Location: 5990 1/2 W Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90035. (323) 939-3233
Date: February 26, 2013
Rating: Amazing ribs
My Hedonism group does a wide range of dinners — from high end blow outs like STK or Saddle Peak to more casual ethnic joints. Tonight we tackle Awash, a very authentic Ethiopian restaurant off the “strip” (i.e. a few blocks away from Little Ethiopia proper).
Typical interior. One thing that can be counted on for these dinners is that we dominate the restaurant. We have the largest and loudest table (14-15 people this time) and are the only ones opening and drinking a ridiculous amount of wine. Here, as is often the case with more casual places, we even bring our own stems.
The NV Brut Grande Cuvee emerges from the glass with freshly cut flowers, almonds, pastry and spices. This is a relatively floral, bright Grande Cuvee with fewer of the oxidative qualities that are typical of the house style. According to Krug’s ID Code, this bottle is based on the 2004 vintage, which explains the wine’s tense, taut personality. Another year or two on the cork will only help the wine gain expressiveness and depth. Today, the Grande Cuvee is quite reticent and not showing the full breadth of its personality.
Here is an example of the surprising unpredictability of wine. This Chardonnay is a Parker 88, “There are close to 14,000 cases of the 1998 Chardonnay Los Carneros. Made in an elegant, medium-bodied style with the emphasis on honeyed citrus, leesy complexity, and a touch of pear and tangerine-like flavors, it is a refreshing, pure, fruit-driven Chardonnay with a subtle dosage of oak.” Parker said it will last through 2003. But we had it in 2013 and well… it was actually pretty great, extremely balanced and tasting like a 15 year-old Grand Cru white Burgundy. Go figure. Your milage may vary, it was presumably very well cellared.
This is a vegetarian plate. As is typical of Ethiopian there are various mushy stews that you eat with the spongy bread (that’s below the dishes). I have no idea what any of these in particular are other than the salad and the giant Jalepeno peppers. Many of them were really good.
The first of a pair of awesome Chateauneuf du Papes.
Parker 97, “I believe the 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape is the finest wine ever made at Charvin. Their wines never achieve a lot of color, but this is one of the most saturated ones they have produced. The blend from the 45- to 50-year-old vines is 85% Grenache and the rest equal parts Syrah, Mourvedre, and Vaccarese, all aged in cement tanks prior to being bottled unfiltered. A terrific nose of kirsch, lavender, licorice, forest floor, and spice box soars from the glass of this full-bodied effort. With fabulous density, a multidimensional mouthfeel, and a 45+-second finish this brilliant, elegant, feminine-styled wine is loaded with concentration and intensity. Like many 2007 Chateauneuf du Papes, the extraordinary fruit level makes it hard to resist.”
From my cellar, Parker 96, “The heady 2000 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Centenaire is more evolved than either the 2001 or 1998. Extremely full-bodied, with low acidity, and a knock-out bouquet of blackberry and cherry jam intermixed with licorice, pepper, and dried Provencal herbs, this sexy, voluptuous, enormously concentrated 2000 possesses a huge, silky, seamless finish.”
This is what we came for, this “brontosaurus” sized ribs. To get an idea of the scale, see the picture below (that’s a small one). These are great BBQ ribs, very tender and almost under cooked.
Who says girls don’t like meat?
Burghound 88, “An extremely ripe panoply of menthol, cola, briar, pepper and red/blue fruit aromas precede liqueur-like, opulent and extremely rich flavors that possess excellent concentration and a textured finish where plenty of creamy oak is in evidence. Again, this isn’t for me though it should be noted that the 4-Barrel is a stylish if completely fruit-driven effort that lovers of big, ultra ripe pinots will certainly find interesting.”
Some chicken with veggies in garlic sauce.
And a beef “stew/curry”. This was good stuff, eaten again with the spongy bread. It had a bit of kick.
This is a slightly sweet Alsatian white.
And a serious “farmer’s cheese.” Bland and milky, much like a queso blanco.
A tasty enough Tempranillo from Spain.
Some raw beef and spices. Not so different from the appetizer at Esso. Very tasty.
A roughly 92 point Barbaresco. Young and tanic, but nice enough.
Now this is a peculiar one. Somehow, there is an Ethiopian/Italian connection and they serve Spaghetti! This was actually quite good, simple, but nicely garlicky.
And for dessert, from my cellar, the good old. About 92 points, “Definitely superior to the Himmelreich Kabinett. Again, a touch of sulfur on the nose – herbal, not as sweet or ripe as the GH. Spicy with some sweet lime. Similar on the palate – really excellent drive with lime, brown spice, nice acid – somewhat lively with good balance. Delicious. Lots of minerals and spice on the finish.”
Then we grabbed some oddball pastries from the Indian bakery next door, including those giant brown Gulab Jamun balls. These are deep fried cheese balls soaked in syrup and also a character in the Naughty Dog game, Way of the Warrior.
And, because perhaps these are Ethiopian jews, and it’s Purim, hamantash.
This wasn’t the most gourmet meal we’ve ever done, but it was plenty tasty and we had a lot of great wine (as usual). The price was definitely right too, $25 all inclusive! Next time I go back, I want to get more meat stews like that vegetarian plate, but not as vegetarian (although those were good too).
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