Come Over To The Foodie Side

Posts tagged ‘Fish and Seafood’

The District


Hollywood to me has been lacking in the obscure restaurants, in comparison to the surrounding cities. Downtown, Culver City, Santa Monica and Venice are filled with adventurous chefs and groundbreaking ideas that Hollywood keeps missing out on. I’m not trying to take away from the few amazing places that exist, specifically one of my favorites, Animal.

What originally drew me into trying out Mercantile’s next door neighbor and sister restaurant, District, was the menu and the hype that was surrounding it. District has some nice fun twists that you don’t see on many menus such as spam sliders, broccolini with black olives, sweet potato ravioli with hazelnuts, and freshly made pretzel bites. All the eclectic things on the menu were balanced with the combination of classics that were refined and executed perfectly. I mean let’s face it; if you screw up a classic you shouldn’t even call yourself a chef.

The venue is what can be described as dark wood minimalist. It has a dark wood theme with vaulted ceilings, little to no décor and some seating outside. Personally I wouldn’t want to sit outside because due to the location you have to deal with the crazy Hollywood passerbyers. Small tea light candles created the centerpiece for each dark wooden table, adding to the dim light already presented and added a touch of warmth into the air.

I would rate the food as a whole and give it a B because something’s were great where some things were ok yet needed some tweaking.

 

 

We started the meal with the Farmhouse salad consisting of shredded brussels sprouts, one of my favorite veggies, cauliflower, and radishes. It was tossed in a crème fraiche dressing which was not as heavy as I had expected and didn’t create soggy veggies which left a nice crunch to the salad.  The finishing touch was the crumbled aged cheddar which gave it a nice fun color as well as a bite that made your taste buds love you for ordering it. Solid A+ for me!

 

 

Following the salad that left us licking the plate clean came an interesting take on ravioli. I have seen Sweet Potato Ravioli before, but never like this. What made this dish so interesting was the Thai influence I found prevalent in the dish. The sauce in which the ravioli laid in was an often common sauce, sage and brown butter, but had something spicy infused in it. It was finished with hazelnuts and parmesan crisps. My only complaint to the dish was that I found it to be overly salty even though my dining partner disagreed. The idea behind the dish is great but I do think they need to work better on their execution. (B)

Next that came out of the kitchen was the charred octopus with fennel, fingerling potatoes, in a burnt garlic sauce. First off this dish was also salty so clearly whoever was in the kitchen needs to reevaluate their salting techniques. Once I put aside the fact that I would be thirsty for hours, I was satisfied in how well the fish was executed. It was tender with a crunchy outside and not tough to eat at all. I am really picky when it comes to octopus because if it is not cooked PERFECTLY I won’t like it. The garlic sauce complimented the fingerling potatoes but the Octopus was perfect by itself, and the charred outside mixed with the burnt garlic sauce was overwhelmingly burnt for my liking. Overall this dish was a B -.

The octopus came out 1 minute before the broccolini arrived and this might have been one of my favorites of the night. I never thought of sautéing a green with black olives before, but after this dish I can’t wait to try my new culinary find out for myself. The broccolini was another thing that was cooked to perfection. Not overly soft or to crunchy, but had a perfect bite and just enough flavor to not overpower the true essence of broccolini. The olives complimented the dish perfectly and when combined with the chili flakes made a perfectly delectable light veggie that I wanted more of. (A+++)

 

The last thing to come out of our vastly themed dinner was the fish sandwich. This is one of those classics that I talk about not messing up and The District did just that. They executed the fish sandwich flawlessly. My only complaint would be that they tried to be cute by providing ketchup in the individual sized packets. To me it was an aesthetic fail, but the dish was so good I could overlook that. The Fish was a large piece of cod breaded then fried to utter perfection placed on a pan toasted roll with tons of butter, tartar sauce, lettuce and a crunchy thin sliced pickle. The sandwich as a whole makes me lick my lips as I write this and I wish I had room to finish the fries. The fries were thick, large, moist and yet still crunchy outside and definitely abusive to my arteries. Neither I nor Megan (my partner in crime for this meal) could resist eating the fry’s way past our breaking point. (A+++)

We left there satisfied, stuffed and personally salty. I would go back again but my wallet can only take so much heat in a month so I’ll have to give it a rest for a bit. The meal totaled $95 with 2 beers each before tip, so it’s not the cheapest, but not everyone has to eat as abusive to their bodies like me and Megan do.

