Thursday, April 29, 2010

Route 5 Road Trip

Bernie waiting patiently for his coffee
We made it! After 5 hours and 45 minutes on the road, we made it to Saratoga, CA, near San Jose.  We made just one stop at Harris Ranch for lunch and gas.  It isn't a bad place to stop; its about 200 miles from Santa Monica and over 1/2 of the way on the trip.  The facilities are nice, but it does smell a little funny when the wind picks up the odors from all the cattle in the area.  We found a nice outdoor garden to eat sandwiches that we picked up at Bay Cities (we had the poor boy and hot pastrami sandwich), our go-to place for picking up food for the road (from picnics during wine tasting to Disneyland trips).  Some may find it boring, but I actually enjoy the agricultural scenery on the side of Route 5, really reminds me of the agricultural heritage of California.  The drive on highway 152 between the 5 and the 101 near Gilroy is particularly scenic, with rolling green hills dotted with oak trees and a couple of lake-like reservoirs.  Since getting to Saratoga, we've been taking it to easy, hanging out with Bernie, grabbing organic coffee in downtown Saratoga and having dinner at Layang Layang, a local Southeast Asian restaurant.  Every once in awhile, I really crave the different flavors and spices of Southeast Asian cooking, particularly those of Balinese food.  Reminds me that I need to try out some Balinese recipes that I have.  Saratoga is a beautiful place; I could totally see myself living up here if I needed to be in the Bay Area.  It is so lush and green, surrounded with hills densely covered with trees; very peaceful and quiet.  We've got a busy weekend ahead with a lot of cooking, visits with friends and a trip to Napa.
Lots of people have backyard vineyards in Saratoga

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pizza Night

this was the most photogenic slice: a rainbow chard, proscuitto and egg pizza
Last night was homemade pizza night at our house. I made two pizzas from scratch, inspired by recent visits to two very good pizza restaurants: Co. in NYC and Pitfire Pizza, a local LA chain. I made the dough in the morning using my usual recipe:
  • combine just over a cup of warm water (about 110 degrees) with a packet of active yeast in the bowl of my kitchenaid stand mixer. after a few minutes, I also add a drop of something sugar related, such as honey, maple syrup, or of course sugar, to help "feed the yeast"
  • while the yeast is bubbling away in the water, in a separate mixing bowl, I whisk together the dry ingredients: 1 1/2 cups of bread flour (I use King Arthur), 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour (fromTJs), and three teaspoons of salt. I also turn on my oven to the lowest setting (170 degrees) for a couple of minutes and then turn it off
  • then, using the whisk attachment on the stand mixer on the low setting, I slowly add the dry ingredients. In between adding the dry ingredients, I also add 3 Tbs of olive oil
  • as soon as all the dry ingredients are incorporated, I switch to the dough hook attachment and kneed on the slower settings for about 3-5 minutes, until the dough is nice and elastic
  • I divide the dough and put it in two bowls that have been lightly covered with olive oil and move the dough around so it is all covered with olive oil
  • I cover the two bowls loosely with plastic wrap and stick them in the just slightly warmer than room temperature oven for at least 3 hours (my kitchen is generally too cool for the dough to rise)
  • I then punch down the dough, sprinkle a little flour on it, and put it in plastic baggies in the fridge until it is ready to use
I used the same first couple steps for both pizzas
  • Heat up the oven to 525 degrees with the pizza stone already in it
  • Lay out a piece of parchment paper that approximates the size of the pizza stone and sprinkle it with a little cornmeal and flour
  • Start stretching out the dough. I generally do it in the air for the first couple minutes, holding it up and letting gravity stretch it down. As it starts to get very thin, I then lay it down on the parchment paper and stretch it out by hand
  • Once it as thin as possible with just a little crust, I brush it all lightly with a little olive oil
  • I made two white pizzas, so I scattered around lots of sliced cave aged gruyere, sliced fresh mozzarella, grated parmigiano reggiano, and lots of slices of garlic (4-5 cloves maybe)
Here's where the two pizzas slightly diverged:
  • For the spinach pie, I popped the pizza into the oven just like that until the edges of the crust was just starting to turn brown (about 7-8 minutes). I then took the pizza out and topped it with lots of fresh spinach, a little olive oil and salt, and then put it back into the oven until the pizza was done (another 5 or so minutes). I took the pizza out, sprinkled it with a little olive oil, parmigiano reggiano, and coarse sea salt, and then pizza was served
  • For the chard pie, over medium heat, I sauteed half of an onion, chopped up, until soft, and a couple cloves of sliced garlic for just a minute, and then added the rainbow chard (I cut out the thick stems and chopped into bite size pieces and used the entire bunch). I added a little water, covered the pan and let it steam until the chard was wilted. I topped the pizza with the chard mixture and popped it into the oven until the edges of crust was just starting to turn brown. I then took it out, laid out about 1/4 lb of proscuitto, and topped it with four eggs (try to make little indentations with the proscuitto so the egg doesn't run everywhere). I then pop it back in the oven until the pizza is done and the egg whites just start to set (it will continue to cook a little). I sprinkle with a little olive oil and parmigiano reggiano and pizza is done!
My favorite was the spinach pizza, it tasted very fresh, with just enough piquancy from the cheese and the garlic. It could have used even more spinach; I think I used about 1/4 lb. The chard pizza was also very good. It was a little salty (I seasoned the chard mixture, but probably didn't need to because proscuitto is so inherently salty). Along with a box of TJ's organic low sodium tomato soup (shhh...) and a bottle of 08 Sterling Sauvignon Blanc with Organic Grapes from Mendocino, it was a satisfying and delicious meal for four people.
dough before rising
dough after rising (usually it is even puffier, my water may have been too warm or I allow didn't enough time to let it rise)
slice of the spinach pizza
whole chard, proscuitto and egg pizza

