Archive for July, 2012

CPMD (Casey’s Parish Making Dinner)

July 31, 2012

I went to a small high school that rented additional classrooms, offices and a big hall from a church across the street. Parish Hall was the church’s building in and around which we ate lunch every day. Sometimes we would order Malibu Chicken sandwiches from the roach coach on the street and eat them outside Parish Hall while listening to songs like Crossover by EPMD.

Malibu Chickens were the food truck version of Sizzler’s version of a fried chicken sandwich. They were nasty.

What’s the point of all this? Parish was the name of the hall, Parish is the ‘P’ in EPMD and The Parish is also the name of the new gastropub downtown, from a chef who happens to cook fantastic buttermilk fried chicken.

Casey Lane came to notoriety at the Tasting Kitchen, an Abbott Kinney staple. For The Parish he does his version of British gastropub, replete with Pork Head Pot Pie, Poutine Fried Oysters and, of course, fish and chips.

Its location in the fashion district will certainly keep it crowded. The decor is rich, the windows plentiful and the little patio is a nice, if not frivolous touch.

The cocktails are fantastic, with the historic core earning a top spot for me.


(photo by Longrada Lor)

With a reverse osmosis ice program generating a range of different cube sizes for each cocktail, there’s plenty of thought and effort put into making great drinks.


(photo by Longrada Lor)

The fried chicken was the standout. The batter was as crunchy as dubstep beat.


(photo by Longrada Lor)

One of the surprises was the beets and horseradish yogurt on a spoon of granola. Another hit was the ricotta, peas, salsa verde brioche.

The chicken liver mousse toast was on point.

The $20 fish and chips was discussed amongst the skeptical crowd. The only way to justify that price is for it to be a mind blowing fish and chips, if there is such thing. I haven’t tried it yet so I can’t report.

The Parish will definitely be crowded, on the pricey side and a good place to eat and drink. The fried chicken is certainly worthy of a “Preach!” Amen.

Gusto and LA Food and Wine Festival

July 25, 2012

Last night I was very impressed by Gusto, the new mini Mozza on 3rd Street in West Hollywood. I stole the good pictures from the restaurant’s website. The bad ones are my own.

Joan, the empress of Third, was sitting next to us so it was almost a guarantee that the food would be good.

Gusto is a loud little Italian restaurant with great service, white table clothes and fantastic, dense pork meatballs. They would have ranked very high on the meatball marathon a few years ago.

The Polipo – baby octopus, borlotti beans and harissa was a highlight. The execution was excellent.

The fichi – figs, whipped sheep’s milk ricotta and saba was a simple starter. Next time I would get the braised honeycomb tripe.

In choosing between the pastas we went with the papparadelle with oxtail ragu. It was great, although a bit heavy on the oregano.

The other pasta was terrific as well (despite the horrible photo). Squid ink agnolotti with sea urchin and summer corn was vibrant and rich without being overpowering.

Gusto will be part of the massive Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival. On August 9th Giada De Laurentiis is hosting and event with 25 chefs cooking Italian food. Restaurants represented include Mozza, Sotto, Angelini Osteria, Valentino and many more. You can buy tickets for it here.

The list of chefs participating in the four day event is so extensive that I challenge you to name a chef that isn’t gonna be there.

While the hot tickets feature television personalities (Andrew Zimmern, the Voltaggio brothers, Fabio Viviani, Richard Blais, Ming Tsai, Wolfgang Puck, Michael Chiarello), there are also some good non-celebrity options:

Neal Fraser is doing a Swine + Wine pinot and pig tasting at 10:30am Saturday morning. I’m a fan of anyone who drinks red wine that early in the day.

The $500 Delicacy dinner at the Montage in Beverly Hills is obviously gonna be unbeatable. Lobster, caviar, truffles and champagne with chefs from Michael Mina, Post Ranch Inn, Bouchon, Patina and the Montage.

Check out the full event list and buy tickets here.

LA Street Food Fest 2012 Review

July 21, 2012

In 2010 LA Street Food Fest was on the field of the Rose Bowl and I ate a lot but didn’t take a lot of pictures.

In 2011 it was outside the Rose Bowl and I ate a lot, took a lot of pictures but didn’t write that much.

In 2012 the event was both on the field and around the stadium. I focused more on the dishes/vendors I’d never tried before so this isn’t the most thorough review. I ate a lot as usual.

