Friday, February 29, 2008

Oh Look! A Hen!

(originally posted 02/07/08)

I love to cook. I love to eat. The combination of the two is extremely dangerous to my waistline. It's a good fight – and one that I tend to often lose…thank VISA for late night diet medication commercials!!! "Melt the fat away while you sleep! Diapers not included; serious side effects may include…" Uh….I'm no doctor, but my guess would be that the new necessity of night diapers might be included on the list of "serious" side effects…

Sorry…I'll move along…

As a foodie, I've always been disappointed that the elite and ubiquitous "They" have said for years that I live in a city void of cuisine. How could they?! Los Angeles? Void? The land of Tommy burgers, Gloria's tacos, and Stan's donuts? These are local joints that will never get a Michelin star, but have kept locals standing in line for decades. This is good stuff, people! OK – perhaps up until recently we may have had only one Food Network star open a restaurant here – but you gotta admit, Wolfgang Puck is one hellauva "only one" kinda guy…Spago, anyone?

But the gourmet tides, they are a-turnin'! As much as I love Mario Batali, I'll not sing his praises here tonight – that's another entry - I'm here to talk about my newest and previously mentioned addiction: the food at Craft, Los Angeles – specifically the pan roasted Hen of the Woods mushrooms.

For those not yet aware, Craft is the Garanimals of fine dining. I say this because every dish mixes and matches with every other dish on the menu. Perfectly and yummily – is that a word? All menu items are ordered high-end family style – that's right – you share – something many haven't felt comfortable doing since grade school. As a result, every dish should be (and is) harmonious with every other dish, so all guests in your party enjoy a cohesive dining experience. It works. Really freaking well. Master Genius Chef Tom Colicchio has converted me…mushrooms were the enemy from my earliest memory – more on that later – but he has, in one magic moment, changed my palate forever. This exquisite dish of mushroom, garlic, shallots and thyme is burned on my brain and taste buds so completely that I make it at home – acceptably, but not perfectly – at least twice a week. In the wild they look like little chicken feathers. So Pretty!! My guess is this is where the name originates??

If I may say, eating them is to-die-for goodness! I'm a bit of an obsessive food geek, so you'll notice, but trust me on this: if you live anywhere near a Craft restaurant in this country – go quickly towards the light. You will be rewarded. If not, the recipe can be found online…hunt it down! You'll be so happy you did!

Off to the kitchen…

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