Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving for Procrastinators / People Who Don't Cook (e.g. Yours Truly)

I confess: at work, I'm OCD on schedule for projects.  Outside of work:  a complete mess.

If you're like me and completely lost track of the countdown to Thanksgiving, and cooking is not part of those plans...

Keep reading to see where you can pick up some tasty desserts that will score you points with hosts, and generate buzz at the dinner table for your baking shopping skills...with your fellow diners...

(Commitment-phobes take note: Some even have single serving sized pies so that you can taste before you commit to a full pie!)

Farmshop - order by Tues 11/25 5pm 

pick up on Tues 11/25, Wed 11/26 and Thanksgiving Day until 11am

I've been obsessed with bourbon-glazed pecans lately, and Farmshop has a beautiful pie made with them for the holidays!  AND they have single-serve sized one that you can get to get a taste of it before deciding whether that's the one you want to bring to dinner.

Other delicious sounding pies to choose from:
  • Pumpkin Pie 10" serves up to 10 people $42
  • Chocolate Cream Pie 10" serves up to 10 people $40
  • Heirloom Apple Pie 10" serves up to 10 people $38
  • Bourbon-Pecan Pie 10" serves up to 10 people $42
  • Flourless Chocolate Cake 9" serves up to 8 people $32 
  (Add whipped cream: vanilla or fall spice, pint 5)

See menu here


225 26th Street Ste 25 (Brentwood Country Mart), Santa Monica, CA 90402
Ph: 310.566.2400
Website: farmshopca.com

Jin Patisserie - order by Wednesday 11/19  
pickup 11/24 to 11/26 (by 4pm)

Photo credit: Jin Patisserie
Fans of Chef Kristy Choo's exquisite pastries need not despair that her Abbot Kinney location has closed, you can still access the loveliness of her masterfully light, #foodart creations from her production facility in Culver City.

And she has two tarts for Thanksgiving that would be as gorgeous as a centerpiece as it is expected to be delicious as a 'dessert entree' (i.e. for people with an incurable sweet tooth like me, this could supercede turkey / actual savory dinner courses and sides in importance):
  • Autumn ($48, serves 12 people): a crunchy Breton crust filled with alternating layers of 64%  chocolate cream, orange mascarpone, and hazelnut praline chantilly
  • Citron ($38, serves 8): lemon cream with lemon curd on sweet meringue shell


Jin Patisserie
(Production facility, in office park)
5741 Buckingham Parkway, Suite D, Culver City, CA 90230
Ph: 310.399.8801
Website: jinpatisserie.com/

Sweet Rose Creamery - order by Sunday 11/23  closing - see hours at each location
pickup by Wednesday 11/26 regular store hours at each location

Photo credit: Sweet Rose Creamery
Happiness = pie + ice cream.  Sweet Rose Creamery is offering again fun ice cream versions of classic flavor combos.  AND, they've just started offering select ice cream pies by the slice ($6.50) so you can again try it before splurging on a full pie!
  • Spiced Pumpkin with Ginger cookie crust
  • Brown Sugar Butter Pecan with Chocolate crust
  • Apple Pie topped with Walnut crumble and Caramel in a Graham crust
All pies are $40 each, and serve 8-10 people

See menu here

Sweet Rose Creamery
225 26th Avenue, Suite 51 Santa Monica, CA 90402
Ph: 310.260.2663
Website: sweetrosecreamery.com

Craft - order by Monday 11/24 close

pick up 11/26 after 5pm or Thanksgiving Day 9am-noon

Photo credit: Craft LA

If nothing but Top Chef quality will do for you, hit up one of the show's judges Tom Colicchio's reliably good restaurant in Century City, and pick up one of Chef Shannon Swindle's amazing desserts:
  • Pumpkin Pie $45
  • Pecan Pie $55
  • Apple Cranberry Crisp With Oat Streusel $55
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter S’mores Tart $65
This info is not on their website!

To order, email: amorini@craftlosangeles.com

Craft LA
10100 Constellation Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90067
Website: craftrestaurantsinc.com/craft-los-angeles

Pi Bakeshop - farmers market fresh! Pick up at Studio City Farmers Market Sunday 11/23

Photo credit: Pi Bakeshop
Artisanal bakers - they don't have a shop yet but you can find them Sundays at Studio City Farmers Market!  And the great thing is that they offer handcrafted pies at various sizes, with some creative flavor combinations
  • Cranberry Hibiscus ($27)
  • Bourbon Maple Pecan ($27)
  • Pumpkin($27)
  • Sweet potato with ginger crust and toasted homemade marshmallow ($27)
  • BBQ pie - house smoked pork shoulder, with slow braised greens, and spicy bbq sauce. Topped with creamy mac & cheese ($35)

They can also hand deliver your pie within 20 miles of Sherman Oaks, CA for a flat rate of $10. Distances beyond 20 miles will incur an additional charge.

