And Then There’s Maude

So, we completed our first full day in town with a splendid dinner at one of the hottest restaurants in town – Curtis Stone’s Maude.

Maude Biz Card.jpg
Maude’s business card

The first thing you need to know about Maude is that – unless you plan extremely well in advance, and are extremely lucky, or are related to Chef – your chances of getting in are going to be very challenging. That’s because the footprint of the restaurant is relatively tiny with less than 10 tables, and the online reservation system only opens up about a month in advance and tends to sell out within hours. In our case, we threw ourselves upon the mercy of Christine (a member of the concierge team at L’Ermitage), and she did us proud. As we’re in town for only 4 days, not only did she get us our desired date but, also, our desired time of 8:00 PM. Thank you, Christine!!

Maude - AAC
AAC CPA arrives at Maude

Maude Dining Room
The action in the dining room on a Friday night

Maude serves a multi-course menu which is built around one “star” ingredient and changes monthly. Already this year, Chef has created menus around carrots, potatoes, pistachios, radishes, garlic and, for this month, it’s cherries. Menu prices have been between $125 – $150 per person and are paid in full (plus 18% gratuity) at the time of booking. Beer and wine are offered with dinner and, if you like, you can choose either a “classic” or “reserve” wine pairing at, respectively $115 and $150 per person. Because we are such cheap dates, AAC CPA and I elected to share the premium pairing. It actually worked out great on all counts.

Once you are seated and asked if there are any dietary issues of concern, then the fun begins. The menu is not presented to you until the end of the evening so as not to ruin the element of surprise. Even looking at the menu during the Uber ride back to the hotel, it does not do justice to the experience. The wait staff is excellent and very welcoming and your fellow diners are convivial. Everyone seems happy to be there and to be sharing the experience.

I would have liked to say that I can faithfully recollect everything we ate, but that would be a bald-faced lie. I did take a lot of pictures of the various courses, which I’m happy to share with you, but I don’t recall now all the preparations and ingredients, but I’ll do my best. Mega apologies to Chef and his team. At the very least, you can enjoy seeing the food and the presentation.

Maude Cherries & Fois Gras
Cherries and fois gras sitting on a light cracker

Maude Jicama
Jicama, lovage, elderflowers, cherries

Maude Omasum
Omasum (a/k/a tripe), porcini, anise, cherries 

(NOTE: So glad we didn’t know what we eating before we ate it – suffice it to say that each bite was a singular sensation.)

Maude Marcona Almond Soup
Marcona almond soup with cherries

Maude Sturgeon
Sturgeon, which was somehow smoky, in a cherry glaze

Maude Abalone
Abalone with beans, miso and basil and, of course, cherries 

Maude Squab
Squab with beets, nasturtium and poached cherries

Maude Parfait
Served with the squab, puff pastry atop something really good!!

Maude Clafoutis
Following the cheese course, clafoutis with cherries

Maude Petit Fours
Followed by petits four

Maude Scones
Still hungry? Cherry scones to take with us.

One of the best parts of the experience is that, although we ate something like 10 courses (I forgot to include pix of the pasta and cheese courses), by the end of the almost 3-hour meal, we were comfortable and entirely satisfied. The progression and size of each course wasn’t excessive but was entirely sufficient. It’s my favorite kind of dining experience: you get to try a lot of things and not feel as if you have to be carried from the table.

So, if you’re planning to be in Los Angeles – or if you live here – check out Maude and try your luck at scoring a reservation. For most of us, you’ll be saving it for a special experience, but you’ll have a very memorable evening.

CULINARY TIP: Maude

California, Here I Come!

Yes, fellow travelers, it’s time to hit the road again. After a 2½ hour delay on the ground, AAC CPA and I are midway between the right and left coasts, winging our way via American Airlines to sunny Los Angeles.

There was no real explanation about why we were so delayed at JFK this morning. There was, apparently, a huge buildup of planes that were unable to take off. Yes, it was raining, just a bit, but is that any excuse? Geez, Louise.

AAC
AAC CPA settles into AA #1 bound for Los Angeles

So, we finally took off, libations were served (Bloody Mary’s, Tito’s on the side, please) which, for some inexplicable reason, were accompanied by biscotti. Where are my warm nuts??

Then there was a bruschetta omelet, accompanied by sausage, fresh melon and a biscuit. I was hungry, and it was tasty (enough).

Now I want to tell you about our itinerary for the next 11 days. We’ll be in Los Angeles – a much maligned town, if you ask me – for the next 4 days. Then we’re flying up to San Francisco and motoring to the wine country – Yountville (in the Napa valley), to be precise. After a few days in that paradise, we’re spending a long weekend in San Francisco. We’ve made this trip many times – it’s our annual west coast swing – and we couldn’t enjoy it more.

So what will we do for fun? There will certainly be a lot of eating; in fact, our dance card is filled every night with some very interesting dining establishments. I’ll tell you about them as we go along, but I’ll give you a little preview of our dinner tomorrow night:

We’re going to a place called Maude (“and then there’s Maude!”), which is this very hot restaurant in Beverly Hills. Helmed by chef Curtis Stone (“Top Chef” and “Around the World in 80 Plates”), the restaurant features a set multi-course menu that changes monthly. Each menu features one “star” ingredient: for June, it’s cherries. From what I’ve heard, we’re going to have a pretty fine experience.

Curtis Stone
Curtis Stone

DINING TIP: Maude

There will also be some culture on this trip. For instance, tomorrow morning, we’re going to LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) to see one of two Mapplethorpe exhibitions which are currently on view in the Los Angeles area. (The other is at the Getty.) As Mapplethorpe’s art was somewhat divided into two camps – as I imagine the exhibitions will likewise be – it’ll be interesting to find out which one we’re going to get. Stay tuned.

Mapplethorpe-01
Mapplethorpe by Mapplethorpe

CULTURE TIP: Mapplethorpe at LACMA

We’ll be staying at our favorite local hotel, L’Ermitage, located on Burton Way in Beverly Hills – just a few short blocks from Rodeo Drive, in fact. When we were last there – almost exactly a year ago – the place was in the midst of a major renovation, which was completed some months ago. At that time, we were shown a model of the new guest rooms, and the hotel has stepped up its game in providing a luxe experience for its lodgers.

L'Ermitage

TRAVEL TIP: L’Ermitage

We’ve also made a pretty dramatic decision regarding our LA sojourn: for the 1st time ever, we’re not renting a car but, rather “Ubering” our way around town. We’ve had friends who say it’s the only way to go. Between car rental fees, valet parking and hotel parking charges, this has got to be a good deal, right?

So that’s our little trip in a nutshell. Now it’s time to watch a flick, so I’ll stop here. I’ll be back soon with reports on our travels. Keep an eye on this space and have a lovely day.