I was invited out last Sunday to attend the California Philharmonics art and wine fundraiser Treasure Trove. There was live jazz music, wine tasting, gourmet finger food and lots of artwork, one-of-a-kind jewelry, prize packets, gift baskets, and wine at the silent auction and raffle. Oh, did I mention the wine? Yeah. There was lots of wine.
Yeah. Seriously, right? It’s a wine lovers paradise, even Jewel Staite would be satisfied (I kid because I love). Here were some of the other non-boozy goodies up for auction:
This copper, leather and pink Swavorski crystal bracelet was made by Irina, one of the violinists from the California Philharmonic. She and her lovely son Sebastian were at the event and I was eyeballing this bracelet the whole time. Me wants the precious.
Let’s not forget the gourmet finger food I mentioned. How about an impressive cheese and fruit spread along with some tasty fillers like chicken skewers, stuffed mushrooms and, my favorite, spicy sushi and sprouts on a crisped wonton.
Come to mama, little fishies
I got to catch up with Lauren and the gang from point08 and meet the Maestro himself, Victor Vener. He was awesomesauce. I also got to walk away with a little treasure of my own:
I couldn’t let her go. She was too pink and coppery and beautifully made, plus the money went to maintaining the arts.
My mother was the highest bidder on this very cool gift basket filled with wine and 5 CD sets of classical music, handpicked by a member of the Cal Phil:
All in all it was a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon and do good for an organization that makes such beautiful music.
You need to get to Pasadena. You need to get here.
You’re all very, very lucky that I was smart enough to have photographic & written evidence of everything I consumed last Thursday, because honestly? You don’t want to miss out on Point08 Bar in Pasadena. It has all of the right ingredients for a successful bar: cozy indoors, bar for the chatterboxes, tables for the snugglers, live music, vamped out VIP room, large patio, solid above-the-bar food, premium quality drinks, and bad ass bartenders.
Mister J is positively spoiled with a food/travel writer girlfriend, but point08 would be wasted on him as he does not imbibe. So, I invited my brother out with me instead. Point08 is around the corner from redwhite + bluezz, up the quiet one-way Green Street. We were greeted by manager Will and asked if we’d prefer the bar or dining area. Be near the mixology action or the live music?
Point08 – Bar, image courtesy of L. Lewis
Maybe we should sit in the dining room to have a better view when the Jacques Lesure Trio and Jam Session begin to play?
Dining Area, image courtesy of L. Lewis
Or maybe I should be a greedy monkey and ask for seating in the totally decked out VIP room, which I already had the privilege of viewing?
VIP Room, image courtesy of L. Lewis
Spying a cocktail in the works, my brother quickly grabbed a seat at the bar, thus making the decision for me. There at the bar we met liquid chef Thomas Howard, who proceeded to positively spoiled my brother and I with more than a dozen customized, one-of-a-kind drinks.
This concoction is what pulled my brother to the bar. Cazadores tequila, seven blackberries, habanero, pinch of mint (muddled). I took one sip and nearly burped fire out of my nose before cautiously passing it back to my brother. I like spice, but holy firewater Batman, that was intense.
Chef took pity on me and mixed me up a sweet and refreshing drink using basil, honey water, and Partida Tequila. Refreshing! Being Cinco de Mayo (not a deliberate move on my part) tequila was going to be the star of most of our drinks that evening and Chef began to tell us a bit about the history and regulations of tequila before we moved on to talking a bit about whiskey. And whisky. You’d get that if you were privy to our conversation. Or just happen to be in the know.
On the topic of whiskey, Chef brought out this:
House Spirits Whiskey is from the House Spirits Distillery in Portland, Oregon. Founded by Ryan Magarian, this whiskey has notes of caramel, a bite of pepper and is smooth as satin. My brother fell in love.
Having worked with such heavy hitters of the culinary world as Jose Andres (The Bazaar) and Lucas Paya, Chef gave us a real taste of his schooling in molecular gastronomy with the Chipolte Olive, a deconstruction and reconstruction combing the blending down of a sea algae bath, olive brine, olive juice. It tasted like breakfast, I loved it.
“This is Star Trek food.” – Brother
Time for another drink. Bring out the liquid nitrogen!
I apologize for the fuzzy picture, but I was too busy enjoying the snow like texture of the Blood Orange Margarita, which used Herradura tequila. There is a signature cocktail at point08 similar to this one called Mexican Snow. This one was made special for us.
Salt-Air Margarita is precisely what a margarita should taste like, and Chef is a expert at pulling apart the layers of a margarita and putting them back together, separate but harmonious in tiers of sweet and salty.
It was about this time that we decided to get some food in our bellies to help absorb the copious amounts of alcohol we had already consumed…and have yet to imbibe. None of the entrees caught my attention, but the entire starters list is a treasure trove of delicious, gourmet bar food.
Stuffed Fried Green Tomato: heirloom green tomato, burata mozzarella panko crust, house-crafted green goddess.
If you listened to the debut of my podcast (and if not, why haven’t you?) I talked about comfort food and my favorite indulgences. Fried green tomatoes top my list of favorite fried foods and the point08 spin takes the basic treat to dizzying heights. I especially loved to top a slice with the particularly tasty thick and rich burata mozzarella and sprouts.
