Archive for July, 2009


July 30, 2009

I really just wanted an excuse to post the following video because I love the Talking Heads and I love American Psycho. But to tie it to food, American Psycho is a Bret Easton Ellis novel that satirically depicts yuppy-ism in Manhattan in the 1980’s. One of the funniest-because-it’s-true ways the characters value each others’ social status is their ability to get prime reservations at the hottest restaurants in town (Le Cirque, Barcadia, Dorsia). A fictitious 80’s novel or Hollywood circa right now… (well, pre-recession now)

Vimeo tends to suck so I apologize if the video stutters:

Miles Fisher – This Must Be The Place (Cover) from Miles Fisher on Vimeo.


My Indonesian Staycation

July 28, 2009

Thanks to the friendly world of LA’s food bloggers I had the luxury of partaking in a weekend of eating delicious Indonesian food recently.


The current economic climate prohibited a real vacation to Indonesia so I toured the beautiful islands through the window of my computer.

Royal Palace

Luckily eating great Indonesian food doesn’t require a passport or eighteen hour flight. Gastronomy organized a feast at the Pasadena home of Ira (chef behind Ira’s Gourmet). The meal served as an introduction to some of the fantastic food Ira caters (and she’s available for catering right now, so email her: sarnadira at yahoo dot com).

Ira's Gourmet

I loved the lemper ayam, a banana leaf filled with sticky rice and chicken. The hard boiled egg is a staple on Indonesian menus, and healthy too.

Iras Gourmet

I was surprised that Indonesian cuisine features tofu and tempeh right next to fried chicken and beef. The variety is great and the flavors even greater. The best part about the dinner was meeting so many bloggers I’ve never met before.

Ira's Gourmet

The next night Gourmet Pigs organized an offal-filled Indonesian meal at Raso Minang in West Covina. Previously I’d only eaten at Indo Cafe and Ira’s, so I was looking forward to Cow Brain Curry and other treats. It’s located in a food court in a restaurant filled strip mall- how LA is that? I just found this video of the food court:

The restaurant next door was having their grand opening so we lucked out and got a free plate to accompany our other shared meal.  I don’t know how I’d never tried kering kentang (I think that’s the name); potato chips, fish sauce, chili peppers, sugar, peanuts, fried shallots and I believe anchovies… brilliant.

Bakmi Parahyangan Bakmi Parahyangan

The tongue skewers were very soft and the sauce was subtly spicy. The knuckles, liver and gizzard ranged from tough to tasty.

RasoMinang1 Raso Minang

The jerky was too dry and the accompanying sauce wasn’t flavorful enough to fix it. Nothing was too spicy, but nothing was as powerfully flavored as I’d expected either. The fried fish cake with hardboiled egg in middle was one of the best dishes of the night.

Raso Minang Raso Minang

Raso Minang Cow Brain Curry The cow brain curry was fantastic. Soft and absorbent, gathering curry flavor   as it cooked and sat. The picture doesn’t do it justice, unfortunately.  The beef rendang was terrific, but not pictured.

I do love eating this way, shared out of styrofoam containers with plastic utensils. Sampling new flavors, new textures.

Not one to end a meal so far from home without a good dessert, we venture a bit further to The Donut Man. The infamous stand sends sweet smelling wafts of sugar and dough into the parking lot, the kind of smell that turns a dieter to donuts.

Donut Man

They’re known for their strawberry filled donut explosion. I hate to say it but it wasn’t good. The strawberries were too big, the jam was too sweet, the donut got clobbered. I love old fashioned glazed donuts and this one wasn’t that special. The chocolate was the best of the three. I don’t think I ordered right. Can you ask what’s the freshest out of the oven?

indoensian beach

So ended my Indonesian staycation. The view of the beach from my computer wasn’t as nice as the real thing, but the food definitely was.

Potato Chips Adds Tacos?

July 27, 2009

After finding the namesake vintage sign, Food GPS reports that Steven Arroyo is straying from his original sandwich concept by adding tacos to his recently opened Potato Chips.

Potato Chips Sign

Carne asade and pollo asada tacos ($2 each or 3 for $5.50) and burritos ($8.50), will be cooked in the shared kitchen with Cobras & Matadors and available nightly. Their meat is never frozen, their tortillas are delivered from east L.A. daily. Wine will still be sold out of Potato Chips to service the alcohol licenseless Cobras & Matadors next door. You can buy Dos Equis, Negro Modelo, Tecate or Corona to go, but you can’t drink it there.
Does this mean Steve’s in the market for a giant vintage Tortilla Chips sign?

Regardless of weekly concept and menu changes, there’s still some great Zapps chips sold at Potato Chips:  Zapps Spicy Cajun Crawtators and Zapps Spicy Creole Tomato with Tabasco Sauce.

