Archive for the ‘Drink’ Category

ChanChan, Beretta, Random Japaneezy Place

Monday, March 1st, 2010

So.  I look through my iPhoto and there are dozens and dozens of backlogged photographs from places I’ve eaten and ne’er blogged.  They are such sad photographs – I can just see their lil hearts swelling when I click on them (“My day has arrived!  I’m going to the show!”) and then deflating as I pass them over for juicier photos.

It’s just that some places only inspire a couple paragraphs and not an entire post, so I wait for thoughts to percolate and then the entire post just…kinda dies.  Sadded.

So I am going to lump three at a time and make them into full posts. Why three?  Because it rhymes with squee!

1. Chan Chan

Chan Chan Cubano Cafe is all the way up at the top of a random hill in Twin Peaks.  We tried to go twice and it was closed both times (“I’m sorry!  Come back again, PLEASE!” the owner shouted at us through the window, both times).  Third time’s the charm.

They don’t have a menu; the guy just cooks what he feels like.  Superb!  Some sort of wilted spinach with berries (top), a fish dish (rhymes, hee!  above), and chicken with plantains.

You bet I nommed that marigold.  The food was…OK.  Not as superb as the concept.  The more interesting part of the night was an altercation between the chef his…cousin?  Acquaintance?  The gist of it, as far as I could tell while trying to appear as if I wasn’t listening, was that the guy had eaten a lot of food at the restaurant over the past months, and was paying back the chef in labor, but he had only worked that one night and, further, actually had the balls to ASK!?  FOR?!  MONEEYYY!?  Shove!  Shove!  Shove!  Out into the street and yelling! (though I couldn’t turn to look but R2 got to see – lucky bitch)  I believe it was settled without violence, and the chef came back in, apologized, and charged us $20 for four courses.  Sweet.

4690 18th Street, SF CA 94114  415.864.4199

2. Beretta

Beretta is a pretty hip joint, complete with Mission zipcode and strange cocktails.  My hipster cred went through the roof just walking into the place.

I am a fan of their new place on Chestnut (Delarosa; post coming soon) and I must say that I was a fan of Beretta’s cocktails beyond the normal reason I like cocktails, which is that they make me feel warm and funny and lovable and loving.  My favorite was the Airmailrum, honey, lime, prosecco.  R2 said, “I’ll have one of those too” and then “lamented” that it looked exceedingly girly, which made my eyes roll because he LOOVES girly drinks, are you kidding me?

We had pate (above) which was passable but nothing like what we had had a week prior at the now shuttered Cote Sud (if I may go on a tangent, the food at Cote Sud was astonishingly good, but in the middle of our meal a cockroach ran across our table and our server smashed it with a napkin and said “That was not a cockroach!” and then only comped our desserts…so I can kind of see why they closed), prosciutto di parma, tomato, arugula & mozzarella pizza (top) – also passable.  And then the special of the day – braised oxtail!

Not juicy enough, and I got a weird sticky cartilagey chunk in my mouth that I didn’t like.  Too salty, not quite worth it and definitely not finished and not taken home (burn!).

This was a little bit disappointing given all the hype, but Delarosa is one of my favorites and redeems my Beretta experience several times over.

1199 Valencia St SF CA 94110  415.695.1199

3. Random Japaneezy Place

I used Google Street View to figure it out, akshully.  It’s called Genki Crepes, and has all sorts of fun Japanese items (for example, several obscure flavors of Pocky – orange, caramel milk, “winter”).  It’s the obvious place to stop after eating a belly-full of My-yum-mar food at Burma Superstar (post forthcoming) across the street.

Brings me back to my teen years in Tokyo – my go-to spot at the end of Takeshita Dori in Harajuku, you know?  This is the proper way to enjoy a crepe goddamnit.  San Francisco seems to think that crepe = an omelette, just with flour and not egg.  Jyerks.  A real Japaneezy crepe is thin as a playing card and filled with only my favorites – banana, nutella, whipped cream.

330 Clement Street, SF CA 94118  415.379.6414

So.  Did you like this format?  I feel exhausted like I wrote three separate posts anyway, but if you really liked it…



LA Beer Fest Twenty Dime (is coming!)

