Sunday, August 23, 2009

Baby Shower Cupcakes: Just Nice To Look At

This weekend I threw a baby shower for my sister-in-law, who is due to give birth to my soon to be nephew in September. Though I would have loved to cater the entire shower, I quickly wised up and realized 30 people requires an entire week of serious preparation so I ordered deli meats for lunch and resigned myself to making just cupcakes for dessert. Making 3 dozen cupcakes only requires one long Friday night of work, totally doable.
I decided to make vanilla (recipe courtesy of Amy Sedaris, she's a hoot) and red velvet with cream cheese frosting. I also cheated a little and ordered baby themed sugar toppers on line.
The cupcakes were darling, and I displayed them on my cupcake tree at the shower (yes, a cupcake tree is a complete necessity in my book). I was convinced before the shower my perfectly decorated cupcakes would be the hit of the party. Unfortunately the attendees weren't quite as excited to eat cupcakes as I'd hoped and they didn't exactly fly off the tree. Perhaps I should have considered that my sister-in-law is a nurse and naturally all of her nursing buddies would ponder their health and their thighs before stuffing their faces with sugar and butter filled treats. My first hint was that most of them passed on the rye bread and pasta salad at the lunch buffet. Only 12 of the 36 were savored, leaving me to fill the to-go boxes I bought for just this contingency and force them on my family members. Next time I'll stick with something healthier, sugar free jello anyone?

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Dining in Montrose: Bashan

Always in search of a great new restaurant, on Friday I consulted my handy KCRW "Fringe Benefits" guide and found reference to Bashan Restaurant, located near the heart of hip Montrose area (but with an unfortunate Glendale zip). The ambiance at this 16-table bistro style restaurant was warm and casual, and staff were friendly and upbeat. Little did I expect that the executive chef, Nadav Bashan, would delight and amaze us with his impressive skills. Bashan got his start working for some of the greats before going out on his own two years ago, after impressive stints as sous chef at Michael's and Providence (see my other posts here and here re the delights of Providence). In his own restaurant he blends french techniques with asian and mediterranean influences.
We started off with a refreshing amuse bouche of papaya and watermelon aqua fresca
before proceeding to our starter of thinly sliced albacore with red and yellow beets and pickled enoki mushrooms. Impressive knife work on this dish, with light and tangy marriage of flavors between the beets and fish. For the main course I ordered New Bedrord Scallops with cauliflower puree, sea beans, soba noodles, crispy pancetta, peas and blood oranges. Big N ordered Alaskan Halibut with pappadew peppers stuffed with eggplant, tahini, sumac, and grilled mini eggplants.

Our plates were beautiful works of art with color and flair, while the fish was seasoned simply so it could shine all on its own. The sides were gracefully paired to personify the cleanness of the fish.

We paired our meal with a non-vintage Conde de Subirats Cava from Spain. Cava is a light sparkling wine without the pukey after taste of some Champagnes. It's fairly dry but crisp and slightly sweet, and paired extremely well with our albacore and fish dishes.

If you're not too aghast to leave behind the overinflated egos and overinjected faces of the Westside scene for a night, then head over to the Eastside for a relaxing walking tour of quaint downtown Montrose and a delightful dinner at Bashan. You'll be rewarded for near-Providence quality food without the annoying Westside crowds.