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Swarm of Bees

*not actual picture. picture from wikipedia
The eeriest thing happened this afternoon as I was having a doggie playdate at a friend's house in Venice; it first started with an intense buzzing that my friend first noticed, and quickly, a huge swarm of bees came over from the neighbor's yard into her yard. We grabbed the dogs quickly and ran inside. The swarm hovered for a couple of minutes, landing on various things like her paper lanterns, and just generally buzzed around. Slowly, they moved on, to her other neighbors house. It was so eerie, and quite scary (particularly as I am allergic to bees). We waited awhile before heading back outside. There was still one bee buzzing around the rosemary bush; it seemed to have been left behind by the swarm. I almost felt sorry for it.  I was proud of Otis though! He did pretty well on his doggie playdate; he didn't really bark at all.  Unfortunately he was mostly preoccupied with eating the other dog's bones and playing with their toys, as opposed to playing with the other dogs.  I think he likes other dogs, but he hasn't had that much exposure to them since his brother, Floyd, is a total nutcase when it comes to other dogs.  Floyd stayed home on this date.

Soup du Jour

Zucchini and Young Garlic Soup
I was surprised to learn how easy it was to make homemade veggie soup. A lot of veggie soup follows the same basic recipe; 1) heat up some butter, olive oil or combo in my le creuset round french oven, 2) add chopped onions, leeks, garlic or some combo (equivalent of ~1 onion) and cook over medium heat until softened (maybe ~10 mins), 3) add the veggies du jour (~1 pound of veggies) and cook until soft , 4) add chicken stock (2-4 cups) and bring to a simmer, 5) simmer for awhile, 6) puree with an immersion blender, 7) season with salt & pepper or any other condiments to taste. That's it, fresh veggie soup. I've made potato leek soup with a similar recipe. I bet cauliflower, asparagus, tomato and broccoli would also be good veggies for this soup.

For tonight's soup, I made zucchini and young garlic soup and used the following ingredients for the steps:
1) 2 Tbs of butter and 1 Tbs of olive oil
2) 2 stalks of young garlic from the farmer's market, half of a small yellow onion, 3 garlic cloves
3) 1.25 lbs of organic farmer's market zucchini, peeled and sliced
4) 4 cups of chicken stock (conveniently 1 box of TJ's organic low sodium chicken stock)
5) simmered for about 45 minutes
6) love my cuisinart immersion blender!
7) seasoned with salt & white pepper and topped each bowl with chopped chives

It was quite good, nice and creamy with a light depth of zucchini. We also had yellow covina fish oven roasted with garlic salt, Japanese celery sauteed with chicken and brown haiga rice. All paired well with the Crios Torrontes which everyone really liked.

