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

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Chung King: The Allure of the Chile Pepper - It's Like a Bad Man

Three of the many options for cold appetizer plate - spicy cabbage, pig's oreilles (how good is your French?), and spicy shredded beef:

After frolicking in the Arroyo with the Roving Archers, the very tall and exceedingly muscular Monsieur de... and I decided to grab some lunch at Chung King in order to keep our endorphine high going (it's the allure of the chile pepper Dear Reader!)

Explain the allure of the chile pepper? It's spicy, painful, can be harmful to you, yet you keep coming back for more and you crave it, you know, kind of like a bad man.

Above is the diced chicken with the pickled schezuan chile pepper. Not only are there pickled chile peppers in there but fresh chile peppers as well. I dream about this dish almost daily! Along with the peppers there are pieces of shaved garlic and really wonderful baby bamboo shoots. My only complaint is that the cook left on a lot of the skin and fat on the chicken and if it were fried and said fatty stuff was crunchy this would not be a problem but the fat and skin stayed soft so the dish was very rich.

Above is a picture of the blandest dish in the LA County area if not all of California. Like the noblesse use lemon sorbet to cleanse their palate between courses I have to use "puffed" rice with sliced chicken to cleanse mine (there is only so much the tea and Coke can do.) This is my ultimate comfort food, it is so soothing at the restaurant but when I take home the leftovers and eat this dish the next day I have to add chile oil or sauce to it (In the background you can see the fried ribs with prickly ash and salt. At the same time this is blazingly hot, the prickly ash numbs your mouth so you get a very interesting taste sensation.)

Chung King
1000 S. San Gabriel Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91776

Pasadena Roving Archers

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I Have Found It! Hitachino Nest Beer!

Yes, I wish that a little elf would put bottles of Hitachino White Ale along the edges of my waterfall (although those pesky raccoons might steal the them) but I will have to do with the three places in LA that I've discovered carry this beer. Hey, I'm not complaining, I've been waiting a long time for this beer to hit this city.

I first had Hitachino Red Rice Ale in October '05 when I went to Momofuku Noodle Bar - the greatest ramen place on the face of the earth (see link to your right "Best Noodles on Earth"). I had one of the best meals of my life that night (this is saying a lot since I also went to Per Se during the same trip.)

You can find the White Ale and the Cedar Aged Ale at BottleRock, a new wine bar/store located at 3847 Main Street, Culver City, CA 90232. Vivacious Gourmet E and I discovered this place whilst shopping at the Culver City Farmers Market on Tuesday afternoon (it has just opened.) Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so I don't have pix that document our fabulous repast (will go back in near future so expect an entry for this place!)

You can find the Red Rice Ale at Wally's Wines located at 2107 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025

If you want some food to go along with your Hitachino beer try Buddha's Belly at 7475 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036 They only charge about $6 for a bottle (small) but it's a vast improvement over the $11 per bottle that I've paid at Momufuku Noodle Bar. I will be eating dinner at Buddha's Belly in a few weeks so expect a full report then!

Battle of the Breakfast Sandwiches, Part Two: Doughboys

Doughboys breakfast sandwich:

So which breakfast sandwich do you prefer? Auntie Em's or Doughboys?

Even though I'm a cheesehead I have to say that I like Auntie Em's a little better - although it could have used some of the cheese that was on the Doughboys' sandwich. The above sandwich was made with Pan de Mie, bacon, cheese, fried eggs (over medium) and tomato. Then they put even more cheese, Gruyere I believe, on top and then gratineed the whole thing.

The first problem was that I thought that the Pan de Mie was too sweet of a bread to be using for this dish. It was good on the grilled cheese (see "After School Special on Saturday Morning" July '06 archives) but with the addition of the egg and the bacon the sweetness of the bread clashed with most of the ingredients and the dish became far too rich - I think that the dish may have tasted much better with a french or sourdough bread. However, when I ate the second half the next morning, I added some leftover grilled asparagus to it while it was re-heating and that seemed to cut the sweetness and it was much better. The second problem was that there was hardly any bacon on this sandwich.

