The Best Bites and Bytes from the Third Annual LA Food & Wine Festival

So this year marks yet another wildly successful, hilarious and amazing weekend filled with food, drinks, chefs and crazy stories.  While I am SO SAD to not have spent the weekend with my OG LAFW Asian Posse (...and Chef Kerry Heffernan) there were still some pretty amazing bites and bytes.

First with the Bites.  What does it say about me that my favorite "Bites" were all of the alcoholic variety?   But seriously, Boozy Oysters and Alcoholic Whippets?!

Boozy Oysters - So Matt Biancaniello, Mixologist Extraordinaire WOULD have a booth called EAT YOUR DRINK... and what's more decadent than eating an alcoholic oyster?  Of course his alcoholic oyster was flavored with Shiso infused Cocchi Americano, Blueberry Juice Air, Cotton Candy Grapes, Ghost Chili Sea Salt and paired with a shot of Roasted Hatch infused Aloe Vera Booze.

Phew, that was quite a mouthful to say!

What it was...was interesting.  And spicy.  And sweet.  And original.  It was simply a bite of food that really made you think.

Chemistry and antics aside, what Matt managed to accomplish in one bite of food is something rare and amazing, balancing all 5 flavors in this surprising dish.

Alcoholic Whippets from Chef Andre Bienvenu! Now I must confess... Joe's Stone Crab was not on my list of places to expect the unexpected.  Where did I miss that memo?

But that's what festivals like this are all about right?  Discovering someone new, trying something you might have missed?

He first caught my attention with "Peking Duck Cotton Candy."  Yep.  You read that correctly.  On first bite it tasted like the sweet fluffy stuff we know so well.  But then the duck dust kicked in and then yep... there was that hint of duck.  Of sweet roasted duck.  And the tastebuds were instantly confused.

Then he had some seafood popcorn?  Sure?  I mean why not?  The food is a little gimmicky, but hey, if the flavors are there then suddenly it all is worth it.  Plus who doesn't like to have a little fun with their food?

OR a LOT of fun.  Now at the after-party on Saturday night I was greeted with a "omg have you had the alcoholic whippets yet?!"

Que?

YEP.  Patron, Espresso and Bailey's WHIPPETS.  Which may or may not have left me with a nasty hangover.  It could have been the lightbulb cocktails.

Regardless... Now that I've fully recovered I must know how this was done.  Anyone?

And onto the BYTES.  Sound Bytes that is...


Duff Goldman
"You want to know what would REALLY set the twitter world a-buzz? An umami burger IN a cronut… and serve it up ON a sharknado cake"

Scott Conant 

Brandi: Maybe we'll get the chance to cook together!
Scott: Oh, you cook? What do you like to make?
Brandi: Um… ummm. Well I make a boxer dropper dip!
Scott: … What?
Brandi: You know, it's a dip so good it'll make your boxers fall right off!
Scott: How do you know I wear boxers, I might be a briefs guy ;)

Scott: It's my new cookbook for all of the Scarpetta's
Brandi: Oh, so like a lot of family recipes?
Scott: You've never eaten at my restaurant. She's never eaten at my restaurant?!

David Burtka & NPH 
In the middle of interviewing David Burtka I got an annoying tap on the shoulder with a "Wrap it up. You gotta wrap this up right now. One more question!" Brandi & I look at each other and are like who's bugging us about interviewing David Burtka?!

Go figured. NPH wanted his hubby back.


Food Porn: Introducing the Ramen Burger!

Like all good foodies I've become obsessed with the Tastemade app... granted I'm still anxiously awaiting version 2.0 which promises a lot more latitude in creating fun and EASY videos.  But at the very least it does give the instant gratification of making something exciting and fun.

That said, with great power comes great responsibility.  So when we were filming our tutorial on how to make the RAMEN Burger, I had to snap away a little food porn segment for the tastemade app as well!

