Food Porn: Truffles, Pizzas and Octopus Carpaccio… Pictures from Last Night!

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“The most learned men have been questioned as to the nature of this tuber, and after two thousand years of argument and discussion their answer is the same as it was on the first day: we do not know. The truffles themselves have been interrogated, and have answered simply: eat us and praise the Lord.”

– Alexandre Dumas 

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AMERICAN BERKSHIRE PROSCIUTTO AND BURRATA $18

Di Stefano Artisan Burrata, Brioche Crostini, Fig Jam

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Since we’ve opened I have always treated the charcuterie bat like a sushi bar.  My cooks Michael and Chris kibbitz with guests offering them dishes that aren’t on any menu. It is a beautiful focal point for our restaurant.figue 2013 15 figue 2013 14 figue 2013 13

 

Carpaccio of Octopus $18

Truffle Basil Aioli, Arugula and Asparagus Salad, shaved Manchego, Brioche Crostini

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The octopus carpaccio is something I wanted to do for ten years now.  Last night was the first experiments.  I kept it fairly classic in liberal sense.  I mean we all know carpaccio Is raw beef drizzled with an olive oil dressing and garnished with shaved cheese. Invented in 1950 by Mr. Cipriani at Harry’s Bar in Venice.  The dish was inspired by the Contessa Amalia Nani Mocenigo whose doctor had recommended she go on a diet of raw meat.  Mr. Cipriani had visited the art exhibit of the famed Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio, known for his brilliant reds and whites.  Like any legendary dish, it mutates and morphs into something new.  Change always comes whether we want it to or not.  Our character is decided on how we handle it.

Turban of Sea Scallop and Burgundy Truffles $30

Spaghetti, shaved Truffles, Cabbage Salad, Beurre Blanc

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This is one of my favorite Joel Robuchon inspired dishes.  A single strand of spaghetti is wrapped around the interior of a savarin mold, filled with scallop and truffle mousse and big hunks of scallop then steamed.

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Turned out onto a pasta bowl, paired with a cabbage salad, slivers of fresh Burgundy truffles and an old school beurre blanc made with French butter.

figue 2013 06While I had my camera out I took a few more food shots…

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Squid Ink Chitarra Pasta in Guazetto $28

Greek Branzino, Mussels and Shrimp in a Saffron Tomato Brodo, Hand Cut Squid Ink Pasta

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Kibbe│ Lebanese Lamb and Bulgur Wheat meatballs, Cucumber salad, Hummus – 14 

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Daube of slow braised Wagyu Beef Cheek $36

baked Ricotta galette, Cherry Tomato confite, Pumpkin Seed Crumble, Micro Arugula

figue 2013 12Sticky Toffee Cake

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Moroccan Donuts and Harissa Hot Chocolate $9

house made Donuts, Cinnamon Sugar, spicy Hot Chocolate

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PBS Filming ” Hello Paradise with Joni Ravenna” at Figue

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Host Joni Ravenna filming at Figue YesterdayPBS Filiming 04

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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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