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What You're Eating: Fresh Summer Menus


It's summertime – a season that brings mountains of vibrant produce, transformed by the hands of talented chefs into beautiful, garden-fresh dishes. We've showcased some of the best summer dishes where you can taste the flavors of the season, like biting into a juicy peach, sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes, enhanced even more in delightful, creative combinations.

(credit: Liz Laing)

Napa Valley Grille

1100 Glendon Ave #100
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 824-3322

Summer has certainly made its way to Napa Valley Grille, where Executive Chef Taylor Boudreaux creates colorful, vibrant dishes that are clean, fresh and delicious. Even though kale is everywhere, you must try his Kale Chopped Salad with quinoa, toasted almonds, apricot, parmesan, and plump raisins in a lemon-parmesan vinaigrette. Apparently, the salad is so popular that copies of the recipe are kept at the front door, as people ask for it on the way out. Another great choice is the Summer Fruit Salad with peach, apricot, plum, fig, arugula, marcona almonds, tossed in a sherry vinaigrette.

Seafood lovers will find plenty of choices, such as the Wild Alaskan Halibut with sweet corn, Fresno chiles, potato, jicama-pea shoot salad in lemon aioli and the Soft Shelled Crab in a remoullade sauce, with oregano, Spanish olives, and heirloom tomato.

The best dish on the menu is also the winning dish of the Tavistock Restaurant group's Top Chef competition -- Sweet Corn Agnolotti made from house made pasta, buerre fondue and parmesan. Executive Chef Taylor Boudreaux competed for eight months and took home the title with this melt-in-your-mouth vegetarian dish.

On the Fourth of July, the restaurant will commemorate Independence Day with an extended patriotic happy hour (3 to 8 p.m.) featuring rustic small plates and cocktails (starting at $4) alongside all-day specials, such as 50-cent Chicken Wings, $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon and "The Firecracker" cocktail $4 - a layered red, white and blue cocktail reminiscent of the childhood summertime favorite, the Bomb Pop.

(credit: MCafe)


7119 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 525-0588

M Café, L.A.'s popular macrobiotic dining destination, launches a new summer menu this week. Contemporary macrobiotics is cuisine made without the use of refined sugars, dairy, eggs, meat, or poultry, with an emphasis on eating whole, natural and seasonal foods. Corporate Executive Chef Shigefumi Tachibe and Consulting Chef Lee Gross, along with their team, make everything from scratch, ensuring the highest quality and flavor in every dish.

The new menu features globally-inspired dishes with vibrant ingredients, such as the Baja Style M Chopped with avocado, cucumber, spicy black beans, roasted corn, tomato, crispy tortilla strips, and chipotle ranch dressing and the Gado-Gado Tempeh Salad with lemongrass-marinated tempeh, cucumber, carrot, bean sprouts, red onion, cilantro, roasted peanuts, frizzled onions, and peanut dressing. Other summer salads include a Green Papaya, Mango, and Sea Palm Salad; Summer Corn Salad with Applewood and Smoked Dulse; and Red Beet and Hijiki Salad.

Heartier fare can be found in the Teriyaki Tempeh Burger with braised shiitake mushrooms, pickled ginger and cucumber, shredded cabbage, and "vegannaise;" and the Thai Curry Bowl with seasonal steamed vegetables, yellow coconut curry broth, frizzled onions, roasted cashews, cilantro, and lime.

You can actually eat zero-carb, zero-calorie noodles in the M Café Macro-noodle bowl, made with either classic udon or gluten-free, zero-carb, zero-calorie "Miracle Noodles," a protein (tofu, salmon, or black cod), and prepared in a spicy yuzu-miso broth or yellow-coconut curry broth. Tasty, satisfying and zero calorie noodles.

003_CafeDelRey_Kale Pasta
(credit: Cafe del Rey)

Café del Rey

4451 Admiralty Way
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 823-6395

While kale is at its peak of popularity, try its' lesser-known summer cousin, lollipop kale, a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts, now available at Café del Rey with Executive Chef Daniel Roberts' new Summer Lollipop Kale Pasta. Lollipop kale grows on a stalk like Brussels sprouts, however instead of forming tight little mini cabbages, the plant forms sprouts that are open and look like mini kale. The new dish includes freshly made lemon farfalle with baby heirloom tomatoes, baby zucchini, and fresh ricotta, served with a lollipop kale pesto sauce that utilizes the hybrid vegetable's subtle Brussels sprouts flavor and crisp kale texture.

