Monday, April 30, 2007

La Barca



I've been to Mexico City once and I learned two things. One, that tequila taste different there than here and two, their are many styles of Mexican food; Oxachan, Northern, etc. One style they didn't have was "LA style". Many would say that this is a good thing but seriously, our hybrid Mexican Food is pretty awesome.

A great place to have this style is La Barca, 2414 South Vermont Ave., LA CA 90007, 323-735-6567. Now, I realize what I am advocating is not a purist idea of what Mexican Food can be but it's fun. I remember going there with John Haines when we were both undergrads at Otis Art Institute in the early 80's. It was cheap, filling and tasty. Today, you can get away with spending $10.00 on lunch.

They always start you off with chips and salsa like most places. The salsa here reminds me of Tito's tacos but hotter. I like this very much. Today, I ordered the Chorizo Con Huevos. It was really good. Chorizo is one of those foods that I can only have once every other month but I love it. It was introduced to me by firend from high school, Sandy Oliva's Tia and I've been eating it since. All the portions are hefty and filling. There were a lot of students and staff from USC. I was glad to see that it was still a place students can get an affordable meal for relatively cheap.

Today, my friend and sculptor, Megan DeArmond ordered a tostada which was huge and later my buddy artist Jeff Mohr told me his favorite is the chicken and rice dish or pollo con arroz. This is a great place to go with friends and order margaritas.

By the way, once again, I was so hungry, I started eating my food before I remembered to take a photo. Sorry about that.

Blue Marlin






Well, if you know the eating places along Sawtelle off of Olympic, you knew I was eventually going to list Blue Marlin Japan Bistro, 2121 Sawtelle Blvd LA CA 90025, 310-445-2522. I was first introduced to the place as a macrobiotic place but I'm not sure if that's true. I know that the vegetables are organic and they are one of the few places that serves brown rice on Sawtelle.

This time, I ordered the seafood special. it was a rich portion of shrimp, squid and scallops in a even tomato sauce. It's served in a fried wonton skin bowl that sits on a platform of sweet potato salad. My son ordered the chicken curry which he says is really good.

Lately, I've been too full to order dessert but they have really good ice cream dishes and custards.

Manas-Indian Cuisine


Peter Sellars called LA the city of hidden treasurers, during the first LA Arts Festival in the early 90's and it is.

It's a non-centralized, mulit-pocketed urban amorphic city with an amazing ocean of ethnic foods. Our collegue, Zipporah asked if we like Indian food. We do and off we were to the neighborhood near USC. We parked in front of a Latino birthday party supply place, 99 cent store and fabric shop on Vermont. Parkling is a premium in LA and we were lucky to find a space.

Manas-Indian Cuisine, 2823 South Vermont Avenue, LA CA 90007, 323-731-4333 from the outside looks like just another restaurant along this busy side of the USC neighborhood but once you walk inside, it's a different story. Wow, it's pretty fancy.

We had the buffett of rices, curry, chicken, potatos and veggies. It was amazing. I had three servings. The mango lassi was the best I ever had, not too sweet, creamy and delicious. I ate so much, all I could eat for dinner that night was a very small salad.

The folks running it are very nice and they seem to cater a lot, especially for various departments for USC. Swweeeeettttt!!!!!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Tito's Tacos



There's always a line. Need I say more?

If you have never been there and you live in LA, what is up with that?

Tito's, 11222 Washington Place, Culver City CA 90230, 310-391-5780, is classic LA tacos, old school, with the crunchy tortilla, tons of salsa and huge chips. A taco is like around $1.40 but cheese is extra. It's on the sign. I don't know why cheese is extra. Maybe Mr. Tito is lactose intolerant? You can pre-order over the internet now.

http://www.titostacos.com/

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

La Luz Del Dia



My friend Alessandra grew up in a colorful household of four sisters. In some ways, the glue that held their daily lives was Nana. Nana, by definition, was/is their live in housekeeper but she was so much more than that. In fact, writing that definition kind of turns my stomach. Nana's a perfect example of what Richard Bach wrote in his book "Illusions", "True family are rarely born under the same household."