The Big Cheese Plate – Smoked Gouda, Derby Sage, and Cheddar with quince paste, prosciutto, blueberries, nuts and crustini’s. Believe it or not, I was going to pass up on this but Chef insisted and who are we to refuse cheese?
Oops, getting behind on some drinks here. We’ll come back to the food in a bit.
Chef named this on the spot, but I was too busy shoving equal amounts of food and drink in my gob that I did not write it down. I distinctly recall “apple” being part of the moniker, so I’m calling it Sweet and Salty Apple for the brim of this drink, which was coated with salt on one side, sugar on the opposite. Notes of apple, lemon and lime tickled my taste buds and it was one of my favorite drinks of the night.
As was this…
As well-versed in the alcoholic arts Chef is, he can whip up a refreshing virgin beverage that makes me think there is alcohol in it. My brother set me straight, though, but only too late to confirm with Chef himself. I guess I could have called Chef, but I don’t want to look like a drunken jackass who wasn’t doing her job. I’m telling you, he was just too fast for my pen, and if I wasn’t keeping it up I’d bring shame on the house of point08. Luckily a quick visit to the point08 website set me straight that this is indeed a virgin delight (stop it, you dirty birdies).
Pepper Delicious. I took one sip of this peppery drink and slid it along the neon blue-lit counter to sit expectantly in front of my brother. “This one is all about you, man.” If there is one relatively common ingredient I don’t indulge in, it’s bell peppers. They just don’t sit well with me. My loss is my brother’s gain, though, because he loved it.
Time to get back to some solids, don’t you think?
Kobe Beef Sliders with Tater Tots – cheese, lemon basil bacon aioli, arugula, caramelized onions, King’s Hawaiian bread, truffle tater tots. If tater tots and French Fries went to war, I don’t know whose side I’d be on. Yes, those are the kind of thoughts that plague me late at night. Long gone are the days when tater tots were only confined to public school cafeteria’s; they’re making a strong impression on the world of gourmet pub grub and make the perfect companion to these fist-sized scrumptious sliders.
Chef decided it was time to switch it up a bit and let us try out some of the point08 signature cocktails. Behold, the Rum-a-Sutra:
Rum-a-Sutra: flora de cana rum, fresh strawberry, mint, basil, orange & lemon. This is a cocktail after my own heart. I let my brother take a couple of sips, but I kept this drink pretty close at hand. Don’t feel sorry for him and scold me for my gluttony, because look what Chef whipped up for him instead:
Moscow Mule: Ginger ale, fresh ginger, homemade ginger syrup, Tito’s vodka, fresh lemon juice served in a pewter cup. Made from yellow corn and distilled six times, Tito’s Vodka is a multi-award winning base for any premium cocktail. Big brother was totally digging it.
Uva Bella: Aviation gin, st. Germain elderflower, muddled muscat green grapes, fresh lemon, Fee Brother’s orange bitters, simple syrup, lemon. OK, I won’t lie: I totally mistook the grape for an olive and tried to call dibs on it. The men laughed, proclaimed I was too drunk but in truth I was not. It was just exceptionally dark at the bar. That is my story and I am sticking to it. Whatever the case, I am a sucker for elderflower and this drink was an exceptionally delicate and floral treat.
We should probably have another bite of food.
Lobster Corn Dogs: Crispy battered lobster tails, sweet chili gel spicy ,whole grain mustard and fresh greens. I’m a big fan of pairing fried food with fresh greens because it tricks my brain into thinking I am having a well-balanced meal. Plus, a little roughage helps the fry go down. I dug the sauces, but I think I’d like to taste a different approach eventually. Maybe a play on garlic-butter, which seems to be paired very well with lobster? Either way, these were delicious and I’d order them again.
Chef suddenly handed us a shot each, and egging me on as I tried to ask questions, demanded I just down it. So I never got the picture of the “Halle Berry” shot but you can use your own imagination of my reaction as I downed a shot of habanero and blackberries. HOLY HELLFIRE, BATMAN. That drink completely Shanghaied me and had the men rolling with laughter as I clutched my glass of water and sucked it dry. The night was winding down and it was time for our last drinks…
Pimm’s Cup: Gin (I believe Chef used Aviation rather than Pimm’s, but I cannot be 100% about that), muddled citrus, lemon, lime & orange wedges, fresh strawberry, mint & cucumber. This was my brothers last drink of the night. A modern spin on a classic, my brother is a big fan of cucumber and loved this drink.
Rose and Gin – I had been eyeballing the bottle of rose syrup behind Chef all evening and finally bugged him enough to give in to my love for all things rose flavored. Sweet like a bouquet of roses, this drink was the perfect ending. Bonus points for the slice of lime!
This night was amazing and could not have happened without the enthusiasm with which Thomas Howard puts forth in all of his mixtures and creations. He lives by the advice of his grandfather, “Find something you love to do and you’ll never work again.”
I wholeheartedly agree!
95 East Green Street
Thank you to Lauren Lewis, Will J. and Thomas Howard for making this point08 review possible. While experience given for consideration, all opinions are my own.