Friday, February 19th, 2010

I’m back! I promised Janet I would post this week on account of her being busy with the real world or something, but tax season is upon me as well, so I’m just swinging by to drop this little gem on you. The LA Beer Fest 2010 is back for it’s sophomoric year! If you missed out on last year’s, now is the chance to make it up to yourself.  Tix can be yours for the decent price of $40 a ticket, which will get you unlimited 4oz pours of all the beers in attendance, provided you are prepared to wait in the lines for the good ones.

This time around there are two 3 hour sessions on the same day, April 10. The first goes from 1-4pm and the second from 5-8pm. Returning to entertain the masses during the first session is Petty Cash, whom you may recall made an appearance at the 1st Annual LA Beer Fest, which MTFB covered last year. The second session boasts 40oz to Freedom, billed as “The Ultimate Sublime tribute band.” Pick your poison, people.

Personally I’m hitting up the second session. While there is the risk of some of the breweries running out of beer (and a hex upon their kegs if they do!), I would rather risk that than the baked-in delirium resulting from unlimited pours + midday sun. The sun will be your secret enemy in full sight, as the fest will again take advantage of Sony’s backlot in Culver City. Here’s hoping that this year they’ve worked out more of the kinks and it will be less like the terrible twos and more like… well, that second pint of Guiness.

LA Beer Fest 2010
Sony Studios
10202 W. Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Buy your tix here:

Saturday, April 10, 1-4pm
Saturday, April 10, 5-8pm

Raku Las Vegas

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

When two foodies get together it’s ON.  When there are THREE together, well, everyone go get your portable mini-fans because there will be overheating, heavy breathing, and sweat.  When there are three PLUS a Dita von Teese lookalike who will make the rest of you look glamorous by her mere presence, well, that’s just beyond reasonable limits of outrageousness.

Our gang of four (me, Liz, Dita, and LL who got me, once, a T-shirt from Musha so you KNOW he’s legit), recently reunited in Las Vegas for a conference after half a year apart, celebrated our cheer by going to Raku.  God, that place is an oasis in that nasty, glitzy, dusty, spermy 89119.  It isn’t on the strip, but instead tucked in corner of a shopping center in the Asianey district of Vegas.

I have never seen such a Yelp-approved resto, in any city I’ve been to.  We began our happy dinner with a flight of sake.  Liz was reticent re: the nigori sake, but soon was contentedly slugging it back (told you!) and asking me the correct pronunciation of “sake.”  Technically, it is, phonetically, “saw-kay” instead of “socky,” but I understand very well how annoying it is, when, for example, someone will be speaking perfectly unaccented Nebraskan English and then shout “TAMA-LAY!” midsentence when discussing tamales.  So I bid her leave to call it socky and also to say carry-okie too.

I’ve been procrastinating on this post because I have been trying to find adequate words to describe this tofu.  Official title: Raku’s Tofu, and you know something that bears the restaurant’s name must be good.  Oh, I wasn’t prepared, though – I wasn’t prepared!  For god’s sake, it’s just tofu!  But how could this be tofu?  This was a silken jelly of the deities.  The pattern you see is what was left behind by the half-moon basket that the tofu was made in.  It was not salty, but covered the back of your tongue and lingered intoxicatingly.  It was smooth and creamy but not in a mashed potato way but instead a slippery way, and dissolved in an achingly thrilling manner, like a bite of a room-temperature snowball.

I’m rambling and slightly incoherent.  This tofu didn’t even need condiments, but I just had to try one of their many very special accoutrements like this green salt that had seven different ingredients in it (including salt shipped from Okinawa – how’s that for not eating local?) and was made in-house.  They also had in-house soy sauce that took our server two verbal paragraphs just to describe how special it was.  Impressive.

Above was another melting eye-opener  – hamachi (yellowtail) carpaccio.  What in flippin hell was that sauce?  It was a ponzu-ish sauce but very pleasingly cloudy.  Just one lustrous bite of this sleek and oily fish turned us all instantly into enemies.  After all, six portions is not gracefully divisible by four.

Luckily, it was easy to get distracted as the food kept coming rapidly.  Raku’s full name is Abriya Raku, which is a bastardized spelling of aburiya, which means grill – meaning, specifically, grilled over charcoal.  So its specialties I think lie in the robata grill items.  Above are shishito peppers from the robata, described as “green hot chile pepper” but is always zero percent hot in my experience.  Just a dribble of the special soy sauce (watch the bonito flakes move and curl as if aliiiiive) and down the gullet it went.

