Thursday, July 2, 2009

FoodDigger Dinner @ Ludobites (Los Angeles)

Ludo Bites
Kung Food Panda!

After experiencing the dinner
at Church and State hosted by FoodDigger, I was definitely looking forward to what dinner at Ludobites has to bring, especially doing a tasting there the week prior.

Front of Breadbar

Picture courtesy of kevinEats

Upon arrival, I saw some familiar faces, as well as a few bloggers I've yet to meet in person. As we chatted amongst ourselves, Marshal, Brian, and Will of FoodDigger discussed with us a few of the new ideas and projects FoodDigger was working on. One project was the FD icon that shows up at the bottom of my blog posts, and the other was a Flavor Match system that matches food compatibility with various bloggers/foodies on FoodDigger. One thing that I enjoyed about discussing with the FoodDigger crew was that they do listen to our ideas and do make the necessary changes if needed.

As the wine began to pour, we were welcomed by Ludo Lefebvre , who has previously worked with the famous French chef Pierre Gagnaire as well as leading the kitchens at Bastide, among others.

Chef Ludo <span class=Another shot of Chef Ludo

After speaking with Chef Ludo on the previous visit, I found him funny, enlightening, and definitely passionate about cooking and creating excitement with his dishes. Soon after, we were given our first course.

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1. Deconstruction of Bloody Mary

The first course, deconstruction of Bloody Mary was bold, yet refreshing. A mix of vodka jelly, tomato puree and a celery ice cream recreated the taste and flavors of the famous cocktail served on a spoon. Simply delicious, I knew that night, I was in for a treat!

Bread from <span class=

Honey Wheat Bread (from Breadbar) and Ludo's own Lavender Butter

The bread and the butter were both delicious, it's too bad I was saving my appetite for the dinner, thus I only had 2 slices of the bread.

Tuna <span class=

2. Tuna Sashimi, Sushi Rice Ice Cream, Shichimi Togarashi

This course was one of my favorites of the night. A fresh cut of tuna covered with fried shallots, sushi rice ice cream, and shichimi togarashi, the Japanese 7 spice pepper. The sushi rice ice cream might sound unique, but eating it with the tuna matched perfectly. The shallots and the shichimi togarashi complemented the dish quite beautifully.

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3. Chorizo, Onions, Cornichon

I'd have to say this was one memorable dish. I'd never imagine having chorizo in a soup form, topped with the aforementioned cornichon and onions. It's surprisingly refreshing, as the soup was served cold, and the cornichon added a nice contrast in flavor. At the end, it was quite addicting and I wish I used some of the bread to soak up the remaining soup.

King Salmon/Watermelon

4. King Red Salmon, Watermelon with mint and smoked vinegar

This was one dish I had the previous weak that I was on the fence about, but the 2nd time proved to be a charm. We were instructed to eat fresh salmon, salmon roe (ikura) first, then finish it off with the watermelon cube and mint. The saltiness from the roe and the salmon were immediately offset by the sweetness of the watermelon and the refreshness of the mint. Quite simply, a terrific combination. I was happy to try it again and come up with a different conclusion this time around.

Shrimp, Sweet & Sour
Shrimp, Sweet & Sour

5. Shrimp Sweet and Sour Emulsion Rosemary

Another item I had previously, but I liked even better this time around. The freshness of the shrimp was definitely telling, topped with the sweet and sour sauce, lemon zest and rosemary. It's definitely one of my favorite dishes of the night.

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6. Foie Gras Tart

The foie gras tart served on a maple syrup crust topped with mushroom and truffle oil with a side of lemon paste. Going over the ingredients, there's almost no way this dish could be bad, and it wasn't, as it was probably my favorite dish of the evening. Even though I've been eating more foie gras than dim sum these days, I thoroughly enjoyed the dish and loved the flavor combination of the maple syrup, foie gras, and the mushroom. This dish is simply a must order item!

