Sunday, May 4, 2008

eating our way around town

Thought I'd share my great eating week with the Interweb.

Friday, three friends and I had a terrific dinner - and a great girls' night out - at Pizzeria Mozza. YUM! Terrific food, but seriously, it took ages to get a reservation that wasn't at 10:45 pm. You can only call a month before. I'm not sure it's quite worth the hype in that regard, but the food was really good. We each got our own pizza but shared bites and slices, and we also shared an appetizer and two desserts. Pizzas included: bianca (Hilary's; probably the most traditional with an awesome mix of fontina, mozzarella, sottocenere and sage; tasty, but not the most exciting of the four); speck, bufala mozzarella, olive tapanade & oregano (Jenn's); Coach farm goat cheese, leeks, scallions & bacon (mine); and squash blossoms with burrata (Nanette's). I fully expected to like Nanners's the best, because - hello - burrata! But I actually liked mine best.

Our appetizer was a caprese salad with burrata, fresh basil, and oven-roasted vine tomatoes (still on the vine), and it was served with garlic bread (that almost killed me - can't eat garlic). Dessert was seriously worth writing home about... one was a butterscotch budino (pudding) with caramel sauce, sea salt, and creme fraiche, and the other was caramel gelato atop a pizzelle cookie, one scoop covered in caramel sauce and the other in homemade marshmallow sauce, with salted Spanish peanuts. I am becoming way more a fan of salt with sweet than I knew possible.

The restaurant is very loud, and it was really cold on our side of the room. But the general deliciousness totally outweighs those things. I'd definitely go back (and take Josh this time!).

Last night, we joined the ranks of LA-ites who like Joe's on Abbot Kinney. We've been for brunch two or three times and been extremely unimpressed (other than the parsnip soup, which by the way, I can't pronounce without stumbling). But we went out for a late night bite and dessert, and we had a great meal! With Susan and Malcolm, we shared three appetizers, a cheese plate with six cheeses, and three desserts. The appetizers included a tuna tartare served on top of smoked salmon, a crab salad served inside an artichoke heart, and porcini mushroom ravioli I didn't touch (but which was supposedly amazing). The desserts were a warm banana chocolate chip cake, a strawberry shortcake (with strawberry foam! finally got to try some molecular gastronomy! and it tasted like... strawberry foam!) and a chocolate crunch cake with hazelnuts. The guys had glasses of port, too. Very nice, perfect for a 10:00 dinner, and I'd definitely give it another try. Funny enough, two of the dishes we liked the most have apparently been on the menu for 10-15 years and are crowd favorites that sell out every night. Wonder why we didn't taste them before! (Maybe they weren't part of brunch.)

We go out to eat fairly regularly, but not usually to super-hip or super-expensive places. These were two very enjoyable meals that reminded me how nice it is to be in a good eating town.

At the other end of the spectrum, we sussed out a new raspados joint in Inglewood - Bionicos Jalisco on Prairie Avenue - and brought the kids there for lunch today to try it out. We had a delicious torta (sandwich with awesome shredded chicken in a red chile sauce on a squishy white roll with avocado), pretty good tacos, and great mango and vanilla raspados (two separate flavors, not a combo). Our old raspado place was awesome until it was sold to new owners, and now they taste like plain old shaved ice with syrup (not real fruit). The mango at the new place is marinated in mango sugar syrup until the pieces of fruit are practically candied. Josh's vanilla looked like thin pudding, and I'd be not at all surprised to find out it contained condensed milk.

They don't have as many flavors as our old place, but they do serve jugos, licuados, smoothies, raspados, and bionicos. I don't even know what all of those are, but my guess is that is goes jugo, licuado, smoothie in order from thinnest to thickest. Research shows that licuados are a blended beverage, popular throughout Latin America, that blends milk, fruit and ice to provide a light, healthy, nutritional drink. Bionicos are a Mexican specialty fruit and cereal snack. Various fruits are cut into bite-sized pieces topped with granola, raisins and then sweetened milk is added. And raspados are Mexican snow cones, but the good ones use real fruit and syrup, not artificially-flavored fruit syrup; the best ones also have condensed milk.

It wasn't in the best neighborhood, but the staff was really friendly (and put up with the kids, who were a bit messy), and the place was clean and bustling with locals. Oh, and it was less than $15 for two raspados, a torta, two tacos, and a sandwich, so you can't really beat the price. Definitely to be repeated. Actually, all three restaurants should have repeat visits!


Nanette said...

Such a great with you at Mozza!

And yay for new raspados!!!

Hilary said...

'Twas fun, although I must say my favorite part of Mozza was the dessert!

Hilary said...

Uh, I meant to say the best part in regards to food, not company!

Leah Messinger said...

Yes, your licuado research is correct! Juston and I didn't so much travel through South America after college as licuado ourselves through South America. We especially loved the strawberry and peach varieties (not including the the peach one in Valparaiso, Chile, where the preparer of that delight decided to include the peach pit in the blending process. That one was a little, erm, chunky).