Monday, April 30, 2012

Akasha (Culver City)



After reviewing the cocktail menu, I decided to check out the beer menu.  I've been to Akasha before and while the drinks are good, they're not craft-cocktail-bar good.  So when I see similar prices, I'll pass if I see a beer I'd rather try.

One that I found and thoroughly enjoyed was the CoConut Porter from Maui Brewing Co.  

Lilly's Domaine Gouron Chinon (Cabernet Franc), Loire Valley, France, 2009 & my CoConut Porter.

 I apologize to my fellow eating companions for my small plates loving ways but I really dig trying as much as I [reasonably] can from the menu to get a good feel for what the kitchen can churn out.  So if we both order an entree and we split an appetizer, well I'll still feel like I didn't try enough.  And what if you don't like the entree as much as you thought you would have.  You're stuck or you are out that much more money if you order another dish.  With small plates, you can afford to miss but more times than not, you won't and it's a lot more fun in my opinion.

We started with the Artichoke Frites.  Both of us love artichokes and I especially love deep fried treats, so this was an obvious choice for me.  A squeeze of lemon over the top and a beer to go with it and I was good.

My favorite plate, however, was the ribs n green papaya salad combo.  As much as I always like to try new things, if I return and this is still on the menu, I'm ordering it again.

Their beer list.

I'm a fan of Victory Brewing Company so I decided to try one of their beers.

I went with the Golden Monkey.  As much as I liked the porter this was a much better pairing with the food we ate.  I don't usually go with pairing as much as I go for what I like.  Anyway, this was a "festive" beer.  It was acting like a glass of champagne with bubbles dancing around in there.  I've never witnessed a beer do that quite as much as I did with this one and it wasn't overly carbonated either.

So now that I had another beer in hand, time for pizza...err flatbread.

On our last visit, we tried the Fig & Prosciutto flatbread and although we liked it, because we like to try new things, we decided to try the Braised Wild Mushroom flatbread.  It was okay but we both agreed that the Fig/Prosciutto one was better.

Because we had already eaten 4 out of the 6 small plates that they offer and we didn't feel like trying the other 2 options, we decided to keep the ball rollin' with the "Sides" portion of the menu.  That's just how we roll!

 A simple yet tasty side of baby broccoli.  I swear, when people say they don't like vegetables, it's got to be because they've had them prepared in very mundane ways.  Looking back at our meal, only 1 dish contained meat.  And this wasn't a conscious decision either - we just went with what looked most appetizing.  Yet, we both felt satiated at the end and neither of us felt like we practically had a vegetarian meal.    

Over on the Food Network, these Onion Rings were featured on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Crunchy."  While I can't say that these are the best crunchiest things I've ever plopped into my mouth, I can say that these are the best onion rings I've had.  The breading is just right, not very oily, crispy and the clincher for me is, when you bite into them you don't have the onion separate from the breading, leaving you a long strand of un-coated onion.        

Chocolate Hemp Ice Cream anyone?

The open kitchen.

The restaurant's exterior.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


To think that after all this time spent consuming cocktails of all varieties, I have not once thought to order a martini.  To think that after all the time I have spent scouring recipes online and in books, it never occurred to me to try one of the all-time classics.  To think that I've had many drinks with a laundry list of ingredients, yet I never once considered this 2 ingredient libation.  

I think a lot of my complete disregard for the martini was due in part to the fact that I have been conditioned to dismiss Martini from my lexicon.  I like gin but I prefer Mezcal, Whiskey, Rum & Tequila better - so there's that.  But my misplaced disdain for the Martini had to do with how it has been assembled over the past few decades.  The actual martini is a simple concoction of stirred gin and dry vermouth.  Beyond that, I'm skeptical about the dirty variety where you add a splash of green olive brine.  I'm skeptical but I'm accepting of it.  But that's as far as I'll permit the martini to veer before I call it something else.  "What about the wet martini/dry martini, Memo?"  Well, that just refers to the amount of dry vermouth you want in your martini.  If you want a dry martini, you are asking for a martini with little vermouth.  If you want a wet martini, then the contrary is true. 

Nowadays, and for the longest time now, the martini is made with vodka and it's shaken.  no. No! NO!  And the stemware that is used to serve the martini in - the martini glass - it's used to pour anything into and then called ____-tini (i.e. appletini) or the entire name is added to the end of something else (i.e. chocolate martini, peach martini, strawberry martini, etc...). wrong. Wrong! WRONG!  The name of the glass is named after the drink, not the other way around.  I'm sorry but you can't shouldn't be allowed to pour anything into the glass and call it a ___tini or xxxxx-martini.   

Don't be fooled, there is only one Martini [with a few variants to suit your personal taste].  No shaking, no vodka and nothing other than gin, vermouth and a simple garnish of olives or a lemon twist.            

Martini - "Shaken, not stirred."  Fuck you, Mr. Bond.  This drink has no business being shaken.  Stirred & Strained.  End of story.

Recipe from my PDT Cocktail Book.

"He knows just how I like my martini - full of alcohol."
- Homer Simpson

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

1886 @ The Raymond (Pasadena)


Table-side preparation of the Cinnablossom.  The coupe was brought to the table with 151 proof rum already inside.  It was ignited, then cinnamon was sprinkled over the top.

The rest of the ingredients were then poured into the glass.   

Seasonal portion of the cocktail menu.

Macarthur Park Swizzle.

Regional cocktails.

Bittersweet Farewell with a flaming garnish.

Stirred Cocktails.

Chips with Spicy Ketchup.

Shaken Drinks.

Chicken & Serrano Ham Croquettes.

Small Snacks portion of the bar menu.

El Galgo.

Parlor Hours also valid on Saturdays now.

The restaurant looks like an ordinary house so look for the sign or you might miss it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Congregation Ale House Chapters (Pasadena)



This was my first visit to this "Chapter" of Congregation Alehouse but I've been to the one in Long Beach before.

We were a bit late for Mass (Happy Hour), yet the place was still full.

Portion of the menu.

Even though I always get the Grilled Rib Eye Burger, I wish it were bigger.  During Mass, you can get it for $6 - a great deal.

Want to know if you are wearing beer goggles?  Look away at the chalkboard.  Yup, I'd say the goggles were on that night.

 Epic Sour Apple Saison & Craftsman' Juniper Ale.

 One day I'll try some of their cocktails. 

The Last Rights intrigues me for dessert.

 Continuing with the Church theme.

Menu Cover.