Archive | April, 2014

I do like flowers

20 Apr

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It’s spring! Sunshine! Rebirth! Daffodils! Matzo!

Etc.

Time for new stuff, I say. Time for a trip to visit Faith & Flower. It has been open less than a month, but I wanted to visit. I’m trying to be a more intrepid reporter here. I can’t be totally intrepid. Maybe more in-tepid, since I do know one of the folks behind this restaurant, and therefore am not visiting undercover. I’ll save disguises for my glory days.

So, Faith and Flower. IT IS BEAUTIFUL.
And things are big.

It all started with a business card. Would you look at the weight of this thing?!

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They say it all starts with first impressions and my first impression was that Faith and Flower wants to impress. The heavy card stock connotes a certain luxury and opulence. Fortunately the actual restaurant follows suit.

It is Luxe with a capital L. A big chandelier (please pronounce French-ishly) welcomes you. There are longgggggg mustard couches for the banquette style seating, that are plush and ridiculously comfortable. I am one of the most persnickety people about comfort of couches and restaurant seating and I loved me some mustard couch.

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Sit down and a rather weighty tome or so are put into your hands. There is a wine list. There is a menu. There is a table of contents for handy navigation. Beyond the menu pages there seems to be a book in…Latin? When I go back to Faith and Flower I’m getting the scoop on that one. But seeing as I am The Book Cook I like it.

Also very important? The things you put in your mouth and don’t swallow.
I REALLY did not mean to make it sound like that. I’m talking about the cutlery and stemware. Get your mind out of the trash. This is a place where you drink your water out of chunky rather medieval goblets. I enjoy a glass with some serious weight to it. It feels encouraging to grasp that sort of cup, like it is full of the elixir of life. Actually it kind of is. Hydration is key. Your wine, if you are drinking a red like I was, was out of glasses that are Texas-sized. The better to let the wine breathe, my dear.

Service is also super-duper important to me. Based on our server’s and sommelier’s knowledge and enthusiasm you would not guess Faith and Flower had barely opened. This joint is driving like a well oiled machine: smoothly. No mistakes.

On to the food and drink. They had fantastic salad. You know me. I judge restaurants on salad (please also pronounce French-ishly-sal-AD) and stemware. My friend thoroughly loved her branzino with a blood orange reduction. Induction? Sauce? It was liquid ok? And it was pretty and according to her tasty.

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I really do apologize for that shot. It was dark in there. I know. Slap on the back of the hand.
Sommelier Jared Hooper recommended a wine to challenge our palates, an RPM Gamay. Normally you think of Gamay as a Beaujolais grape but this wine tasted like anything but. It was robust and had a pleasant bite. Later he brought a French gamay to the table so we could compare and contrast. The whole wine list is like this: full of wine to challenge and surprise your taste buds. Do the work and you are well rewarded. Later in the evening I sipped a glass of Roederer and upon learning that vodka was her calling, my friend was recommended the Vaudeville, which is the concoction you see at the top of the post.

I honestly need to go back to try more of the food and cocktails. And wine. And to lounge on those couches. I will report back, but if Faith and Flower keeps up the performance I saw it give, it is in excellent shape to be a downtown staple. Not to be confused with the downtown Staples center because that is hell on earth.

Oh, and lastly, goth me wants to smuggle the candelabra home.
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Oh, and incidentally I do LOVE flowers.

Faith & Flower
705 W. 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA
90015
213-239-0643

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Pie parties, horchata cocktails, and what the hell am I doing?

8 Apr

Goth-chata

Goth-chata

Firstly, I devised the horchata cocktail. Me. Moi. Then literally a few weeks after I came up with it the recipe I’m going to share, a new trendy restaurant called Gracias Madre opened and everyone is talking about their horchata cocktail. But mine is better. And…goth-er. Which is to say I made my own horchata OUT OF BLACK RICE.

I devised the horchata cocktail for a pie party. Details to follow the following brain hemorrhage:

In between planning amazing pie parties like the one I shall regale you with tales of, I am pretty busy as an actor. I’ve been having a boatload of improv shows every
week, but in between all the performing I see the rest of the world, the people with real jobs wondering what the heck I do all day. And when asked on the spot I stammer and can’t quite remember it all because it’s a lot and so I come off as…I dunno. A not-busy person. God forbid. So I’m gonna tell you today’s activities (which now was a week ago). First off, I open up my laptop and email like a madwoman. Then I check the breakdowns to submit myself for roles that if I’m lucky I get called in to audition for. After fielding my email the breakdowns are my first stop. I go back to email and breakdowns a dozen times a day. Then I had an audition. This one was not too far, and it was in the golden hour when traffic is less horrible, so it didn’t take long. But between traffic and depending on how behind the casting office is running, an audition will bite several hours out of your day. Not counting all the prep time for it. After my audition I worked on scripts for another couple of upcoming auditions. What’s my motivation? No, really. What is it? Then I researched agents (I’m trying to find a new one) and wrote the perfect cover letter to send to one particular agent. This took a while. More work on scripts. What are my obstacles? Then I worked on the column I write for Hello Giggles. Then I updated my website with info on upcoming shows I’m doing and who my manager is because it just changed. Then I got in touch with a headshot photographer because I need new shots. Next I need to put the finishing touches on a pilot script I want to enter in a contest. And then I get to have late night coffee or who-am-I-kidding wine with a friend I want to collaborate with on a project. Because in LA your friends and the people you work are often one and the same. Which is both good and bad. Many evenings I’d be headed off to a class or a workshop or a practice or to do a show (after which there may or may not be wine) but tonight I get to skip to the wine.
And that, folks, is how I have “no job”.

And of course, there are the pie parties.

The last one was “Dark Side of the Pie” and took place right after Valentine’s Day as a palate cleanser. I made horchata with black rice, and designed a cocktail using it. I made a dark chocolate tart (recipe to come at a later date). Because I am still trying to perfect a southwest potato pie I made that but used purple potatoes to add some darkness. Guests were instructed to try to where black and red. Not all my friends came through on the attire, but many did bring red wines with delightfully goth labels.

It was pretty swell. Really, I am not sure where I’d be without my friends. Either slightly crazier or saner?

This cocktail had two variations for the party, but my friend Joel brought me a bottle of cinnamon liqueur that I later plan to use to create a third variation. Cinnamon liqueur was probably invented for the purpose of boozifying horchata.

Cocktails from the Dark Side: Amaretto and Chocolate
For horchata (adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe here)
2/3 cups black rice, ground in the blender
3 cups warm water
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups almond milk (chocolate almond milk for the Kahlua version)
Soak the rice and cinnamon in water for a minimum of eight hours in the fridge. Remove cinnamon. Stick an immersion blender in there and blend more. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth twice. Add sugar and milk. Refrigerate.
For cocktail:
1 oz. black rice horchata
1 oz. rum (light or spiced, take your pick)
3/4 oz. amaretto (or 1/2 oz. Kahlua if you made the horchata with chocolate almond milk)
a few dashes of chocolate chili bitters
cinnamon to garnish
Shake all except the cinnamon up. Strain over one giant cube. Garnish with cinnamon. Sigh in delight. Then sigh with great melodramatic tones. Nowwwwwww you’re doing goth right.