 
So now that you're all nice and hungry... be sure to check out the video on how to actually make this madness over at Yumsugar.com!



8 Heavenly Flavors of Pork Belly: Palsaik Samgyupsal

8 Flavors of Pork Belly. EIGHT.

Yes. You heard that right.

8 deliciously succulent, fatty, amazingly unctuous rolls of juicy pork belly marinated in 8 ridiculously unbeliBABEable sauces grilled to perfection in a way only Koreans know how…

 

It's really quite amazing seeing all of the different rolls of fatty belly arrive at your table, and most of the flavors are quite unique... however be wary of too much soju & beer... it dulls the senses.  And while you'll need that little bit of refreshment to cut through the fat, trust me you're going to want to experience every flavor this meal has to offer!

The set meal is $50 and includes the tray of pork, some banchan and a seafood stew that they turn into a hot pot of fried rice at the end of the meal. It's large enough to feed two hungry meat eaters, or four normal dinner guests.

Oh that and if you're nice your waiter will sing to you.  Or at least he sang to us :)

Palsaik Samgyupsal Korean BBQ
863 S Western Ave

New Job, New Adventures, New EATS...

Hey friends... it's been a little while since this was an active blog and there's always the promise of writing more, adding more content, doing more and for the last year or so it's been tough with a constant flux of changing jobs, changing careers and a slowly changing life. But obviously it's all for the better. I'm happy. I'm really happy. Be jealous. I get to work with some of my closest friends producing content that I'm actually passionate about and I'm having fun doing it.
So in that all encompassing phrase of "I can do more," yes I can do more.  And once I figure out how to transfer this bad boy over to my other website www.nicolemiizuka.com I'll have even more of a reason to post new and delightful things!

Until then... Cheers, Kampai, Salute and Enjoy life!

Island's Restaurant || 3.18.13

I'm a Hawaiian, medium-rare with grilled onions and a side of cheddar fries.

God I was such a nerd in high school.  I mean, not that I'm not still a nerd, but... I think I've rounded out the rest of my attributes quite nicely.

Everyone has it.  That one place that was the "go-to" spot.  Where you could always count on a reliable meal, reserved tables and a great time. Island's Restaurant was hands down our high school haunt, and all of my friends could be identified by the type of burger they always ordered.  We were creatures of habit, and it was quite easy at a restaurant that offered a variety of fun burgers and the BEST cheddar cheese fries ever.

So when they asked me to come check out their newest burger on the menu, the Nalu Nalu, I couldn't think of something I'd want more!  A burger, fries & cocktails... and a trip down memory lane.  Done.

First up on the docket was a newbie to the menu... Ahi Poke?  Well being the "Hawaiian" girl I had to try this little gem.  Tuna marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil & sambal (which we totally looked up and is a spice blend from Indonesia) topped with scallions & sesame seeds.  OK, pretty simple presentation.  The fish was fresh and flavorful, but I do wish there was a little more kick to the seasoning.  If you're a sucker for sesame then this would be right up your alley.

I think the most surprisingly delicious addition to the plate were the homemade won-ton chips.  Very lightly fried and super crispy, I could have easily eaten a basket on their own with a pint of beer.

Appetizers aside, it was time for the big burger.  The Nalu Nalu.  Tradition topped with roasted garlic aioli, provolone cheese, sauteed onions, mixed peppers, hot deli pepper rings and lettuce.  Described as the "philly cheese-steak burger" certainly does this justice.

It makes sense.  Smother a good burger on a soft and toasty roll with cheese, peppers and onions?  Who wouldn't want that?

But I think the thing that was the most surprising was how much it actually tasted like a good ole philly cheese-steak.  I think the secret's in the bun.  It has just the right amount of density to soak up all the roasted goodness while still keeping it's texture to hold up to the mountain of meat and cheese.

My friend wanted to kick it up a notch, and this being his first time EVER at an Island's, I told him he needed his signature.

