At Melrose and Highland, L.A. (walking distance to Osteria and Pizzeria Mozza) sits Chef Ludo’s Petit Trois – located in a dive looking strip mall. It’s bar seating only, seats about 30 and is just delightful (and full fat for sure).
For the past few years, I have battled keeping my blood sugar at a good level…recently my numbers jumped up and put me back into that type 2 diabetic stage… 🙁 So….I’ve decided to make a change. While I normally watch my diet fairly closely and have gone through lots and lots of training on “how to eat as a diabetic”… something just isn’t working for me right now; therefore, after discussing a variety of options with a wellness expert, we determined my going with a reduced fat, “plant-based diet” for the next eight weeks (yep, vegan…but sshhhhh, “don’t say vegan out loud” she said…”people don’t like that word”). I’ve gone plant based before…about 15 years ago, and remember how good I felt on that plan. So, I am going for it. My lab work is due at the end of August, and I am giving “plant-based” eating a shot to see if I can drop my numbers back to the normal range. I am motivated! I love a challenge and immediately embraced planning what I would eat, how I would prepare it and how tasty I could make it… However…I had a teeny obstacle before I could start. My dear husband had reservations for us the next night at a “hot” new small French Bistro in L.A., Petit Trois. I didn’t check out the Petit Trois menu before going, figuring there would be enough plant-based, low fat items on the menu to choose from, well, I was wrong. It is a tiny place with a Parisienne flair and a delightful French Bistro menu … meaning EVERYTHING was authentic French … with butter to die for (almost literally for me I suppose). I decided to embrace the situation (as not to hurt my husband’s feelings, who is always so supportive of my diet management)…and I treated this as my last full-fat, animal-style meal for the next two months…beginning with a lovely glass of Sancerre (chilled to perfection) to cut through the fat 🙂 It was seriously fabulous food, no wonder Chef Ludo (who was a judge on the short-lived cooking contest show called “The Taste” with Chef Anthony Bordain) is getting rave reviews for his bistro. Below are photos of our meal…starting with escargot…and the best crispy French bread and butter. I immersed myself in the environment and thoroughly enjoyed every morsel and all the butter! Hurray for the butter! I had enough to last my 8 weeks of going low fat!
Escargot drenched in clarified butter, herbs and garlic…and the best French bread and French salted butter…what a start to the meal mmmmmmmm
Escargot is one of their top menu items…we hadn’t had them in ages…they are a meal unto themselves …they had buckets full of them ready to order…
Our starter salad of tomatoes, creamy burrata, toasted bread crumbs, basil and a vanilla, lemon grass dressing was stunning (and NOT Italian they claimed- NOT a caprese salad!…very French).. pictured below… I went with green beans topped with toasted almonds….drenched in butter of course…just perfect
And then there was this…the last meat/animal product I plan to eat for 8 weeks… disguised under that beautiful frise herb salad is a crispy, golden fried confit style chicken leg…an excellent last meal choice if I say so myself (I just love chicken legs)
Ludo has an interesting and mysterious looking full French restaurant next door to Petit Trois bistro…we will be checking this out soon (after August if all goes well with the numbers game I am attempting to manage). It’s called Troi Mec and has an interesting reservation system…something like a lottery I gather. Will check it out and let you know. It is said to be exciting, unique and was named best restaurant in 2013.
The only bad thing about the whole experience…Petit Trois does NOT offer any tea service. When I ordered tea…they said they could give me hot water with lemon, oh well…the rest of the meal was beautifully served in this relaxed bar, and clearly, professionally run kitchen. Watching your meal being prepared in front of you in their tiny kitchen was cool too.
