Restaurant: Factory Kitchen [1, 2]
Location: 1300 Factory Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90013. (213) 996-6000
Date: August 12, 2014
Rating: Wow! Best Italian in LA?
My friend Liz organized this amazing dinner. Chef Angelo Auriana was the lead chef at Valentino from the mid 80s until 2003, and particularly in the 90s there really was no better Italian in LA. After a stint up in Northern California he is back with a new more casual place Downtown. Liz, as usual, really worked to fine tune the food and wine together for this amazing meal.
1995 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. IWC 95. Light yellow. Rich and powerful, with leesy pear and white truffle aromas accented by gentle notes of white pepper and cinnamon. Extremely powerful Krug, with rich orchard fruit flavors, a velvety texture and warm, rich, inviting notes of brioche and creme brulee Finishes with intense pear and peach flavors and lingering notes of smoke, iodine and toffee. One of the most concentrated Champagnes I tried this year.
agavin: very fresh
focaccina calda di recco al formaggio. funghi, crescenza, foraged mushrooms, ligurian olive oil, parsley and, added specially for us, tons of black truffle!
agavin: some serious “pizza” goodness!
1983 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut. JK 93. (Cristal) which was very fresh and delicate, light on its feet with a lot of seltzer, citrus peel, minerals and a pungent kick. Fresh, very smooth, elegant, but not what I remember when I had it recently out of magnum, the 1983 Cristal was lighter out of bottle but still had some extra acidity.
agavin: pretty oxidized
Seared albacore, with a bit of pepper and olive oil.
1989 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut Collection. 96 points. One of those wines you taste and think, “Man, I am so lucky.” Intriguing apricot-honey color. Smells waxy and honeyed, with orange marmalade, clover honey, dried flowers, bruised apples. The palate loaded with gobs of apricot, brandied pear and blood orange. Crisp acid keeps it lean and balanced, and the aged notes of mixed nuts, rose tea, truffle oil and dried mushrooms. Throughout, this wine maintains an oceanic aura, with seashells and mineral water. So complex, this wine’s finish is obscenely long. One of the most intellectually stimulating Champagnes I’ve ever had.
agavin: one of the best champagnes I’ve had. Tastes like a great white burg.
Chickpea fries with fried vegetables.
agavin: soft, light, delicious fry.
pancotto. duck egg, red potato vellutata, sautéed greens, semolina bread crostone, speck.
agavin: when you get all the elements together really a fabulous breakfasty bite.
2010 Domaine Patrick Baudouin Anjou Les Saulaies. 90 points. Gazoline, honey, woodboard. Mouth very straight, linear, mineral, with big bitterness. Light new oak at the end. Discret aromas of limetree, and verveina.
agavin: by itself, this is an odd wine. Good, but strong and unusual for a white. But Liz carefully paired it with the pesto below and together they were amazing!
mandilli di seta. handkerchief pasta, ligurian almond basil pesto.
agavin: I can not say enough good things about this pasta. The texture was amazing. It’s soft and all folded over. The pesto is hyperblended to a very fine texture as well, and it tastes so Ligurian. Here you can see some “genuine” examples, and this one tonight was as good as any I’ve ever had in Liguria (I’ve spent about a week there). The chef can’t get the right pine-nuts so he uses blanched almonds instead. It works.
2010 Chêne Bleu Aliot. 90 points. 65% roussanne 30% Grenache blanc and 5% marsanne. Fresh white peach, honey, spicy and limestone. Distinctive cool climate impression. Very nice wine that will well complement seafood dishes.
agavin: served blind, I guessed it was a young roussanne. Also punchy by themselves, but Liz has a method to her madness.
She really wanted some Botarga. It’s not usually on the menu, but the chef dug up some genuine Sardinian tuna roe and made:
Botarga pasta. First of all, the texture on these big pasta rolls was incredible, with a nice bite. Then it had that pure fishy botarga flavor, but without anything off putting. Then, somehow the wine worked it all out into a special kind of magic.
1995 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Cuvée Vieilles Vignes. Burghound 91. An almost syrah-like nose that stops just short of being overripe with dense and intense black fruit plus an odd herbaceous burnt orange peel aroma. The flavors are remarkably supple yet offer good density and richness with finishing tannins that are both firm and prominent. This is quite long and overall, the wine is bold and impressive but not my particular style as it lacks a bit of nuance and grace and the tannins are almost rustic.
agavin: young. This got better and better in the glass, but could have used hours!
