Tuesday, June 2, 2009

FoodDigger Dinner @ Church & State (Los Angeles)

Church & State

To say I've been slacking is an understatement. What's better for my "comeback" post than the dinner I had @ Church & State hosted by FoodDigger

Various outside shots of Outside Church & State (one of the sous chefs caught me taking a pic @ top)

During my dinner @ Urasawa a few months back, I met Will and Brian of FoodDigger and was told of an upcoming dinner event planned at Church & State, and being the curious foodie that I am (or at least try to be), I was definitely interested. Even though I've never used FoodDigger previously, as I was wasting my time using Yelp, I've definitely heard a few bloggers post there and it seems to be dedicated for people that are interested in food instead of a site full of douchebags trying to use it like "eHarmony." Safe to say, I'm very interested in what FoodDigger had to offer and of course, dining with a few Los Angeles food bloggers was just icing on the cake!

Along with the FoodDigger group (Marshal, Will, Eddie, and Chris), joining me at Church & State were kevinEats, gastronomy, Kats9lives , weezermonkey, Pepsi Monster, i nom things , and LA and OC Foodventures. We were prepared to feast on the menu prepared by Chef Walter Manzke, formerly of Bastide and all the wine were picked by the Sommelier, Josh Goldman.

Floc de Gascogne

As one of the later arrivals, I was not able to get a shot of the bottle of the Floc de Gascogne, but the white wine served on the rocks with an orange peel was refreshing and delicious! This drink was meant to be paired with the Gougeres (shown below)


We were started off with a plate of gougeres, or puffs made of Gruyère cheese. Creamy, and slightly salty, but delicious. Quite a good pairing with the Floc de Gascogne.

2008 Hughes Beaulieu

Beignets de Brandade de Morue (Cod Fritters)

Iced Kumamoto Oysters

Following up the gougeres, we were presented the second wine pairing of the above 2008 Hughes Beaulieu to go along with the Beignets and the Kumamoto Oysters. The Beignets were made of cod, potatoes, and we had a saffron aioli to use for dipping. The beignets were delicious and paired wonderfully with the Hughes Beaulieu. The kumamoto oysters also went along with the wine shown above. The kumamoto is probably my favorite type of oyster, as I prefer the smaller oysters for its sweeter taste compared to the larger sized varieties. The oyster, with a dash of the red wine mignonette was delicious.

2007 Domaine des Persenades

"Bistro Sushi"

Gambas à la Niçoise

Following up the oyster was the "Bistro Sushi," which was smoked herring with fingerling potato salad. The saltiness from the herring meshed well with the slight tang from the potato salad. The second dish that went with the 2007 Domaine des Persenades was the Gambas à la Niçoise. The spot prawns, from Santa Barbara, was lightly cooked and dressed in olive oil, lemon, and various vegetables was delicious. Both dishes went well with the wine pairing as the prawn was definitely fresh and tender. Definitely, one of my favorite dishes of the night.

N.V. Terres Dorees FRV100 (Sparkling Gamay)

Assiette de Charcuterie (From Top: selection of artisian and housemade pâté, rillettes de porc with prune confiture, terrine de foie gras with port-wine gelée)

First of all, I'd like to say I really enjoyed this particular sparkling Gamay. I almost enjoyed it as much as the V.Sattui's Gamay Rouge that I purchased in Napa recently (I bought half a case, so let me know if you want to drink it with me sometime =P ). The meat selection in the charcuterie were good, but nothing spectacular. Yet, the hit of the night, at least for me was the foie gras. Even though I had some fine foie gras at Urasawa and my recent trip to Montreal, the terrine de foie gras was delicious. Along with the brioche and pickles, it was fantastic. Hell, I probably could have finished 2 of those canisters if I wasn't watching for my cholesterol.......And as mentioned earlier, the FRV100 sparkling gamay was a delicious fruity wine, perfect on a nice summer afternoon.

2007 Domaine Boisson

Asperge à la Tashiro

Escargots de Bourgogne

This dish was name after Marshal, the co-founder of FoodDigger , as he donated the lobsters used in the particular dish for the evening. (Note: This dish was only available for this particular evening) The lobsters, from Maine, along with Hog Farm's Asparagus was fantastic. Being a fan of seafood, and like the prawn from the dish from above, was definitely very fresh. This dish wasn't just aesthetically pleasing, it was delicious! The 2nd dish with the wine pairing was the escargot, and it was actually the first time in my life having escargot. Baked in garlic and parsley butter, the escargot was soaked in the garlic butter goodness. Simple, yet wonderful at the same time. The puff pastry, similar to a baked french onion soup was used to soak up the buttery sauce. Honestly, I could use one of these RIGHT NOW!

2007 Maupertuis La Guillaume

Flamenkushe (w/caramelized onions, bacon, and Gruyère cheese)

This dish was similar to a thin pizza, but quite delicious with the ingredients used. However, the most interesting part of this course was the wine pairing. This particular wine (the 2007 Maupertuis La Guillaume) had a distinct taste that even until now, I'm not quite sure if I enjoyed it or hated it. Whatever my feelings towards the wine may be, the taste of the wine did complement the richness of the flamenkushe quite capabily.

2007 Domaine Cros de Romet

Moelle de Boeuf (Roasted Bone Marrow)

I don't think this dish needs much explanation. The rich, buttery taste of the bone marrow spread onto some crispy crouton bread with some parsley and onion to balance the fatty taste from the marrow. This dish was so good, Will was practically eating the marrow off the bone (Sorry for exposing you out to the public on this one Will!). In fact, I liked the Moelle de Boeuf dish here better than a similar dish I had at L'Express in Montreal.

