2010 LA Donut Summit: LA's Gourmet Donut Destinations

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Posted by Anisha | Posted in , , | Posted on 4/29/2010

Angelenos are obsessed with doughnuts. Ask any one of us and we'll be able to rattle off some of our favorite spots to grab a doughnut hole, glazed creation, or apple fritter.

Just about every city has their own version of a beer festival or food fair, but what's Los Angeles' recent claim to fame: the 2010 LA Donut Summit. Brought to you by Metblogs, the cost of admission is very affordable: bring either a dozen doughnuts or a large coffee-to-go carton from Starbucks, Coffee Bean, etc.

love the logo    especially the sea of coffee
credit: LA Metblogs

Where? Griffith Park, near the Vermont entrance
When? Sunday, June 13 at 1:00PM
How much? One dozen doughnuts or one large coffee-to-go cartons
How will I sustain my doughnut cravings until then? Follow @donutsummit on Twitter!

Bob's Coffee & Donuts, Farmer's Market, 3rd & Fairfax
"The Best in LA"    Los Angeles Magazine

Isn't this the cutest little doughnut stall? I'm always at Farmer's Market for the savory, whether it is Moishe's muhammara or the Banana Leaf's mee goreng. In all honesty, I never intentionally go out of my way to purchase doughnuts. The real reason I stopped by to grab a doughnut was because I needed to validate my parking for the first two hours. Although my first intention was validation, I thought "wouldn't it be great to highlight some of the doughnut shops around me in time for the Donut Summit?" I think so!

Are you seriously taking a picture of a $0.95 chocolate doughnut?
Damn straight!

According to Saveur's list of the top twelve most consistent doughnut shops in the nation, "no journey to the original Los Angeles farmers' market is complete without a stop at Bob's Coffee & Doughnuts." A baker at Bob's freshly prepares doughnuts twice during the day since 1970: three hours before the market opens and in the afternoon.

I decided to go with a raised chocolate doughnut and not the original glaze. The dough had a slight chew to it and the semi-sweet chocolate glaze crackled gloriously between my fingers. In true Shwarzenegger fashion, I'll be back for their famous apple fritter and cinnamon roll, as well as a cup of coffee to wash it all down!

Lately, I've been spotting doughnuts on various dessert menus at mid-high end restaurants. Here's a concise list of gourmet doughnut destinations and favorites around Los Angeles, pooled from tweeps and memory:

      Belgian Abbey Ale Donuts    with warm toffee dipping sauce

      Beignets     Valrhona chocolate and local honey

      the Strawberry doughnut    rave reviews about the fruit flavored doughnuts at Donut Man


a sampling of Italian doughnuts from Drago Centro
Pastry Chef Jashmine Corpuz
      i bomboloni    doughnuts, apples, amaretto caramel, ricotta brown butter ice cream  


mini donut making contraption by Lil Orbits at LA Food Fest
The Fry Girl, Inc.

      mini doughnuts    sprinkled with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar


      Pecan brown sugar doughnuts    brown butter ice cream, candied pecans

      Sugar & spice beignets    Venezuelan chocolate fondue, preserved ginger milkshake shot

apparently they only make one batch a day, better line up before 8AM!
photo credit: Fiona of Gourmet Pigs

      Old fashioned cinnamon sugar doughnut    pictured above


      [beverage] Coffee and a jelly donut    strawberry essence layered with donut-infused milk and topped with espresso (it's not your funky Krispy Kreme shake!)
      [donut] Brioche donut holes    served with vanilla Madagascar whipped cream

      Buttermilk doughnut holes    blueberries and Meyer lemon curd


dead center lookin' delish, maple glazed bacon doughnut 
credit: Nickel Diner

      Maple glazed bacon doughnut    pictured above

      Bomboloni    mountain huckleberry compote and vanilla gelato

      World famous peanut butter doughnuts     this donut spot has tons of doughnuts to chose from: raised, cake, bars, twists, jelly, custard, cheese... you name it!