By the time I got to meet Nana, she was a family member. A beautiful, petite woman, who spoke little or no English and with the most deepest and beautiful eyes. One word she introduced me to is "mole". It's because of Nana that I've come to love mole.

If you know the history of mole and how the poverty stricken Mexican nuns took what little ingredients they had to make a meal for the visiting Catholic dignitary and invented mole, then you would understand when I say that I have always sensed that Nana is somehow a descendant of these Catholic chefs.

Anyway, when Nana ended up moving to San Diego, she was very worried about leaving Alessandra by herself in LA. The month she was scheduled to leave, Alessandra brought Nana to La Luz Del Dia, 107 Paseo De La Plaza (Olvera Street) LA CA 90012, 213-628-7494. After that meal, Nana was relieved to find out that there was a place in town that Alessandra could go to for a real meal.

Pictured is my favorite thing to order, 1 side order of nopales (cactus), 1 side order of beans, 3 handmade tortillas (the beans comes covered with a tortilla, so you get four total), and salsa. I sit there, listening to my friends converse as i make my own nopales tacos. My whole meal is just a little over $3.00.

Oops, I almost forgot, the tortillas are handmade. They are amazing!

Monday, April 23, 2007

French Garden



One objective of this blog is to let you know about places that may be hidden. French Garden, 1936 East 7th Street, LA CA 90021, 213-623-4028, is one of those places. It's sort of on the corner of 7th and Mateo. I think its Mateo. But it's not visable from the corner and the entrance is through the parking lot which is accesible off of 7th Street or a tiny alleyway off of Mateo.

Anyway, the setting is outdoors or semi-ourdoors and the service is fantastic. The appetizer bread is always delicious. My favorite is the Sea Food Salad with healthy portions of cooked salmon, calamari and shrimp. The dressing is cream base and there is a mound of romaine.

Eating ourdoors, even if its Downtown LA, feels so cool, so civilized, it makes the lunch really comfortable and rejeuvanating.



Friday, April 20, 2007

Redwood Bar & Grill



In the early 90's, I was working on a project with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. Helaine was a planner there and coincidentally also was a painter. We hit it off from the get go and one day she said we'd have a lunch meeting at the Redwood. Redwood? where's that? 316 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles CA 90012, 213-680-2600, www.theredwoodbar.com

Back then, it was famous for being the spot where all the staff from the LA Times and County Court Building had their power lunches; LA history. The bar was in the center of the place and they had one of those dark back rooms where you could imagine the rebuilding of Bunker Hill was originally discussed with Councilman Gilbert Lindsay and all of the private stakeholders. Lots of cigar smoke and Gin and Tonics, or not.

Anyway, the burgers where great. They had a mushroom burger, guacamole burger and hickory burger. Unfortunately, it closed and the place was vacant for awhile until the new owners came and resurrected it.

Today it's more stylish. The red vinyl upholstery has been replaced by off white leather like upholstery and it's dark in there with strategic lighting on the tables. At night, they have DJ's and last Thursday when we swung by, it rivaled the Standard crowd.

Anyway, today, we went for lunch. This was my second time there since it reopened. I wasn't that crazy about the burger last time. It was good but not what it used to be. It's still a great burger but I'm not quite over it initially closing. I'm still brooding. I'm like that. So this time, looking at the menu I was so happy to see "turkey pot pie" and our server Andy recommended it. It was so delicious. The top pie crust is crisp and flaky. The stew is creamy and hot. I burned my tongue. It's large enough to make you full but I was still hungry enough that I ate half of Jeff's fries. The fries are really good.

My other favorite experience with the Redwood was a couple of years ago when I was serving Jury Duty across the street. I went to the Redwood for lunch and had a beer. At work, you can't drink alchohol during worktime so being able to drink a beer at lunch on a workday was fun.