The real problem here was not the sandwich. While I was waiting for Raven I noticed something that got my blood boiling. What, Dear Reader, does NoodleWhore hate more than auto trans? People who bring small dogs to restaurants! It's not the dogs that bother me but the owners. So I see this couple walk up with their adorable Prince Daniel Cocker Spaniel and they stop in front of this table outside with another couple and then the two couples get into a very detailed conversation about dog poop! Buon Giorno! I have two 90 lb German Shepherds at home, I have my hands filled with dog poop (literally) and it would be nice to be able to go out and escape that for a few hours. But nooooooooo! Has this conversation replaced the toilet-training-the-child conversation? How rude.

But I will be back to try the breakfast pizza!

Drink of the day: Best damn iced cafe au lait that I've ever had

8136 W. Third Street
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Monday, August 28, 2006

Battle of the Breakfast Sandwiches, Part One: Auntie Em's! Auntie Em's!

One of the very delicious breakfast sammies served at Auntie Em's:

But first, a Word Verification Contest plug: Ok, it looks like we have some crazy Korean BBQ fans! Keep those entries coming people. If you are new to the Contest please see the explanation and rules of the game in the post just below.

If you've ever eaten a Red Velvet cupcake chances are it came from Auntie Em's in Eagle Rock on Eagle Rock Blvd. This place is cupcake central! Not only are the Red Velvet cupcakes to die for but they also have divine chocolate and coconut cupcakes as well.

But on this Sunday morn I see that they have a special: homemade banana cream pie. For breakfast? Why not! I'll just have a bite.

Before Foreign Correspondent D and I inhale the pie we both order the breakfast sammies (or sarnies depending on which country you are from.) Mine is the vegetarian version with Gruyere cheese, tomato, avocado, and scrambled egg served on two pieces of really wonderful grilled sourdough. FCD's version had gobs of applewood smoked bacon. Both were served with a wonderful tasting salsa which went pefect with my sammie. My only complaint is that the sammie could have used a bit more cheese.

Speaking of which:

What's great about Auntie Em's is that they have a really wonderful cheese/gift store right next door. I buy some Bellwether Farms' Pepato cheese which is a raw sheep's milk cheese with whole peppercorns. It is truly fantastic! It's like a really young soft romano cheese and it would be perfect with a Pinot Noir!

Affirmation of the day: Have cupcake, will travel.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Announcement of Food for Thought's First Annual Word Verification Contest

NoodleWhore speaks:

Dear Dear Reader:

On the heels of Raven's very popular and fun word verification contest, I humbly offer you my own version.

The winner will receive a free lunch at Sa Rit Gol (retail value $20-$25), my new favorite Korean BBQ restaurant. Runners up are encouraged to attend said luncheon, they will have to pay their own way though, but they will receive consolation prizes.

Here's how it works: everytime that you post a comment include your word verification "word" in your comment. The contestant who posts a word that most matches the letters in my pre-determined word (it's a doozy!) will win the contest. For example, if my word is "acafi" and you happen to draw "ifaca" the letters in your word would match mine 100% and you would probably win.

You may enter as many times as you like. Please submit all entries by 12:01 am September 7th. In case of a tie there will be a sudden death round to determine the final winner.

Bonne chance!

Friday, August 25, 2006

An Afternoon Repast in Downtown LA Complete with Clifton's Cafeteria and Crazy Person!

Ten Mile Tide plays in Pershing Square during lunch:

Mumsy, Colby Cheese and I headed to Pershing Square to catch a free concert before lunch. During the summer there are free concerts from 12-2 practically every day. On this day we caught Ten Mile Tide, an indie band from San Francisco that blended rock with Celtic fiddle music. Good stuff.

