y4pcT1JaIwGptQJPO6l_mZmgv34 tiffin unboxed

Tiffin Unboxed Has a New Home! http://tiffinunboxed.com

Hello reader.

Let me wish you a very happy 2014. It's hard to believe we are one month down already.

In order to streamline this blog, and make it easier to find and discover, I've relaunched it at a new address: tiffinunboxed.com

Should you be receiving this message, you have somehow not been automatically redirected to the new URL. Please note the new address and update bookmarks as needed.

If you are subscribed to an RSS feed, nothing will change. You will continue to receive new posts. The only difference is that the previous site address will not be updated with new content

Over the past 2 months I've been implementing many lifestyle changes, some intentionally and some that just came up unexpected. More on that later.

As a result I've realized that in order to continue delivering with the quality and frequency I'd prefer, which I've slowly getting farther away from, moving to more of a micro-blogging format makes more sense. Easier to write and easier to read.

If the topic and passions warrant, there might still be some long, detailed, image heavy posts. However, instead of piling my electronic folder full of topics and ideas that I have not yet found time to turn into posts, or keep deferring because they are not as timely as they once were, I'd love to more quickly get the ideas out.

As always, thank you for reading. When I began the blog in 2010 I never expected to exchange ideas with readers and still enjoy blogging so much. Your comments and feedback are always welcome.


Return to the Multi-Course Meal at Chef Curtis Stone's Maude

Chef/Owner Curtis Stone's new Beverly Hills restaurant, Maude, is described in its website as:

"One key ingredient. Nine courses. Twenty-five spots. My dream little restaurant."

For me, as a diner, it was and is my dream restaurant too. It's inspiring, mouth-watering food, intimate location, open kitchen superb service, and mostly, the passion evident in every little detail, just blew me away.

Open for prix-fixe 9-course dinners featuring a monthly "seasonal story", a special ingredient, every seat in the room becomes a chef table experience. 

I was very fortunate to partake in the opening preview, or "friends and family" dinners, thanks to a kind friend. Not only, that but Chef Curtis Stone cooked that night himself. 

The lineup of chefs hail from the likes of legendary restaurants like  AlineaThe French LaundryelBulli, and Joel Rubochon. Just being able to eat their food in one place is impressive in itself.

My excitement was only compounded by the fact that legendary food writer, Ruth Reichl dined at the adjacent table. You can find her spot on write up from the evening over here. Curtis Stone is disarmingly even more charming and handsome as he appears on TV (Top Chef Masters, among other shows). 

Being a celebrity chef I assumed he owned restaurants all over the world. However, Maude, inspired by his grandmother who taught him how to cook, is his first. 

Theme: citrus family

Our star ingredient of the evening, and continuing through February, is citrus - finger limes, Buddha's hands, satsumas, yuzus, blood oranges and more.

The meal began with a succession of snacks - kusshi oysters topped with osetra caviar and rose cava gelee, lime sorbet with cara cara orange segments, crispy mussel with orange aioli, onion bhaji with cilantro cream.

Following came a divine carrot and smoked parsnip soup topped with a piece of crispy serrano jamon, a sublime Garden Salad with nasturtium pesto, pickled onions, frisee and dressed with orange reduction as well as a buttermilk carraway dressing.

Chef Stone grated a dehydrated, cured duck yolk tableside for Duck Duck Goose, a duck and swiss chard raviolo dressed with smoked goose fat and a finger lime beurre blanc.

Each course resulted in the table declaring it their favorite course, but throughout the meal, each course was topped in flavor.

One of my favorites was the spiny lobster crudo with watermelon radish, crimson turnip cream and brioche.

One of the most exciting chicken dishes ever, was this chicken terrine with sunchokes and mushrooms, pain perdu and Djon mustard ice cream. The textures melded flawlessly into a taste explosion.

One of the ultimate table favorites was the comfort food plate of Snake River Farms Beef, with a melt in your mouth beef cheek perched on top of a crisp potato cube, broccoli, rosti and rutabega. The dollops of citrus sauce shone through this flavorful plate of food.