Kilauea for the win!  Jalapeno & black pepper crusted burger with pepper jack cheese, chipotle aioli, lettuce, tomato and the very mysterious Island Reds sauce rounded out his sky high burger that almost felt like a food stylist was hard at work in the kitchen prepping this thing.

Oh right and a mountain of onion rings?

I think it's pretty easy to say that anything filled with onion rings will be great.  Especially when they're of the thinly sliced, seasoned and fried variety.

It's nice to see that while the culinary scene in Los Angeles is always in constant fluctuation, one of my staples has remained the same.  They haven't given into trends or fads.  They know what they're doing is producing delicious and quality food and I swear I'd probably kill someone if they ever take those Cheddar Cheese Fries off their menu!

And for dessert... I like Pina Colada!

Island's Restaurant
10948 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
(310) 474-1144
http://www.islandsrestaurants.com/

I Heart Ramen! (RAW-MEN)

Not that it's ever an excuse to stop blogging... I know I took a retardedly long mini-break from Cake & Heels to start working on a few other ideas that have been kicking around in the back of my brain.

That said I'm back.  I have so many delicious meals and delightful stories to share, so get ready!

Also this has been a graphic I've been wanting to create for a while.  I will probably be making t-shirts, so if you want one please do let me know!

I Heart Raw MEN.  Oh and the noodle version too.


xoxo
Cake & Heels

Weekend Docket: 10/19/12

If I weren't working all weekend I'd most certainly be at Elise Cantu's play Those Whom the God's Love!!  But sadly since I am, I won't be doing much of anything aside from sleeping.  So tell me what exciting things you all are up to this weekend instead!

And remember, if you want to connect, you can always follow me on twitter @nicolemiizuka or find me on Facebook

All Weekend
Rocktoberfest at L.A. LIVE
Friday & Saturday
What do you get when you combine KISS front man Gene Simmons with Master Chef Wolfgang Puck and AEG? Rocktoberfest at L.A. LIVE. Nightly festivities will include DJs and live bands, special celebrity guests, beer-friendly cuisine, local, national and international beers, and a special craft beer festival on Sunday, October 21. Nightly festivities are scheduled for Tuesday, October 16 through Saturday, October 20 from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. with early bird tickets starting at just $20. Closing out the first annual Rocktoberfest on Sunday, October 21, will be the Craft Brew Festival from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. which will feature more than 50 different craft beers and breweries. 800 W. Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015 http://www.rocktoberfest.com/rocktoberfest-l-a-live/

60-cent Burgers at Tops
Friday & Saturday
To celebrate their 60th anniversary, your grandparents are going to have gross old-sex and watch CSI. And while they're doing that, you'll be out at Pasadena landmark Tops celebrating their 60th anniversary Friday and Saturday by having 60-cent burgers w/ onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and pastrami. The Original Tops: 3838 E Colorado; Pasadena http://www.theoriginaltops.com/

Vintage Fashion Expo
Saturday & Sunday
This coming year for 2012 the Vintage Fashion Expo now being well into its third decade will have its next show this coming Oct. 20th & 21st, 2012. The show will be held once again at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, CA., Main & Pico. Dealers from across the country will be presenting vintage clothing for men and women. Women"s hats, shoes, dresses, costume and estate jewelry. Vintage eye wear. Men's suits, shoes, shirts, watches, ties and more. Fantastic textiles for the home. Show hours are Sat. Early Buy 9:00am-10:30am. Regular Admission 10:30am-6:00pm. Sun. Regular Admission 11:00am-5:00pm. FREE entrance on Sun. with Sat. ticket purchase. Students free on Sun. with student ID. Early Buy Admission is $20.00. Regular Admission is $10.00. http://www.vintageexpo.com/