I only used the bulb and stalk of the young garlic, not the dark green top portion

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Crios Torrontes

I had a nice glass of the 09 Crios Torrontes with my macaroni and cheese dinner last night. Torrontes is a native argentinian grape. The Crios was very floral and tasted a lot like a viognier. I liked it very much and it paired quite nicely with cheesy richness of the mac n cheese. I'm not sure I could drink more than a couple of glasses given the sweetness, but it was definitely very good, and a refreshing change from the usual Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. The bottle was about $10 at Costco. I've tried other Crios wines before, including the Malbec and Syrah. They are always quite good, very drinkable and good values around $10.

Low and Slow Eggs

everything is better with truffle salt
Recently, inspired by this post by thekitchn, I've been making scrambled eggs very slowly using the lowest possible heat. I start by heating a small pat of butter in a small 8-inch non-stick fry pan (I hate cleaning eggs off of my stainless steel pans) over the lowest possible setting on my stove. While the butter is heating up, I crack and whisk 3 eggs together very well, until it is uniform in color and texture. Then, I pour the eggs into the pan. For the first five minutes, I generally go do other things, like feed the dogs, and just stir with a wooden spoon every once in awhile; curds start forming after about five minutes. Once the curds start forming, I stir more often, making sure to scrape and curds on the bottom of the pan, and stir almost continuously for the last five minutes of cooking when there isn't really any liquid left. It usually takes 15-20 minutes to cook; longer if you use more eggs. A couple lessons learned over the last few weeks; don't get impatient and turn up the pan at any time, even at the beginning when heating the butter (the residual heat cooks the eggs too fast). Also, the more eggs you use, the longer it will take, so maybe try a larger pan (don't turn up the heat)! After the eggs are done (I like them soft, but not liquidy / watery), I take them off the pan. Season with some truffle salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and chopped chives (if I have them around). They truly are unlike regular scrambled eggs; they turn a dark yellow / orange and taste very "egg-y", with a very decadent rich and creamy texture (without adding any cream or milk). I love them, but it does take patience to make. I use Sabatino's truffle salt from Bay Cities. At $16 for a small jar, it isn't cheap, but a little does go a long way.

Friday, April 23, 2010

D.I.Y. Sushi

Last night, with all the fresh fish and ingredients that we picked up at Marukai, we had a little sashimi and handroll feast.
Three dishes that I made, from upper left clockwise:
cubed scallop sashimi with ikura (salmon roe), scallions and spicy mayo (kewpie mayo and layu chili oil); Ika (squid) noodles with ikura and uni (sea urchin) with wasabi and soy; cubed salmon sashimi with scallions and spicy mayo

The fish for the handrolls, from upper left, clockwise:
Unagi (toasted in the toaster oven), hamachi (yellowtail) and salmon sashimi, uni and ikura

The veggies for the handrolls, from top , left to right:
Cucumbers, yamaimo (mountain yam), gobo (pickled burdock root), kampyo (dried gourd, rehydrated with soy), takuan (picked daikon radish), avocado, egg omelette, shiso (Japanese mint) and daikon sprouts
The condiments for the handrolls, from top , clockwise:
La yu (chili oil), wasabi, soy sauce, black roasted sesame seeds, rice vinegar (for the sushi rice), wasabi mayo, kewpie mayo, yuzu paste and nori (roasted seaweed)
Last, but not least, a 1.8L bottle of Kurosawa
We had a great meal; all the fish was super fresh and tasty with the exception of the hamachi which was only ok. The Kurosawa was nice as usual; only $36 for the 1.8L bottle. It is very drinkable: crisp, dry with just enough fragrance and complexity, to pair perfectly with the meal. In total, the ingredients came out to about $120, but we did buy a ton of condiments which we will use for next time. In any case, definitely cheaper than a sushi dinner for 4 out at a sushi bar.

