I am writing to order for the monthly question meme. There are a few slots left, if anyone has anything else they'd like to know or think would be amusing to see me write about.

[personal profile] oyceter, unsurprisingly, asked about my best recent food discovery. That would be New Orleans cuisine! My parents and I visited New Orleans last month, and stayed in an apartment in the Marigny (rhymes with "marry me," more or less) where we could stroll and admire the cool little houses with lace-like trim, painted in bright colors.

But mostly, we ate. The food completely lived up to expectations. Everything we ate was good, even completely random little neighborhood restaurants. We were sadly unable to make reservations at Cochon, but it did become a running joke that were eating like cochons.

As everyone suggested, we had beignets at Cafe du Monde, with chicory coffee. I'm not sure I really tasted the chicory; it mostly tasted like strong, somewhat bitter coffee. Maybe the bitterness was the chicory? The beignets, little fried dough pillows, were nicely doughy on the inside, covered in an avalanche of powdered sugar. We also had beignets elsewhere, but I liked the Cafe du Monde ones the best.

I had several po boys, of which my favorite was the crawfish at, IIRC, Acme Oyster House. I was very impressed with the bread in general, which is a sort of French loaf, but very light and fluffy, with a crust almost the texture of a creme brulee top; it shatters when you bite into it. The crawfish were very lightly breaded and fried, not at all heavy or greasy, with some lettuce and exactly enough dressing (a spicy mayo) for flavor and moisture, without anything getting soggy.

Another great meal, though not specific to New Orleans - lots of restaurants in LA serve this type of Asian fusion food - was at the Three Muses, with live music and an amazingly good appetizer of pork belly on a scallion pancake.

However, my single favorite thing was the shrimp and tasso Henican appetizer at Commander's Palace.

Commander's Palace in general also lived up to my rather high expectations. It was in a gorgeous converted house dating back to the 1800s, which reminded me of an old riverboat. The service there was the best I have ever experienced in my life - one of the few times when I've ever enjoyed the service for its own sake. Let me put it this way: I was offered a black napkin because I was wearing a black dress. It was very old-school, but fun rather than stuffy. Our waitress was introduced as "Miss Margaret," which made me expect an old lady in lace. She was actually a young, enthusiastic foodie with opinions on the entire menu.

I had been vaguely expecting the food to be rich but more delicately flavored, I think because I associate restraint with formality. The flavors were actually very bold, which I prefer. The shrimp and tasso Henican consisted of perfectly cooked shrimp skewered on crispy ham, in a sweet-spicy-tangy-hot sauce that made me want to lick the plate. (The wine waiter helpfully produced a basket of bread for sopping purposes.) If I'd been in New Orleans by myself, I would have gone back the next day and just had the shrimp for lunch.

We also had a mini-serving of three soups, gumbo, turtle, and apple-squash. All were good, but the turtle was fantastic, served with a splash of sherry poured on tableside. It was thick and murky, distinctly reminiscent of the river from whence the turtle probably came, with strands of mysterious greens and shreds of meat, rich and complex and tangy. The famous bread pudding was also good, more of a souffle, very light, not overly sweet.

I left a little bummed at LA's lack of turtles, crawfish, po boys, and this style of cooking in general.
I work out at a YMCA on Sawtelle, at a five-block section of West LA which is full of Asian (mostly Japanese) restaurants and clothing shops and so forth. Some restaurants stay forever, while other spaces have businesses come and go in a constantly shifting rotation.

They now have Seoul Sausage, featuring kalbi sausage, tasting, yes, like kalbi and served with kimchi "slaw," and also (no, I won't try it) kalbi sausage poutine. Also Korean corn silk tea, which is like barley tea but even better: earthy but delicate, with an intense corn flavor, but not sweet.

On Saturdays, after I lift weights, I walk to the Japanese market and buy a cold bottled barley tea and a cooked-to-order okonomiyaki from the vendors outside, with their steel grill to cook the savory pancakes with shredded cabbage and two strips of bacon, topped with two sauces and a handful of dried bonito flakes.

Yesterday I checked out a new ramen restaurant. (That makes six in five blocks.) It had a printed sign posted on a podium outside, which began, "Some time ago, we died at a very popular restaurant in Tokyo." It went on to explain how that restaurant had inspired them to open one in LA.