Even when you think you are way past nine courses, a most elegant parade of cheese and desserts come out - Abbaye de Belloc cheese, citrus mostarda, semolina crackers, warm freshly baked orange madeleines with salted caramel and a gorgeous blend of dulcey cremeux, lemon curd, yuzu sorbet and hemp tuiles.

The vintage tableware, including a few pieces from his grandmother throughout the space, adds a colorful touch to the expected white plates.

There is a lovely sense of simplicity in not having to choose from a menu, and its beer and wine (no cocktail) choices. After the meal the menu is brought out to you.

We lingered for some time enjoying the ambiance of classic furniture, stunning peonies, the Vegemite jar on the shelf and the wonderful staff, before ending a superb evening.

For reservations, click here.

Maude on Urbanspoon

Recent Seafood Favorites

Many of my previous posts attest to the fact that I adore seafood. Over the past 6 months or so, I encountered a couple of truly inspiring and mouth watering preparations.

In short, here they are.

Beverly Hills Food and Wine Festival Oct13_Scratch Bar Green Mussel and Sea Urchin Sake Shooter

The Scratch Bar - Green Mussel and Sea Urchin Sake Shooter

This little shot glass holds a citrusy sake fluid and a skewer of green mussel, pickled onion and a touch of chili. They walk you through the fact that it's a two hand process to bite the mussel, drink the shot, then you get to scoop up a glorious mixture of sea urchin and avocado cream.

Trattoria Neopolis May13_i salmon crudo

Trattoria Neopolis - salmon crudo

I've been to this place a couple of times simply for this amazing couple of bites of salmon. It's sashimi grade rich, fatty salmon with a very refreshing citrus, herb, onion, olive oil seasonings. The fish is then sprinkled with sea salt crystals.

Trattoria Neopolis May13_f

Trattoria Neopolis May13_b

The setting is very charming as well, especially the front patio and the bar.

Cousins Maine Lobster Jun13_Connecticut Lobster Roll warmed butter lemon

Cousins Maine Lobster - Lobster Roll

East Coast style seafood "shacks" have definitely been in vogue in the LA dining soon this past year. But quite some time ago this place opened up a pop up restaurant in Pasadena, sharing the space with Live Mixx Lounge.

Their lobster rolls are juicy and naturally sweet. Sadly not too big, they are gone in a couple of bites.

Cousins Maine Lobster Apr13_front entrance

If you are a huge Shark Tank fan like me, you will know that this is one of the show's most successful funded businesses. If you don't mind enjoying freshly shipped Maine lobster in an odd "clubby" type atmosphere, this is much easier than chasing down their trucks or ordering online.

Daisy Mint spice catfish salad Aug13

Daisy Mint - Spicy Catfish Salad

Now my third Pasadena area recommendation kind of demonstrates how the area is coming into its own in terms of food. This salad is a knockout for catfish lovers.

Two generous fried catfish filets come tossed with julienned green apples, shallots, scallions, cilantro, heaps of cashews, in a spicy lime dressing. It hits ever flavor and texture. A jackpot dish!

Daisy Mint lunch Thai Lemon Tea Spicy Catfish Salad Tom Yung KaJul13

It washes down great with their Lemon Thai Tea, a great alternative to lactose sensitive Thai Ice tea lovers.

Koni Seafood Oct13

Coni'Seafood - just about everything!

Pictured from top, clockwise: Smoked Marlin Tacos (just like those in Baja California), shrimp in butter sauce, Ceviche marinero (with mangos and shrimp in Worcesteshire sauce)Camarones a la Diabla, shrimp Aguachiles.

You can really live out all your shrimp fantasies here, in this Mexican seafood paradise in Inglewood, with so many delicious takes on it. The butter rice, chips and tortillas are even top notch as is their famous Pescado Zarandeado (grilled Snook fish).

Sushi Roku Oct13_deluxe chirashi a

Sushi Roku - Chirashi Premium bowl (lunch only)

What is any seafood roundup without sashimi? This gorgeous bowl is off menu and served only during lunch. In fact we had to ask the Manager for it. It is pricey but worth it. The edible flowers add so much beauty to the captivating bowl including fresh fish such as bluefin tuna, toro, Scottish salmon, amberjack, sea bream, sea urchin, marinated salmon roe, tamago, shrimp, octopus and snow crab leg.