The District – $$$ – 6600 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA (323) 962-8200 ‎

Mustard Crusted Salmon


Ingredients:

  • Salmon
  • Mayo
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Cornflake Crumbs

I made this recipe for a recent Hanukkah dinner I had at my place where I had to feed 21 people and there was barely any leftovers. It’s something I can’t give exact measurements for because it all depends on the size of the fish. I had a 3.15 lb. piece of salmon, but most people wouldn’t be feeding their family with such a large piece.

Growing up this recipe was very common in our household, even though at the time I didn’t really like salmon. This was the only salmon I would have a piece of because it was just that good. My only complaint is the smell that consumes my apartment while it bakes. I’m convinced salmon takes about a week to get out of my apartment which is why I can only make it when my roomie is gone.

The mustard paste gives it this great tangy flavor that pairs nicely with the sweetness of the cornflake crumbs and the buttery taste that I find salmon has because of how fatty it is.

To make this salmon:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Lay the fish on a baking sheet lined with foil. In a separate bowl I combined about ½ cup mayo (maybe a little more) and then added ¼ cup of the Dijon mustard. This is when you taste the mixture for yourself and see where you would like it to go. If you want a mustardy flavor add more mustard, you can’t really screw this one up that much.

After you make the mustard paste, cover the salmon with a layer and if you find it’s not enough make more, it will take two seconds. Once you’re done with that layer sprinkle a thick layer of the breadcrumbs all over the fish.

Place in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes depending on how thick the fish is. 25 minutes was perfect for my fish and it came out crunchy and delicious, with the perfect balance of smoothness of salmon combined with the tartness of the mustard.

Marea


If you’ve been keeping track, I was recently in NYC for the thanksgiving holiday. Like most cities, NYC has a great restaurant scene that I must take advantage of whenever I head back to the east coast. This past trip I was privileged enough to go to a restaurant called Marea with my mom. I would consider this to be Italian, seafood driven, restaurant that an adventurous eater should at least go to once.  It would be a waste to go to a restaurant like Marea when you only eat spaghetti and meatballs.

Marea’s menu was large enough to have a variety to choose from but small enough to not get overwhelmed. The staff was great and much attuned to what was going on around in the restaurant, but it seemed like they had more staff than people eating there. I almost felt like I was watching people in a train station trying to make it to their next transfer. The venue itself was designed in a simplistic way with orchards, a dark wood paneled wall and strong but delicate lighting. Some places put all their effort into the way their space looks instead of concentrating more on the quality of their food and I didn’t find it to be so at Marea.

Me and my mom decided to do the price fixed menu in order to try an array of things that drew our attention, and of course we shared everything! The price fixed menu is a four course meal divided into the following categories: Crudo, Ostriche, or Antipasto / Pasta / Pesce or Carne / Dolce.

I have pictures of everything, so I figured I would take you on a culinary slide show with my commentary along the way 🙂

First our meal started with your choice of bread, and I chose the olive focaccia which was moist enough that oil was not needed and had just the right amount of green olive in it to make it stand out without being overwhelming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next was an Amuse Bouche, which was a sliver of butternut squash, toasted BS seed and pine nut in a vinegary wine broth. Honestly I could have lived without this.

 

 

For the Crudo, Ostriche or Antipasti portion:

 

 

(a)    VONGOLE geoduck clam, fresh chilies, lemon, hearts of palm

It was presented beautifully and the fish tasted very fresh and went well with the lemon, the texture was perfect. I thought it was a great dish to start because it got your senses going without pushing them too far to be spoiled.

 

 

 

 

 

(b)   UOVO (pronounced woah-vo) slow poached egg, chicken oysters, wild mushrooms, polenta, parmigiano

This was SOOOO good. This might be one of the most eclectic dish I’ve ever had. It was so beautifully arranged in the bowl I was afraid to ruin it by cracking the egg. Once I got over that and cracked the egg and took my first bight, my taste buds were practically smiling.

