Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dinner in the Wolvesden

Upon arriving at the secret location, I followed my instructions and telephoned the number I had received only several hours earlier, alerting "them" of my and J's arrival. Several minutes later, under the cover of night, we were whisked inside, and the evening began.

No, J and I are not secret agents by night; we were attending one of Chef Craig Thornton's "Wolvesmouth" dinners. Several times a month, 8-12 eager diners gather at a private, undisclosed location to participate in Craig's underground dining experience-- a three to four hour-long culinary journey spanning twelve or more dishes. Although one might expect a hefty price tag with such an exclusive evening, Craig asks that you decide what to pay. The former personal chef and veteran of Bouchon Bistro in Las Vegas has no sous chef or waitstaff (with the exception of the unpaid help of a few friends) and, for that matter, no desire to get rich off his dinners; he seeks only to do what he loves--engage with a love for food (both his and ours).

Wolvesmouth Dinner

Craig prepares the first course over the watchful (and photo-happy) eye of a hungry audience.

Wolvesmouth Dinner

Wolvesmouth Dinner

Sweetbread, Potato, Leek, Chive

Sweetbread with potato, leek and chive

Skate, Brown Butter, Carrot, Sage

Skate with brown butter, carrots, leek and sage

Beer, Valdeon, Pineapple

Beet with valdeon cheese and pineapple

Crab Two Ways, Cauliflower, Frozen Grapes, Tarragon

Dungeness crab two ways with cauliflower, frozen grapes and tarragon

Char, Butternut Squash Puree, Maple Rye Fritter

Char with butternut squash puree and a maple rye fritter

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Heirloom tomatoes with bacon pound cake and basil

Rabbit and Huitlacoche with Tortilla Puree and Poblano Chile

Rabbit and huitlacoche with tortilla puree and poblano chile

Duck with Skin

Duck with crispy duck skin

Boar, Parmesan Polenta, Orange Sauce

Boar with parmesan polenta and orange jus

Short Rib, Black Truffle and Coffee Meringue, Chanterelle Jus and Bone Marrow Stuffed Prune

Short rib with black truffle and coffee meringue, chanterelle jus and bone marrow-stuffed prune

Foie Gras Shortbread, Praline Vacherin, Bitter Caramel Pear, Earl Grey Panna Cotta

Foie gras shortbread, praline vacherin, bitter caramel pear and Early Grey panna cotta

Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream with Glazed Apples, Peanut Butter Powder

Caramel popcorn ice cream with glazed apples and peanut butter powder

Highlights of the night included an impressive butternut squash puree and delightfully simple maple rye fritter, my first encounter with huitlacoche and boar, an inventive spin on Peking duck and a naturally flavored caramel popcorn ice cream that I could eat by the gallon.

Guests are encouraged to bring something to drink to share with the dining party-- a message our Wolvesden group took to heart. We sampled some delightful beers and wines throughout the night including a spicy pumpkin ale, a beer from Ferran Adria and an Israeli white wine.

Leftover bottles @ Wolvesmouth Dinner
Our beer and wine bottle graveyard

For more information on how to get on the list for these underground dinners, click here and, as the page says, "Come curious. Leave sated."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Looking for a New Friend? Meet Mona!

My name is Mona. I'm a pitt bull mix and about 2-3 years old. Don't let my breed fool you; I'm a complete softie! My two favorite activities are cuddling and napping, and I love everyone--including kids. In fact, I'd be great with a family but would prefer to be the only pooch in the house. I was adopted once before, but the people who took me home had another dog who attacked me and left me with a few scars. I like my friends at the kennel and the nice people who have been caring for me, but I'm looking for my forever home.

Can you help?


Here I am partaking in one of my favorite activities. Uncle J took this picture because he thought it was funny that I was snoring.

Sleepy Mona

Please email my friend at or leave a comment with your email address if you're interested in hearing more information about me!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Attari Sandwich Shop

Although few can deny the pleasure of a budget-busting four-star meal prepared by a celebrity chef, fewer still can argue with a filling, wallet friendly meal at a restaurant that feels like it's "your little secret"-- one's go-to hole-in-the-wall meal. Attari Sandwich Shop in Westwood is one of those restaurants.

Almost hidden from view by shrubbery and palm trees, the tiny Attari specializes in Persian sandwiches. The interior, with its handful of tables that occupy as much space as the display case and refrigerator, feels cozy, and the prevalence of menus and signs displayed in Farsi gives one the sense that Attari prides itself on an authentic, home-cooked style--so authentic, in fact, that I had to whip out an iPhone to Google the dishes during my first visit.

Attari Sandwich Shop

Attari Sandwich Shop

One of Attari's specialties is osh ($4.95), a hearty lentil soup topped with caramelized onions and yogurt sauce. The soup's thick consistency is almost stew-like, and each spoonful delivers a complex mix of flavors and textures with a tangy kick that wakes up your tastebuds. Although categorized as an "appetizer/side," the dish is sizeable and filling enough to serve as an entree or to be shared.

Osh @ Attari Sandwich Shop

The chicken kotlet sandwich ($6.75) features a patty made of shredded chicken, grated potatoes and breadcrumbs which is flavored with spices, including tumeric. The mild flavors and soft textures of the chicken and potato are bolstered by the zing and the crunch of sliced pickles. This simple but comforting sandwich always delivers.

Chicken Kotlet Sandwich @ Attari Sandwich

Although olivieh may have its roots in Russian cooking, the cold salad made with chicken (or vegetables), finely chopped eggs, peas, dill and mayonnaise is popular in Persian dining. The olivieh sandwich ($6.75) reminds one of a chicken salad sandwich with a twist-- a more satisfying bite in terms of both flavors and textures.

Chicken Olivieh Sandwich @ Attari Sandwich

On my most recent visit, my friend ordered the tongue sandwich ($7.99). Although my one bite was admittedly a timid one, I was surprised by how incredibly tender the meat was--akin to pulled pork.

Tongue Sandwich @ Attari Sandwich Shop

Attari also serves several Persian desserts, but I usually find myself full after just half of my sandwich, which, if you do the math, comes out to just over $3.00 per half. For its cozy vibe and delicious, filling food that doesn't break the bank, Attari is at the top of my list of favorite, no frills restaurants.

Attari Sandwich Shop
1388 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 441-5488

Attari Sandwich Shop on Urbanspoon
Attari Sandwich Shop in Los Angeles on Fooddigger