#55 - Sotto

I'll admit, the first I had heard of Sotto was when I began sorting through everything on Jonathan Gold's 101 List. It's a cute little underground space on Pico, near Beverly. I really enjoyed the space and I was happy to kick off DineLA week with a delicious and thoughtful dinner here.

These restaurants are all about the marinated olives. I'm not complaining! These were marinated in lemon and I think parsley. Very tasty.

House smoked trout spread with grilled bread and house made pickled onion and baby carrots. This was delicious but I felt too much for an appetizer. Danny and I halted this and the carrots below and we were both stuffed by the time the main course came.

The roasted carrots might have been my favorite dish of the evening. They were perfectly roasted so as to be sweet and caramelized on the outside without being mushy inside. They were topped with a light sauce made of super thinly sliced red chili, walnut, and thyme. Totally delicious.

The rigatoni with mushroom and chestnut ragu. So tasty! Nothing more needs to be said.

The Branzino! One of the most delicious and definitely the most interesting branzino I've ever had. The skin was so light and crispy while the flesh was juicy and flaky. It was served over a flavorful bed of fregola sarda (kinda like Israeli couscous), fennel, raisins, pinenuts, and saffron.

Finally, a light dessert to end the meal. This was not exactly what I expected by a "cake" BUT I really enjoyed it. Parsnip, date, and hazelnut cake with Meyer lemon glaze.


#11 - Rustic Canyon

For a restaurant basically just down the street from me, it took me long enough to make it here. It's actually quite a small place, with easy to obtain open bar seating, even on a Friday night at prime time. But luckily I made a reservation. Same day too... so despite this being one of those kinda annoying places that requires everyone in your party to be present before they will seat you, it worked out in my favor with some help from the very kind hostess.

Now on to the food!

I will say while delicious, it's a bit expensive for what it is. It's all meant to be eaten family style, but at a minimum $17 for one small dish, this is a bit unattainable for most budgets. So you likely won't be stuffed unless you drop a pretty penny. But I don't personally have a problem with that!

Some really tasty, herbaceous olives and that delicious Milo & Olive Bread to start

Rapini Malfatti. Did not know what this was until looking it up after my friend ordered it. Turns out it is a dumpling-esque ricotta pasta that was said to have been created in Napa, though there is some dispute. It was really tasty. Looked kinda like a tortellini.

Grist & Toll Polenta. I thought it was a bit too rosemary-forward, but otherwise I enjoyed the texture and other flavors going on.

The black cod.

100% the best thing on the menu, hands down. (at least of the items I tried...And the item I had been eyeing on the menu days leading up to my reservation!) Toasted squash seed spaetzle with delicata squash, brown butter, and sage. I am now dying to learn how to make spaetzle and try my best to recreate this. It was superb. All of my guests thought so and I think they should have waited to try this dish until they had finished off their own, so as not to be disappointed.


#17 - Bestia

When I first heard of Bestia back in 2012, I knew I had to get a reservation for Danny's birthday because he loves Italian food and I had been depriving him of it, as I hadn't yet discovered good Italian food. It took a lot to secure the reservation, but I got it. We were both pleasantly surprised at our first meal and went there countless times after. It's currently been a year or two since we've been back, as we no longer live in the neighborhood, but I'm sure we will return soon!

Food items not to miss:

Genevieve's Little Gems salad
Farro Salad
Burrata Salad
Any of the pizzas
Casarecce al Pomodoro
Agnolotti all'Agnello - Danny eats this every time and thinks it is the best thing in the world
Whole Branzino
Chocolate Budino Tart - I get this without fail every time


#4 - Lukshon, #8 - Cassia

I ate at Lukshon as a meal with my former employer. We ordered family style passed dishes and I thought everything was good, but nothing was spectacular. I think I had one cocktail and then switched to wine. I do recall them having a nice wine list as well as beer, which is what most of my colleagues were drinking.