Zapps Spicy Cajun

Zapps Spicy Creole with Tabasco

I love spicy potato chips and these bring the crunch, the kicked up spice and strong southern flavor.

Plate by Plate: A One Stop Food Marathon

July 25, 2009

Plate by PlateFood events like the upcoming Plate by Plate are self contained food marathons. You get all the variety LA has to offer without the traffic.

After the Gold Standard it was pretty clear that you can’t just roll up to one of these feasts without a plan. So hear are six tips for making the most out of big food events:

1. The best restaurunts will have long lines and run out of food (see Animal at the Gold Standard). The Bazaar will be the hot spot at Plate by Plate so get there early and knock it off the list.

2. Having a list is key because you don’t necessarily want to follow the geography of the event. Sometimes a gem will be located in back (see Anisette at the Gold Standard) and you’ll blow it by leaving them until the end.

3. My goal is always to expand my restaurant repetoire so I’ll be hitting places I’ve never tried first: Mo Chica, Good Girl Dinette, XIV and Mendocino Farms. Decide beforehand who your top three are.

4. Another tip is to intersperse dessert throughout the savory dishes- don’t leave it until the end because you’ll be sick on your way home. Two savory, one sweet, repeat.

5. Meet the chefs. Bashan is an amazing restaurant run by wonderful people (chef Nadav and his wife, Romy). It’s location means that not everyone has tried it yet, so try it. Introduce yourself, tell them you’ve heard great things. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions, pay compliments, etc.

6. Meet the bloggers. There tend to be a lot of bloggers at these events so look out for them. They’re usually devastatingly handsome devils, whirling through the room, cameras-in-hand,  leaving a trail of empty plates.

Plate by Plate proceeds go to the Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program. The organization helps small businesses development by Asian and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles. That means all those amazing dumplings, noodles, pork dishes… all that brilliant sushi, spicy Thai food, all of my favorite food basically has a chance to gain funding. What’s a better cause for a foodie?

Buy your tickets here.
You can check out past years’ events here and here.

The Dallas Food Marathon

July 24, 2009

Destination weddings usually mean a fun vacation, Facebook-worthy pictures and a rented tuxedo. When the friend getting married was one of the original food marathoners and the destination city was Dallas, it meant three days of ridiculously big eating. Texas, one of the few states big enough to satisfy my insatiable appetite.


Wasting no time we went directly from the airport to the most famous BBQ joint in Dallas, Sonny Bryan’s.

Sonny Bryan's

Sonny Bryan's Counter

Food GPS recommended the Inwood location because they have school desk style seating, so the marathon began there.

Sonny Bryan's Desks

Brisket sandwich, onion rings, potato salad, baby back ribs and root beer. They bottle their sauce, warm in Coronita bottles. The sauce is fantastic with a sweet, spicy tang.

Sonny BryanPlate

We hopped in a cab and headed to Bubba’s Cooks Country, a Yelp favorite.

Bubbas Cooks Country

We ordered, sat and then noticed that our cab driver (probably curious about two guys heading from one restaurant to another) stayed to order food as well. The fried chicken, black eyed peas, mashed potatoes, biscuits and lemonade.

Bubbas Fried Chicken

Our cab driver was so impressed with his meal that he ordered a sack full of fried chicken to bring home to his family. We joked about how it takes foodie tourists from LA to introduce a Dallas native to his own city’s best food. We noticed Peggy Sue BBQ as we drove off and put it on the list for the next day.

Peggy Sue Sign

For dinner we had an epic spread from Capital Grille that included amazing spicy calamari, oysters, Wagyu beef carpaccio, a chopped salad and a seriously delicious (and large) steak. We followed that with drinks at Nobu.

The next day we brought the other groomsmen to Bubba’s while we headed to Peggy Sue’s for baby back ribs and sausage. Another great sauce, tender ribs, but the sausage was a bit mushy. I wanted more crunch.

Peggy Sue Ribs Peggy Sue Sausage

We grabbed cookies from J.D.’s Chippery, another Yelp referral, and boxed them for our next stop. Located in a converted gas station, Taqueria la Paloma was the closest to an LA taco shop that we’d seen in Dallas.

Taqueria La Paloma

I went with tacos al pastor, lengua and barbacoa. A cantaloupe agua fresca washed it down.

Taqueria La Paloma Tacos

As if that wasn’t sweet enough, J.D.’s cookies were phenomenal. Soft and gooey the way I like them.

