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Dinner, Santa Monica again

Rustic Canyon - roasted baby beet salad

So many places to eat, so few nights…but the decision was made and off we went to the Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen, 1119 Wilshire Blvd (tel 310 393 7050). I wasn’t sure what we were in for but one dish I ate sent me into raptures and was instantly memorable. As is often the case, the small plates or appetizers on a menu can hold more appeal than a meat-laden assortment of entrees which are largely big pieces of meat with extras. To be fair, Rustic Canyon, has some nice offerings of local sea bass with caponata, whole roasted trout with escarole, currants and pinenuts, pan roasted ‘Jidori’ chicken – which I learnt means a chicken probably given a name at birth, spending its days running free scratching for worms, and generally living a molly-coddled life so it can end up on a menu at $26.00 somewhere.

But it was the roasted baby beet salad that I was after because I was on a mission to eat burrata. Wikipedia tells me burrata is a fresh Italian cheese, made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream, giving it a unique soft texture. But I can tell you more than that: it is the softest silkiest spun ball of num-num you’re ever likely to eat (you can see I’ll never get a job with Wikipedia!). My salad was layered with chioggia beets, that’s the gorgeous little ringed slice of beet you see on top of the salad in the pic, quartered baby red beets, slivered celery and a few celery leaves, which, are nice, in moderation (too many and they taste bitter), sliced crunchy apples, and little nuggets of toasty salty walnuts, and hidden in the middle melting layered globs of burrata. And no, I don’t share. This was all doused with a tangy honey and rosemary vinaigrette. Heavenly. Yes. Beautifully balanced with acidity and hint of sweetness. Yes. All gobbled up, platter licked clean. Yes.

Rustic Canyon - grilled pork chop

My dining companion ordered cappelletti pasta stuffed, and I mean STUFFED full of potato and burrata, topped with a pale rosy-pink sweetish ragu. All rather light, luscious and lovely. Then he ordered the grilled pork chop with slices of roasted pears sitting on little mounds of celery root puree, and chanterelle mushrooms. The pork was cooked perfectly – pink to the centre, juicy and tasty. I followed my salad with ‘mezzaluna’ pasta shapes, stuffed with a filling of sweet butternut which spilled out like liquid gold, and tossed with brown butter and crispy sage. All delicious, no dessert required. The only grizzle was with the wines, some of which we tried by the glass before switching to a half bottle, but the proverbial match made in heaven eluded us this time.

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