Monday, September 12, 2011

Takeout with Nancy Silverton

As I was sitting at the Mozzarella bar at Osteria Mozza the other night, I was telling Nancy Silverton how much I loved the chicken at Pollo a la Brasa and how I had just written a blog about them. I knew she was a fan, and she immediately one-upped me and told me she has this routine—first she picks up a chicken at Pollo alla Brasa and then goes to Carousel, the amazing Armenian restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard, to get side dishes to go with the chicken.
She invited me along with some friends to come over for dinner and try it out. I was beyond curious as to how these sides would fare with wood-roasted chicken, but I was sure Nancy knew what she was doing.
I arrived to a table Nancy had set up in her beautiful garden. With the outdoor fireplace blazing, I glanced over the amazing array of side dishes she'd laid out, each more mouthwatering than the next.
Nancy asked her friend Jason to stop at Sunnin Lebanese Café, to pick up some dishes there so we could compare. I couldn’t wait to dig in. I loaded my plate with everything—hummus, tabbouleh, mutabbal, muhammara (made with walnuts and red peppers), labneh harrah (a yogurt cheese with pickled peppers, tomatoes and olive oil) and, of course, the chicken and some pita. It was all sublime.
I thought the sides from Carousel were pretty amazing, and the dishes from Sunnin were good as well, especially the fattoush salad, made with tomato, onion, cucumbers, toasted bread and sumak. Nancy had this down, and as she was putting out the final offerings, she said, “No dishes, no mess.” A perfect dinner party.

Then she upped the ante with some of Manfred Krankl’s Sine Qua Non wines, including the estate grenache and syrah. The grenache was mind blowing. I'd aways wanted to taste it, and sure enough, it was the best grenache I’ve had outside of France. The syrah was right up there, too.
Nancy was right: It’s a perfect dinner to throw together—a meal you couldn't improve on if you had made it yourself. I can’t wait to try it at home. Pollo alla Brasa, 764 S. Western Ave., 213-382-4090; Carousel, 5112 Hollywood Blvd., 323-660-8060; Sunnin, 1776 Westwood Blvd., 310-475-3358.

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