Turkish doughnuts from Street
credit: Elise Thompson, LAist

      Turkish doughnuts    small spiced pastries fried and then simmered in cardamom rose syrup served with sour cream and rose hip jam

As we count down to the Donut Summit, I'll be writing up mini reviews on doughnuts around town! Have any suggestions for me? Please comment! Stay tuned doughnut fiends...

Bob's Coffee & Doughnuts
3rd & Fairfax, Farmer's Market, Los Angeles
323.933.8929

Bob's Coffee & Donuts in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Bob's Coffee & Doughnuts on Urbanspoon

Drago Centro: Where Foodies Can Be Boozies

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Posted by Anisha | Posted in , , , , | Posted on 4/27/2010

You haven't been to Drago Centro yet!?
Shame on you (and me).

Until about two weeks ago, I hadn't ventured into the acclaimed Italian restaurant, Drago Centro. Not for pasta. Not for biscotti. Not for the extensive wine list. Absolutely nothing! I vowed via tweet to make an appearance by the end of April, amazed by the sheer amount of buzz surrounding the new Spring cocktail menu.

The morning of the launch, it seemed very unlikely that I'd be able to make it    I was in my usual frump, embracing one hundred days of a sedentary lifestyle before I start my professional career as an accountant. Around four or five (mind you, I'm still in jammies), my close friend JC, asked if I'd like to grab some coffee. I responded with an insistent and very mischievous, "how about a drink?" I half-expected him to decline, forgetting that my diner-in-crime always pulls through!

Voilà! I had a date, parental approval, and a thirsty point-and-shoot.
 
Disclaimer: As the night progressed, less attention was paid to the quality of the photos... it's almost like you're looking through my cocktail-goggles!

debuting the Spring cocktail menu, buzz worthy

I'd gladly pay $12 a cocktail for any one of these drinks, but it just so happened that the night of launch (only!) the drinks were half-price. At $6 a pop, with our no-college-debt and just-pocketed-birthday-money budgets, we gladly indulged in five drinks:

settentacinque 
principe prosecco, kelt cognac, punt e mes, limoncello, peychaud's bitters, sugar cube

The settentacinque (75) was by far, the hardest drink for me to pronounce and I wasn't even close to being inebriated. I enjoy prosecco, especially when it is a bit dry and bubbly like in this cocktail. The last sip of the cocktail was very sugary, as the sugar cube had dissolved and settled at the bottom of my glass.  

draculino
distillery no. 209 gin, dimmi liquori, harry's strawberries, basil, lemon juice

The draculino, or little dracula, shouted out Spring to me. Essentially, it's a well-balanced and dainty adult lemonade, that perfectly balances strawberry and basil. I love all drinks muddled and the bartenders at Drago Centro pay close attention that the seeds of the strawberry do not end up in your martini glass.

rallenta
plymouth sloe gin, creme de peche, st. germain, orange bitters, soda water

Rallenta, or "slowing down," is probably named after the sloe gin used in the cocktail. Sloe gin is a liqueur infused with very ripe berries. I only had one or two sips of this cocktail, but it wasn't as soda watered down as others warned.    

maracaña
sagatiba cachaça, cinnamon tincture, lime, demerara (turbinado) sugar

The maracaña, named after a neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, is a beautiful take on Brazil's national drink, the caipirinha. With its smoky and sweet tones, it easily became my second favorite drink of the night. Sitting at the bar definitely has its perks, as it showcased the artful preparation of the cocktails by bartenders and Michael Shearin, himself. Sagatiba cachaça, a Brazilian rum, means never-ending search, but I think I found a solid cocktail.

arancia meccanica
sombra mezcal, red bell pepper, cilantro, agave nectar, lime juice, smoked salt

The arancia meccanica, or "clockwork orange," is the only cocktail that stayed on the menu from last season. It's Drago's little black dress; everyone wants one and it's damn fashionable! It's musky. It's savory. It changed my friend's perception of what a cocktail is; it's a drink that doesn't have to be sickly sweet, fruity and cater only to women! Ding-ding-ding, we have a winner    my favorite drink of the night!