The world needs more signs like this:

The reason the Baja chefs are the most exciting and best tasting part of LA Street Food Fest is not just because they come from the furthest location. It’s more about the ingredients and flavors in their dishes. I love LA’s Mexican food. I love carne asada and al pastor. The Baja chefs flip it though- they served lamb, pork shoulder, sea snail, abalone… Even their shrimp, which was the least exotic ingredient turned out to by my favorite.

This pot of shrimp from Mariscos el Mazateño was simple and outstanding.

Mariscos “La Guerrerense” is famous for ceviche. Last year I was enthralled by their habanero salsa with peanuts. It covered the Tostada Campechana (shrimp, abalone and octopus) and Sea Snail Tostada.

The variety of salsas can turn each bite into a totally different experience.

Tacos Kokopelli made their US debut serving Black Harder- ceviche marinated/cooked in lime juice and squid ink. You’ll see a lot more of these young culinary school trained chefs.

Bill from Street Gourmet LA introduced me to Chula Vista’s Aqui Es Texcoco. In addition to fantastic lamb tacos they had some secret pancita (chile rubbed  stomach stuffed with lungs, kidney, liver, heart and pit roasted with the rest of the lamb). Just for good measure there was cabeza as well.

The real secret ingredient really was the Papalo (short for papaloqulite or summer cilantro). It’s an ingredient in the famous cemita poblana from Puebla, which added an acridity that was another special element the Baja chefs brought to the event.

Another Bill referral was Antojitos Sofy. Again, bringing something I’ve never tried before they served Corundas. These small tamales aren’t filled with meat I’m used to. Instead the masa is mixed with cheese and wrapped with green corn leaves rather than dry husks. The result is an almost dumpling-like bite of brilliance.

One of the best surprises of the day was the late addition of Coni’Seafood (fka Mariscos Chentes). I recently visited their Inglewood location to try their Camarones a la Diabla and was impressed. The Aguachile they had at the event was enough reason to go back for another visit.

Mexicali Taco & Co was there with their Cachetada, a chorizo covered take on the classic tostada.

If for no other reason than the novelty factor, I had one of World Empanadas’s cricket empanadas.

They’re brand new, in business for only six weeks in their take-out only location in Burbank. Next time you go to a party be a a hit and bring a dozen cricket empanadas.

After effusing about The Park’s Finest BBQ in my last post I wanted to share some other Filipino food love. Isla Cocina Pilipina was serving barbecued pork over wild rice with sinamak sauce.

From the higher end restaurants, there was one notable debut. Bestia is soon to be the new hot spot downtown. If the grilled octopus and Calabrian sausage they served are any indication they will follow in the footsteps of popular places like Spice Table, Baco and Lazy Ox.

The Lazy Ox’s paella loving chef, Perfecto, brought the big guns, cooking in a kiddie-pool-sized pan.

The Spice Table was very impressive with their curry chicken wings. They won Best dish in the Chef category.

I was excited about The Churro Borough ever since I heard about their pop ups at Mexicali Taco.

The Mexican hot chocolate ice cream sandwich was my favorite dessert of the day. The churros were light and the chocolate had melted to a soft-serve consistency that made eating easy.

Last but not least was a surprise from Waffles de Liege- CRUNCHY SPECULOOS. Why Trader Joes sells creamy/smooth speculoos instead of crunchy is beyond me.

And one more thing. I want to plug Food is the New Rock because food and music go together like pork and shrimp. Their podcasts are burning up the iTunes charts. Check them out.

And here are some of my old food/music posts:

My first Food/Music post in December 2006:
http://foodmarathon.wordpress.com/2006/12/08/official-foodmusic-post/

Taco Bell Biv Devoe, combining two of my favorite things:
http://foodmarathon.wordpress.com/2008/01/30/taco-bell-biv-devoe/

The 2008 Grammy Food Marathon:
http://foodmarathon.wordpress.com/2008/02/11/the-grammy-food-marathon/

Hot Chip vs hot chips
http://foodmarathon.wordpress.com/2008/02/12/hour-of-the-chipwreck-audible-vs-edible/

The Fratellis vs Frittelli’s
http://foodmarathon.wordpress.com/2007/05/03/the-fratellis-vs-frittellis/

Mashup Meals
http://foodmarathon.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/mashup-meals/

Alex from Franz Ferdinand’s food book:
http://foodmarathon.wordpress.com/2007/01/02/you-could-have-it-so-much-tastier/

The Best Meal at Coachella
http://foodmarathon.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/second-best-meal-at-coachella/

LA Street Food Fest 2012 Preview

July 17, 2012

I know I keep saying it but you can try a swath of Los Angeles’ enviable and locationally diverse restaurants with one VIP ticket to LA Street Food Fest this Saturday. They shrink hundreds of miles of Southern California food marathon territory down to one single location outside the Rose Bowl. More importantly, they bring Tijuana’s thriving (and Anthony Bourdain-approved) food scene together in one outstanding row of Mexican food brilliance.