See menu here


Pi Bakeshop
Studio City Farmers Market: Sundays 8am-2pm at Laurel Canyon Blvd across from Vons
Website: pibakeshop.com

Du-par's - pre-order or walk-in! 

If you pulled an Indiana Jones and are literally trying to slide under the descending rock door of holiday closures: Du-par's will be your life-saver:  while the most popular pies are sold out via
 pre-orders (I was told they moved literally thousands of pies the day before Thanksgiving!), they know how it goes and always have a batch of extra pies handy for walk-ins on turkey day.  I've been able to pick up my 'spare' pies last minute at the Studio City location.

Choose from classic to seasonal flavors:

  • Pecan 
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potato 
  • Minced meat
  • Orange cranberry walnut
  • Cherry

See menu here

12036 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91602
Website: du-pars.com

Happy PIE Day everyone!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Emporium Thai Cuisine: Southern Thai for the Westside

In recent years, Jitlada has shot to fame as the dining destination for authentic southern thai in L.A. - introducing a whole new world of much spicier (and much more exciting) fare to the limited mainstream palate that had thus far only gotten acquainted with the reliable rotations of northern thai dishes like pad thai, satays, papaya salad and pineapple fried rice.

That said, I have to admit that I had yet to make it out to the restaurant: as someone who doesn't normally eat very spicy to begin with, I wasn't sure that I could handle dishes that built its fame primarily from the levels of scorching heat.  And conceptually, it was hard for me to understand how beyond a certain point of taste buds being on fire, how I would possibly be able to savor any flavor beyond 'burn'.

So, I was excited when I received an invite to check out Emporium Thai Cuisine: the restaurant that served southern thai to Westsiders, long before Jitlada.  For the last twelve years, in fact. Say what you will about asian food on the Westside, Emporium Thai did seem to promise authenticity in preparation and flavor, with an eye to making the cuisine more accessible via options to customize the level of spice.

And I loved the story behind it all as well: Emporium Thai is now owned by John Sungkamee, youngest brother to the chef co-owners of Jitlada: one of twelve siblings in a family blessed with talent and passion for bringing a taste of home to LA.  (Jitlada is helmed by the eldest and third eldest siblings).  They take pride in serving the freshest and best.  Their 86 year old mom, who ignited this fire within her children to serve and share their culture, can be seen most nights in a corner of one of the restaurant, quietly enjoying the reactions of diners.

The tasting started with Seafood Hor Mok ($12.95) shrimp, crab and scallop baked with chili, coconut and Thai basils.  I loved the fun presentation with this dish - which to me seemed inspired by both Spanish tapas in terms of being featured small bites style, and French cuisine in the escargot-like dishware, and delicious bites revealed under a 'shell' (ceramic vs. organic).  Beyond looks, it was also delicious and very skillfully balanced, with beautiful, fresh, generous bites of seafood in a sauce that is creamy and sweet from coconut, herbaceous from the basil, and punctuated by a bit of spice from chili (at a pleasant level that makes its presence know and cuts through the creaminess, without overpowering every other ingredient).

That salads are not my favorite thing in the world to eat, would be an understatement.  Though I do love fruit over veggies, even fruit salads are usually something that I would only choose on a 'need to eat' basis (because they are typically uninspired, with blocks of flavorless chunks of garden variety fruit).  All that changed when the Coco Mango Salad with Shrimp ($12.95) arrived - with its shredded raw mango mixed with dried coconut, fresh chili, lime juice and shrimp.   The mango was just the perfect level of ripeness, succulent and sweet, yet still structured.  The dried coconut reminded me in texture of dried scallop, and added to the fresh chili, made it taste reminiscent of XO sauce - and this cut through the mango nicely.  Add to that the soft, juicy tender crunch of the freshest, plump pieces of shrimp, counterbalanced by the crisper crunch of peanuts, made this possibly the most boldly flavored, exciting and fun to eat fruit salad in memory.  I would definitely go back for this dish.

