Friday, April 30, 2010

Three Flavor Sizzling Ice: Nights With Neve @ Osteria La Buca

Michel Dozois doesn't just enjoy ice. He is a true believer and an ambassador for the frozen stuff. His passion for ice led him to create Neve Ice, his firm which supplies high end ice to several top restaurants & bars around town. I first met him last year when he ran the bar at Church & State Bistro downtown.

Tuesday evening Michel hosted the second in his series of events "Nights with Neve" at Osteria La Buca. He partnered with Steve Livigni, General Manager of the amazing Cuban rum bar La Descarga, to create cocktails which showcased the ice and used Italian liqueurs in keeping with the Italian cuisine of Osteria La Buca.

This special event was held in a "secret room" adjacent to the restaurant that was accessed through an alley and then a backdoor. It added an element of mystery and surprise to the evening. More on this room at the end of the post.

The first cocktail of the evening was the ELoper, which contained Dimmi Italian Liqueur, Vodka, Lemon Juice, Cantaloupe & Prosecco. No, those are not flowers used as garnishes- Steve used prosciutto to add a bit of savory to the drink and play off of the classic slice of lemon draped in prosciutto. This drink featured Neve's Collins Ice.

Aside from the cocktails and snacks, the company included many fellow bloggers who enjoy a fine beverage or some tasty bites. Pat Saperstein from Eating LA, Daniel from Thirsty in LA, Josh from FoodGPS, Javier from Glutster and Caroline from Caroline on Crack were some of the many bloggers in attendance.

The next cocktail of the evening was Michel's Italian Stallion (pictured above) which featured Neve's Rocks/Old Fashioned Ice, Cynar (an Italian bitter liqueur derived from artichoke), Carpano Antica red vermouth, and Scotch. This drink was a significant contrast from the sweetness in the first cocktail and showcased the slow melting property of the huge block of ice. Smaller surface area lowers the dilution rate while keeping the drink cold. Dozois mentioned that the block of ice does not take up more volume than several smaller cubes would, and although it can seem to leave less room for the liquid to be drunk, that is an illusion.

The final two cocktails of the evening included Steve's Silenzio Dolce (named by a Caroline on Crack reader) which rum, amaro, blood orange juice and walnut liqueur. The blood orange juice gave the drink a dramatic red color and it was nicely balanced. The last drink was Michel's I Luv Lucy, which included Carpano Antica vermouth, whiskey, lemon juice and egg white. This drink was light and frothy and had a sweeter profile than the two previous drinks, the Silencio & the Stallion.

During the course of the evening, Graham Snyder sent out a variety of passed hors d'oeuvres from the new chef Alberto Lazzarino including ravioli with figs, smoked salmon pizza and gnocchi with gorgonzola (my favorite). Chef Lazzarino joined Osteria La Buca in November, succeeding longtime chef Filippo Cortivo.

Along with the new menu in place, Synder announced that he will be expanding the restaurant by 25 percent and the room we all stood in would be the new entrance, which would provide a more comfortable environment to wait for a table and display the many ingredients that go into the cooking. The designer for the renovation is new to LA transplant Brendan Ravenhill who spoke about his vision for the space. The renovation/expansion will be done in stages so that the restaurant will not have to close down while the work is going on and the change will feel more organic.

The artwork above was created by artist Champion Grubbs who created this image of the ELoper while the party swirled on around him.

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