Three tips:

1. Some places serve portions that are too big for an event like this. Share those with a friend or ask that they cut them in half- don’t just eat half and throw the rest away.

2. Pepper in dessert every third course so you don’t overload on savory then get burned out of sweets.

3. Find the Baja chefs first.

This is what you’re day will look like:

Last night I sampled some of the great dishes that will be served Saturday. The Park’s Finest BBQ stood out as my favorite. Hailing from the neighborhood where Training Day was filmed, Oscar and John Eric grew up avoiding drama by cooking great barbecue. They came up from house parties to catering to a brick and mortar location in Echo Park. Saturday they’re bringing their famous Cornbread Bibingka (which stays moist with the inclusion of coconut milk) and Coco Beef.

Mama Leah’s Coconut Beef is 16 Hour Smoked Chuck Steak, sliced into cubed beef stew like pieces, pan roasted with garlic, stewed for 2 hours in a coconut cream, vinegar, and yellow chilis, then reintroduced into the smoker to hold and absorb smoke flavor in to the coconut oil.

Dog Haus Biergarten played host to the event, serving beer, hot dogs and sliders. Their Sooo Cali (mixed greens, diced tomato, tempura fried onions, spicy basil aioli, avocado) served on a Hawaiian Bread bun was fantastic. They just opened their third location in Alhambra.

The Peking Duck Truck will be making their debut. Chef Michael Brown (Red O, Wolfgang Puck Patina) brings years of experience and recipe trials to a truck focusing on traditional and contemporary takes on the famous Chinese dish. He manages an equally crispy and moist rendition that you should try Saturday.

The Hansik Truck was there serving Korean BBQ and milk tea from Moo Dae Po, Iota and Haus. The highlight was their “Papa Chokbal” (marinated pig’s feet with green onions and fermented bean paste).

All that salt needs something sweet. Coba Aguas Frescas are bringing the beloved drink to the masses with Horchata, Guayaba, Jamaica, Mango and Tamarindo.

Speculoos is the greatest single jarred import besides Marie Sharps Hot Sauce. Waffles de Liege serves waffles topped with speculoos so that’s more than enough reason to try them at the event. I just wish someone would make crunchy speculoos!

The Market on Holly is Pasadena’s Joan’s on Third. Their brown butter rice krispie treats go toe to toe with any you’ve had before.

Last but certainly not least was Mother Moo Creamery‘s salted dark chocolate ice cream. They are the real deal with hand made ice cream from Straus Family Farms’ organic dairy.

Here’s the full list. Study it:

“GOURMET” TRUCKS

Border Grill:  Mini Green Corn Tamal Cone

Cambalaches Gourmet: Menu TBA

El Pan-Americano: Pernil Sandwich

Fox Pizza Bus: Farmers Market Salad + Wood Burning Pork Crostini

Frysmith: Menu TBA

Fuji Foods (Debuts at the Fest!):  Rice ‘n Roll Onigiri

Gravy Train Poutinerie: Traditional Poutine + Deep Fried Cheese Curds

Hansik Truck: LA Galbi

Kogi BBQ: Black Jack Quesadilla, Sweet Chili Chicken Quesadilla

La Dolce Vita: Gourmet PB&J

Nonna’s Kitchenette (As seen on Food Network’s Great Truck Race):  Maple Glazed French Toast Crostini

The Grilled Cheese Truck: Cheesy Mac & Rib

The Mighty Boba Truck:  Buttermilk Popcorn Chicken + Boba Milk Tea

The Peking Duck Truck: Peking Duck Sliders

Vintage Kitchen: Patatas Bravas

Waffles de Liege: Original Liege Waffle

Wake N Bake Wagon: Pulled Pork Slider

WTF Pizza: Five Cheese Pizza

Yalla Truck: Pita Sandwiches

LOCAL LONCHEROS 

Antojitos mi Abuelita: Green Mole + Black Mole

Mariscos Jalisco: Tacos Dorado de Camaron

Mariscos Los Lechugas: Menu TBA

 

