This week (and this upcoming week of Jan 31- Feb 5) was restaurant week in Los Angeles. This means that some of the restaurants around the city are participating in an event called DineLA where they offer special, three-course set menus at a special price. I took advantage of this to take in a lunch at Spago. The restaurant was lovely, the food was delicious, but I have to say that the highlight of the meal was meeting Wolfgang Puck himself. He made the rounds of the dining room and patio several times, shaking hands with guests and even sitting down a few times to chat. I think that I was the first to break out a camera, but I was certainly not the only one in the restaurant who wanted to capture the moment and many cameras popped out as he posed with diners. I was a little flustered (perhaps the food blogger’s equivalent of being slightly starstruck), but found him to be nothing by incredibly friendly. Also, for the record, I think that he looks much younger in person than he does in photos and on TV. Lest you think that he was only making a show, he also went back to the kitchen (my table shared a glass wall with the kitchen) to work on the food.
Lunch, as I said, was a three course set menu, although there were three options each for appetizers, mains and desserts. I tried Oxtail Tortellini and a Celery Root and Fuji Apple Soup from the appetizer options. Both were excellent, but the finishing touch of caramelized Fuji Apples on top of the thick, creamy soup made it my favorite of the two. As a main, I ordered a Roasted Rack of Kurobuta Pork. The pork was beautifully cooked – crisp on the outside and tender and juicy in the center. The reduction sauce on the plate was amazingly flavorful, and all the accompaniments – alsacien style cabbage and some chunky, homemade rosemary applesauce – were both very good.
Dessert was just as good as the two courses that preceded it. I tried both a duo of Farmer’s Market fresh fruit sorbets and a Black Forest Pudding, a dessert much more complex and tasty than the simple name might suggest. The fruit sorbets were made with pears and peaches, both tasting light and very intensely of their respective fruits. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the berries accompanying them were absolutely perfect and paired well with the sorbets.
The Black Forest Pudding consisted of a layer of rich, moist chocolate cake, topped with a thin layer of juicy cherries and a thick layer of a very chocolaty chocolate pudding. The pudding was topped with a marshmallow-like fluffy topping, crisp chocolate cookie crumbs and a small scoop of a very intense chocolate sorbet. For a dessert with so many components, it tasted so simple because the flavors went so well together. It was, of course, delicious, and my only regret was that I just couldn’t bring myself to finish the huge serving because I was too full.