Sushi Roku Oct13_deluxe chirashi b

This well seasoned cucumber slice shows off their stunning knife work, and the sushi rice is perfect. It was one of the only times I finished all the rice in my bowl and wanted more. Surprisingly good for my expectations in a corporate style restaurant.

These local standouts demonstrate a small sampling of seafood bounty around town. What are your recent favorites?

Racion, Basque tapas with a California Twist

Racion Apr12_sangriaFor a long time I've been wanting to write about Racion, a charming French/Spanish Basque region with California twist restaurant in Pasadena. As of the last couple of years Pasadena has really come into its own food scene.

It used to be a given that I'd have to go out of area to enjoy interesting food. Although a fair share of chain and corporate style restaurants remain, there are definitely more choices for the foodie.

While not everyone has been raving about Racion, in my two meals there, I've had no complaints. Mind you, I am no expert in Spanish food, but have been to Spain more than once and tried the real thing.

For starters, their sangria boasts a beautiful burgundy color and depth of flavor - fruity without being too sweet.

Racion Apr12_amuse bouche trout

On my first visit with a larger group, they brought out these amuse bouches of fresh trout on thin toasty crisps.

Racion Apr12_menu manos pintxos palillo tenedor

Racion Apr12_menu cuchillo

The menu is divided into Pintxos (small snacks served on house made bread), Manos (bar snacks), Tenedor (tapas to share) and Cuchillo (raciones to share).

Racion Apr12_setas white bean puree wild mushrooms sweet sherry

The setas consist of white bean puree spread on toast, topped with wild mushrooms cooked in sweet sherry and fresh herbs.

Racion Jun13 calamar a la plancha on toast

Calamar a la plancha, or grilled calamari on toast, also sits atop a bed of caramelized onions, which the menu describes as "melted", and lemon aioli.

Racion Apr12_soldaditos de pavla salt cod fritters lemon dust

On the same vein, the manos of salt cod fritters with lemon cream and herbs could go terribly wrong. But they came out crispy, light and fluffy on the inside and the lemon cream balanced the saltiness well.

Racion Apr12_clamares rellenos duck sausage stuffed squid brava sauce 1

One of the very enticing and popular dishes is the duck sausage-stuffed squid, brava sauce, squid ink sauce. It packs a lot of flavor and color.

Racion Apr12_clamares rellenos duck sausage stuffed squid brava sauce 2

Racion Apr12_coliflor ahumado smoked cauliflower steak ajo blanco amonds

While it's on the light side of the cuchillo menu, the coliflor ahumodo, or smoked cauliflower steak, ajo blanco, almonds, showed a satisfying way to enjoy vegetables as an entree.

Racion Apr12_fideua negra spanish pasta squid ink poached quail egg mussels baby squid

The fideua negra did not impress some of my dining partners, but for a classic dish with a California twist, I enjoyed it. They do not claim perfect authenticity.

The buttery fideua was composed of Spanish pasta, mussels, poached quail egg and baby squid. Everything blended in so you could not see everything, but could certainly taste it.

Racion Apr12_paella deconstruida crispy prawns lobster rice bouillabaisse

Finally, another one of my favorites, the paella deconstruita of crispy prawns, lobster rice, bouillabaise really allowed tasting and enjoying all components separately. On the current menu, I believe it's called arroz con gambas.

I personally prefer risotto and biriyani over paella as far as rice dishes go. This light version with plenty of caramelized, griddled rice brought out lovely brininess, crunch and broth. It streamlines the dish in a clever way.

These dishes illustrate the style and some highlights from Chef Teresa MontaƱo's menu of several months to possibly a year ago. The menu does change often and may not include all these dishes, but there are some mainstays. The lunch menu pares things down to tapas mainly and the dinner menu also offers cheese, charcuterie, desserts and other items not covered here.

Overall, Racion, at the spot of the former Tre Venezie Trattoria, a very popular Italian restaurant, stands as a solid meal choice in Old Town Pasadena.