The craziest part of the dish was the chicken oysters. It was the first time I have ever had one of those and I found out why. Apparently my mother loved them so much that she would always eat them before the chicken would even get to the table! Honestly I don’t blame her. They are so rich in flavor and this one in particular was fried crisp on one side so it contrasted nicely with the softness of the chicken. This whole dish made my eyes bulge out of my head, it was sweet, rich, and perfect for winter!

For the Pasta portion:

(a)    ORECCHIETTE spot prawns, chilies, rosemary

Obviously another yummy dish, the picture alone can tell you it was tasty. The sauce was sweet, maybe from the tomatoes being so fresh I’m not sure. What I loved most about the dish was a kick it had without being too spicy to not taste all the garlic and tomatoes involved. The sweet and spicy kept my palette entertained through every bite. The prawns were cooked to perfection. I often find that most places over cook fish and make them tougher than they should be but these were moist with the perfect balance of crunch.

(b)   FUSILLI red wine braised octopus, bone marrow

Interesting! Most people I know steer clear of bone marrow and octopus… clearly my mother is not one of those. Growing up she would always love the bone marrow from the bones when we made cholent and nothing has changed.

This dish was surprising in that the octopus was second to the bone marrow. I barely tasted the octopus and could have had this dish without it and been equally as happy. The sauce was rich in flavor and in color and was topped with some type of breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs added a nice texture to the pasta; it made something that is naturally soft have a little spunk. It’s a must order!

All the pastas we had were cooked to perfection and were paired nicely with each sauce to make sure they absorbed everything nicely.

For the Pesce or Carne portion ( we both got fish)

This portion we decided to have our waitress decide what we would get. I love doing this because most of the time waiter and waitresses never get asked to just “surprise us”. They are happy because they get to give you what they think is the best and you get to be surprised.

(a)    SAN PIETRO seared new zealand john dory, roasted sunchoke, pickled chiodini, apple, housemade sanguinaccio

The fish I felt was not the strong suit of all our meals but still very tasty. I liked how the fish was seared on one side, something that the chef clearly enjoys doing. The fish wasn’t too dry and the accompaniments made a good companion. For the lightness of the fish it was nice having something a little heartier to be paired alongside, like the mushrooms.

 

 

(b)   CAPESANTE roasted sea scallops, chestnut ragu, porcini, braised celery

Yes, the scallops were cooked to perfection and I have to say I was really full by this point so it was somewhat difficult to enjoy it. The chestnuts were an interesting flavor to be thrown in the mix with scallops; they were soft which went nicely with the scallops while adding an earthy balance to the ocean of it all.

Something I didn’t enjoy was the celery root. When is this fad over? Everywhere I go things are served with celery this or celery that. I think it’s time for chefs to put this to rest; it doesn’t make a chef stand out. It’s not “in” anymore because now everyone serves it. Like most trends it’s gotten overplayed and personally I’m bored with it.

 

 

For the Dolce portion:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a)    GIANDUJA cocoa nib crema, hazelnut chocolate, fior di latte gelato

Look how amazing the desert is prepared. I love getting dessert when a pastry chef handles them and they aren’t just reheated in a microwave. You can taste the richness of the chocolate layered on top of more chocolate mousse.

I think my favorite thing about this dessert was what laid underneath the gelato. It was a hyped up better version of the crunchies in carvels cakes. I love adding crunch to something smooth and this did just that. It gave the gelato a stronger taste when eaten together that I wanted to go back in for more.

 

(b)   AFFOGATO zabaglione gelato, espresso and amaro

So this was a cross between dessert and coffee as you can see. It comes over with just the ice cream in the mug and then they pour the hot espresso and amaro over the ice cream creating a conflicting temperate coffee milkshake. It was strong and sweet from the gelato and its eaten with a spoon but I could have had a straw with it as well. Such an interesting take on what I consider a coffee milkshake.

Overall Marea is a delicious adventure that I was so happy to be a part of, so thanks mom for bringing me along for the ride!

Marea : $$$$

http://www.marea-nyc.com/home.html

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