Bon Vivant's written and pictorial diary of her culinary adventures that will amuse and excite your virtual taste buds...

Monday, July 31, 2006

And Then Some Like it Kind of Cool...

I can't think of anything better than some type of sweet after eating spicy Chinese food. One of my dining mates at Chung King came up with the brilliant idea to go to Fosselman's ice cream parlor after lunch.

To go a couple of blocks south to the 10 you would have thought that we were crossing the Bay Bridge it took so damn long. Then what is the worst thing that could have happened to an M series driver as she turns onto the freeway on ramp? STUDENT DRIVER. The sign on the back of the car should have read "Stupid Driver." Now the 10 on/off ramps in the San Gabriel Valley are only slightly better than the Pasadena Freeway - like you get an extra 3 feet to try to merge onto the freeway. In other words they suck.

So Student Driver is lucky and has both merge lanes clear so what does she do? She stops. And then she slowly starts to proceed and then stops again to look at traffic. Perhaps she does not see the big truck that is going to hit me because she won't merge onto the freeway even though she has plenty of room to (and of course when I'm hit by the truck and my car is plowed into hers she would blame me.) Take my advice Student Driver and fire your instructor tres vites!

Boy, do I need an ice cream cone now! We all make it to Fosselman's in one piece and drool over the selection of flavors. I choose a very non-M3Diva like flavor: Banana Heath Bar. It was the best thing that I've ever tasted!

Hiking Gourmet T and I are meeting Adorable Gourmet H, Raven, and SoCalKat at the Arclight later to see "Little Miss Sunshine" and then it's off to Lucky Devil's for burgers and cupcakes; will we be hungry by then?

Some Like it Hot

Another food filled week ends on a spicy note.

If you are a chilehead like me, time and time again you order something spicy (or even request that something be made spicy) and it taste like it was made for the biggest, whitest gringo on earth. I think that only twice in my culinary history have I gotten something that I ordered spicy that was actually spicy.

I met Hiking Gourmet T, My Doppelganger, and Sassy C at Chung King which has recently moved from Monterey Park to San Gabriel. I had not been to Chung King for many many years for the following reasons: 1. Last time I was there what we ordered wasn't very spicy; and 2. At the same meal I could see into the kitchen and I saw that the guy who was peeling the cucumbers was picking his nose big time (he saw the horrid expression on my face and just shrugged his shoulders.)

But after Guru Gold's glowing review in the LA Weekly I decide to give it another chance - besides might the nose picker be gone by now? Anyhoo, Guru Gold said the food was really spicy and I got the call of the chilepepper...

We started off with two cold plates from their little cold buffet (Nota Bene: we did not get any cucumber! Someone wanted to get it but I butted in and said, "how about the spicy cabbage" to the waitress): spicy cold sliced beef, stewed peanuts (stayed away from those - migraineville) with fried smelts, celery salad, chopped long bean salad with chiles and ground fish, said spicy cabbage, and seaweed salad.

For entrees we ordered wontons with spicy broth, chicken with cold chili sauce, fried spareribs with prickly ash, and the non-spicy chicken with puffed rice. The hottest dish was the chicken which got that endorphine high going right away (though the dish was garnish with beaucoup peanuts so I had to take an Allegra in order to keep the migraines at bay.) The chicken was so hot that it made the spareribs seem very mild and in turn the wontons seemed down right cooling (both of those dishes were very hot but I started off with the hottest and then worked my way down the Scoville scale.) The saucy sauteed chicken with the puffed rice was the only thing that would cool my mouth - worked better than the Coke.

$14 per person including tax and gratuity and free parking!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Decline of the Apropos Breakfast - Korean BBQ!

I usually dislike sweet things for breakie, preferring the savory, so I jumped at the chance to meet Fox, LAGourmet, Mr. Taste of Thai, and My Doppelganger (mumsy came too) at Sa Rit Gol at 10:15 am Sunday morning.

The standard for me is Soot Bull Jeep but as Vivacious Gourmet E says, "Emphasis on the soot!" Yeah, it does get a little smokey and it's often very crowded. The last Korean BBQ place that I went to was Honey Pig on 8th near Taylor's and the manager had given away our table so we had to wait an additional 40 minutes. Plus the pork was really disappointing (with the exception of the spicy ribs.) So I'm looking for a new Korean bubbaque experience that hopefully I'll enjoy.

Sa Rit Gol is known for it's great panchan (side dishes) and they lived up to their reputation on Sunday morn. We received a fabulous watercress salad, a squash salad, bean sprout salad, kimchee, an unspicy chopped morning glory (?) kimchee, and the de rigueur potato salad.