Oh, make sure you discard yer stick things into the special made-for-it skewer holder.  Everything in its place and a place for everything.

Pictured above was one of the major triumphs of the night.  The unassumingly-named soba noodle salad, the dish was a “more than the sum of its parts” type ordeal, with tonburi (aka land/mountain/field caviar), thinly sliced daikon, fun streamers of nori, ginger, and one of those sauces that call to you, siren-like, to pick up the huge (not to mention communal) bowl and tip it into your mouth.

Another soaring note was the butter sauteed scallop with soy sauce, pictured top.  Each of the four of us got our own too-pretty-to-be-hidden-by-a-scallop-shell dish that was hidden by a scallop shell, and that contained a buttery briney liquid that lovingly surrounded a grilled scallop.  Some members of our party had to put their chopsticks down and say “Oh.”  I could have had a meelyon of these.  I think I even said that, just like that.

Also from the grill – enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon.  Enoki is like natto – I understand how it is Fear Factor-esque, both in looks (tentacley!) and in mouth-feel (chew forever and you still feel like you can’t swallow without choking) but to me (also like natto) it is like drugs.  Wrap it in bacon and you have (also in taste and looks) an umami-filled mini-volcano eruption.

Yelpers insisted that we order the fluffy cheesecake.  I see why.  It was very foodie-cool.  The bottom was a soggy (in a toe-curlingly delicious way) graham cracker type substance – a very thin layer; perhaps a fourth of a centimeter tall.  On the other end – the top – was a frond of fennel!  Surprising and cheerful!  The cake itself is difficult to describe.  Fluffy is a good start.  I look at this picture and I am perplexed as to how that fluffiness is even holding up those heavy raspberry fourths.  All of it was exactly zero sweet.  Maybe the raz sauce, but otherwise, this “cake” was more tart and salty than anything else.  Naturally, I hoovered that shit.

Wow.  I am re-reading this post (YES I proofread these, shoot) and it’s rather…oleaginous.  I will stop here.  But reading this, you must be relieved that you finally have somewhere to eat in Vegas that isn’t cheesy or expensive, no?  Not to mention smashingly tasty.

OK.  I’ll stop.

Abriya Raku

5030 W.Spring Mountain Rd #2,Las Vegas, NV 89146

702.367.3511

Alembic

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Some things you eat once and you dream about them ever more (“she said that”).  For some it’s caviar, for others it’s a sugary donut.  For me it’s…a pink egg.  A mini pink egg.  Times 3.  For a mere two buckaroos.  All of those things combine into the sublime at… Alembic.

“Hey R2, I’m bloggin’ Alembic.  Any thoughts on it?”

“…Can I REMIND you how Alembic ended???”

Anyway, I’ll get to that.  But first – Alembic is a cute little bar with great great food, nestled amongst the crusties with their fucking CUTE doggies (how do they do it?  where do they find them?  it’s so unfair!) on Haight street.

We were seated by the most pleasant of greeters in a cute table toward the back.  We were promptly served with one of their many cool cocktails with fun names and equally fun descriptions.  We had a Gilded Lily (described as “there are things in life that require little adornment, but we are never ones to shy away from a bit of grandeur. so we’ve decided to bring a touch of sparkle to a dark and cozy barroom. this baroque number mixes plymouth gin, yellow chartreuse, orange flower water, and sparkling demi-sec and drop in a little flake of gold leaf. shine on.“), a Vasco Da Gama (described as “we don’t take any” well actually if I cut and paste all of these then this post will be Bible-lengthed), a Poop Deck, and a Pisco Sour.

And I ordered two orders of…the EGGS.  The hallowed pickled quail eggs.

Gosh they are good.  They aren’t fatty or sweet (maybe a little bit sweet) or any of those things that people normally associate as crave-worthy.  They are tiny and tart and smooth and leave the best taste at the back of your tongue.  You can’t have just one!  Just like small, round, cold, eggy, sour potato chips.

We then proceeded to order the most decadent series of dishes ever.

But first, from the chef, some free poppycorn with butter, sugar, salt, and shichimi.  I MUST do this at home and impress all my guests!  “[tinkling throaty laugh] Yes, well, shichimi is a seasoning we use in Japan, actually, and I thought it might be lovely on some sweet and savory popcorn.  Cheers everyone.”