Friday, 10/19
Comme Ca’s 5th Anniversary $5.55 Cocktail Special All Night
Huzzahs are in order for WeHo restaurant Comme Ca’s 5th anniversary. To mark the occasion, they’re serving up $5.55 cocktails and a three-course $55 menu. The specialty cocktails-on-the-cheap, by Comme Ca’s original 18A mixology team members Tim Loden and Jeff Knudsen, include the Comme Ca Elysee with gin, yellow chartreuse, lime and Pechaud’s and Rose Sangaree with St. Germaine, rose and muddle fruit. Comme Ca West Hollywood, 8479 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood http://www.commecarestaurant.com/

Saturday, 10/20
Brewery Art Walk Fall 2012
11am - 6pm
Yup, it’s already that time of year again, the second Brewery ArtWalk. Only twice a year does the huge art complex open the doors of all its studios to the public. With over 100 participating resident artists, there will be lots to see (and buy). Make sure to stop by Hollis Bulleit’s studio (yup, THAT Bulleit) where she’ll be selling her pins, jewelry and, yes, her famous headdresses! The Brewery Artist Lofts, 2100 N Main Street, Los Angeles http://breweryartwalk.com/

Egyptian Theatre 90th Anniversary Masquerade Ball
6:30pm
Dance floor and band stage sponsored by the Art Deco Society Los Angeles. Beverages sponsored by Frey Vineyards, Hubert's Lemonade, Hansen's, Chivas Regal, St. George Spirits, The Six Shooter Company, and Anheuser-Busch (Stella Artois, Leffe, and Hoegaarden). The Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard has been rolling films on the big screen since 1922 when the movies didn’t yet talk and Howard C. Carter was still hot on the trail of King Tut’s tomb in Egypt. A theater owner named Sid Grauman was tapped by developer Charles E. Toberman to open a grand movie palace on Prospect Avenue (now Hollywood Boulevard) in an area of the city not yet particularly known for night life. The theatre opened to great fanfare on October 18, 1922 with silent film era royalty Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin in attendance - and the rest is legend. Please join the American Cinematheque in honoring the legacy of the Egyptian Theatre, the home of the first Hollywood movie premiere! http://www.americancinemathequecalendar.com/content/egyptian-theatre-90th-anniversary-masquerade-ball

Hollywood on Tap
1 - 5pm
Join us Saturday, October 20, 2012 for Hollywood On Tap, a Craft Beer Festival, held in the heart of Hollywood, California at Paramount Studios on the iconic “Streets of New York” backlot. This afternoon fest will feature local and popular craft brews, live music, and the best food trucks Los Angeles has to offer. With over 100 specialty beers on tap and a variety of ffood trucks like the Green Truck, Coolhaus, India Jones and Trailer Park truck, this is shaping up to be a delightful afternoon in the sun on the iconic New York streets on the backlot at Paramount Studios. Tickets are $50 for VIP and $40 regular admission. Paramount Studios: 5555 Melrose Ave. http://www.hollywoodontap.com/

Sunday, 10/21
LA Magazine’s 2012 Food Event
2pm - 5pm
The Food Event 2012 is Los Angeles magazine's seventh annual culinary extravaganza. The day features great chefs, culinary experts, sommeliers, plus unlimited food, wine, and spirits -- all in one place, for one price. Watch celebrity chefs in the demonstration kitchen and epicurean experts participate in panels in the VOSS Conversation Lounge. Restaurants are hand selected by our James Beard award-winning dine editor. The incredible rural setting, Saddlerock Ranch in Malibu, home to Semler and Saddlerock wines, sets this culinary event above others. The ranch boasts acres and acres of natural beauty, vineyards, rolling hills, animals like llamas and zebras, and space to spread out and relax for a true escape from the city, but with just a short drive. So come dressed casual -- comfortable shoes are a must -- and please leave the pets and kids at home. Unfortunately for the little ones, the event is 21+ only. Be sure to purchase tickets early this year. The event is becoming very popular and will sell out! Hope to see you there! $115-$130. Saddlerock Ranch, 31727 Mulholland Highway, Malibu http://www.lamag.com/thefoodevent/