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  1. I second Gjelina's! It looks like you have a ton of recommendations for Santa Monica and the westside... For Hollywood my personal favorites are Osteria Mozza (the Pizzeria is good also) and Hatfield's. I would stay away from the trendy Hollywood scene, the food is terrible and drinks are way over-priced.
  2. I'm not sure about steak houses, but if you enjoy seafood you should stop by The Hungry Cat. They are closed on Mondays, but open for lunch and dinner the rest of the week. They also have great cocktails!
  3. I recently purchased "Pinxtos," which is a Basque version of tapas and love it! It's by Hirigoyen, chef and owner of Piperade and Bascadillos in San Francisco.
  4. I recently dined at Animal as well, and loved it! Definitely not the lightest meal I've ever had, but very good. My girlfriend and I shared: chicken liver toast-very simply prepared, smooth chicken liver pate over a crostini toast with pickled onions. barbeque pork belly sandwiches with slaw-crispy slices of braised pork belly with house-made bbq sauce and slaw on toasted mini brioche buns duck confit with dates, arugula, sherry vinaigrette, pecans and apple-one of my favorites of the night. crispy duck leg confit balanced very well with the sweetness of the dates and the tart/crispness of apples, spiciness of arugula sweetbreads, creamed spinach, capers, hen of the woods-least favorite of the night. the sweetbreads were well cooked and extremely crispy, but due to the fact that they were deep fried, they tasted like everything else that was fried that night too... fois gras with biscuit and maple bacon gravy-super fatty and absolutely delicious. the fois was perfetly seared and sat on top of a cream biscuit that had been smothered in maple bacon gravy flat iron, sunchoke hash, truffle parmesan fondue-not bad, not great either. the steak was at least cooked correctly, which I give them much credit for. the sunchoke hash was lacking a bit in flavor, while the parmesan fondue overpowered everything. balsamic pork ribs, delicata squash, cippolini onion vinaigrette-amazing! a full rack of bbq ribs which made for a great snack the next day... we ate at the bar, as we did not expect to eat out that night to make a reservation. the bar tender was very nice and helped us chose wines with our meal. other than the annoying, stuck-up person we were sitting next to, the meal was great.
  5. I will admit to being spoiled by living in southern California, where we can get almost anything year-round at our local farmer's markets. However, my point was simply to buy from California, Texas or Florida during those winter months, instead of buying from Mexico or elsewhere... And you act as if there is a lack of fresh produce in midwinter, while I find that I am excited by winter produce--a hundred different kinds of winter squash, apples and pears...not to mention persimmons, pomegranates and citrus!
  6. Pot de creme is a French dessert that consists of a chilled custard served in ramekins, translates to "pot of cream" derived from the fact that it is served in small dishes or "pots." The traditional flavor is vanilla, but also may be chocolate, coffee, or whatever other flavor you may enjoy, including savory versions. They tend to be slightly lighter than creme brulee, being made with both milk and cream, although some recipes may call for only cream. Creme brulee is another French dessert that consists of a chilled custard topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. Creme brulee recipes call for only cream, creating a richer custard. Creme caramel is the same as flan, a custard dessert with a layer of soft caramel. Both names are French as well, but have different meanings in different regions. Also, creme caramel is not as rich as a pot de creme or creme brulee, being made with milk instead of cream (or milk and cream), and both whole eggs and egg yolks.
  7. I almost can't even wrap my head around this thread... Buying produce from Mexico? Really? In a time where our economy has suffered, I would think that more people would want to be more supportive of local farmers. I understand if you may live in an area where there isn't great produce year-round, but there are a number of farms all across the country that grow items that may not be available certain times of the year...
  8. Thank you! I did freeze the cake unwrapped and then wrapped once the frosting was frozen. But I unwrapped it and defrosted at room temperature. That was my mistake, obviously. What I'm wondering about is how my frosting won't get messed up if I defrost with the plastic wrap still on it. Won't it pull it away/mess it up? The best way I've found to do it is freeze the cake, then place it in a cake box vs. wrapping with plastic. Then for defrosting you keep it in the box, in the fridge. It will take much longer to defrost than at room temp, but your cake won't sweat.
