Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sunday supper + Monday at Milo & Olive

On Sunday afternoon, I decided to break in my new cast iron skillet (a Christmas present), and started by extra-seasoning it.  I say extra-seasoning because it is the Lodge model that comes pre-seasoned, but I decided that two more rounds of oil + heat couldn't hurt.  A couple hours later, I cooked some bacon - my first time cooking bacon - and then immediately used the grease to bake cornbread (Trader Joe's cornbread mix, not homemade, but it turns out that the mix is quite good).  At the same time, I was simmering a pot of vegetable stew, which I had started by caramelizing a chopped onion and then adding three chopped bell peppers, two minced cloves of garlic, one chopped shallot, one can of diced tomatoes, about a cup of leftover chicken broth, chopped potatoes, some frozen corn, and finally the crumbled bacon.  Hello, stew for the week!

My third project on Sunday was to bake a lemon cake (following Ina Garten's recipe) with Meyer lemons, adding the lemon syrup but omitting the final sugar glaze.  The cake was one way to start using up all the extra salted butter I have in my freezer, the result of overambitious plans to make about 2 dozen jars of salted butter caramel sauce as Christmas presents back in December (so it goes.  I was only able to make 10 jars before winter break.)  Anyhow, four hours later, ta da!  I brought the cake to lab on Monday and it was happily consumed, thanks to one lab meeting, one journal club, and one hungry and enthusiastic undergrad who rows crew.

Cornbread, cake, stew

For quite some time I've been hearing great reviews of the pizza and bread at Milo and Olive, and given that both [great] pizza and bread are worth celebrating, Ivana and I decided to do so yesterday evening.  The restaurant is on the tiny side, with just 8 or 10 bar seats and two communal 8-tops, and there are no reservations, but fortunately on a Monday night we were immediately seated.  (That said, I've heard that wait times for weekend brunch get pretty insane.)  The interior reminds me somewhat of Girl And The Goat in Chicago, with a high ceiling, wood beams, and plenty of dark gray.  There is also a wall covered in framed drawings that are rather cute:

Being "moderately hungry" but wanting to save room for dessert, we ordered the sauteed kale, gnocchi with pesto and peas, and the pork belly sausage pizza.  The generously-portioned kale offset the smaller portion of gnocchi, but both were prepared very well. The kale was flavored with lemon and what I thought was pepper, but was actually "pickled Fresno chili" (from the menu).  The gnocchi was sweeter, with lots of Parmesan, a sprinkling of toasted bread crumbs, and a bed of basil.  Our pizza came out last and was definitely one of my favorite pizzas in Los Angeles, if not very favorite.  Both Ivana and I thought it was somehow "better" - or perhaps just more pizza-like and less flatbread-like - than the pizza at Pizzeria Mozza.

Pizza + the last of the kale

After further reflection, I decided that what Milo and Olive got so very right was the texture of the crust: a crunchy exterior, soft and chewy interior, no scorched bubbles, and no greasiness (after all, the cheese and sausage provide quite enough richness).  The middle of the pizza was kind of soggy, which could be a criticism, but I didn't mind.

A closer look at the crust.  Perfectly browned!

To finish, we shared a piece of vanilla pear tart: thick vanilla custard with poached pears in a rustic, flaky crust.  It's fortunate that we got one of the edge pieces (the tart is baked in a large rectangular pan), because much like the pizza crust, the tart crust was exemplary for its category.  So good, in fact, that when I saw a corner piece was still available as we headed out, I decided to purchase it.  That tart piece ended up serving as an evening pick-me-up for a friend who is currently exhausted on her internal medicine rotation, fulfilling my belief that dessert should make people happy.

Looking forward to returning to Milo and Olive for more baked deliciousness!  Speaking of baked deliciousness, or rather, its potential unhealthy effects, since getting back from break I've been trying the "Seven Minute Workout" concept that's gotten some press lately.  The idea is that for seven minutes a day, every day, one exercises at high intensity for 12 30-second intervals with 10 seconds of rest in between.  There are handy apps to prompt you and also remind/guilt you if you haven't exercised yet that day; I use the one with a blue icon just called "Seven."  We'll see how it goes!

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