Archive for November, 2009

15 Foods I’m Thankful For

November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection. A time to think about how great we have it, even during this tumultuous recession, amidst a two-front war. So in addition to family, friends and my health, I’d like to give thanks for the main sources of happiness in my life:

Marie Sharps Habañero Sauce
Good on avocado, pizza, soup- everything you taste will taste better with Marie.

Bacon, anything and everything…
…says the Jew.

Garbanzo Beans/Chickpeas
I don’t know why I like them so much, I just do.

Bay Cities Godmother
All other sandwiches can kiss the ring.

Dumplings
Bite-sized, versatile and called many different things by many different people. Dumplings are universally fantastic.

Artichokes
Whoever decided to eat this crazy thing was more adventurous than any food marathoner. All the work it takes to get to the heart, makes it that much more enjoyable.

Avocados
Rich, simple and unique.

Bissli
Although some people say this Israeli snack tastes like dog food, I haven’t eaten dog food so I wouldn’t know. I like them so haters can bite me.

Foie Gras
Sorry ducks and geese… and my cholesterol. You all must suffer at the hands of deliciousness.

Tom Yum Soup
The spiciest, sweetest, most mouth-watering soup to ever be ladled.

Shrimp
I like them as many ways as Forrest Gump.

Henry’s Tacos
You can keep your Tito’s, taco trucks and Kogi. Henry’s is my Americanized taco and burrito of choice.

Matzo Ball Soup
I like almost every kind of soup, but matzo ball is my favorite. It reminds me of my childhood and comforts better than a Snuggie. It’s also more recognizable that gefilte fish.

Scotch
The long evolution of my drinking career has wisely ended at scotch. Nothing warms quite like it.

Padma Lakshmi eating Carl’s Jr
Something about too much of a good thing.

So what are you thankful for?

The 11 in 11 Food Marathon

November 22, 2009

The 11 in 11 Food Marathon is 11 restaurants and/or bars in 11 hours. I didn’t create this marathon but I participated in this year’s Nocturnal Edition. It ran from 11pm Saturday night to 11am Sunday morning. As I groggily type this post, I’m confident it was the most intense food marathon to date.

The agenda was mapped out, and like any food marathon was bound to be changed on the fly.

1st Stop: Animal

Still crowded at 11pm on Saturday night, 40 of us invaded Animal for pork belly sliders. We rotated through our table of twelve so everyone could get a bite before the insane trip began. I jumped in the car with Matt from Dig Lounge and his prettier better half and we were off… (11:38pm)

2nd Stop: Masan Restaurant

We shuffled into a private room int he back of Masan. This Korean seafood restaurant is famous for their live octopus. So we ordered them up, tentacles still sticking to our tongues as we swallowed the bland, chewy sea creatures. The uni was sweet, fresh and a terrific pick me up after the shock value of the squirming octopus. The monkfish soup had a good spicy bite, with boney fish and vegetables. Before they knew what hit them we were on our way out. We got to try the nastiest food in the restaurants- sea squirts on the way out and it left a terrible taste in my mouth. (12:43am)

3rd Stop: HMS Bounty

The sea squirt flavor was nothing a Red Bull and vodka couldn’t conquer at the HMS Bounty. We took over the back room, slowing our pace as we’d reached the one destination that would close while we were there. (1:38am)

4th Stop: El Taurino

This bustling taco truck parks outside El Taurino’s brick and mortar restaurant. Fifteen of us chose the truck while the rest opted for the indoor dining option. I ordered and ate my carne asada and lengua tacos before our group had even ordered inside. (2:25am)

While waiting for our tacos we notice an amazing mullet.

This guy had literally taken his friend’s girlfriends hair extensions and stuck them on the back of his head. He was the hit of the night.

