Osteria Mozza (Los Angeles Restaurant Review)

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I heard about Mozza Osteria from a few different places and just had to try it. I saw Nancy Silverton (the owner) at a book fair at USC and she did a little Q&A with Michael Voltaggio and of course they talked about this restaurant and its concept. Nancy wanted to create a restaurant that had the same sort of idea as sushi bar but with cheese instead. She got Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich on board and they created  Osteria Mozza. A client of mine corrected my pronunciation when I mentioned it so just so you know its pronounced “Moe-za.” I was ignorantly calling it “Mah-za” this whole time. smile. This restaurant is the sort of place I could move into and eat cheese as a full time profession. A whole lot of deliciousness is going on here… When we sat down we of course looked over the menu and made a decision on a appetizer. When we tried to order  the server abruptly stopped us and told us we couldn’t order yet. She had to explain everything about the entire menu first and custom design our experience. It was very sweet how into this food designing she was. 😉

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We started with a fresh Buratta from the place in Italy where it was originally invented. Um…this was freaking awesome. It came on some garlic toast which was yummy but overwhelmed the cheese a bit. Truthfully, I didn’t really want to share with Michael but I did….

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Then came the pasta course. Obviously the pasta is homemade here and was delectable and amazing. Most of all it was simple with a delicious red sauce and parsley. We gobbled that right up as well…

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For our main course I ordered the Grilled Whole Orata (picture above) and Michael ordered the Braised Beef Short Rib (not shown. I think the short rib was down his gullet before I had a chance to snap a shot). My orata was super yummy. It was stuffed with fresh herbs and the grilled lemon really brought out the flavors of the fresh and flakey fish. Even Michael loved it and he isn’t a seafood fan. Michael’s short rib was succulent and delicious. We were both very happy and satisfied with our main course and at this point were slipping into a peaceful food coma.

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Finally, I ordered the cannoli’s for dessert (it was my birthday) and they were pretty ho hum. I looked at the Mozza website before writing this post and it seems they were taken off the menu. It looks like others felt the same way as I did about this dessert. I don’t know what it is but I’m not a huge cannoli fan and am always confused when I try them. Why aren’t they better? The outside shell seems dry and not sweet enough. And the inside doesn’t hold up the how thick and crunchy the outside is.  I thought that if I ordered cannoli’s at Mozza that would be the true test of whether or not I really like them since its such a great restaurant. I guess I don’t really like cannoli’s! But I don’t think it was the chef’s fault… Cannoli’s are just sort of blah in my opinion. But I doubt I’ll stop my quests to find one that I like so if you have any recommendations send them my way.

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Michael and I overall had a great experience at this awesome restaurant and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back anytime. Located in West Hollywood its a bit of a jaunt for us from Santa Barbara but I’m sure it won’t stop us in the future. Thanks Nancy Silverton for creating this beautiful experience. We can tell it came from your heart. 😉

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Artichoke and Arugula Quiche

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I’m the kind of person that usually has some leftover pie dough in my freezer and it comes in very handy when I want to make a quick quiche. My policy is to make a bigger batch of pie dough anytime I need it because then I have some for later. This recipe is so flippin’ easy and is muy delicioso. Its great for breakfast, brunch or a baby shower. (What is it with quiches and baby showers? I swear that apart from making them at home thats the only time I see them.) I like this recipe because its sort of like a spinach artichoke idea but with arugula instead. So its a little more peppery and exciting. Try it out and enjoy!

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Artichoke & Arugula Quiche

Recipe:

3/4 cup shredded quattro formaggi (parmesan, fontina. pr0volone, asiago, mozzarella)

¾ cup milk

4 eggs 3 egg whites

1 tbs butter

1 can artichoke hearts drained and cut in quarters

1 large clove garlic minced

1 cup chopped arugula

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1 pie dough recipe (See below. Makes two pie crusts)

Roll out 1/2 the dough on floured surface to make a 12-inch round. (Freeze the other half). Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie pan. Pierce crust all over with fork.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Bake crust until golden brown, piercing with fork if crust bubbles, about 20 minutes. Transfer crust to rack. Reduce temperature to 375°F.

Whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk, cheese, salt & pepper. Set aside

Heat saute pan to medium heat and melt butter. Add minced garlic and cook 1 minute until garlic is fragrant but not browned. Add artichokes and cook until combined. Turn off heat and add arugula. Combine just until arugula is lightly wilted.

Put artichoke mixture in the pie crust. Pour egg mixture on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes until top is golden brown. Let cook for 10 minutes. Serve.

Pie Dough

2 3/4 Cups Flour

½ Tbs Salt

4 Tbs cold unsalted butter cut into pieces

1 Cup Shortening

½ Cup Water

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the butter and using your fingers cut in into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Break up the shortening an add it in little bits and cut it into mixture with your hands. Continue working the mixture until it has small clumps and curds. Switch to a wooden spoon and add the ice water, stirring to incorporate it. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and fold it over on its self a few times. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for as long as 5 days.

