Tag Archives: food

Spring It

In doing my Paris research, all everyone talked about is a little place run by an American chef, a place called Spring.  The chef is Daniel Rose (he writes a column for the Off-Duty section of WSJ, a section I have worked for), and almost every night he creates market dinners from scratch for people lucky enough to score a reservation.  For the unlucky, or spontaneous, there is the wine bar, the buvette, downstairs.


Our Stallion wine at Spring



I’m one of the unlucky, or spontaneous, ones, which is why I found myself downstairs with Soufien, the curly-haired, bespectacled French sommelier/bartender/waiter/foodrunner/fromage arranger/bread slicer/oyster-shucker.  Daniel may rule the open kitchen upstairs, but in the basement, Soufien is THE MAN.  And Soufien knows it.  He speaks in a tone that wavers delicately, perhaps sneakily, between arrogant and confident.  He tells you what you want if you display any sort of uncertainty. He does not suffer fools, but he nurtures people who respect the wine bar (even if they don’t know which wine they want).


cep salad, bottom. top, veal en croute.



My favorite thing about Soufien (besides the fact that he chose our two bottles of wine, and our cheese, and our tasting plates) is the way he described a particularly fine, earthy, mysterious, red wine.  In heavily accented English, he looked at me and said,

“Zees wine is like a horse.  A big horse that must run, and it runs through the forest.  Eet ees powerful (gesturing with his hands), and the forest changes around him.  Earth, soil, dirt, champignons.  Eet ees very, how you say, strong.  Eet changes.”

I don’t know any sommelier that has spun a story of a horse running through a forest to describe a wine to me, but the story worked.  The smells and taste of the wine rush back when I think of this story.

In other notes, we had a completely fantastic salad of cepes, squash, pomegranate and mache, a veal cooked en croute, and cheese, including a goat’s cheese that had been drizzled with truffled honey (oh my).

It was so good I came back two nights later.  The place was packed (it was a Saturday night) and Soufien was orchestrating the floor a little bit like a madman.  I had a beautiful wine that night, but he had no time for stories.

Read more about Spring on their blog.


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AFB: Where to Go

HEY NEW YORKERS!  Need some restaurant inspiration this week?  Here are 5 spots to try.

Just Opened, Casual: the fried chicken and apple pie at Hill Country Chicken, 1123 Broadway nr 25th, in Flatiron.

Sexy Small Plates/Bar that You Haven’t Been to Yet: L’Oubli for a brandy smash, steak tartare, a glass of wine, croque monsieur, a country pate, more wine.  From Eric Demarchelier’s son Benjamine.

Well-Reviewed Asian ‘cue: Fatty ‘Cue for Heritage pork ribs slathered in smoked fish sauce and Indonesian long pepper sounds cool. As does Red Curry duck with sweet pickled daikon, washed down with a cold bottle of Tiger.  91 South 6th St, Brooklyn

The Sweet Little Favorite that Never Disappoints and is Cheap: Lovely Day. 196 Prince nr Elizabeth, Nolita.  This lovely little vintage-Asian-gamine Thai spot was closed for the longest time due to a fire, and is now BACK. Ginger-fried chicken and chow fung noodles, yesssss.  And it has a brand new downstairs level with more seats so now you don’t have to wait so damn long.

The Upscale but Pretty Farm to Table Restaurant: ABC Kitchen. Love roasted squash with parmesan and lemon, roasted carrot and avocado salad, spaghettini with shrimp and red chili flakes,  and am crazy for the Sundae: salt caramel ice cream, candied peanuts and popcorn, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Inside Hill Country Chicken

Inside L'Oubli

Fatty 'Cue

I love Lovely Day

ABC Kitchen's Kitchen

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Filed under AFB: Where to Go, Eating, Restaurants

Ammo in L.A. is a reason to heart L.A.

I’m in L.A. for business a couple of weeks ago, and on Saturday night I make plans for dinner with my friend Claire, a local artist who is also one of those super cool chicks in-the-know.  In L.A. that can be a dubious distinction, but Claire is first-class and has impeccable style. I trust her implicitly.  Ammo, she says, is one of her favorites.  Not scene-y, she warns/reassures.  The food is really clean, she says, and looking at me reflectively adds,  maybe too clean for you?  She knows my love of indulgence, and the tendency to go for anything fried, with cream and butter, or containing a plethora of ingredients. 

Maybe it’s that I’ve indulged too much when it comes to dining out, but lately I crave clean, simple food made of the absolute best ingredients.  That’s why I love Ammo.  Alot.   It’s in a boring part of Hollywood on a stretch of Highland Ave with not much else but Ammo.  The interior is earthy modern- lots of wood, exposed bulbs, fresh flowers.  It’s a California culinary zen den.  Here’s why I fell in love:

COCKTAILS: An absolutely ethereal cucumber mint martini.  Made with my new favorite gin, Hendrick’s (hints of rose mix well with cucumber), it was one of the most fresh and clean drinks I’ve imbibed in a long time.  Way later, after a couple glasses of Soave, my new favorite white wine, I had them make me a Negroni.  It was excellent, and that’s all I can really say because I had a real strong buzz happening at that point.

EATS: the ne plus ultra of arugula salads lives at Ammo.  I think Jesus grew the arugula.  Apparently it had been bought that morning at the farmer’s market (this is Ammo’s thing, super local and super fresh) and it was vibrant green, full of spice and a slight sweetness.  It held up well to a delish parmigiano reggiano, and served with olive oil and lemon.

We also had an amazing Ahi tuna tartare and a spaghetti with pancetta and sauteed bitter greens.  For dessert we had these homemade ice cream sandwiches that were pushed away with an “I can’t possibly eat that” and then promptly swallowed in full.  

SERVICE: We sat at the bar, which is always my preference.  Benny Bohm, the Austrian wine manager, was this really sweet guy who offered us fresh clementines that he had picked up at the farmer’s market on the way to work.  We fell in love with Benny.   

P.S. I know there are a lot of farmer’s market references here, and the words “California zen den” were used.  Before you break out the cut-offs, tie-dye, and teva look, please be aware this is a really sophisticated spot, with prices to match.  Check out the website for more details, menu, and pics.

Ammo, 1155 North Highland, Los Angeles, CA 323/871/2666


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Filed under Eating, Libations, Restaurants