Monday, August 24, 2009

My Double Disappointment in America's Eating Habits

Is it the return of Atkins, or something even more diabolical? says KFC is creating a bacon sandwich which ditches the bun in favor or two fried chicken breasts. It called the Double Down.
KFC double down

Is that "double down" as in the type of bet you'll have to place in Vegas to win enough money to pay for dad's triple bypass? Is it a measure of how depressed you'll feel after gaining 80 pounds and losing your girlfriend? Not just down ... double.

Is this a hoax? Possibly, but if so, bravo on not only the quality of the food shot and studio lighting, but also taking it guerilla artiste by using a low-grade video phone to record the real-as-you-believe-it-to-be commercial as if a teenager was witnessing a tiger clearing the fence at the zoo (the teenager in this scenario was later devoured -- and we all know that teenagers are the only thing on the planet less healthful than the KFC Double Down).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Red Wine Bread is Back!

If you recall a couple posts ago I was lamenting the passing of Boule, purveyors of the world's best caramel and red wine bread.

Thanks to a lead from the LA Times, I learned that Boule's breads will return via a full-fledged bakery dubbed Comme Ca (anyone know if that's French for something?).

Oh, my luscious red wine bread will be mine again! No word on whether they'll also be selling the caramels.

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Ultimate-Geek-Out Restaurant

Combining two of my loves: food and interaction design.

Before you spend too much brain power on wondering whether the food there might actually be good, or if people just go for the novelty, let me remind you: IT'S ENGLISH FOOD. Novelty is the best they can hope for.

Monday, March 9, 2009

My 5 Things I Love (and You Don't)

My friends all know I'm an aventurous eater, but they still turn cock-eyed at me when I give in to some of my most base cravings. Enjoy reading the list (because you probably don't enjoy eating the items on it).

1. White Chocolate

I'm tired of the debate and the outcry. It CAN be called chocolate, because it's made from the oils of the cocoa bean. It is NOT chalky -- you've just had the cheap stuff. The best white chocolate should be buttery, smooth, slightly vanilla-y, and melt as it sits on your tongue.

2. Black Licorice
Or liquorice. Or anise. Or fennel. It's zingy, refreshing, and one of the things I remember sharing with my grandma. I am the sole reason movie theaters still stock Good & Plenty. Slice some fennel bulb thinly for a great addition to salads. If you're a tea drinker, Yogi Tea makes an outstanding Egyptian Licorice herbal that has calmed me through many a workday fiasco.

3. Peeps
Not to follow one sweet with another ... but I am. Easter is more to me than candy or eggs, but I still can't get let the day go by without one or two of those fluffy yellow marshmallow chicks. My mom still makes me an Easter basket every year, and they're always on top. That being said, the glucose index of these lil' guys is so off the charts, after those few bites, I'm set for another year. I'm decidedly in favor of fresh peeps, and do not support the Halloween, Christmas or other non-Easter peeps.

4. White Zinfandel
Ok. Not often. And not around dudes. But still, on a hot summer day, you can't beat a great, cool blush wine with a salad, barbecue, or even a spicy fish taco. Do yourself a favor, and at least go to the Beringer level.

5. Stinky Cheese
Finally, something on my list that isn't sweet. It took me a while to appreciate a good blue, but now I can't get enough. Gorgonzola is best. A nice Roquefort or Stilton will also do nicely with some dried cherries. And because I can't resist adding a little sugar, pair Sauternes with a good salty sharp blue, and you have an amazing dessert course. Check out this soft, creamy St. Auger (great with honey):

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Kogi Visit (Finally) ... and a Tree Man


It's what makes the greats great. It got Edison his bright idea. It got Armstrong to the moon, and then to the winner's podium of the Tour de France. And last night it finally got me my first Kogi taco.

I could persuade nobody to come along for an 11PM taco run, but I would not be deterred. Solo, I jaunted down to Abbot Kinney, and to the Brig's parking lot where, under the greenish glow of the oddly Venetian lighting, I beheld the sights and smells that would forever change my notion of food served out of vehicles.

The line was, as expected, pretty long at only 10:30, so I meandered down Abbot Kinney, weaving amongst stoners folding slices at Abbot's Habbit, late-night diners perusing menus of the 40 new restaurants that have opened in the last week, and duded-up barflies who have never been famous extoling how much cooler they are than the actor in the bar they just left, who was famous and now is not.

Smells of the ocean air, tobacco, stale cocktails, alcoholic ketoacidosis, clove cigarettes all tickled the senses, but my return to the Kogi truck flushed that all away with the tang of soysauce and the smoke of charring meat.

The line hadn't shrunk much, but if part of the experience is the anticipation, then I was keen to drink it in. Entered the line at 11:13, and ordered at 11:43. As one passer-by exclaimed, "It's like Magic Mountain!"

