Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pleasure of a Weekday Off at Copa Vida, Petrossian LAX & Crustacean

When given the option of an extra day off, most folks I know prefer to bookend their weekends, tacking on a Monday or Friday. Me? Personally, unless I have an out-of-town excursion, I actually prefer taking midweek days off. It splits up the workweek, I can "staycation" on a mellower day of the week, and not worry about the traffic & crowds from other long weekenders too.

Of course, being able to partake in some tastings was the icing on that cake. So that's exactly what I did last Wednesday.

My first pleasure was, to no one's surprise, sleeping in. Even though I did freak out and bolted up on my usual workday time, upon realizing "oh yeah, I took today off" I went back into the bliss of the warm bed and slumbered for another lovely 2 hours.
After finally getting up & ready around 10:30 a.m., I had a quick but leisurely breakfast at Copa Vida, my new favorite "fancy coffee" place in Pasadena. 
Normally I wouldn't hesitate to order their divine open-faced Croque Madame, but there's another food affair coming up soon so I opted for their ham-cheese-caramelized onions stromboli. And of course, one of their fantastic pourover coffee of the day (this time it's the Colombian El Roble estate roasted by 49th Parallel.)
Following the late breakfast, I headed to LAX; not to fly anywhere, but to check out Petrossian's newly opened shop at their new champagne & caviar bar at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (which has gotten quite a facelift recently). There, we were treated to caviar & roe-topped bites by Giselle Wellman, who heads up the kitchen here & at the Petrossian West Hollywood Restaurant/Boutique. They were all delicious, but my personal favorite were a simple spin off the classic caviar presentation—with a dollop of creme fraiche on a buckwheat blini.
They were also showcasing their caviar powder that's made through a proprietary process; even the staff don't know if it's dehydrated, freeze dried or made thru an entirely different form of culinary alchemy. Regardless, it can keep at room temperature for up to six months and is delicious whole or ground up.
And it went nicely with their "High Society" cocktail, the brininess of the powdered caviar were a perfect match against the sweet & sour concoction made with gin, green Chartreuse, St. Germaine, rosewater & lemon juice. I also likened it to a liquid tootsie pop, in that I can't wait to finish the cocktail so I can get to that lemon island filled with even more caviar powder.
After that indulgent event, I went to Santa Monica for a little urbanhike around promenade, pier and the mall. (Oh, I also tasted Belching Beaver Co's Peanut Butter Milk Stout, which is weirdly delicious & does indeed taste like a dark peanut butter cup.)

Following the afternoon hike, I went to Beverly Hills for a dinner at Crustacean, which is kicking off its Red Hour, a more intimate, guestlist/invite-only happy hour with food/cocktails specials and live music.
Additionally we also got to try the newest dish from their well-known Secret Kitchen, the Centennial Wagyu Beef - created in honor of Beverly Hills' Centennial. Perfectly seared and rubbed with "An's Secret Spices", what I actually loved most is how well the steak paired with the various accompaniments on the plate, from the smoked shiitake mushroom to the creamy mascarpone polenta and the bright, refreshing squidge of rau ram on top. Also from the Secret Kitchen, their famous garlic noodles.

We also sampled a wide array of dishes from the other House of An restaurants, Tiato & AnQi; my particular favorites are the ones that are more delicate and refreshing, which included the ginger chicken raviolo in a porcini mushroom broth (which I shamelessly slurped from the lip of the bowl) and the kurodai sashimi that's made extra fun with their trio of citrusy accompaniments (kaffir lime ponzu, yuzu'd soy sauce & yuzu granita)...
...and a satisfying dessert of strawberry parfait with rose meringue, jasmine ice cream & thyme gelee. I particularly appreciated how fragrant it was without going so overboard that it resembled perfume & soap (a pitfall of many flowery desserts I've had in the past).

Even though this was a very special case, it just reinforces my philosophy of taking a "just because" day off every now and again. It's good for the soul, and even better for the tastebuds.

Additional photos on flickr set here

Disclosure: the tastings at Petrossian & Crustacean are hosted

70 S Raymond Ave 
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 213-3952

Tom Bradley International Terminal
599 World Way 
Los Angeles, CA 90045
(800) 828-9241

9646 S Santa Monica Blvd 
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 205-8990

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