A La Carte: Palmilla, Best Bloody Mary, Bottle Inn rumors, deep dish pizza, tamale lessons, and a wine store discovery

First Look, Deluxe Edition… All cities in the South Bay have had high-profile restaurant openings this year, and Hermosa’s most anticipated was definitely Palmilla. People have been peering through the windows at the stunning architecture for months, intrigued by decor that is simultaneously minimalist and ornate. I visited the first week they were open and can report that the food is less flashy than the architecture; there is nothing on this menu that you haven’t had before, but you probably haven’t had it executed this well. The focus is on premium ingredients like wild shrimp, fresh crab, and prime beef, used in traditional Mexican dishes with tortillas that were made as soon as you ordered them. The timing was a bit off thanks to the growing pains of any new establishment, but the food was spot on – the short rib taquitos were delicious, ceviche had a delicious spicy citrus balance, and the Mexican-style steak was interestingly spiced and cooked just as I had requested. Palmilla has kept us waiting a long time but looks like a local star in the making…

 

The Fishbar’s Bloody Mary has been recognized as California’s finest and the second best in the nation. Photo by Jessica Jordan

Congratulations Are Due… It is official – Fishbar has the best Bloody Mary in California. So said the judges at the National Bloody Mary Competition in New York on November 11th, where Fishbar’s offering was judged second-best in the nation. Chef Jessica’s spicy concoction is garnished with a jumbo shrimp and a slice of bacon, and it is quite a drink. First place was taken by an outré concoction that included chili paste and wasabi, created by a chef in McAllen, Texas. Having visited McAllen, I can tell you that it is not worth going there just to have a drink, so I’m going to enjoy the local winner and wish Jessica a clean sweep at next year’s competition…

Rumor Control, Part One… I heard from several people that the Bottle Inn had been sold, and some readers were alarmed at the prospect that the restaurant they loved might morph into a hip place like the ones a dozen or so blocks north. One person mourned that “It just won’t be the same place without Silvio!” Indeed it won’t, if and when he ever leaves. To make things clear, Silvio Petoletti did not sell the restaurant, because he actually didn’t own it – he is one of the buyers. The owner is retiring, and Silvio, chef Maglio Munoz, and maitre’de Oscar Arellano have purchased the restaurant. Asked if anything was going to change, Silvio mused that he is thinking of adding a wine bar. Given the emphasis on fine wine that has been part of the experience for decades, I don’t think that’s a change anybody will argue with…

First Look, Economy Edition… A long time ago, a pizzeria called Numero Uno had an outpost in the Manhattan Mall, where they sold the weirdest pizza I had ever seen. It was cooked in an iron skillet and had a crust like a pie, with the cheese and ingredients on the bottom and the sauce on the top. I was told that that was how they made them in Chicago, and sure enough, I had deep-dish pizza on my next visit there. Numero Uno closed over a decade ago, and that style of pizza disappeared from the South Bay. It is back now at Union Pizza on Rosecrans, located next door to Bristol Farms, and while I have only visited once it was a good experience. The flavors are bold, the crust nicely crisp, and thanks to the bountiful toppings two slices is a full meal. Union makes pastas and New York thin crust pizzas too, so those who like more conventional fare will be in no danger of starving…

Changes In Progress… The Catalina Coffee Company is in the midst of an interesting transformation; after years of being a coffeehouse and specialty roaster with a minimal food menu, they’re broadening their horizons. The sandwiches and pastries are still there, but the menu is expanding and the place will soon offer wine and beer. I’ve been going there to buy fresh-roasted coffee to drink at home, but will have to allow a bit more time on future visits to watch the changes unfold…

Cooking For The Season… None of our modern Christmas traditions have anything to do with the land of Christ’s birth – the seasonal tree and Yule log were Scandinavian, and most of the culinary traditions are British or American. So why not bring the tastiest of Christmas items to your table by making tamales this season? They can be made sweet or savory, and if you drizzle some red and green chile sauce on them they display the colors of the season. Think it’s a good idea, but never learned how to make them? You’re in luck – Ortega 120 is hosting classes on Wednesday evenings between now and Christmas. The classes cost only $40.00, include dinner and a margarita, and most importantly, they are fun! Call 310-792-4120 for reservations…

Rumor Control, Part Two… If you were a big fan of Joey’s Smokin’ BBQ in Manhattan Beach, you may be wondering what’s been happening since the name changed to Johnny Memphis’ Smokehouse. The name change was just that – same ownership, same menu. There’s a lot of that going around lately….

Event Alert – New Calendar Edition… That big new 2012 calendar with nothing on it is already hanging on your wall, so I’ll help you fill in a space. Mark off April 29, because that’s when For Our Children is scheduled next year. It really is never too early to save the date when the South Bay’s foremost food and wine event is concerned. I’ll supply more information as the event draws nigh…

Hiding in Corners… I was driving through the Manhattan Mall parking lot when my passenger asked, “How is that wine store over there?” I had never noticed the establishment in question, which is tucked between the Tin Roof Bistro and a cake shop. We decided to investigate The Vintage Shoppe and I almost immediately found a small-producer Albariño that I hadn’t been able to find anywhere else in the area. The wines are eclectic and fairly priced, and more to the point of this column, the store does tastings and wine dinners. I always like finding some jewel of a business in an unlikely location, and I appreciate it when you help me – if there’s a great culinary business or a little restaurant I might not know about, please email me at Richard@richardfoss.com…



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Article source: http://www.easyreadernews.com/41166/bloody-mary/

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