Taco Time

Lengua taco on the left, cabeza adobada taco on the right
As I mentioned previously, some of my favorite spots to eat are places where 2 people can get a satisfying meal for under $10 (and I'm not talking fast food!). One of the places that hits the spot consistently is Tacomiendo, which conveniently is on my way home from the driving range. I ordered the lengua (tongue) taco and the cabeza (head) adobada taco (hope that doesn't gross anybody out too much). I happen to like the slightly "different" meats, and besides, I wouldn't know where to buy lengua and cabeza or how to cook it at home. The cabeza had a soft, slightly fatty texture and the lengua was nice and lean. I just added some pico de gallo, "hot" salsa and a squeeze of lime, and it was perfect. Tacos are just slightly larger than at other taquerias in the area, and the (complimentary) fresh tortilla chips have the nice, crunchy, substantial bite that you just don't find with store bought tortilla chips. It was quite a filling meal, and at just over $5, I was satisfied. Having just made chorizo and potato tacos with homemade pico de gallo and fish tacos with mango salsa last week, I appreciate the quality, convenience and value of Tacomiendo even more. My only complaint is that I had to circle to find street parking; the parking lot at Tacomiendo is not big enough, particularly when Big O Tires is full.

11462 Gateway Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 481-0804

Getting back into the swing of things

Good thing those green dividers are there; I managed to hit some balls into them.
I did hit a couple of decent balls beyond the first flag though.

Since it was a beautiful sunny LA day after a chilly couple of days (even turned on the heat overnight two nights in a row), I decided to hit up the Rancho Park's driving range to get back my golf swing. I hadn't used my clubs since the summertime, and as the weather is turning warmer, I figured I would try to get back in the swing of things before hitting the golf course. I think many people had the same idea as me; the driving range was as packed as I ever seen it, I had to settle for the top, iron-only level. It definitely was a touch and go session, I hit some decent balls, and some downright embarrassing ones as well.

Veggies for Breakfast

I made one of my favorite quick and healthy breakfasts today: thinly sliced organic radishes from wednesday's farmer's market, chopped organic chives from Whole Foods, on top of light spreadable cream cheese from Trader Joes and half of an everything bagel from Costco. It's super quick; usually I wash and slice the radishes with a mandolin (which I left at mom's house) and chop the chives while the bagel is in the toaster oven. I love the chilled, fresh and slightly peppery taste of the radishes, contrasted with the rich creaminess of the cream cheese, over the warm, crisp and chewy on the outside, but fluffy and soft on the inside of the bagel, with just a hint of onion-yness from the chives. I paired it with a glass of TJ's Green Plant Food juice, which tastes a lot better than it looks! Lots of veggies in the morning for me; the perfect fuel for the dogs' morning walk.

Return to the Acura

New cars for us only come around once every decade or so, so I'm excited to show off my new ride, a 2010 Acura MDX! It is still so shiny and pretty. My favorite feature so far is the automatic rear lift gate, where the trunk opens and closes automatically with a push of a button. The car has already visited Trader Joe's twice, and having the automatic trunk with an arm full of groceries has been great. We were looking for a car that comfortably seated seven people, as we often have family around, plus it is handy for our ski trips and carting around our two silly dogs. The MDX is super easy to drive so far, with lots of handy features such as voice activated technology, including navigation and bluetooth telephone. It handles great and has a decent amount of power; my only complaint would be the blind spot by the driver's side, which is ameliorated by some unconventional mirror settings. After 2.5 weeks, there's only just over 100 miles on the car (60 of which were put on when the dealer drove the car from Ventura to Santa Monica). I don't usually drive that much, particularly during the week; I prefer to ride my bike around town or simply walk. Plus, it has been raining a bit and they are paving the road outside my house, so I don't want to get the new ride dirty :).