You may have figured this out already, but I was baffled. I wondered if "to die" was an overly literal translation of some Japanese idiom - perhaps related to the old-fashioned English "to die," meaning, "to have an orgasm."

Then I saw the same sign in the restaurant's window, with a small alteration. In ball-point pen, a carat and the letter "n" had been inserted in the appropriate place over "died."
My father just emailed me,

I’m still unpacking boxes of stuff we moved, just came across the Wedding Reception menu for Granma Lucy’s marriage to your Greatgrandfather, Abraham Mendelson, in 1917, at the Schary Manor in Newark. Some menu highlights:

Fish: Etlifeg fish (???????)

Soup: Noodles and Marrow

Entrée: Ox tongue

Roast: Egyptian Capon

The dessert selection includes White Rock (?????) and Perfecto Corona Cigars

Sorry to have missed it!


Etlifeg is gefilte spelled backwards. Why would they spell gefilte backwards? Was it considered, I don't know, classier? Wasn't there a trend a while back in England to spell girls' names backwards?

Also, what is white rock?
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When I was a kid at the ashram in Ahmednagar, India, I used to read National Geographics from a dusty stack piled outside on a forever-stalled wooden cart. I can still picture the photograph of multi-colored Peruvian potatoes tumbled together like uncut gems, and an advertisement for canned ham that showed a forty-ingredient sandwich with each layer meticulously labeled, all the way down to “toothpick” and “olive” (on toothpick.)

An article I re-read multiple times was about a wild food expert taking the author to a beach and fixing a gourmet meal solely from sea urchins, mussels, seaweed, beach-adjacent plants, and other things he gathered. I finally figured out this year that the expert was Euell Gibbons, and that he was apparently somewhat famous in the sixties.

This book, a series of brief essays on identifying and cooking various American wild plants and the occasional animal, was more entertaining and interesting than inspirational. I would not want to attempt to identify and then eat any plant based on his partial black and white drawings and less than comprehensive descriptions. For instance, he draws several types of acorns, noting that some oaks produce acorns which are sweet and some which are extremely bitter, but does not say which produce which. This was disappointing, because I am sure I know what an acorn is and that is one of the very few types of wild food I would consider trying without in-person advice.

I’d recommend this as a period piece, as a writing reference if you have characters who dine off the woods, as a source of recipes if you can already identify all the plants, and as a good read if you like food and nature writing. It doesn’t work, as Gibbons seems to intend it to, as a useful field guide… unless, perhaps, you are much braver than I.

Has anyone ever dined off the land? (Other than fishing and berry-picking, which even I have done.)

Stalking The Wild Asparagus
In case anyone is looking for holiday gift ideas, for oneself or others, I have assembled a brief rundown of my very favorite food literature. (When writing it up I realized that about five of my all-time favorite works of food writing were in the Time-Life Food of the World series; I’ll do a separate post on those later.) Every one can be read strictly for pleasure, even if it’s technically a cookbook.

Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles, by Jonathan Gold, the only food writer to ever win a Pulitzer Prize. If you like reading this blog, you’ll love this book – he’s like a more talented, or at least more polished and experienced, version of me. This guide to hole-in-the-wall, eccentric, wonderful, old-fashioned, cutting-edge, and quirky Los Angeles restaurants can be read with great pleasure as a travelogue even if you’ve never been to LA and never plan to go.

A Taste of India, by Madhur Jaffrey. Atmospheric, beautifully written and photographed guide to Indian regional cuisine, nostalgic, personal, and lovely.

Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (P.S.), by Anthony Bourdain. Gonzo chef turned food journalist Bourdain’s funny, scabrous, macho, politically incorrect memoir of a (frequently high, drunk, and/or stoned) life in the kitchen.

A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines, also by Bourdain. While still preserving his jackass, testosterone-overdose charm, this book, about his world travels shooting a show for the Food Network, is better-written and more thoughtful and atmospheric, at times even poignant. The warning for political incorrectness stands, but I appreciate Bourdain’s lack of condescension, genuine love and appreciation for a whole lot of places and cuisines, and recognition of the backbreaking hard work that goes into food production.

