On 1) the bare naked heel of yesterday's post about free sample fruit, 2) the sassy though sensibly short kitten heel of last week's Los Angeles Times article about corporate shilling mommy bloggers, and 3) the long, lean ferocious 5" stiletto heel of the FTC's Disclosure policy, no, retraction/confusion/reinstatement/omgmakeitstop, I felt that the only responsible thing to do on this blog post was disclose that my bill for the La Scolca Wine Pairing Dinner at Fraiche Restaurant in Santa Monica last Sunday evening was "taken care of."
My bill for the La Scolca Wine Pairing Dinner at Fraiche Restaurant in Santa Monica last Sunday evening was "taken care of."
But after making that simple statement, I paused.
I had simply done my duty without doing much research beyond understanding that I should let people know when I haven't paid for a meal, a service, or other product for review, but I also hadn't thought about how I felt about the policy.
"How do I feel about this policy?" I asked myself.
Disclosure Opens Up...
The principle of disclosure began plaguing my thoughts, paralyzing my writing process.
I wondered about disclosure in the context of non-disclosure and whether the exclusion of comped-but-negative reviews is still a bias. That led to the general question of bias in reviews, then genuineness of the blogger, then integrity of blogging, then trust of the reader then eventually to ethics in writing overall, then, then, then finally, my entire thought process had exploded outside the realm of my little blogging mind and I was screaming out silently in my head, "How much am I supposed to disclose? How much?!"
How much do I have to reveal about my previously non-existent relationship with Fraiche? How much do I have to divulge about how the whole meal arrangement was set up? Do I have to reveal that they had not offered a comped meal until I replied to their press release that I don't do "announcement/news" type posts on my blog in advance?
Do I have to admit that yes, gommadit, I was unshowered and still in my pajamas when I agreed to take a comped meal at Fraiche! It was via email! I even had my grease-smudged glasses on!
My meal was comped but my date's was not!
Wait! No! It wasn't a date! We didn't even hold hands!
OMG do I have to tell this to the FTC?!
So there it is. You know everything. I've done my duty. I am no longer responsible for your actions, decisions, or opinions regarding Fraiche.
La Scolca Wine Pairing Dinner at Fraiche Restaurants
from Fraiche Restaurant: La Scolca is the benchmark for all Gavi wines. This is a rare opportunity to try aged Gavi’s made from their oldest and best sites on the estate. The Soldati family of Piemonte has been generous enough to send us wines with 5, 10, 15 and 20 years of age to taste the subtle changes over time that proves why the Cortese grape is deserving of DOCG status. Fraiche Restaurant is presenting two of these wine dinners, five courses paired with six wines, for $65 per person on November 15 (Santa Monica) and November 16 (Culver City). The menus are detailed below:
Fraiche, Santa Monica
312 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
La Scolca Wine Dinner at Fraiche, Santa Monica
Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009
Scallops, Cauliflower Ice Cream, Caviar + La Scolca White Label Gavi dei Gavi 2007
Scallops were tender and sweet. Cauliflower ice cream definitely tasted like cauliflower, but was icier than I usually like ice cream. Or cauliflower. The caviar was caviar. The wine was a good match, though my non-date date thought it was better paired with the next course, John Dory.
Full disclosure: I do not like caviar.
John Dory, Clams Jus, Roasted Potatoes + La Scolca Black Label Gavi dei Gavi 2007
There were no potatoes, but I didn't really notice their absence nor the fish's presence because my sanity was destroyed by the clam jus - mild aroma of the ocean, aggressive salt of the sea. I am sure I embarrassed myself by scraping bread around the bowl to soak up every last molecule of the sauce.
Full disclosure: I do not know, have never had a conversation with John Dory.
Pheasant, Onion Soubise, Baby Carrot, Potato Boulangere + La Scolca Black Label Gavi dei Gavi 1989, 2004
The abstract artwork presentation of the pheasant was not my style at all, so I cannot offer an unbiased review. Of how it looked. I can however, give you a very biased review of how the pheasant, gnocchi, carrots, and soubise tasted.
