At the beginning of May, I had the luxury of enjoying a 5 day business/R&D trip to Los Angeles. The trip was multifaceted, but primarily, it was to train and research for the development of Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria. Except for flying into LAX, I hadn’t been to Southern California in many years, with my last visit being in the 90’s. Back then, I was much skinnier, life was significantly simpler and my visits focused around the Orange County area. Well, not only did I get to travel to LA, but I went on this trip with out “Monk” and the kiddos; this was a big deal. Yowza!
The primary purpose of the trip (though it was kept rather hush-hush at the time) was to train at the prestigious Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana with their key people and their VPN Master Pizzaiolo. It was amazing in-depth training; learning about the science of perfect pizza dough and learning the theory and history of Napoletana pizza was literally life changing. For 3 days, 10 hours a day was dedicated to practicing the techniques and discovering the nuances of the classic pizza making process. Batches and batches of dough were worked and hundreds of pizzas were cooked in their gorgeous wood fired oven. Perfect Neapoletan pizza is very simple, but for me, the beauty is in the minute details and the consistent execution to achieve a beautiful and tasteful product. At VPN Americas, they insist on their students learning and executing their best practices and in turn, apply these ideals to their pizzerias and restaurants back at home.
When I wasn’t slapping dough and making pizza, I was taking advantage of every free minute I had to explore the LA culinary scene. Let’s just say, sleep was completely over-rated that week. Though I’m inundated with the Vancouver food culture, it’s always great to see first hand, the trends and practices of other food cities outside of our own. I find this kind of travel to be inspirational and keeps my cooking and restaurant operations fresh, lively and vibrant. Some of the food highlights of my LA trip included:
1) I really fell in love with the restaurants and the overall vibe of Abbott Kinney Blvd. Axe, Gjelina and The Tasting Kitchen really stood out with delicious food and superb service.
2) Roy Choi‘s restaurant empire of food truck and small neighbourhood joints really wow-ed me with their casual and fun setting; A Frame and Sunny Spot were both uber-tasty and had outstanding cocktails.
3) Pizzeria Mozza – Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton’s pizzeria was phenomenal. Perfect service and stellar food; the crispy squash blossoms and the egg and guanciale pizza were spectacular. My most memorable meal of the trip and I will definitely return next time I’m in the neighbourhood.
4) Tar and Roses is Andrew Kirschner’s new Santa Monica hot spot. My dining experience included lots of California Pinot Noir, charming bar service and numerous small plates including roasted bone marrow, spaghetti bottarga, braised lamb belly and wood fired soft shell crab. I thoroughly enjoyed this restaurant and recommend you try it soon.
Other LA highlights were the numerous food trucks, In-N- Out Burger, Umami Burger, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, Nobu Malibu, Phillipe the Original, Pann’s Restaurant, Melisse and Animal. Do yourself a favor and check out LA’s vibrant culinary landscape.
I probably won’t be blogging much in the next little while. Opening Cotto Enoteca will soon become life consuming, but who knows, maybe I can slide a quick update in here and there. Until then, go eat something tasty and peace be unto you.