For the bbq we order beef "breast" or "deckle" (I have no idea which cut that is but Fox said it was really good - and it was - the waitress grilled it with onions and mushrooms), the short rib with coarse salt and fresh garlic, bulgogi, and spicy pork. We also ordered a mung bean pancake with pork and pickled vegetables that was out of this world. The dipping sauce for the pancake which was a soy sauce, sesame seed, and green onion went really well with the deckle. The other sauces included a chili garlic sauce which was not overly spicy but was very good with the meats and a vinegar based sauce with macerated jalapenos and garlic.

The last several times that I've had Korean bbq I've had the rice noodle squares instead of rice but this time we all got bowls of rice. With one of the dishes we received a very interesting stew that had a very pronounced beef base yet had a little fish stock in it too. It was very thick and had tofu and vegetables in it and you can just imagine eating it on a cold winter night when you are feeling under the weather; but when it's a hundred degrees outside it was a little rich.

Right when we sat down the waitresses brought us two large pitchers of iced barley tea which was perfect since it was so hot outside (at the end of the meal they brought us small bowls of a iced honey tea which was a great digestivo.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Double Cheesehead

So on Saturday it was like 110 degrees in Los Angeles. I couldn't move but I somehow managed to make it to West Hollywood with mumsy for my aunt's mother's 90th birthday party which was being held at mon oncle's house.

Their house is air conditioned but the party was being held in the backyard on the deck and with 90 people in attendance and with the smoke from the barbie the temperature soared to about 120 degrees. The food was quite good, catered from a Middle Eastern restaurant in Santa Monica. We had the usual stuff: hummus, moutabal (sp?), the walnut dippie, fried kibbe, eggplant salad, dolmas, tabboule, green salad, fish kabob, ground lamb kabob, beef kabob, pilaf, yogurt sauce, and garlic sauce. I discovered later that pine nuts and almonds do not give me migraines (peanuts and walnuts do.)

After most of the guests left and the temp went down to 100 degrees mon oncle offers to give me this artisinal cheese that he bought in Burgundy since he's going on a long trip to Paris, then to the Loire Valley, then off to Lucarno, and then finally Moujan, then it's back to the Loire Valley. Ho Hum. But I want this cheese.

As we are leaving the party mon oncle hands me a Saks Fifth Avenue bag that contains something that looks and smells like dog poop (I have two German Shepherds, I'm a dog poop expert.) Holy crap! Literally! As we are walking back to the car we pass the cutest Boxer/German Shepherd mix and he starts attacking the bag (let's face it, dogs are disgusting.) When I get home I pull the cheese out of three Ziploc bags (after my dogs attacked the Saks bag) and I see, and smell, a cheese that is covered with a primordial ooze. I mean another life form could have easily grown on this cheese.

But this cheese has potential. So I Americanize it by cutting off the disgusting parts and what I'm left with is a cheese that makes a damn good grilled cheese sandwich.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

After School Special on Saturday Morning

Besides being a Noodle Whore I'm also a Cheesehead, no make that a Double Cheesehead. I have finally found a restaurant that is after my heart (meaning that they put enough cheese on their dishes unlike Good Microbrew which put about a tablespoon of cheese on their chili cheese fries and then had the moxie to charge $5 for them - on chili CHEESE fries it's about the cheese people!)

On Saturday morning I met fellow carboholic Raven (aka Adventurous Gourmet B) for breakie at Doughboys on Third. This used to be my old 'hood back in the late '80s and back then I weighed 118 lbs but if Doughboys were there I would have been a chunky monkey for sure.

So, Raven was in the mood for pancakes and I wanted something eggy but we see the specials of the day and one of them is "The After School Special" (remember that TV show on ABC?) which is a grilled cheese sandwich and creamy tomato soup. We were both smitten and said to hell with the apropos breakie.

As we were waiting for our food we couldn't help notice that everything else that people order had gobs 'o' cheese on it - take note Good Microbrew. Our grilled cheeses were on Pain de Mie and were of course oozing with gobs 'o' cheese. The tomato soup was really good but a bit too sweet for my taste, like they dumped a ton of sugar in the pot (probably to cut the acid but what's wrong with a little tang from a Summer tomato?)

Raven and I both declare that we will be back.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I Am Blessed!

I've had my air conditioner running since June 8th and I just got my electric bill today and it only went up $10! Whoo hoo! I thought it was going to be double (I bought this new air conditioner about two years ago and it cost me plenty but it has been worth every penny.)

On a more annoying note, Stubborn Gourmet T and I went to a pizza event tonight which was quite fun but she offended my Italian sensibilities by ordering a Hawaiian pizza with anchovies. Blech! I don't really have a prob with anchovies but I think that putting pineapple on pizza should be punishable by death (I'm serious.) I mean whose twisted idea was that in the first place?