But like theme park lines, there was plenty to amuse during the wait. Strangers were chatty and happy to relate the stories of their first Kogi. A window into the Brig displayed drunken revelry like a fishbowl full of Satruday Night Fever. And then, there was the Tree Man ...
Where he came from, no one knows. Where he's going, who can tell? Was he on crack, what's it matter? He looked a lot more green in the ambient light, and blended with the palm trunks. He was nigh invisible until he moved, and scared the chitlins out of a new addition to the line.

It was hard to tell in the dark if the Brig security was surprised to see an Ent at his door, or happy to see a neighborhood regular.

All I had on me was $5, American. Which suited me fine, on account of I'd already eaten dinner earlier in the evening. The cash was just enough for two of their tacos ($2 each), plus the recently imposed tax that all the liners were griping about.

Sources confrimed that as a Kogi virgin, I should start with the short rib taco and the spicy pork taco. I could not have chosen better.
A little squirt of Siracha on the sidep proved unnecessary. The marinades were pleanty flavorful, and cooled by the lettuce, cabbage, cilantro, green onion slaw on top. This was good-quality meat, tender and free of the gristle delivered on other street vendors' paper plates. The tortillas have the perfect soft, elasticity to them, with a touch of griddled crispiness around the edges. Forget the fork. This is an all-hands meeting.

As I was sitting here writing this post, I got a call from a friend who's been dying to try the truck. I evangelized the tacos to him. Guess what our plans for tonight are.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Missing Caramels

I was squiring some out-of-towners around LA today, including my mother. We lunched at Loteria in the Fairfax Farmers Market (one of my favorite eateries in one of my favorite Angeleno attractions - best horchata anywhere). While we ate, I spun them a tale of the tastiest French macarons, the most luscious gelato, the most imaginitve breads, and ... I don't want to oversell this ... THE ABSOLUTE BEST CARAMELS ON THE FACE OF THE ENTIRE PLANET THAT HAVE EVER EXISTED.

Fleur de sel caramels, to be exact. Rich, buttery, soft, deeply flavored caramels balanced by delicate flakes of gourmet salt crystals, which enhanced all the notes. These were one of Oprah's favorite things for Jimny's sake.

We're talking better confections than the ones Chef Smurf would whip up once a year, giving a small supply to all who lived in the Smurf village. The flavor of which was enough to pit Smurf against Smurf until they started smurfing each other with big, blunt smurfs until there were puddles of smurf all over the smurf and Chef Smurf decided the candy was too smurf to ever smurf again. Smurf.

Anyhoo ...
After lunch, we were all fired up to go get our caramel on. We lion tamed our way out of the viscious parking lot, headed down 3rd, took a right on La Cienega, found rockstar parking and ... had our hearts (mine mostly) broken by a sign on the door thanking the shop's patrons for their support (past tense slathered on), and stating that both the La Cienega and Beverly Hills locations were now closed.

A peak through the window (as if the sign might have merely proved a cruel hoax) confirmed that all that was left of my beloved confectionary shrine were its trademark robin's egg blue walls, now stripped completely bare.

If anyone has the recipe for their red wine bread, please send it to me.

the delightful macarons of many colors (photo courtesty of

My Answer

Last week, I asked you to guess what the scary food product on my plate was.

The answer is *drum roll* SEA CUCUMBER. Yes, that selfsame squishy little ... mollusk? ... you got to poke and prod in the SeaWorld tide pool exhibit as a kid is now a part of this balanced breakfast.

The winner, selected at random from the hordes of correct responses, is ... no one. Not a single soul. Nobody guessed it. Maybe I need to start with super-zoomed-in photos of more-familiar foods, like potato chip crumbs.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Unidentifiable Edibles

Taiwanese friends are the best. They introduce you to all kinds of weird foods.

Here’s a sample. There’s a lot in the picture, but I’m specifically interested in the bumpy brown thing stage center. Comment in your guess as to what it is. I’ll announce the winner at the end of the week.

This particular feast was courtesy of my friend’s wonderful parents, who were throwing her new baby (hi, Kai) a Welcome to the World party at Mandarin Restaurant in Fountain Valley. Interesting point: There are no visible hills in the area, so how can it be a valley?

This is not your PF Chang’s, egg fu yung, crispy noodles on top Chinese food. It’s authentic, taste of the homeland, “Oh my gosh, I’m white and don’t recognize anything” Chinese food.

But it’s tasty.
This was an appetizer platter. All cold meats and ... and ... noodles?

Orange shrimp and garlic shrimp. The Americans sighed relief.

Roast duck. It's surprisingly meaty, if that makes sense. Only a couple little pieces, and you feel like you ate a petite fillet of beef.

And speaking of beef, this thin-sliced steak over baby bok choy was perhaps the most tender I've ever had aside from Crock-Potted.