When my server Honeybee (owner John's niece) recommended Crying Tiger Beef ($12.95) - I was a bit apprehensious.  I had tried a sample of the same-named dish from Jitlada at a previous food event, and had to down several bottles of water to extinguish the fire in my mouth, from just one single bite. So when the name came up again at Emporium Thai, I was afraid that it would also end in tears.  But Honeybee reassured me that they would adjust the heat level - and that I would love it.  For spicy dishes, Emporium allows you to choose the level of heat from 1 to 10, ten being the spiciest.  The heat level she recommended, and that I tried, was "4".

And Honeybee was right on all fronts: the Thai-style chargrilled beef, marinated with homemade chili sauce - was flavor packed, but was more like the concentrated intensity of jerky, applied to fresh juicy tender pieces of beef - and I loved it.  The heat was there, but it enhanced the flavors rather than exterminating all hope of taste for anything to come after.  Honeybee suggested I eat this with the coco mango salad as well, as another way to balance the heat and add sweetness - this too worked very well as she said.  For those who aren't into red meat, this dish can also be made with pork instead.  

The last main dish was a personal one for John and his family - one that is an original recipe passed down over 30 years, and made with the freshest ingredients found in their yard back in Pakpanang, Nakhon Sri Thammarat Thailand.   Southern Curry Chicken ($11.95) - was made with jicama, basil, bell pepper, served with  side of jasmine rice. Enthralled with the story behind the dish, I really wanted this to be my favorite, but I found the chicken a bit on the dry side and wanted to get more interplay of flavor in the dish.  You can also get this curry with lamb or shrimp, which I may try to give this another shot on my next visit (and there's also a version with crispy pork, which is less stew-like).  The heat level I got was 3 - and I think I'm surprising myself by saying that if I try this again I may venture to crank it up to 4.
For dessert: where most Thai restaurants in LA may stick to the tried and true mango with sticky rice, Emporium also offers up Thai Donuts ($6) served with a side of condensed milk and chopped peanut.  Served fresh fried to order, piping hot with an instantly addictive crispy gorgeous golden brown crust and sweet, super airy and flaky interior - and dipped in the spreadable, sweet condensed milk with a bit of counterbalancing crunch from chopped peanuts - these were little bites of heaven.  Weeks later, I still dream of these beauties, and need to plan a return visit soon, just for them (and the coco mango salad - yep, it's all about balance). 

Definitely a great option for lunch or dinner for those on the Westside, for BOTH adventurous / heat seekers, AND for those who might want to proceed more cautiously to expand their experience with southern Thai cuisine.  Emporium Thai Cuisine found a way to serve both, and the Westside is all the better for it.  Can't wait to go back soon!

*Disclaimer: This meal was hosted.


Emporium Thai Cuisine

1275 Westwood Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90024
Ph: 310.478.2838

Website: ethaicuisine.com

Emporium Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Giveaway: Win Tickets to LA Weekly's Sip and Sweets Event December 7th!

The holidays are almost here, and LA Weekly is throwing a party early for fans of food, drink and gourmet goods (keep reading for details, and a chance to win tickets to the event)!

What: LA Weekly's holiday event Sips and Sweets presented by Keurig 

When: December 7th, 2pm-5pm

Where: The Majestic Downtown + The Reserve 
650 South Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90014

How much: $35 General Admission advance price: includes entry into the event, unlimited sweets samples, 8 sips from master mixologists (cocktails, beer and/or wine) and access to holiday vendor village. (Ticket price goes up to $40 on November 24th. Door price is $45 (if available)
Anticipated drool-factor: 100% at a totally affordable price, you get to experience bites from the stellar lineup including some of my favorite restaurants in the city from Republique, Craft LA, Pizzeria Mozza to Huckleberry, mixologists including Michael Lay and Pablo Moix, and gourmet artisans including Middlebar (love their bourbon poached cherries, snatch these up if you see them, they're great over ice cream)!  Also looking forward to checking out offerings from the newly opened Gjusta and from places I haven't gotten around to trying yet like Cook's County!  All in a historic Beaux Arts building with lots of character - built in the 1920s, used to be Bank of America's HQ, now housing a nightclub with a bank vault as its entrance.

And the even better news?  You could win a pair of tickets to the event, courtesy of LA Weekly!

Enter for your chance to win: follow instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below. (Remember to click on the green button after you complete each item: this is the only way for your entry to be recorded!)

Giveaway runs through November 28 at midnight PST. Good luck!

Note: winner and guest will need to present a current driver's license or passport verifying their age (must be 21+ by 12/7) in order to enter the event. Winner will be randomly selected, and contacted via email as soon as the giveaway ends, and must reply to confirm receipt and correct contact info by November 30th at 11am PST.  If the winner does not reply by this deadline, another entrant will be chosen at random and tickets will be given to the alternate winner.


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