Tag Archives: Los Angeles

A Rhône of Many Colors

6 Sep

Don’t make me pick a favorite wine. What I desire in my glass depends on a good deal of factors ranging from mood (goth nights call for red red wine) to weather (freezing days desire ice cold vodka martinis, don’t at me), to what I’m eating (French fries need sparkling rosé), to what my budget is, to what my drinking companion likes, and so on.

All that being said Tavel is a Favorite. If not THE favorite.

All THAT being said, I’m a huge proponent of the wines of the Rhône Valley. Beyond THAT (damn I need to get better at cutting to the chase) people tend to celebrate the reds of the Rhône, but there are some really delightful whites and rosés out of the area that you should at least have coffee with.

The Rhône Valley can be a bit confusing–there are big differences between the all the various appellations within it. What I’m gonna leave you with is that most Côtes du Rhône wines are from the Southern Rhône. And if it is a Côtes du Rhône Villages wine, that’s like you subscribed to Hulu without commercials–level up!

Oh! And then some Côtes du Rhône Villages can add the name of their actual village to it, such as the Séguret rosé you can read my review to at the end. I haven’t come up with a perfect streaming channel metaphor for that, but it’s like you don’t even share a login with anyone.

Join me in an indulgence of these wines. I want to drink them in situ someday, but taking them with me on Los Angeles adventures will have to do for now.

I took one of the whites to the Hollywood Bowl, where John Williams was conducting. He does this yearly, and all of us Star Wars nuts show up, many with light sabers (a goal of mine for next year) and people are always like “this may be his last year” but he told me, I mean us, I mean the Hollywood Bowl audience, that he may be 90, but he is doing this show til he’s 100. Beyond Star Wars themes these shows (this was my second, why do I not have a light saber yet) remind one of how many epic soundtracks he composed–Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, E.T., Jaws, Harry Potter…it goes on.

Crud I was writing about wine. Let me say that a rich and ripe juicy Marsanne based blend goes VERY well with sunsets and music:

Clos Bellane Côtes du Rhône Villages Blanc Valréas 2019

65% Marsanne/30% Viognier/ 5% Roussanne and yummm it is rich. When I first smelled it I thought “dried golden raisins” which is silly as raisins are always dried. It’s like when I recently heard someone reference “fresh prunes” like….plums right? Anyway. That’s what I though. Tastes like unsweet golden syrup and honeysuckle and tangerines too. It’s silky and mouth coating but has a salinity that keeps it going–even in the crazy heat (it was around 100 degrees that day) it was somehow a refresher.

ONWARDS

The grape known as Roussanne and I dear to each other (or at least Roussanne tolerates me) right? I barely tolerate myself, but Roussanne is always there for me.

Chateau du Trignon Côtes du Rhône 2021

100% Roussanne. Beguiling golden color, beguiling golden nose. Smells of apricots and beaches and blooms. Crisp at the same time as honeyed on the tongue with that certain dank incense zing. But then the finish is cooling, somehow, while up top the honey and marmalade notes would almost make you think of sweetness the finish is nearly herbal. DEEEEEELITEFUL.

AND NOW FOR A ROSÉ BECAUSE ROSÉ FOREVER

Domaine de Mourchon Loubié Côtes du Rhône Villages Séguret Rosé 2021

60% Grenache/40% Syrah-mineral and floral fun. So very light, if pale rosé is your jam, you are this wine’s jelly. All rose hips and river stones and I see the color ultramarine blue when I drink it. As time goes by you may notice herbal and peppery elements. A rosé that yes, you can swill ice cold and feel sophisticated but give it a little air and let it live a touch less cold than freezing and all sorts of fun elements will make their case.

