Sunday, May 14, 2006

Orris: My first encounter with Food

When I was first discovering my newly found love of food, I remember my brother’s friend mention “Orris” as a recommendation for a unique tapas style meal. We did not go but the mystery of the name still lingered in my mind. It wasn’t until recently that upon my daily browsing of other Los Angeles Food Blogs that I decided to make it a goal to experience this place for myself.

Actually making up my mind about something I decided to try to find it and hopefully be able to experience it. And there it was, the blue sign like an answer to a question that I thought I would never get.

Reading the menu, I noticed that this place was unlike any other place I had dined before. I knew I was going to remember this day. As usual I could not decide what to get, but with the help of my dear brother we were able to decide on four small plates.

First we received the anomalous Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Shrimp Mousse fried tempura style with Olive Salsa. Anything that is deep fried always tends to be good and although I am not a big fan of shrimp or olives, I liked this quite well. The shrimp mousse was very fluffy and not too fishy. The olive’s acidity countered the shrimp very nicely. I found the bitter root ends of the squash more to my liking. We devoured this in an instant.

Second, we received a array of what should be the standard of anything that is grilled vegetables that consisted of a duo of really red sweet peppers, Chinese eggplants and Shitake mushrooms flavored with oregano and topped with a mild feta cheese. The sweet peppers natural sweetness were brought out intensely by the perfect caramelization, and evened out by the creamy feta, The chewy eggplants were intensely flavored with smoke absorbed by it’s flesh and also evened out, but the best of all had to be the thick meaty Shitake Mushrooms that even fooled my dad as a piece of steak. It made my brother consider ordering another order of pure mushrooms!

Third, we were served a petite piece of Basil-Marinated Black Cod that was beautifully displayed on a small bed of mashed potatoes next to three little silver dollar- sized pieces of grilled zucchini. This was one of the highlights of the night, the fish was so tender and buttery and tasted like it too, with the crunch of the skin in your mouth. It’s hard to believe this fish was not caught minutes prior. It was leaking with what I thought was a mixture of olive oil and butter.

And lastly (so we thought) came the Lamb Loin Carpaccio infused with garlic and rosemary topped by bitter Aragula leaves and shavings of robust Manchego cheese made from high quality sheep’s milk. Nervous about the blood red shade of the meat, I did not know what to expect. Although it was a new concept for me, I bit into my first piece confident that like everything else that night, was going to be delicious. Everything worked out perfectly as if every flavor was meant for each other, the chewy, natural gamy taste of the lamb, the bitterness of the Aragula and the nuttiness of the sheep’s milk was like a some twisted form of a salad.

Thinking and feeling bad about the bill, I thought that was going to be it for the night. Then daaada,da,da,da,daaaa!! My dear brother pulls me from my depressed thoughts and sets me straight by ordering his Berkshire Pork Medallions with Blue Peppercorn Sauce that he had his eyes on since the beginning. He did not want to leave without trying them and damned he was going to be if he left without tasting them.

After a couple of minutes, the waiter brought us out some warm crusty baguette that I had been craving since the beginning that tasted too much like a Mexican Birote that I’ve had all my life. I was curious as too why he brought it(although I didn’t mind at all) since it only came when you ordered a specific plate. It was then that I realized that the chef had forgot to make the Medallions. And because he probably noticed how fast we engulfed the first couple of plates, he wanted to keep us busy in the meantime and keep us from going crazy.

After that short delay we received our long-awaited Medallions. The smell made me reminisce in my younger years and all those times I would indulge in the artificiality of “Macaroni & Cheese with my secret ingredient…pepper. Remember right before you added the “cheese” and had that aromatic mixture of butter-flavored margarine and 2% milk? yeah, that one. I never thought an animal that has gotten such a bad reputation could be that tender and soft.

Of course, after such a good meal, we had to give in to our hereditary sweet tooth’s and challenge our hereditary fast metabolisms by ending it with the perfect ending. And since I was with my brother, that was going to be anything with chocolate. I did not even put up a fight once I saw Flourless Valhorona Chocolate Soufflé with Coffee Gelato but I did show a huge interest in the ultra-exotic sounding Fresh Fruit Wonton with Yuzu Cream and Caramelized Poached Pear. That was something I would only read about other people enjoying but never experiencing myself.

When the waiter came, my brother ordered his usual indulgence and since we usually share the dessert surprised me and insisted on ordering the Fruit Wonton that I only dreamed of eating. “Fucken Roy” was what I said. Again, he surprised me and just wanted to make me happy. But this time, I did not feel bad. He has made me see that everything that i overthink about was all… just… in my head.

My fantasy dessert came beatifically displayed with the fresh fruit mixed with the citrusy Yuzu cream and the crispy wontons sandwiching them. With the caramelization of fruit that I only saw on T.V. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to partake in this work of art. The fruit was nothing like what I’ve had before. The perfectly ripe blueberries, the perfect sweet strawberries, the crisp poached pear, it was probably one of the best desserts I have ever had in my life. Like usual I couldn’t help myself from tasting everything, so I tasted my brother’s indulgence. It was hard to believe it was not flourless, so fluffy and chocolaty, not sweet…chocolaty. I can’t think of any better combination of the combinationn of ice cream (in this case, Coffee Gelatto) and a pastry (chocolate soufflé).

“I think I just made up my mind about what I am going to do in life.”


“This is the way to eat” were my dad’s words exactly.

2006 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 268-2212

Orris in Los Angeles


isadore said...

tennage gluster.

very happy to hear that orris far surpassed your expectations...and that your interest has peaked on the sawtelle stretch. one other restaurant worth of trying in the neighborhood is 2117. haven't been, but only heard good things. and if you liked orris, violet on pico is not a bad contingency plan...

looking forward to hearing where you head next...

Aaron said...

Even though I was not quite floored by Orris, I do like your review. It's writing like this that gives me confident in your future as a food writer.