Thursday, April 19, 2007

Izayoi


Another amazing find, introduced to me by my culinary comrade, Hiromi Sato is Izayoi, 132 South Central Avenue, LA CA 90012, 213-613-9554.

I have had great meals there. There's not a bad thing on the menu and they have a decent sake selection.

My favorite is the bento box. They only make 20 of these a day. It's about $9.00. It's fantastic and must for those who love Japanese food. It changes a little all the time, which makes it kind of exciting to order. Today, it had Delicious slices of grilled beef, chawan-musi, fresh sashimi, etc. Oh yes, the rice is always cooked perfectly. It's not easy to find a place that cooks the rice perfectly.

Go with friends who make you laugh and tell stories.

Brooklyn Bagels



My birthday celebration continued today. My friend Sojin, who's a curator at the Japanese American National Museum brought me a bag of Brooklyn Bagels, 2217 Beverly Blvd Los Angeles CA 90057, 800-78-4BAGELS, with some cream cheese. Sojin is from DC (I believe) and has lived on the eastcoast, so I know she knows what a good bagel is.

It's not easy finding a good bagel in LA. They have to be fresh, like made that morning, otherwise, it's not going to be fresh tasting inside the bagel itself. otherwise, you have to toast it, which I'm cool with too. I enjoy cream cheese with blueberry jam or cream cheese with lox and maybe capers.

My favorite bagel in the whole wide world is Essa-a-bagel in new York, http://ess-a-bagel.com/

Pictured are some of the bagels in the bag Sojin brought me. Missing is the onion bagel. If there's an onion bagel near me, you will not see it. It is mine!

I also wanted to mention that "Brooklyn" is very important to LA. Brookyln was the name of the street that is now Cesar Chavez. That's the street that starts in Downtown LA and goes through East LA. Self Help Graphics started the first Dia Los Muertos Parade down this street. Secondly, our Dodgers are from Brooklyn. Brooklyn folk are still bitter about this but we give them our props.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nicks



I am a little meloncholy today. I went to Nicks for lunch, 1300 North Spring Street, LA CA 90012, 323-222-1450, and I've come to realize that it's not the same place it used to be.

I've had a semi-love affair with the "3-Kill_Sampler" for about fifteen years. That lasted longer than my marraige. They only serve it for lunch on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It's about $8.00. They BBQ from the morning and it's a solid serving of tri-tip, ribs and sausage. The sides are BBQ beans and a choice of potato salad or coleslaw. I usually get an ice tea.

I don't know what happened exactly. Did they change the way they make it? Did my taste buds change? I do know that the environment in the shack-like-diner changed when Irma left.

Irma worked there for many years. She was energetic in a cool kind of way, could make you feel welcome and make you laugh. She remembered your name and if she didn't remember it, she could remember something about you and blame you for not coming in more often which would make it easier for her to remember your name. She was fun.

You know what? This entry is less about Nicks and more about the importance of the flavor of a place, the culture of a cafe, and the people who work there who make a difference. When you lose that or when it changes, the food also changes. I think that realization today made me meloncholy, FULL but meloncholy.

http://www.nickscafe.net

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Maxwell's



Breakfast, the most important meal of the day?

My kids and I have several favs for breakfast. Maxwell's, 13329 Washington Blvd, LA CA 90066, 310-306-7829, is one of them.

On the westside, "WESTSIDE!!!!!", great American style breakfast. Fresh squeezed OJ and apple juice, all the breakfast staples and a breakfast burrito that is soooooo good. It's my favorite, they call it "THE BOMB" (beef patty, guacamole, onions, jalapenos, cilantro & garlic). It's dimensions are around 10" x 2" x 5". I didn't even realize they made tortillas that size. You can have a side of tomato salsa or bean salsa. That's all I have to say.