5th Stop: Original Tommy’s

While the indoor orderers at El Taurino waited forever for their food, we moved on to Tommy’s. I had a chili burger, which I didn’t finish. The patty was literally gray but the chili was as good as ever. This stop was pretty painful. (3:03am)

6th Stop: Nak Won House

Nak Won was our first real, un-rushed meal. We ordered grilled beef, bulgogi, bi bim bap and kimchi fried rice. We enjoyed most of it (the beef was whatever). Overall it seems like a decent Korean drunk stop, but by no means the best in K-Town. (3:32am)

7th Stop: Pal Cabron

As an added bonus Bricia and Fernando from Pal Cabron had joined us at HMS Bounty. They invited us back to their restaurant for a special cemitas y clayudas fiesta. The drive over was rough and I was starting to doubt my late night food marathoning abilities. (4:50am)

8th Stop: The Original Pantry Cafe

The Pantry is famous because it’s old and it’s always open. The food their is unbearable. I didn’t even take a picture of the pre-re-repeat-heated bacon. I don’t drink coffee but this one did the trick. We were making it over the hump. (5:38am)

9th Stop: Rooftop at the Standard Downtown

We watched the sun rise on the roof of the Standard Downtown. It’s a great location, was a special part of the night and I’m glad Jeff was able to pull it off. Bloody Marys christened the daylight. (6:20am)

10th Stop: Sapp Coffee Shop

Our breakfast of champions consisted of Sapp Coffee Shop’s famous boat noodles. This is noodles with animal innards and broth thickened with blood. The spicy, salty flavor makes me wonder how cereal became the staple American breakfast. I’ll take Thailand’s ten to one. (7:37am)

11th Stop: Huckleberry

For a more civilized (read: boring) breakfast we traveled towards the sea to Huckleberry. We actually didn’t look that bad at this point. They don’t have bagels and cream cheese so we went with the salmon sandwich on a baguette. It did the trick, but couldn’t compare to the next sandwich…. (9:14am)

12th Stop: Bay Cities Deli

For the last food stop of the marathon we got a party sub from Bay Cities Deli. I’ve written about the Godmother many times so go read about it there. (10:19am)

13th Stop: The Joker

Last and certainly close to least was Santa Monica’s dive bar, The Joker. The place is dark, dank and full of older men who were very surprised to see us. We talked about the best ’11’ related drink (Tanqueray #10 + 1 shot?) but I just went with a good old fashioned Budweiser. (11:22am)

It was a monumental food marathon and Jeff, Jason, Noah, Mark and everyone else involved deserve huge accolades for organizing and finishing it. HC also lived up to his position as hardcore all powerful foodventurer with the Great Walk in the morning, the full 11 in 11 and then a chocolate boutique opening in Malibu.

6 Restaurants and Their Car Equivalents

November 19, 2009

The car is as important to Los Angeles as pinstripes are to the Yankees. It’s also a vital part of food marathoning. Since the first food marathon back in 1996, the time spent driving to each restaurant- reminiscing, joking, plotting the course of least traffic- is as enjoyable as the time spent eating at each restaurant. On the 6 Freeway Food Marathon, driving time was probably five times longer than eating time.


So with this level of importance and my general love of cars, I put together a list of which cars most aptly represent local restaurants:

McDonald’s is the most famous fast food restaurant and the Ford Mustang is its car equivalent. Both are fast, both come in famous reds, both have sold millions, and both are classics. They changed the way food and cars were thought of after their respective successes. They also are still around today, adapting to the changing times, fighting to stay relevant.

On the burger flip side there’s In-N-Out- unquestionably the best fast food burger in California. The Chevy Bel Air is it’s car equivalent. Just as the In-N-Out double double sports a pair of patties, the Bel Air is famous for its pair of rear fins. The Bel Air is harder to find than the Mustang, which can also be said for In-N-Out vs McDonald’s.

Musso & Frank Grill is one of the oldest restaurants in LA and the Ford Model T would have to be its car equivalent. Although the Model T is famous for the process by which it was made (thus making it closer to McDonald’s), its age is what ties it to Musso & Frank.