Café del Rey's waterfront location is the perfect place to watch the sunset, reflecting its warm colors against the water below. A daily raw bar and the freshest catches of the day are sourced from local vendors. You'll find oysters, chilled prawns and Seared Ahi with watermelon, prosciutto, tiny greens, and a lemon olive oil vinaigrette.

Other new and notable summer additions from Chef Daniel include: Housemade Agnolotti of Sweet Corn with corn beurre fondue, and roasted corn; Grilled Halibut with fresh chickpeas, corn, capers, roasted garlic, cilantro, and a fresh tomato, cucumber, and melon relish; and Housemade Corn Ice Cream made with sweet yellow corn.

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(credit: Vintage Enoteca)

Vintage Enoteca

7554 West Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 512-5278

Featuring seasonal small plates and boutique wines, Vintage Enoteca, is an Italian-inspired wine bar, that quickly become a neighborhood favorite since opening three years ago. Affordability is a key factor here and owners Jennifer Moore and Danielle Francois (who is also the in-house sommelier) believe good food and wine should be accessible and enjoyed with friends in a casual, intimate atmosphere. The menu utilizes seasonal ingredients paired with interesting wines made from unique varietals and boutique producers. Sommelier Francois has expert (and unexpected) suggestions for wine pairings that complement their sophisticated summer dishes.

Try the Crab and Avocado Salad with lemon basil vinaigrette, paired with a Rose wine from Basque Country, Spain, Hondarribi Beltza/Zuri: Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina Rubentis, 2012. The wine is fresh and snappy with notes of salty lime and candied red fruit-- helping to cut the creaminess of the avocado and complement the brininess of the crab.

Move on to a Sweet Potato Gnocchi with pesto cream sauce and candied pine nuts, paired with a Grignolino d'Asti: Francesco Rinaldi & Figli, Piedmont, Italy, 2011.
The grignolino is a lighter bodied red with light tannins, tart red fruit and a light dusty earthiness. The tannins help cut the creaminess of the pesto sauce and the wine brings out the earthiness of the sweet potatoes and pine nuts.

Even dessert gets paired with wine. Try the Peach Cobbler with a Grenache Blanc/Roussanne: Bonny Doon "Vinferno," Arroyo Seco, California, 2008. The wine is light and fresh with notes of apricot and honey, bringing out the sweet peach flavors in the cobbler.

005B_shrimp & lobster spring roll, pork belly bao bun, tamarind glazed pork rib, chicken dan dan dumpling-1
(credit: Kathryn Russell)


The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles
900 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 743-8800

Chef Wolfgang Puck's WP24 Restaurant and Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles is kicking off the summer season with two promotions for guests to enjoy: the return of the "Four for $24" small plates menu in the sophisticated lounge and the new pre-show "Sunset Menu" in the fine dining room, perfect for those coming to L.A. LIVE to enjoy a sporting event or concert.

In the WP24 Lounge, Chef de Cuisine John Lechleidner's "Four for $24" menu showcases a rotating chef's selection of WP24's signature small plates daily from 5 to 7 p.m., now through Sept. 30. The four tastes can include dishes such as, Pork Belly Bao Bun, Chinese Spare Rib and Tempura Shrimp & Bacon Roll. Guests will enjoy the new menu while taking in the spectacular views of Los Angeles and the surrounding mountains from the 24th floor lounge. Sit back with a drink and try one of the new garden-to-glass cocktails made with fresh herbs from the hotel's rooftop garden. My favorite is the Calamansi Lemonade with Skyy Vodka, Calamansi puree, fresh lemon juice and honey-lemongrass syrup.

In the WP24 fine dining room, guests can enjoy a pre-show "Sunset Menu," offered on evenings from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., when an event is taking place at the nearby STAPLES Center or Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE. The new menu is a two-course prix fixe for $60 per person, designed to afford exceptional service and cuisine, while guaranteeing guests will be out the door in time for the event. A variety of the restaurant's signature items are featured, including Peking Duck Rolls with shredded Peking duck and hoisin dipping sauce; Singapore Style Chili Prawns with fresh crab, fried garlic, chili, scallions, shallots and pickled ginger; and Crispy Skin Szechuan Chicken with snow peas, asparagus and Szechuan pepper salt. Chef Puck's passion for Asian ingredients is apparent, as he brings the taste of the Far East home to L.A. – lucky for us.

Liz Laing is a writer, web designer and photographer who lives in Los Angeles. Her latest projects may be followed on Liz Laing.
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