Decadent dish #1 was cauliflower bisque, with smoked potato, sea urchin, and tarragon. (no photo because my camera doesn’t know where to focus in white soups so it didn’t turn out.)  Lovely presentation, starting with a big white bowl with the uni in the middle and our server (a most attentive and nice gal) pouring the thick but silky soup over it.  Briny + creamy is, believe me, awesome.  Hmmm.  Maybe with the popcorn, and if I strike it rich, I’ll serve uni mashed potatoes!!!  OMG brilliant.

Decadent dish #2: pulled pork sliders. (“smoked coke barbeque, celery root-apple slaw“)

Such a wee little thing, and yet, as if from a black hole in its middle, rivulets of juice.  And can’t you see the gorgeosity of that puffy bun?  You bet your ass it was warm, too.

Then, decadent dish #3: bone marrow (pictured top).  With caper gremolata and garlic confit.  It came out crackling and oozy and redolent of garlic.  We used our spoons to scrape and scrape and scrape the shit outta those bones.  We could have done with double the number of toast points, but didn’t want to get called out on our inability to handle the decadence of the meal we were constructing, so we didn’t.

“I’m still hungry.  Are you still hungry?”

I didn’t even wait for the answer and went ahead and ordered one of their two specials of the day – decadent dish #4: crispy fried sweetbreads, on a bed of butternut squash puree and topped with pickled onions and tart cherries.  I’d never seen such a gigantic cut (? are they cuts?  or are they just, like, one thymus per serving?) of sweetbreads, and I would have appreciated it just a skosh more crispy, but the sweet and savory rich PUNCH was cut through just perfectly with the sharp onion.

A verrry foodie meal.  One of the best of 2009, though blogged too late to make it into the Top 10.  Everything from the service to the food to the cocktails were exciting and delicious.

My stomach also found it exciting in the way that watching a horror movie is exciting.  As soon as the second mouthful of sweetbreads hit my tum, something was wack.  We drove home with me doubled over in pain, and as soon as I got to my apartment I collapsed into bed and started sweating.  I resolved to vom several times but couldn’t fathom traveling the seven meters from my bed to the bathroom.  I just wallowed in my agony while a concerned/amused R2 listened to my lamentations (“There are hedgehogs in my tummy and they are leaning against the wall of my stomach and rubbing their quills up and dowwwwwn.”)  In the end I didn’t yak though I was cleaned out  from the other end the following day.

It could have been anything.  It could have been the egg white on my Pisco Sour.  It could have been the bloody marrow.  Or the sea urchin?  Or an egg pickled too long in some sort of bacteria.  Or an undercooked sweetbread.  Who knows.  Probably the egg white since R2 escaped unscathed.

UNTIL SIX AM THE NEXT DAY!  At which point he was shooting liquid out of both ends (if you know what I mean.  I know I’m being vague.).

I sent an email to them, and this is what they wrote back:

Hi Janet,

Thanks for your kind words and praise despite what must have been a very uncomfortable situation for you.  I am very sorry to hear of your experience and I have begun to investigate all possible causes, in the event that it was caused by something at Alembic.  We are very proud of our ingredient sourcing and food preparation and I’d hate to think that something slipped through the cracks on our end.  Serving food to the public is a serious responsibility and we definitely don’t take it lightly.  I can say that thus far, I have not discovered any other complaints or similar/related issues, which is a relief, but not much consolation for you.  I will continue to look into the issue, though, and will let you know if I discover anything.

I really do hope you will give us another chance!  Please don’t hesitate to write back if there is anything I can do at this point to make you feel better.

Cheers,

Dave McLean

Owner, Alembic

So.  If there’s any restaurant that is THAT GOOD that someone would return despite food poisoning, it’s Alembic.  I cannot stay away from those eggs.

Alembic  |  1725 Haight St, SF CA  |  415.666.0822

Bottega Louie

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Bottega Louie is, in the words of Simon, “oh this is that uber bourgie looking place on the corner that looks out of my price range lol.”  Yes, yes indeed.  I was there the day after Tday with Cara, who is the proud new owner of THE most gorgeous downtown loft space.  She’s living the fucking lifestyle, dude.  Urban living, clopping through the streets of downtown LA in designer boots, strolling over to Bottega Louie for “a bite to eat” which includes, invariably, at least two martinis.  Ahhhh, jealous.

