Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bertolli's Into the Heart of L.A. with a Salad Nicoise on the side

My blog was intended as a journey to my own roots and to share them with my very Midwestern children. Since starting it, I have gone on many journeys - sometimes food was the destination, sometimes I needed to preserve a moment in time, a memory, a musing.
That I would get an e-mail from Bertolli Foods asking "How would you like to take a culinary tour of L.A.?" (are you serious) - was never on my radar. It was pure serendipity, luck, and happenstance. I certainly looked forward to grand food - and found myself showered with unexpected dividends - friendship with Pat, new perspectives, revival of spirit.
Our foray into street food was an eye opener. The food trucks have nothing in common with the deep-fried "anything and everything" that emerge from the trucks in Minnesota.
*Note: All crystal-clear, gorgeous photos are the generous gift of Pat at Mille Fiori Favoriti. The over-exposed photos are my own. I bumped the camera, changed the settings and true to form as someone who often lives in an unconscious haze, did not notice till late in the day. "That's okay," chimed my daughter, "You're a writer, Mom - not a photographer." Words of truth!
Worldfare was our first truck. Billed as a "bustaurant" (you dine on top of the truck), they are a fairly new truck and they are quite simply - astonishing.

Dessert first: butterscotch bread pudding accompanied by butterscotch pot of creme. Is this truly from a truck?

Red velvet cupcakes with a cream cheese filling. I may never eat lunch.

Chef Andrea Van Williganspeaking of her new business. "I do charge more than some trucks. All my food is locally sourced. I can go cheaper but I want to know everything that is in my food."

Truffled macaroni and cheese. Yes, I will eat lunch!

Can you tell I loved these?

Can you tell I want to recreate them? Look at the specks of truffles. Savor. Taste.

Bunny Chow - inspired by African dishes, Chef Andi takes inspiration and makes it her own - short ribs (braised slowly and flavorfully), chicken curry, Barbecue pork, beef stroganoff and vegetarian chili. Our samples came in baskets of yellow peppers. Lunch continued. Oh yes, I could eat more.

We each received a sampler. An exquisite taste of the world. To be eaten with gusto but slowly to let the different tastes hug you. Chef Andi also serves an array of freshly-made teas sprinkled with fruit juices and lemonades. Can I say it is worth a trip to L.A. to each on top of their truck? Don't for a moment think lunch is over.
Time out to twitter.

Sated but game for more, we sampled tacos and burritos from Lee's Philly Gogi truck.

Yes Virginia, there is a culinary heaven. I never want this lunch to end.
And then garlic butter shrimp (spicy and non) and coconut lime shrimp (spicy and non) from "The Shrimp Guys." There's always room for shrimp. Especially this shrimp. I love this lunch!

Photo opp with "the shrimp guy." Pat was taking the picture, I was off chomping on shrimp.

From the top of the Worldfare truck, I had to snap a photo of this. SAG (Screen Actors Guild) - a blast from my bast. I may even still be a member.

Lunch is not over. There's still dessert. Silly you, and you thought I started this post with dessert! And so we were back in the limo (such a hardship) and on our way to Scoops.

If there is gelato-heavenly-perfection - this is it. It is no surprise to me that the owner Tai Kim is an artist (or in one review, it states a "former artist.") But that cannot be correct - for his gelatos are indeed a work of art. Silky-creamy-gooey-tangy-fluffy-milky-sunny-sassy-sweet. We were allowed as many samples as we wanted (a tradition) in his shop. As for me - I thought I was full. I was not.

Riccota-marsala-oreo? Really? Oh yes, definitely.

I settled on salty chocolate, pistachio-jasmine and goat cheese-basil. ("Really, Mom - goat-cheese basil?" asked my chocoholic daughter.) Truly, goat-cheese-basil. Tai Kim lifted gelato to new heights. His flavors soar. You soar. Don't go to L.A. without a visit to him. Scoops is located at 712 N. Heliotrope. Why do I mention that? Because he wouldn't let Bertolli Foods pay. It was all gratis. Next time I am in L.A. (and there will be a next time), I shall pay. Mr. Kim is also known for his vegan gelato. You heard that right. Vegan gelato. It receives rave reviews.

Above: Scoops soar above the gelato - the way the gelato does on your palate.
Below: the artist: Tai Kim.

