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100 Favorite Dishes

14. Spago's Baked Jonagold Apple

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Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 1:04 PM

click to enlarge Spago's baked Jonagold apple - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • Spago's baked Jonagold apple
Celebrating this year's Best of L.A. issue -- now out in print and online -- we're counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.

14. Spago's Baked Jonagold Apple.

When Spago closed its Beverly Hills doors over the summer, for a $4 million overhaul, it was not simply for a bit of fresh paint. Wolfgang Puck and his crew, many of whom have been with the Austrian-born chef for well over a decade and in some cases closer to two, were busy in the restaurant's giant kitchen -- the view of which now opened up by huge glass doors -- completely overhauling the menu while the dining room was getting a pretty swank redesign. And while Puck, executive chef Lee Hefter and Spago chef de cuisine Tetsu Yahagi were playing with the savory side of the menu, longtime Spago pastry chef Sherry Yard was maybe having even more fun.

Despite the fact that Spago's furniture and the plates and bowls and general ambiance are all a bit less formal, what Yard produces in her pastry kitchen has hardly been streamlined -- or simplified. The dessert menu, which is still being changed -- and will always be in flux, as are the fruits that Yard brings back from the nearby farmers markets -- recently featured some extraordinary odes to chocolate, including a square chocolate tart that operated as an open box, filled with chocolate truffles and triangles of chocolate tuile that formed a beautiful dark sculpture. But the most stunning dessert was the "givre of the day," a single Jonagold apple that looked more like a ball of old-fashioned marzipan on the plate than it did a piece of fruit. The apple had lately made its way from Mike Cirrone's market stall to Yard's kitchen, where it was lightly poached, the interior mostly replaced by a mace-spiked parsnip cake, some Tahitian vanilla creme and green apple sorbet, and then topped with a carapace of brûléed sugar. (This was the lunch version; at dinner, the turnip cake was replaced by an apple soufflé.) The apple top became a lid, coated with a fine layer of sugar which gleamed in the low light. Tiny apple orbs and pomegranate seeds were strewn around the plate. And lastly, thin filaments of spun sugar were perched atop the brûléed apple, maybe signaling, via faint sugar radio waves, to the pastry kitchen, that all was as it should be. Because if anybody could manage that one, it would be Sherry Yard.

100: Lukshon's Dan Dan Noodles
99: Cemita de Milanesa at Cemitas Poblanos Elviritas #1
98: Chichen Itza's Cochinita Pibil
97: Tsukemen at Tsujita L.A.
96: La Cevicheria's Bloody Clam Ceviche
95: Duck Shawarma at Momed
94: Peruvian Chicken at Pollo a la Brasa
93: Squash Blossom Quesadilla at Antojitos Carmen
92: Thai Boat Noodles at Pa-Ord
91: Baco Mercat's Bazole
90: Furikake Kettle Corn at A-Frame
89: Live Santa Barbara Spot Prawns at Providence
88: Fried Pig Tails at Night + Market
87: Egg Salad Sandwich at Euro Pane
86: Galbi Jjim at Soban
85: Truffle Honey-Laced Fried Chicken at Manhattan Beach Post
84: Mool Naeng Myun at Yu Chic Naeng Myun
83: Chicken Vampiro at Mexicali Taco & Co
82: Sooo Cali Dog at Dog Haus
81: White Anchovy, Tomato and Fresno Chile Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza
80: Shu Mai at Elite Restaurant
79: Tandoori Chicken at Al-Watan
78: Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding at The Hungry Cat
77: Agedashi Tofu at Izakaya Bincho
76: Pork Chop at Salt's Cure
75: Porcetto at Sotto
74: The Sea Urchin Tostada at La Guerrerense
73: Wood-Roasted English Peas at Tar & Roses
72: Persian Mulberries at Weiser Family Farms

71: Hunan-Style Preserved Pork with Tofu at Hunan Chilli King
70: Brisket Banh Mi at Gjelina Take Away
69: Yukhwe Bibimbap at Oo-Kook Korean BBQ
68: Lamb Pie at Beijing Pie House
67: Son of a Gun's Uni and Burrata
66: Pastrami Reuben at Art's Delicatessen

65: Beef Koobideh at Kabab Mahaleh
64: The Whipper Burger at Hawkins House of Burgers
63: Slippery Shrimp at Yang Chow
62: Whole Channel Island Red Sea Urchin at Water Grill
61: Going Dutch Panini at Bread Lounge
60: Huckleberry's Green Eggs & Ham
59: Pickled Watermelon Salad at L&E Oyster Bar
58: Spaghettini with Abalone, Pickled Cod Roe and Truffles at n/naka
57: Brown Brown Bread Ice Cream at Scoops Westside
56: Smothered Chicken at R and R Soul Food
55: Duck Fried Rice at Jar
54: Taco Sampler at Guisados
53: The Sycamore Kitchen's Double BLT-A Sandwich
52: House Wonton Soup at China Cafe
51: Almond Croissant at Proof Bakery
50: The Southern Fry at Plan Check Kitchen + Bar
49: The Dodger Dog at Dodger Stadium
48: Papaya Salad at Krua Siri
47: Lucky Baldwins' Traditional Full English Breakfast
46: Edomae Tendon Bowl at Hannosuke
45: The Pescado Zarandeado at Coni'Seafood
44: Hot Wings at Beer Belly
43: Raw Kale Salad at Elf Cafe
42: Steak Tartare Tacos at MessHall
41: Banh Mi at Buu Dien
40: Sicilian Slice at Pizzanista
39: Grilled Baby Goat T-bone at Mozza's Scuola di Pizza Salumi Bar
38: Papri Chaat at Jay Bharat
37: The Island Combo at TiGeorges' Chicken
36: Tacos Al Pastor at Tacos Leo
35: "Sandwich" at Roma Italian Deli
34: Bossam at Kobawoo House
33: Cauliflower T-Bone at Superba Snack Bar
32: Pupusa Revuelta at Atlacatl
31: Bonjiri Yakitori at Kokekokko
30: Crispy Pork with Morning Glory at Crispy Pork Gang & Grill
29: Sashimi Special at Sushi Gen

28: Tamal de Mole Negro at Guelaguetza
27: The Hickoryburger at Apple Pan
26: Lobster Thermidor at Musso & Frank's
25: Poached Pear Coupe at Tavern
24: Coconut Bavarois at Red Medicine
23: The Tasting Kitchen's Pork Rillettes
22: Beef Ribs at Bludso's BBQ
21: Anson Mills Grits & Eggs at Milo & Olive
20: Lamb Dip at Philippe the Original
19: Salsa de Chorizo Con Cesina at Gish Bac
18: Matsuhisa's Yellowtail Scallion Donburi
17: Green Curry Mussels at Jitlada
16: Creamy Pumpkin Soup at BierBeisl
15: Fish Taco from Ricky's Fish Tacos


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