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Polenta; Risotto; Eggs

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I want to learn to cook things that I haven't eaten a lot of, which means that I need to find some good examples around town to get a better sense of what I should be emulating. I'm not looking for the best (budget restrictions apply), but merely the respectable. The kind of thing that you think of when you think of what's typical.

Polenta: I've had some and I want more. It seems like restaurants always serve polenta as a cake, but I want it creamy. Do I have to go to cucina fancypants for that?

Risotto: There are two things I'm trying to figure out--the texture of the kernels and the viscous creaminess of their goo. Are there other places than trattoria moneybags to get a decent bowl of risotto?

Eggs: I've recently realized that everything I thought I new about eggs was wrong. I want to taste a real french omelette with the skin and scrambled insides (though I'll take a poached or fried egg on top of most anything too). Do I need to be richie rich to afford such an egg?

Thanks for contributing to my education.

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  1. For the polenta, my suggestion is Dunarea on Euclid Street in Anaheim, near La Palma. It's not an Italian restaurant, but Romanian, and it serves mamaliga, which is Romanian for polenta. Polenta isn't hard -- recipes abound -- you just have to stir.

    Same for risotto... though for risotto that's mid-priced, I would go to Maria's Italian Kitchen, which is a small chain, mostly in the Valley.

    I can't help you on French omelettes as I hate omelettes.

    1. I had really good creamy mushroom polenta at Little Dom's in Los Feliz last night. It was the first time I'd had it in that creamy style. Much much better than the cakes, I thought. More like grits.

      1. Galletto's Bar and Grill in Westlake, a typical Brazilian family restaurant like you would find in Sao Paulo, with Brazilian and Italian food.They serve a soft polenta with sausages and a mushroom risotto. Soft polenta and rissotto can be found all over Brazil, finding these tiems is as easy as falling off a log.Around $20 each dish.

        1. You didn't say what area but if Glendale works, there is Far Niente for your risotto request. It's been a long time but I used to get really good risotto there http://www.farnienteristorante.net/in... I just thought of something regarding your egg request. Totally not what you are asking for but bi bim bap is a dish that you will find at many Korean restaurants which is essentially left over vegetables and meat with rice that comes in a volcanically hot stone ware bowl. Many places serve it by bringing the egg and cracking it on top of the dish in front of you for you to mix in. It cooks instantly. Yum!

          1. I cook risotto all the time and omelets every day. It's hard to find a restaurant willing to invest the nearly 30 minutes of almost-constant stirring required for a high-quality risotto or the 20–30 seconds of focused violence needed to produce a soft, creamy, thin-skinned and tri-folded omelet of the French persuasion.

            For risotto: Valentino, of course -- expensive but creamy and delicious.

            For omelets: Unfortunately, I've had only one decent restaurant omelet in California (at Bette's Oceanview Diner in Berkeley), but I'm hoping your inquiry surfaces a few more places. Most breakfast cafes produce what I call a lawyer's omelet -- one that's cooked pancake-style on both sides to make sure that no germs remain to harm the tummies of litigious customers. (Of course, that also means a dry, tough texture and poor taste.)

            My advice is to keep looking for restaurants, yes, but start reading: Marcella Hazan's first couple of Italian cookbooks for risotto and Julia Child's classic description of omelet-making, available all over the Web (e.g.: http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/auth... ). Follow her guide, and remember that you have to be fearless in throwing those eggs around the pan!

            1. I've heard good things about risotto at Fraiche.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jaykayen

                Thanks all for the tips. I'll look in to them. I've been doing a good amount of reading about these and other curiosities, but there's only so much you can learn from photos or written descriptions (or, in Julia's case, tv).

                Sigh...It's a real shame that one has to go to a place like Fraiche for a decent bowl of risotto. None of these things are especially difficult to make well. I guess there's just more demand for potatoes and such. Maybe a better strategy is to go hunting for grandmothers.

              2. I just had an amazing creamy polenta at Il Fornaio in Pasadena. It was served covered with a shredded beef ragou. Delish.