COOL STORY

I don’t know why I titled this segment “cool story” but I needed a closer. Part of the cool story is that I had another Rhône rosé, but I used it in my jalapeño rosé experiments (that blog entry to come soon!) but then I was sad that I did because I liked that rosé better on it’s own. So shouts out to Château du Morgues du Grès Fleur d’Eglantine Rosé, you’re delicious, I swear I didn’t omit you because your name is so long (obvi because I just typed it), and I’m sorry I wasted half of you on jalapeño experiments and I swear I didn’t drink ALL of the rest of it straight out of the bottle.

I think the biggest take-home from this tasting lineup is that I want more whites and rosés of the Southern Rhône in my life. Obvi, I had my Tavel obsession already. And my ardent affair with the Roussanne grape. But when it came to wines labeled as Côtes du Rhône, there’s a generous spot for them in my life. Probably yours too. Branching out is good. It doesn’t mean I’ve forsaken my loves. But when it comes to wine I am definitely polyamorous.

Hakka-lujah

20 Jan

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Oh, Hakkasan. Birthplace of the hakki-sack. I jest. Hacky-sack players are pretty much next to last on the list of people I’d think would eat at Hakkasan. Last would be the guy who is always outside my local Von’s asking for money. I offered him an orange once, which he took, then said “I’d take a banana”. Which I did not have and I doubt Hakkasan does either (except maybe mixed into a dessert?). I wanted to say “I’d take a thank you”, but decided his day had probably been worse than mine so I’d let it go. Not that I’d tell a dude off late at night outside of Von’s. Although I once got in some frat-type guys’ faces in the street late at night. They had kicked a cat. I should have kicked them.

Oh, right. Food.

I told you I was going to write about my LA dining experiences from time to time, so! For your consideration:
Hakkasan.
This is one snazzy Beverly Hills joint. It deems itself as modern Cantonese cuisine. I confess I am somewhat unequipped to really judge Chinese food. I never eat it outside the home. I rarely even cook food that requires chopsticks or qualifies as faux asian-ish.

So let’s start with the visuals. The of interior of Hakkasan is sleek. Dark but not too dark, expansive but somehow our table felt cozy. Really gorgeous wood interior. Tables are divided with the carved oak and Chinese screens. The music was a wee loud but not so much so as to really bug me.

As for the eats, that picture at the top is of the sautéed mushroom lettuce wraps. We didn’t order them, they were apology wraps. Unfortunately, there was a wee bit of a snafu with our vegetarian dumplings which turned out not to be vegetarian.
Oh, obviously but anyway, dumplings are by their cuddly nature adorable:

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A warning to vegetarians: there is a bit of cultural misunderstanding between us Los Angelenos and the rest of the world when it comes to what being a vegetarian is. At Hakkasan some of the items marked as vegetarian do in fact have seafood in them, so (nicely) grill your server accordingly. Also unfortunately, the very nice French guy who took our order-who I think might have been the manager as our official waitress was somebody else else-misunderstood that I wanted the lotus dish and brought me the stir-fried mushrooms with yam bean, sugar snap peas and macadamia nuts. It was excellent, but I’d been looking forward to the lotus. I didn’t bother bringing this to their attention though. After dealing with the dumpling ado I was not feeling like bringing up more problems, and well, I do love macadamia nuts.

Despite all the veggie confusion, they did get it right that I wanted my salad dressing on the side. This is Beverly Hills, I imagine that is their default. Next to requests to replace the dressing with something not in the menu, or air. I shouldn’t stereotype. East-siders are probably even more particular as to how they want their food.
Onward. My friend’s sea bass was rather gorgeous:

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And according to her and her empty plate, it was also delectable.

In full disclosure, another reason I did not argue for my lotus was because at that point I had pleasantly been plied with wine and saké recommended by their sommelier, Jared Hooper. Knowing Jared was also the reason I ended up venturing to Hakkasan.

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The saké was an unfiltered one. My friend had requested sweeter saké, and this was what Jared recommended. I found it quite tasty, and light in texture despite the milky appearance. The white stuff is rice…particles? “Fines” is the word maybe? I could practically have had it for dessert, but for my friend’s sweet-craving taste buds, it was perfect for dinner.

