This Little Light of Mine.

Occasionally, if it’s a clear day or during a sunset, while I’m driving along Mulholland, I almost drive off the road. Even after eight years of living in Los Angeles, she still takes my breath away.  It’s easy to forget, sometimes, what a beautiful city this is when the blinders of traffic, smog and sheer population bombard our daily life. But when you have a moment to breathe, to change perspective, to look down at this sprawling metropolis from up above, you only see the landscape, the colors and shapes. The honking, tedium and wheeling and dealing going on in small nooks and crannies throughout the city become invisible.

These moments are important to me, but I often fail to remember to take them. That’s why, when I’m chugging along in my junk-heap, gas guzzler of a car (with no air conditioning), and I suddenly get a little window - a glimpse – of the sparkly city I sometimes forget I live in, I am taken aback. LA is winking at me. Bringing me back to basics. And for this I am grateful.

There are so many things to see and do in our fair city. One can live here for decades and decades and never exhaust all of the culture, museums, restaurants, parks, events and communities to discover. It’s both exhilarating and daunting.

Obviously my main obsession in LA and life is all things food. I try to check out as many restaurants, hot dog carts, food trucks, and markets as I possibly can. I wish I was invited to lots of dinner parties as well, but either my friends don’t have them or I’m not invited because I may be too harsh a critic in their opinion. Gosh, I do hope it’s the former.

I also love classic Hollywood films. I actually studied Film Noir in college (obviously I didn't go to Yale). I love the way formality was a part of each meal: the coffee being sipped from beautiful china, toasts with jam and butter, fresh fruit and the morning paper being enjoyed in front of a bay window while dressed in silk robes, and perhaps an ascot (on him). The three-martini lunch being served by vested servers while sitting in a dark leather booth, dressed in a suit (him or her). And the dinner parties. The dinner parties, always served at 8pm, exquisite gowns (think Adriane), ornate place settings, cocktails, formal conversation masking secrets, mystery and intrigue. Interestingly, many of these films during this era took place in this very city of sunshine & shadows.

So guess what? I want to bring it back. I also want to give something to my city. My people. Myself. 

I have conceived of a dinner party: 6 people, 4 courses, once a month, complete with wine pairings from Jill at Domaine LA, under the stars in Laurel Canyon. The food is seasonal and primarily sourced from our local farmer’s markets and whatever I can utilize from my garden. Get here at 7pm for cocktails and noshables. The first course will be served at 8pm. Let's call it Dinner at Eight.

So, my fellow Angelinos, who’s in? Perhaps after dinner you can cruise home along Mulholland, have the city of angels wink at you and remember what drew you to this magical city in the first place.
Michael Mann, eat your heart out. Literally.

Dinner at Eight: The Maiden Voyage
June 5, 2010

Vichyssoise atop one raw Hama Hama oyster, garnished with caviar
2008 Domaine de la Fruitiere "Cuvée Petit M," Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine

Endive salad with roasted garlic, walnuts and oil cured olives with Meyer lemon cream
2007 COS "Rami," Sicily

Grilled lamb chops with mint and lemon over spring pea risotto and heirloom carrots braised in vermouth, sweet butter & sage
2008 Pithon-Paille "Graviers," Bourgueil

Fresh strawberries, chocolate mint & Chantilly cream with cornmeal shortcakes
NV Terres Dorées "FRV100," Beaujolais

Today, I share with you the recipe for the dessert course. For more information, recipes, or an invite… comment below!


 Fresh Strawberries, Chocolate Mint & Chantilly cream with Cornmeal Shortcakes
(Adapted from Suzanne Goin)

Serves 6

Cornmeal Shortcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
1 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425

Mix with fork:  flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Add butter; blend to a consistency of coarse meal

Quickly pour in cream and mix until dough starts to come together. Place dough on clean surface and bring together with your hands.  Shape into circle 1 1/4" thick.  Cut circle in half and then cut each half into four wedges.

Place shortcakes on buttered baking sheet, brush with remaining tablespoon of cream and sprinkle a little sugar on top.

Bake 15 minutes (or until biscuits are golden brown).

Chantilly Cream

2 cups heavy cream
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract together on high speed until soft peaks form in the mixture. Chill any unused Chantilly cream

Makes enough cream for one average-size cake or pastry recipe

Mascerated strawberries

2 pints strawberries
1/3 cup clover honey
1/4 cup chocolate mint, cut in small, thin strips
1 Tablespoon lemon zest

Rinse the berries in colander under cool running water, pat dry with a paper towel.
Hull the berries and quarter
Add the honey, lemon zest and chocolate mint
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours

Refer to photo for assembly option.

1 comment:

  1. Yet another beautifully written entry. I'm so excited and honored to be attending the launch of Dinner at 8!! The menu sounds amazing and delish! See you at 7.