Ludo Lefebvre's berserk approach to food is the attitude equivalent to the most staunch punk of rockers: loud, ballsy, down for his shit (craft of cooking), and just not giving a fuck what you think...at all; Cook brash, Eat Hard! (punk food version of the punk manifesto "Live Fast, Die Young!")
...Probably the reason why I heard they gave him the boot as Bastide, but so what? Conformist society most likely will not take too kindly to the raw, uncensored creativity that you have to offer it, such as Ludo's. I myself have learned this the hard way through life experiences and consciously abiding by the punk way of life, much like Ludo's approach to food. Like countless punk song anthems (not to mention Ghandi) say, D.I.Y! (Do it Yourself) man...it's the only way.
Well, look at him now. Like Mattatouille pointed out yesterday in my post dinner buzzed, flurry, "The epicenter of L.A food at the moment". Props earned, exorbitantly. Working from a bakery kitchen probably smaller than the average house's and doing molecular gastronimized food that would probably cost 2-3x as much in any other food establishment...touché Monsieur Ludo!
The homies over at Fooddigger somehow convinced him to do an exclusive dinner for us, and this was it. Only reading about his stuff since his premier last year, I was ecstatic to finally have the pleasure of experiencing.
In true honor of Fooddigger, there were to be no shortage of drinks to take the food to another level, still.
Being the first one here, this got my social skills running a little more smoothly, I think.
First flight of night, Naia from Spain, a delicate White to open up the palate, subtle citrus in color and taste.
Before dinner commenced, Ludo himself came out and introduced himself, thick, charming French accent and all...
First taste was up, an Amuse-Bouche of his sorts.
"Deconstruction of Bloody Mary"--[with celery root purée, tomato cocktail ice and vodka gelee]. "Tastes exactly like a Bloody Mary?!" was heard around the table, strong alcohol taste and all, soft tomato ice reminded me of a Clamato tomato cocktail, celery root hit that starch food comfort spot with intense celeriac flavor.
"Tuna Sashimi, Sushi Rice Ice Cream, Shishimi Togarashi"--[crispy onions, sesame oil and Soy: A Tuna Sundae? ha, ha]
Oddly as it may sound (won't be the first time I say that tonight), that sweet-vinegar taste of sushi rice carried over quite well to Ice Cream metamorphosis. 7 spice signature blend of traditional Togorashi--including orange peel & ginger--cut right through richness of high-grade Tuna. Fried crispy, onions almost never fail with anything, including this. Sashimi was a little nippier than usual, but then again, ice cream has its demands whenever called out to duty...
"Chorizo, Onions, Cornichon"
Unlike others who menu out exact detail, Chef Ludo could care less of his vague menuing, he gave us the main idea, but that was it. For the first time ever, I had to pull out the old pen and pad and...work. Touché Monsieur Ludo again!
[this photo thanks to fellow alumni: Wesley of Two Hungry Pandas)
Spanish Chorizo in a chilled creamy soup with spicy, onion, cornichon ice--that's more like it. Again, weird sounding but worked, a curious favorite, deft hand at recreating chomping on a nitrite, salty paprika spiced whole Chorizo sausage, literally. Spicy cornichon-onion ice showcased his renown way of contrasting flavor here, nicely briny and spicy.
King Red Salmon [Cube], Smoked Vinegar, Watermelon, Mint
Smoked vinegar subtly recreating classic lox in the least of ways, fatty king salmon almost gamy in flavor, was told to eat watermelon/mint right after--think if was compressed, flesh more vibrant than usual, nonetheless did its job of cutting that lingering game taste. Rich fish with watermelon is getting popular, I guess.
Shrimps, [Daikon] Sweet and Sour, Rosemary
Whoa! Chef Ludo definitely showing off his fearless butter immune French upbringing here, hardcore. The sauce must of been at least 1/2 portion butter, what a caramel would taste like if it decided to go completely savory. Shrimp was just a tad, tiny bit overdone, but with that sweet and sour, almost complimentary. Rosemary did it's contrasting thang as usual.