We bought the MDX from Santa Monica Acura. They were ok to deal with; car dealers will always be car dealers. They were being a bit difficult on the trade in value and wouldn't move on the price of some accessories that we wanted to add. But, they did meet the price that we were willing to pay for the MDX and it was convenient to work with a dealer only a couple of blocks away. We did negotiate and set the price over the phone. I found it a lot easier to do it this way; you can get internet quotes without even talking to anyone from pretty much every dealer. We narrowed the dealership list down by consulting their Better Business Bureau ratings. After getting a bunch of internet quotes, we talked to a couple of dealers to see if we could do better. Ultimately, with the help of Edmund's True Market Value pricing analysis as well as its message boards discussing actually prices paid, we were able to come out with a price that we were willing to pay, and we called the dealers that we were already talking to, to match it. I found it easier to do over the phone, before setting foot in a dealership, because once at a dealership, you are a captive audience and they can try to negotiate around you and really haggle. We found it difficult to get them to compromise on accessories and the trade-in value once we were at the dealership, whereas they were willing to meet the price on the car pretty quickly over the phone.

We were in a hurry to buy a new car as our 02 Nissan Pathfinder registration was expiring in days and we could not renew it because the car was failing its biennial smog check. Ah silly California; any other state and the car would be perfectly fine. It would have been an $800+ fix to change out the o2 sensors and evaporative canister (which don't even affect the driving performance of the car), and at that point, we weren't willing to invest more money into an 8 year old car which had been put through some pretty rough east coast conditions. We sold the Pathfinder to CarMax, which offered $500 more than the dealer would for a trade in. CarMax was quick and easy to deal with. Had we had the time and energy to deal with putting the car up on Ebay, maybe we could have gotten $1,000 more, but maybe not. It was a tough situation as we couldn't sell the car in California, as you can't transfer a car without smog certification.

We also test drove the Honda Pilot and the Ford Edge (ok, so I just test drove the Edge for a free Mammoth lift ticket). I found the Honda Pilot a little too bit and bulky and it seemed a little underpowered. I did not enjoy driving it as much as the MDX. I also found the accessories inside the car to be a little cheaply appointed; I did not feel like I was in a luxury car, it was more truck-like, like the Pathfinder. With all the options that I would have wanted, the Honda Pilot would have been just a little cheaper the MDX. As for the Ford...well, it felt like a Ford (no offense). It was pretty easy to drive, but it wasn't really refined. Like the Honda, the interior just felt a little cheap and plastic-y. As soon as I got into the MDX, I knew it was the one. Love at first sight. There is a certain nostalgia factor as well; my first car was an Acura, the dearly missed Acura Vigor. All in all, it's a great car and I look forward to driving it for the next 10 years +.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Funky Udon

Note: not what we actually ordered, but looks tasty nonetheless

After a visit to Marukai market for tonight's dinner makings, we stopped by our usual post-Marukai lunch spot, Sanuki No Sato for a noodle fix. We were absolutely famished, made worse by a grocery store trip on an empty stomach, so we ordered quickly: we ordered a hiyayakko (chilled tofu) appetizer, followed by the kamo (duck) udon and the motsunabe (tripe) udon. The chilled tofu hit the spot, a simple dish of chilled udon topped with bonito, thinly sliced scallion, grated ginger and a soy sauce based dipping sauce. I'll be definitely making this at home; a simple, refreshing summer dish. Unfortunately, the waitress would not reveal what was in the special dipping sauce, I'll have to do some experimenting. The tripe udon was tasty and the bits of tripe were quite funky (in a good way); the dish was hearty, almost stew-like with carrots and a miso soup base. I quite enjoyed it, but not sure I could finish a whole bowl by myself. The duck udon was a nice complement, with lots of fresh thinly sliced japanese scallion and a lighter, clear broth. While I'm used to duck udon made with seared, medium rare duck, like at SEO, Sobaya and the much missed Honmura-An, all in NYC, this duck had nice, lightly grilled flavor, even though it was fully cooked. Sanuki No Sato is a convenient spot for a quick, post-Marukai bite to eat. Portions are ample and we both left stuffed. As usual, it was packed by the time we left, around 12:30pm. Next time, if we aren't starving and have the patience, we will try a return visit to Ichimiann, another soba and udon specialist just a little farther away.

