Sunday Family Day: Tibetan Dumplings: Who’s Your Momo?

Vacation August 2013 Sacramento X Street Market and Jam267

We shared the richest and fullest family day to date.  The day started early as it always does when you have a precocious two and a half year set on proving his place in the family structure.  I just wish his coordination matched the age of his mind and he could act on his thoughts.  Beau wakes us up with promises of ‘presso.  My half awake early morning brainwaves conjure images of the perfect espresso rich and creamy with it’s crema perfect like at Insight Coffee in Sacramento.  Thoughts wander to Antoine St. Exupery’s passage from his amazing book “Wind, Sands and Stars”, “The joy of living, I say, was summed up for me in the remembered sensation of that burning and aromatic swallow, that mixture of milk and coffee and bread by which men hold communion with tranquil pastures, exotic plantations, and golden harvests, communion with earth.” .  My java filled dream bubble rudely popped by Beau’s impromptu impersonation of a dinosaur complete with screaming at the top of his lungs and menacingly lunging at us.  I suppose in the long run, a two year old screaming Dinosaur gets me out of bed faster than coffee.

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Lately mornings have been more tolerable as cooler weather patterns have moved in.  We decided on a walk in the Desert just south of the Top of the Cove, where we live.  The slow season out here is great in the sense that you rarely see anyone walking in the Desert.  The explanation is two fold, (a) most people leave this are for the hot summer months and (b) only a fool takes a long walk in the Desert with 126 degree temperatures.  We walked through an area that  a flash flood recently ravaged.  The devastation was amazingly surreal and permanent, forever altering the landscape, where piles of rocks once stood, only dried plates of dirt and sand remain.  Beau enjoyed himself jumping on these natural tiles and smashing him imploring Daddy to join the destruction.

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Sunday Family Day 092213 03I was set on cooking an Asian based fest for Gary and Joan, Lisa, myself and Beau.  I had purchased three pounds of calamari, one whole Tai Snapper, fresh pork from De La Ranch and some ground beef to cook with.  The menu was Tibetan Beef Dumplings with Ginger Tomato Sauce, Pork and Cabbage Dumplings with a Ginger dipping sauce, Salt and Pepper Calamari, Crispy Tai Snapper with Green Papaya and Scallion Oil, finished with barbecues Pineapple with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream drizzled with a (Pyrat) Rum and Vanilla Bean butter sauce.  I prepped feverishly for two hours trying to get as much done as quickly as possible.  Strange, you’d think I hated cooking on my day off.  Truth be told, cooking is love and what a great way to show love, one stomach at a time!

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We ventured to Beau’s favorite playground, the Blue Playground, just off of 111 and Adams.  Beau danced in the water like a dervish spinning and whirling to some hidden, ecstatic inner voice and rhythm, endlessly circling the fake palm tree squirting water all over. The women of his tribe chased him as he ran around the tree stopping momentarily in the safe harbor of mama or dada’s lap.  Water had transformed our little dinosaur.  WE stopped at Home Depot for a few things to garden with.  I converted our Guatemalan drink cart into a garden planter and made a pot of herbs for Joan and Gary as a thanks for the help they give us raising Beaumont. Beaumont passed out hard, for twenty minutes, not as long as we hoped but enough to re energize him and prime him for Dama and Putz (grandma and grandpa) arrival.

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For seven years I dwelt in the loose palace of exile.
Playing strange games with the girls of the Island.
Now I have come again to the land of the fair and the strong and the wise. Brothers and Sisters of the pale forest. Children of the night. Who among you will run with the hunt? Now, night arrives with her purple legions. Retire now to your tents and to your dreams. Tomorrow we enter the town of my birth. I want to be ready.
– Jim Morrison

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Dama and Putz arrived and Lisa elevated the mood with her Golden Lions.  One day I will have to transcribe the recipe for Daniel Boulud’s amazing cocktail, fresh ginger juice, Pyrat rum, lime.  Together we shared plates of Sha Momo (Tibetan Beef Dumplings), Chinese Pork and Cabbage Dumpling, crispy fried Tai Snapper, Salt and Pepper Calamari and a refreshing roasted Pineapple with Vanilla Bean and Pyrat rum sauce…