The interior of BL has the same aesthetic as these photographs.  White white white, airy high ceilings, light gold accents dripping all about, so much twinkling conversation everywhere in a huge space that the whole place is so shimmery.

We sat at the bar and spied around, waiting for the cute manager to show up (Cara is quite the regular).  After living in SF for four months, where the boys are…cute…but not quite so…dazzling? it was fun to look at all the actor wannabes.  I so took it for granted before!  So…groomed.  I also forgot that LA people are meaner and dumber than in SF.  For example, our bartender part II (we were there so long that our original bartender went off her shift) could barely be bothered to get our drink order (mean! also, does he not get that this helps HIM make more money?). For another example, when the sleek blonde babe next to me at the bar asked the other bartender how to spell Bottega Louie, he had to consult a menu, and upon discovering that the name of the resto was not actually printed on the menu, said, “Hold on – Imma go ask somebody.”  Unless he’s new (even IF he’s new!) that’s some dumbass shit.

Perhaps he was new. Perhaps BL has just undergone a hiring binge.  That would make sense, because as I looked around the gigantic restaurant, I noticed with a start that there were SO MANY employees!  I counted TWENTY NINE, and that was just the ones I could see and not counting anyone in the kitchen.  Crazy.

Anyway, the food.  You know the food is good when the worst part is the prosciutto.  Pictured top is an order of the white anchovies –  both my and Cara’s favorite of the afternoon/evening/night.  The microgreens were not an afterthought or a pretty-but-meaningless garnish – they put just the right amount of volume and roughage into the tart and chewy little anchovies.  We largely ignored the tomato that comprised the anchovy dais.

Next was corn, swiss chard, and bacon.  I was so happy to has a corm.  Sweet, sweet corm.  They were a little light on the swiss chard (do you even SEE it in the picture???) but no matter.  I’ve gotten swiss chard two weeks in a row in my CSA box so I was thrilled to have this recipe idea, and my version will be stuffed with 1 full pound of chard since that’s the amount I keep receiving.

The worst part, as I mentioned earlier, was the prosciutto.  Not to say that it wasn’t good, it just seemed, what?  Heavy?  Unnecessary?  Uncouth?  I ordered it on the strength of the sage (the full description was prosciutto, mozzarella, and sage crostini) but I didn’t love the meat (rare for me, wink wink) and Cara didn’t love the cheese (agreed).  I was hoping for more sage (have you ever fried sage leaves in olive oil and sprinkled them with salt?  Better than potato chips, everyone, utterly addictive), but as with the chard I guess BL wants you to die so they won’t feed you your dark leafy greens.

And finally, roasted beets with goat cheese! Golden beets, though, which was an interesting change.  The beet cuts were much too big, though, so I was like, “am I eating a sweet potato?”  (which actually got me excited because those also keep showing up in my CSA box, as well as butternut squash which I am roasting in the oven right now and they are nowhere near done and it’s past 11 pm fuck me).  The cheese was sharp and smooth as only goat cheese can be; the arugula stridently bitter in a good way, and the beets mellowing everything out with their sugariness.

I should mention also the cocktails we got.  I started with a vodka Sling: Gin or Vodka, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, lemon juice, simple syrup, Angostura bitters, and club soda.  Awesome.  Brought both me and Cara back to our high school days in Tokyo when we would get Singapore Slings in a can out of the vending machines and get drunk on the streets.  She had a Jack Rose: Laird’s Applejack, lemon juice, simple syrup, and grenadine, and followed that with a Dark & Stormy: Dark rum, spiced simple syrup, Elixir G ginger mix, and club soda, while I followed my sling with a devastating Vesper with Imperial vodka, Beefeater gin, and Lillet.

How did we follow up our posh and grown up LA-ey evening?  By going to see New Moon of course, she for the second time lol.  I’m firmly, firmly on Team Jacob.  You?

Bottega Louie

700 South Grand Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90017

213.802.1470

The Many Uses of Otter Pops

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Should you pick up a huge box of Otter Pops at Costco containing 200 Otter Pops as we did when we went to Maui, you might be at a loss as to what to do with them.  Particularly since our consumption was time-limited, since we couldn’t carry-on back to the mainland all the leftover pops due to the 3 oz rule…

So here’s a list of things we decided to do:

(1) Have an Otter Pop eating contest – first to 50 (ie., 200 divided by the four of us) wins!  We kept track of this on a piece of paper magneted to the fridge.

