Monday, October 11, 2010

Quick Bites: The Bazaar by Jose Andres

Not content to sit around while Mr. AT jaunted off to Italy, I headed last weekend to visit my beloved friends, Paul and James, for a weekend in my former hood - Los Angeles. I lived there for several years and now love to visit my dashing pals for great food and even better company.

No trip to LA is complete without a sceney night out. Fortunately Bazaar combines all of the glamour you hope for in a LA hotspot with top notch molecular gastronomy small plates from renowned chef, Jose Andres. The restaurant is huge, loud and oh so swanky. The bar area comes complete with fascinating portraits that change from fuddy duddy old men into their simian counterparts. You just can't stop staring!

I was at a tableful of oh so fabulous men, so I ceded all menu control. The food came fast and furious and was universally interesting and delectable. One of the drawbacks of molecular gastronomy is that tastiness is often sacrificed in favor of surprise. Andres manages to pull off both.

One stand out was the  Cotton Candy Fois Gras which is just as weird as it sounds. It appears to be cotton candy but biting into it reveals its rich, creamy center. Even better was the "not your everyday Caprésé." It looked normal enough, but the mozzarella turned out to be liquified, literally bursting in your mouth - a pleasant and delectable surprise!

Photo credit: gastronomyblog.com

Papas Canarias were more traditional but no less successful. These tender, wrinkled potatoes are covered in crystallized salt, which is nicely offset by a mojo verde dipping sauce. Surprisingly given their intense saltiness, these little taters aren't salted, rather, they absorb the salt from their boiling water. Apparently they're easy to make:

Photo credit: Mylastbite.wordpress.com


Papas Canarias
Ingredients: 
2 pounds baby potatoes
1 cup salt, plus more as needed
Mojo verde, for dipping

Place the potatoes in a deep, medium-size pot. Add enough water to cover, and salt. Potatoes should float in the salted water; if not, add more salt. 
Place pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of paring knife, 25 to 30 minutes. 
Drain water from pot, leaving just enough to cover the bottom. Return pot to low heat and cook, shaking pot until the salt covering the potatoes begins to crystallize, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover pot with a clean kitchen towel until potato skins have wrinkled, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately with dipping sauces, as desired.

Mojo verde
 (don't add salt unless you're serving it with something other than the potatoes)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups well-packed chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sherry-wine vinegar
Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic and salt to a smooth paste. Add cilantro leaves and cumin seeds; mash until well combined. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while continuing to mash, until all the olive oil is absorbed. 
Turning the pestle in a slow, circular motion around the mortar, drizzle in 2 teaspoons water and vinegar. Keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

But my favorite dish of all were the "Philly Cheese Steaks." They are of course not what they seem. Andres' take on the hearty classic uses air bread, which is essentially a light air filled bread akin to a roll without any filling. Injected into that is a gooey warm cheddar, and it's topped off with succulent Wagyu beef. Wow! I could eat a whole plate of these. It's love, really.
Photo credit: gastronomyblog.com


In the midst of all that deliciousness, I also managed to see Neil Patrick Harris. How's that for an LA night?

My only quibble is that Bazzar has a weird anti-knife agenda and everything has to be eaten with a spoon or a fork. Not always easy. They gave me one when I asked, but I find it odd that it's not standard there. Also a bummer was that our bill was split incorrectly, to my detriment. I realize that it's nice of them to even be willing to split the bill at all, but I'm not sure how the single girl at dinner ended up with the biggest share of a bill that was supposed to be evenly split. Oh well, it was well worth the extra dough.

Bazaar is both scene and substance, which is a rare find indeed! I'll be drifting off to sleep now dreaming of philly cheesesteaks....


The Bazaar by Jose Andres
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: 310-246-5567

The Bazaar By Jose Andres on Urbanspoon

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