1993 Domaine Robert Arnoux / Arnoux-Lachaux Romanée St. Vivant. Burghound 93. Sweet, elegant, pure and extremely sexy, spicy black fruit aromas that are now displaying relatively strong secondary development as well as a background hint of oak introduce round, delicious, textured, intense and deep flavors underpinned by silky tannins and outstanding length. This is a somewhat atypical ’93 as it’s really quite forward and not at all backward. For my taste, this could be drunk now with pleasure and there is little if any additional upside to be had. Simply beautiful juice. Consistent notes save for one bottle that seemed to lack the same purity of the prior bottles, particularly on the nose.
agavin: drinking amazing right now. Huge Vosne-Romanee nose, lots of RSV spice.
casonzei – veal, pork, sausage filled pasta, cured pork, butter, pancetta.
agavin: This also is a stunningly authentic pasta. It normally comes with a butter and sage sauce, but Liz (correctly) thought the sage wouldn’t work with the Burgundy and switched it out for sweat pancetta. There is a wonderful rice quality to the handmade pasta and the butter / parm sauce. You get pasta like this in the North, near Mantua and Verona. Sweet and buttery at the same time. Wonderful.
1990 Domaine Bartet Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques. Burhound 91. Somewhat surprisingly, even in the smaller format bottle this remains relatively fresh and while there are obvious secondary aromas present, there is no sous bois to the complex and earthy nose. The delineated, ripe and still solidly intense flavors deliver plenty of richness and a lovely mineral quality on the long and sappy backend. In sum, this is beautiful juice that is drinking perfectly now.
agavin: This is really Bruno Clair’s wine. Delicious.
1993 Louis Jadot Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. Burghound 92. In stark contrast to the Chambertin, this is wonderfully expressive and complex with abundant earth and spice notes followed by big, structured, still sappy if slightly austere flavors that offer excellent density and plenty of character. Impressively scaled and finishes with striking length. A clear step up from the Chambertin.
agavin: I love Jadot Beze, and 1993 is a great year, but this was drinking a little oddly tonight. Still enjoyable though.
1964 Thorin Chambolle-Musigny. 93 points. It’s just straight up amazing that a 50 year old village wine is drinking at all, but this beauty also offered a lot of fruit and just a lovely old burg experience.
quaglia – pan roasted California semi boneless quail, polenta, guanciale, witch finger grape.
agavin: Probably the best quail I can remember. Cooked a little medium rare with a lovely reduction.
1961 Franco Fiorina Barolo. 92 points. Tea color with rose petal aromas. Subtle overall flavors with faint red fruit and lots of earth. Very classic with moderate intensity.
agavin: nothing over the hill about this!
costata di bovino – prime beef rib chop, roasted bone marrow, onion~nebbiolo sauce.
agavin: certainly works with barolo!
Our chef, Angelo Auriana, who spent half the diner chatting with us.
From my cellar: 1989 Aldo Conterno Barolo Riserva Granbussia. Parker 97. Conterno’s 1989 Barolo Riserva Granbussia is darker in color and fresher than the 1990. Sweet mentholated, balsamic aromatics meld gracefully into an expressive, layered core of dark fruit. The 1989 is a big, expansive Granbussia that takes time to reveal its qualities in full, but it is a remarkable wine for the integrity of its fruit, the finesse of its tannins and its sumptuous overall balance. It remains a benchmark wine for Conterno and the appellation. Curiously, two bottles I tasted at the estate were more forward than several I have had in the US recently. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2024.
agavin: a staggeringly rich Barolo, if sill young. Deep grapey qualities and all that Barolo tar and roses.
Beef. I don’t remember which cut exactly, but just straight up and delicious.
1990 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume. 93 points. While the palate of the baumard was fantstic with its nectarine/orange driven notes, there was that telltale Loire desert quality to the nose, that stemmy/wooly nature you get in Huet as well. I think this lends it unique character and an ability to pair with a wider array of foods/cheeses, but some find it offputting. The wine though, drinks phenomenal and will only continue to get better.
cannoli – ricotta filling, pistachios, orange marmalade.
agavin: Liz claims this is the best cannoli she’s had. I’ll go so far to say it’s the best I’ve had in LA. And it was REALLY good with perfect crunch, soft ricotta, citrus. But it didn’t have that cinnamon / nutmeg bit I love, or the candied citrus quality you’ll often find in Sicily. Still, very very good. These ones from the Philadelphia Italian market are also fabulous if you can’t make it to Sicily.
2001 Müller-Catoir Gimmeldinger Schlössel Rieslaner Beerenauslese. IWC 92. Apricot and persimmon, sage and mint in the nose. On the palate this has a very smoky cast, with forceful pungency and some of the same icy heat as the corresponding Auslese. Plum paste, citrus marmalade and almond paste. Scheurebe-like mintiness and smoky, salty residues cling to the fruit in the finish.
agavin: I really loved this sticky
crostata – black mission figs, almond cream, mascarpone mousse, honey amaretto.
agavin: This was amazing, and it’s not even my kind of dessert. The sugary / flakey quality of the tart was perfect — and the cream!
All in all, an absolutely amazing meal. Every dish was amazing, and this is hands down the best, most authentically Italian, pasta I’ve had in LA — and I’m a pasta fiend. Many of the pasta dishes were better than the standard in Italy and as good as some of the best I’ve had there. And I’ve had a lot. Our wines were phenomenal too, and the pairings perfect as Liz is a nut about this. Really, it shows how both can elevate each other if properly orchestrated.