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen (Vintage Contemporaries) and More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen, by Laurie Colwin. Very humane, sweet, gentle, and cozy essays on (mostly American) food and living, cooking for children and invalids and the jetlagged and homeless shelters – the written equivalent of comfort food. The recipes are extremely simple and come out well.

The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection. I like a lot of Michael Ruhlman’s books but this is my favorite, three long essays on the CIA Master’s exam, an inventive Cleveland chef, and Thomas Keller. Great journalism, especially the first essay, which contains an account of terrine preparation that had me literally biting my nails in suspense. Fans of Top Chef would enjoy this.

Feast: Food to Celebrate Life, by Nigella Lawson. Mostly a recipe book but with excellent essays, multicultural (though primarily British) without pretending to insider knowledge, sensual and often funny. I especially liked the touching, practical essay on cooking for funerals and for people in mourning.

Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany (Vintage). A solid, well-written, often funny account that reads like a good, albeit lightly plotted, novel.

Before everyone leaps up to inquire – I like M. F. K. Fisher but not enough to put her on an all-time favorites list. Ditto Ruth Reichl.
Entertaining and mouthwatering accounts of road food, genre Americana. The Sterns criss-cross America, eating at obscure cafes, lobster shacks, Pennsylvania Dutch places, rodeos, delis, taco joints, and barbecue pits hidden deep within the southern woods. This isn't great food writing, but it's good food writing. (Maybe later I'll do a post rounding up some great food writing.)

Roadfood is more of a guide book and Two for the Road is more of a narrative, but both books have elements of each, though surprisingly little content overlap. If I had to pick one, I’d go with Roadfood.

The Sterns spend most of their time in the south and east coast, followed by the Midwest. The great plains are lightly covered, and the west is only touched upon. Their entries for California, while completely valid and worthy, would not be on my top fifty list. They’d probably appear on my top 100. For instance, La Super Rica, a very good Mexican street food place in Santa Barbara. It does the best queso fundido (a clay pot of oily molten cheese studded with hunks of chorizo, to be scooped up with warm tortillas) I've ever found, but I wouldn't drive for an hour and a half just for that. They also mention Cassell's, a burger joint in Koreatown. Again, quite good and I like the mustard-spiked potato salad, but if I've hauled ass all the way to Koreatown, I'm having Korean food.

The Sterns are almost exclusively interested in Americana: soul food, jello salads, barbecue, burgers, milk shakes, sandwiches, Tex-Mex, and so forth. When they touch upon Chinese food, for instance, it’s explicitly the old-fashioned sort of Americanized Chinese you’d have to specifically look for to find in some cities nowadays. I’m fine with this focus – they don’t pretend to be comprehensive – but be aware that if you want to find suggestions for pho, idli sambar, or kimchi fried rice, these are not the books to consult.

Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 700 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much More

Two for the Road: Our Love Affair With American Food

Please comment with a luscious or revolting description of some old-fashioned food and/or local specialty you love or hate, perhaps, if you're feeling generous, with a recipe. It doesn't have to be Americana - by local, I mean local to you, whether you're in New Mexico or New Delhi.
Yesterday I attended Eat LACMA. (Details in previous post.) It was a madhouse, a zoo, a carnival. The majority of the participants had pretty clearly been selected more for entertainment and weirdness value than for being great artists, which I must say I'm fine with.

The museum is usually pretty packed on weekends, but this festival brought out the crowds, including many very happy small children. Some art project involved sticking colored dots on people, and as the day wore on more and more people became covered in dots. A kid stealthily stuck some on me as we sat watching a dance. I pretended not to notice.

Upon exiting the elevator, I noticed six people marching past, dressed as a pink cable car, and followed by two kids dressed as ghosts. I'm not sure whether or not the kids were part of the cable car.

A very large marching band was marching around. Most of the men were sedately dressed in black, and most of the women were less sedately dressed in black loligoth outfits, but some were in random street clothes. All of them had their faces painted in vaguely kabuki-esque red, black, and white makeup.

There was a giant white wall with doughnuts, some with bite-marks, hanging from nails. People were wandering up and eating the doughnuts, or (like me) looking suspiciously and then backing off.

A woman sat at a table with stacks of zines and questionnaires, brown-painted styrofoam, and a giant mound of fudge.

"What's this about?" asked a passerby.

The woman smiled seraphically. "Poop. Want to fill out a questionnaire?"