I was not fond of the composed kettle drums of fowl meat on the left side of the plate; the pheasant felt too dense under a knife and fork. The tiny brick of breast meat in the center of the plate with crisp skin was more suited to my taste and true to myself, I peeled off the skin and left the meat, along with most of the unfamiliar soubise on the plate.
I could have eaten a cereal bowl full of the sparkling carrots and sticky, swedish foam-pillow (semi) soft gnocchi with a tiny, barely bitter bit of toasting on two sides.
Full disclosure: I also like Spaghetti-Os.
The two wines we sipped with this course were the same Black Label Gavi Dei Gavi, but from different years. There is no fucking way I am going to even attempt to describe the wines or how they paired with the food.
Sauteed Sweetbread, Celery Root Puree, Fritters Dates, Lemon Confit + La Scolca Gavi d’Antan 2000, 1995
It is unfair, I know, but with a bias against internal organs, I dreaded the fourth, final savory course. Sweetbreads. While I understand the idea of light-to-heavy progression, something as scary as sweetbreads is better off early in the meal. Aside from the fact that they are pancreas or worse, some unidentified glands of lesser importance, I've never had a decent preparation (in my taste, at last), of sweetbreads. It was this latter point that actually gave me the confidence to give Fraiche's sweetbreads a chance.
"Chicken nugget" is exactly what I thought when I saw it, right before "Oh yeah, it's a giant fried gland." I took a bite and though I was not conscious of it, I am sure I held my breath. I am a child, I know, but at least I didn't close my eyes. It either worked or sweetbreads taste nothing like my imaginary recollection. It was a lovely light crisp exterior and, whether this is technically a good or bad thing, I have no idea, an interior that tasted nothing like glands. I am not entirely sure what I mean by that phrase, but it's definitely positive. Unfortunately, the thing on the plate that I thought I would love without a doubt, lentils, were hard, a disappointing loss in the sauce in which they sat.
Full disclosure: I was a bit buzzed by the fourth course.
Pistachio Cake, Grapefruit Sorbet, Campari, Pomegranate + LA MILL Coffee, Tea
For all the courses, pairing with wine, sometimes two to a course, the attention to pacing, the unexpected flavors and textures, and artful presentations, I was a little surprised by what appeared to be a haphazard dessert centered around a muffin. The pistachio cake was dense, campari flavor on the plate a little too bitter, and the mascarpone "noodle" was visually unappealing. Whether it was relativity or reality, the pink teardrop of sorbet, though, was perfect. It could have owned the plate with nothing more than the pomegranates and crushed pistachios.
Full disclosure: How the hell are you supposed to eat pomegranate seeds?
Fuller disclosure: Do you or don't you spit the hard white thing out?!
Fullest disclosure: I spit the white things out.
The Monday night dinner at Fraiche-Culver City (outlined below), with a heavier emphasis on seafood and a non-existent emphasis on internal land animal organs, appealed more to my senses, but I had been to the Culver City restaurant before. I just never blogged about that experience. I wasn't trying to hide anything from anyone. I'm just lazy.
La Scolca Wine Dinner at Fraiche, Culver City
Monday, Nov. 16, 2009
Fraiche, Culver City
9411 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
Tuna Tartare, Basil Aoili + La Scolca White Label Gavi dei Gavi 2007
Seared Scallops, Lemon Preserve Brown Butter + La Scolca Black Label Gavi dei Gavi 2007
Black Bass, Lentil, Mushroom Nage + La Scolca Black Label Gavi dei Gavi 1989, 2004
Lobster Risotto + La Scolca Gavi d’antan 2000, 1995
Cannoli Mascarpone, Blood Orange Almond + LA MILL Coffee Tea
Pictures from a Previous Dinner at Fraiche, Culver City
Not La Scolca Wine Pairing Dinner. Not comped. Just, you know, dinner. It was back in 2007.
Sarah J. Gim says
Chuck: Thanks for sharing your thoughtful comment. But please don't be amazed or astounded. Really, I'm not that good.
Oh look! An ad hoc attack by an internet troll clearly showing his own arrogance due to nothing relevant to levels of education but everything to do with the unhealed wounds of a scarring childhood.
Welcome to the internet, Chuck.
