Culina’s Tasting Panel Inspires Me to Dine There – and Cook at Home!
While recently attending the Tasting Panel at Culina Restaurant in the Four Seasons Los Angeles in Beverly Hills, I became inspired to cook at home (BTW, that’s BREAKING news), may have discovered a new DeathbedFood and developed a new kinship in the wine world.
Inspiration to Cook Pasta at Home – From Scratch (with the Chef’s Help Only a Phone Call Away)
I’m now super motivated to make pasta at home – from scratch (which is BIG news as I don’t really cook). Executive Chef Victor Casanova explained how they make pasta fresh at Culina twice a day (for lunch and dinner). He believes cooking from scratch IS love (sharing that his mother made everything from scratch). He’s so passionate about wanting us to try making pasta at home that he offered to give us his personal cell number so that he could walk us through it! Wow – I don’t know too many top level Chefs who would make a similar offer, do you? Personally, I’m going to take him up on his offer … sounds like a great blog post!!
I loved how Chef Casanova shared personal stories about his background with us as well. He told us, for example, how his mother, trying to keep him out of trouble in the South Bronx where he grew up, recruited him for all cooking-related tasks … which ended up laying the foundation for his love of food.
New DeathbedFood? My favorite dish of the event, by far, was the Tonnarelli pasta!
Perhaps it was the Pecorino cheese (a new DeathbedFood ingredient for me). Pecorino is “the” cheese of Southern Italy. The Chef uses a special type of Pecorino (“Bianco Sardo” from Sardinia) for this dish which is not as sharp or salty as other varieties but has more butter fat … no wonder I like it (sigh).
… or maybe it’s how he throws the basil in and pours EVOO on top at the last minute for big impact.
A special shout-out to Sommelier Brick Loomis for another Event Highlight …
Sommelier Brick Loomis and Me.
I was shocked but thrilled when the Sommelier implored us to never drink Pinot Grigio ever again! I agree Brick. I know Ramona Singer from “Housewives of New York City” has made that varietal epic, but I just don’t get it … it’s no “Pinot” (Noir) if you know what I mean.
Culina holds Tasting Panel events monthly to test out new menu ideas. The setting for the Tasting Panel is beautiful, held in their lovely garden patio area.
Tasting Panel tables set up in the Culina outdoor patio.
Finally, below is a photo summary of the menu we sampled:
Course #1: Fava Bean Passato with Scallops … paired with Italian white wine.
Chef Casanova talking about Scallops: “Always a crowd pleaser”
The Chef works his magic on the Scallops.
And voila! The final dish …
Course #2: Tonnarelli (my FAVORITE!!) … paired with Italian red wine (Bonavita Faro 2008 from Sicily). This dish is created using flat roman spaghetti cut on a “chitarra” with grilled eggplant, melted summer tomatoes, basil and pecorino.
Course #3: Polletto … paired with Italian red wine (Brovia Barbera d’Alba 2009 from Piedmont). Polletto is like a smaller, more flavorful version of game hen. This was paired with a mixture of radicchio balanced using fresh peaches and honey balsamic vinaigrette.
The Chef presented this dish as being soulful, rustic Italian fare.
Pastry Chef Federico Fernandez made this lovely combination … my personal favorite part was the bomboloni (the doughnuts) …
Cocktail: Frappato Punch
Frappato Punch by Bartender Anthony.
Overall, The Tasting Panel was an incredibly fun and informative event. Culina will be holding them monthly ($85 per guest, held on the second Saturday of every month through the end of 2011). Because guests get a chance to rate each menu item, they also have the opportunity to help design Culina’s menu – very cool for any Foodie. I’m recommending it to all my Foodie friends!