Steamed sea bass with ginger and scallions. REE-diculously tender, moist, and buttery (from the fish fat, not actual butter). Leftovers were Monday's lunch. And since it's a mild fish, I was able to microwave it without fishing up the kitchen. Apologies to all who stopped by my cubicle and beheld fish vertebrae on my plate.

Dessert. A kind of rice pudding cratered out like mashed potatoes and filled with sweet red bean paste. There were juicy raisins, maraschino cherries, crushed peanut, and some green and yellow things that I couldn't identify. Super tasty ... I'm still working on leftovers.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My Blogging Style

I'm not usually one to believe in the accuracy of online personality quizzes ... which never stops me from taking them. But this bemusing gem requires no interaction at all, and -- in my case at least -- was surprisingly accurate (aside from the fact that I'm not a chick; and especially not a drunken bar fly, despite the picture).

Oh, and if any of my bosses are reading this, the part about me not being good at management is also wrong. Please promote me soon.

What's your blog reveal about you? Just drop your URL in this tool:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Trick for Free Lunch

I'm all about saving money, especially these days. I accomplish this mostly -- as you've seen in this journal -- by cooking large batches of food to feed me through a week, not eating out for lunch, and bringing home leftovers on the rare times I eat out.

But a lesser-appreciated method of saving a buck while not getting stuck in the PB&J trap can be summed up in one beautiful word: friendship. Making friends with those who work -- and eat -- at the desk next door often results in anything from the rest of their fries, to a few pieces of their gourmet bacon chocolate discovery, to (in my case) full home-cooked meals.

Today, one of the developers on my team brought me homemade lentil soup and some sort of Indian buns made of lentil flour with sides of spicy coriander sauce and a sweeter lentil chickpea sauce. (I think maybe her lentil tree just had a new crop)

If you find yourself wasting away at work, you're probably not well liked and need to sew seeds of harmony ... or just get really rich so people will be nice to you. Though at that point, I guess you can just buy your own food ... but then where's the love?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Favorite Napoleon

Pastry dough, custard, pastry dough, custard ... repeat, repeat, vanilla icing, chocolate piping.

A napoleon. But this isn't your impulse buy from the Vons refrigerated bakery section. This is the hands down, foot stomping-est, thickest custardy napoleon ever I've had the fortune of tasting.

I had it imported at great personal expense.

Ok. My girlfriend was in the neighborhood, and I made her promise to buy me a couple. But she did have to bring them all the way from San Diego to LA. And my first bite was well worth her time and effort.

If you're ever in the neighborhood, DZ Akins' bakery department is the source for these luxurious pastries. And if you're feeling impish, try a josephine -- same deal, but with strawberry (or raspberry ... something red) layers alongside whipped cream (oh, and the restaurant has great Ruben sandwiches ... but that's for another post).

Lunchtime leftover factor: I have two, and at about 4x6" each, and about a million Joules, it'll take me a couple days to eat each. I don't know what I'm having for lunch in the cubicle Monday, but I know what I'm having for many small snacks. Oh, hell, I'll just eat it as lunch.

Friday, January 16, 2009

My Dueling Neighborhood Taco Trucks

There's a long-standing tradition of taco trucks roving the streets of Venice. From the Mariscos truck feeding the futbol players of Penmar Park on weekends to ... well, I'm sure there are others.

But no matter what you call them -- lunch trucks or roach coaches, they're breaking into the discerning foodie market, with its disposable income and all.

In the typical Venetian twist of shabby chic, the venerable taco truck tradition has gone yuppy. If you're in the know, you've at least heard about Kogi BBQ, if not queued up at midnight outside the Brig to sup on Korean short rib tacos (see them rolling down Lincoln here). They cruise UCLA too, and once in a while, points east. The best way to find where and when they'll be is by following their dutiful Tweets.

They were parked outside the Brig on Abbot Kinney tonight, with its built-in clientele in need of grub to buffer a few extra drinks. But just down the street, I found something new: The Green Truck. If Kogi broke the glass ceiling keeping mobile restaurants down, GK is aiming to catapult the genre into the starry LA culinaria by slinging hummus & lavash, harvest salads. Though let's be honest. If you're out for a few beers, you're gonna be wanting the grass-fed beef burger, or at least the grilled cheese. Of course, the shiny Mercedes green machine is a biodeisel running on veggie oil, and they're capitalizing on the organic food revolution.

Who wins the night? Green had two lonely souls milling around its maybe-too-fancy exterior and its coconuts with straws (truly). Kogi was swamped by fans who were drawn perhaps by the word of mouth, possibly visiting out of convenience, perhaps following the irresistable smell, but most likely, it's just that late at night when you're eating outdoors spicy barbecue chicken tastes better than vegan sesame tofu wrap.