But she drove and bought me a blue label Chimay beer so I kept my mouth shut (somewhat) and chanted I'm ok, you're ok, all is well, breathe. But the guy who shared her pizza with her then wants to eat my pizza and I'm like sorry buddy but you're like stuck with that disgusting thing (I'm part of your life lesson: learn to verbalize want you want BEFORE YOU PUT PINEAPPLE ON YOUR PIZZA!)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Luscious Dumpling, Part II

The dumplings weren't the only juicy things.

So I'm there with a large group of people. I'm seated at about the middle of the table and to my left, at the end of the table, is seated a pretty good looking guy who we'll call "Shahrukh." In walks a petite-sized zero-breast augmented-make-up wearing-coiffed hair (please! it was 10:30 in the morning! Who styles their hair to go to a dive dumpling place in a mini-mall in San Gabriel?) pretty good looking gal who we'll call "Hotsy Totsy." It doesn't take half a brain to figure out immediately that Shahrukh and Hotsy Totsy are going to end up together.

However, also seated at the end of the table to my left is my mother. Now, my mother is really a genius; she has an IQ of about 180 but she acts really clueless most of the time (especially when it comes to VCRs). So Hotsy Totsy and Shahrukh are doing their best to hook up but my mother is doing her best to screw things up for them. For example: Hotsy Totsy says in her Marilyn Monroe voice about how she's afraid to drive alone in LA (can you believe this?) thus giving Shahrukh the opportunity to play hero but before he can get a chance my mother gives her this big lecture on driving in LA. And on and on...

So after the meal the group is outside in the parking lot and I notice that finally our lovebirds have a moment to themselves when I say to my mother, "Let's go!" (God forbid I should want to get stuck in Sunday afternoon traffic - oops!) and she says, "Oh, wait a minute, I just want to tell Hotsy Totsy one more thing." Sigh.

All's well that ends well Dear Reader because I later saw Shahrukh and Hotsy Totsy walk off the parking lot together, I assume to play a round or two of "Hide the Dosa."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Very Luscious Dumpling

Move over Din Tai Fung, a new kid is in town. Yes, I'm talking about Luscious Dumpling - they aren't kidding around with the name!

In the 80s the standard was Mandarin Deli, then came Dumpling Master, and then Din Tai Fung became King of the dumpling houses and has held the title for so long. But in a mini-mall in the San Gabriel Valley (what is it with mini-malls and the San Gabriel Valley anyway? There are more mini-malls there than people!) resides Luscious Dumpling which I have to say is better than Din Tai Fung (although they don't have that good spicy vegetable salad that's just called "Appetizer").

Not only is it luscious but it's cheap! Last time I was there we PIGGED OUT and we paid $14 per person tax and very generous tip included.

In Loving Memory of Mr. Darcy (? 2002 - April 2006) - "A Damn Good Dog"

To my baby doggy, my flying monkey, my Dada: you will always have a special place in my heart. I don't know why the angels took you from me so soon - I guess they wanted you all to themselves! I will miss you.

A Dog Eat Dog World or A Doggie Dog World?

If Mr. Darcy were still alive I would have written an entry about the annoying habit of people bringing their toy dogs to restaurants. And what of the big dogs? Mr. Darcy was mostly German Shepherd with a little Akita and he was a fierce protector. He went utterly and completely bezerko when the UPS guy came to our house. What did said UPS guy say about Mr. Darcy v. toy dogs? He said that Chihuahuas were EVIL! EVIL!

So why are evil dogs allowed into restaurants and big dogs are discriminated against? I think that the evil dog owners would have been jealous of my big sexy guy.

Alas, now I have a goofus guy (Pepper, who was so named because he likes eating chile peppers) who would try to eat everyone's food, and although Chyna is pretty gorgeous she can be a bit anti-social (Teutonic) and would bark and scare everyone so my dreams of big dog restaurant liberation are over for now.

Blog Blockage

Everyone has been hounding me to update my blog for quite a while. I stopped blogging because the last day I updated my blog was the day that my wonderful dog, Mr. Darcy, died. Everytime I thought about writing about my culinary adventures and bitching about the traffic I would feel so sad because Dear Reader he was here with me on his last day, lying at my feet on his doggy bed.

I thought about writing an entry about people who insist on bringing their toy dogs into restaurants (annoying!) and how I wanted to start bringing Mr. Darcy into restaurants because big dogs rule - simple as that! But when I think about that day I become so sad that I just can't work on my blog.

I had an idea that I would just list all the restaurants that I've been to since March 23rd (like 2000 of them) but instead I think from this point on I will concentrate on the best of LA (and I promise I will not bitch about the traffic anymore!)