Simple 4-Ingredient Aioli

Making aioli is funny. It’s simple and fairly easy, but does require some strict guidelines. People tend to get religious about what goes into a good aioli and I didn’t really understand that until I started making it by hand myself.

Step 1: Make sure you’re completely alone. The more eyeballs pointed at the aioli, the more likely it’s going to break.

Step 2: Crush one clove of garlic and a pinch of salt in your mortar. If you don’t have a mortar, a metal bowl would work second best, and then a ceramic bowl last. I like to use something that has a rough texture inside because I think it aerates the aioli better.

Step 3: Add in an egg yolk and stir, incorporating it into the garlic paste. You can use the pestle, but I find a fork or a small whisk goes faster.

Step 4: Add in your oil* drop by drop while stirring at first until the mixture looks glossy. Once it’s glossy, you can start adding oil in a thin stream while stirring**.

* I like to use a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and a more mild oil like canola. I know the traditional provencal way is to use all olive oil, but sometimes I don’t want the olive oil taste to overpower the whole thing.

** Maybe this is living on the edge, but I let the stream drip into the mixture until it looks like it’s almost about to break. Then I stop the oil and stir quickly to incorporate. Then I repeat. If this sounds too risky, just add less oil at a time and stir for longer.

Since I never measure anything, I usually figure the aioli is done (has enough oil) when it’s the thickness I want and is a pale yellow color. I’ve never tried this, but if you want smoother, thinner texture, whisk in at most tablespoon of warm water, drip by drip.

Sunday Tapas Dinner

sunday_dinner3

I know, I know. Tapas are so over.  But that doesn’t make them less fun to eat out doors.  To celebrate the coming of summer, we had our first outdoor dinner of the year. Well, maybe not really our first since we did have a barbecue a few weeks ago, but one of our first.

sunday_dinner2

Will made most of the food. I contributed by making, breaking, and then fixing an aioli for the potatoes.  For dinner, we had patatas bravas (from this Serious Eats recipe that uses the bravas part loosely), marinated carrots, white bean salad, mushrooms sauteed in white wine, and some random things like cornichons, roasted red peppers, olives, and a hunk of cheese for me.

sunday_dinner1

For dessert, we had something so simple but so good. Figs and apricots broiled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Broiled apricots are amazingly good! They taste like super concentrated apricots.

Pono Burger

Disclaimer: This was a work-sponsored lunch and the burger might have suffered from the 20-second walk from the restaurant to my office.

Inside Pono burger.

For months, my colleagues and I were awaiting the opening of Pono Burger.  A casual restaurant right next door from our office that was even closer than Bay Cities? Yes please.  Well, Pono Burger finally opened on Wednesday and we ventured over on Thursday to order some burgers for our team lunch.

I had the Pono burger cooked a little pink inside with raclette cheese and avocado and some sweet potato fries.  The burger itself was well put together, a good size, and best of all, stayed together till the last bite.  The beef patty was hearty without being too greasy or overwhelming and was cooked to my liking.  The cheese and avocado added to the richness of each bite and the lettuce was wonderfully green and crisp. The brioche bun was also great in that it didn’t disintegrate at the end, which is a pet peeve of mine when it comes to fancier burgers. I forgot to take note of the famed Pono sauce on the burger, but I guess it’s good that it didn’t overpower or distract from the burger experience. Overall, a very decent burger.

Pono Burger from next door.

The sweet potato fries were cut thinly and met expectations.  They were not as crunchy as I would have liked, but tasted healthier, so maybe that’s why.

To wash down my burger and fries, I also ordered a house-squeezed lemonade, which was a little too sweet for me.  Later in the day, I stopped by for a salted caramel milkshake (ordered without the bacon bits) and it really hit the spot.  The shake was so thick I had trouble drinking it from a straw. I liked that it wasn’t as sweet thanks to roasted flavor of the caramel and the little bit of salt.

My vegetarian colleague ordered the meatless burger, which was a large portabella mushroom instead of a meat patty. I kind of think they went the lazy route with that since anyone can stick a portabella on a grill and call it a burger.  It’s too bad they didn’t expand their menu a little bit to add a house-made veggie patty.

Was Pono burger worth the wait? Yes. It’s going to be hard not ordering from that place all the time now.

Pono Burgers
829 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA.
310.584.7005