2006 Domaine Etxegaraya

Steak Frites

If there could be any "disappoint" in the meal, this simple steak frites might be it. The pommes frites, cooked in lard was terrific (of course, lard makes everything tastes great, doesn't it?), but the steak was slightly overcooked, thus it was a bit tough and chewy. However, the meat was flavorful and had I not had the other magnificient dishes ahead of this one, I might not be so "disappointed" with it.

Julien Fremont Cidre Brut Par Nature

Dessert (Crème Brûlée, Cherry Tart, Apricot Tart, Croustade aux Baies, Pot de Crème au Chocolat)

The desserts offered at Church & State were pretty standard, but none really stood out in my opinion. I was happy to see Crème Brûlée offered as it's probably my favorite dessert in general. The wine pairing for the dessert course was also slightly strange. I was expecting a more crispy, fruity taste in terms of the cidre, but it was more earthy than I expected. Not bad, but just slightly surprising upon tasting it.

Chef Walter Manzke at work

Church & State seems to have gained much steam since the arrival of Chef Manzke. I hope that this place will continue to thrive and the dishes stay at this calibur. There are many other dishes on the menu that I wouldn't mind trying, and I've heard great thing of their cocktail selection at the bar. Located at the old Nabisco factory, Church & State is definitely not one of those hipster restaurant located in West Hollywood that's more known for their celebrity sightings, rather, it's known for it's quality French Bistro cuisine, at a fair price. Great job Chef Manzke, I look forward to trying your other dishes at a later date.

Again, this dinner would not have been possible without the gang at FoodDigger. You've made new bloggers like myself feel welcome and I look forward to contributing and seeing the site grow over time. I liked the ideas you guys brought up during the dinner, and I'm waiting for it to launch so I could add it to my reviews.

My FD Profile

My dinnermates that has already chimed in on their 2 cents about the Church & State Dinner:

KevinEats (thanks again for taking such meticulous notes)
i nom things

Church & State
1850 Industrial St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 405-1404

Church & State on Fooddigger


kevinEats said...

I can't believe that was the first time you've had escargot! It won't be your last.

Kung Food Panda said...

Hey Kevin, remember I said Urasawa was the first time I had foie gras? Since then, I've had it like 6-7 times (of course, going to Canada helped quite a bit). I've tried rabbit for the first time during my trip and squab (non-Asian) style too. Lots to post, but so little time!

Derek said...

The dining guide of restaurants in LA. Cover all restaurants in LA, with their menu and price. Best place to find famous restaurants for dinner or lunch today!s

Gastronomer said...

I like your site's new look; it's a very calming color scheme. And I hope this means you'll be posting on a semi-regular basis ;-) C+S was a dream. Thanks again for the lift!

cocochanelella said...

This event sounds so fun and full of alcohol. This place looks interesting. I like the charcuterie looks wonderful especially the pate. You guys sound do a road trip to SF and do an event ;)

Jackie (citynitz) said...

Yum, I want to try this place now.

Kat said...

Great review and the photos look awesome. ^_^ I am going to be taking umm notes from your site which I guess was aided by the fellow dining mates. Haha thank you everyone when I umm eventually get to this. It was great meeting everyone and it was a wonderful meal.

I can't believe you have never had Foie Gras Danny! If you still hadn't had it, we can't be friends! haha I can forgive escargot b/c I don't particularly like it. You must have had black or white truffles before us right? **gasping while waiting for the answer lol**

It was super generous of Food Diggers to organize this event and great to meet them too. Can't wait until our next foodie adventure at Providence this weekend ^_^

Kat said...

oh yah I forgot to comment on your "Yelp" love haha.. yes they are eHarmony rejects... heck eHarmony is crap too lol

Kung Food Panda said...

Derek: Thanks for the link

Gastronomer: Thanks, I think this is a bit more mellow than the green background I had before. I'm still tinkering, but I like this. And yup, my goal is to do 5-7 posts (at least), per month. I was slacking...

cocochanelella: the event at Church & State was part of a back to back to back dinner a-thon...I think only Gastronomer and I completed that...

Jackie: I'd go back, let me know if you want to check it out for your blog =P

Kat: Thanks, and ya, definitely aided by the menu we were given and notes of Kevin. I've had enough foie gras in the past 2 months to last me a lifetime. I think every other meal in Canada had something to do with Foie. Besides, I went to Au Pied de Cochon...to answer the truffles question, I've had truffle oil, does that count? LOL @ Yelp and see you at Providence!

igigsti said...


Kat said...

Truffle oil is a step.... lol Thanks for inviting me to Providence. At least I got you to try truffles there lol. Although they weren't the most fragrant and aromatic, but it's a start. Don't worry, eating with us will lead you wonderful truffles ^_-

hahah yah.. yelp... lol

princesskittykate said...

Just drop you a "HI", and this is the first time reading your blog. Love your pictures... ;) Kungfood Panda huh... HEHEHEHEHEHE

Kung Food Panda said...

Gigi: Thanks!

Kat: I need a truffles tasting menu, much like a foie gras tasting I had in Montreal.

PK: Thanks for visiting and congrats on your new blog!

Aaron said...

Nice write-up. Besides The U, this is the only other "fancy" restaurant you've reviewed on your blog so far. I can tell that your writing is developing very well

Kung Food Panda said...

Aaron: Thanks. I have a lot to learn, but it's a work in progress. I need to get my posts from Canada up, as those will be more of the "fancy" dinner, in addition to Providence.