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Beaumont sporting his Pumpkin Lights from Dama

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Long after the night ended and our dinosaur was fast asleep, we enjoyed a flute of Prosecco promising that every Sunday should be like this…

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whole Tai Snapper frying, waiting to be covered with julienned green papaya, scallion oil and a Thai fish sauceSunday Family Day 092213 06Kaffir Limes look so much like a Shar Pei crossed with a Lime

 

 

Sha Moma: largely stolen from Andrea Nguyen’s amazing dumpling book that ought to be a part of everyone’s cook book collection called “Asian Dumplings”

Filling:

3/4 pound ground Beef

1/2 cup Onion, chopped fine

1/3 cup Scallions, chopped

1/4 cup Ginger, minced

1/4 cup Garlic, minced

Salt and Sichuan Pepper

2 tablespoon Canola Oil

6 tablespoons Water

Mix everything together, rest one hour

Dumpling Dough:

2 cups Flour

3/4 cup boiling water

Mix in food processor with plastic dough blade, rest two hours.

Cut small lumps of dough and roll thin with wine bottle or rolling pin.  Take a big spoonful of meat and wrap around.  Put into a cabbage leaf lined steamer and cook 12 minutes.  Serve with a tomato sauce made from scratch adding cumin, hot peppers, copious quantities of ginger root, mint and cilantro.

 

PBS Filming ” Hello Paradise with Joni Ravenna” at Figue

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Diver Scallop, Piquillo pepper granite and Lime Crudo $16

Mexican Diver Scallops drizzled with Kaffir Lime Ginger vinaigrette

Piquillo Pepper Granite, Bautista Creek Finger Limes and Organic Sicilian Hot Pepper Olive Oil

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Squid Ink Chitarra pasta with uni $18

chilled hand rolled Chitarra Pasta with fresh Dungeness Crab

Sea Urchins and Zucchini Blossom Pesto

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Joni’s Daughter enjoying our Halibut Tajine, halibut tagine│ Moroccan spiced Halibut, roasted Summer Vegetable Couscous – 32PBS Filiming 14

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PBS Filiming 16Please visit Joni’s webpage at http://www.raventv.net/helloparadise.html

 

Unleash the Bestia in Me!

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My wife Lisa and I decided to celebrate our 10 year anniversary by dining out in Los Angeles sans Beaumont, our 2.5 year old son.  Sure, he loves great food too and I love being with him, but sometimes you just need adult time. I told Cathleen Newmann, Figue’s Vivreau water rep, about our plans and she suggested Bestia, also one of her accounts.  The wait list to get a reservation for Bestia is so long that Beaumont would probably have a better chance getting a reservation in his lifetime than me in mine.  Cathleen said she might have incriminating photos of the Chef/Owner Ori Menashe, formerly Chef of Angelini Osteria and a certain inflatable goat from a recent trip to Las Vegas and perhaps they might be helpful in getting a ressie.  I eagerly asked her to pursue the coveted reservations by all means necessary.  The day we wanted to go was only five days away so we started forming backup plans just in case.  I hadn’t heard anything from Cathleen till Tuesday when she sent a coded message telling me my reservation at Bestia was secured.  In retrospect, the message could of said forget about it, Ori is proud of those pictures, go ahead post away. Hey what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas or something like that.

We arrived ten minutes early for our reservation and were told that no such reservations existed.  Devastation.  I had already figured out what 18 dishes I had to try on Ori’s kick ass menu.  I almost started crying, throwing a Beau like tantrum spewing different names and phone numbers that the reservation might be under.  It was a little like a scene from the movie Date Night when Steve Carell and Tina Fey are trying to eat at a trendy city restaurant.  Apparently some combination worked and we were seated outside in an atrium-esque industrial setting.  It gave the dining experience a wonderful ambiance.