I had my cup of tea on the way home…a Starbucks run 🙂
New for us this season…tomatillos. My husband loves salsa…these will go well with our jalapeños and tomatoes in a couple months…the interesting looking “paper like” exterior of this plant is gorgeous
We’ve been working hard in the yard!! This season’s garden has been particularly satisfying to get in and watch develop. Our garden was on the San Juan Capistrano Garden Club tour in late April…thus we put a LOT of extra effort into sprucing up every nook and cranny of our backyard; planting more vegetables and new fruit trees…filling every blank corner with organic, beautiful, and hopefully bountiful crops. The birds, bees, lizards, and butterflies seem thrilled with the plantings. With our California drought condition, we updated our irrigation to ensure complete efficiency in water usage…this resulted in our achieving an award from our local water district (a little bonus, yay). It’s been truly fulfilling to watch the literal “fruits” of our labor bloom….and thanks to my husband (who is in charge of the fruit trees (his favorite), and my sister and great friend (A.), we got everything installed in time for the tour. Now, I’m ready to host a few tea lunches on the deck and enjoy the results …the “hits” early in the season are…Japanese eggplants (gorgeous leaves), heirloom tiger tomatoes, and from The French Laundry seeds I purchased on our last trip to Napa Valley (over a year ago), D’Avignon radishes, Chiogga beets, Nantes carrots.. all looking just gorgeous…my husband and I watch them grow, fawning over them like proud parents 🙂
2015 veggie crop…new this year, heirloom lemon cucumbers, from the French Laundry seeds – nantes carrots, chiogga beets, d’avignon radishes and our fave heirloom tiger striped tomatoes…and Japanese eggplants (which have the most beautiful leaves
Our fruits trees are seemingly ecstatic with the new irrigation and deep mulch…fuji apples, nectarines, prolific pomegranate tree and our black mission fig and black jack fig trees are bursting with fruit
Fuji apples, Pomegranate fruit and blooms, and new for us, nectarines coming in
Oops, and then there are the “misses”…hmmm, wonder what is gnawing on this nectarine…off to get some netting…and for me, a whole new allergy alleviation regime as my doctor said all my gardening was making me sick…next time, I’ll remember to wear a mask to minimize breathing in all that lovely organic matter 🙂
Whose been gnawing on my fruit …. ugh
This is where I start to get crazy…I don’t mind sharing, but please wait until it gets a little ripe
Napa Valley in February 2014…wild mustard blooms profusely all over the valley as a stunning yellow cover crop — photo opps appear around every corner…
Arguably the best time of year to go to Napa is during “crush” season…when the air is permeated with the fragrance of grapes, and the days are long, the daytime fall temperatures are warm and breezy, and there is the hubbub of trucks and trailers hauling up and down Highway 29 with massive amounts of grapes spilling over the sides; however, my favorite time to be in this stunning two-mile wide, 30-mile long valley is in early February.
The beginning of 2015 have been particularly hectic for me; yet, I was slowed down the other night when churning through thousands of photos I have stored on my computer…searching for a particularly elusive photo of a family member that I wanted to share with a cousin of mine…our Napa trip from last year flew by as I was on the hunt and the photos stopped me in my tracks. I then took a virtual vacation to my favorite place and smiled…ahhhh…Napa. While I love the cabernets…it’s the meticulous attention to the the full-circle of the food cycle created through the various properties using sustainable agriculture practices, the prevalence of stunning gardens (edible and flower), seriously fabulous restaurants, and a sense of grace exuding from this farming community that touches my soul. And…they always have perfectly lovely, quality tea service readily available and accessible.
There are scrumptious, flavorful small bites of foods and beautiful teas served all over town – this mini tasting plate was served at the Greystone Restaurant attached to the CIA (culinary institute of America) in St. Helena, Napa.
Everything seems to taste better in Napa..the town of Yountville is our favorite small burg. We walk quiet little streets to shop, eat, drink, meander, and enjoy the gardens. It’s a no-pressure, relaxed environment. Of course, there are plenty of stellar wines to sample…which might contribute just a little bit to the sense of relaxation 🙂
Bouchon Bakery stop on our morning walk, barrels and caves to explore, small plates to nibble on and lovely cups of tea abound
Yep, I’m ready for a drive up north 🙂
Food is memories. That’s what my sister wrote in an email to me this morning after she watched the movie, 100 – Foot Journey, last night – Her email comments inspired me to write today. Thanks sister 🙂
I just love food and learning anything about food, but have been a bit frustrated and stymied because some of our old food memory recipes don’t work for the whole family anymore. Stubbornly, I don’t want to give up on these food memory foods; therefore, I decided to figure out how to re-engineer our most favorite family recipes… with a little re-work, re-invention, and responsible food sourcing…I’m inspired again and coming up with products that work for our dietary needs today…it’s turned out to be a feel-good journey too.
