This month's tastes span the globe from a Kosher/Tunisian burger to a traditional Mexican dessert. In between are stops at Azerbaijan, the Republic of Georgia and India, examples of the wonderful world of food we have today.
1.Harissa burger. You think you've seen every kind of burger? Well, not until you've tasted this one, from Harissa Restaurant (formerly Got Kosher? Cafe). To start with, it's on a pretzel bun, brushed with harissa mayo. Owner Alain Cohen is famous for his pretzel challah, and the buns are terrific too. He also makes the harissa and mixes some of that with grass-fed beef. Other components are preserved lemon, balsamic onion and roasted tomato, adding up to an exotic bundle of bread and beef with the flavors of Cohen's native Tunisia.
Harissa Restaurant, 3304, 8914 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035. (310) 858-1920. The restaurant is closed Passover week, reopening April 8.
2. Adjarski is the Republic of Georgia's khachapuri, a specialty of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. At Furn Saj Bakery, it's listed on the overhead menu as Adjarski rather than khachapuri. This long, boat-shaped bread filled with cheese and eggs is fantastic to share as a snack. The one in the photo is made with scrambled eggs, which meld beautifully with the cheese as the bread bakes. The other choice is eggs sunny side up.
Furn Saj Bakery, 11146 Balboa Blvd., Granada Hills, CA 91344. (818) 368-4000.
3. Azerbaijani plov (pilaf). This sumptuous, saffron-seasoned dish of rice, lamb, apricots, prunes and chestnuts was served at a recent Azerbaijani Novruz celebration. It came from Cafe 21 in San Diego, whose owners are from Azerbaijan. Plov isn't on the Cafe's regular menu but can be special ordered for a group.
Cafe 21, 802 5th Ave., San Diego, CA 92101. (619) 795-0721.
4. Fruit Salad at India's Tandoori in Brentwood. Spicy and sweet, the salad appears on the buffet occasionally, not every day. Here it's served like a drink, immersed in delicious juices. The fruits are grapes, raspberries, strawberries, lychees, jackfruit, orange segments and mango, seasoned with subtle dashes of chaat masala, garam masala, ground red chile, white and black cardamoms, mint and salt. Owner Martin Shah says the sweetness comes from lychees pureed with orange juice, not sugar.
India's Tandoori, 11819 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. (310) 268-9100.
5. Capirotada from La Mascota. This Lenten bread pudding from La Mascota was dense, very rich and tasted of pineapple at the top. Lent may be over, but La Mascota has many more breads, cakes and pastries to choose from.
La Mascota, 2715 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90023. (323) 263-5513.