Wednesday, August 31, 2011
I was discussing Italian food with Jeffrey James Mohr and he recommended a place in Brentwood. He had heard about this place through a co-worker who said whenever he comes into town (he lives in Texas) he makes it a point to stop at this place for an "authentic" Italian meal. So, I went last night with my daughter. Pizzicotto is located at 11758 San Vincente Blvd, Brentwood CA 90049. It's a small and narrow restaurant. The decor is warm and cozy in scale. The first floor has a market feel to it and was packed. First the waiter asked if we wouldn't mind sitting at this dinky and dark table near the door to the dish washing area. He anticipated a "no" and guided us to the second floor. This is a tiny room that houses around seven tables. We sat down and ordered Cesar Salad (too much dressing, you have to eat fast before the greens drown) After we finished our salad, we were asked to move to another table closer to the glass wall that overlooks the first floor. It was kind of an upgrade but it's bad practice to be asked to be re-seated after you begin the meal. It's a sign of floor miss-management. It makes you wonder why other tables weren't asked to move, why were we singled out? Then came the Ravioli filled with grilled vegetables, ricotto cheese, topped with prosciutto cotto, cherry tomatoes, green beans, butter nut squash. The sauce was white wine with a touch of pesto. We also ordered the Spaghetti Calamari with garlic, chopped tomatoes, lemon, spices, parsley, a touch of tomato sauce and olive oil. The pasta is correct. It reminded me of the many meals as a teenager at the DiFabrizio's. The attention to the pasta and the flavorful-ness of the al dente durham; the specific result of the water and heat ;and the enhancement (and not the suffocation) of the sauce was all there. For dessert, we shared a Tiramisu and I had the house coffee with it. The Tiramisu was delicious, delicate, creamy and maybe the second or third best I have ever had. Even without drinks, the meal was around $75. It was excellent and memorable but it brings up the bigger issue; why is great Italian food so hard to find in LA? Why must we spend $75 for pasta? It's not like there's truffles in the pasta or anything that should be costly? It boggles the mind. Let's see, there's Mozza, I guess, and maybe Chianti in Lomita but it's still going to be around the same price. Anyone know of an affordable Italian place in LA that you can get away with under $40 or $50 for two?
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Tuesday afternoons at work; what better way to melt the cubicle blues than a pipping hot bowl of Crawfish Etouffee, long grain rice, buttered bread and a root beer? Bayou Grille is the perfect place to serve this remedy of peer joy, not to mention another pre-season game on the hi-def screen (Texans VS 49ers). Pre-season is so low tech. It's weird when the three commentators keep joking about something that has nothing to do with the game through three plays. Anyway, the Etouffee was so hot and delicious, deep and chunky. I mean I tore the bread up at the end, chunked it on the fork and used it to wipe way down in the container to get every last bit. (bad side, I almost nodded off during the afternoon meeting about five times in 90 minutes) I finished, still had an hour before the next meeting so I ordered one plate of Beignets. They fry'em up fresh per order so they're hot, fluffy and melt in your mouth. No MSG here, so that's a good thing. My friend said the catfish is awesome so guess what I'm ordering next week? Bayou Grille, 1400 N. La Brea Ave, Inglewood CA 90302
Monday, August 29, 2011
Scandinavian ice cream or gelato anyone? I'm game! Such a colorful design and next door to the awesome Blue Rooster Art Store, who could say "no" on such a hot LA day as today was? Paradis is located at 1726 North Vermont Ave, 1726 N. Vermont Ave, LA CA 90027. A solid assortment of freshly made ice creams, just made this morning I was told. They had a good selection of vegan/ sugar free assortments too. Today, I wanted something cold but not necessarily really sweet, so this was perfect. I chose the Chocolate Sorbet, which is vegan but also chose the sugar cone (one step forward and two steps back). The sorbet reminded be of the "ices" in Philadelphia. Delicious but subtle chocolate frozen-ness. It was so good. I am looking forward to going back and try more of their flavors. I did have a sample of the almond chocolate chip which was delicious but I just wanted chocolate today.