Looking at their dinner menu, I believe I had some of the following:

Tea Leaf Salad - good, to be expected of a tea leaf salad. I'd previously had the famous one from Burma Superstar in San Francisco, and I would say that one left more to be remembered than the one at Lukshon.
Cold Sesame Noodles - good, basic, vegetarian dish
Heirloom Black Rice with fried egg - pretty good, this is what I ended up eating the most of as no one else was eating it and they all had plenty of meat-filled options to dine on
Chinese Eggplant - really good. Honestly, probably my favorite only because Chinese style eggplant is about the only Chinese food that I enjoy eating.

It's a good outdoor seating environment and the interior is pretty unique. I probably won't return because the menu is just not really for me, since I'm not so into Chinese food and it seems heavily Chinese influenced.

I used to live right next to Spice Table before it shut down and it was one of my favorite intimate date spots to eat with Danny. So I was incredibly excited to hear about Cassia opening. We've gone there at least three times and I'm always happy with my decision during and after the meal.

Some of my favorite dishes from Cassia:

Kaya Toast - you CANNOT leave this restaurant without partaking. I was ecstatic to discover that they were continuing to serve this popular and unique dish. The first place I'd ever had it before was at Spice Table and I could definitely eat multiple servings of it.

Cucumber & Mizuna Salad - I remember it being a really yummy salad and quite large

Black Cod - HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend. I clearly didn't read the description throughly, so when it came as a soup looking dish, I had questions. Then I dug it and O.M.G.... It was fantastic. The black cod melts in your mouth. The anchovy broth had enough salt to help the dish balance out without being overpoweringly fishy. It's really an outstanding dish.

*apologies for no photos, apparently I was not taking many photos of my food during this period...or I have lost them, either way, my Photos map is not showing me anything from either of these locations, despite my many visits to Cassia.


#47 - SQIRL

Before ever stepping foot inside the small, Silver Lake adjacent cafe, I already knew everything about it. I could almost taste the dishes, basically had the menu memorized, and should have already attempted some of the recipes on my own, since I own Jessica Koslow's book. But alas, I'm sad to say that it took me until the first week of 2018 to have my first bite of SQIRL's toast.

After my visit around 9 am on Saturday, January 6th, I began wishing I too was an East Sider, living close enough that SQIRL could be "my place" that I could be friends with Jessica and all the other cooks in the kitchen. I imagine myself strolling in there multiple times a week, sometimes just for a drink (and ok, probably a biscuit with jam), waving to the busboy; the girl working behind the counter cheerfully greeting me by name - but never assuming she knows what I want, because I never get the same order twice.

But that's not my life. Yet. This year is about getting as far through Jonathan Gold's 101 list, so it's unlikely I'll return to SQIRL as often as I dream. But enough about my silly dreams, here's what I ate.

For my drink, I would normally go for the house coffee, but I felt compelled to ask the guy taking my order what he recommended to drink. He said his go-to is the almond cappuccino. "A cappuccino?!" I thought to myself before immediately agreeing with him that I would take one. Of course they make their own almond milk. And of course this cute little drink was delicious. The top was more foamy than I'd before encountered in an almond milk latte. Danny went with the coffee which they fill into a small cup and little glass carafe. It's cute and the coffee is solid. Definitely worth an order, and also goes perfect with the famed Ricotta Toast, below.

I'm glad we decided not to order a third dish. This toast is a beast! Yes, it's big, but it's also rich. The light creaminess of the ricotta is equally balanced by the sweetness and acidity in the Blackberry Meyer Lemon jam and the Brioche toast is perfectly buttered and toasted so as to add the salt that's required to balance it all out while maintaining the perfect level of sweetness you might expect from a brioche. Jessica Koslow really shows off her knowledge of Salt, Fat, Acid, & Heat. (Shout out to the book by Samin Rosnat that I'm currently reading!)

Ah, the Sorrel Rice Bowl with avocado. I loved everything about this. It was incredibly complex, with ingredients ranging from the Sorrel (where the heck can you find that stuff anyway?!) to the lacto-fermented hot sauce (what does that mean?!) The egg was poached to perfection, I am at a loss for words to further describe how this dish makes me feel. I need this in my life at least once a week. SQIRL, until we meet again.


