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Aug 19, 2008 09:31 AM

The Pear & Brie sandwich from Elements Kitchen (Pasadena) and other lunch items

Another LA visit and a load of eating around town, but the most memorable food I had during the week has to be the pear and brie sandwich at Elements Kitchen in Pasadena. It doesn't sound like such a hearty offering, but the explosion of flavors really knocked me off of my seat. The sandwich has a coating of an arugula pesto mayonnaise, brie, slices of pear, and candies walnuts (or were they pecans?), on a sandwich bread from Europane that's toasted on a sandwich press, and heated just enough to melt the cheese slightly. Here's a photo:
and a close-up:
This combination of unique flavors work in complete harmony that you wouldn't expect, but pack a punch. I went to Elements Kitchen twice during the week, mostly because of that sandwich.

I did have the opportunity to taste other items which I also enjoyed immensely. The gruyere tart (a special) was outstanding. The pulled pork sandwich tasted a lot more like good carnitas than a carolina style BBQ pork butt, but still delicious. The chicken escabeche sandwich was more in the style of a banh mi, and quite good, though its flavor seemed a lot more subtle after a bite of the pear/brie sandwich. Another winner was the mac n' cheese. Ours was ordered with wild mushrooms and truffle oil. My god, that was decadent. The cucumber/ginger soup had a similar velvety texture with a nice kick from ginger. The Thai carrot coconut soup paired the sweetness of carrots and coconut with the kick of Thai spices similar to tom kha gai. The caprese salad came in two styles; one was a fairly standard napoleon structure with good tomatoes and burrata cheese, and the other one was from a smaller, sweeter tomato that seemed to have been slightly marinated, perhaps in a flavored oil. Less successful for my palate was the wild rice and peach salad.

Desserts were also bold and interesting. On my first visit I tried the pineapple upsidedown cupcake paired with their vanilla ice cream. I love pineapple upsidedown cake, and this was made to be nice and delicate. Why hadn't I thought of making it in a muffin tin? What a brilliant idea. I also tried the cucumber and key lime sorbet which was refreshing and light. On another visit, I tried the pear napoleon which included nicely ripe slices of pear sandwiched between wafers and held together with a maple pecan custard and bits of pecans. The black pepper in the sauce around the napoleon lent a bite that paired well with the sweetness of the custard. The blackberry/blueberry sorbet was also a winner at the table.

Chilled cucumber/ginger soup:
Caprese salad:
Wild mushroom/truffle oil mac n'cheese:
Wild rice salad:
Chicken escabeche sandwich:
Pulled pork sandwich:
Pear napoleon:
Blueberry/blackberry sorbet:

Elements Kitchen is mostly a catering operation, but they do offer lunch in their tiny dining area/lobby, or one of the outdoor tables. They do not offer dinner, as most of their business is catered dinners, but they do offer a tasting menu dinner occasionally. I believe information on that is available only to subscribers to their newsletter.

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  1. That looks very good. Pics of that Brie sandwich are making me feel like having a second breakfast. It's too bad Pasadena is too far to drive to for a sandwich. Are there any places on the west side that serve similar fare?

    1. They also make a damn fine cornbread ... maybe some of the best I've ever had.

      1. Well, I guess I know where I'm having lunch on Saturday :)

        I think I tried a couple of things from them when they had a booth at one of those Pasadena tasting festivals a few years back - don't remember what I had but it was quite good...

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pumpkin_Head

          Forget waiting until Saturday... I know where I'm having lunch in eight hours!

        2. Hi E Eto,

          Great review, and nice to see you on the So Cal boards. :) The food looks and sounds great; I'll have to try this the next time I'm in Pasadena.

          1. Recipe please for the pear and Brie sandwich. Brie is the supreame king of Cheeses. Louis XIV declared it a royal preference.. The sandwich seems to be of French Origins or perhaps Viet Namese(?).
            Now the Carolina BBQ I completely understand since I am in the Native State of origins. Here in the Carolinas ---people wil fight you (literally) over Bar-b-que and who makes the best. Come here during one of the cookoff contests ---you will be pleased---oh that is both North Carolina and South Carolina Bar-b-que----big rivals with Texas and Louisiana Bar-b-que.
            Most of us can not go out to Pasadena and even those of us who live 100 miles away are reluctant to venture into Pasadena because of the traffic.