The Cheesecake Factory is all about grotesque size (and recently, sexual harassment). What better car equivalent than the Hummer? I avoid Cheesecake Factory for dinner and Hummers in parking lots. I’m not sure which are cheesier, the cheesecakes or the guys driving the Hummers.

The Ivy is an expensive restaurant that’s built to be photographed. The Ferrari Testarossa (made famous by Miami Vice) is its car equivalent. They’ve both spent a lot of time in front of the camera, both are operated by men in pink shirts and neither are wise investments in this economy.

Last but not least is one of the most famous landmarks of LA- Pink’s Hot Dogs.  Although a pink Cadillac is the obvious choice, I think a dirty old limo is a more appropriate car equivalent. The car is always long, like the line at Pink’s. The car smells bad, like you after eating Pink’s. Both exemplify the outsider’s perception of Los Angeles vs the reality of Los Angeles- it seems glamorous but it’s really just big and dirty.

Soda Pop’s Sandwich Shop

November 18, 2009

Dear Dave,

Thank you for doing lunch right. Your new sandwich shop, Soda Pop’s, is the simple, easy restaurant I need in my regular rotation.

Blackburn and Sweetzer tipped me to your opening. As my office is right up the street, your convenient location with parking in back and fresh, tasty sandwiches are ideal with quick lunches.

Your prices ($9 for a large turkey sandwich with home made potato chips and a pickle) are spot on for the neighborhood.

Your soda selection will keep my palate from getting bored.

Your pickles will keep me going back to the soda case.

You really have done right what places like Potato Chips totally screwed up.

I’ll be back often. I just hope you’re not too crowded when I do.

Sincerely,

FM

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Soda Pop’s
349 N. La Cienega Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
310-967-0119

Spontaneous Venice Food 5k

November 18, 2009

Coca Cola has new aluminum bottles. As much as I hoped it would be, this is not exciting.

Nor was the food at their event (corn dogs with Coca-Cola ketchup- because ketchup wasn’t sweet enough already).

What was exciting was the event was at the Hotel Erwin in Venice,

which means I can make a joke about the massive corporate soda company throwing a coke party at the pot hotel (the Erwin’s restaurant is called Hash, their rooftop lounge is called High and it’s located just off the stoner-heavy Venice boardwalk).

More exciting however is it meant I was finally able to get to The Brig to try whichever food truck was serving out of their parking lot.  So we not-so-stealthily snuck out the back door of the Erwin,

and went to The Brig to discover The Grilled Cheese Truck parked outside.

We waited in the short line, ordered the Harvest Melt, Cheesy Mac, tomato soup, tater tots and pickles.

Both sandwiches were grilled to perfection, with oozing cheese and crispy crusts. The tater tots were just like mom used to make them but the tomato soup wasn’t great. It was like a watered down version of Trader Joe’s box soups.

We drank and watched the end of the Laker game.

The food truck movement is definitely a good thing for LA. People have to get out of their beloved cars and stand next to each other- maybe even talk to each other. This causes a sense of community, a shared experience, something LA needs more of. It’s also fun to eat tater tots while drinking beer on a spontaneous food adventure.

Let Someone Else Cook for Thanksgiving

November 13, 2009

DINNER AT HOME

Zeke’s Smokehouse is selling take-out Hickory Smoked Turkey and all the Southern Zekes Smokehouse Signinspired trimmings you can imagine (roasted yam puree, Southern Style Green Beans etc.). Zeke’s is offering a 14-16lbs pre-cooked Hickory Smoked BBQ Turkey for $65 and quart-portioned sides for $8.95-10.95 to be picked up and enjoyed at home. Place orders early to guarantee availability.
Call Montrose 818.957.0720 or West Hollywood 323.850.9353

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DESSERT AT HOME

Madame Chocolat

Madame Chocolat

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DESSERT AT HOME

Tender Greens in Tender GreensWest Hollywood (310.358.1919) and San Diego (619.226.6254) (not available in the Culver City location) will be taking dessert orders and making your holiday treats. Orders must be placed by Sunday, November 22 and be picked up by Wednesday, November 25 at 5pm. All desserts will be $40 and make a great holiday party gift. Choose from:

Apple Bread Pudding with cider sauce
Apple Crumb Tart
Pumpkin Tart with pecan streusel (also available without pecan streusel)
Pumpkin Apple Tart with pecan streusel (also available without pecan streusel)
Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Meyer Lemon and Chocolate Tart
Banana Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie

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DINING OUT

Palate Food + Wine are celebrating their favorite holiday foods to cook. With the change of season they are sourcing terrificPalate Food + Wine product and ingredients including celery root – persimmons – pomegranate – chestnuts – mushrooms – brussels sprouts – whitefish – blood sausage – red king salmon – pork loin – and of course free range turkey!!!

Enjoy their four-course tasting menu $48 / children under 12 years $25
Reservations beginning at 2 pm through 7 pm. Call 818.662.9463
Check out the 2009 Thanksgiving Menu.

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DINING OUT (OR AT HOME)Tavern

Tavern will be open for thanksgiving eat there or take your turkey home. The menu includes:

Persimmon and pomegranate salad with arugula, local walnuts and torta della rocha

Herb-roasted diestel turkey breast and stuffed leg with mashed potato and gravy or Kabocha squash gratin with poblanos, queso fresco and candied pepitas

All served with two stuffings (mom’s traditional and suzanne’s chestnut, prune and cavolo), sweet potatoes with sherry and roasted shallots, brussels sprouts with pancetta and thyme
italian broccoli with garlic and chili, cranberry sauce with orange and mint

Pumpkin pie with piloncillo and pepita tuile or candied pecan pie with vanilla ice cream

$65 per adult, $35 for children 12 and under, no charge for children 2 and under

Check out the to go menu here.

Call 310.806.6464

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DINING OUT

Nick and Stefs

Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse is hand-carving turkey or roasted prime rib with your choice of brioche & sage or cornbread & raisin stuffing served with all the traditional Thanksgiving fare starting at 3pm. Also, available to-go with 48 hour notice. Call 213-680-0330
Click for full Thanksgiving Menu

Price: $32 adults, $15.95 children under 12, free for children under 3

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DINING FOR CHARITYMagnolia

For the entire month of November, Magnolia Restaurants will be supporting The Art of Elysium with matching donations! The Art of ElysiumFor every monetary gift received, Magnolia will contribute an additional 20%. Please visit either the Hollywood or Downtown location for a chance to learn more about The Art of Elysium, while enjoying Magnolia’s wonderful menu.

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TAILGATINGPatina Block Party Tailgating

Patina Block Party Tailgating

Patina Catering is grilling traditional BBQ favorites with festivities starting two hours before all USC home game kick-offs. There will be a hosted bar, plasma screen TVs and a ton of football fans. The cost is $45 and you must RSVP to: Summer Stearns – 213.239.2549

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
3911 S Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA

USC Football

The Great Chefs of LA Food Marathon

November 8, 2009

Great for other people’s kidneys, bad for my cholesterol. That’s how I’d sum up the terrific one-stop food marathon known as The Great Chefs of Los Angeles “Go Green, Go Organic” Food and Wine Benefit. The National Kidney Cancer Foundation of Southern California gets millions of dollars every year from GCLA events, so I’m glad to be able to report on it.

CBS Radford Studios was the location, the weather was warm and sunny (yes, November in LA…), over 30 chefs were presenting a wide range of dishes and I didn’t even drink the 40+ wine/beer/spirits offered.  I hope they remake A Different World soon… it’s long overdue for a comeback.

Great Chefs of LA- CBS Radford

I got there early,

Great Chefs of LA

before the crowds arrived.

Great Chefs of LA

I skipped the auction so I could eat, but whoever did win all that wine is gonna be happy and drunk.

Great Chefs of LA- Auction

I started with The Bazaar because it always draws the biggest crowd and I didn’t want to deal with it later. They presented their liquid nitrogen caipirinha, tomato and mozzarella pipets, guacamole cone, dark and white chocolate, pineapple gum drop, passion fruit marshmallow and saffron bonbons.

