In an attempt to make my visiting NYC friends feel a little at home, I took them downtown for some dinner at Church & State and to be super touristy and take pictures at this little bench (yep, we’re adorable).
::Nudge nudge:: get it?
One of many restaurants I visited over the long holiday weekend included an outing with an unofficial “international food club” to a little hole in the wall Jamaican restaurant over the hill in Studio City, Sattdown Jamaican Grill.
The beverage lineup: some passion fruit juice, a passion fruit juice lemonade (unfortunately both were finished off before I could grab a picture) and because our waitress was awesome, some beers from the liquor store next door for the guys:
And as for the food, we had a lot of “jerks” on the menu…
Christina’s Beef Jamaican Patty and Jerk BBQ Chicken Plate
Of the 6 of us, only Matt and I ordered dessert. Weak! Here we have a chocolate raspberry gelato and some coconut ice cream with corn (yes, corn?!) and some floury batter things (I’m not sure our waitress really knew what they were anyway) in it:
The tiny little restaurant is hidden away in an unassuming strip mall on Ventura in Studio City. While I don’t have any other Jamaican food experience to compare Sattdown to, the food was flavorful–bonus points for being able to choose our preferred spice level. My absolute favorite has to be the ox tails, and the description on the menu pretty much sums up this tasty, juicy “amazing” dish: tender braised beef tails cooked to perfection. Yep. It’s fair to call it perfection doused in sauce served in a bowl.
I had bites of just about everyone’s dishes and was slightly jealous of them all. I guess that’s what they call karma…when you don’t let anyone else at the table order the orange crusted salmon. Based on the description, I was expecting a slight dusting of orange zest and a generous amount of batter. The plate turned out to be a tangy orange explosion, which unfortunately was overwhelming to the little piece of salmon. While I love a good burst of orange, I wouldn’t consider me a fan when that’s the only thing you can taste. Ugh. Next time, I’m going with a more traditional Jamaican “jerk” dish. Or a larger plate of ox tails. And more passion fruit lemonade. Yum.
Can’t wait until next month’s international food club “meeting”!
A snazzy LA twist on common street food from around the world.
For yet another birthday celebration (involving food, of course), I went to dinner with two of my oldest friends, Kristy and Katie (actually, the same ones I went to Javier’s with). After spending some time searching Yelp, I discovered Street. A Top Chef contestant’s interpretation of various types of street food. I was intrigued by this idea and of course, had to try it out for myself.
After pushing my reservation back three times (the day got away from me and I was running way behind…thank you, reservationist, for being so accommodating!), we finally made it into Street. When you first walk in, it’s easy to miss the host stand (which we did…). It’s tucked away in the corner to your left. After a few minutes of awkwardly standing in the middle of the restaurant, someone finally directs us back to the hostess. Whoops!
The restaurant is clean, modern and hip. Though simple, no detail was left unaddressed. The chairs even have something on their feet so when you scoot into or away from the table, it slides easily and doesn’t make that horrendous sound. I was in love with the cover of the menu too:
The first thing they put on your table is a plate of these odd little things:
Bread and butter doesn’t cut it at Street. Not having any idea what these were, I took a piece from the plate, and found that it was incredibly sticky, and had to pull a piece off. The first thing I taste…MARSHMALLOW?! A few more bites, and I continue to taste some sort of rice, some cumin, some sort of spice/chili…and a black licoricey taste…fennel? When the waitress returned, we found out that these bizarre little sticky treats are called millet puffs. These are best likened to grown up rice krispy treats…with the idea of an everlasting gobstopper. They have the obvious sweet of marshmallows, the texture and consistency of rice krispy treats, but every bite you take, there’s a new flavor to discover (the everlasting gobstopper reference). A quick google search, and I found the recipe. It turns out there is, in fact, cumin and fennel. But there’s also black mustard seed, turmeric powder, dried currants and curry leaves. These little puffs pack in an explosion of flavor. Seconds Thirds, please?
All of the plates are designed to be shared. Think small plates/tapas style. While the menu is on the smaller size, it looks like they’ve put a lot of thought into each dish, only selecting the few that passed many, many taste tests and approvals.
Lamb kaftka meatballs over warm Syrian cheese wrapped in a grape leaf and drizzled with date and carob molasses, served with za’atar spiced flatbread:
I’m not afraid to admit it. I didn’t come up for air while inhaling this plate. Unfortunately, that means I was on my way to being stuffed, only one plate in. I was sold on the lamb and grape leaves. But the cheese and the perfectly sweet date and carob molasses sauce was absolutely to-die-for. I love a well-executed sweet/savory combo (hello, cotton candy foie gras at The Bazaar…mmm). This lamb plate passed with flying colors. The best way to enjoy this (at least the way I was devouring it) is to get a little piece of the grape leaf, a piece of a meatball and cheese all smushed together on your fork to get it all in one bite. Seriously. I’m still having very happy dreams about this plate.
