Cafe Pinot sits adjacent to the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles. Each in its own way is a wonderfully romantic spot-Café Pinot, for its beautiful gardens and views of the metropolitan skyline-and the library, because it is a vast repository of love stories and poems housed in gorgeous historic buildings.
In honor of Valentines’ Day, the library and restaurant have collaborated on a "Literary Love" menu, featuring courses inspired the three tales of extraordinary passion that will be available throughout February. John F. Szabo, city librarian, chose the fiction; executive chef Sydney Hunter, developed the menu.
I was invited to a preview of the four-course dinner. It was beautifully plated, delicious and a wonderful example of how a theme can be executed with elegant polish.
Here’s what we enjoyed:
Waldorf Salad: granny smith apples, candied walnuts, celery espuma, butter lettuce
Inspiration: Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"This was set during the depression of the 1920s," says chef Hunter. "It wasn’t a time of particular culinary extravagance. The Waldorf Salad and Oysters Rockefeller were two outstanding dishes of the period."
Gnocchi and truffles: green pepper spiced gnocchi and black truffles
Inspiration: Romeo and Julies by William Shakespeare
"Romeo and Juliet are from Verona, Italy of course," says Hunter, "and this dish is very Veronese."
Cowboy steak: cote de boeuf for two, smoked fingerling potatoes, baby spinach, bone marrow, Bordelaise sauce
Inspiration: Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
"Cote de boeuf is always prepared for two," says Hunter.
It’s worth noting that the three love stories celebrated at this dinner all ended tragically. Not so our meal. There were hugs and kisses all around as we said goodbye. I took home a doggy bag of bones, which my golden retriever Carlos has been enjoying immensely these past few days.
If you find yourself in downtown LA over the next couple of weeks, you can still enjoy the Literary Love menu. And, of course, both Café Pinot and the Central Library have wonderful spaces for dinners and receptions, and, clearly, the creativity to pull off unforgettable gatherings.