Lunch at Julienne (Santa Barbara Restaurant Review)

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Pulled Pork Sandwich

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Blue Cheese Burger

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My friend Joy and I go out to lunch about once a year. Joy is a wedding coordinator in town so we communicate and see each other a lot at events and other industry gatherings. Other than that we usually only spend time together once a year for lunch and this year Joy suggested Julienne. I had walked past the restaurant for years but never actually tried it due to my small fear of new restaurants. (My mind is like, “What if its not good and I could have just eaten some place I know and like!?”) Thankfully Joy suggested this gateway lunch and it was great! I had the Pulled Pork Sandwich and Joy had the Blue Cheese Burger. Both were delicioso and I really enjoyed the atmosphere.

Evidently the restaurant is owned by a husband/wife team that started in 2008 despite all the economic turmoil that was going on at the time. They are located on the corner of Santa Barbara and Canon Perdido in downtown Santa Barbara.  I was also impressed that their menu is made up of local and sustainable ingredients. They didn’t even serve diet coke which I wasn’t a huge fan of but I respected their dedication to keeping it natural. (They did have those natural sugar coca colas in the glass bottle so I had that instead….) I like that they are directly across from the Royal Presidio which is a historical landmark and a cool structure. It gives the diner a nice view to look at.

I have yet to go to Julienne for dinner but I’m confident that the “offerings” will be just as tasty and enjoyable.

Orange Marmalade

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I got this orange marmalade recipe from Ina Garten who got it from her friend Anna (go figure!) This recipe is so good that I gave some to my landlord and he loved it so much that he dropped a heavy hint that he was running low so I made him more. 😉 Enjoy!

Ingredients
4 large seedless oranges
2 lemons
8 cups sugar
Directions
Cut the oranges and lemons in half crosswise, then into very thin half-moon slices. (If you have a mandoline, this will be quite fast.) Discard any seeds. Place the sliced fruit and their juices into a stainless-steel pot. Add 8 cups water and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Cover and allow to stand overnight at room temperature.

The next day, bring the mixture back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours. Turn the heat up to medium and boil gently, stirring often, for another 30 minutes. Skim off any foam that forms on the top. Cook the marmalade until it reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer. If you want to be doubly sure it’s ready, place a small amount on a plate and refrigerate it until it’s cool but not cold. If it’s firm — neither runny nor too hard — it’s done. It will be a golden orange color. (If the marmalade is runny, continue cooking it and if it’s too hard, add more water.)

Pour the marmalade into clean, hot Mason jars; wipe the rims thoroughly with a clean damp paper towel, and seal with the lids. Store in the pantry for up to a year.

Chocolate Covered Cheesecake Balls with a Raspberry Center

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I came up with so many inappropriate one liners for this dessert but I thought of my daughter digging this up years down the road and decided to omit them. So you’ll just have to ask me personally when you see me next…

I have to say that this dessert is truly unbelievably and its only 3 ingredients! Its a bit messy but definitely worth it. I made these for movie night with our friends and they were gone in two seconds flat. If you make these for a special event you’ll have to be slapping your husband (or wife’s) hand because they’ll be trying to sneak them out of the fridge. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 pint raspberries

1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips

1 small 8 inch pre made plain cheesecake from the store

Directions:

Take the cheesecake out of its container and place in a mixing bowl. Mash cheesecake with a fork until crust and cheesecake is just mixed. Take one raspberry and cover with cheesecake mixture. Roll between your hands until a smooth ball. Set on a cookie sheet. Repeat. When you are done place the cheesecake balls in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm them up for dipping in chocolate.

After 30 minutes, empty chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove and mix. Continue to microwave for 30 second intervals (mixing in-between) until the chocolate is just melted.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper. Using a fork, lower a cheesecake ball into the chocolate and then turn once gently to cover the opposite side. Take out the cheesecake and place on parchment. Repeat until all the balls are covered in chocolate. Let stand at room temperature until cool. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Tupelo Junction (Santa Barbara Restaurant Review)

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Okay, this pictures is making me so hungry for Tupelo Junctions vanilla bean french toast that I’m actually going to stop writing and go eat something yummy so I can get through this post…

I’m back and I made chocolate protein pancakes which were gross but at least I’m not starving…. (I’m doing a boot camp at the gym where I have to eat a lot of protein and I didn’t use a recipe…so there you go.)

Anyway…Tupelo Junction is one of the best freaking places to eat in Santa Barbara, no joke. The morning after we moved back to Santa Barbara in March of 2010 we walked down to Tupelo to celebrate. And we felt like we had made one big journey home. This place is BOMB. Its southern comfort food that hits you on all cylinders. Above is the vanilla bean french toast sitting in a pool of raspberry puree and topped with whipped cream. Its like biting into a slice of heaven with paradise on the side. The crunchy crispy grilled bread with the soft center swimming in sweet deliciousness is to die for. Michael gets it pretty much every time since he is the worlds biggest sweet tooth. I usually opt for the savoring options…

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The red beans and rice with spinach, tomatoes and corn taunted me for years. But I just couldn’t stop ordering my favorite pulled pork sandwich. Finally I got up the nerve to order it and MAN its good! At first glance that combination just didn’t seem like it would be all that great but goodness me they know how to build depth of flavor. Its now my favorite thing to get there.

Other must try items:

Fried Green Tomatoes with Dill Dipping Sauce

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Fried Pickles on the Side

Fried Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds

So if you are in Santa Barbara you HAVE to go (and make sure you call me so I have an excuse to go too!)