After the concert we walked over to Broadway and down to Clifton's Cafeteria. Here's the deal about Clifton's: it's been open forever, the food is good, and the prices cheap. Of course, would our afternoon be complete without getting accosted by the de rigueur crazy person? When I was taking pictures of the food at our table this crazy woman comes over to us and starts screaming that we were taking pictures of her and that it's not allowed!

Bon jour! You see that big ass fake log used as a beam in the middle of the room that you were sitting behind? Yeah, you know the one, you had to walk around it so you could see us. Hmmm, perhaps if you couldn't see us then maybe we couldn't see you. How do these people find me? Do I have a banner on my forehead that says, "If you are crazy and/or bitterly angry then come start something with me!"

Above: my retro stuffed bell pepper, mashed potatoes, and fresh spinach - all for $4.49 dude! Also on the tray you can find a delicious three bean salad and a very weird tasting zucchini and green bean salad (the vinegar was a little too industrial.)

Above: Mumsy's Cocido (Mexican beef and vegetable soup) with guacamole (very good), beets, and the three bean salad. In the background you can see two of three of Colby Cheese's desserts.

Affirmation of the day: If a crazy and/or bitterly angry person sees me, they walk on by and bother someone else. The banner on my forehead says, "If you even think about starting something with me I'm gonna fuck you up." All is well.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hurray for Haru Ulala!

The succulent Berkshire Pork Kakuni:

Haru Ulala, which is located on Second Street in J-Town where Furaibo used to be, has become one of my favorite Japanese restaurants. Haru Ulala is an Izakaya: a restaurant that serves Japanese bar food; or in other words Japanese tapas/small plates and lots of beer and sake.

There is something for everyone at Haru Ulala since they have about four menus. They have sushi and sashimi; various noodles such as yakisoba, cold or hot udon or soba (buckwheat or green tea); grilled rice balls with various stuffings; meat and vegetable kushiyaki (grilled skewers); meat and vegetable katsu skewers (panko crusted deep fried yummy stuff); fresh seafood such as the perfectly minimalist hamachi (yellowtail) collar; tempura; Okonomiyaki (like a Japanese frittata); and Japanese comfort food which is detailed in a five page menu. And let us not forget about the daily specials as well.

From the daily specials menu we ordered tempura fried stuffed shishito peppers stuffed with tuna and a roasted whole head of garlic. In the comfort food category we opted to get the infamous Kurobuta Pork Kakuni (Black Pork belly braised in a soy ginger sauce served with a schmeer of hot mustard), Chicken Kaaraga (deep fried pieces of lightly coated chicken), and grilled shortrib. Skewers included grilled asparagus, deep fried stuffed eggplant, deep fried stuffed bell pepper, and deep fried Camembert cheese (don't knock it until you've tried it!) And of course, the wonderful hamachi collar which was served with a light soy sauce dippie with green onion and some grated radish.

Drink of the day: Asahi beer

Fatty, creamy goodness:

Monday, August 21, 2006

Casa Bianca Pizza Pie

So I'm driving mumsy and Colby Cheese towards the 5 South on-ramp to go to Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock when my intuition tells me to take the 5 North instead. "Hey! I know a really good pizza place!" I exclaim. I tell them about Antonio's Pizzeria on Ventura Blvd. which I went to, after a zillion year hiatus, a few months ago with Adorable Gourmet H and Mr. Taste of Thai. But intuition sometimes loses when two other people in the car are hungry and they think that it will be quicker at Casa Bianca. Wrong!

The first time that I went to Antonio's was back in 1981. I went with some girlfriends to Josephina's pizza parlor across the street and there was an hour and a half wait (some of you may remember Josephina's in it's heyday.) We didn't feel like waiting that long so we went to the place across the street, Antonio's, which was just as popular but it had three huge rooms so the wait was only a half hour.

I really don't remember what I ate that night or even if the food was very good but fastfoward to a Friday night not too long ago after a improv showing of Night of the Living Dead when three hungry theater goers are trying to decide where to eat on Ventura and I see the flashing neon lights of Antonio's and I say, "Well, that place used to be popular and it's still open so it must be good" (totally ignoring the McDonald's factor). We decide to check it out.

