I just returned from a short tour of Southern California—yes, the East truly met the West! And a bit of Spain’s culinary genius has made it over to the West Coast at the SLS Beverly Hills, who hosted my friends and I for an amazing Sunday brunch.
What a wonderful and generous treat! We were even given a gorgeously chic, all-white, private dining room at Tres by José Andres on the ground floor of the SLS Beverly Hills. The staff made us feel very welcome and catered to our every need.
It was my first time to Los Angeles since I had been working with one of my editors, Jennifer St. James of Either/Or Media, who lives just north of the city. I was so happy to have such a special occasion to include her in for our first meeting.
As we were led to our private dining room, we passed the beautifully displayed food laid out for brunch. There were as many healthy choices, such as vegetable crudités, smoked salmon, fresh fruit and juices (it is L.A., after all!), as there were decadent options. It was hard to know where to start…
Most of my guests went for the smoked salmon, mini bagels and accoutrements to start off the meal, and I couldn’t blame them. It was some of the best I’d had, buttery and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. There were some delightful Spanish selections, from spicy chorizo and sharp Manchego cheeses to a gazpacho so rich and creamy only a Spaniard could have made it. And you really knew you were in Beverly Hills when you were offered the prime rib standing roast, cut to order, as well as two different kinds of caviar.
Of course, you know me—I couldn’t resist the dessert selections. They were almost too pretty to eat! (Almost!) The chocolate mousse was topped with the freshest of berries, and they served two desserts in small, egg-like dishes: a flan custard and a chocolate pot de crème. All three were divine, so said my guests, but I went straight for the mini cupcakes. The red velvet barely won my vote as the best over the chocolate cupcakes—I really need to visit the SLS Beverly Hills again to taste more desserts, as I didn’t have enough appetite by the end of the meal to sample every one!
What everyone enjoyed the most about the brunch, besides the food itself, was the playful aspect of the dishes. Even my cocktail the night before, a cotton-candy mojito, was a combination of a classic drink with carnival fantasy. The fact that José Andres can combine such wonderful flavors with a creative presentation is probably what won him the 2012 Chef of the Year Award from GQ Magazine, along with many other accolades.
“Eating has to be fun,” Andres told Anderson Cooper in a 60 Minutes interview this January. Andres employs molecular gastronomy in his cooking, a combination of cuisine and science. And judging by our experience, Andres lives up to that concept at Tres in the SLS Beverly Hills.
And I can’t wait for the experience at Andres’ Mini Bar in Washington, D.C.—my hometown! This is Andres’ creative playground for testing new dishes, with 20+ course menus and only 12 diners per seating. The menu changes regularly, so there’s no telling what gastronomic delights I’ll be treated to. But don’t worry, I’ll definitely be posting about it!
I want to thank the SLS Beverly Hills again for hosting us, especially Emily, Tiffany and the waiters, all of whom made our experience so memorable.