Too bad about the dense (ahem) peasant.
I mean pheasant!
Full Disclosure: I found this review delightful, informative and well-written.
Daniel S. says
This seems like a very good deal, $65 for five course with wine pairings and some LaMill java. Not too shabby.
Sweetbreads to me taste like soft, semi-sweet chicken nuggets. They're tough to describe I suppose. Seeing the pics above, I'm not too crazy about the platings and it sounds like the dishes were off that night. Maybe the kitchen's talent has moved to SM?
Speaking of which, I just went to Fraiche 2.0 in Santa Monica and everything was excellent. I also had the grapefruit sorbet and it was the group's favorite dessert of the three desserts we ordered (though ours was simply served with some cookies and cream.). Nice write-up and pics. Yeah I'm sure the FTC is happy now =)
I don't know about Chuck, but my Mama taught me that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. I'm sure that if he took this approach, *no one* who follows this blog (including the lurkers like me), would miss him. If you don't like it, Chuck, go some where else, and take your passive aggressive tendencies with you.
*I* however love your blog, especially since you've been posting more frequently. And your photography is amazing. Keep at it :D
Sarah - I love your posts.
Chuck needs an ego check.
We read this for the opinions of the D which are of course biased like all our opinions are. Intelligent folks can agree or disagree but what matters in the end is having the sense to know not everyone has the same tastes or outlook. As for disclosure it probably needs to be done for those who need to know such. If my tastes mesh with a reviewer and I trust them I don't care if they ran out without paying the bill or had it all given to them on a silver platter.
I hope someone conveys to the restaurant's owner that Chuck is a tool.
arnold | inuyaki says
I think Chuck hates Spaghetti-O's
arnold | inuyaki says
I love SPAM. I blame the US Military.
This Chuck "person" doesn't even have a REAL BLOG? Only MySpace? LOL!!!
Sarah, you are a pleasure to read every day and I congratulate you on your ongoing success as a writer, BLOGGER, and unstoppable Internet (muther fawking http://www.TASTESPOTTING.COM ) sensation.
To all the miserable haters out there:
Life is short. Be nice.
Sarah J. Gim says
Diana: Funny. And in a sort of related but really unrelated note, I kept thinking "peacock" when I saw "pheasant," and was half expecting a tiny little bird with rainbow feathers on the plate.
Daniel: The wine pairing dinner was in Santa Monica! And yes, a very good deal at $65. I wish I knew more wine vocabulary so I could describe the pairings better... at least I took someone who *knows* wine much better than I do and helped me taste while we we re eating...
Rachel: Thanks! Posting more frequently, and trying to post in smaller segments. I realize I'm a bit...wordy. But twitterization of my brain is making it easier to post more often
Amy: Thank you!
TAO: What do you mean?! I am TOTALLY objective! ALL THE TIME. :D
doranb: I emailed Fraiche with the link to this post, my arrogance, lack of education, class and all.
arnold: I wonder though...what about spam?
I stand corrected. :D
Sarah J. Gim says
MyLastBite: "Life is short. Be nice."
this is the most action chuck has had in centuries.
Sarah, keep up the good work :)
LOL I'm sorry.. your blog is phenomenal and entertains me any time of the day, but CHUCK! We need him to come back and comment some more. Who, no, WHAT is this guy?
RJ Flamingo says
LOL! I didn't realize it was THE DocChuck till now! :-D
Sara, you have truly "made" it in food bloggerynow that you've been trolled by the famous DocChuck! He is a famous anti-food blog former blogger, who tried to get some sort of food blogging certification (read: censorship) badge instituted about a year ago. He rears his ugly head from time to time on random food blogs, and you have somehow attracted his attention! Remember flame wars on the old BB's? That's his era. He's an elitist who no longer blogs, but can't stay away, like an addict.
Bravo, Sara! You've hit the big time! :-D
Overweight old men wearing creepy sunglasses and hats + Myspace = a cameo appearance on the next episode of Dateline's To Catch a Predator.
My last thought on this is that having a critic is important. First: It invigorates things (as long as the critic is just cranky and not a total nut case). Second: it brings out your supporters. Third: It means you are saying something. Keep it up D!