"What's it about?"

"Poop."

Another passerby poked the styrofoam. "What's this for?"

Poop Woman, deadpan. "It's meant to be... suggestive. Want some fudge?"

After that, I did not want any fudge. I filled out the questionnaire: "Do any foods remind you of poop?" Me: "As of right now, FUDGE."

A dominatrix in a red, white, and blue gown, Miss Barbie-Q, held a watermelon-eating contest, with participants encased in trash bags to confine their arms, and strolled around with a megaphone, commanding, "EAT IT! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT IT!"

Marionettes ate "peas" for an enthralled audience of small kids and their parents. People were inveigled into dressing in biohazard suits "On order of M.O.L.D" to investigate a plastic-tarped shack with mold inside. An artist ground up a piece of LACMA's interior wall, baked it into sugar candy, and fed it to passersby. Kids were digging up potatoes. Boom Boom, a huge guy with heavy eye makeup wearing nothing but black spandex shorts, strolled around with an attendant shading him with a teeny Japanese parasol, and then sat down on the steps, where a large meal and a copy of Food and Wine magazine were placed, to "eat for your amusement." An elevator I innocently stepped into contained an extremely creepy ancient mummified autumn queen eating... something... as spooky music played.

I was admiring a woman's avant-garde black and white dress with a train of cloth dots when I realized that the train was composed of separate strands. "Tim Gunn would say it looks like octopus tentacles," I thought. The woman noticed me staring and beckoned me after her, into the Korean Gallery. It turned out that she was doing a dance/performance piece, "Know the Taste of Korean Pan-Fried Octopus?"

My favorite piece involves 12 participants in street clothes and safety goggles, stadium seating, a three-sided (and floored) white enclosure with twelve-foot walls but no ceiling, and 10,000 canned stewed tomatoes. This attracted a giant crowd. I was wedged in with two small children.

Small child: "I'm six. She's five. How old... wait... are you a grown-up?"

Me, regretful: "Yes."

Small child, disappointed: "Oh."

The tomato-throwers, assisted by three people madly opening cans of tomatoes backstage and rushing in and out to take away empty tomato buckets and replace them with full ones, began hurling tomatoes at each other.

This was clearly a classic Happening: put the ingredients and simple instructions together, then go at it. Like all good Happenings, it was enthralling. Stanislavsky created the Method when he saw how audiences were always fascinated by real things happening onstage, even normal ordinary things like someone frying an egg. Put people on a stage or in front of a camera, and suddenly everything they do is interesting. It focuses the audience's attention on individual and group dynamics. Of course it helps if you're also hurling tomatoes.

The safety goggles were lost almost instantly. Teams formed, then broke up. Tomatoes flew into the audience and were flung back. The backstage crew began tossing tomatoes from backstage. The people onstage began randomly chucking tomatoes back over the wall. So many tomatoes accumulated that people began doing the backstroke. The people onstage turned on the assistants and attacked them with tomatoes. They became exhausted and collapsed to the floor, still flinging tomatoes from kneeling positions.

At the end, they bowed and we applauded. Then an evil woman in the audience began stomping on the bleachers, yelling "Encore!"

The tomato people staggered to their feet and began hurling tomatoes once more, with no aim whatsoever. Tomatoes were flying straight up in the air. The audience fled for their lives.
The LA County Museum of Art is hosting an all-day giant food-and-weirdness festival, TOMORROW, for one day only!

But a few of the many featured attractions:

JEANNE DUNNING
Tomato Fight
10,000 ripe tomatoes. 10 eager performers. Come and watch the splatter.

MACHINE PROJECT (& FRIENDS)
Electric Melon Drum Circle
Participants make amplified melons using contact microphones, and then perform together in a facilitated melon percussion group. Afterwards, they eat the instruments.

STEPHEN VAN DYCK
Chewing Carolers
A chorus of four people dressed in food service outfits serenading dining guests with rehearsed chewing, smacking and guttural sounds.

SUNG-YUN PARK (WITH SOOK SHIM)
Know the Taste of Korean Pan-Fried Octopus?
Some flavors cannot be translated. A dance performance.

