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Karen Salkin Out to Lunch

         Restaurant Reviews and Commentary from Karen Salkin
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TASTING PARTY


High up on the things I love is a well put-together event. It can come in many forms, but Mr. X always asserts that good food makes the party. I agree, but only to a point. You can have incredible cuisine with the wrong mix of guests. It’s always a balancing act. But, excepting the odd scenario such as hosting David Beckham, in which case what you serve is beyond secondary, people always remember the vittles.

I recently attended a private mini-food-fest and must laud some of the restaurants who participated. It was interesting to try one dish each from several different establishments, instead of having just a single caterer. I had previously dined at these restaurants, and sampled the products from the food purveyors, so it was fun for me to try them all together. It was actually a good mix.

Everything was available at the same time, so you could have a sandwich, then a sweet, and back to real food whenever you wanted. Each dish had something great about it. Here are what I consider to be the highlights of the event:


DELIBOYS

The winner for most generous platter was DeliBoys from Manhattan Beach. They served assorted sandwiches of roast beef, pastrami, and two kinds of turkey, all on many different types of bread, which made it fun. Besides being absolutely delicious, they all had huge portions of meat, which is always appreciated. None of those “2 slices of bread with one thin piece of meat” types here! The event was for about thirty people, and DeliBoys was magnanimous enough to provide sandwiches for about sixty! Always good to know that a caterer will not skimp on your party.

I ate them all on rye bread, and used some of the mayo that the Boys were smart enough to put in dishes on the side, along with mustard. There’s nothing worse than going for a deli sandwich as the party wears on, and finding it all soggy from the condiments the chef automatically puts on beforehand. Always remember that “on the side” is the way to go at events.

The pastrami was great dry. And all these meats were beyond lean, just the way I like them. (Just ask my teen-age friends who spent many a late night sitting around for an extra hour while I pulled all the fat off my food. Thank goodness DeliBoys did it right to begin with or this could have been one of those long evenings. For everyone.)

DeliBoys

451 Manhattan Beach Blvd. Manhattan Beach 310-796-0203 http://www.deliboys.com



TUMARO’S TORTILLAS

For those who were either vegetarian or wanted a blend of ingredients in a “no plate necessary” treat, there were wraps made from Tumaro’s Tortillas, in the most fabulous combinations! My favorite was the Roasted Red Pepper Tortilla with goat cheese, alfalfa sprouts, baby spinach leaves, and candied pecans. How do they come up with these?! As great as the fillings were, the highlight was all the different flavors of the tortillas themselves. Who knew there was anything outside of the usual flour or corn???

Some of us got packages of the most special ones to take home and play with ourselves. I can’t wait to make dessert wraps from the honey wheat ones. (They carry flavors specifically for dessert, such as Apple-Cinnamon, but that would make it too easy for me.) All of Tumaro’s Tortillas are trans fat-free, so I won’t feel guilty filling them with Nutella and bananas. And they’re Kosher too, and come in soy, low-carb, and healthy flour varieties, so I can share them with just about everyone I know. But don’t plan to.

Tumaro’s Gourmet Tortillas

http:// www.tumaros.com



CUBE

Since I never feel that my opinion is the only one out there, (just the most important!), I have to tell you what the most popular item was, though I didn’t get a chance to try it myself. It was Black Truffle Pizza from Cube. The host told me they come frozen and you heat them in the oven for only about six minutes because they’re par-baked. They looked like they had just arrived at our table in an upscale restaurant! Totally impressed this crowd!

Cube is a cafe/gourmet marketplace, so you can pick-up their pizzas anytime you need to impress emergency guests. At the event the other night, I heard the word “Cube” being shouted out every couple of minutes because each time someone new tried the pizzas, he or she inquired from whence they came. After a while, the entire assemblage was calling it out! It sounded like a new game.

Cube
615 N. LaBrea Blvd. Los Angeles 323-939-1148

http://www.divinepasta.com



CIALUZZI’S

There was one dish that looked yummy, but alas, only a few of us got to try because the hosts under-ordered on this one. Pity, since it’s from a place I’ve favorably reviewed on my show in the past, so I know the food is great, though I didn’t get any at this party. It was Baked Stuffed Shells from Cialuzzi’s in Redondo Beach.

I’ve heard that the owner, Charlie Byrd, had become a major caterer to the sets of shows such as “Friends,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and “ER,” and I was looking forward to trying his pasta again, which I know is made from dough he rolls fresh daily. Only about one-third of the guests got to sample the shells, but those few said they were delish. I’ll try to do a full review of the menu in the near future, so we can all know what I missed.

Cialuzzi’s
601 N. PCH Redondo Beach 310-374-8581

There were many sweet treats, but two stood out.


BROWN PAPER CHOCOLATES

I actually recommended these liquor-laced lovelies for Valentine’s Day last week. I was very glad to see the hosts took my advice and served them in a clever way. They had a “chocolate station” set up on cutting boards. There were no fewer than six blocks of these heavenly combinations of ingredients at one time. They put out a chunk each of milk, dark, and white chocolates per cutting board, with the Brown Paper Chocolates box, that lists the ingredients, above each one.

(For example, one board had milk chocolate with cashews, Jack Daniel’s, caramel and fleur de sel, dark chocolate with pistachios, Cointreau, dried cherries, and orange peel, and white chocolate with candied strawberries, balsamic syrup, Marsala wine, and mint. Whew! Even writing it is a mouthful.)

There was a paper from the company suggesting we shave off slices to sample them all. Along with the knives, there were a couple of Bread Mitts, which you placed your hand into to hold the chocolate chunk in place, so that no one was touching the actual food! Brilliant move, I thought. (Okay, I must fess up; that touch was totally my idea because the thought of eating something everyone had touched was not a pleasant one. If you want to copy my idea, and don’t have a Bread Mitt handy, you can put out a box of food service gloves.)

We were supposed to vote for our favorites, but they all seemed to be equally divided, with the darks and milks being more popular than the whites. (I was happy to see that because I’ve always hated white chocolate because it’s not chocolate. Let’s just call it what it is--sugar!)

But I digress. The Brown Paper Chocolates station was really fun and a real ice-breaker, not to mention delicious. It became kind-of a meeting place, and was a welcome treat for the guests who left before the dessert bar, which of course, I didn’t.

Brown Paper Chocolates

http://www.brownpaperchocolates.com



HAMPTON POPCORN

I discovered this great popcorn, in a crisp blue and white striped tin, at the Liberace Emmy Suite in September, so I was familiar with it before the party that all this food was served at. (Sidebar: I’m going back to the Liberace Penthouse next week for the Oscar Suite this time, so I hope to find more fabulous goods to share with you.) Hampton Popcorn comes in several sizes, which is great for all gifting purposes.

These hosts proffered a giant three-flavor tin, along with a scoop and individual cardboard popcorn boxes, so guests could carry around what they wanted to eat, without people dipping their hands back into the community property. (Sounds like a germaphobe party, actually!) I noticed that the kettle corn went faster than the chocolate-caramel crunch and the chocolate-peanut butter crunch, possibly because of all the other chocolate at the event. And I heard that the company has lots of other flavors, too, so maybe at the next function, we’ll get to sample those.

The Hampton Popcorn Company
http://www.hamptonpopcorn.com 888-947-6726



And lastly, I feel really full having just written this a week after the fact, so I hope it’s not having the same effect on you reading this! Maybe next week, I’ll review a training sesh, and we can work it all off together.

The next taping of “Karen’s Restaurant Revue” is on February 21st at 6:30PM. If you’d like to join Karen’s studio audience, please feel free to contact her at 310-203-1414.



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