Friday, 16 September 2011

The Newly Opened Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach, California

Without any fanfare, but just from the tweeted messages of the principals of this place, people flocked to the opening of Pizzeria Mozza, on West Coast Highway in Newport Beach, in So. California. That was two weeks ago. This new place - the hottest place for food and wine enthusiasts among the Newport Beach crowd and Orange County residents, is the brainchild of three renowned personalities: Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery and former co-owner of Campanille, Mario Batali  - the New York chef who brings us "simplicity and freshness" in his Italian cuisine on the food channel; and Joe Bastianich, a restauranteur.

With their flagship location in Los Angeles born in 2006, there was much excitement for a branch to be opened in Orange County. On a Wednesday early evening, we took our chance and dared to join the line at Pizzeria Mozza. It was 6:45 p.m., and we got as far as being  listed down and given a notice of a two-hour wait. We decided to go somewhere else for an appetizer, with the intention of going back.
We did go back after an hour and were delighted that we were seated quite fast, way less than the other hour we were supposed to wait.
This venue has a very simple architectural design and the wow factor was this wall, herb garden. This is a certified green restaurant.
We easily identified the rosemary, coriander, the variegated sage, and the squash plant.
This was the first noticeable scene as we entered the restaurant, where the people were standing, seating and socializing while watching the kitchen activities.
A chef prepares multiple pizza orders
After stretching the dough to make a thin crust, oil is dabbed in random parts before anything else is added. Then the creativity begins ... like adding the petals of the squash flower, and so on. 
A chef checks on his pizzas cooking in the stone oven
These were not your typical pizza varieties. With very little mozzarella cheese, and sometimes even without the use of tomato sauce, the pizzas had very distinct flavors.
Chilled wine sitting on the kitchen-bar counter
Once we were seated, we discussed our tasty interests for the evening, as we perused the menu. Here are the food concepts that whet our appetites.
Fried Squash Blossoms with Ricotta
A delicate flower to hold the filling, then battered for deep frying, tempura style.
Bone Marrow al forno
Something Different! On a buttered or oiled toast, spread the garlic, some grilled bone marrow, and sprinkle some coriander leaves ... so rich and flavorful!
 Piatti del Giorno Mercoledi: Bacalá al forno with tomato, chick peas, and fried rosemary (salted cod-fish)
This was the specialty of the day, for Wednesday.

For our puffy, thin-crust pizza selections:
Pizette: Ipswich clams, garlic, chiles, oregano, Parmigiano and Pecorino
Bacon, Finnochiona, fennel sausage (freshly made) guancile, tomato, mozzarella,  and Shiitake mushrooms were added upon our request
Squash blossoms, tomato and burrata (cheese)
Mama mia! These were all so tasty and delicious.

For the finale, we had to have our dolci.
(Left) Sorbetti/Gelati: Tahitian Vanilla, Olive Oil, Melon
(Right) Butterscotch Budino with Maldon sea salt and rosemary pine-nut cookies
The unique ice cream and sherbet flavors turned out to be most pleasing,  complemented by the butterscotch pudding, topped with salted caramel and those mini cookies.

We ended up eating family style, sharing everything. For five people, this turned out to be a lot of food. Era tutto molto buono! 

While my friends and I came here to eat, some come to have a drink or two, with good company.

With their remarkable talents, Mario Batali, Nancy Silverton, and Joe Bastianich have teamed up with a passionate commitment  to "product, environment and hospitality." We gave them excellent marks for all three and were more than satisfied with their food concepts, the ambiance, and the service.

Be it in Los Angeles at 641 North Highland, or in Orange County, going to Mozza is a food trip extraordinaire. Buon appetito!

Pizzeria Mozza
800 West Coast Highway, Newport Beach
Tel. (949) 945 1126
Open daily except on Mondays, 12:00 noon to 11:00 p.m.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Claude Monet's Murals at the Musée L'Orangerie, Paris, France

After visiting Monet's house and garden in Giverny, where we have gotten an idea of Monet's surroundings, a visit to the Musée L'Orangerie  is the next thing to do. This is where his last series of paintings are displayed, the ones that were inspired by the scenic water-lily pond.
Originally designed as a winter greenhouse for the orange trees at the Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden) by Firmin Bourgeois and completed by Ludovico Visconti in 1852, the Musée L'Orangerie was renovated by architect Camille Lefevre - in consultation with Monet, as to how to present his paintings. It opened it's doors as a museum in May, 1927, about five months after the death of Monet. It closed in 1999 to undergo some redesigning and restructuring.

After some delay, it was in 2006 that the Musée L'Orangerie was reopened after six years of renovation work, which was estimated at a budget of twenty five million euros. With a reconfiguration of the exhibition rooms, Monet's eight masterpieces were now the focal point in two elliptical rooms on the upper floor, solely dedicated to his series of water-lily paintings, Les Nymphéas, measuring two meters high and 100 meters long, in total. 

The rooms were especially designed to bring in the light, to enhance the light elements - the different hours of the day as captured by Monet in his paintings. This was achieved by painting the rooms in ivory-white and with the installation of a circular skylight. 

When you come to see Monet's masterpieces, there are cushioned, long, curved benches where you could sit to study the master's works - looking at the different sections and taking note of certain elements, or you may prefer to get up close as you walk around. The students who come in groups, sit on the floor to listen to a lecture. There are also audio guides for rent, if you prefer to have your own guided tour.

A silent atmosphere is maintained, and this helps one to meditate and find himself in the artist's place, perhaps, as the scene was being painted. 
Clear tree and plant reflections, the blue sky on the water, on a sunny day, with light and shadow casts.

Monet was an outdoor painter, for the most part. Here are a few of the murals he made in the last twenty plus years of his life.


"The Morning Light the Willows"

"Cloud Reflections on the Water Lily Pond"

 "Green Highlights"
Details of the water lilies on the right-side corner of the mural

Close up of the water lilies...the buds are closed. 

A mural from two angles:

"The Two Willows"

In the late 1950s, the museum was gifted with the art collections of Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume. Now a part of the permanent exhibition, the works of famous artists - impressionist and post-impressionist - like Cézanne, Matisse, Utrillo, Picasso, Renoir and others can be viewed on the lower level .
"Arbes et Maison"  (1885-1886)
Paul CÉZANNE 1839-1906
Paul GAUGUIN 1848 - 1903
 "Gabrielle et Jean" (1895-1896)
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR 1814 - 1919

Special exhibitions are scheduled at different times of the year.
A past exhibition was about Gino Severini, Futuriste et Neoclassique. This was the first retrospective presentation of Severini's works since they were last exhibited at the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, in 1967. The major stages of Severini's career from 1905 to towards the end of the 1930s were showcased.

When you visit Paris in the spring and summer, or in the early fall, don't miss coming to this place if you are a Monet fan.

Jardin des Tuileries (facing Place de la Concorde)
1st arrondisement
Metro: Lines 1, 8, 12 Exit - Concorde
Bus Lines: 24, 42, 52, 72, 73, 84, 94 Stop - Concorde 
Open daily, except on Tuesdays: May 1 to December 25, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admissions: 7.50 euros for adults; 5.50 euros for students under 26 years of age
FREE admission on the first Sunday of the month


Related Posts with Thumbnails