KAREN ATKINSON, JOHN BURTLE, ARI KLETZKY, OWEN DRIGGS
Islands of LA Presents Roots of Compromise, 2010
The artists attempted to plant a garden of radishes on the traffic island closest to LACMA, negotiating with all the required city and civic bureaucracies. Their title evokes the relationship between “radicality,” a word with the same root as “radish,” and compromise.

JONATHAN GOLD
Spamburgers and Other Delights
LA Weekly food critic reads “Spam, the American Meat,” written especially for this event.

KAREN BLACK
On Fruit
Miss Black reads poetry and sings about the wonders of fruit. [Rachel's note: When I read a few attractions aloud to a local friend, she mused, "I saw Karen Black perform once. She did an obscene act with a sweet potato." Me: "Maybe she'll do another one with a pluot!"]

EMILY KATRENCIK
A Freedom Granted Is Not a Freedom Until It Is Expressed
A portion of the interior museum wall removed, the edible portions ground up as an ingredient in a sugar-based Your chance to actually eat LACMA!
Ahmanson 2 Lobby:
All day, while supplies last

7. MICOL HEBRON
Bubble Gum Pop
A participatory chorus of synchronized bubble gum pops. Gum will be provided and then taken away.

ANNA HOMLER
(WITH JORGE MARTIN)
The Mystery of the Knife, Fork and Spoon.
The secret lives of eating utensils are explored through spoken-word, songs in alien languages and sonic manipulation.

I am on call, but hopefully won't get called and can attend for at least some of it. This sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Dear Mystery Vosges Benefactor,

I have never before had a package arrive with dry ice warnings. Awesome!

Thank you very much! I love Vosges, can't wait to try the hot chocolate and the bars I've never had before, and look forward with anticipatory glee to re-acquainting myself with the ones I've already tried. This couldn't have come at a better time.

PS to non-mystery chocolate benefactors, because I know LJ/DW: No, the bacon bar was not included - I think it doesn't come in a mini size - so I still haven't tried that one. Has anyone?
Thank you very much, everyone! Wow, Americans are neurotic when it comes to refrigerating stuff.

Come to think of it, I ate tons of eggs in India and we only had a refrigerator the last year I was there, so unless they were coming straight from the hen they were sitting around at some point, and in extremely high heat too. Though maybe they did come straight from the hen. They were so much better than any American egg I have ever had, by the way, even the best organic supposedly-free-range ones: bright orange yolks and an intensity of flavor never found here. Woes. But that wasn't because they weren't refrigerated, it was because the hens ran around and ate bugs and scraps and stuff.

I made shortbread with the butter. Pro: texture is fantastic. Con: I reduced the sugar because normally recipes contain too much for my taste, and... they're not sweet enough. Very buttery, but a little bland.

What can I do? I have a lot of shortbread, and I'm not sure the neighbor's teenage son would like it as is. (I normally give him my excess baked goods. He is fifteen and growing.) Should I spread jam on it? Sprinkle it with powdered sugar? Spread icing on it? Bueller?
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rachelmanija: (Default)
( Mar. 26th, 2010 12:21 pm)
Yesterday Oyce and I drove to Torrance for the excellent Korean fried chicken at Kyochon, and it was... closed! OH NOES! Seriously, I am baffled by this. It's a popular chain and certainly seemed busy every time we were there before.

So we drove to Sue's Kitcher, a Chinese place, and got fried fish (best eaten on the spot, not as take-out, I now realize), noodles, scallion pancakes, and various sides of greens, pickles, tea eggs, mabo tofu, etc. Very good. We will have leftovers for lunch today.

While eating, we watched Top Chef Masters, the episode which introduces bad-ass chef Anita Lo, she of the infinite range of dour expressions. She made truffled eggs in the half-shell with one hand tied behind her back - literally! She made steak tartare enclosed in a braised daikon atop a seascape with wave noises! She chopped onions at lightning speed without looking down and while carrying on a conversation! The other three chefs occasionally glanced at her with the expressions of gunslingers in the presence of the Man With No Name.

When she said, "Hmmm," Oyce pointed out that if you gave her glasses, a gender-switch, and slightly longer hair, she would be Jin from Samurai Champloo. Oyce then noticed that her chef's top was actually a gi!