STREET CARTS & STANDS 

Antojitos Carmen: Menu TBA

Antojitos Sofy | Sponsored by Street Gourmet LA (As seen on Bizarre Foods): Corundas (Mexican mini tamales)

bling bling dumpling:  Cheeseburger Dumplings + Ginger Pork Dumplings

Jaliscos Mobile Taco Grill:  Tacos de Asada + Al Pastor + Pollo

Mexicali Taco & Co.: Cachetada  (The classic tostada reinvented)

Sabor da Bahia: Moqueca Taste (Brazilian fish stew with rice)

Seoul Sausage Company (As seen on Food Network’s Great Truck Race):  Flaming Fried Balls

World Empanadas:  Cricket, Bacon and Potato Empanada (VIP Hour+) + Chicken Empanadas

 

RESTAURANTS & CHEFS 

Ayara Thai: Spicy Grilled Thai Clams with Lime Sauce

Dog Haus: Sliders + Scott Baioli Dog

Fat Spoon: Seasonal Vegetable Curry

HAUS: Spicy Chicken Dukboki + “Papa Chokbal” (Marinated trotter with green onions and fermented bean paste)

Haven Gastropub:  Cola-glazed Berkshire Pork +  Pig Ears

Isla Cocina Pilipina: Menu TBA

Kings Row Gastropub: Curried Al Pastor Pork Belly with Fresh Naan

La Flor de Yucatan: Cochinita Pibil Tacos

La Monarca Bakery:  Guava & Cheese Puff Pastry Taquitos + Poblano Chicken Mole

Lazy Ox Canteen | Chef Perfecto Rocher: Paella

Moo Dae Po II: LA Galbi

Playa | Chef John Sedlar: Cielo Verde Cornet

Short Order | Chef Christian Page: Pretzel Pups

Simpang Asia:  Nasi Bungkus (Indonesian curry combination rice wrap)

Starry Kitchen: Menu TBA

Sushi Roku: Menu TBA

Tiara Café:  Slow Smoked Balls of Lust (Ham brined pork belly encased in roasted poblano)

The Park’s Finest: Menu TBA

Yxta Cocina Mexicana and Mercado:  Shrimp Taquitos + Rajas Tamales

 

CART FOR A CAUSE 

Chef Neal Fraser | Grace + Vibiana + BLD

 

Los Angeles FOOD & WINE BOOTHS

Chef Ricardo Zarate | Mo-chica + Picca (Food & Wine Best New Chef 2011)

Chef Bryant Ng | Spice Table (Food & Wine Best New Chef 2012)

Chefs Steve Samson & Zach Pollack | Sotto  (Los Angeles Magazine’s #1 Best New Restaurant) (VIP Hour+)

 

TEST KITCHEN BOOTH

Ori Menashe | Bestia (Preview at the Fest!)

 

BAJA RESTAURANTS + CHEFS 

Aqui es Texcoco: Menu TBA

Benito Molina | Manzanilla Restaurant: Menu TBA

Javier Plascencia | Mision 19:  Tamal de Barbacoa (Pork shoulder, fig leaf, pickled veggies, coleslaw, heirloom beans)

Mariscos el Mazateño:  Taco de Camaron Enchilado

Mariscos “La Guerrerense”:  Sea Snail Tostada + Tostada Campechana

TACOS KOKOPELLI (US debut at the Fest!):  Black Harder + Kracken

 

ICE CREAM SOCIAL 

Beachy Cream:  Ice Cream Sandwiches

CoolHaus: Menu TBA

Dragons Whisker Candy: Chinese Honey Candy

Ice Ice Shavie: Menu TBA

IOTA: Pat Bing Soo + Fruit Chips + Ice Coffee + Milk Tea

Longboards Ice Cream:  The Big O + The Barfight

Market on Holly: Wonder Bar + Brown Butter Rice Crispy Treats

Mother Moo Creamery:  Salty Chocolate + Cinnamon Ice Cream

Secret Squirrel Cold Brew: Menu TBA

Sinners & Saints Desserts:  Salted Caramel + Honey Granache Tart

Short Cake: Brunettes + Snickerdoodles + Nancy’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie

Sweet Lucie’s:  Organic Strawberry Mint Lemonade + Cookies & Cream Ice Cream

Sweet Wheels: Beignets + GF Churros with Caramel Dipping Sauce

The Churro Borough of Los Angeles: Churro Ice Cream Sandwiches

Restaurants and Their Names

July 11, 2012

Bow & Truss, Post & Beam, Tar & Roses, Milo and Olive. Besides the construction/architecture references the wider trend is to include an ampersand or “and.” I realize naming a restaurant is probably as difficult as getting health inspection approval. It’s actually more important. Maybe all the “and’s” are so people feel like they’re getting more bang for the buck, like two for one….

