Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mediterranean Cuisine is Afoot at the FIG with Chef Yousef Ghalaini

Spicy Crab and Avocado Toast (Minus the Crab)
Edible Skinny was lucky enough to check out FIG Restaurant in Santa Monica and we’re here to report there’s some fun movement afoot!

I’ve always had a sweetheart spot for the Fairmont Miramar.  Their staff is the definition of hospitality (seriously it’s like they’re characters our of the Grand Budapest Hotel) while they walk the perfect Santa Monica balance of cutting edge and beachy casual!  And if you haven’t heard since October 2014 FIG Restaurant has been under a new captain!

New Executive Chef Yousef Ghalaini has been switching up it up at the Fairmont Miramar shifting FIG’s cuisine from Ray Garcia’s street taco inspired dishes to a more Mediterranean perspective that uses the freshest California ingredients from local farmers.

Blistered Shishito Peppers
As a native of Lebanon, Chef Ghalaini was immersed in the culture of food at his grandfather’s bakery where he learned the art of the wood-burning oven at an early age. Today he’s a master; Ghalaini eagerly awaits the installation of his wood-burning oven at FIG (which should be showing up in the next month or so).  

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, he honed his food and wine skills at Go Fish restaurant and Robert Sinskey Vineyards, before landing at the Michelin-rated REDD restaurant, mastering one of the most celebrated styles of California cuisine.  Most recently, Chef Ghalaini spearheaded the opening of the Bench at the Lodge at Pebble Beach, a casually elegant restaurant on Stillwater Cove featuring California-Med inspired dishes prepared on open flame, as well as stunning views of one of the most famous finishing holes in golf.
Quinoa Salad

One fun dish we sampled while dining at FIG last week was their Blistered Shishito Peppers tossed with lemon, California Olive Oil, and Fleur de Sel ($11).  Spicy and clean tasting it’s the choice compliment for a glass of wine. 

The perfect tea sandwich was the Spicy Crab and Avocado Toast built out of Dungeness Crab (sans for Veggie me), Meyer Lemon Oil, and Radish Sprouts ($16); simple and elegant.

Peanut Butter Crunch Bar
An Edible Skinny favorite is the Quinoa Salad composed of Persian Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes, and a creamy French Feta ($15).  Healthiness disguised in creamy sheep’s milk cheese!  Yummm!

Luckily we finished the night off with Peanut Butter Crunch Bar (or Peanut Butter “Crack Bar” as Jackie over at the Fairmont Miramar calls it!).  Popcorn, chocolate, and peanut butter creaminess that is probably illegal in most states.  It was absolutely divine!

So if you’re wanting to voyage into a more Mediterranean cuisine at one of Santa Monica’s best hotel hamlets it’s time to re-explore FIG.

Here’s to life being delicious!

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