Antonio's is now down to one small room and no wait but it seems like it is still popular. AGH and I share a bell pepper, mushroom, and garlic pizza and man, is it good! Hm, no wonder this place is still in business. But how come more people don't know about the fabulous pizza?

Ok, so back to Casa Bianca Pizza Pie. So after our over an hour wait during which I start remembering even more pizza places that we could have gone to, we finally get a table and order. I get the "Deluxe" which has their "famous" sausage, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Mumsy gets a sausage with the "zesty" olives, and Colby Cheese gets a plain sausage.

Now here's the thing about Casa Bianca Pizza Pie: about 60% of the people think it's the best pizza in LA and the other 40% say, "Fahgeddaboudit!" I used to be in the former group but now I'm in the latter. What most people object to is the use of canned mushrooms. That doesn't bother me so much because it's so retro and it takes me way back to when I was a young'un. What bothered me was the crust. I guess that I've been eating exceptionally good crust lately because I simply hated Casa Bianca's. It was dry and tasted like unsalted crackers in some parts yet was overly fermented in other parts (problems with the yeast?) Also, the crust was too dense and very tough which means that it was overworked. The toppings tasted very good but the bad crust dominated.

Here are some really good pizza places:

Marino - 6001 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood (I haven't been here yet, we were going to go on Sunday night but they are closed on Sundays. Maestro says this is the best pizza in the city and I don't doubt it since he is usually right about food.)

Antonio's Pizzeria - 13619 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks

Michelangelo Pizzeria - 1637 Silver Lake Blvd. in Silver Lake (Excellent crust! If you like very thin crispy crust this pizza is for you!)

Village Pizzeria - 131 N. Larchmont in Larchmont Village (We went here instead of Marino. Probably not as good as pizzas listed above but I like it better than Casa Bianca)

Village Pizzeria's Village Special pizza sans anchovies:

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Taylor's Steakhouse - La Canada Branch

The offending ribeye:

About a week ago I met the gang at Taylor's Steakhouse in La Canada. I hadn't been to the La Canada branch in about 7 years, I normally go to the Koreatown branch, but I remembered that the food was always excellent, the steaks were cooked perfectly, the mashed potatoes were hot, and the salad was cold (I find that it's usually the other way around in many LA restaurants.)

I was happy to see that they had a bone-in ribeye on the menu because that is one of my favorite steaks. I had the same steak back in November at the Koreatown branch and it was fabulous and perfectly cooked.

The salad was not as good as I remembered and it needed a lot of salt. The steak arrives, oh boy! Oh boy! was right: the mashed were great, nice and hot, but I noticed that my steak was cooked medium-well when I asked for it medium-rare. I also noticed that most people at the table had ordered their steaks to be cooked medium to medium-well and their steaks were cooked to a perfect medium-rare. What was going on? I assumed that the cook must have mixed up my cooking time for Ducati Dude's who was sitting next to me.

So when the waitress came around again to check up on us I told her that my steak was overcooked. No, she says, that is medium-rare for the ribeye. I point to Ducati Dude's steak and I say no, that's medium-rare. She says, oh, no, that's medium-rare for that cut of steak. Ok, so I'm about to release the beast because how stupid does she think I am? With steaks of different thicknesses you have to adjust the cooking times. Again I have to point out that my steak was no way near medium-rare and she says, well, did you cut it in the middle? And I'm like I don't have to cut it in the middle because it should be medium-rare here too.

I know what you are thinking Dear Reader: why hasn't this bitch taken away NoodleWhore's steak and gotten her a new one already? Wait, it gets better. So she grabbed my fork and my steak knife and she proceeded to vivisect my steak. Oh, great! Now my steak has a serious case of camel toe and it looks, well, vulgar. She then said to me: see, that's medium-rare (which it was not) and I say, may I see a manager please?

