Follow Me To The Deep End!!

Oct 16, 2015

From the Dudes Who Brought L.A. the Phorrito, Komodo Now Wants to Be Your Sunday Football Sports Bar. Venice Beach, CA.

komodo sun screens
Even if you're not into football, you'll at least like the food.

Are you ready for some football?! That's the battle cry slash question any given Sunday during football season. But, if you're hangin' with your bros or girls at Komodo while viewing games on three freshly installed flat screens, the real question should be: Are you ready for some fried grub?! Because there is no shortage of the fried stuff on Komodo's newly launched Sunday Football Specials menu, which premiered last Sunday.

komodo sun beer
Pan-Asian beer bucket!

Executive Chef Erwin Tjahyadi and the Komodo krew whip up exactly the kind of food you want when you have your eyeballs glued to three screens at once. You don't need to be messing with "cuisine" to which attention must be paid. No! Actually, you don't need cuisine at all! That's why Chef Erwin loads the list of offerings up with snacks and bites, so you can simply grab, grind, and repeat. A beer bucket special helps wash all that delicious debris down your gullet. My bucket included the greatest hits of Asian beer: Singha (Thailand), Hite (South Korea), and Asahi (Japan). (Didn't even need to renew my passport!) And, no, all Asians do not taste the same—Asian beers, I mean.

komodo sun nachos
Kimchi Nachos are a win no matter what team you're rooting for.

What's on the menu? There's the Tailgate Sampler Platter which includes: Brutus salad, kimchi nachos, garlic fries, and four cheese quesadillas. The kimchi nachos—dappled with the fermented, funky cabbage—was my fave followed closely by the garlicky garlic fries.

komodo sun blta sliders
B.L.T.A. comin' straight outta Venice!

Also, the B.L.T.A. Sliders were handy, unobtrusive, and tasty. You get three servings of center cut bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado served with garlic aioli sandwiched between Hawaiian sweet rolls. So easy to pile slider after slider into your mouth without ever looking down at your plate and away from the pigskin action. You can sort of feel healthy-ish about it too.

komodo sun calamri crawfish
Calamari and crawfish. Like Peaches and Herb. Nice combo.

Another pretty cool platter with that special Chef Erwin touch was the Southern Fried Calamari and Crawfish; it's calamari and crawfish marinated with seasoned buttermilk and chili paste tossed in undisclosed seasoning and served with cherry pepper remoulade. A little kick of heat in this one, but what do you expect when you're eating fried crawfish?

komodo sun chicken
KFC is Komodo Fried Chicken, baby!

My favorite of the lot was the Sweet Sesame Marinated Jumbo Chicken Wings (Mild). These wings have tons of flavor, especially from the sesame. They have a toasty savoriness that is singular to any other wings I've ever devoured. You get about eight to ten chicken wings that are marinated overnight, tossed in seasoned flour, and deep fried, comes with some homemade sweet sesame sauce. They're lip smackin', mama slappin' good!

For a change in your Sunday sports viewing scenery, check out the Komodo branch in Venice. The food is better, and you're near the beach! Screw Fantasy Football. Chow down with your team's touch down!

Gimme more wangs!

Football Specials served every Sunday from 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. at the Venice location only.

Komodo Venice
235 Main Street
Venice, CA

Oct 7, 2015

On the Road Eats: the Kentucky Hot Brown. Is this Kentucky Classic a Hot Meal or a Hot Mess?

masterchef open call louisville 2015
Louisville is all fired up for MasterChef auditions!

I love discovering regional food specialties whenever I travel. So far this year while touring the country as food tasting judge for the MasterChef Season 7 open call auditions, I've visited Detroit, Minneapolis, and San Francisco. While in Detroit and Minneapolis, I savored some local tastiness known as the Coney Island hot dog and Juicy Lucy (or Juicey Lucy), respectively.

However, when in San Francisco, I actually avoided the town's famous fare—like steamed crab and clam chowder in sourdough bowl—partly because I've had them before when I lived in the city many years ago. It was touristy food back then, and it still is now, in my not-so-humble opinion. Instead, I had some interesting Asian grub which I'll be sharing with you in future posts.

embassy suites downtown louisville hot brown
The "famous" Kentucky Hot Brown from Embassy Suites Louisville

When I was assigned Louisville, Kentucky as my next MasterChef casting city, I looked forward to learn what local dish the city proudly called its own. It turns out the Kentucky Hot Brown was that dish. Created in 1926 at the Brown Hotel in Louisville by chef Fred Schmidt, the Hot Brown is basically an open-faced turkey sandwich; it's also a variation of the Welsh rarebit or rabbit, itself an open-faced sandwich.

As Brown Hotel legend has it, chef Schmidt wanted to offer something for guests who were plumb tuckered out from a long night of dancing at its popular dinner dances, presumably from excessive foxtrotting and doing the Charleston. However, he didn't feel cooking up ham and eggs was special enough, so Schmidt dreamed up something different. Et voilà! The Hot Brown was born.

This Hot Brown open-faced turkey sandwich is distinguished by the base of Texas toast plus toppings of bacon, Mornay sauce, cheese, and tomatoes.