morel mushroom & pork belly on polenta
compliments of Chef Ian Gresik 

It was fungi-licious and polent-awesome! The meaty, spongy morel mushrooms paired perfectly atop the creamy polenta. My sole complaint was that I required a spoon and not a fork to clear the rounded plate of the polenta    yes, it was that good. I know I'll be spending an ample amount of time in my kitchen trying to mimic the polenta... thanks again Chef Gresik!

la pizza del giorno, $4
spinach, ricotta, pancetta

I secretly suspected that my friend wanted the $7 kobe sliders recommended by Minty, but since I'm all about the holy cow, we opted for two pizzas.Priced low, la pizza del giorno doesn't disappoint. 

la pizza alla salsiccia, $4
sausage, rapini, mozzarella cheese

Out of the two pizzas, I preferred la pizza del giorno over the one pictured above. The former was lighter, due to the fresh ricotta and spinach. La pizza alla salsiccia was quite a bit heavier, due to the melted mozzarella and chunks of sausage. Enjoyed the rapini (broccoli rabe) though!

i bomboloni, $9
doughnuts, apples, amaretto caramel, ricotta, brown butter ice cream

Solely based on the ever so small sample of the i bomboloni, Italian doughnuts, my palate insists on a return visit. I'd absolutely love to come back over and over again just to sample the creations of Pastry Chef Jashmine Corpuz and indulge in a cocktail or two or three. Only a portion of the dessert is pictured above, as JC and met a solo diner, Jeremy, who graciously shared some of his doughnuts and accompaniments. Jeremy, restaurant manager of DTLA's Roy's Hawaiian Fusion, really hit it off with my friend, which allowed me ample time to ditch my date and mingle with bloggerazzi. It was great to meet Julie of LAist, Nastassia of Let Me Eat Cake, Javier of Glutster, and many others! 

In April, I celebrated my half birthday, which made me realize that it has only been six months since I've turned twenty one and could legally embrace Los Angeles' cocktail culture. When it comes to cocktails, I don't have the street cred to assign a bar a letter grade on the quality of their drinks, but I sure do enjoy a good drink. Drago Centro, with Michael Shearin on its side, definitely set a new standard in my books! If Michael's cocktails are that spectacular, just imagine what it's like to order dinner paired with wine, his true calling!

If you have not yet burst your Drago cherry, please do so while the Spring Cocktail menu is still around!

Drago Centro
525 South Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071-2200
(213) 228-8998

Follow the Drago Centro team on Twitter:

Dainty Cakes: Nothin' Dainty About 'Em

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Posted by Anisha | Posted in , , , | Posted on 4/23/2010

the cookie monster from Dainty Cakes, $3.00

There is nothing dainty about eating a cupcake curbside. I have sincere issues when it comes to devouring this dessert on the steps of a museum in Little Tokyo or walking amongst dolled up creatures on Abbot Kinney. When crumbs fall, I brush away a tear and wish for a small plate and earth friendly cutlery.

Everyone's cupcake eating regimen varies; some completely unravel the cake from the wrapper and proceed to indulge. Others, myself included, unravel as they nibble, which inevitably leads to a frosting-tipped nose, tissues, and retouches of makeup.  

It's pretty evident that cupcakes are an over exhausted trend and some crumby cupcakeries should be nipped in the bud and (ideally) be replaced with the truly dainty, French macaron. I've managed to track down the Dainty Cakes truck three times, but was successful in acquiring a cupcake on the third visit, which only exhausted the cliche "third time's a charm."

impressive flavor list

Only problem was... the cupcake wasn't all that charming! My friend Joanna picked the classic red velvet, her favorite, while I went with the "cookie monster." I half expected a blue velvet cupcake, as I always equate the name to the vibrant blue cake found at the Milk Shop on Beverly. Instead, I was pleased to read that the cupcake was chocolate frosting on chocolate cake with an additional helping of crushed Oreo pieces    ideal for a chocoholic, no? 

it seems like cupcakes will be around for a long time...
not that I'm complaining! 

