Archive for November, 2010

The 105 Mile Mini Food Marathon

November 22, 2010

It really was a food 5k because I only ate at three restaurants. Regardless, on Saturday I checked out the LA Auto show (which was partially an excuse to go to Mariscos Jalisco).

After trying the amazing Tacos Dorados de Camaron at LA Street Food Fest I’ve been looking forward to the Mariscos Jalisco truck in East LA.

It was raining, but that didn’t stop me from dining on shrimp tacos curbside for breakfast.

Their fried tacos are filled with shrimp and covered with avocado and in a rich salsa. They actually were a bit too smothered, but that didn’t detract from the flavor.

(Trust me there are tacos under there).

As usual, the best food balances crunchy and soft with sweet and salty. These tacos are one of the many examples of the success this combination achieves.

From East LA, I headed west for lunch with friends in Malibu. Countering the authenticity of my Mexican breakfast, I was going to have a very Americanized version of Cuban food for lunch. Cafe Habana is in the ridiculously overpriced Malibu Lumber Yard. It’s just a strip mall with fifteen foot tall fish tank columns and a Maxfield selling $2,300 leather pants- your typical recessionary Malibu kind of stuff. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t expecting much from the food.

We sat on the patio and enjoyed some chips and mild salsa. Despite the popularity of their grilled corn, I went with the Cuban sandwich. Too bad it was doused with mayonnaise-y sauce and the pulled pork had the consistency of dry tuna fish. Limp fries rounded out the unimpressive meal.

The food at lunch didn’t really matter as the company was great and I knew dinner would be fantastic.

Julienne, in Santa Barbara, could easily go toe to toe with LA’s best restaurants. They source local ingredients, have warm attentive service and cook meat perfectly.

We had cauliflower soup, chicken liver crostini, a duck duo and pork belly.

Their homemade ice creams and sorbets always cap their delicious dinners.

Over 100 miles later, there were no complaints about the busy day.


Morimoto, Manhattan

November 19, 2010

With South Park’s recent celebrity chef/foodie episode, it’s a good time to post about my dinner at Morimoto in New York.

Given celebrity chefs’ busy television filming schedules, paid appearances, PR stunts, cooking demos, drinking binges and book signings, how can someone like Masaharu Morimoto have time to oversee the quality of his namesake New York restaurant? The answer is, he doesn’t. His staff of well-trained, hard working chefs, sous chefs, servers, bartenders and busboys make Morimoto a fantastic dining experience.

To be honest, I was worried Morimoto might be overpriced, phoned-in, Nobu-fusion, but it turned out to be a memorable night of fine dining.

Sure, it’s not easy to secure a location like the Chelsea Market without a few ties to the Food Network. It’s probably also difficult to build out a stunning room with multiple levels, great acoustics and an immaculate kitchen without some strong financial backing.

Wall made of bottles.

So in actuality, it’s the combination of an Iron celebrity chef and a winning team of passionate food professionals that makes Morimoto excellent.

Photo by Fran Collin.

We were seated at one of the best tables in the restaurant, with a clear view of the sushi bar. We started with a bottle of rose and followed it with specialty cocktails (White Lily, Manhattan). After ten minutes it was clear service would be flawless throughout the night. It was.

So, the food (please, excuse the pictures):
1) Mushrooms 3 ways: Comsumme with mitsuba, chawan mushi with uni, and tempura fried
2) Tako salad seared with hot chili oil and ponzu
3) Junmai Sake
4) Tuna Pizza: Grilled tortilla brushed with eel sauce topped with maguro, olives, onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, tabasco, anchovy aioli and cilantro.
5) Hamachi kamaa: Grilled yellowtail collar topped with scallion and ginger and seared with hot oil and soy.
6) Sushi/Sashimi assortment: Tai, saba, murugai, uni, hirame, tamago, mentaiko roll, otoro, amberjack

I’m sure some of Flay and Lagasse’s Vegas outposts don’t maintain the quality that their flagship restaurants uphold. I know Batali’s don’t, as I’ve been to a few. Morimoto’s other restaurants may not fair as well either, but Morimoto in Manhattan is a great restaurant.

Ludobites Black Croque-Monsieur Recipe

November 18, 2010

The other night I found the menu from week two of Ludobites 1.0 at Breadbar.

September 2007

Walking distance from my house. Reservations made directly with Krissy.

Back then Max, Margaux and I had a little website called Just One Plate (may it rest in peace).