The first recipe I’ve re-done is Mom’s yam (or sweet potato) biscuit recipe. For over 30 years, Thanksgiving at our family’s homes have included a petite yam biscuit served with her homemade pumpkin butter. In the late 1970’s, Mom, (Betty), had taken cooking classes where she came away with petite bite recipes for her catering business. Many of those stuck with the family as favorites for holiday dinners, happy events (cocktail parties or showers), and offered at tea time. These yam biscuits hit a chord with all of us as a must have served with the Italian chicken soup course on Thanksgiving day.
Our niece has taken over the helm as the yam biscuit and pumpkin butter maker for our holiday dinner (often for over 25 guests). With a new baby in tow, we shared duties this year…her pumpkin butter was the best I ever remember consuming. For the yam biscuits (we often substitute with organic sweet potatoes as they are delicious and easier to source), I substituted the flour and fat historically called for to ensure everyone at the table could comfortably consume the biscuits, slathered with her stunning pumpkin butter. We have gluten-fee, soy free, sodium reduced diet needs to accommodate. The old recipe called for all purpose flour (wheat) and Crisco (soybean oil) … I substituted with William Sonoma’s Cup for Cup Gluten-free (wheat free) flour and chilled Kerrygold Grass-fed Unsalted Butter (soy free). While a bit of a sticky, challenging dough resulted…the biscuits were just fabulous…and everyone could eat them. We cut them small (1 1/2″ round) so they instigate your appetite and don’t fill you up. Although my nephews can eat a dozen at a sitting 🙂
Below is the new recipe…gluten free, soy free and even me…the diabetic… can happily fit one into my meal plan.
Organic sweet potato biscuit prepared with gluten free flour and grass-fed butter
Sweet Potato Biscuit
I suggest baking them just prior to serving as they are sooo good served hot (or you can bake them ahead and heat them for a few minutes on a low temperature just prior to serving).
The first time we learned of these biscuits was at a Southern foods cooking class. They were served with a slice of country ham and honey mustard—a savory little “slider” that’s perfect for tea time.
Makes approximately 24 ( 1 1/2”) biscuits.
PREP TIME: 10 minutes TOTAL TIME: 50 minutes (including prepping yam and baking time)
Preheat oven to 400° F.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (substitute with Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour).
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup Crisco® shortening (substitute cold butter – I used Kerrygold unsalted)
3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
Approximately ¾ cup mashed yam, boiled or baked, then mashed and cooled (substitute with sweet potatoes – use organic if available).
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
Cut in shortening (or cold butter) until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add yam/sweet potato and cut in with a pastry cutter or two knives.
Add cream to form a soft dough that holds.
Lightly knead and pat down onto a floured surface to ¾” thick, cut into rounds using 1 ½” to 2” cutter. Do not use a rolling pin…use our hands to lightly pat down. Rustic looking biscuits are cute :-).
Bake in a buttered pan or sheet pan lined with parchment or Silpat® at 400° F for 18 to 20 minutes.
Serve hot with butter and sliced country or baked ham or with pumpkin butter.
Providence sashimi…first dish…fluke, cucumber, yuzu …Normally I don’t eat raw fish…this was just stunning with bursts of flavor, freshness, and the ocean
Well, happy birthday to me! My dear husband surprised me with what he knows to be my favorite gift…awesome foods, prepared with finesse, leaning towards healthy, made with the best quality ingredients – which are creatively manipulated into flavorful, beautiful, bites…thus was our experience at Providence Restaurant in Los Angeles the other night…and it came with gracious, comfortable, un-austentatious service. Enjoy the photos of our courses…each were just a few bites…making you want more, and then the next stunning dish came…and mmmmmm….we were awed again and again.
