Saturday, April 18, 2009

Food Bloggers Invade STK

Abby from Pleasure Palate had a wonderful idea to gather a gaggle of food bloggers for dinner and drinks at Hollywood hotspot STK. I’m already a fan – so I was excited to go. One of the fun elements of the evening was putting faces with (blog) names. For example, I finally got to meet the Teenage Gluster with whom I’ve been corresponding for a few years, and remain impressed that a high-schooler
(back when he started his blog) could have such passion for all things culinary. You may wonder why I used this blurry photo of the group... Some bloggers prefer to remain "incognito" so I didn't want to expose anyone's "secret identity."

Food bloggers and cocktail bloggers obviously have a lot in common. (How many other people at a dinner whip out a camera as each course arrives - to take photos of the food and drinks instead of the people?) It was also interesting to me, as the only "official" cocktail blogger in the group, to see how people outside the liquor industry relate to alcoholic libations.

Food writers, in general, are not always schooled in mixology, so to say that writer likes or dislikes a drink is fair enough. However, when someone is comparing Classic Cocktails (ala The Varnish, Cole’s, Doheny, Seven Grand and other downtown classic cocktail spots) with Pablo’s self-proclaimed “Calif
ornia Fresh” style --- they are comparing apples and oranges. Maybe one prefers apples or oranges – and that’s fine. But, I don’t think its fair for someone outside the spirits profession to simply not like a drink and deem it a bad drink. (They are also not allowed to make “bans” on terms like "mixology" or "mixologist"… But I digress.)

Our STK dinner menu was carefully thought out by Chef Todd Mark Miller, and paired with cocktails by Pablo Moix, a head mixologist for the One Group. Pable paired some of the drinks ‘on the fly’ which speaks to his talent behind the bar. The dozen or so bloggers piled into side-by-side tables – and the dishes began rolling in like a gorgeous Southern California tidal wave of food.

My favorite starter dishes were the Tomato 4 Ways and the Roasted Beets with coriander, micro mint, yogurt and curry. We also had a Jumbo Lump Salad and a simple Arugula salad with apples.

The La Cienega cocktail (corzo silver, lime juice, cucumber slices, mint leaves) came with the above starters, which was a great choice because a blanco (silver) tequila opens the appetite and the fresh lime and mint get the stomach juices moving.

That was a good move because next up were succulent Lil’ Big Macs (Japanese Wagyu beef) and a buttery, fresh California standard: Tuna Tartare.

With this course came the Capsicum Mojito (bacardi, lime juice, mint leaves, bell pepper rings). Bell pepper is becoming a popular ingredient in cocktails these days and I like the freshness with both the tuna and to cut through the fat of the beef in the Lil’ Big Macs.

Of course, STK is all about the meat. The Cowboy Steak was to-die-for (pink yet slightly charred) even without the 8+ accompanying sauces. I skipped the Organic Chicken (why eat chicken when steak is on the table?) but I did try a sliver of the Red Snapper topped with ponzu and shitake brown butter.

I loved Pablo’s Great Gatsby – essentially, his version of a Sidecar featuring Hennessy, cointreau, lemon juice, orange juice. I thought the cognac and steak were a natural combination, and the drink wasn’t overpoweringly sweet. This would have also been fantastic with the chicken, had I tried it. I wouldn’t put it with the fish… but then I rarely have anything other than white wine with fish…

I found the Mac&Cheese rather bland – but the Sweet Corn Pudding is pure, sinful, food-porn ecstasy at its finest. It could easily be on a dessert, its so good (and fattening). Do I have to say anything about the thickly cut, crisp yet juicy Parmesan Truffle Fries? I didn’t think so.

Pablo’s dessert drink was the STK's Delicious (patron xo, raspberries, mint leaves, lime juice). Of the cocktails, this one was my least favorite, only because I found the coffee flavor in the Patron XO a little overpowering. I believe this could be remedied by pulling back on the quantity of the coffee tequila liqueur, or by adding more mint and lime, perhaps. Either way, I found it very creative, and I am always willing to try something new.

Of course, all of this leaves me with baited breath (and a hearty appetite) for next week’s dinner at One Sunset. I haven’t been there for a while and really enjoyed it when it first opened. It will be interesting to see if it continues to live up to the hype… If its anything like STK, we are in for another little bite of blogger paradise.


Food, she thought. said...


I was so thrilled with Pablo's cocktails, I attempted to recreate a couple at home last night. I did the Green Intensity, substituting gin for vodka (unanimously requested by my guests). I didn't get the balance of serrano chile & basil quite right until the third round. WooHooo!

I also tried to imitate the wonderful La Cienega later in the evening, but it was nothing like Pablo's. I will need to revisit this one again with a fresh palate.

I personally did not hear anyone complain about the drinks nor the use or overuse of the term mixologist. You must have gotten an earful while you were table hopping. Nice report and see you Tuesday! said...

I had a great time at STK and am really excited to have met the food blogger community.

The reference to the "mixology ban" pertains to a post a few months ago - and not made by anyone at our blogger dinner. I can't help but feel that sometimes the bartenders / mixologists don't get a fair shake by some of the food writers, so I guess I took this opportunity to make a statement about that.

I think it is super cool that you were inspired to make Pablo's cocktails at home. I'm sure he would take that as a huge compliment!!

Looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday! It was a fun group and I hope we will have more opportunities to mingle.