We featured one of Ludo’s famous dishes and its recipe. I thought I would include it here for old time’s sake:

Serving size – 4 people


4 slices of foie gras terrine (1/2 inch thick)
4 slices thin slices of Serrano ham
4 slices – Idiazabal cheese (thinly sliced) (smoked sheep cheese from Basque)
4 slices – Etorki cheese (thinly sliced) (sheep milk cheese from Basque)
12 slices – grilled zucchini (sliced length-wise and thin)
4 teaspoons – clarified butter
8 slices squid ink Pain de mie (Breadbar)
1 gold leaf (optional)

Melt clarified butter and brush one side of each slice of bread. Take one slice of bread (brushed side down) and place one slice of Etorki cheese, three slices of zucchini, (placed side by side) one slice serano ham, and one slice Idiazabar cheese layered respectively on top of slice. Top with second slice of bread, brushed side up. Repeat to make additional sandwiches.

Brush a non-stick pan with remaining clarified butter. Cook each side of sandwich for approximately 3 minutes on medium heat. Place gold leaf on top of sandwich (optional) Repeat for each sandwich. Slice and serve.

Ah, the good old days…

The Gold Line Food Marathon

November 17, 2010

The 11 in 11 is the annual Novemberial food marathon thrown by Mark, Jason, Noah and Jeff. You may remember last year’s that ran from 11pm to 11am. This year it was reversed, during daylight hours. They decided to use the Gold Line this year because LA has a subway, in case you didn’t know.

I wasn’t going to do the whole 11 in 11, so I started my marathon with a pastrami sandwich at Langer’s.

Don’t tell anyone, but it was my first time.

The sandwich easily lives up to the hype. Exile Kiss’ review is a must-read and is the map for an all-Langer’s marathon in the future.

Back to the 11 in 11. Mark’s planning was impeccable. He factored in multiple restaurants per stop, lag time for a group of 30, proximity to subway stops and every other possible hiccup a marathon could encounter. I commend him for planning and executing a flawless marathon.

We met at California Plaza, took the Angels Flight down to Union Station, boarded the Red Line, transferred to the Gold Line and headed to Mariachi Plaza. The first stop actually had 4 restaurant options within a half mile of the subway.

I leaned towards La Placita del DF, as it didn’t seem like it was as filling as Birriera Jalisco (I’m also planning a Jalisco food marathon featuring Mariscos Jalisco, Taqueria Jalisco, Birriera Jalisco and others).

The menu offers street food from Mexico. We opted for a delicious crunchy chicken quesadilla,

huitlacoche quesadilla (that’s corn smut/fungus),

and platter of tacos. Guava aqua frescas washed it all down.

Michael Jordan (yes, the best name on the marathon) also grabbed a taco from Apaches for us to sample.

Less than a mile away we descended upon Al and Bea’s. The tiny burrito shack is famous, as later proven by the local that confirmed its exceptional flavor and quality over novelty (achem, El Tepeyac).

I didn’t need a local to tell me this place was good.

We devoured the lot, including a cholesterol-filled chicharron burrito that could have stopped the marathon in its tracks.



On we went, towards an odd, county fair type stand. Original Raspados serves deep fried Oreo’s, funnel cakes and their specialty snow cones.

The decor is artful. That’s the dining patio to the right under the Firestone sign with the rooster cooing in the back.

The snowcones are served in bathtubs, for $7.

The crowning culinary achievement of the day came in the form of a hybrid chili pie. They slice the side of a Fiery Hot Cheetos bag open and pour chili and cheese in, to create the pot of gold at the end of the gold line.

It’s just a shame they don’t dump chili and cheese on buckets of Cheetos too.

Back on the subway to the next stop, El Pollon. This Peruvian restaurant is a solid choice for chicken and other staples.

The group ordered a lot. Chicken,


shrimp and rice,

beef hearts,

We re-boarded the subway and headed back to Little Tokyo. The group split between mochi-goers at Mikayawa and beer-drinkers at Wurstkuche.

Having a beer connoisseur in the group is helpful at a bar. Jason directed me to a light Gouden Carolus, while he had a Duchess.

From Little Tokyo to Chinatown, we rejoined the group to get Vietnamese sandwiches.

Buu Dien’s banh mi are average-at-best. It’s worth the extra drive to the SGV to get good ones.

At this point I headed back home, not even full but with other plans for the night. As always getting a group of food-minded strangers together yields infinite fun. Thank you organizers for making it happen.

Check out Lesley’s post for more pictures and words.