Tag Archives: Lemon

Hirozen Gourmet – a local sushi joint that is anything but ordinary

Hirozen Gourmet is a perfect example of why you can only find the best sushi in the U.S. in Los Angeles. Located in a mini-mall on an average corner of Beverly Blvd. (here, actually), Hiroji Obayashi’s 20 year old restaurant puts out consistently excellent food with a creative and colorful flair. I have enjoyed the delights of Hirozen many times and have never had anything but a great meal.

Obayashisan’s philosophy is “food is for the human relation,” meaning that a meal is the connective tissue of society around which one creates a gathering of people to share their lives with one another. His food expresses his philosophy in the way it surprises without demanding center stage, delights without showing off and sublimely satiates without overpowering. In a city of many options for outstanding sushi, Hirozen Gourmet enters its third decade still standing out from the crowd.

Cucumber sunomono - sliced cucumbers, seaweed and shoots in rice vinegar with lemon; a light, refreshing start to any sushi meal

Cucumber sunomono - sliced cucumbers, seaweed and shoots in rice vinegar with lemon; a light, refreshing start to any sushi meal

L-R: Tai - japanese snapper with sea salt and mint; Loup de Mer w/ yuzu-kosho and sea salt; Dorado - French Snapper w/ sea salt

L-R: Tai - japanese snapper with sea salt and mint; Loup de Mer w/ yuzu-kosho and sea salt; Dorade - French Snapper w/ sea salt

L-R: Blue Fine Tuna with soy sauce and wasabi; Hirame with ponzu and green onion

L-R: Blue Fine Tuna with soy sauce and wasabi; Hirame with ponzu and green onion

L-R: Tasmanian Sea Trout with ponzu and scallion; Aji - spanish mackerel with fresh ginger and scallion; White Salmon with scallion; the best trio of the meal, 3 smokey, creamy delicious pieces of fish

L-R: Tasmanian Sea Trout with ponzu and scallion; Aji - spanish mackerel with fresh ginger and scallion; White Salmon with scallion; the best trio of the meal, 3 smokey, creamy delicious pieces of fish

Albacore Clear Roll - albacore, avocado, mango, cumcumber in clear rice paper

Albacore Clear Roll - albacore, avocado, mango, cucumber in clear rice paper

Another highlight, the Wagyu - grilled sake-kasu japanese beef - was perfectly cooked tender, and delicately seasoned sweet and salty

Another highlight, the Wagyu - grilled sake-kasu japanese beef - was perfectly cooked tender, and delicately seasoned sweet and salty

L-R: Kampachi - amberjack (or baby yellowtail) with yuzu-kosho; Mirugai- jumbo clam with mint; Yari-Ika - fresh squid with ginger; a return to light and citrus flavours

L-R: Kampachi - amberjack (or baby yellowtail) with yuzu-kosho; Mirugai- jumbo clam with mint; Yari-Ika - fresh squid with ginger; a return to light and citrus flavours

L-R: Spicy grilled yellow tail with scallion; Uni - Santa Barbara Sea Urchin; Unagi - fresh water eel with eel sauce; finishing the meal with a tour of flavors, from rich to briney sea to a savory, sweet, grilled dessert

L-R: Spicy grilled yellow tail with scallion; Uni - Santa Barbara Sea Urchin; Unagi - fresh water eel with eel sauce; finishing the meal with a tour of flavors, from rich to briney sea to a savory, sweet, grilled dessert

La Bucaccia – A family run jewel under the Tuscan sun

About an hour’s drive south of Florence, in the southern Tuscan province of Arezzo, high in the hills near Lake Trasimeno, site of Hannibal’s great defeat of the Roman Army under Gaius Flaminius in June 217 B.C., lies the commune of Cortona. Founded by the Etruscans, Cortona is known by the expression “mother of Troy, grandmother of Rome” due the myths which connect the town to the founding of both of those great cities. More recently, the commune is famous for being the setting of the book and film Under the Tuscan Sun.