Benvenuto Caffe'



Michael and Kate at EZTV reccomended Benvenuto Caffe', 8512 Santa Monica Blvd West Hollywood CA 90069, 310-659-8635, www.benvenuto-caffe.com, to us at one of our jam sessions a couple of weeks ago. Two eves ago, I was out with a fellow arts administrator and she said she wanted to eat some Italian food, so naturally I took advantage of this opportunity to try Benvenuto. We started in Downtown LA. This was the night of extreme winds so getting to W Hollywood was at a snails pace down Sunset, blah, blah, blah...

As I mentioned, I am trying to lower my carb in take, so this was the first pasta meal I've had in several months. Michael and Kate love food. Michael "Masucci" is Italian American and a New Yorker through and through in all of the best ways possible. If Michael says this is one of the best places for Italian food in LA, I am the first to believe him.

Just look at the pix here. This is the real stuff. I was raised on Japanese food. Whenever we made pasta, we cooked it to the consistency of ramen or udon. It wasn't until recently that I've come to appreciate al dente. Al dente is not just a style, it's an art. This place has it down. Oh my god! The pasta is so good, i'm getting hungry just thinking about it. We ordered the Lobster Ravioli and the Farfala Gorgonzola with Chicken. I can't wait to go back and try something else off the menu.



OK, there's another reason I wanted to go to this place. This building is formerly the recording studio and offices of the Doors. There's memorabilia displayed and hints of its former self all over the place. For the Rock history buffs, it's a must. For pasta lovers, follow where Masucci points.

Manpuku



I hang out, once in a blue moon, with my son and his basketball teammates. They've been playing together since they were 6. Now, they're are all 15. Lately, I feel like I should excuse myself when they're in their pack or collective but today they invited me to have lunch with them. I brought my iPod and the latest issue of Helio just in case.

They decided to go to Manpuku. I had never been but it's their restaurant of choice on Sawtelle. It certainly makes sense. "Manpuku" is a kind of familiar term. It's what you say after you've eaten a hearty and fufilling meal and that's how these guys eat.

I ordered the lunch special. I've been trying to decrease my carb in take for the past few years and so I asked the waiter, really nice guy, to hold the rice. He asked if I wanted more salad to compensate for this menu change. Sure. Ever since my Dr. reccomended I change my diet, I've eaten a lot of salads. That's cool because I can also have protein and that means meat. The salad had a really delicious sesame dressing.

Manpuku's lunch special came on a piping hot iron plate. The BBQ beef sizzled and popped and was topped with slices of roasted garlics and a kind of Korean BBQ sauce. There's a side dip dish of ponzu sauce which was delicious.

The boys ordered Bibimpap (Korean vegetable/beef/rice dish) and several types of bentos (box lunches) with BBQ beef.

The food is tasty, hearty and fresh. The really cool thing was that the waiter brought the each of us seperate checks (that's never happened before) and each boy, including my son, insisted on paying for their own meal. It gave the whole experience a surreal edge.

Manpuku, 2125 Sawtelle Blvd LA CA 90025, 310-473-0580, is "full" in Japanese i.e., "I am full, I can't eat another bite".

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Din Tai Fung



A year ago, my friend Aimee treated me to an amazing treasurer; Din Tai Fung, 1108 South Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia CA 91007, 626-574-7068, www.dintaifungusa.com

There's a history to this place which you can discover on their web page.

I remember standing in line, waiting with Aimee and a few friends for about 45 minutes before we were seated. I was told that that was normal for the place. When you walk in, there's a glass window to the kitchen and you can watch them prepare the Taipei dumplings.

The dining area is not a big place but it's aestheticaly pleasing, modern and comfortable. Aimee did the ordering. We were having fun talking about art, music and stuff. When the first order of dumplings came in its steamer, everyone was smiles. I was the only one who had never been there before. I remember they wanted me to take the first bite. I did as they watched me.

