to ask waiters for food without added salt. It seems that restaurants are paying more attention to customers wishes regarding less salt. Even in Italy, a country that is known for its liberal use of salt, on the same par with Asian restaurants, actually heeded my plea to avoid salt recently while protestations in the past went unheeded.
It is the salt in processed foods, not in shakers, that poses the greatest health risk.

Most prepared foods are too salty or too sweet as these two basic ingredients are primary and unsophisticated tastes that consumers crave and help to sell the product. Even though the consumer may not taste the saltiness immediately, in a period of time one will feel the result of being very thirsty. Consumers can always add salt to food, but they can’t take it out. At current levels, the salt in our diets poses health risks for people with normal blood pressure, and it is even riskier for the 1.5 million New Yorkers with high blood pressure. If we can reduce the sodium levels in packaged foods and food served in restaurants, we will give consumers more choice about the amount of salt they eat, and reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke in the process.

The recommended daily limit for sodium intake is 1,500 mg for most adults over 40 and blacks (who are prone to hypertension) and 2,300 mg for others. Some food products contain that much sodium in one serving. But much of the salt in Americans’ diets comes from breads, muffins and other foods that don’t taste salty. Salt levels can vary dramatically among popular products in the same category, such as breakfast cereals, indicating that lower levels are both technically feasible and commercially viable.

Other countries are already reducing salt in packaged and restaurant foods.  In the United Kingdom, a similar collaboration between the food industry and government has already resulted in salt reductions of 40% or more in some food products, with the overall goal of reducing the salt in processed and restaurant foods by one third. Canada, too, is actively addressing the issue, and Australia, Finland, Ireland, and New Zealand have all launched large scale, countrywide initiatives to help reduce the salt in their foods.

The National Salt Reduction Initiative has received a great deal of support from philanthropists and donors, including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Funding for the evaluation of population salt intake was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the New York State Health Foundation, the National Association of County & City Health Officials and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As for the Mayor, he over salts almost everything, even saltine crackers. He devours burnt bacon and peanut butter sandwiches and likes his popcorn so salty that it burns others lips. At Gracie Mansion, the cooks deliver it to him with a salt shaker. He has a weakness for hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and fried chicken and his favorite snack? Cheez-Its.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Molly Malone’s March 17, 2010 – Bangkok

Friday, March 12th, 2010

St. Patrick's Day (image credit: Molly Malone's) On Convent Road, Silom, Tel. 02 266 7161,

Santa Monica Restaurant “Caught” Serving Illegal Whale – Los Angeles

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Humpback Whale (image credit: Sea Shepherd)

The filmmakers who made the documentary “The Cove”, which won an Oscar at the Academy Awards on Sunday with its gruesome portrayal of the slaughter of dolphin at Taiji, Japan; and according to the New York Times, received a tip that the sushi restaurant, The Hump, 3221 Donald Douglas Loop South in South Santa Monica, California was serving whale. With the help of a hidden camera and microphone they filmed the dinner and also took a sample to a lab; it turned out to be the endangered species Sei whale.
Oddly enough, Mark Gold who is also involved in the investigation and possible illegal sale of whale at the restaurant, has a brother Jonathon Gold, the Pulitzer Prize winning food critic, who frequently writes about dining on endangered species much to the chagrin of Mark, who is President of Heal The Bay, an environmental group.
The hunting and killing of whales for food has long been a part of the Japanese culture and it will not end anytime soon. There are literally thousands of restaurants that specialize in selling whale in Japan however, I must say that I have never heard of it being served in a Los Angeles area restaurant although, I imagined it might be eaten secretly within the Japanese community.

UPDATE: According to latest reports “The Hump” has closed.

Washington State Organic Wines, Tasting & Wine Dinner, at Beccofino, March 26th, 2010 – Bangkok

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Washington State Organic Wine Tasting & Dinner

Washington State Wine Dinner Menu, March 26, 2010

US scallop wrapped with bacon, vegetarian couscous

and asparagus mousse

Cappesante avvolte nel bacon, cous cous di verdure

e crema di asparagi


Soft cannelloni with porcini mushroom,

spinach and pecorino cheese and saffron fondue

Cannelloni morbidi ai funghi porcini e spinaci

con fonduta di pecorino e zafferano


Grilled US Black Angus tenderloin with eggplant croquette,

tomato gratin and red wine sauce

Filetto di Angus Americano con crocchette di melanzane,

pomodoro gratinato e salsa al vino rosso


White coffee mousse with hazelnut ice cream and chocolate sauce

Bavarese al caffe, gelato alla nocciola

e salsa al cioccolato


Coffee or tea and chocolates

Caffe o thé e Cioccolatini

Baht 1690.++ per person

Piedmonte Wine Dinner, Wednesday, 17 March – Bangkok

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Piedmonte Winemaker Dinner, Bangkok

BaroloWinemaker Dinner

Produttori di Govone
Wednesday 17th March, 2010

7:30 pm

Wine Bar




Swordfish carpaccio with micro cress, marinated vegetables and lemon dressing

Carpaccio di pesce spada con verdurine marinate e vinaigrette al limone




Ravioli stuffed with polenta and venison ragu, fresh black truffles

Ravioli di polenta con ragu di capriolo e tartufo nero




Grilled Canadian black Angus tenderloin with eggplant croquette,

tomato gratin and red wine sauce

Filetto di Angus Canadese con crocchette di melanzane,

pomodoro gratinato e salsa al vino rosso




Sicilian cannoli with white chocolate ice cream, orange sauce

Cannoli siciliani con gelato al cioccolato bianco e salsa di arance




Coffee or tea and chocolates


Baht 2,200.++ per person

Chefs: Walter Manzke Leaves; Enter Joshua Smith at Church & State – Los Angeles

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Church & State, Los Angeles The National Biscuit Company, built in 1925, houses Church & State Restaurant

Lets put things into perspective: In September of last year, Yassmin Sarmandi bought out her partner Steven Arroyo, who made tapas popular in LA with his Spanish restaurant Cobras & Matadors, at Church & State (the French bistro in downtown Los Angeles on Industrial St.)   The amazing chef, Walter Manzke was brought in to put sparkle in what was an ordinary menu, and prompted Jonathon Gold, LA Weekly’s restaurant critic, to write: Manske is making “the most refined bistro cooking in LA“. He is about to leave Church & State to open his own restaurant. What happens now? He is replaced by Joshua Smith, who worked at Osteria del Circo, Michael Mina at his Seablue Restaurant and Alain Giraud’s Anisette. At this point, everyone has to wait and see!

La Folie Restaurant – San Francisco

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

La Folie, San Francisco (image credit: La Folie)

2316 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109
Tel. 415-776-5577
Credit Cards: Yes
Prices: Expensive

Roland Passot, the chef-owner of La Folie opened the strictly French restaurant about 20 years ago, I remember I made it a habit to stop by for dinner on each visit to the bay area; at that time it was family run, although it still maintained a certain formality. In the dining room his wife Jamie was at the door, and brother Georges would pour wine.

Recently the restaurant has gone through another redo, and has emerged looking like a sophisticated Manhattan establishment with polished wood paneling and vertical mirrors and a reshuffled menu. Passot is still behind the stoves—and loving it! Foie Gras reigns as King at La Folie and his presentation of foie gras with brioche is a must, along with many other dishes concocted in the fashion of Lyon where he grew up.

La Folie Lounge, a smart spot for cocktails and small-bites next door is already collecting its own clientele, in addition to those who drop in before or after dinner at La Folie.