I had several folks tell me about this place. Some said it was the best chicken in K-Town, others said you have to try it at least once. I spent the entire day at poolside at Belly Flop for the Eternal Telethon and didn't feel like cooking so my daughter and made our way to Kyochon Chicken, 3833 W 6th Street, LA CA 90020, off the corner of Serrano Ave in a mini-mall. She ordered the chicken wrap and I ordered the 9 piece. I had an image of a rotisserie type chicken place but boy was I wrong. This is a clean, contemporary type fast-food looking place. The chicken is made to order, fried in Canola oil and served like a buffalo wing place. I ordered half spicy and half honey batter. The honey batter was crispy and juicy. The hot was awesomely hot. 9 pieces ended up being perfect for me but if I were a little bit more hungry, I probably would have needed a side of potato wedges or something. They have fresh cold filtered water for free but I got a bottled green tea. They have two large big screens and that day the Lions vs Patriots game was on, which was a pretty good game for pre-season. I left feeling good about that spicy chicken. I think having a box of those in front of the TV with a beer sounds ideal. It's not the most amazing food but it is unique, a Korean spice spin on buffalo wings. Oh, the pickled radish was funny. It comes in a pre-packaged box. I ordered one but they gave me two. They said it's a two for one item. It was pretty good, crunchy and on the sweet side. We took the other box home. Maybe we'll eat that tonight.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Cafe Mak is located at 612 Shatto Place LA CA 90005 just a block east from Vermont and Wilshire. It opens late and closes late. On a kind of a dare, I ordered the Fresh Ginseng Drink what was literally ground ginseng and milk. Interesting i-n-t--e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g texture. I can only hope that the health benefits greatly out weight the drinking experience. Also, we shared a pumpkin cake which was covered with coconut shavings. I don't know, I think this after dinner experience was too chewy for me. The tables had those funny ringers/buttons for service. I am still not used to that. The decor is quite "handsome", I like it. The service is very good. I think next time I won't be so adventuresome and just order tea and biscuits. Lastly, sitting outdoors on a summer night is lovely.
Mapo Kkak Doo Gee is located in Koreatown at 3611 W. 6th Street LA CA 90020 at the corner of Normandie and 6th. So over a year ago artist Sojung Kwon said there was a fantastic country-style Korean place she wanted to take me to. It took over a year but we finally made it. I wish I could tell you what the names of these dishes were but basically they were items #5 braised cod fish and #17 soy bean paste stew. The cod was heavenly. Sojung doesn't eat a lot and I do so I got the majority of the cod. YES! It's really amazing. The fish is fresh, full of flavor and tender with this deep red sauce. I have no idea what was in there but Sojung said they are well known for this dish. No wonder!
Yu Chun is located at 3185 W. Olympic Blvd, LA CA 90006. I joined Sojin Kim, historian; sound artist Liam Mooney and curator Kristin Hayashi for a feast. First of all, I was familiar with their dumplings already because Sojin gave me a container full once. they sell them frozen for you to take home but I can say now that eating them there is a totally different experience. These are the best dumplings in LA. YES!!! The skin is firm but fresh. The spicy pork inside is just spicy enough and filled with soup and goodness and luv! Now, we ordered other dishes i.e. cold noodles, soon tofu, and BBQ beef in that cool iron turtle. If I were to turn into a super hero, I think that would be it! IRON TURTLE!!!! Hands down, the dumplings are my favorite dish here. Now let's talk about the "BROTH". What's up with the broth and why is it self serve? The other wonderful item is the water. I am not sure what the filtering system is but it's delicious water.
"Tujunga's not that far" was my first thought as I got off the freeway. Kaoru was saying that she and Brad lived out in the boonies but really it's just north of Glendale. Once you're off the freeway, it definitely doesn't feel like LA anymore but it's not that bad. Their house is awesome. You could easily come to the conclusion that it's a house of musicians and artists. Brad showed me his array of percussion. It was spectacular with sets, cajon, conga's, fields of cymbals, marimba, xylophone, piano, crotales, etc. Really awesome. Kaoru had already picked up the take out Thai from Pan Tang located at 6841 Foothill Blvd, Tujunga CA 91042. Delicious Satay, Pad Thai and a great spicy fish dish with daikon. Brad and I shared a beer. Wimpy but practical as we both had full evenings in front of us. I specifically went to pick up a new Boss RC30 Kaoru had got for me. It's our dream machine! Kaoru got one too. It rocks!!!!