In defense of Dainty Cakes, their display case was devoid of cupcakes due to hoards of museum visitors armed with cupcake vouchers. A wait of at least ten minutes (for a cupcake, mind you) led me to peak into the bus where I spotted a girl frantically frosting cupcake orders one by one. By the time my friend and I received our cupcakes, our frosting was glistening and melted. Could it have been the heat of the bus or because it was newly frosted? No one will ever know...

The cake of the cookie monster was unusually spongy and dense, while the frosting lacked any form. It's only saving grace was the crunchy bits of Oreo cookies. My friend, another cupcake connoisseur, was equally unimpressed and a bit disappointed by the cream cheese frosting of the red velvet.

As dampening as this cupcake experience was, I will report back once I try another cupcake as I can't bring myself to judge a cupcakery, mobile or not, by just one cupcake. Oh woe food blogger ethics... 

follow Dainty Cakes on Twitter

Barkeater Chocolates: Soy Truffles, Who Knew?

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Posted by Anisha | Posted in , , | Posted on 4/14/2010

Another chocolate review? Yeah, you better believe it! As all of you know, I am a chocolate fanatic and one of my favorite things to do is to bring exposure to the chocolatiers and their creations that make us swoon.

Barkeater Chocolates is named for its mountainous location, as it is stationed in the Adirondack Mountains of New York in the town of North Creek. Chocolatier and owner Deb Morris engineers batches of gourmet truffles with unique, toothsome flavors by hand.

Excited to try their chocolates, I contacted Deb via Twitter for a sampling of her truffles. Little did I know that she would ship a battalion of flavors in my direction. Three plastic boxes, wrapped in rustic ribbons, showcased deliciously molded truffles:

 
ten truffles, compliments of Barkeater Chocolates

When I first unwrapped the boxes, my nostrils were hit by the potent aroma of the chocolates. It was a Herculean effort on my part to take several photos of each individual truffle without nibbling away!

 4-piece Truffle Sampler
clockwise: cinnamon, orange liqueur, peanut butter, Kahlua

Naturally, being a lover of dark chocolates, I gravitated towards the cinnamon and orange liqueur truffles. The cinnamon craftily incorporated nutmeg and was topped with what seemed like slightly candied or dried cinnamon stick. The orange liqueur truffle was infused with Grand Marnier and reminded me of the souffle I regretfully should have ordered when dining at Keller's Fleur de Lys in Vegas. Both flavors were a hit with me and my boyfriend. The only truffle I genuinely did not like of the bunch was the peanut butter. There was something off about the duo, the peanut butter chocolate ganache wasn't pronounced and fell flat, even after generous coats of milk chocolate.

this one deserves a special mention!
white chocolate Kahlua, covered in milk chocolate 

I generally shy away from purchasing milk and white chocolate, but throw some alcohol into the equation and I absolutely adore it! The Kahlua blended to perfection with the white chocolate ganache. I initially thought it was coconut, because of the white specks on top, but was gladly corrected by the box!

4-piece Soy Collection
clockwise: toddy, chai, vanilla, almond

I had an "ah-ha" moment when tasting the soy truffles. The four-piece Soy Collection isn't concocted with dairy or animal products, making them safe for those who are lactose intolerant and vegan friendly, although it does contain sugar. My favorite of the bunch, these truffles were as creamy and arguably richer than their dairy counterparts!

chocolate is molded around the ganache

Out of the four, the soy chai and soy toddy had the most memorable tastes. The soy chai, made with a mix of chai spices and black tea, perfectly replicated the taste of Indian chai with chocolate overtones. It was strong and sung of cloves, definitely an "explosive" flavor.

The soy toddy perplexed me at first, because I just couldn't recall what toddy even means. I could taste liqueur, but couldn't place it. Toddy refers to an alcoholic mixed drink that is often served hot; in this case, it was made with brandy liqueur. Finally, the soy vanilla and almond were pleasant, but lackluster when coupled in a box of such bold flavors.

