Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rambutans vs Lychees (in season now!)

A rambutan is a fantastic, hot pinkish-reddish-greenish fruit, about 2-3" tall, oval-shaped, hairy on the outside, and common in Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Rambutans, not to be confused with the "Romulans" species from Star Trek, have a juicy flavor and consistency similar to a...GRAPE! Peel the spiky-hairy colorful rind (not sharp/dangerous) and eat the sweet flesh inside. Oh, and avoid pit!
Lychees are another funky-looking fruit, with a pinkish-brownish-greenish rind, about 2" big, roundish, juicy like a grape inside, also with a pit, and common in Asia. Even though they are similar in taste, Lychees are easier to peel and much juicier. My kids always prefer fresh lychees over romulans, oops, I mean RAMBUTANS if they had a choice.
Back to RAMBUTANS. I love staring at these striking, punk-rock, DELICIOUS fire balls.

You almost need a knife (well, I use a knife, not my teeth) to get through the thick crazy rambutan skin. Inside, the rambutan flesh is firm and moist (not dripping wet like lychees) and with a little squeeze, they pop right out of their rinds. Imagine a dense juiceless grape, if you will. Still sweet and delicious!

The rambutan pit is woodlike and big. It is so tree-ish and bark-like, that when you bite off the soft white flesh, it is almost impossible to avoid getting bits of that barky, woody pit - slightly annoying (unless you like wood bits mixed with a grape texture). 
Now, LYCHEES! Even though they look spiky and hardcore, lychee's skin is just bumpy (smooth vs spiky) and super thin. No need for a sharp knife. Just rip/tear with your fingers.
Lychee's pit is solid and smooth and separates from the flesh easily when you bite into it. You aren't left chewing bits of the pit, like you do with the rambutan. Lychees are super sugary sweet, wet, extra juicy, sticky and really messy to eat. Kids LOVE eating fresh lychees!

They are now in season. I found these delicious lychees and rambutans at the Vietnamese market Tay-do (3825 South Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, UT 84119, 801-972-4700).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pago in Salt Lake City

Kris raved about this new place Pago at 9th&9th in Salt Lake City, so we were all dying to go. The buzz about the organic local changing menu was enticing. I felt at home the moment I walked in - great urban vibe, awesome NYC loft feel with the steel beams and brick walls, intimate small space, the cute waiters in black, open kitchen up front, wine bottles in plexiglass display cabinet up front.... 
Mushrooms in yuzu and edible flowers. Fantastic, light and such a generous portion. Couldn't have been a better start!
Carpaccio and toast. Exquisite.
Salad, greens, apple, goat cheese. Fresh and fab.
Fish, curry. Beautiful and bold.
Vegetarian plate was enormous. The fabulous mushrooms, mashed potatoes, veggie and greens. Good, but heavy. The overall amount was ridiculous for one person.
Pasta noodles, peas, mushrooms and cheese.
Cornish hens, salad, fresh pitted cherries, homemade croutons, fresh greens. One of the best dishes ever!
Spinach side with shallots was overkill (so much food!). Delicious though!
The food was fantastic and distinctively fresh and organic - so intensely flavorful! The portions were huge and hubby, being a ridiculously light (and disciplined!) eater, thought it was on the heavier side. I look forward to coming back to try a different season menu.

Pago on Urbanspoon

Bui Sushi in Malibu

Bui Sushi - 23733 Malibu Road, Malibu, CA 90265, 310-456-1500
I snuck away to LA for a few days to refresh and see old friends over good vibes, fabulous food, clubs, art, ink, music, beach, house touring, light shopping and DINING... 
We caught up over hot sake and beer at Bui Sushi in Malibu, a chic beachy atmosphere. Mimi did the ordering (she's excellent at ordering!). Each plate was vibrant, beautiful and DELICIOUS. Pictures are worth a million words (and I am limited in sushi knowledge), so here...
Spiced up edamame with super kick.
Simple, subtle, spicy, citrus, silky smooth Hamachi.
This roll has extreme citrus, salty AND spicy. Creamy crabmeat is superb in a sick rich way. So good. (Creamy crab is not my fave, but they do it PERFECT here.)
Here is a giant ball of tuna on top of a fried patty of rice. Topped off with tobiko and special mayo. Oops, they forgot to season the tuna (judging from the light colored tuna). They apologized and immediately made another.
This white roll was unique - monochromatic white with white-black sesame soypaper (versus seaweed). Again, filled with rich crabmeat, but this time it was lightly battered and fried for a crisp crunch texture. Awesome, tasty. Dreamy creamy crab (hmm, say that again?!).
Second try with the tuna on fried rice patty. Spicier, redder, so INTENSE! The center of the fried rice patty contained a small piece of marinated eggplant (hidden beneath the mound of spicy tuna). Amazing flavors!
Seared blackened tuna. Inside is shrimp, avocado, cucumber. Spicy light pozu-y, yet subtle. Garnishes were crisp and fresh, chili, red onion, tomato. SO GOOD.
Fresh uni sea urchin. Can't go wrong here. Either you like it or you don't.
This roll had wagu sliced on top, then torched. Inside is asparagus, shrimp, avocado. It was very good, but not my favorite (too creamy!). Very good though.
Happy girls gaga over yummy food...
Back to the beachhouse. As expected, I am in LOVE with Carbon Beach.

Bui Sushi on Urbanspoon

Les Deux in Hollywood

I needed to be at Les Deux Hollywood around midnight for Shirley Levi's show, so we decided to stay within proximity for dinner. JhonenV craved Gyu-Kaku on La Cienega, a stylish hotspot Japanese BBQ, but with no rez and the time being 8:45pm, there was a 2 hour wait (come on, it's a Wed night, whuh?!). Regrettably (and only because we were starving at this point), we walked down the street into the only other option, Woo Lae Oak (Korean BBQ) and had one of worst dining experiences EVER. Ew.
Ambiance was loud and ugly with frugal tasteless sides and an inedible salad. A ripoff. Our neglectful waiter even sat us at a window table where we stared resentfully at Gyu-Kaku's happy hip crowd loitering in front directly across the street. Except for the company (crazy art talk), it was SUCH a bummer meal!  :(
Feeling lousy after such bad food, Jhonen cheered us up by getting dessert next door to the Bodhi Tree on Melrose. YAY for fabulous LA bakeries open late night!
That night, Shirley Levi was scheduled to rock the stage at Les Deux, a trendy restaurant-bar-nightclub hidden away just south of Hollywood Blvd and Las Palmas. Yes, another chic indoor-outdoor venue loaded to capacity with hot young Hollywood hipsters and glamour girls posing and dancing. DJ Mike Palmieri was spinning hip-hop, 90's and Top 20 that night. Patio decked out in Frenchie-glam, lush mature trees, a Tuscany-style two tier fountain, tall stone-brick walls and, of course, all the good-looking people. (I didn't eat there, but the dining menu consisted of some Italian and French classics.)
(Shirley is one of my oldest friends from a million years ago, stemming from way WAY back to SD art days.) She was expected to go on before midnight. Here she is.
Shirley Levi came on and ROCKED THE HOUSE. Killed it. Shirley puts on a sick show with great vibes, awesome music, dynamite energy, and that VOICE...
After 1am, still going.
Who took this picture?!
Then, naturally in the same hood, visit old old friend (circa '95) the amazing fabulous Freddy Negrete at Shamrock Social on Sunset to check for some killer black and grey.
I love LA.