#32 - Otium

My mom has always said I was born under a lucky star. Sometimes it feels true. Like the fact that I win a lot of contests. This time, I got a call from KCRW that I had won a pair of tickets to Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrors" at the Broad and $75 toward dinner. Well, our dinner at Otium was a little bit more than that, but it ended up much less expensive than it would have been otherwise!

one mezcal and one yuzu drink, please!

Snapper crudo was tiny, but packed in a ton of complex flavor

Squash AND mole? Sign me up.

I'm still reeling at the amount of flavor & texture in this seemingly simple cauliflower dish

Seared scallops and fennel


#7 - Trois Mec

This is the meal that started me on this journey of trying to make it through Jonathan Gold's 101 List, thus it will be the first post in this series.

If you don't know who Chef Ludo Lefevbre is, read his wikipedia. Or better yet, go back and watch him on Top Chef. He's a riot. He's also become somewhat of an LA institution. With multiple restaurants under his tutelage and more on the way, he's spearheaded the Los Angeles Modern Fine Dining Movement.
I hadn't been to any of his locations until I came across his 2 Chef's in Conversation Series. I was smitten over the reviews of Chef Enrique Olverez so I knew I had to get tickets to that. When the time came, I wasn't fast enough, but luckily they had just released notice that Chef Martha Ortiz was going to be doing a night, and I was able to score tickets to that.

Enough of the words. Take a look at the photos in order of this menu. Two dishes were made with vegetables to accommodate my pescetarian diet.

My taco was made with potatoes in place of pork.

That small piece of cabbage in the center? The single best bite of this whole meal!

My mole was made of celery root in lieu of duck. 


I'm Back - Jonathan Gold's 101 Challenge

If you've been with me since I started this blog in 2011 and are still here, thanks so much!
If you are new, you haven't really missed anything, and thanks so much for joining me now!

This seems new to me again. Upon deciding to bring the blog back to life for a new personal challenge, I began looking back on my (mostly) random posts from the past. The posts made me laugh, cringe, and wonder "am I really such a terrible writer?!"

Yes. Yes I think I am. But no worries, this new project will be meant to be more of a checklist and less verbose (I hope!)

Jonathan Gold's 101 list:

What is it?
Jonathan Gold is the Pulitzer Prize winning food critic for the LA Times. He gained publicity in the 80's when he ate at every restaurant along Pico Boulevard. You can read his story about it here. A documentary about him called "City of Gold" came out in 2016 - I highly recommend that you watch it. He is known for effecting some small, hole in the wall restaurants with his blessed, glowing reviews and each year, he releases his new 101 top restaurants in LA list.

Why am I doing it?
The past few years I've been bad about not getting out to more restaurants. I began to get into a routine and tend to frequent neighborhood spots instead of doing more exploring throughout the city. On December 9, 2017, I had the pleasure of eating at Chef Ludo's restaurant, Trois Mec, for the first time during a 2 Chef's Series with Chef Martha Ortiz. This came a few months after a life changing lunch at Chef Diego Guerrero's DSTAgE in Madrid. A 2 Michelin Star experience that completely knocked my socks off and literally brought me to tears a few times during the 12 course meal. After my Trois Mec experience this past December, I posted many photos to Instagram and one was "liked" by @trailofgold who I immediately looked into only to discover that he was working his way "to eat all of Jonathan Gold's 101 list." Genius. Also, he is not alone. Turns out there are many who do this, including Kaitlin Orr, otherwise known as @carnivorr who attempted (and probably has since completed) the 101 list in 101 days. My. How Ambitious!
Me? I just want to eat as much as I can make it to for the experience of eating amazing food, meeting phenomenal chefs, and spending good, quality time with my husband, Danny and occasionally, our friends who wish to join us on the journey.

Isn't it expensive?
Yes. Why? Would you like to give me some money to help me eat through this list? Go for it. I won't argue. I accept paypal and venmo.