JD's Chippery Cookies

Day three started at Cafe Brazil

Cafe Brazil Sign

for migas (chorizo, onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, scrambled eggs, torilla chips, topped with cheese and salsa)

Cafe Brazil Migas

and pancrepes (crepes dipped in cinnamon egg batter, grilled and topped with Crème Anglaise, raspberry sauce, walnuts and powdered sugar).

Cafe Brazil Pancrepes

I wasn’t that impressed with either. I actually liked the breakfast sandwich with turkey best.

Cafe Brazil Sandwich

Next up was a tour of the Cowboy’s new $1.5B stadium.

Dallas Cowboys Stadium

It has a very large TV, that I’m pretty sure was built specifically for watching No Reservations.

Cowboys Stadium

Rushing to get to the wedding in time, we squeezed in two more stops. The first was Snuffer’s for cheese fries and a bacon cheeseburger.

Snuffer's Fries

Yes, that’s also ranch dressing on the side because cheese fries need ranch dressing…

Snuffer's Burger

The last stop was Manny’s Uptown for brisket tacos.

Mannys Sign

Unfortunately we had to rush through, but this seemed like a terrific Tex-Mex restaurant that deserves a full meal.

Manny's Brisket Taco

We had 20 minutes to spare at the aiport, so I grabbed a copy of the Wall Street Journal and waited for my plane…. Yeah, right. Are you new? We proceeded directly past the newsstand to get some last minute BBQ at Dickey’s.

DFW Airport BBQ

Overall the fried chicken was the best thing I ate in Dallas. I’m sure there are a lot of restaurants in the south that could beat it, but Bubba’s definitely beats LA’s best.

Cemitas are Sandwiches, Eat a Cemita

July 7, 2009

Jonathan Gold and Teenage Glutster told me to eat a cemita, so I did. I blindly trust anything those two say about food, so they could have told me to eat a pork and pesto pumpkin pie and I probably would. Luckily cemitas taste a lot better than meat desserts.

Pal Cabron Cemitas

Cemitas are delicious Mexican sandwiches and the best place in LA to get them is the recently opened Pal Cabron. Of course it’s the only place I’ve ever had a cemita…

Pal Cabron Menu

Run with warmth and passion by Bricia and Fernando Lopez, this fun eatery is just down the street from the brilliant Mexican restaurant, La Casita Mexicana. Like Jaime and Ramiro at La Casita, Bricia and Fernando are so enthusiastic about introducing Angelenos to the native flavors of Mexico that they glow with excitement when serving you. Their restaurants buzz with their energy as a result.

Pal Cabron Menu Pal Cabron Menu

I sampled six different cemitas, two clayudas a horchata and a michelada.

Pal Cabron Cemita Pal Cabron Clayuda

Pal Cabron Horchata Pal Cabron Michelada

My favorite cemitas were La Muy Muy (represented in cartoon female form by a spicy brunette in a red dress), La Chirris (chorizo), La Cachonda (pata de res aka beef feet) and of course, La Más Cabrona (milanesa, pork cheese and avocado). The light-hearted murals, both in the dining room and el bano, add to the fun of Pal Cabron. Throw back some micheladas (beer with a lip of salt, chile and crushed grasshoppers) and finish with a homemade horchata (which are notably less sweet than their factory-produced counterparts).

Pal Cabron Tetanic

Because of its location five miles south of downtown, you’re just gonna have to drive the extra ten minutes past your favorite taco truck one night (they’re open till 4am Thurs, Fri and Sat nights) and try it. And you will, not because I said so but because Jonathan Gold and Javier did.

Pal Cabron Jonathan Gold and Teenage Glutster Mural

Food Fight

July 6, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a book about meatballs falling from the sky. Nothing wrong with that as long as it floods spaghetti too. Sony’s new movie based on said book comes out in September. To tide over your animated appetite check out their new food fight game.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

I’ve never been in a food fight. It seems they only happen on TV, in movies and music videos. I have a feeling that sometime in a summer camp or comfy kitchen somewhere someone threw that first fateful fist of food that started a fun, forgivable but fully defacilitating food fight. It might be my forward thinking (read: O.C.D.) nature but I immediately worry about the hours of clean up that follow a four minute long food fight- the forgettable hours of filtering inches of muck from crevices of tables, fretfully cleaning chairs, cupboards and floors.

Food Fight

It’s a popular notion. Be Your Own Pet has a song called Food Fight,

history can be told through food fights

and recently LA’s city council waged a food fight against LA’s taco trucks.

With all the biteable battles I feel amiss having never administered an applesauce assault or assisted in an apricot assailment. Perhaps one should be scheduled, like the grilled cheese invitational, with leftovers from LA’s restaurants that otherwise would have gone to waste.  I know it satisfies nothing more that my futile but frenzied fervor for a feeble food fight. Forgive me for fretting over this fervent waste of food.