Great Chefs of LA- The Bazaar

I still appreciate the care and attention The Bazaar brings to their food, even if it’s become one of the douchiest places in LA.

Great Chefs of LA- The Bazaar

At a lot of these events the restaurants don’t bother bringing their strongest dishes, but The Bazaar had a small army behind their table making sure everything was made as you would get it at the restaurant.

Cecconi’s is another douchebag-filled restaurant that puts a lot of emphasis on style over substance. They did, however, bring truffles to the event- raising their stock in my book. Their wild mushroom and black truffle risotto was the richest dish of the day. The flavor was solid but I don’t know how someone could eat an entire plate at their restaurant.

Great Chefs of LA- Cecconi's

Then the short ribs began. Perhaps it was the season (it’s supposed to be cold in November and the chefs signed on to this event back in January), but short ribs represented about half of the proteins served at the event. At 8oz, Govind Armstrong was in attendance to serve short rib grilled cheese with onion marmalade and bel paese cheese. Truffled potato chips were the side, to add color and crunch. It was one of the best dishes of the day.

Great Chefs of LA- 8oz Great Chefs of LA- Govind Armstrong from 8oz

Another one of my favorites came from Akasha (although she was not in attendance). Beer braised Niman Ranch short ribs on pretzel rolls served with Coleman Farms cabbage and Windrose Black Arkansas apple slaw with horseradish-celery seed dressing. Betty Kennedy’s Plum-Mustard Chutney and Bread and Butter pickles accompanied the sandwich.

Great Chefs of LA- Akasha

There were about three hundred Drago restaurants at the event, so I’m excluding them from this post because of their overwhelming market share. Also, they had so many dishes that the good ones canceled out the bad ones and it was as if they weren’t there at all. Celestino Drago was hanging with Josie Le Balch.

Great Chefs of LA- Josie Le Balch and Celestino Drago

He also was hanging with Jennie Garth. The guy is everywhere.

Great Chefs of LA- Jennie Garth

Neal Fraser continues his run at the nicest, most helpful chef in LA. He was one of the Chefs of Honor and served up Grace’s braised veal short ribs with polenta. Although the meat wasn’t the best of the day, the polenta was very good.

Great Chefs of LA- Grace Great Chefs of LA- Grace

The other Chef of Honor was Mary Sue Milliken, who was their with her Border Grill truck.

Great Chefs of LA- Broder Grill Truck

The problem I have with Border Grill is the same I have with Loteria Grill. Both seem bland to me. La Casita Mexicana was abundantly flavorful, so that’s the bar and it’s high.

Before I go on I’d like to bring you this short commercial announcement from Sushi Popper. Great Chefs LA- Sushi Popper

Sushi Popper is your on-the-go sushi roll built on the same platform as the Push Pop.

Great Chefs of LA - Sushi Popper

I’m not sure which Great Chef of LA is behind the concept but they were there and not as gross as they seem. Available in super markets and grocery stores everywhere… Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

La Grand Orange had deviled eggs and a very hearty Brussels sprout salad with young manchego, dried cranberries and simple vinaigrette. At first I was disappointed with their weak choice of dishes, but in the end it was nice to have a break from all the short ribs.

Great Chefs of LA- La Grand Orange

(clockwise from top left)

East served scallops on the half shell with lemongrass sambal, wasabi creme fraiche, shiso dust and micro cilantro AND Hawaiian walu with miso mustard cream, micros wasabi, chive essence and smoked chardonnay salt.

Mr. Cecil’s served big beef ribs and St Louis style ribs.

Mar’sel served braised wagyu beef cheek and creamed chard tortellini with homemade ricotta, andtiny autumn vegetables (pictured).

XIV served chilled vichyssoise with creme fraiche foam, olive oil, leeks and caviar.