After the first day, the paper looked like this:

Simon: ||||
DJ Deer: ||
Janet: ||
Tinx: |

It was clearly time to consider other uses since we even more clearly weren’t going to hit 50 each.

(2) Use to flavor coffee. The condo was super stocked, but it didn’t have sugar and we neglected to buy milk.  So, to flavor my coffee, I decided to use an Otter Pop.  But what flavor?  It was a quandary.  I ended up using two reds (cherry?) and the end result was…interesting.  Not good.  Sweetened, but also sour-fied.

(3) Use in marinade for chicken. Acid and sugar and flavoring, kind of like those folks who cook with Coke and whatnot, no?  We squeezed out two greens (LIME!) onto our chicken, which was already sitting in a bath of soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, etc.  By this time the Otter Pops were frozen, so they just sat on top of the chicken in a sad little equals sign.  The chicken turned out dynamite, though it could have had nothing to do with the Otter Pops and everything to do with us being starving from snorkeling all day and grilling it fresh and hot on the poolside grill.

(4) Use as mixers. DUH!  Why did it take so long for us to realize this?  We created quite a number of combinations – blue and purple, green and purple, red and red, mixed in with a double shot of ice-cold vodka and a splash of pineapple juice.  Definitely a WIN, based on the many smashed and nonsensical videos that resulted…

Ooter Poops [it is essential that you pronounce them this way]
Your freezer (you prolly have some in there)

Cafe Gratitude

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Roughage NOM!  I went with Shimi the other day to Cafe Gratitude – the one in Berkeley, though I find out now that there are others in SF.  If you couldn’t tell, I’ve been celebrating my move by bingeing on foodstuffs like liver and custard and bubbly of all sorts so a big bowl of grass sounded awesome to me.

As did self-reflection?  Man, this place is SOOO Berkeley-ed out.  When we placed our order, the server (with the requisite bizarre hairstyle and septum piercing) said, “The question of the day is: What are you grateful for?”  Shimi said health; I said my job.  I actually haven’t started my job, which is the best kind of job you could have – a job that you don’t have to go to.

There is also some sort of board game, but the instructions were missing and we sent another server on a rules hunt which failed so we didn’t really play properly.  All Shimi could recall of the rules was that there were no losers, natch (“only winners?” I guessed correctly), and the cards had hippie dippie questions and directives like the ones below:

I love things that rhyme so I love #1.  [Semi-related side story – do people already say “Neato mosquito!” or did I just invent that today?  I think I invented it.  Maybe?]

I ordered the I Am Effervescent, which was the house gingerale with ginger, lemon, agave & naturally sparkling water on ice.  I took a sip and tried not to make a face.  Shimi tried it and, in her diplomatic Shimi way, said, “That…doesn’t really suit my palate.”  lol.  A squeeze of lemon helped immensely, but basically the drink lay untouched for the rest of the meal.

The food, though – the FOOD!  We both ordered the I Am Thankful coconut curry soup with avocado, tomato, cucumber, shiitake mushrooms & cilantro.  It was cool and silky and the mushrooms injected this awesome earthy punch that was mellowed out by the avocado.  I should have ordered three larges of this and been done with it.

Shimi also got the I Am Abundant, which was a sampler combo of their I Am: Happy, Giving, Exciting, Honoring, Opulent, Relishing, Insightful, and Thriving, which included sprouted almond hummus, Asian kale-sea vegetable salad, hempseed pesto crostini, spicy cashew nacho cheese w/ flax chips, olive tapenade, buckwheat crackers, spring roll, and mini house soup.  Of the things I tried, I loved the almond hummus and my spoonful of the house soup, which was yellow and white (all I can remember).

I had my eyes on a bigger prize – whatever would give me maximum poo-age.  I settled on an I Am Accepting grain bowl with steamed Bhutanese red rice tossed w/ raw kale, avocado, cucumber, nori, scallions, & herbs in sesame-ginger sauce. It went down my gullet green and fibery (pictured top) and came out pretty much the same way, complete with sesame seeds.  My server very astutely recommended that I get black beans on the side, and each spoonful of green stuff with a dollop of beans on top made for a surprisingly hearty, complex, and truly delicious mouthful.

Next time, I will top my meal with a nut milk ice cream.  Nut milk.  Haha.