What's the timeline? Rules? Plan?
There isn't one. I'm doing this completely for myself, for fun. This blog is just a way for me to keep track and for anyone who cares to follow along. I'll also be posting photos and stories on my Instagram @tarynbone so feel free to follow along there as well.

Finally, I should mention that when Jonathan's 2017 list came out, I counted it up and had already been to 14 of the restaurants on the list. And since planning this, I've eaten at a few more. So I will post about those in retrospect as I doubt I'll have time to get back to them in the coming year. So as of this post, 18 down, 83 to go.

Bon Appetite!


Summer Minimal Wardrobe 2016

Welcome to what has quickly (slowly?) become me just posting once a year!
To be frank, I've had a hell of a lot go on this past year.  I ran a marathon last year right before turning 30, which happened to be right before a major family emergency took me away from normal life for a good 6 months, which turned into me re-evaluating my life and deciding to start two businesses - Cookie Expert and Bone Carroll Studio and to quit my job at Johnston Marklee in order to pursue both of these without going crazy, though I am still consulting with them many hours a week.  So yeah...maybe I'll blog more some day...but for now I'm a bit busy.

I've kept up with these minimal wardrobes since my last post about beginning them...I just didn't post it (see previous paragraph)  Plus...maybe my winter wardrobe was not even close to the supposed perfect number of 37.  But it's hard in LA, our weather in the winter can require both shorts and pea coats, sandals and boots!

This summer I have a few new items I'm excited about and looking at it all together, I still have a lot of grey but I'm loving that I have these similar blue green and green colors going on.  My shoes are all very tan and I have a few graphical pieces to keep things light-hearted.  I have 47 items in total, I think this is pretty good considering I have 8 pairs of shoes!







Transition Wardrobe - Fall 2015

A few months back I started noticing an friend's instagram becoming full of #capsulewardrobe on pictures of her wearing what seemed to be normal clothes.  I was intrigued, but busy.  It took me until just now to look into this capsule wardrobe business and realizing that it was just what I've been looking for.  If you don't know what a capsule wardrobe is, I recommend starting with Unfancy's blog, which is where I learned about what a joy it can be to only have 37 (give or take) items in your closet at any given season.  I dug a little further into it and found that I also love Into Mind blog which focuses more on a term that I can relate to: minimalist.  I love having less things.  I don't buy anything in bulk - ever! And I pride myself on not having a ton of junk that clutters my life.  So this whole capsule/minimal wardrobe idea fascinated me and made me wonder: why haven't I been doing this all along?!

The idea is to have only the clothes that you absolutely love and are excited about in your closet.  For some, that means a particular number of items -  37 is what I am seeing a lot of.  For others, there is not a hard and fast rule, but merely a concept of having only what makes you happiest.

I know fall is not until end of September and that September is the hottest month in SoCal, but I had a DSW $20 reward, and I knew that I needed new shoes, so I wanted said shoes to go with my first minimal closet for the fall.  Therefore, I cleaned out my closet.  I mean really cleaned it out.  I laid all of my clothes on the bed and began sorting. It was relaxing and simple and exciting.  I would look at an item and decide: throw out, put away for possibly another season, or become part of my first minimal closet for Fall 2015.  In the end I had around 57 items for what I'm calling my "transition wardrobe."  I call it this because I already know a few pieces that will be going away at the beginning of October once summer is officially over, but I need them right now because it's hot.

Then I did the thing that is really important: I took every single piece off the hanger and took a picture of it.  In doing so, I whittled my closet down to 52.  Then I photoshopped every item and now I am writing this.  I've been wearing my transitional wardrobe for a week and two days now and I feel so inspired.  I have made new outfits that make me feel very happy and I don't ever stress over what to wear.  I don't think I'll get down to 37 items this season, but I'm thinking 45 might be my number.

Here are the tops. Clearly I love grey.

Here are the bottoms.  Clearly I love grey.  Also, I already know that my 7 for all of Mankind jeans  (top middle) are getting cut for the fall, not because I don't love them, but because I love them so much.  I want them to last me for the spring and they are getting so worn I'm afraid they won't if I don't give them a little break.

The outerwear.  Love my jackets!

