Saturday, December 13, 2014


For a few years now I have been reading food writers and blogs literally scream praises for Jessica Koslow's hand crafted Sqirl preserves. Trained in high end restaurants. Koslow started peddling her homemade jams at local farmer's markets and those rave reviews somehow converged into a let's say compact East Hollywood/ Silverlake cafe.
As a fervent amateur jelly maker I've been wanting to taste what all the fuss was about and one recent morning I stumbled over to try.
Despite an interesting and fairly extensive (for the size of the kitchen and compact dining room) menu and a shockingly beautiful, elegantly rustic selection of baked goods (Koslow was once employed as a pastry chef in Atlanta's Bacchanalia restaurant) the most famous dish at Sqirl is toast. Fluffy brioche toast and a choice of jam. The bread is airy. Not heavy with eggs and sugar as brioche can be but almost spongy with deep brown toasted crust. Swirl offers a selection of jam flavors each day and because I seemed interested the bubbly gal behind the counter brought me a tasting spoon of each one on offer. The cranberry bourbon and raspberry vanilla to me were fine I'd stack any of my homemade flavors against them and come out ahead I think. But, the blueberry rhubarb (pictured on the toast above) and strawberry rose geranium literally burst with fruit flavor. An addictive blend of sweet and acidic these preserves, despite their oddly loose texture, sparkled in a way that made me determined to make mine better. I can taste what the fuss is about.

The subject of nearly as many poetic reviews as her jams are Sqirl's breakfast rice creations. Savory or sweet, these combinations seem like a chef's very sophisticated take on leftovers. I can almost picture Koslow, fridge handle in hand, thinking . . .  maybe a touch of pesto . . .  where was that feta cheese and . . . oh yes topped with an egg. The kokohu rose rice bowl I ordered had kind of a spontaneity to it. I'm sure it didn't but it felt like a dish that just happened. A -- for lack of a better description -- what I want to eat right now kind of feeling.
I love rice. I often scramble it with eggs for breakfast and if we've had spaghetti recently I might toss in a dollop of pesto or charred tomatoes. Swirl's sorrel petso is flavorful and herby and not cluttered with cheese (as mine often is). Tasty, but again the preserves are the star of this dish. I might have described this breakfast combination as fine or not especially memorable if not for the super vibrant, puckery preserved lemon condiment served on top. I would happily order that by the bucketful.
The dining room is micro at best. Though tables sprawl down the sidewalk you'll likely have to wait for a place to sit and from what I've seen the line to order can sprawl dozens deep. This isn't fast food by any means. But if you have the time to linger Sqirl is certainly worth the visit. I'll go back for certain.

No comments:

Post a Comment