We then went to Clementine for afternoon tea, featuring delicious tea sandwiches (gravlax, turkey with sun-dried tomatoes, egg salad, and cucumber) and currant scones with clotted cream and extraordinary, spoon-licking homemade soft strawberry preserves. Due to Sue's Kitchen, we have leftovers (not of the cream or jam).

And then! We met up with [personal profile] yhlee and her lizard (child), and took them to dinner. I kind of liked Sue's Kitchen better, but was thrilled with free surprise soup dumplings, even if they were not up to Din Tai Fung standards. The lizard, even more surprisingly, was also thrilled with the dumplings and ate three. While driving back, the lizard happily murmured about "Legendary Flamingo," which ought to be a shounen attack. "Lengendary Flamingo! Engage!"

And THEN, Oyce and I watched the first episode of Project Runway ever! She had never seen first season (so please don't spoil her.) We were delighted by Austin Scarlet, who seemed to have escaped from From Eroica With Love. (By the way, that must take incredible courage for a guy that age to have already constructed a persona like that - even in New York City.) We also want to know how he gets his hair to do that.

Also, we boggled at Heidi Klum in a KISS T-shirt and models in jeans, and were appalled by Wendy Pepper's candy bikini and other horrors, like a five-minute shower curtain dress. And also how everyone kept ignoring Tim Gunn! We hope they will soon appreciate his awesomeness.
[personal profile] oyceter is here! We had to lurk near my house yesterday, because I was on call and, should I be summoned, would have to leave on a moment's notice. This led to me leaving her the following message before she arrived:

"If you get here and I'm not here, I've left the house keys under the pot with a dead plant. Under the dead plant. ... In the smallest pot with a dead plant."

Luckily I was not summoned. Either nothing bad happened in Culver City last night, or nobody needed counseling because there were no survivors.

We went to Fatburger, where I inhaled a burger with a fried egg (so delicious!) and extra-crispy fries in record time, with one eye on my phone.

Then we returned to my house and re-watched the episode of Project Runway in which Emilio is forced to construct an eye-bleedingly horrific bikini made of washers and pink twine. I don't know if my very favorite moment was Emilio counting the washers for the third time in the hope that they had spontaneously multiplied, or Anthony remarking, "I don't think it's in the best of taste... Being a lady will never go out of fashion."

The fact that the trainwreck occurred to the imperturbable Emilio, hitherto known for good and rather conservative taste, made this episode a Project Runway classic. If you recall my "anime personality" analysis of reality TV characters, Emilio is clearly a Shigure-esque mild-mannered secret mastermind... having a very, very bad day.

Today we may have to re-watch the "cat in a sling" episode. I suggested to Oyce that she learn to vid so she can vid PR's most "what were they thinking" moments, of which Amy's hair breast bowl and clown fish pants should figure prominently. Also Melvin's pregnant bird (Tim Gunn: "But Melvin, do women want to look like they have chicken thighs?") and Wendy Pepper's candy bikini (which Emilio's pink washer horror strongly resembled.)

Then we watched a hilarious Korean movie, My Girlfriend is a Secret Agent, in which a highly competent and hot-tempered female agent, first seen firing a gun from a speedboat while wearing full bridal regalia, is involved with a highly incompetent but very sweet man who is also a secret agent. Needless to say neither knows of the other's secret identity. The "bb-gun" and "lobster mallet" and "horse-riding" scenes were comic gold. The male lead reminded me of the young Steve Martin, back when he did more physical comedy.

And then, since my on-call time had elapsed, we rushed to Beard Papa for coffee cream puffs (Oyce) and chocolate molten cake (me). Across the street was a Korean taco truck! But not the famous Kogi, a rip-off different Korean taco truck. We ran to it just in time to obtain a kimchi quesadilla (Oyce) and Korean barbecue pork taco (me.) They were quite good, especially with the sweet-and-sour dipping sauce.

We returned to my apartment and watched American Idol, which except for Siobhan and the Melissa Etheredge-esque Crystal Bowersox, I am not impressed with.

Finally, I want to note that though my apartment has been spider-free since Oyce's last visit, a large shelob appeared on my bedroom wall and began to menacingly approach the bed. I attacked it with a telescoping thing (I just asked Oyce what she thought it was, and she didn't know. Some sort of scrubber on a pole), but it telescoped, propelling the spider, possibly still alive, to parts unknown. I hid under the covers, leaving Oyce to her fate.
rachelmanija: (Savor)
( Dec. 7th, 2009 03:48 pm)
Yeah, yeah, I realize that 50 F and rainy is not "cold weather" for much of the world. Guys, I have only ever lived in Maharashtra and California, and mostly in hot parts of both! I am thin-blooded!

