Best Smoked Fish - 2011
Michel Cordon Bleu
Michel Blanchet has all the markings of a pedigreed French chef, including a lingering Loire Valley accent and cherubic foie gras paunch. But the owner of Michel Cordon Bleu fell for the Scottish side of the hors d'oeuvres plate when he opened his Leimert Park smoked fish factory 15 years ago. That's no small protein defection for the former chef of L'Ermitage, L.A.'s famed, and long-shuttered, French fine-dining destination. But there are clear French touches here. For starters, these are hardly the leathery flaps of overly smoked fish with unsettling shelf lives that Americans have come to expect on the corporate cocktail-party circuit. That Blanchet's salmon and trout have a surprisingly subtle flavor and delicate texture, even after a devoted half-day hickory smoke, is reflected in his pedigreed wholesale client list, which reads like a Top Chef: Masters roster. Fortunately, local proletariat consumers like us can partake in Blanchet's more affordable, and perfectly unadorned, retail renditions. Available at McCall's Meat and Fish, 2117 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz. (323) 667-0674, mccallsmeatandfish.com; for additional locations, go to mcbleu.com or call (323) 766 0801.