Racion on Urbanspoon

Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead - at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Besides the vibrant folk art inspired by Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday honoring departed loved ones, I've never partaken in the many celebrations. This year the time came to finally experience an L.A. annual institution of Dia de los Muertos at the legendary Hollywood Forever cemetery.

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_aa arch Hollywood sign

It may appear strange that hordes of Angelenos spend days and nights at the cemetery, however, this venue regularly hosts very enjoyable events including film screenings throughout the year. And this particular event with rainbow colors and festivity evokes far more joy than any amount of sadness.

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_aa entrance

A couple of friends and I decided to meet there during the earliest entrance window of 12-4:00 p.m. with the ability to leave any time. I knew we'd miss a lot of the interesting crowds that show up at night, but skipping the crowds ranked up high in my criteria.

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_peacocks a
resident peacocks
Dia de los Muertos Oct13_peacocks b

Being there in the afternoon yielded strong sunlight and sunburn. On the other hand it also gave us a chance to witness altar assembly, have great lighting for photos and when late afternoon arrived we saw our share of the lively visitors starting to stream in for the after dark celebrations.

Essentially the four key visual components are the private altars, processions, art (on the grounds) and most importantly - the people.


The altars offer family and friends their favorite foods, sugar skulls, sacred marigolds and other personal mementos or possessions of their earthly lives. These tributes displayed amazing creativity and love.

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar j Alice
Alice in Wonderland altar
Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar d
Johnny and Deedee Ramone altars
Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar f

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar c1

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar c2

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar r

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar b

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar e

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar h2

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar h3

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar i

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar a

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar g

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar k1

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar k2

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar l

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar m

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar n
interactive altar
Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar o

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar p

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar q

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar s

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Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar u

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar v
grand entrance
Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar w

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar x
beautiful tribute to grandparents
Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar y

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar z
Hello Kitty supporting cancer
Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar za

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_altar zd
interactive altar with Loteria cards
Dia de los Muertos Oct13_sage coconut altar
burning sage, fresh coconut refreshment, baked offerings at altar


The holiday apparently originates from the indigenous Aztec festivals, which explained the beautiful Aztec dances and processions throughout the event.

Several sets of stilt walkers navigated the grass.

Frankly it was hard to tell who was part of the procession or were guests joining in. That made it more exciting.

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_a procession

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_a procession stilt walkers

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_c procession Aztec dancers

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_e procession Aztec dancers

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people d

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people f

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people i

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people j

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people l


As I mentioned, the folksy artwork always spoke to me. In addition to the altars, the grounds consisted of its fair share of characters, statues, art for sale, booths with goods to purchase and activities.

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_art b
the scale of these people indicate how large the figures are, on the same wall
films get proejcted during screenings
Dia de los Muertos Oct13_art c

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_art d

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_art e

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_art f

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_art i
the large masoleum contained altars and artwork on display
Dia de los Muertos Oct13_art j

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_art k

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_art l

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_art m

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_art o

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Dia de los Muertos Oct13_art q

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_face painting
one of many face painting booths
Dia de los Muertos Oct13_LACMA booth
LACMA art booth for children


What makes this event are the people, who really brought everything into it. It encouraged most of my friends to engage in face painting and perhaps tempted us to dress up all the way next time.

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people p
my favorite photo of the day, unstaged

Skulls, called calaveras in Mexico, are the most iconic symbol of this holiday. Pulling from Aztec traditions as well as Spanish Catholic All Saints Day festivals, the skeleton motifs positively symbolize rebirth and higher levels of consciousness, including overcoming fear of death.

It also gives license for some partying and mischievous behavior, but the intention is different from the Halloween spooky themes.

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people k

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people m

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people n

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people r

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people a

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people b

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people c

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people g

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people h

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people o
one of the few smiling characters
Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people q

Dia de los Muertos Oct13_people s

People were so kind about posing for photos and giving face. In many of the altar shots the family posed to complete the setting, if you could catch them at the right time.

Overall, the experience uplifted and entertained and it may just become an annual activity.