Our waiter quickly arrived at our table and dropped off the cocktail menu and dinner menu and gave a brief history of the restaurant from it’s opening the day after Thanksgiving in 2012.  We were so amused by the Bespoke option on the drink list that we asked to learn more.  Our waiter told us of their mixologist Julian Cox who apparently is a genius and loves challenges.  Tell him an alcohol and at least one characteristic and the guy will blend the most amazing cocktail you ever tried.  I went mainstream and said Rum and Sweet.  Lisa tried to stump him with Campari and delectable.

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I could hear Julian chuckle at our novice attempt to confound him as he sent over two of the best cocktails we ever had in our lives.  Mine was called something like a beesting and Lisa’s was appropriately called ‘refreshing’.  Her cocktail had this super cool metal stirrer/straw.  The evening was starting so perfectly, setting the pace for the culinary onslaught waiting to be unleashed from the Bestia within.

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WE sipped wonderful cocktails and looked at the fig tree and cactus’s next to us.  I ordered four small plates and asked the waiter t space them out in the proper sequence.  We wanted to enjoy each one separately and deliberately.  Chef Ori is known for several things.  The thing that attracted me to him was the home made pickles and charcuterie, with the pizzas and pasta not far behind.  The first dish out was a amazing Kanpachi crudo with Squid Ink bottarga, breadcrumbs, chili oil, lemon and scallions.

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The honey flavors in my rum cocktail actually worked well with the dish.  My only complaint or comment was it could have used a touch of salt.  The crudo did what it was suppose too, it whet the appetite for the next round.  We ordered a bottle of 2007 Kabaj Cuvee Morel, a Slovenian Cabernet/Merlot, Cab Franc blend while waiting for the next dish.  The waiter could exactly take our desire for an earthy old world wine and translate it into liquid love.  I wish I had gotten the name of the waiter as he was extremely knowledgeable, enjoyable to talk with and exactly what a waiter should be.

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Chef Ori’s selection of house made charcuterie came next.  The Coppa di Testa with house made mustard was delightful.  I loved the fact that no one mentioned what part of the pig this came from.  You just ate it.  Us Americans are needlessly so squeamish about eating certain body parts.  The earthy wine sang songs with the various salumi on the wooden board.

Next up was the pan seared Octopus and Calamari with fennal, mixed mushrooms, arugula and aged balsamic.  The mushrooms worked so well with the octopus and calamari.  Yummy!

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Next up was Grilled Lamb Tongue Crostino with Garbanzo Bean Puree, Salsa Verde, heirloom Carrot and Lemon Cucumber pickles.  An explosion of yummy flavors and textures.  Lisa loved the lamb but kept thinking of Mick Jagger’s tongue.  I made a few ill timed imitations of our son’s lamb doll asking where his tongue went.  By this time we were getting full.  WE debated purging ourselves and continuing…  the food is that good!  We  were up between Pistachio pasta with a goat ragu, a sea urchin pasta or the Agnolotti alla Vaccinara, Cacao parcels with braised Ox Tails, Burro Fuso, Grana Padano, Pine nuts and Currants.  We decided on the last one and were completely blown away by the depth and range of flavors.

Bestia 25Sufficiently replenished and satiated we passed up more pasta, pizza and possibly an orata for two desserts.  I normally rarely eat dessert.  In America desserts are just to one dimensional and sugary for me.  However, Ori’s wife Pastry Chef Genevieve Gergis makes unbelievable desserts that could forever change my mind.  I won’t repeat what I said to the waiter about the desserts…  but it was all good.

 

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The desserts we choose were the valrhona fair trade bittersweet chocolate tart with salted caramel and the ricotta fritters with fresh strawberry jam, brown sugar gelato and whipped cream.   The crust on the chocolate tart was everything a perfect crust should be, crisp, flaky, sugary, yummy.  The ricotta fritters were my kind of dessert.  I may have to try to make them at Figue when I go to work this weekend.

 

All in all, we had a fabulous time.  The food and service were unbelievable,  I do not know Ori so I apologize about my bad humor.  You rock!  Dining here has revitalized me in my quest for culinary perfection.  It is so nice to go out and be stimulated and blown away!

I highly recommend eating there.  Location: 2121 7th Place Los Angeles CA, 90021; Telephone: 213.514.5724; http://www.bestiala.com/index.php

Chef Francois…

 

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