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Ackee Bamboo, 4305 Degnan Blvd. LA CA 90008 has outlasted a lot of other eateries in Leimert Park and that alone deserves much respect. I went with two co-workers today and we ordered the Jerk Chicken, Curry Chicken and the Talapia (fish). Each dish came with spicy red bean rice, plantain, and stewed cabbage. So goooood. They also make a killer ginger beer. I love their ginger beer. They also have a drink, sorrel, which is sort of like hibiscus tea/punch. Ackee is a staple. The food here is hearty, soulful and filled with wisdom. There was even a customer who was selling dried sage. $5 for a wrapped bunch, is that the going rate? I remember taking a hike with the late Vera & Manuel Rocha, Shoshone Nations. (name dropping and caught!). i remember they talked about the various types of sages and pointed some out along our walk in the Pasadena Hills. We didn't pick it, we let it be on the side of the hill. I wish they were still around. I really think they would have liked Ackee. They were into chicken. Why does Ackee awaken memory like this?
Axe is located at 1009 Abbot Kinney, Venice CA 90291, 310-664-9787. I went with my dear friend, painter Dana Liston. She said this is her favorite spot on the Abbot. It's very Westside. Even the grilled cheese was fatless. Ha ha. The service is wonderful and the folks there are really sweet. We shared the multi grained pancake, which was highly reccomended by the hostess. This is one of the most delicious breakfast dishes I have had in a while. The grains. THE GRAINS!!!!! They were quite "multi", actually. The bacon, smokey as hell!!! That was some dangerous slices of pig. The grilled cheese....hmmmm, lacked soul, like a beginner trying to play some Zepplin. Most of all, at the risk of sounding OG, Abbot Kinney has really changed.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Well, I am guilty again for passing a place in my hood for decades and not stopping by. Guilt encouraged me. You see, I'm working on a project now that will eventually demo the block this long time eatery has been on. It's a unique and odd emotion to stand in line during lunch with this looming reality. I held my cards close to my chest. The people here were so wonderful, proud and welcoming. I'm told they already know about the inevitable change but this was about lunch and so I ordered the special. The daily special that day was the spicy sausage which turns out to be an elaborate hot dog. The sausage is old school, the grilled onions was an array of onions and peppers. The bun was a good solid hot dog bun. I also ordered the vege chili fries. The chef asked me if I was a vegetarian and I shook my head, "nope". So that's when he recommended the daily special. The man in front of me, whose name turned out to be Clemons (I remembered because it reminded me that Clarence Clemons died about a month ago), touched his chest when I ordered the daily special. Clemons said that he can't eat that, it gives him heartburn, actually he said, " can't eat that, it just stays with me in the wrong way." The vege chili fries were awesome as well, with large steak fries and a heavy bean type chili, a fabuloso garnish! I brought this back to the office and ate it in my cubicle. About an hour later, I confronted the sleeping angel. We battled and I eventually extinguished her with an ice green tea unsweetened from Starbucks. This was my first Earlez Grille experience. It's located at 3670 Crenshaw Blvd LA CA, 323-299-2867. Side note, they have this very cool hand painted replica of the album cover of Curtis Mayfields "Superfly" album. It looks like it may originally been one of the paintings outside the local record shop back in the day. It's as cool as Earlez.
What makes us eat the things we know that are not good for us? Donuts. It's difficult to say no. I was in search of a little breakfast the other day. I past by this donut shop in a fairly non-descript mini mall on Sepulveda. Donut King, 3970-2 Sepulveda Blvd LA CA didn't seem very impressive at first but I was nearing that point in the morning where my sugar level was hitting empty which in turn makes my decision making poor, so i walked in. I ordered a chocolate old fashion, a toasted onion bagel with cream cheese and an orange juice. The bagel and the donut came with little donut holes, which turned out to be fresh and airy-puffy. These delicate little pastries, although free sides, where awesome. The donut was not impressive. old fashions are not time forgiving and mine tasted like it had been on the shelf for a while. The bagel on the other hand was really interesting. It was a cross between a bagel and a vietnamese pressed sandwich. It was good, toasty-crunchy and filling but not a traditional bagel experience. What won me over was the clientele. Part of eating out is people watching and there was a good energy steady stream of people, most of which were regulars. So the banter between the servers and the customers was colorful. The servers were Asians and one Latina. Good Morning America was playing on the television. There was something really theatrical about this place.