I wanted to share my discovery once again of Josie on Pico Boulevard and 25th Street. I had all but forgotten that this place was there due to the location. The area has no other restaurants per se and is like a no man’s land as far as commercial business goes. I whiz by there often and don’t bother to look at what is around me (there isn’t much), but I had a very delicious dinner there a couple of days ago.
The atmosphere is sophisticated and cozy with two rooms; the front room has banquets and is a bit larger than the back room, which is like a living room with a small bar and fireplace.
We went with a couple of friends to celebrate a birthday as it is that kind of special occasion type place — expensive, refined, terrific food and a good wine list.
We had an appetizer salad of mixed local baby greens with burrata and a simple mixed salad with bacon and avocado. Both salads were exceptional and perfectly dressed with a vinaigrette for one, green goddess for the other. Josie Le Balch, the executive chef and owner, specializes in organic, local ingredients with the use of seasonal produce.
We ordered two entrees: the Moroccan braised short ribs served with curried couscous and a lovely almond sauce and a grilled duck breast with a fabulous side salad of watercress, stilton, dried cranberries and pecans. The food is like enjoying a home cooked meal with a very talented chef in the kitchen, not your ordinary fare but homey and straightforward. Both entrees were very good and the flavors of the ribs in particular were subtle and rich at the same time.
We enjoyed a dessert of homemade apple strudel with elderberry ice cream and a plate of assorted cookies and truffles. This was a rich meal and full of flavor and the dessert was nothing to sneeze at. The strudel was fantastic and there was a perfect brownie included on the cookie plate. It was to die for!
All together it was a terrific meal, great atmosphere for a special date and the service was professional and just the right amount of attention was given to every detail. I would definitely return to Josie.
I have to add my own Moroccan recipes here as they are easy to make and great for guests.
Amanda Cushman is a culinary educator who has cooked professionally for 25 years. She teaches privately for groups of two to 20 students. She has developed hundreds of recipes for cookbooks as well as food magazines and Web sites. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lamb chops with Moroccan spices
1 tbs. ground coriander
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tbs. ground cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
Juice of two lemons
5 tbs. olive oil
8 loin lamb chops or 12 small rib chops
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1. In a small bowl combine the coriander, garlic, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, lemon juice and olive oil. Rub the mixture into the chops, coating evenly, and place on a baking sheet. Cover and marinate for two hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Heat the grill. If the chops are refrigerated, bring to room temperature. Grill for four minutes per side.
3. Transfer to a warmed platter or individual plates and sprinkle with mint. Serve immediately with the couscous.
Couscous with currants and pine nuts
2 1/4 cups water or chicken broth
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
Fresh pepper, to taste
1/2 cup dried currants or dried apricots, chopped
1 10 ounce box instant couscous
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
2 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbs. mint, chopped
1. Combine the water, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the currants, nuts and couscous and stir once,
2. Remove from heat, cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous and add the cheese and mint before serving.