Sanuki No Sato
18206 S. Western Ave.
Gardena, CA 90248
Tel: (310) 324-9184

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rainbow Chard and Adolescent Garlic

Pretty typical wednesday today; began with a visit to the Santa Monica Wednesday farmer's market, followed by Costco for some pantry staples, then waited around for 3 hours for ADT security to show up, then Kourtney's yoga class, then prepared and had dinner with the family. At the farmer's market, I picked up the following:
  • Lacinato Kale from Gloria's, for tonight's delicious raw kale salad, topped with ricotta salata, sliced almonds, organic raisins, with a meyer lemon and shallot dressing, inspired by Lupa's Cavolo Nero
  • Young garlic, which we sauteed tonight with Chinese sausage and soy paste, shoots and all
  • Organic spinach from Maggie's herb farm, which will be the topping for my Co. inspired spinach pizza later on this week
  • Beautiful organic rainbow chard, which will be the topping for my Pitfire Pizza inspired egg and chard pizza later on this week
  • Organic radishes, for breakfast (Thinly sliced radishes on cream cheese topped toasted bagels will be healthier than the breakfast quesadillas I've been having all week!)
Spring is still in its beginnings, young garlic and onions were everywhere; beans, including fava beans were still at several stalls. Winter-ish vegetables such as kale, swiss chard, potatoes, butternut squash still dominate. Looking forward to full spring and summer!

In addition to the kale salad and the young garlic sprouts with sausage, we also had a chinese style fresh whole "li yu" fish, prepared with garlic, oranges and scallions, as well as some curry roasted kabocha squash and broccoli. Dinner was paired with Beckmen's 07 Cuvee Le Bec, a grenache syrah mouverdre blend that was ok, but not as exciting and fruit forward as the GSM's I normally prefer.

What Happens in Santa Barbara...

...stays in Santa Barbara...unless photos and other such evidence are up on a blog. Last weekend, the Westside Wine Club went on an overnight wine tasting trip to wine country just north of Santa Barbara. We had an awesome time...details and pictures can be found here and here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring Skiing Fun

The weekend between NYC and Santa Barbara, we drove up to Mammoth for some spring skiing (and snowboarding) with S. and Jon. We had a great time; there is still a ton of snow up in Mammoth (10-14 foot base) with fresh snow earlier in the week. By the time we got there, conditions were varied, with some slushy snow at the base and hardpacked, almost ice, snow in the more challenging areas. Nevertheless, both our new skis (the 09 K2 lotta luvs and 09 k2 apache recons) performed awesomely. We had so much fun going fast through all the various conditions and it seemed like we had the whole mountain to ourselves a lot of the time. The Westin Monache was great again; perfect for an apres-ski hot tub session and ordering dominos pizza for dinner in the suite. It was our third trip to Mammoth this year; can't wait for next season!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NYC Overindulgences

Ippudo's Akamaru Modern.
The garlic oil and berkshire pork were awesome; love the broth and spring-y noodles