Currently in oven: chopped baking potatoes, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, and garlic. (What I had minus onions; I'm extremely sensitive to onion fumes and couldn't face them when I can't open a window.)

Awaiting oven: Chicken parts rubbed with brown sugar, cumin, salt, and pepper.

In refrigerator marinating: more chicken parts soaking in soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and chopped garlic.

Contemplating: cake. Though that would require leaving house to buy milk.

Tell me of your favorite cold weather food, either ones you make or ones you just eat. (Recipes are great if you actually make them yourself.)
rachelmanija: (Fruit: berries)
( Feb. 28th, 2009 03:57 pm)
I finally made it to the famous gelato place, Scoops, after years of hearing about it. It's way on the other side of town and took me an hour to get there, but it was worth it.

Owner and gelato-maker Tai Kim is famous for his unique and constantly-rotating flavors, such as durian-ginger, black currant-basil, Guinness, salty chocolate, bacon, olive oil and sea salt, tomato, strawberry Shiraz, lavender coconut, green tea and ginseng, honey ham, taro, and Black Dahlia.

Tai was out when I came in, but an employee gave me a number of tastes. For $2.75, I got two small scoops of pear/white wine, which had the grittiness of fresh pears and a powerful Chardonnay hit, and strawberry balsamic, a richly creamy concoction with complex layers of sweet and acid. I got cartons to go of the strawberry balsamic and brown bread - the latter much like the best vanilla you've ever had, with overtones of fresh-baked bread and honey and a sweet crumb topping.

The flavors change daily or every other daily, so I will have to return for more once I've finished my pints.

Scoops
712 N Heliotrope Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90029
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Feb. 12th, 2009 10:42 am)
Taco truck plus Twitter plus Korean barbecue plus social phenomenon equals news story.

It started with a 4 a.m. glass of Champagne and a carne asada taco after a night of serious bar hopping. Thirty-year-old Mark Manguera was sitting with his 25-year-old sister-in-law, Alice Shin (his wife Caroline was already sleeping soundly), when the taste of L.A.'s most ubiquitous street food caused him to have a drunken revelation.

"I'm biting into my taco and it dawned on me, 'Alice, wouldn't it be great if someone put Korean barbecue on a taco?,' " recalls Manguera, who is Filipino but married into a Korean family.


No, I haven't tried Kogi, though the Venice Beach vegan black sesame seed jelly special makes me really want to, but I have now added this to the LA pantheon of fusion cuisine, from the kosher Chinese restaurants to Oki Dog's pastrami burrito. (I did try the latter. Once.)

Kogi Korean BBQ taco truck. Do watch the video.
rachelmanija: (Savor)
( Sep. 24th, 2008 01:18 pm)
I have just bought a four quart crock pot/slow cooker.

Can you please share any favorite crock pot recipes, tips, or sources of recipes? I especially like East Asian and Americana.

I don't eat eggplant, cilantro, liver, broccoli, or zucchini. I dislike cream sauces and traditional gravy, but other forms of soups, sauces, stews, and meat juices are fine.
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rachelmanija: (Default)
( Apr. 25th, 2008 02:06 pm)
I had a lovely flying visit from [livejournal.com profile] rilina, which involved eating the following items: an aged provolone with artichokes and olives grilled cheese sandwich, an apple turnover, and a rhubarb square at Clementine; assorted sushi, chicken meatballs, and "LA-cut" kalbi at Place Yuu; and pork sauteed with kimchi, ochazuke (rice soup) with green pickles, teriyaki salmon (excellent!), and stingray (sliced, dried, and grilled; also excellent.)

And we discussed the significance of the bird mask and the letter Z in the Gundam-verse. I hope she will elaborate.

We watched the anime Bus Gamer, which begins earlier than the manga and continues the story farther. I suspect that Minekura is at least consulted, as the dialogue is classic her. Good animation, realistic martial arts. And a fowl of D00M! Highly enjoyable.