The manager came over to me with a flashlight (!) and looked at my steak and tried to pull-off the medium-well is medium-rare bs but I stood my ground and FINALEMENT someone offered me a new steak. When the waitress left the manager confided in me that she had told the waitress to just get me a new steak but that the waitress insisted that she come out with the flashlight to prove me wrong. Where are your cajones Missy? I told her that the flashlight was very insulting.

When you pay $33 for a steak that turns out to be not so good (I can get a great ribeye, alas sans bone, at Trader Joe's for $10 and cook it perfectly in my Viking convection broiler) you at least should get it cooked the way you want it cooked.

The evening ended on a surprising highnote though. Passport Dining Queen aka Mrs. Ducati Dude discovered a newly opened chocolate shop down the street. The ten of us blew the moldy joint and rushed to the chocolate shop. It was their opening day and the owner could not have been more accomodating and gracious (he should teach lessons to the Taylor's staff). The shop, Chocolate Box, had very unique Belgian chocolates and gelato that they said came from Italy (it was ok, not as good as I've tasted in Italy.)

Friday, August 18, 2006

"I've had it with these muthafuckin' snakes on this muthafuckin' plane!" A Review of 25 Degrees

I'm so out of the loop when it comes to pop culture, however, I was one of the first group of people to see "Snakes on a Plane" which is perhaps the funniest movie of the 21st century. I believe that it will replace Rocky Horror as the Midnight Movie of choice.

So what does a girl eat before she watches hordes of people die horrible deaths due to poisonous snake bites? Well, we went to see the movie at the Mann's 6 so what's across the street? 25 "muthafuckin" Degrees, one of LA's best gourmet burger joints.

25 Degrees is located in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and don't even bother looking for street parking. Either park in Hollywood & Highland and buy yourself a treat at Sephora or just go straight to the Roosevelt's valet parking ($$).

The menu is very simple: 3 signature burgers, build your own burger with tons of toppings to choose from, fries, onion rings, dipping sauces, and that's pretty much it. And their shakes are to die for.

My turkey burger with jack cheese, roasted chile, and avocado (I added some chipotle dipping sauce to it as well.)

Note yummy chocolate shake (the chocolate syrup is made from Valrhona chocolate) in background and huge Chinese take-out container in which they serve the faboo fries (we also got the blue cheese and the garlic-parmesan dipping sauces.)

Foreign Correspondent D says, "Hands off me burger!"

Her beef burger had arugula, carmelized onions, a posh blue cheese, and bacon.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Gourmet or Gourmand?

This is Pepper. When I adopted him from the rescue his name was Caesar and I kept it for a while but I noticed that Caesar really liked eating these marinated Calabrian peppers that I keep around the house (I didn't feed them to him; he ate the discarded bits out of the trash can) so I named renamed him.

Pepper also likes to eat Safeguard soap, entire bags (large) of Japanese roasted rice tea, entire bags of Greenies (I think that Chyna may have been a co-conspirator in that situation), DVD covers (I got an award from Video Journeys for returning the most f*cked up cover), olive pits, rotten cheese, and tonight he attempted to eat a nail polish sized jar of touch up paint for my mom's Miata. Although I don't think that he ingested any of the paint, even though his right paw is covered with it, he was successul at eating the handy dandy quick instructions for my new digital camera.

Luscious Dumpling - Redux!

The last time we visited Luscious Dumpling I recounted the amorous adventures of "Shahrukh" and "Hotsy Totsy" (see July '06 archives "Luscious Dumpling, Part II").

Luscious Dumpling is located in northern San Gabriel where Main becomes Las Tunas. It's located in a mini-mall (quelle surprise!) that is a foodie paradise - you can get the best roast pork ban mie at Vietnam House for only $2.75. LA Gourmet has informed me that you can get a really good foot massage in said mall as well.

