Today, we will talk about chemistry and equilibrium. And booze, yes, booze is important.
So, everything wants to be in equilibrium. Meaning, everybody wants to be like everybody else. So if you have a nice cocktail, with nice ice cubes in it, the cocktail wants to get cooler and the ice cubes want to get warmer. That’s why ice cubes melt you know, because they hate being cold. Being cold sucks.
Luckily for the ice cubes, they can exchange their cold for the cocktail’s hot, where they’re exposed. So they do. It’s called heat transfer.
In theory, the ice cubes are supposed to stop melting once they hit equilibrium and are as warm as the cocktail. In theory. But, we all know that THAT never happens. Eventually the suckers melt away and disappear and your cocktail is diluted.
Things are a little different with ginormous ice cubes.
Ginormous ice cubes have less surface area, which are sites of heat transfer, so they don’t melt as quickly as a bunch of small ice cubes in the same volume. Which means your drinks stay true to its potency. Huzzah!
Mixologists know that bigger ice cubes are better. They also know that ROUND ginormous ice cubes are better – that’s why, sometimes you see them jabbing ice picks into blocks of ice. They’re shaving it into balls, because balls have less surface area than cubes.
That’s so old school though. Nowadays, you can get yourself some pre-made round ice balls or ginormous ice cubes from Névé ice.
Dan from Dan Cox PR invited me to a Névé ice cocktail party, which was held at Osteria La Buca at Melrose. Usually I refuse to go to media events or parties in LA, but it’s from Dan, and he’s a nice guy. I dragged Don into going with me, since I can’t be trusted behind the wheel once I get my drink on.
The party was held in some super secret room within the Osteria complex. Ok not really, but it was cool to go inside a semi-half-way-done establishment through the backdoor.
This is Michel. He started Névé, this ginormo-ice-cubes-business. He is hipster-skinny and cute, and wants to make love to a nice bottle of sherry every night (more on that later).
This is Steve. He works at La Descarga. He is also hipster-skinny and cute. Sorry, I have a knack for skinny boys.
Ginormous long ice cubes for tall drinks, or bubbly drinks. Because it melts so slow, your bubbly stays bubbly.
You shall use your bubbly-safe spear of an ice cube for The Eloper. Dimi Italian Liqueur, Vodka, Lemon Juice, Cantaloupe, and some bubbly that is Prosecco, garnished with a prosciutto roll up. This is a drink version of the classic appetizer – wait for it – proscuitto and melon! This one was like a punch in the face.
More ginormo ice cubes. These cube-y ones are for drinks that are made with hard liquor, so that it still gets to keep the lip.
Look at dem skillz.
Exhibit A: The Italian Stallion. This one calls to my inner Vietnamese: for one, it’s made with scotch (and Caprano Antica, Cynar), and two, it tastes like burnt caramel. Yum.
Exhibit B: The silenzio Dolce. This was was given a name via a naming contest over at Caroline On Crack. Made with Zaya Rum, Averna Amaro, Blood Orange Juice, Nocello Walnut Liqueur. It looks like a chick drink, and it tastes like a chick drink, but due to its sheer hardcoreness, it is guy safe. Your penis will not shrink into a vagina, like when you drink a Jolly Rancher. Swear to my heart.
Aforementioned sherry that Michel wants to make love to. He gave us a taste of it; sooooo sweet. Like brown sugar. I want to sprinkle some of this stuff on a buttery pound cake.
The Cynar, it is actually artichoke booze. Which is better than Campari in my books, because that shit is made of bugs.
Some noms inbetween cocktails, from Osteria La Buca. This one was the Ravioli Con Il Fico (Potato and Fig Ravioli). SO GOOD.
Two dishes that will lure us next door for dinner: The Burrata, little prociutto pouches filled with burrata, tomatoes, and olive oil, and the Salmorino: cured salmon, frisee, lemon dressing over flatbread. La Buca is smart because they serve perfectly salty foods with the booze.
Gnocchi al Gongonzola. Don asked the waiter if it was mac and cheese, and totally offended him. Oh Don.
The four-course booze meal comes to an en fin with an I luv Lucy - which features egg whites. EGADS! The cocktail is named after Michel’s girlfriend, ain’t that sweet? I wish Don named something after me. Actually, no, scratch that, I don’t want some weird region in the human brain named after me.
Carpano Antica, Whiskey, lemon juice, and egg whites equals frothy goodness, which is dense and tells my belly that we are done.
That was a whole lot of fun for the both of us, but we were hungy. So we mosey’d on over to the restaurant for a late dinner.
This place is SO prosh and cozy. The owner is going to be renovating and expanding and stuff with a designer with an epic last name, Brendan Ravenhill. RAVENHILL. Now that’s a last name fit for an artist. He also makes weird looking bottle-openers, which landed him this gig in the first place. Exciting things are in the woodworks.
When you’re buzzed, the bread here is pretty fucking amazing. So soft and buttery. And the spicy marinara sauce? Oye.
Some wine to, um, help us eat better. Sauvignon Blanc for the boy, a rubresco-sangiovese-canaiolo blend for me.
Don had the linguine carbonara (16). To which, of course, I contest, because I can make a carbonara at home. Or so I thought. The pasta here, it is perfectly al dente, and the cheese-pancetta-eggs sauce is creamier than anything I’ve ever made. Shamed!
I had the tagliatelle bolognese (17). It’s good, although nothing beats my mom’s. What is up with moms and meat sauce? The pasta, on the otherhand, kicks Mom’s barilla’s ass by the tenfold – it’s smooth as silk, and goes down eaaaaaaasy.
I saw panna cotta (6) on the menu and could not resist. I seriously doubt that there is such thing as bad panna cotta out in the world. Love, love, love.
Don had the tiramisu (10), which is the biggest tiramisu you will ever encounter in a restaurant. Mascarporne is not too sweet, and the whole thing is perfectly boozy. If only it wasn’t so big – it was getting heavy towards the end.
We like it here a lot. We’ll probably be back, next time we’re in town. Which is probably, like, two years later or something, since we rarely go beyond the South Bay for noms.
Osteria La Buca
5210 melrose ave.
los angeles, ca 90038