Foie Gras Tart, Lemon Paste, Mushrooms, Four Spices [White Truffle Gelee]
When all proportionally equal in one bite, almost transcendent in all around texture and flavor. Really brave and unusual to use raw mushrooms, but bland meatiness seemed sublime against the decadent duo of truffle and liver, probably had more Foie Gras in that generous layer of it than I've had as a whole in my entire life.
fragile crust and gelee were the alleviatingsweet components to round out the richness onslaught of truffle/foie, caramelization was nice. Bitter, astringent lemon paste on the complete opposite side of the spectrum; opposites attract.
Someone mentioned that Ludo isn't heavy into Wine pairing with his meals, and I can see why. It was evident that he had mastered recreating those similar pairing qualities that wine provides in all of his dishes, already.
Diver Scallop, [shredded bacon] Port, Crème Fraîche [Foam]
Cooked barely past the sear mark, browned edges with a sweet, cream interior. Bacon's smoky power tamed with that cool Crème and port gang-up, admirable.
Halibut, Spiced Butter, Fresh Porcini, Tonnato Style, Lettuce
Ludo paying homage to his classical French roots here. Completely emulsified Tonnato warm, dressed up mayonnaise--did it's tartar sauce like effect it does to wide-flaked fish. Lettuce cooked through sous vide 'gastrobag' method with the most fruity of olive oils was the antithesis in this jovial celebration of flavor.
Duck, [vanilla?] Almond [brittle crust], Crispy Skin Puree, [Kalamata] Tapenade, [seared] Turnips
Naturally, duck breast is actually slightly leaner (more easily to turn dry) than chicken, but when cooked this perfectly rare, that is not a problem at all. That almond crust was toasted and toffee like in texture, but not as sweet as you would expect it to be. Madasgar low-sugar vanilla bean powder perhaps? Barely got a squirt of that skin puree but that is all I needed. Tapenade added deep salty, fruity tones. Even that hockey-puck like slice of toughened Turnip seemed glorious here, hard earth!
Pretty hazy by this point in wine paired meal, but will always remember Ludo's 'Duck, Duck...Goose! style description of cheeses. From right to left: Goat (Brin D'Amour), Goat (Epoisse, Goat (Affinois , SHEEP (Etorki, COW (Valdeon Blue Cheese) ! Yes, yes, yes, that hard rinded sheep was particularly funky, it's unique, feet smell reminded me of my aunts homemade stuff, probably kept raw.
The crucial difference that makes this cheeseboard unique--far above many in L.A--are all those sweet, counter-accoutrements on the opposite side of each cheese that Ludo makes himself, from right to left: toasted hazelnut, licorice Praline-like spread, Edible Honey Comb, Apricot Rosemary sauce, a date/fluer de sal/ butter puree I think and last, (trusting my palate entirely here so feel free to clarify) candied, grapefruit gelee?
Little piece of godhead known as fresh baked bread and this amazing, utterly amazing, lightly sweet Lavender butter accompanying it was kept untouched by Ludo's radical ways. Just cannot mess around with something as rustically beautiful as good cheese and bread.
Appreciating my metabolism to the fullest, I went bite after bite with pretty much every possible combination. All I have to say is, I can't believe this satisfied me equally--if not even more--than the most decadent of desserts, didn't think that was possible but...there you have it.
A-ha! I knew he wouldn't let us off that easily.
Panna Cotta, Caviar, Caramel
Awkward sounding but totally playing off that well-liked sweet and salty harmonizing adoration: chocolate covered pretzels, popcorn & milk duds, fleur de sal and caramel and now...panna cotta and caviar. Smooth, each flavor eloquent in its poise and all brought gracefully together by that burnt sugar, heavy cream-boosted caramel; perfect example of how confidently far Ludo Lefebvre's radical, french-rooted approach and exceptionally avant garde habits have gotten.
Was an added treat to see his reactions when he found out he was the only one subtitled on Top Chef Masters, his live commentary while he competed with a pig ear quesadilla vs. Rick Bayless's snd his Tongue Taco was also pleasantly spicy....
Ludo Bites (@ Breadbar)
8718 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
The rest of the chosen ones:
Two Hungry Pandas
Kung Food Panda
Diana Takes A Bite
No hard feelings if I forgot you, this is already an addendum as it is, so please drop me a line if I forgot you...