To counterbalance the heaviness and sweet of the lamb meatballs, next up were 2 plates of heirloom tomatoes with a black garlic vinaigrette and thai basil:
The vinaigrette is decent, but overall, this plate was a little mediocre. With such a simple, basic ingredient, it’s tough to make it mind-blowing. I wouldn’t order this one again.
Taking our waitress’s suggestion, we ordered about one plate from each section of the menu. To fulfill the “Land & Sea” portion of the meal, we ordered 2 plates of the wild Columbian river salmon and Hawaiian fried rice made with brown rice, Chinese sausage, tarot root and scallions:
The salmon was extremely plain. It really tasted like it was just…cooked salmon. No sauce, no spices, nada. The redeeming quality of the plate is the Hawaiian fried rice (which is unfortunate, since it’s just the side dish…). Maybe I was just craving some sweet/savory dishes that night, but the rice was ever so slightly sweet, almost “glazed.”
The skinny on street? Inventive, with more hits than misses (though there definitely are some misses). Service on the slower side, but they do know the menu through and through. I am now a huge fan of Syrian cheese. I’ll be back soon to try some of the other plates (and maybe sneak some millet puffs into my purse )
Coarse-grained sea salt with vibrant saffron. The name, Sal de Ibiza con Saflor is as beautiful as the salt itself:
My boss recently came back from Barcelona and brought me back a few foodie treats. Along with the saffron salt, she also picked up a gorgeous container of sea salt with gold flakes in it (look closely!)
I decided to experiment with the saffron salt by topping some salmon with it. I simply lined a baking sheet with foil, drizzled olive oil on the salmon and sprinkled some of the saffron salt on top. This is definitely a case of “less is more.” The salt and saffron are incredibly potent, so there’s no sense in going overboard. 15-20 minutes later after baking at 400, I had myself a perfectly moist cut of salmon, and the saffron salt turned a gorgeous deep orange.
Served over a bed of basmati rice, with some chopped parsley:
I still had some mint stashed in my fridge, so I enjoyed another glass of mint lemonade (sadly, sans alcohol. It was a school work night:)).
Back in college, I subsisted solely on Chipotle, CPK, grilled cheese and cereal for dinner, except when my roommate was kind enough to cook me real food. Needless to say, this obsession with good food started post-college:) One of the meals she would cook is this pesto:
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
2 medium sized garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
3 oz. pine nuts
1 tbsp grated paremesan cheese
1 tbsp grated romano
3/4 -1 cup olive oil
The only slight modifications I made to the ingredients were that I used 2 tbsp of a pecorino/romano/parmesan cheese blend, and I used less than a 1/2 tsp of salt.
The makings of greatness:
Really, the only step in making the pesto is tossing it all into a food processor (or a hand-me-down blender when you’re in college) and blending everything together.
The result is a bright green goop. But trust me on this: it tastes about a million times better than it looks.
I decided to go with a pesto salmon dish to get some protein into the meal. I took 2 small filets of salmon, put them on a baking sheet, added a bit of salt and pepper, more of the pecorino/parmesan/romano cheese blend, and topped each with about 1-2 tablespoons of the fresh pesto. 20 minutes in the oven at 350° is all it takes. Perfectly cooked and bursting with flavor (and oh so colorful)!
I decided to soften some butter and mix in a tiny bit of pesto to make a delicious buttery spread for the loaf of fresh french bread I picked up at my grocery trip:
The finished plate includes whole wheat couscous (the same easy to make kind from the couscous-stuffed peppers), butter-pesto french bread that has been baked for a few minutes in the toaster oven and of course, the salmon:
Presentation: needs improvement. Taste: A+. Don’t worry, I had a salad on the side to get the veggies in;)
The dishful thinker’s tips:
- Easy on the salt. Start out with 1/2 tsp or less taste after blending. Add more only if necessary.
- The recipe is easily doubled, and if used in pasta, my best guesstimate is that would serve four hearty portions.
- The pesto freezes extremely well. I like to make more than I need and freeze the rest (in multiple containers so I can just defrost the right amount).
- Get creative! Pesto is a multi-purpose sauce that reaches beyond the traditional pasta dish. I tried it with butter and made a spread. It’s probably delicious on pretty much anything short of cookies and ice cream (although pesto ice cream sounds oddly intriguing…)