Unfortunately, I have a cold and feel lousy. [livejournal.com profile] rilina, hope I didn't give it to you. I blame [livejournal.com profile] telophase for sending me the article on Airborne getting sued and so ruining its protective placebo effect.
rachelmanija: (Savor)
( Apr. 14th, 2008 11:30 am)
I've been reading this book called Road Food, about which I have serious doubts as an actual source of recommendations as I have eaten at most of the restaurants it recommends in California and was only really impressed with one (the astonishing taco shack La Super-Rica in Santa Barbara), but it functions excellently as a source of food porn.

I was especially entranced by its sections on such exotic locales and specilties as Maine (lobster rolls; Indian pudding; Grape-nuts pudding), Vermont (salt pork; red flannel hash; New England boiled dinner; maple cream pie), Pennsylvania (shoofly pie; scrapple; grasshopper pie), Kentucky (sugar pie; chess pie; burgoo), and Iowa (loosemeats.)

I am not even sure what many of those are, but they sound delicious. Has anyone ever eaten any of those items? If so, can you describe them to me?

If not... what are your regional specialties? The more regional, the better! Please describe in mouthwatering detail.

I would reciprocate, but I'm not sure what LA's regional specialties actually are. We seem to specialize in other countries' regional specialties.
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rachelmanija: (Default)
( Feb. 25th, 2008 10:10 am)
I had an unusually sociable weekend.

On Friday, I went over to [livejournal.com profile] branna's place and cooked lamb chops with a spice rub. They were delicious, perhaps due to both of us checking them carefully for the right degree of doneness, me by poking them to test the texture and then cutting them to test appearance, and [livejournal.com profile] branna sticking in a meat thermometer. Unfortunately, I ruined the asparagus by forgetting about them for, judging by the disgusting texture, about twenty minutes.

On Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] yhlee and I and her friend A went to Koreatown. We arrived early, and bought two bags of Corvette-flavored cupcakes. Then we proceeded to this fantastic teeny restaurant in a strip mall and had fried fish, salad over purple rice topped with chunks of raw fish, flying fish roe, and spicy sauce, and (my favorite) a soup listed on the menu as "delicious soup" which consisted of richly flavored broth with chunks of melt-in-your-mouth potato and just-chewy-enough flat, hand-torn rice noodles. I know it sounds boring, but seriously, it was not "delicious," but delicious.

The panchan (side dishes) included chunked radish kimchi, shredded radish kimchi, marinated fish cake, and delicious shoestring potato potato salad... with raisins. (I picked those out.) Then we went to a bakery and I got a slightly salty pounded rice dough pancake stuffed with red bean paste and a fantastic chocolate croissant. The employees all screamed something when I dropped some coins in the tip jar. I hope it was "TIIIIIIIP!" not "LOUSY TIPPPPPPER!"

Last night [livejournal.com profile] jeremytblack and I went to an Oscar party at [livejournal.com profile] chickflick1979's place. I brought home-made cake and Corvette cupcakes. Both were sadly underappreciated, I regret to say. But the party was very fun and the guests were great.

The only nominated films I'd seen were Sweeney Todd and The Bourne Ultimatum, so I had no dogs in the race. I always seen Coen Brothers movies, but missed their curent one in the theatres. What is Michael Conway about? The clips looked good.

I adore Tilda Swinton and have since Derek Jarman's Edward II, in which she played Isabella as a vampire, and was thrilled to see her win an Oscar and take the opportunity to discuss her agent's ass and the Batsuit. But less thrilled with her supremely unflattering garbage bag dress. Generally, I was unimpressed with the clothes. Feathers are in. Why? They cover up women's lovely cleavage, and wave gently and distractingly like sea anemone tentacles.

Jeremy tells me that if you have seen Daniel Day Lewis' undoubtedly extremely brilliant film, his acceptance speech about golden trees sprouting from his director's head does not sound crazy at all. I will take his word for it. I am sure the movie is a work of staggering genius. I have been put off it by the previews, which all show Day Lewis ranting maniacally while the camera doesn't move (three hours of that? Yikes), and by my general burn-out on depressing three-hour movies about white guys, which make me want to run back to Outfest to see cheerful ninety-minute movies about gay Thai schoolboys and Scottish-Indian lesbian chefs.
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