Tagine – Beverly Hills, CA [Valentine’s Day 2013]

Food Adventures, Los Angeles

As if the bacon roses weren’t enough, Martin also surprised me on Valentine’s Day by snagging one of the last reservations for dinner at Tagine, a quaint, 10-table Moroccan restaurant in Beverly Hills. I thought he was exaggerating but when we walked through the green and blue facade, I literally counted eight 2-tops and two slightly larger tables made for 3-4 people each. The ambiance was fitting for Valentine’s Day — dim candle lighting, jazzy 20’s music, cozy pillow-covered benches. I was pretty excited (and unsure of what to expect from a restaurant co-owned by Ryan Gosling).

Bubbly

Bubbly

We decided to celebrate with a bit of bubbly – two flutes of Crémant rosé. (By the way, please bear with me with these photos. I was going to forgo them altogether because of how dimly lit the restaurant was, but here are my attempts!)

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

It went wonderfully with the amuse bouche: goat cheese and fig on a spoon, warm savory soup garnished with sliced almonds, and samosa-like rolls. Yum!

Course 1: Mezze

Course 1: Moroccan Mezze

Course 1: Moroccan Mezze – a stone tablet laden with shot glasses containing an assortment of delicious Mediterranean starters. Marinated olives, eggplant puree, hummus, grilled pita, Moroccan spiced beef, and a refreshing cucumber salad. My favorite was definitely the hummus. Homemade hummus is SO much better than any store-bought variety… amazing. A close second was that cucumber salad, a shot glass layered with beets, tomatoes, vinegary cucumbers, lemon sorbet, and topped with a raspberry. The layering of sweet then tart then earthy flavors was really fascinating.

Grand Cru du Potager

Course 2: Grand Cru du Potager

Course 2: Grand Cru du Potager – sautéed seasonal vegetables. Farmer’s market fresh baby zucchini, heirloom carrots, thin asparagus, and a super juicy cherry tomato, all drizzled in a paprika-y, lemon-y sauce. (It was with this meal that I realized how much I love the Moroccan spice palate!)

Course 3: Scallop Bastilla

Course 3: Scallop Bastilla

Course 3: Scallop Bastilla – a light layer of phyllo with scallops, caramelized shallots and brussels sprouts, topped with a honey sauce. “Light layer” is an understatement – the plate arrived with a very prominent disc of crispy, golden phyllo glazed with honey. Dig a little deeper to find the seared scallops and below that, a bed of perfectly seasoned and sautéed brussels sprouts.

Course 4: Black Tiger Shrimp

Course 4: Black Tiger Shrimp

Course 4: Black Tiger Shrimp – herb crusted tiger shrimp, served with sautéed vegetables, Harissa cream sauce and shiitake mushrooms. The shrimp were a tad overcooked but tasted delicious. The sautéed shiitake in the Harissa sauce were an excellent complement to the dish.

Course 5: Sea Bass Tagine

Course 5: Sea Bass Tagine

Course 5: Sea Bass Tagine – roasted pan seared sea bass, served with fingerling potatoes and sauteed mixed peppers, topped off with a lemon sauce. The sea bass was STUNNING – beautifully flaky and buttery. The lemon sauce was light and the touch of acid was perfect for the fish.

Course 6 (I): Baklava

Course 6 (I): Baklava

Course 6: Chocolate Soup – served with vanilla ice cream, baklava, and mint tea. We were served the baklava first, garnished with an orchid. The layers crumbled with a satisfying crunch with each bite.

Course 6 (II): Chocolate Soup

Course 6 (II): Chocolate Soup

Then came the ice cream, over which our server poured the steaming chocolate soup. It was like smooth, creamy hot chocolate meets an Italian affogato. A bit too cloyingly sweet for me, but delicious nonetheless. My only complaint? They ran out of mint tea and I was so looking forward to ending the meal with it… sad face.

Cute, kitschy heart-shaped candles for Valentine's

Cute, kitschy heart-shaped candles for Valentine’s

Overall it was a stellar experience with charming atmosphere and fabulous food. The highlights of the night, for me, were the hummus, the brussels sprouts, the sea bass, and the baklava. Incredible. If you’re looking for a hot spot with a hole-in-the-wall feel and delicious food, I’d highly recommend Tagine. I cannot comment on the authenticity but I can definitely tell you that the spice palate was very enjoyable.

Dear readers, you just might start seeing more Moroccan experiments on this blog…

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Check out Tagine: taginebeverlyhills.com

132 N Robertson Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

See their Yelp reviews here!

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Bacon Roses [Valentine’s Day 2013]

Food Adventures, Food Life

You may have seen this photo floating around on the internet… on our Facebook page, on our Twitter feed, my personal FB page, perhaps even by text message. In fact, so many people stopped by my desk to snap a photo that you can probably find it on Instagram, Pinterest, and more. Who knows, maybe it’ll go viral tomorrow! Yes, my friends, for Valentine’s Day, Martin made and surprised me at work with a bouquet of bacon roses. BACON ROSES. zOMG. Best boyfriend ever! Both my inner foodie and my inner geek squealed with joy.

Bacon Roses!!

Bacon Roses!!

Once merely a thing of legend, I had heard of the many crafty things one can do with bacon, but here it was, a bouquet of bacon roses sitting on my desk, the aroma of breakfast wafting through the air. Men and women alike were envious of Martin’s creativity… and of the bacon. (At Martin’s advice, I did not actually eat the bacon… though it did tempt me for a good seven hours.)

On each Valentine’s Day that Martin and I have celebrated together, Martin has made it a point to surprise me at work with a flower delivery. In 2011, he presented me with a dozen beautiful red roses. I was on the phone with a client at the time and he told me later that I sounded especially eager to hang up.

2011

2011

Last year (2012), he stopped by and proudly held out a stunning bouquet of a dozen long-stemmed red roses. I was glad that I remembered to ask him to pause for a picture so I could really capture the moment.

2012

2012

In retrospect, I probably should have foreseen that something like handmade bacon roses would be on their way, since he is always looking to outdo himself. They certainly were memorable; I’ll never forget that 2013 was the year of the bacon roses. What a pleasant and thoughtful and oh so amusing surprise!

[He would not tell me any details other than the fact that he baked the bacon strips to keep them pliable enough to roll into rosettes, and that he went to our local Dollar Tree to get fake flowers for their stems and plastic baby’s breath. For a how-to, try shooting him an email and see what insider info you can squeeze out of him!]