Monday, January 24, 2011

Traif - Restaurant Review and Rockband Party

My friend Kim had been ranting and raving about this restaurant in her 'hood called Traif. 
Traif meaning non- kosher (in Yiddish)  is owned by a dynamic duo of a team, Chef Jason Marcus who is Jewish and his non- Jewish girlfriend Heather Heuser. They wanted to make their restaurant an ode to the forbidden foods in Judaism. You can see this theme throughout their menu that is filled with a bounty of pork and shellfish dishes. 

Personally, this dichotomy intrigued me since I grew up in a home where my father is Muslim and my mother is Catholic. Although in Catholicism the dietary restrictions are experienced mainly during lent, in the Islamic religion, alcohol and pork products are strictly forbidden all the time. And even though in my family we all have different beliefs, we still observe not eating any pork out of  "respect to my father". 

Traif's delectable items are meant to be shared. But don't call them tapas because they're not. It may look like a duck, walk like a duck and quack like a duck but it's not a duck. The difference between Tapas and Traif's sharing plates is size. The portions are slightly larger than your typical tapas.

Bacon Broth amuse bouche of bacon broth with chives

Autunm salad apples, cranberries, greens, bacon, maple pecans, blue cheese 

The Autumn Salad was crisp, light and delicious. The apples and cranberries added a nice element of sweetness and texture. The maple pecans brought a rustic charm. The blue cheese and the parmesan cheese shavings added a creaminess to the perfectly dressed salad. This was a satisfying salad and a nice way to start off our mini- feast.

Spicy Bigeye Tuna Tartare tempura eggplant, kecap manis

Spicy Bigeye Tuna Tartare tempura eggplant, kecap manis

OMIGOSHH!!! Let me try and describe this without drooling all over my keyboard. The only thing that comes to mind when looking or talking about this dish are cheesy pick up lines... because.. I never thought I'd ever say this but they are completely accurate descriptions of how I feel.
"Did it hurt? When you fell down from heaven?" or "Are your feet tired? Cause you've been running through my mind all day?" Sad. But true.

The Spicy Bigeye Tuna Tartare is in my top ten favorite appetizers of all time. The elements that make up this perfectly blended dish are succulent pieces of tuna, coated in a mildly, spicy sauce resting on top of a crunchy piece of tempura eggplant and drizzled with kecap manis. Kecap manis is a sweet soy, Indonesian sauce. It is sweetened with palm sugar and has notes of star anise, caramel and or garlic.

This incredible dish has quickly become my new favorite thing to eat! Honestly, sometimes I wish I hadn't eaten it because I haven't stopped thinking about it ever since. It has become an albatross that hangs around my neck, torturing me with its deliciousness.  All I can say is if you like food then EAT THIS!!

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe roasted portabella-­-truffle toast, fried egg

Creamy, savory, salty, those are the first sensations that you experience with this dish. The portabella, truffle toast added the most amazing earthy, grounded flavor. The cream sauce that was on top along with the fried egg that oozed its beautiful, golden yolk when you cut it, had my tongue feeling like it had been submerged in a waterfall of creamy delights. The Broccoli Rabe added a nice crunch and combined with all the other components of this dish made me feel like I was at home on a cold day, curled under a warm blanket watching the snowflakes fall.

Rock shrimp salt-­-pepper rock shrimp, sweet potatoes, pineapple, long beans 

On the outside the Rock Shrimp had a light, crunchy coating. On the inside the shrimp were sweet, and plump. The pineapples, and sweet potatoes added a sweetness and contrast in texture. The pineapple chunks were a little warm and firm. The sweet potatoes were tender and a beautiful orange color on the inside. The long beans were perfectly cooked with a crunch. And as the final touch everything was lightly coated in a midly, spicy sauce that tied the whole dish together. This dish is definitely an addictive, crowd pleaser. 

Duck Confit Lettuce Wraps banana-­-tamarind, cucumber salad

The Duck Confit lettuce wraps were good. The Cucumber Tomato salad cut the richness of the duck confit very well. The butter lettuce held up to the wrapping action and added a nice buttery, fresh after taste. The Banana tamarind was also tasty but I wish there had been more because I ran out of it quickly.

Escolar white snake mackerel, dashi broth, long beens, potatoes, tomatoes

Escolar white snake mackerel, dashi broth, long beens, potatoes, tomatoes

Chef Jason brought over a special treat for us. I suppose that's what happens when you roll with VIP regulars like Dave and Kim. Plus I was looking very L.A. in honor of the LA themed party we were heading to after dinner, so I'm sure he thought I was "somebody".

Dave has been to Traif over 75 times since it opened less than a year ago; and Kim has been there about 50 times. I must say, now I see why. I would eat there everyday if I could, especially since the menu is always changing. I just hope they don't take the Spicy Bigeye Tuna Tartare off the menu.

The Escolar was perfectly cooked as you can see in the picture above. It had a sweet flavor almost like cotton candy. The dashi broth, a Japanese broth, is the base of most soups, like miso. The tomatoes, long beans and potatoes absorbed the rich flavors of the broth and melted in your mouth, releasing all the heavenly juices. The playfulness of the Escolar and the depth of the Dashi broth played together in my mouth like a young child and his grandfather.

Bacon Doughnuts dulce de leche, coffee ice cream

Bacon Doughnuts dulce de leche, coffee ice cream

Bacon Doughnuts dulce de leche, coffee ice cream

So I must put in a disclaimer since I don't eat pork, as I mentioned earlier, Heather and Jason were super nice and substituted fleur de sel doughnuts for the typical bacon doughnuts. The doughnuts were delicious. They were fluffly and light and reminded me of beignets from Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans. The Dulce De Leche caramel on top was amazingness. The coffee ice cream added a nice cold texture and rounded out all the salty and sweet flavors of the dessert.

Petits Fours small pineapple confection
Traif is incredible. It's great for families who just want to enjoy each other's company, or couples who want to go for a date night. It's also a great spot to have a party with your friends or your ritual weekly meeting. With dishes sure to please everyones' palate I think you will probably leave saying the wise adage "Everything tastes better with bacon."

After we finished dinner at Traif it was off to Kyle's going away Rockband party. The Rockband party was L.A. themed so I went for the laid back musician/actress/model/ DON"T YOU KNOW WHO I AM look.
All in all it was a fabulous dinner fit for a true rockstar!!!

Rockbanders Unite

Kyle the Host - who's moving to LA

Kicks Kim (on the left) and Aisha Foodista (on the right)

1,2,3,4 We Are T.U.S.U.Y.

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