Diver Scallop

7. Diver Scallop

The scallop was served in a bed of sauce consisted of port, creme fraiche, and caramelized onions. The scallop itself was cooked to perfection and the sweetness of the scallop was noticeable. However, although the sauce wasn't bad, it did not help bring out the flavors of the scallop.

Halibut again

8. Halibut in spiced butter with porcini mushrooms

The halibut, cooked in Tonnato style was simply delicious. The fish itself was moist and the spiced butter and porcini mushrooms added a different dimension to the taste. While it wasn't my favorite dish of the night, it was definitely very solid.

Duck <span class=

9. Duck with almond

If there was a dish that I wasn't too keen on that night, this was probably it. It's probably a case of "It's not you, it's me," I'm not a fan of olives, and the tapenade didn't enhance the taste of the duck for me. The duck itself was cooked to perfection and quite good. I probably should have left the sides alone, but the almond and the crispy skin puree was quite lovely.

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Cheese Plate

10. Cheese

I have to say usually the cheese course is rarely my favorite, with the exception of the dinner at Toque in Montreal for me a few months back. However, I was pleasantly surprised and excited about the cheese platter served at Ludobites. Thanks to, here was a list of the cheese matching on the platter:

Brin D'Amour - Toasted Hazelnut with Licorice
Affinois - Honeycomb
Epoisse - Apricot Paste with Rosemary
Etorki - Date puree, butter, fleur de sel
Valdeon Blue Cheese - Pink grapefruit gelee

I personally really enjoyed the bleu cheese and the pink grapefruit gelee, as well as the epoisse and the honeycomb combo. I have to say it's one of the better cheese platter I've had to date.

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11. Panna Cotta with Caviar

I have to say, I'm saving the best thing for last. It's not because I have a sweet tooth and love dessert of most kinds, but panna cotta with caviar? Really? The combination might sound a bit atrocious at first, but it does work, and boy, does it work well. The mix of sweet and salty was definitely the theme here and the saltiness of the caviar matches extremely well with the panna cotta and most importantly, the caramel sauce. If I was given 12 dishes of this particular dish, I'd leave a very happy Panda.

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Like with all FoodDigger dinners, we were treated very well and had plenty of wine to drink, as shown above. The wine pairing were magnificent as Brian made some really nice choices in regards to the pairing.

After dinner, we were treated with a special viewing of Top Chef Masters with Chef Ludo, as he was competing that night on the television. Even though the dinner was enjoyable, being able to watch and see Chef Ludo react during the show was truly memorable.



Again, a special thanks to Chef Ludo, and Krissy for such a fun experience. I'm definitely coming back soon, especially the fact the menu do change (for the most part) every two week. Also, thank you to Marshal, Brian, and Will of FoodDigger for such a fun experience and the invitation. I thought Church and State was memorable, but I think you guys truly topped yourselves. I look forward to more improvements within the FoodDigger website and the tools for us bloggers to use. Merci!

Fellow bloggers in attendance:

Alli of

Cathy of

Diana of

Fiona of

Javier of

Kevin of

Pam of

Sook of

Victor of

Wesley of

Ludobites @ BreadBar
8718 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 205-0124

Ludo Bites at Breadbar in Los Angeles


Princess Kitty said...

nom nom nom.. nice post Danny. ;)

citynitz said...

Lovin the pics =) Now teach me!

weezermonkey said...

Best pics I've seen of the night thus far. We'll have to see how Kevin's turned out. Tee hee hee.

Gastronomer said...

Gonna have to agree with Weez, your pics are looking HOT! The bloody Mary shots are excellent.

Diana said...

FINALLY, another foodie/blogger who doesn't like olives!! I think we should start a club. :)

Nice seeing you again!

FoodDigger said...

It was definitely great having you. Ludo's dishes were all so thought provoking and creative! I'm going back tomorrow...gotta get me some panna cotta and caviar!


Kung Food Panda said...

PK: Thanks PK, we need to go back again soon!

Jackie: LOL, there will be a fee!

Sharon: Thanks, now you're giving me some pressure. I do want Kevin's lens though for the Canon. Sigma 28mm.....