I placed the hot small pork dumpling in some vinegar and soy sauce and placed it on my tongue, closed my mouth and out of this dumpling exploded a delicious hot soup. The sensation was awesome and delicious. For some reason it reminded me of kissing. Sorry about that, anyway it was amazing. Everyone at the table asked, "What do you think?" and I replied "It's like eating perfection". We had vegetarian dumplings, shrimp, etc. We were so focused on the dumplings that it got very quite at our table at one point.

Din Tai Fung is a little bit of a trek from Downtown LA. I don't think a lot of people know about it but I have been in situations where I mentioned it and people have either said that they had heard of it or that they loved the place and were so happy to hear that I'd been there. I hope you get a chance to go too.






Beverly Soon Tofu



In the mid 80's, I went to Beverly Soon Tofu for the first time with my girlfriend. Back then, it was on Beverly but now-a-days it's at 2717 West Olympic Blvd #108, Los Angeles CA 90006, 213-380-1113. She and I loved to eat spicy food. That night, I had Soon Tofu for the first time. I ordered the hottest one they had. It was a religous experience and a sauna wrapped up in one memorable and perhaps life-changing moment. I believe during the meal, a light from the culinary heaven came into the room and shinned on me. I am not joking. I am serious.

I've tried about five other places since but Beverly Soon Tofu is by far my favorite. The Soon Tofu is the best but also all the side dishes they serve before the Soon Tofu are the best as well. What do i mean by best? I mean it's the freshest, deepest, heartfelt and soulful of the Soon Tofu places I've tried. If someone's visitng from out of town and they love spicey food, I will most likely reccomend this place.

BEV, one of the bands I am in is named after this place. It's that good.

Tamaen



Torrance/Gardena/Lomita has one of the largest groupings of great food be it Hawaiian, Japanese or Korean. I heard that sometime soon, Torrance will have the largest population of Japanese nationals in the Nation. One benefit of this stat is good food.

My friends Asami, Seth and Jeff, are local visual artists and are also in a rock band with me called "BEV". We all love to eat and for my birthday recently, they took me to a place called Tamaen, 1935 Pacific Coast Highway Lomita CA 90717, 310-326-0829, www.tamaen.com



The draft beer comes in very frosty mugs and slushes a bit, very delicious. The BBQ comes in plates and you cook it in front of you on the table. It's a great party like dining experience. The meat is excellent. We had prime rib, Kobe beef (made in the USA), tongue, fresh vegetables and seafood. It's a very social way of eating dinner and that makes for a richer eating experience.

We also drank cold sake. I love good quality cold sake, preferably on the dry side. We also sampled a ginseng liquor that Asami said was an aphrodisiac. Anyway, all this flavors the food we ate, which was delicious. The avarage BBQ dish is about $18.00.

They also have a pineapple sherbet that was very delicious and a banana split that was so-so but we ordered two and Seth and I had an eating contest. That was fun. Seth won. We had a great time.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Groundwork


I am not a coffee drinker.

I drink hot tea almost everyday and a lot at work. However, my co-workers are addicted to coffee and they will go out of their way for good coffee. What constitues "good" coffee? Hmmm, I'm not an expert. The bean is different from different regions, much like the way grapes for various vineyards can add uniqueness to a wine but I was told it's all in the roasting. Groundwork, 811 Traction Avenue Los Angeles CA, (323) 871-0107, roasts their own Fair Trade coffee locally.

I'm told if you drive around Marina Del Rey near the warehouse, you can become fixiated on the arouma in the neighborhood. I have yet to vist that warehouse but their main coffe place on Rose Avenue just west of Lincoln is a great place to visit.

"Bitches Brew" is the name of my favorite Miles Davis album. In that music, is a carefully sculpted feast of sounds to inpire the ephemeral dragons in our soul and that's exactly what the coffee, "Bitches Brew" does to me. Again, I don't drink coffee but when I do, it's "Bitches Brew" from Groundwork.



