W magazine April 29th, 1990
…at Michael Mina’s XIV

In 1990 I did a play in London called Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. OK, I admit I was obsessed with food even when I was acting! W magazine did this article about me at the time… which has absolutely nothing to do with this blog entry other than it makes a great lead-in to a fabulous dinner I was treated to earlier this month at Chef Michael Mina’s XIV…his 14th restaurant which opened here in Los Angeles last January.

My friend Cheryl Jagoda came down from San Francisco for The Silver Spoon Dog & Baby Buffet where she was promoting her gourmet pretzel company CJ’s Stix (crispy pretzels rolled in chocolate and toffee…mmmmm mmmmm good!) with her friend Leann. The event certainly made for interesting dinner conversation that only LA could inspire…other vendors included Yoghund….organic frozen yogurt for dogs, Lisa Leonard silver jewelry for dogs, and one I may have to check out for my own pup (if just for name and fashion reference alone)…Daisy Couture.

My Daisy

Cheryl wanted to thank me for having them stay at Bates Motel (my married name is still legally Bates), so off we went for an 11 course tasting menu at her friend’s restaurant. To start, the service at this place is friendly and absolutely impeccable. All the staff seemed to take great pride in the menu and were very knowledgeable about the local sources of the food. The place itself, decorated by Phillipe Starck, has a very warm…homey feel to it…complete with comfortable easy chairs, fire burning in the fireplace, book cases, and silver picture frames scattered throughout.

I have a weird frame of reference when it comes to judging a restaurant superficially…the bread has to be great (it was…quite possibly the best naan I’ve ever had), and the bathrooms must be pretty and extremely clean. My only criticism of the place was the bathroom, while clean, was a bit drab and lacked the ambiance of the rest of the restaurant.

The menu has something for everyone…including a large selection of vegetarian and vegan delicacies as well as Kobe burgers with fries. My favorite part is that you can order alla carte, chefs tasting menu, or either an 8, 11, or 14 course tasting menu of your own choices….you can imagine my excitement…a little of everything! Well almost everything… Our culinary adventure began with…

Hamachi Sashimi with Pickled Strawberries…followed by…
Heirloom Beets with Burrata, Wild Arugula, & Aged Balsamic with New Olive Oil…
Mushroom Tortellini with Truffle Vinaigrette & Root Vegetables…
Sea Scallop Tempura with Cauliflower, Passion Fruit, & Almonds…
White Asparagus Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms, Chervil, & Castelmagno Cheese…
Crispy Halibut with Mushy English Peas, Carrots, & Morel Gnocchi which was good...
…but our darling waitress insisted we try the Tapioca Crusted Thai Snapper with Broccoli Rabe & Soy Vinaigrette (she was right) it was so good it was gobbled up before it could be photographed….and my favorite of the evening…
Prime Rib Eye with Sauce Diane, Potato Dauphinois, and Wild Mushrooms…

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again….dessert is good, but 2 desserts are even better!


Macallan Butterscotch, Winter Squash Cake, Toatsed Milk Ice Cream, & Malt

the house strawberry special that evening…
Cheryl, Julie Anne, and Leann…the deleriously happy gluttons

Balsamic Strawberry Sundae

While certainly no where near the calibur of XIV, I do think my Balsamic Strawberry Sundae is a quick, easy, and elegant dessert that will none the less impress your dinner guests.

Balsamic Strawberry Sundae

Servings: 6

  • 18 large strawberries
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 cups vanilla bean ice cream

1). Rinse, trim, and halve the strawberries.

2). Heat balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves and liquid reduces slightly to a syrup like consistency, about 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and stir in strawberries while sauce is still hot (berries will soften in texture).

3). Scoop ice cream into bowls and serve with warm balsamic sauce and berries over the top.
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  • May 30, 2009
    1:20 pm

    OMG…..that was an incredible menu. Did you have to be carried out? I love your blog Julie, thanks for sharing! PS: Cheryl….you look great!

  • May 30, 2009
    2:13 pm

    Y’all look great and so does the food! Hi Cheryl!!!!!

  • May 30, 2009
    3:27 pm

    I just enjoyed your blog this morning and I wanted you to know. It was so much fun and interesting and you looked gorgeous in all those pictures. I loved it

  • May 30, 2009
    4:36 pm

    Jewels ~ Your blogs are beyond amazing, just like your food and YOU as a person. This one in particular made me VERY hungry! I look forward to each new one, and please post links on my wall when you do! xxxx’s

  • May 30, 2009
    5:10 pm

    I LOVE the fact that you captured the evening in pictures and that you’ve shared our amazing evening – nothing like a 4 hour dinner with good friends and good food! I was thrilled to spend time with you that weekend. Now, you’ve inspired me to BLOG more!!! Your blog posts are inspirational, much like everything that you do!

  • May 30, 2009
    5:13 pm

    I remember the play you mentioned. This is embarrassing but… I actually rang the Man in the Moon in King’s Road (London) and got to speak to you before you were on stage on the opening night – I think you came to the phone thinking it was a friend of yours and then realised that actually it was a total stranger! But you were extremely kind and stayed on the phone whilst I wished you luck on your first night. Almost 20 years later now, married and with children, I think it was a rather silly thing to do but I was young (and a fan of your ex-husband’s band at the time….) So sorry!

  • May 30, 2009
    6:34 pm

    YUM! Call me next time…I’d love to go!

  • May 30, 2009
    6:46 pm

    I’m so glad you all are enjoying it…I’ve already booked to go back…sod the diet…gluttony is definitely the way to go when the food is that SCRUMPTIOUS! Lets just hope my photography improves. Cheryl…do you remember what all was in that last dessert besides frozen strawberries?That is hilarious Marisol…I do have a close friend by the same name that lives in Miami so I’m sure I thought it was her…thanks for wishing me luck then and now!Jewels xo

  • May 30, 2009
    8:00 pm

    that did look good all those dishes.i like how fancy everything looks.i used to be a part time hostess for this little restaurant in encino called “more then waffles”(not anything upscale lol)but i loved the whole atmoshpere of the place.it’s kinda old fashion in some ways and you could also eat outside near the fountain on saturdays and sundays(the busy days)they had this guy sing and perform.what i thought was nice is people every week always came back and sometimes would sit for hours with friends and family.i’m just happy with the blog and pics that you keep sharing.keep them going please.p.s.i’m a cat and dog lover and your dog is so cute:-)laura lynn(shay nollen)

  • June 3, 2009
    2:30 am

    so many wonderful things–love the photos, the menu is inspirational and love the recipe! Great blog, Jewels, I am really enjoying it!