The dresses.

And finally, but probably most importantly: the shoes!  The bottom two have not yet arrived from DSW.  Hurry up DSW, I want my new Keds!


04_tasting notes: Chocovivo

I first discovered Chocovivo in the same way that I discover most everything in life: Yelp.
I couldn't believe that such a place should exist in my old stomping grounds of Culver City.  It really makes me wish I had never left.  I also couldn't believe I hadn't been yet!

Danny took me here for the first time for my birthday weekend.  The set up is great, it's meant for you taste the chocolates in sets of 3, 6, or all 13.  (do the full thing, for only $10, this is a steal, and is easily shared between 2 people)  While I enjoyed the tasting and am happy to share my tasting notes with you, at first I didn't know how to talk about the chocolate in comparison to the other bean to bars I have already talked about on the blog (Askinosie and Garden Island Chocolate)  Chocovivo's chocolate is gritty, more Mexican style and their varying percentages are no comparison in taste to Askinosie's single origin bars.  I have to be honest and say that my palate prefers the flavors of Askinosie and Garden Island.  What sets Chocovivo apart from the other two for me are their flavors, particularly that they have a new seasonal flavor every month.  For my birthday month (June) it was blood orange+EVOO+sea salt, and it was great!  This month it is Meyer Lemon and Rosemary, which is such a lovely, subtle, but delicious combination.

The other thing which makes me love Chocovivo are their drinking chocolates and the variety which they allow.  Today I tried their new vegan frozen hot chocolate.  They use coconut ice cream and the milk is their house-made hazelnut milk.  Of course, like all the other drinks on their menu, you get to choose your chocolate that you want in it: 100%, 85%, 65%, Mayan Traditional (spicy), or Coffee+vanilla.  I went with the 65%.  This is phenomenal.  Typically $7, the vegan one is $10 because of the substitutions of milk and ice cream, but I don't care.  I would gladly get this drink every time, no question about it.  The four others who I brought with me today agreed.  They talked about coming to Chocovivo for the frozen hot chocolate over going to bars and drinking alcohol.  Yes, please!  This should totally be a thing.

Finally, I love Chocovivo for it's monthly events that it brings to the community.  Today I went because for the 4th of July weekend they are doing s'mores.  It is a platter of 3 s'mores, each with house-made graham crackers and marshmallows.  The chocolate was 65%, Mayan Traditional, and Coffee+Vanilla and they gave us a little table side burner over which to toast the marshmallows.  Such a cute idea and a really fun thing to do with friends.  Later this month I am excited to attend their 1 year anniversary party! (July 18th).

Basically, I am obsessed with Chocovivo.

Now for my tasting notes:
1. 100% cacao: Just too bitter and chalky to be able to eat alone, at least for my palate.
2. 85% cacao: bready, gritty, yeasty (these are good things in my book!)
3. 75% cacao: sweet, berries, sugary grit
4. 65% cacao: tangy, definite citrus flavor
5. Nibby Bar--chocolate+raw nibs: grainy, sweet, graham, nutty (one of my favorites, I hope they make this a standard bar!)
6. Almonds+Sea salt: dry roasted, I liked that the almonds were actually ground up into the chocolate instead of being whole chunks inside, that was an interesting twist on a typical almond bar
7. Hazelnuts+Sea salt: more of a heavy roasted flavor than in a typical hazelnut bar, the smoothest texture of all the bars
8. Macadamia Nut+Coconut: sweet, sour, salty, smooth
9. Blood Orange+EVOO+Sea salt: intense orange flavor, turns gritty in your mouth and the flavor gets deeper as it melts
10. Shangri-La--black sesame and goji berries: subtle sesame flavor followed by herbiness, then sweetness
11. Cherries+Almonds+Black Peppercorn: chunks of sweet and sour cherries heavily accented by the peppercorn, one of my favorites
12. Mayan Traditional: spicy, intense, tasted exactly like the sipping chocolate
13. Coffee+Vanilla Bean: intense espresso flavor, the vanilla is just a background noise to accentuate the coffee taste