I continue to cook Rocco DiSpirito's new book Now Eat This!
Life has gotten hectic.
Salad Nicoise

Baby lettuce, hard-boiled egg, actual canned tuna in water, nicoise olives, blanched string beans, grape tomatoes. Sprinkled with a little vinaigrette. Three pounds shed. Thank-you, Rocco!
Rehearsing a wonderful ten-minute play for a festival, readying two plays for publication, writing a play for some wee ones and woke up to an e-mail stating, "Congratulations, your play Angel Kisses in Left Field" has won our "best" of the festival. The play is so new it's not even on my website yet. Spring has sweetly seeped into all phases of my life. I am wary of too much good fortune. But old enough to know when to savor and glow. I am glowing.
Disclaimer: Bertolli Foods did indeed pay for my hotel, transportation and meals. My reporting and opinions are always my own.
Next up: The Beverly Hills Cheese Shop and Rocco!


Anne said...

I always love to come to your post. So many yummy treats and recipes. I can see why you would want to make those truffle mac&cheese balls. Yum!!! I remember trying gelato when I was in Italy, but I don't think I was quite that daring! Looking foward to your next post.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Fabulous post Claudia! I love how you got a close up of the truffles in the mac and cheese balls...I am still dreaming about them..they were heavenly! If I remember correctly there was a video of Andi making them on the World Fare web site.

Everything we tried was so delicious! I am also still dreaming about all those gelatos/ice creams at Scoops.

Wouldn't it be fun if Bertolli did a culinary day like this in NYC?

Congratulations on your play winning an award! I'm sure it is well deserved. I love the title!

Gera@SweetsFoodsBlog said...

What a gorgeous spread of outstanding food! Next time I need to visit there with you :)



Amanda said...

"Is this truly from a truck?" That is the PERFECT way to describe that bread pudding!! It was outta this world, wasn't it??! :)

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I'm so happy to know that this trip was won by you - and Pat. The food, the sights must have been terrific, but forging a new friendship is even more precious.

3 hungry tummies said...

Oh you are having such a great time! :) The bunny chows looks amazing, such a vibrant looking dish!
I recently made a salad nicoise with fresh trout :)

OysterCulture said...

What a great time, this all looks delicious and those truffle flaked balls look amazing

Claudia said...

Thank-you all - it was magical - Sharing the experience with Pat and fellow bloggers intensified and sweetened the experience. And oh 3 hungry Tummies - you do enhance everything - smoked trout on the salad - perfect!

Wanda..... said...

I'm happy that you are having such a nice time, Claudia! You are being spoiled with all that great food, but you deserve to be!

Lyndas recipe box said...

Wow, what food you enjoyed- makes the cherrios I had a bit ago look really disgusting. :)
I'm so glad you went on this wonderful trip!

Reeni said...

What a clever idea to have seats on top of the truck. And the food looks exceptional! Everything has my mouth-watering. The mac and cheese! The gelato! Congratulation on winning the 'best' of for your play!

Mary Bergfeld said...

Your reports are almost as good as being there - almost :-). Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Anonymous said...

Oh my, not only did you make an amazing job of my favourite salad but you got me tottaly starving just looking at your trip!!! And waht a trip it was! thank you for sharing!

Monet said...

What an amazing experience! Such beautiful pictures, and I'm sure the food tasted amazing! I just about died when I saw those macaroni and cheese truffles! Yum!

denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

I just can't believe that bustaurant and those truffled pasta balls! Amazing! And only in LA, I guess ;)

Devaki said...

What a wonderful opportunity and so well deserved!

I have to say those Mac & Cheese balls are my fave.

Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

Jen_from_NJ said...

What a great trip! I am so happy for you. WOW! Those trucks serve some pretty amazing food.

figtree said...

Oh my what a trip!I want to fly to LA right now!!!One day I will sit on top of that truck and think of u!!

sweetlife said...

what a wonderful trip..everything looks truly stunning..


Fresh Local and Best said...

All of the dishes look spectacular. I'm totally fascinated by the truffle macaroni - that must have tasted amazing. Tai Kim, I'll remember him, what a generous man!

theUngourmet said...

All of this food is making my hungry for a late night snack! Looks like such a fun and yummy time!

Kim said...

I am so intrigued with the idea of a "bustaurant" - how cool to sit on the top of a bus and eat! Everything looks marvelous and that gelato......I could eat my weight in it;-)

Claudia said...

And I did - eat my weight in gelato!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a fabulous time! And terrific eats! I would love those truffled mac & cheese balls right now for my lunch, yum!!!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Truffle macaroni Claudia? You and Pat just had TOO much fun. I would have to diet for months. Seriously, glad you had a great time.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Just jumping back in to tell you that your have successfully named two of the countries. Have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

casalba said...

What a fabulous trip - certainly one great journey for an Italian cook! Seems like those macaroni cheese balls were a great hit - they would have been with me too. (I see from a previous comment there is a video of them being made - so, I'm straight off for a "nosey" via google.)

tasteofbeirut said...

That chef looks like he could be in the movies and that day sounds like a lot of fun! Love that food from the gourmet truck, wow, LA has changed so much from when I was first living there in the early eighties.