Everybody knows that you have to get there early to get a table right when they open (11-2 for lunch and 5-8 for dinner) but we were lazy and we also decided to take a trip to the video store first. We thought this might work in our favor and we would miss the masses. Wrong! Oh, yes, there was still a short wait when we arrived at 1:20 pm but Luscious Dumpling had sold out nearly 80% of their menu items by the time that we got there.

Dear Reader if there is one thing that you learn from this blog it must be to arrive at Luscious Dumpling early! Repeat it over and over again.

Pan fried pork dumplings before:

And pan fried pork dumplings after:

And what does NoodleWhore love to do after eating Chinese? Hint: we were very close to Main Street, Alhambra

Monday, August 14, 2006

Colby Cheese

The cousin, Colby Cheese, came into town Sat morning and since he's a relative on mumsy's side of the family (meaning Italian) we have been doing some serious eating:

Jin Patisserie (Sat late morning) - Both mumsy and Colby Cheese ordered sandwiches with salad but I ordered the ham and feta quiche with salad (quite good). Since my stomach was really bothering me I also ordered a large pot of Le Palais des The's green mint tea which is my all time favorite tea. The odd thing was that our "Cake of the Day" which comes with the meals was a small scoop of coconut ice cream afloat in a soup of slightly sweetened red beans. After getting over the shock of it not being a "cake" it tasted quite good.

Sa Rit Gol (Sat night) - Colby Cheese was craving Korean so we took him to our latest favorite. It did not disappoint! It was just as good if not better than the last time that we were there. The panchan were slightly different and the meat was better for some reason - the bulgogi wasn't as sweet and the short rib was a thicker cut of meat plus this time we received whole cloves of unpleed garlic to grill.

Tofu festival (Sun afternoon) - Too crowded so we just listened to taiko drums and each got something to eat (I got a snow cone and Colby Cheese got some Tuna Poke) and then we went to:

Daikokuya where mumsy and I split a large Daikoku Ramen. I loved it but I think that I like Hakata Ramen's better but mumsy is now a big Daikokuya fan. It had a wonderful pork broth with perfectly cooked noodles, a cooked egg soaked overnight in their secret sauce, bean sprouts, shoots, green onions, sesame seeds, and some wonderful Korabuta pork (this part is better than Hakata Ramen.)

Porto's Cafe (Mon afternoon) - What can be better than Cuban sandwiches and iced cafes con leche? Well, the Cuban sandwiches could have been better for one. I was shocked because I thought that Porto's had the best Cuban sandwich in So Cal but it was off today: it wasn't pressed enough and the bread was still soft.

Pho Cafe (Mon evening) - Pho Ga (chicken pho) for me. Colby Cheese ordered the beef meatball pho and the egg pancake for appetizer. Mumsy ordered the noodle salad with lemongrass beef and shrimp. A nice light meal after all this heavy eating!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sonho Meu

Fill in the blank: why is NoodleWhore dreaming of this bowl of noodles?

Friday, August 11, 2006

The $8 Virgin Mary or How to be Old, Fat, and Ugly Without Even Trying

Last week I met up with Forreign Correspondent D who was throwing a party for E with a K at The Belmont. Since I figured out that there would be parking on Melrose just east of La Cienega, and since I didn't have to drive around for a half hour looking for parking, I got to The Belmont a half hour before the rest of the guests.

As I walk into the covered front patio area it hits me like a brick: all of these people here are not only half my age but half my weight as well (hey, I'm not that fat so you can imagine how skinny they were.) Although it's pretty dark in this covered patio area everyone is wearing sunglasses and they are smoking too. Oops, what a day to forget my eurotrash compactor - badda bing!

The rest of our party assembles but since our waitress can only do/carry one thing at a time it takes a half hour to get our drinks. I'm here mainly to try their famous Mac n Cheese (it's actually called "Our Famous Mac & Cheese") but it takes another half hour before our waitress asks us what we want to eat. In the meantime, I'm sipping on a Virgin Mary, which is pretty good but not as good as Hungry Cat's (granted, everytime I've had Hungry Cat's it's had vodka in it so maybe I'm being a little biased.)