Uni egg…Santa Barbara sea urchin hiding beneath soft scramble eggs…ok…I almost asked for a substitution dish here…but I am a sucker for anything custard-like…so I went for it..I am now an uni fan as long as it is covered with custard 🙂 This dish reminded me of my 7 year old experience eating 3 minute soft boiled eggs out of the shell in my Italian grandmother’s kitchen ..just soft and comfortingly delicious
Maine Lobster with matsutake mushrooms…in season now…porcini-like and stunning…can’t believe this is the 2nd time this week I was graced with the pleasure of these mushrooms…our Chef friends served them to us Saturday night…they are just wonderful..
Possibly THE most beautiful course of the night…scallop with curry, makrut lime, mint
This was my favorite course of the night…striped bass, turnip, brown butter, smoked sesame … just incredible textures and bursts of flavor…made one’s taste buds tingle and come alive… mmmmm
…we chose the main course …I opted for John Dory – a white fish…David chose the Liberty Farms Duck…then…since we had eaten so “light” … the artisanal cheese cart came, just perfect for sharing…and finally elderflower sorbet and then my chocolate dessert (with a discreet birthday candle 🙂 …this was just possibly the best meal of my life – certainly a perfect one at this point in my life …
Duck, John Dory, Cheese plate for two…green tea now…petite perfect desserts…sorbet and chocolate torte
So, who are these guys 🙂 ? Their website states:
“For a decade, Providence has elevated the standard of modern American seafood restaurants. We invite you to experience Chef Michael Cimarusti’s award-winning cuisine in the heart of Los Angeles, welcomed by one of LA’s legendary hosts, co-owner Donato Poto.
Chef Cimarusti is completely dedicated to procuring the finest sustainable seafood—from regional coasts and international waters—and treats those ingredients with uncompromising respect and sophisticated technique. “First and foremost, what guides us here is sustainability,” Cimarusti says. “We use only wild-caught, sustainable products, mostly from American waters, and look to highlight their finest qualities.”
The accolades for Providence include multiple James Beard Award nominations; “Top 50 Restaurants in the United States” by Gourmet magazine; “Best Seafood Restaurant” by Los Angeles magazine; the #1 ranking in “Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants” in the Los Angeles Times; and two highly coveted Michelin stars.
I actually signed up to vote for them for the 2015 James Beard awards, something I’ve not been motivated to do before…
Of course, I finished with a lovely cup of green tea…beautifully vegetal and light, expertly served in an iron tetsubin pot. Just lovely!
Have you ever come across a recipe you want to try which calls for one teaspoon of a spice you don’t have in your pantry? You vacillate about preparing it as you realize to purchase the required ingredients at the traditional grocery store demands an investment of dollars beyond your liking, and… you already have a cupboard full of aging spices from other recipes that asked for a teeny bit of this and that spice. What to do? Go to Spice Merchants in Laguna Beach, Ca….they have an enormous selection of spices… and, with their expert assistance, they will dole out the amount you need. They also have a wide selection of whole leaf teas and herbal infusions, as well as, beautiful tea ware, gift packaging and air tight tins of various sizes for storing your purchases. You can create unique, custom gifts of spices or teas with their skilled guidance too.
Spice Merchants on Ocean Ave. in Laguna Beach…offering a wide array of spices and teas with beautiful gift packaging and tea ware
We will be holding an intimate, first time, Tea 101 class at Spice Merchants this coming Tuesday, October 14 at 7 p.m….
Come learn a bit of history about tea, how to prepare a great cup of tea, and taste a variety of types of teas.
We will taste tea in their “tea room” towards the back of the shop pictured below (center display will be moved out for our tasting experience). Check out details on our “events” page and call Spice Merchants to hold your spot. Their contact information is phone: 949 715-9600 and are located at 311 Ocean Avenue, Laguna Beach, Ca 92651
The tea room at Spice Merchants — a wide variety of teas and tea ware from various purveyors are available.
Spice Merchants offers teas from quality purveyors…
Quality teas from Spice Merchants…in tins or you choose how much you want to try…
It’s also just a great location to come to and wander around town before or after class.
Welcoming, Dutch door at Spice Merchants…come on in…
In visiting the shop this morning, I saw they just got in beautiful soup fixings too…they are ready for fall … as most of us in Southern California are…hoping the heat stops soon. I’m ready for soup and hot tea!