  9. It's marketed as both, on the dessert menu as well as with a list of our coffees and teas. We serve it in an 8oz cup, but 6oz portions to leave room for creme fraiche whipped cream and chocolate curls. We used to have it come from the front of the house rather than the dessert station, but we found that our baristas weren't making it as fresh as we prefer (it does keep for a week as long as it's chilled properly). They would just re-heat it at the espresso machine using the milk steamer, which sounds something that would work better for you. Here's the recipe if you would like to try it: 1qt whole milk 2c water 2c 1/2 & 1/2 1/2c sugar 1/2c cocoa powder 1/2tsp vanilla extract 12oz 65% chocolate, melted Boil the water and cocoa powder together, whisking constantly. Add the whole milk, 1/2 & 1/2, sugar and vanilla, and bring back up to a boil. Slowly whisk your hot dairy mixture into the melted chocolate (as if you were making a ganache) until fully incorporated. If you add the dairy to the melted chocolate too fast, it tends to separate when cooled--this isn't much of a problem except that you have to whisk the entire mixture together again before re-heating.
  10. I would agree with what everyone has said so far...and I say pretty much the same thing to new interns we have coming in and out of our kitchen... For me, I don't feel that culinary school was necessary (after the fact, of course) as I had worked in and managed small bakeries in town. When I decided to go to school, it wasn't until we were pulling sugar that I had felt I was learning something new. I stuck it out anyways and feel like it was a good experience, except for once a month when my student loan payment is due. I do think that the best education is through experience--I always recommend that someone intern in a kitchen for a while, not just to learn, but to make sure you love it (and I mean LOVE it!!!). It takes a ton of work, more than I can even try to explain. But like Joisey said, it depends on you. You have to give 110% or more every single day, even when you're exhausted or frustrated--it doesn't matter. And as far as hiring goes, I would say to always have a positive attitude and an eagerness to learn. Sometimes cooks who have a few years experience under their belt get way too ahead of themselves and feel like they know it all, which is a big mistake. I would also rather hire someone with a really great attitude and perhaps a little less experience, than someone else with a great resume but sh*tty attitude.
  11. At our restaurant, we have the hot chocolate come out from the dessert station! It works better for us, making the hot chocolate fresh and in smaller batches (about 2qts at a time). We also serve it with house-made marshmallows and spiced almonds, so it's pretty simple to plate as well. We store it in easy-pour containers, and only heat what we need when we get an order in a small sauce pot. Our recipe is a combination of milk, 1/2 & 1/2, water, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and 65% chocolate. Let me know if you're interested, I'll send you the recipe!
  12. My girlfriend and I just took a trip to Napa and ate at all of TK's restaurants...including Bouchon Bakery every morning! I must say, their Nutter Butter cookies are to die for! I'm sad to hear that you're having so many problems with it... I would agree with chilling and resting the dough for baking for optimal results. We have found at the restaurant that most of our cookie doughs really benefit from this, being even better when baked 2-3 days after the dough has been made. As for the butter,I think you may be over-creaming it as well... One of the most common mistakes in creaming butter and sugar (or any fat and sugar) is to either over-cream or under-cream, creaming too fast, or creaming with fat that is too warm or cold. I'm not at home to look in my books to give you the details and science behind it, but typically the more you cream butter and sugar, the more the cookies will spread and lose structure. I would try to follow the directions specifically, and cream on medium speed for 4 minutes.
  13. On that basis, you'd have to include Emeril's. I'm sorry but I'm throwing up in my mouth a little. I don't think either is influential to their peers or the industry, perhaps to home cooks. But Mesa Grill? Really? Bobby Flay? Really? Thank you! I was about to cancel my egullet membership with all the talk about Bobby Flay. WHY?!?!?! I don't get it!!!
  14. i wasn't able to find a more local source than the internet, but here you go! www.black-walnuts.com it seems like they have the best selection and prices--16oz shelled walnuts for $9.95; 5# in shell black walnuts for $15.00. they also have a line of black walnut products if you want to check it out.
  15. Thanks! I had tried searching Recipe Gullet the other day but was having problems... How is the cake without the butter-flavored oil? I'd probably be close to being fired if I tried to use it...
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