The one in Downtown LA makes a fantastic Greek Salad. That salad makes me very happy. This place is also one of the few places that serves Yerba Matte, that bitter Argentina coffee. My friends Steve and Kumiko introduced it to me. They are Tango enthusiasts. You can get the Yerba Matte, Salad, a bag of chips and a cookie for about $14.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Capitol Burgers



Generaly speaking, a burger place is going to have a basic menu; burger, cheese burger, Dbl burger, Dbl cheeseburger, fries, chili fries, sodas, shakes, etc. So what makes one place better than the other? Many of my favorites have come and gone; Mo Better Burger, the original Blue Cube, Sammy's. Each had its presentation, it's spices on the burger, the way they cut the lettuce, onions, tomato, and so on.

One still stands alive and kicking, Capitol Burgers, 4301 Pico Blvd., where a cheeseburger with fries is about $4.00. It is perhaps my favorite burger stand in all of LA. They're no-nonsense-burger-making ethics is second to none.

First, the burger; standard bun, very crispy lettuce, a ripe 3/4" slice of tomato, chunky diced onions, ketchup, mustard and a perfect salt & pepper combination on the burger.

The fries are "awesome". It's at least twice the amount of most places and three times that of your chain fast food place; thin, crisp and enough grease for taste but not overly oily.

Do you find that it's hard to pass on a old fashion chocolate shake? They have the old school shake machine and with a chuck-a-scoop of ice cream and pulp of milk they have mastered a really great shake that's just thick enough but not too thick.

For pastrami sandwhich lovers, your hidden treasurer awaits you but I'm a burger guy.

Everyone who's spoken to me about burgers in LA knows about Capitol Burgers. I brag about it all the time but few have actually gone. Why?

One, it's in my hood. I live about six blocks away from it and many find my hood a little scary. It's not actually scary but some find it that way. It's actually rich with culture and people. Second, those who have passed by Capitol Burger see a fairly delapidated shack with an exterior of decades of paint, a horrible landscape job and rickety wood table and benches. It's always been like that. Even when they maintain it with a fresh coat of paint, it still doesn't change much. It's not a pretty place. The order window is an old screen window with black rod-iron type bars and the menu sign above the sink is handwritten and looks like its from some roadhouse movie from the 1940's.



I have a theory. They keep it that way because it keeps out the non-believers. Sounds funny? Conspiracy theory? They know how good there food is. They're always busy enough, been in business a really long time, why change anything? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. This burger has an attitude!

Friday, April 6, 2007

R-23



Part of eating out is satisfying a craving. For me, a craving is often based on a first impression so positive that it rings in your taste buds years, and in some cases, decades later.

R-23, 923 East 2nd Street, Suite 109 Los Angeles CA 90013, 213-687-7178, is such a place.

Now, it's a little bit more cash to eat lunch here than most and a lot more cash for dinner but once in a while is alright. First and foremost, the sushi is one of the best in town, in my humble opinion.

The interior has a good balance between a semi-regal atmosphere and a fun/causal comfort that I appreciate. That's not an easy balance. It's partially the way they treat you. The service is excellent. The food is always fresh and deliicous and always with a sweet attention to details and presentation.

I especially like the collection of art in the interior and in the selection of dishware.

They have a delicious green tea drink that's cool, refreshing and calming but back to the craving. Once in a while, I have a craving for their fried oysters. R-23 has an excellent menu of Japanese Cuisine but after going their for over a decade, my taste buds call for this simple and awesome dish of delicately fried bite size jewels, served with a Japanese style Worchestershire sauce and hot mustard. It comes with a memorable bowl of miso soup, salad with Japanese-style dressing and rice.

By the way, regarding my picture above, the order comes with three more pieces of fried oysters but I was so happy I forgot to take a picture before I started eating. Sorry about that.

Bob's Big Boy



Last night after seeing a movie, my son and I were hungry. I told him anywhere he wants to eat, I'll drive us there. My kids and I eat out a lot, as you can imagine. We were driving down Wilshire and he pointed and said, "What about there?".