At last the food arrives! Here's what's in this famous mac n cheese: blue crab, bacon, scallions, tomatoes, smoked mozzarella, smoked gouda, and swiss cheese. I know now why it's famous because it's so damn good! Who needs a significant other when you can eat this macaroni and cheese? Mac n cheese does not talk back! As I'm eating it, my mood improves, I start loving the fellow bar patrons, they start loving me, all is well. Happy, happy, happy.

FCD ordered the fish and chips and the fries are cooked just perfectly and the beer battered fish is wonderful: the fish is fresh and the batter very tasty and not greasy. The best part is that the food came out hot which I find is a rarity in LA restaurants, especially trendy ones.

Drink of the day: The $8 Virgin Mary

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Culinary Quiz of the Day

If you could bring a chef into your kitchen to help, who would it be?

A. Thomas Keller

B. Julia Child

C. Jacques Torres

D. Other choice

E. I don't want anyone in my kitchen!

At first I thought about Thomas Keller and then I became too intimidated. I like Julia Child because she seemed like she was drunk all of the time and I figure that we would have fun but she was a racist (little known fact.) So I think that I'm going to go with option D and choose Mario Batali because he is my favorite chef right now.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Bible Belt Will No Longer Fit

I had heard of it but thought it just legend. But it really exists!

"The menu at a bar in Decatur, Georgia, features 'The Luther,' a 1/2 lb burger with bacon and cheese served on a Krispy Kreme donut."

Will this make it to LA?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Flashback: The Best Pastrami Sandwich in LA

You probably think that I'm going to say Langer's. Wrong! Surprisingly.

Back in early June I took a culinary adventures trip to NYC and I was lucky enough to be able to go to Katz's. Now some people think that Katz's has the best pastrami in the world. If you get in the line of a good cutter, flash him some dough, and ask for the fatty cut, you will end up with a fabulous sandwich that is big enough to feed a family of four.

Other people (me included) think that Langer's has the best pastrami in the world. Mumsy went to Langer's shortly after our NYC culinary adventures (more on these in future flashbacks - huh?) and I asked her to pick up a sandwich for me. So I get my sandwich and it's big enough to feed a four year old. While the pastrami is certainly delicious it would be nice if they actually put some on my sandwich.

Oh, the suspense must be killing you Dear Reader! The Eastside Market Italian Deli makes the best pastrami sandwich in LA. And it's not the plain pastrami but the "pastrami with sauce." Sounds weird? You must try it! (We learned of the pastrami with sauce sandwich from a chunky monkey who was in line in front of us the last time that we were there - and you know chunky monkies know their food!)

While the quality of the pastrami isn't at the level of Langer's or Katz's, it's more like The Hat's pastrami, once submerged in that marinara with peppers it becomes the greatest invention on earth! It's gets even better on an Italian roll with provolone. Add some pepperoncini and you are in sandwich heaven.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Best Dish in Los Angeles County

This afternoon mumsy and I picked up USC Rad Grad Student and drove up to Pasadena to meet Stubborn Gourtmet T at Kuala Lumpur, one of the few Malaysian restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

I don't know why I don't eat here everyday - the food is so damn good! I like this place better than Little Malaysia in El Monte although LM makes these really good fresh fruit Slurpee-like drinks that can't be beat. The cooking at Little Maylasia is a little greasier and a little funkier (they use pig's blood in a lot of their recipes.)

The first thing that we notice when we walk into the restaurant is that it is filled with East Indians eating Roti Canai - yeah dude, we are in the right place! (note to self: next time order the Roti Canai [a flour based pancake served with a light vegetable non-coconut curry]).