Great Chefs of LA- East, Mr. Cecil's California Ribs, mar'sel, XIV

Crows Pass Farm was there, as well as Saddle Peak Lodge (their grilled Nilgai antelope with cabbage, bacon, apple and black garlic was cold by the time I got there), LaLoggia and Leyna’s Kitchen with strawberry cupcakes (reminiscent of Nestle Quik strawberry milk).

Great Chefs of LA

This was a very well-run one-stop food marathon. Money was raised for charity and I was totally stuffed. A win win situation.

Marathon-Worthy Recipe Links

November 6, 2009

I don’t have time to run as many food marathons as I’d like so here is a hypothetical food marathon you can cook yourself from a few of LA’s best food bloggers:

Unemblogment Rasa Malaysia Food Destination

Unemblogment cooks Spanish Prawns with Avocado Ceasar Salad

Rasa Malaysia cooks Char Kuey Teow (Penang Fried Flat Noodles)

Food Destination cooks Kha Neow Mamuang (Mango Sticky Rice)

So Good, Haute Patisserie Recipe

November 2, 2009

It was only a matter of time before the insanely artistic world of fancy desserts got a magazine of its own (and that I posted a recipe on my food blog).

With a weight of two pounds and a $20 price tag, So Good is a magazine that is as decadent, stunning and expensive as the pastries it features. So Good Magazine logoHowever, just to call them desserts or pastries is to do this new art form a disservice. The combination of painstaking craftsmanship, impossible patience and endless imagination helps these culinary Gauguins create their awe-inspiring masterpieces. The complexity of the recipes leaves one just as stunned.  Some of the recipes you can find in the first issue of So Good include:

Albert Adria’s Orchid- A yogurt croquant orchid with saffron ice cream and caramelized honey sponge cake on a bed of milk chocolate creme with chocolate foam-lyo rocks.

Albert Adria's Orchid

Paco Torreblanca’s Pistachio Flower- White chocolate light cream with vanilla, red fruit, white glaze with Tahitian vanilla, pistachio sponge cake and transparent isomalt, silver leaf, vanilla bean seed decoration

So Good Magazine Cover

and Jacquy Pfeiffer’s Blue Flowers Earl Gray Tea Macaron.

Macarons

Here is his recipe:

chocolate macaron
Makes 45 finished macarons
340g Canfectionary sugar
190g American Almond almond flour
170g Aged Egg whites
45g Sucrose
7g Egg white powder
25g Cacao Barry cocoa powder 20-22% flat
Total weight: 777g

Sift the almond powder and confectionery sugar.
Add the cocoa powder.
Robot coupe for a few seconds if necessary if not fine enough.
Whisk the egg whites, sucrose and egg white powder until firm.
Fold the dry mix and cocoa powder into the egg whites. Fold until the mixture becomes shiny and somewhat loose (you should have to squeeze the mixture from the piping bag, not let in run). This process is called macaronner.
Pipe 1″ diameter disks onto parchment paper and let rest for about 30 minutes until it forms a skin.
Bake in the convection over at 150 degrees C/300 degrees F for two minutes with the vent closed and 8-9 minutes vent open.
Let cool and freeze immediately.

blue Flowers Earl Grey ganache
290g Heavy cream 35% fat
15g Blue Flowers Early grey tea
270g Cacao Barry Dark chocolate couverture 58%
50g Cacao Barry Dark chocolate couverture 38%
50g Plugra Unsalted butter 82% fat
Total weight: 675g
Bring the cream to a simmer. Add the tea and cover and let steep for 5 minutes.
Strain the cream/tea mixture.
Add cream to infusion to bring weight back to 290g and simmer again.
Pour the cream over half melted dark and milk chocolate.
Add the soft peak butter and emulsify using a bur mixer.

Fill the macarons with ganache and close.

Chef Pfeiffer is the co-founder and dean of The French Pastry School in Chicago. If you can make this recipe you’ve either attended this school already or don’t need to. If you can’t make this recipe but want to learn, check out the school…

If you just want to drool over the pictures you can buy So Good here.


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