I was recently in NYC, my old stomping grounds, for Easter and a wedding reception in Philly. Aside from seeing old friends, the highlights were of course the food and drinks. The following were some noteworthy stops:
  • Milk and Honey: we used to go to Milk and Honey all the time, particularly when I lived in Noho, which was just a short walk away. We caught up with Bruce & Cara who are now members. I had two delicious seasonal fresh blackberry and strawberry cocktails, and K. had a twist on a old-fashioned with peach bitters that was perfect. Still no other cocktail bar compares with M&H
  • Lupa: in addition to Babbo, Lupa is one of my must-visits when I'm in town, particular for a catch up night with Z. We sat at the bar as usual (almost no wait) and split the salad with warm guanciale dressing, rabbit pasta special, a special ravioli and the bavette cacio e pepe. Loved the salad (warm porky dressing!) and the first two pastas; the cacio e pepe was just a little too peppery for me (ok probably my fault). As usual, we had each dish paired with a different quartino of nice Italian reds recommended by the bartender. I also love how Lupa (and Babbo) actually splits the dishes into two separate dishes and brings the plates out one at a time (so you aren't trying to eat three pastas as once). Also, so nice not to have to think about driving home after a great meal with many glasses of wine!
  • Tia Pol: I wish Los Angeles had good tapas! We sat at the bar after almost no wait and ate til we were stuffed. Highlights included the razor clams and cockles, the blistered padron peppers, and the patatas bravas. Almost as good as the tapas Sarah and I had in Barcelona at the Bar Pinotxo at the amazing Boqueria market. We had a nice bottle of white from Catalunya. While I love riojas, spanish whites are some of my favorites, particularly paired with spicy and / or highly seasoned food
  • Company (Co.): I totally agree with Anthony Bourdain, I LOVE the popeye pie. It was just perfect: the lovely mound of just slightly cooked fresh spinach flavored simply with olive oil and sea salt, over some gruyere, pecorino and mozz, on a perfectly charred, while still fluffy crust, is perfection. We also had the veal meatball pie which would be noteworthy in any other restaurant, but was overshadowed by the Popeye pie. I will definitely be recreating the Popeye at home!
  • Ippudo: after a day of walking around soho and the east village, I stopped by and had the Akamaru Modern. Rich, delicious, fragrant dish, with perfectly toothsome thin ramen. This is how ramen should be. The closest I can find in Los Angeles to Ippudo is Santouka ramen. Noodles are better at ippudo and the broth and quality of the pork are just a little better.
  • Supertaste: My favorite Chinatown cheap eat. It's too easy to spend way too much money in NYC, particularly when you are catching up with lots of old friends. I haven't found any similarly great hand-pulled noodles (la mian) in Los Angeles. We ate at Supertaste before our $16 cocktails at M&H. We had the usual pork bone la mian, and slightly spicy beef hand cut noodles (dao xiao mian). With sodas, the meal came out to way less than one cocktail at M&H.
  • Prosperity Dumpling: another great cheap eats in NYC; you just can't beat 5 dumplings for $1. The sesame beef pancake is also cheap and delicious. The dumplings are fried as you wait, as are the sesame pancakes. I also bought 50 frozen dumplings for $8 to make at home
Other notable stops during our visit to NYC: Bobo, which was in a quaint brownstone in our 'hood, the West Village, to celebrate MK's bday; Perbacco, in alphabet city, for a nice, relatively reasonable Italian meal in a cozy, typically East Village / Alphabet City setting, with some of our oldest NYC friends, Dan & A. and Colin & L.; Norwood, a private club near the meatpacking where we had way too many cocktails (great setting though) with J.; Schiller's Liquor Bar, for some quick cocktails with an old colleague, John; and Jim's Cheesesteaks, (ok, not in NYC) but perfect for some Philly post-wedding reception cheesesteaks with Sarah and Jim.

I found the Union Square Greenmarket in March to be a little depressing. Very little fresh produce. Lots of apples though
Prosperity Dumpling's chef making the sesame pancake

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why EAT?

Why EAT? Well, lots of reasons. Some people call me as "EAT"; it happens to represent my name. Convenient, because I also happen to love to eat! I've always enjoyed food; I grew up in a family of adventurous eaters, albeit with a leaning towards Asian food. After moving away from Los Angeles to the East Coast for over a decade, I broadened my culinary horizons to all sorts of different cuisines, enhanced by a love of travel, particularly to Europe. I was fortunate to have spent over six amazing years living in Manhattan, which in my opinion has the most exciting and diverse restaurant scene of any city I've visited. My love of eating has inspired my recent interest in cooking; I love the challenge of recreating my favorite restaurant dishes at home, particularly now that I live in LA and do not have the opportunity to visit my favorite NYC restaurants often. I've spent a lot of time the last year watching the Food Network, reading cooking websites like thekitchn and epicurious on a daily basis, and studying various cookbooks. I love trying out new recipes; I get inspiration for my cooking everywhere, from eating out at local restaurants, to traveling abroad. I am by no means an accomplished cook yet, but the important thing is that I enjoy it, and I am improving every day. My love for cooking goes well with my enjoyment of wine and good company; not a whole lot makes me happier than inviting friends and family over to our house, cooking a nice meal (and trying out some new recipes), and opening a couple bottles of good wine.


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