Cathy: Thanks! :) I accredit the better help with my new Flickr acct too =)

Diana: For reals. I'll eat olives, but never liked the taste. I always ask for a twist instead of olives in my martini....

Will: Thanks again for the invite, and now you're making me jealous. I'm definitely going back again before they close shop at the Breadbar.

kevinEats said...

I believe you've switched the accoutrements for the Epoisse and Affinois. ;)

Ravenous Couple said...

great review..after reading yours, sook, and gastronomers we def want to try this place...ludo seems so personable and really fun on top chef masters, even if he flamed out in the end..

mattatouille said...

seriously danny, great photos! no need to get another lens or camera, stick with what you have, especially with these results.

Kung Food Panda said...

Kevin: Did I? I'll blame the Gastronomer for that was in her email =P

Ravenous Couple: Ya, it's a great place! Check it out before it closes on Aug 22nd, but Ludo will probably have his place soon in Los Angeles...

Matt: Thanks man! I'll scoop around for various lens, but for now, I'll keep on shooting with the 50mm prime.

kevinEats said...

Yeah, notice how the honeycomb is the third item in the photo. ;)

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Kung Food Panda,

Thanks for the nice review of Ludobites. :) Sounds like you had a great time and the food was generally successful. I'll have to visit this soon before they're gone.

yutjangsah said...

nice review. i forgot about the wines. thanks for the reminder. : )

Wesley said...

Great review and photos Danny. I see you are putting that 50mm to some good use. We need to fix this olive-disliking-disorder of yours...hah.

See you at the event this Saturday!

Kung Food Panda said...

Kevin: Ya, I totally missed that. It was a pretty good cheese plate though! :)

Exile Kiss: Ya, I think Ludobite is definitely worth the visit, esp the menu changes every 2 weeks!

Sook: I was going to write about the wine, but got lazy and just did a collage style thing on the post instead...

Wesley: I'm tempting to upgrade to a 28mm, but the 50mm will do for now :) Olives, well, I like it better than bitter melon and durian if that's better =P See ya Sat!

kevinEats said...

Just one more change. ;)

Epoisse - Apricot Paste with Rosemary
Affinois - Honeycomb

Wesley: Danny's been eyeing my Sigma!

Wesley said...

I too have been eyeing a 28mm Sigma because of the macro focusing distance - can't go wrong. Just remember, it's an investment =).

Kung Food Panda said...

Kevin: Changes made! Thx

Wesley: Kevin is right, I'm looking at the Sigma 28mm macro and the regular Canon 28mm EF. What do you think would be a better "food" lens??

Wesley said...

I would probably go with the Sigma. Sigma lenses are cheaper and at this price range I think they are more well constructed. The focusing distance on the Sigma is just under 8 inches and the Canon is 12 inches. For close shots of anything (sushi comes to mind) the macro function would be great.

On the flipside - Canon USM lenses (with my experience) focus better in lower light conditions and they are a lot quieter.

I have to do some more reading =)

Aaron said...

I can tell you're really enjoying your camera and you're getting pretty good with it. I'll just put my six-year-old point and shoot down and rely on my writing to get the point across. There are much better food photographers among the bloggers.

Kung Food Panda said...

Wesley: I'm strongly considering getting the Canon 28mm, but I'll do more research myself. Next year, if I do splurge, I'm gunning for the 24-70mm 2.8L. If I'm gonna be set with Canon for life, I might as well go with the best zoom lens they have to offer. Yet, I'm hoping they'll have an IS version of the 24-70mm L. I can wait :)

Aaron: I do enjoy the dSLR, but there are A LOT better photographers than me, I'm a newbie. That said, I'm gonna buy a P&S soon as the dSLR is a pain to drag around everywhere I go, esp around SGV...

Unknown said...

droooooooooool i'm so excited to try it out.. FOR.THE.FIRST.TIME.EVER

Kung Food Panda said...

Jin: I think it'll be a blast! :P

Pandalicious said...

damn, all his food is soooo pretty! good write up.

Kung Food Panda said...

Pandalicious: Thanks :)