The wine list alone is really reason enough to visit Hakkasan. What I drank for dinner was a Sancerre, because when I see a Sancerre on the menu it’s a Pavlovian dog-like response of mine to start salivating and order it. Later, Jared popped by with a pour of another white he would not disclose the identity of. It was sweeter, more viscous than my Sancerre with a pleasant honeyed taste to it. After making that comparison he disclosed that it was, like the completely different Sancerre I was drinking, also a Sauvignon Blanc, but from New Zealand, as opposed to the Loire valley my Sancerre Sauvignon came from. I love doing blind tastings, especially when they surprise me. Jared is a fountain of wine knowledge, and is obviously passionate about what he does. Trust in his guidance and you will be very happy.
So to sum up. I liked it. I had a good time. A 90210 sip code restaurant is unlikely to become a regular go-to for me, but I’d go back.
After all, I DO need to try the lotus.
Hakkasan
233 N Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Gratitude

29 Nov

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This week’s picture and recipe both courtesy of my deep need to pimp my latest column for Hello Giggles. You can get the recipe for Death by Chocolate Until You’re Blue-berry in the Face, and my musings on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory here. So to kick off this week’s list of giving thanks in honor of Thanksgiving, I’ll say thank you Zooey Deschanel, Molly McAleer and Sophia Rossi for founding a stellar website and letting me spew silly stuff about books and food on it. And now because I am sitting here biding my time on a bus back from LAX to home, I shall regale you with all that I am thankful for.
1) first and foremost my family. They are the best. Everyone should have such great parents. I really don’t have enough room to tell you how wonderful they are.
2) acting work. In this last year I’ve gotten to work with an awful lot of talented people. I’ve been in a movie on the Chiller Network. I’ve met some great casting directors and finally gotten into some casting offices I’d dreamed of getting a shot at. I finally felt like a part of pilot season. Now to keep it up!
3) improv/comedy: I am on an improv team I LOVE. We get the opportunity to perform every single week (Every Sunday unless there are 5 in a month-then we don’t do the 5th- 7pm! The Neon Venus). I also have a practice group from UCB classes I adore who hopefully will start doing shows soon. And I’ve done some scaryscaryscary stand- up.
4) auditions-still going out all the dang time and have a buddy who is always there to help me prep, and who I help get ready too. It’s good having an acting teammate.
5) writing. Up to episode ten on the episodic I’ve been writing. Blackboard Eats still sends me to some snazzy places, and I got the gig to write for Hello Giggles-so now I can claim that all my reading and cooking is in the name of my work writing The Book Cook.
6) You guys! Thank you for reading this. I’m sending y’all love, love love. Cause love is all you need.
7) friends. Hot dang I have some good ones, near and far. Now is a good time to thank Skype for keeping me closer with the far ones. As for the near ones, hot dang they’ve got my back. And they are into having pie parties. What more does a girl need?
8) baseball. A girl needs baseball. Finally got to a game. Granted I’d be even more grateful if the Cardinals had won the World Series but I’m proud of my hometown team all the same.
9) Patti Smith and Trent Reznor. My two biggest musical idols and I got to see them both.
10) Los Angeles. City I love you.

It hasn’t been ALL amazing, sure. There have been arm surgeries and jobs I didn’t get and traffic jams and foiled plans but all in all, I’m awfully happy.
I’m going to go hug the world now. Lies. I’m going to go home and do work worky work work just as soon as I get there.
Love,
Ellen

A Blog is Born

29 Oct

Our first official food outing was to experience the hipster-foodie-SCRUMPTIOUS phenomenon of eating from a food truck. We stumbled upon the Gastrobus at the Los Feliz farmer’s market. For me, a sauté of pea shoots with garlic confit and plum sauce. It was just about only vegetarian thing to get. For the other El, who is not a veggie, the corn fritters with bacon hiding in them. Pretty darn tasty food!
Pix to come when I can figure out this wordpress app!