However, I didn't get a chance to eat the original Hot Brown at the Brown Hotel due to my limited time in Louisville. Instead, I sampled the version at the Embassy Suites in downtown Louisville where I was staying. This rendition utilized a thick, crustless, doughy bread that was hallowed out like a soup bowl. Filling the gap was a concoction of cheese, Mornay sauce, bacon pieces, tomato bits, and chunks of turkey breast.

To be totally honest, I wasn't thrilled about trying this Louisville specialty mainly because I'm not into rich sauces smothering other rich ingredients like cheese. It's just way too cloying. The bacon couldn't even save it. This was simply too many assertive flavors and textures served up in a dense, doughy foundation.

I was also not so surprised to learn that the Hot Brown is hardly consumed by the locals, at least not in modern times. Nowadays, it's considered something like tourist fare.

I've always enjoyed a good open-faced turkey sandwich crowned with mashed potatoes and drenched in gravy, but this Hot Brown, in my humble opinion, was just a hot mess.

The original recipe from the Brown Hotel's website is below:

The Legendary Hot Brown
1 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
14 oz. sliced roasted turkey breast, slice thick
4 slices of Texas toast (crusts trimmed)
4 slices of bacon
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined to form a thick paste or roux. Continue to cook roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino-Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven safe dish and cover with 7 oz. turkey. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and two toast points and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Pour half of the sauce over the dish, completely covering it. Sprinkle with additional cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove and cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley and serve immediately.

Sep 23, 2015

The Art of Charcuterie is a MUST for Food Lovers Who Want a Hands On Meat Preserving Adventure Taught By Top Patina Group Chefs. Cafe Pinot, Downtown LA.

cafe pinot charcuterie

Cafe Pinot is a Los Angeles classic. Located next to another classic, Downtown's Central Library, this contemporary California-French restaurant not only offers some of the best in fine dining experienced within a sanctuary-like dining room and patio in the center of downtown L.A., it also offers hands-on classes.

Returning this fall season is Cafe Pinot's popular "The Art of Charcuterie: Life Lessons in Preserving Your Meat." If you're a crazy about charcuterie like I am, then you're going to want to investigate these upcoming, delicious and insightful clinics on mortadella, German cheese sausage, and lamb-chetta. You can peruse the official schedule here at the link.

cafe pinot duck score

I had the privilege of participating in the duck prosciutto and rillette classes back in early February when former Cafe Pinot exec chef Joe Vasiloff lead the program.

Within a span of 2 hours, we started from raw ingredients, in this case, duck breasts and legs, and finished with product to take home for further curing.

cafe pinot salt pour

Chef Vasiloff walked us through ingredients for seasoning, prepping the meats, blending the seasoning, and processing the meats.

cafe pinot ingredients

We even got a tour of Cafe Pinot from its various kitchens to food storage facilities. The spaces are tight but a lot of good food comes out of it.

cafe pinot breast season

Seasoning of course is key to charcuterie. Making and applying the curing mixture are the most fun.

cafe pinot curing salt

We learned a lot about the magic of curing and why curing salt is pink—it's a warning, a red, er, pink flag, so to speak.

cafe pinot duck confit

The toughest part about The Art of Charcuterie class is not eating the ingredients like the duck confit. It just looks so luscious and tempting. It's like the duck leg is saying EAT ME, Eddie.


If you're a curious culinarian or a hardcore foodie who wants to know and do everything food-related, you need to experience The Art of Charcuterie.


I'm particularly excited about one of this season's chef-instructors, Viet Pham. I'm a fan of the Pham man. He took over for Kris Morningstar at Ray's & Stark Bar early this year and will be doing double duty at Cafe Pinot as a charcuterie master. Pham's sous chef Jake Eaton will also be teaching classes this season.

cafe pinot jars

Preserving meats is an ancient practice. It's good to know that it's being used and taught more than ever, even in the 21st century.

cafe pinot prosciutto

Once class is wrapped, you get to take home your meat masterpieces.

cafe pinot duck rillette

Isn't mine lovely? I probably put a little too much oil on top.

cafe pinot gm steve meyer

Class dismissed! Now, time to drink and eat some previously prepared duck prosciutto and rillette. Cafe Pinot's general manager Steve Meyer poured generously. The wine was the reward for toiling in the kitchen. Making charcuterie is a tough business.

cafe pinot pickles mustard

Olives, cornichon, mustards: snacking with charcuterie.

cafe pinot cheese plate

What's a meat platter without a cheese platter? Nothin'!!!

cafe pinot chef joe vasiloff

Thanks, chef Vasiloff. You taught well. My duck rillette was ridic!

Cafe Pinot
700 W. Fifth St.
Downtown Los Angeles

The Art of Charcuterie at Cafe Pinot continues this fall:

Mortadella and Homemade Sriracha

Kaese Krainerwurst (German cheese sausage) and Make Your Own Mustard

Lamb-chetta and Quick Pickled Fennel

NOON-2PM + 45 Minute Reception/$85 pp