It’s time for L.A. chefs to have their spring flings.
Out in Pasadena, nestled in the popular Old Town, chef Bruce Kalman gives spring vegetables the spotlight in his elegant risotto primavera at Union. The restrained dish allows the sweetness of the English peas, fava beans, asparagus, and wild nettles to shine.
Kalman’s menu also makes excellent use of freshly laid eggs of all kinds available here in Southern California. “Everything is better with an egg,” says Kalman, who puts a fresh farmhouse egg atop his skillful remake of carbonara with ricotta and wild nettle cavatelli, which he makes by dehydrating wild nettles and adding it to the pasta dough. His pastas have a toothsome quality that brings your fork springing back again and again for the next bite.
In Manhattan Beach, Love & Salt chef Michael Fiorelli, the man who created a corned lamb tongue panini as his take on a Reuben sandwich, is known for concocting meadow-and-pasture dishes using unconventional meats. Love & Salt’s comforting spring pea agnolotti with rabbit meatballs served in a bowl of parmesan broth is a great paean to the season.
Even closer to the pier in Manhattan Beach is Fishing with Dynamite, where chef David LeFevre is serving a dense-fleshed halibut on a bed of chard and Bloomsdale spinach with a citrus beurre blanc, spring onions, and Nueske’s bacon. And although it’s not strictly a spring dish, LeFevre sometimes serves meaty abalone slices dipped in yuzu-ponzu sauce and resting on daikon and fresh basil. This is a rare treat whose availability is wholly dependent on what divers are able to bring up from the sea.
Union, 37 E. Union St., Pasadena, 626-795-5841
Love & Salt, 317 Manhattan Beach Blvd., 310-545-5252
Fishing with Dynamite, 1148 Manhattan Ave., 310-893-6299