Bob's Big Boy, 5050 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90036, 323-939-3317, is someplace my mom used to bring my brother and I when we were little. Much like I miss my brother being my little brother, I miss my son being my little son. He's 15 now and is already taller than me. We both love to go to the movies and we both love to eat.

back in the day, Carnations used to be right across the street and my Mom, brother and I would eat there too, switching back and forth depending on our moods. The Carnations is long gone but the Big Boys is still there. It hasn't changed much except for the fact that the statue of the Big Boy is inside the place now. I guess it got vandalized one too many times.

For old times sake, I ordered the Big Boy Original Combo with fries and a salad ($6.65).

Now, it's common for our tastes to change or mature over the years and certainly mines had. It wasn't as much fun anymore to eat the combo. The hamburger was too soft when I bit into it but the combination of flavors was still great and nostalgic. They put a red relish on the burger that is really good. The fries were mediocre and the salad reminds you of a time when salads were just salads and not the meals we see nowadays. I'm sorry, am I complaining? Am I sounded like any other OG who gets too sentimental? I'm just saying....

So I didn't even finish my burger, which is really unusual for me. So what to do?

I was looking over the menu and like bumping into an old friend, I caught a picture of the banana split. Like the Cavalry, it was the B-Split to the rescue. I had a scoop of Rocky Road Ice Cream earlier that day but was that going to stop me? NO!

Sometimes you gotta to just do what you gotta do.

Oh, by the way, the ice cream in the B-Split was Thrifty's. That brings it all home, doesn't it?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Homegirl Cafe



The first time I went to the original Homegirls, it wasn't called Homegirls. I think it was Metro Cafe. It's part of the Homeboys campaign; a community campaign. It was originally right across the street from Mariachi Plaza. Now it's in East Chinatown @ 130 W. Bruno St., Los Angeles, CA 90012; (323) 526-1254 ext. Homeboys moved all of their offices and the cafe to a new building just across the street from the Chinatown Station.

The food here is fresh. They use jicama a lot which is so crispy and juicy. The salads are awesome but I like the mole dish.

I've had breakfast there a couple of times ordering coffee and cupcakes. You can ask for them to heat the muffins. Oh yeah, the soup is awesome. Bring a big group so you can sample lots of stuff off the exciting menu.

The GREEN POTION is a must.

I only have pix of the older location but will get some new ones of the new location soon.



Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Harold and Belles



Fried CATFISH and gumbo. MMmmmmmm!

I like the heartyness of gumbo and the earthyness of catfish, don't you?

Catfish is like no other fish, especially fried. Submerged in hotsauce and you can hit nirvana.

When done right, Gumbo is a hot bowl of mystery with various levels of flavor, history and messages. Okra, sausages, filet of gumbo, crayfish, seasonings, It takes a lot to make gumbo. It takes the right recipe, the right ingredients, time and experience. Sorry, there's no image of the gumbo, I ate it so fast I didn't have time to take a photo.

At Harold and Belle's, 2920 West Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles CA, 323-735-9023, you can get all the essentials of Cajun food, Jambalaya, dirty rice, fried catfish, a nice full bottle of hot sauce and at the end of your last swallow of gumbo, peach cobbler or bread pudding.




My friend, artist Steven M. Irvin's mom Vinnie, makes perhaps the best gumbo I have ever had. She's originally from Texas. Vinnie puts crab legs in her gumbo. It's magical.

I love to make gumbo but it takes time. My gumbo takes three days to make and I am not totally satisfied if I can't serve it with Dixie Beer. I got my recipe from an inmate at one of the California Prisons I taught drawing at in the late 1980's. The recipe was from his aunt in Louisianna. I will be forever grateful for his generosity and no, I won't share the recipe.

I hope you get a chance to go to Harold and Belle's. Three suggestions if you are lucky enough to go: 1) take advantage of the valet parking, 2) dress well, and 3) be prepared to take home leftovers.