Elite collection: pomegranate (top) & lavender truffles (bottom)

I saved the Elite collection for last, recalling lavender overwhelms my taste buds. The lavender wasn't overly floral and balanced well with the chocolate. Unfortunately, I tried the lavender immediately prior to tasting the pomegranate truffle and could not comprehend the pomegranate flavor whatsoever. I treasured half of the pomegranate truffle for later, knowing that my senses were shot. Even after saving the truffle, I couldn't conceive any pomegranate, a taste I'm very familiar with. Perhaps, pomegranate and lavender got too cozy and the lavender's aroma overpowered that of the former? Our sense of smell is responsible for a large portion of what we taste, right? 

Overall, Barkeater Chocolates is a gourmet chocolatier to visit when you crave unique and explosive flavors. Their truffles are well-crafted, made of quality chocolate, and magnify the flavors one desires when one orders soy chai or cinnamon dark chocolate or lavender! Barkeater also conjures up other confections, including nut clusters and peanut butter cups. Send your loved one a chocolate care package or present your guests with favor boxes!

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me complimentary of Barkeater Chocolates. I must stress that my opinion of the product is derived solely from my taste buds and not because they were comped. Have to do my palate and conscience justice, food blogger ethics for the win!

Thanks Barkeater Chocolates!

Become a fan on Facebook and/or follow Barkeater on Twitter. For every follower/fan, they will be donating $1 to the American Red Cross, until they reach $500.

Read more & order chocolates here:
http://barkeaterchocolates.com/

Sneak Bite: Little India Food Crawl 5/16

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Posted by Anisha | Posted in , , , | Posted on 4/03/2010

On May 16th, a whooping month and a half from now, I will be hosting my very first food crawl. It's very appropriate that the theme is Indian khanna (food) because I was born in New Delhi, India and whisked away at the young age of three and a half!

I enjoy over-spicing just about every plate in my kitchen and have been known to eat lick a mound of chaat masala out of my hand. Thankfully, I have the manners not to do that on the food crawl, but if we were talking chocolate, I'd be licking the plate.

Although it isn't formally known as Little India, most people know that it's the concentration of Indian-owned stores in Artesia that   Pioneer Boulevard is littered with saree boutiques, jewelers, tons of Indian grocers, craft stores, and most importantly, Indian food joints from just about every region on the subcontinent.


Here's a sneak peak of some of the street grub from one of the eateries we will be stopping at:


Delhi chaat with sev

It's all about the Indian street food. It's something that is replicated at home, but never as good as what you find on the street side. Delhi chaat generally contains deep-fried hollow shells stuffed with boiled potatoes. It is topped with yogurt and two chutneys: sweet tamarind and a limey-cilantro sauce. We've asked for tons of sev, the crushed instant noodle like topping, as it adds another layer of crunch and spice to the mixture.


khandvi

Khandvi is a Gujarati snack that consists of spongy rolls made of chickpea flour infused with mustard seed, curry leaves, and chillies. These beautifully crafted rolls melt in your mouth and is loved by all ages, as it is a mildly spiced specialty. It's topped with grated coconut, sesame seeds, and cilantro.


jalebi

Jalebi is one of those foods you need to carry a moist towelette in your purse for. It's a sweet fried dough that is plunged in loads of syrup. There is a hint of saffron, but most palates can't take the sweetness of the dessert. Indian food really screams extremes. It's mostly very spicy or very sweet. I always leave the store with four to five pieces of this delicious treat.


sweetened masala chai 

This picture is pretty self-explanatory. You won't get real cutlery or a mug at this store, but you won't want to frequent the Coffee Bean for their so-called "chai lattes." Surati Farsan makes spectacular sweetened and unsweetened chai that just warms you up! If we go on a warm day, we'll grab some mango lassi or head to Saffron Spot for some falooda.

More information will posted on this blog as it becomes available! We will probably attend four to five eateries, totaling about fifteen to twenty dollars per person, depending on how much you want to gorge! Information about each restaurant and the difference between the cuisines will be available on the crawl. We will pop in and out of stores down Pioneer Blvd, so save up for May 16th!

If you're interested in attending, leave a comment here, send me a tweet, or email foodismynish@gmail.com. Hope you will join us as we eat up Little India!

Surati Farsan Mart
11813 E. 186th Street
Artesia, CA 90701

Surati Farsan Mart on Urbanspoon
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