I like names that are unique: Freddy Smalls, Son of a Gun, Father’s Office, The Lazy OxWolvesmouth.. My favorite was the pop up at Señor Fish called Molonay Tubilderborst.

The worst names have Boulevard or Blvd in some incarnation (The Blvd in Beverly Hills, Blvd 16 in Westwood, BLVD Bar and Lounge in Studio City). Boulevard- like a wide, congested, smoggy, dirty road with parked cars, ugly signs and traffic. What about that is appetizing?

What I’m really hoping to see is someone who takes the “&/and” thing to the next level and uses BOTH:

Brick & Mortar and Pestle

Meat & Greet and Potatoes

The Boulder Food Marathon

July 3, 2012

The fires in Colorado reminded me that I needed to post the Boulder Food Marathon that I did last November. Although it skewed towards burgers it also covered some of the town’s favorites.

In total we walked 11 miles and hit 9 restaurants.

Our first stop was Rueben’s Burger Bistro. They have Kwak on tap, served in a glass in a wooden holder. There’s some discussion online as to whether you’re supposed to leave the glass in the holder when drinking or remove it. I held the wooden handle out of sheer laziness.

The Spoke burger was covered in onion rings, bleu cheese and bacon. It was as rich as the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush prospectors that stormed the city in the late 1850’s. (Learning is fun.)

We made a quick stop at a Colorado fast casual chain called Noodles & Company. We really stopped there because Colorado is where fast casual was born. Have you heard of a little unstoppable virus called Chipotle? They’re based in Denver. Forbes’ 2011 Most Promising Company, Smashburger? Denver as well. Noodles, Mad Greens, there are too many restaurants to count. They’re a response to Fast Food Nation and the obesity problem plaguing America. But does Noodle & Co’s 800 calorie Pad Thai with an entire day’s worth of sodium help? No. Does everyone feel better calling it Fast Casual instead of Fast Food? Yes. Marketing department 1, fat Americans 0. (Learning is scary.)

Next up was Illegal Pete’s. This drunken burrito and taco specialist (the patrons are drunk, not the burritos) serves up many meats and vegetables in small or large tortilla vessels.

We had a platter of tacos: chicken, shredded beef, steak and pork carnitas. Doesn’t compete with LA but served as another non-burger stop on the marathon.

Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery was the beer stop on the tour.

They have a fine selection including some nitrogenated beers. That’s beer brewed with nitrogen to allow a better mouthfeel and dense, creamy head… We sampled many, but this place deserves a full afternoon of drinking. Not just a stop on a marathon.

Next was a sub shop called Snarf’s. They make damn good sandwiches and probably will be my first stop when we return to Boulder this Christmas.

We split the artichoke, feta and provolone sub because we’re weak. We wanted to save room for more burgers and I’m getting too old to properly do food marathons. For a non-meat sandwich it was still excellent.

Larkburger was the next stop. This place falls back into the Fast Casual department but with truffle oil.

It’s definitely a good burger and their design/aesthetic is great. I look forward to watching their progress on FastCasual.com

The burger bonanza continued at Dark Horse Bar and Grill. It’s a big, fake-ID-driven sports bar that has the same A.D.D. decor and underage crowd as Barney’s Beanery, but more pioneer.

Dark Horse’s burgers aren’t made with care, but they are made on a well-seasoned griddle. Years of alternatingly drunk/hungover/drunk cooks have slaved over this griddle flipping burgers.

Their deep fryers have had as many basket dunks as LeBron, yielding great onion rings.

Before our last burger we tried Ben and Jerry’s Schweddy Balls. Because we couldn’t not. No picture or review is necessary.

Pearl Street Pub provided an excellent burger finale. Bordering on rare and with enough salt to force two extra rounds of beers, Pearl Street makes a simple, solid bar burger.

For dessert, we got cookies from Boulder Baked. And because I’ve made it this whole post without making the easiest Boulder joke you can make, I’ll leave the mental state of their clientele to your imagination. (It’s all in the name). They bake your cookies to order, which is an exercise in patience that can only yield sweet rewards.

For a city supporting a college, Boulder has a lot of the food you’d expect students would like/can afford. This marathon proves that they’re a well-fed bunch.


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