Exactly 1782 years and 2 days after Rome’s defeat by Hannibal’s armies, Sasha and I, along with our dear friends Cosimo, Christine, Domenico and Angelina, arrived in Cortona.

Of all the Etruscan gateways to Cortona, there is only one that remains intact, the Porta Bifora, called “La Bucaccia” or “evil hole”. La Bucaccia owes its fame (and its name and closure until 1996) to 1258, when the citizens of Arezzo and the exiled Cortonese Guelphs entered Cortona through this gateway and sacked the town.

Porta Bifora "La Bucaccia"...the "evil hole"

Just up Via Ghibellina from the Porta Bifora sits a stunning example of Tuscan cuisine at its finest, Hostaria La Bucaccia. This restaurant, heretofore overlooked by Micheline, is sure to one day receive the star it well deserves. Run by Romano Magi and his exceptional, master chef of a wife Agostina, with ample help from their adorable daughter Francesca, La Bucaccia is not only the best restaurant in Cortona, but of all the places we ate on our Italian tour, it was my favorite.

Romano and Agostina Magi and Chad

Romano and Agostina Magi and Chad


La Bucaccia - Sign
Entrance to Hostaria La Bucaccia

Entrance to Hostaria La Bucaccia


The interior of La Bucaccia is the former cellars of the 13th century Palazzo Cattani

The interior of La Bucaccia is the former cellars of the 13th century Palazzo Cattani


Cinghiale Paradise - wild boar sausage, prosciutto con melone, salame, finocciono with apricot, and bresola with apples.  You sure can't get this in the US.

Cinghiale Paradise - wild boar sausage, prosciutto con melone, salame, finocciono with apricot, and bressola with apples. You sure can't get this in the US.


Carpaccio of black pork with fresh greens and balsamic

Carpaccio of black pork with fresh greens and balsamic


Tagliatelle with fresh black truffle, fresh ingredients perfectly cooked with that wonderful truffle flavor

Tagliatelle with fresh black truffle, fresh ingredients perfectly cooked with that wonderful truffle flavor


Sant’Egidio style chestnut Ravioli filled with ricotta and sprinkled with mint flavored porcini mushroom sauce

Sant’Egidio style chestnut Ravioli filled with ricotta and sprinkled with mint flavored porcini mushroom sauce


Pappardelle with wild boar ragu; savory and sweet, rich and delicious, this is a classic cortonese/tuscan dish that perfectly captures place and transcends time

Pappardelle with wild boar ragu; savory and sweet, rich and delicious, this is a classic cortonese/tuscan dish that perfectly captures place and transcends time


An up close look at one of my favorite pasta dishes ever: pappardelle al cighiale ragu (wild boar)

An up close look at one of my favorite pasta dishes ever: pappardelle al cinghiale ragu (wild boar)


Sliced steak of black pork in a peppercorn sauce - an Agostina speciality

Sliced steak of black pork in a peppercorn sauce - an Agostina speciality


Grilled steak with lemon

Grilled steak with lemon


Grilled steak topped with a smoky bacon flavored sauce

Grilled steak topped with a smoky bacon flavored sauce


Grilled steak in a sweet red wine reduction sauce

Grilled steak in a sweet red wine reduction sauce


Chocolate cake with cream and chocolate sauce

Chocolate cake with cream and chocolate sauce


Tiramisu

Tiramisu


Strawberry gelato

Strawberry gelato


Biscotti perfectly compliment Vin Santo as a way to finish a great meal

Biscotti perfectly compliment Vin Santo as a way to finish a great meal


Vin Santo "La Bucaccia" riserva 1977 shown with the decanting pourer
Vin Santo 3 ways, all of them delicious

Vin Santo 3 ways, all of them delicious


In this small but well equipped kitchen, Agostina makes magic happen

In this small but well equipped kitchen, Agostina makes magic happen


In Agostina's kitchen, with husband and partner Romano and sous chef

In Agostina's kitchen, with husband and partner Romano and sous chef