I order for myself the Wonton Laksa - the best dish in LA County - which is the Curry Laksa with wontons added to it. The short definition of Curry Laksa is a coconut based curry soup. The laksa is a curry paste that is usually made from onion, ginger, galangal, garlic, lemongrass, chiles, candlenuts, coriander (not fresh although I think that I may have seen recipes that call for cilantro roots), paprika, and cumin, but there are probably as many laksa recipes as there are cooks. The curry paste mixed with broth and coconut milk produces something tart, salty, sour, sweet, rich, tangy, and creamy all at once - in other words divoon! The Wonton Laksa at Kuala Lumpur is served with thin rice noodles (but I always ask for the thick rice noodles), bean sprouts, Chinese broccoli, fried tofu puffs, and those wonderful wontons.

The wontons are filled with shrimp and pork and they are season with something that gives them just this wonderful flavor of funk. I just can't describe it; it's like a good funk like truffles, not too funky like natto.

The soup is served with some chili sauce on the side plus a slice of lime.

Then it was off to the Arclight to see "Little Miss Sunshine" for the second time - still funny a week later! Afterwards we went up to the rooftop bar for some cocktails and snackies.

Drink of the day (it's back!): French Martini

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Culinary Quiz of the Day

If you could invite a person who is no longer living to dinner 1. Who would that person be? 2. What would you serve?

My answer: Orson Welles. Since he loved life and food I would serve a red wine friendly dinner. I would start off with a Pasta Puttanesca with either linguine or penne and then for secondi I would serve a bone-in ribeye steak with some sauteed spinach or rapini on the side. For dessert I would do a coffee granita with Amaretto whipped cream.

Watch for my recipe for Puttanesca sauce in an upcoming entry (keeps you reading!)

Mission Impossible? In Search of Good Fried Chicken in LA - Part II

Last weekend I had a little problem: I had to find some great fried chicken to bring to the Hollywood Bowl for our Sunday night picnic. I've been down on LA fried chicken since having eaten fried chicken in Georgia a few years ago (who knew fried chicken could taste so good!)

I have found a few places that I like (Honey's Kettle, Pollo Campero [if I talk about Pollo Campero I will just bitch about the parking situation and I'm afraid that I'll lose you Dear Reader]) but they were too far to drive to for this particular event. Things were looking bleak until Sunday morn when the Fried Chicken Gods intervened: Foreign Correspondent D told me about Pioneer Chicken on Sunset and Fountain. Pioneer? I had grown up about two miles from this place and would never think of even setting foot inside. But my FCD swore that it was a Chowhound favorite. And she was right. The chicken was delicious and perfectly cooked.

Pioneer was a popular chain while I was growing up and now there are only about 5 (or less) stores left. Golden Bird was also a famous and very delicious fried chicken place back in the 70s but I think in the 80s they were bought out and the quality of the chicken went way down and they finally closed.

I've been hearing a lot about Dinah's in Glendale on San Fernando. An old friend of mine, Miss Swan, loved Dinah's chicken and Miss Swan claimed that her mother, who was from South Carolina, made the best fried chicken.

I'm thinking that Dinah's has got to be really good since the family in "Little Miss Sunshine" is eating Dinah's chicken for dinner in act one and they live in Albuquerque - that's a long drive to get a bucket of fried chicken.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Let's Compare...

Low/non fat things that taste pretty good:

1. Edamame with cold beer

2. Roasted asparagus

3. Iced tea

4. Popsicles

5. Shrimp cocktail

6. Cornichons sans pate

7. Persian cucumbers with Trader Joe's Humus

8. Raw Oysters (especially with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc)

9. Chilled Soba with dipping sauce

10. Tangerines

High fat things that taste pretty good:

1. Nachos

2. Auntie Em's cupcakes

3. Iced Mocha (mit schlagg)

4. Toro

5. Deep fried Camembert skewer at Haru Ulala

6. Cornichons avec pate

7. Muffalettas

8. Creamy tomato soup (with a grilled cheese sammie)

9. Taylor Refresher's Double Cheese Burger

10. Bucatini all'Amatriciana

Which group do you prefer?