Cafe Gratitude
2400 Harrison St
San Francisco, CA 94110
415.824.4652

Jin Patisserie

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

 

I’ve had my eye on Jin Patisserie for a while.  Ever since I peeked in on a random trip to see what Abbot Kinney was all about a couple years ago.

Now I go to Abbot Kinney probably once every 1.5 weeks (Christopher’s hood), even though I always feel a little bit like an imposter not nearly stylish or hipster enough to be hanging out there.  My favorite parts of that street are the big “K” in the yard of the Kangol house, and the store that has random Japaneezy stuff, and of course The Brig’s parking lot where many mobile goodies like Kogi’s and ice cream sandwiches are to be found.

 

 

Hipster/not hipster, etc. is irrelevant to Jin, which is a divinely peaceful enclave, where a front wall effectively kills all street noise and the tiny, charming garden space is anchored by the most beautiful stone fountain in the middle.  The cakes, analogously, are tiny and charming and utterly impossible to choose between.  Pictured top is the Desire – Madagascar chocolate mousse with vanilla creme brulee, feuilletine on a chocolate sponge cake.  Hidden inside were juicy, tart cooked cherries that helped ease the wounds of not getting the raspberry half (Christopher called it).

Before we even ordered the cake, however, we started with some Lapsang Souchong tea (“smoky! mmm!”) and buttercake with clotted cream.  This was, I admit, my first experience with clotted cream.  It’s exactly between whipped heavy cream and butter.  Why don’t we Americans eat this all the time, on everything?  I think it would be good on: pancakes, strawberries, Oreo’s, everything!  The buttercake had raspberries in it and the texture was moist and crumbling, but not crumbly, if that makes sense.

 

 

We also got macarons – here we settled (uncharacteristically) fairly quickly on Ume flavor and lemon.  They were out of lemon, so in its place we got Yuzu – a Japanese citrus (the “zu” in Ponzu sauce refers to the “zu” in yuzu).  Wait, backing up backing up.  What’s ume?  Ume (ooo-may) means plum in Japanese, but it also can refer specifically to salty plums – plums pickled in salt that are super intensely salty and sour, so much so that one can (and during the war, many did) eat an entire bowl of rice with a single ume.  Not the first thing that comes to mind when trying to invent macaron flavors.

The macarons yielded easily to my teeth.  Each chew brought with it a different reaction.  Yuzu – (1) “This macaron is so soft I feel like Mike Tyson if he were biting through, like, a puppy ear.” (2) “Sour!  Must use real yuzu!” (3) “OK now everything’s melding together and the tart is gone.  Boo.”  Ume – (1) “What the fuck this is SALTY!” (2) “Wait a second now it’s sour and weirdly very creamy ick.” (3) “Oh hold up this is actually glorious.”  Christopher had a similar reaction, but quicker – “WhoaI’mnotfeelingthatatallMMMMMM!”

“Each macaron takes you on a taste journey,” I said smartly to him, internally squealing at how food-bloggery this sounded.

“How are you going to blog this?” Christopher asked, reading my thoughts.

“I’ll probably veer off into a tangent about what the difference is between these macarons and coconut macaroons, like, from Wikipedia or something,” I said.

So here it is – “Macaroons are sweet foods made either with coconut and egg white or with a coarse almond paste formed into a dense cookie or confection. They are often confused (due to the very similar spelling) with the French Macaronswhich are entirely different in appearance.”

I didn’t know that.  I thought they were the same thing.  Don’t tell anyone.

The total bill was $31 with tip (“A bit pricey for just an afternoon tea, no?” said C) but I thought it was well worth it for the quality of the food and the ambiance of the garden where you’d expect nymphs to be hanging out.  Plus I added clotted cream and macaron/macaroons to my foodcabulary (and “foodcabularly” I guess), so I was blissed out.

See for yourself at their stylish website.

Jin Patisserie
1202 Abbot Kinney
Venice, CA 90291
310.399.8801

Sa Rit Gol

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009


 

Bahn chan makes for the prettiest pictures.  I always jump at the chance to eat Korean because I know I will get a blog-worthy photo.  Totally lying.  I always jump at the chance to eat Korean because it’s fucking delicious.

The resident LA foodie queen who is no longer an actual resident (CRY!), Sharisa, clued me in to a couple good places in K-town.  OH!  It’s Sharisa’s hatch day today by the way people.  Hope you had a yummy one!

Anyway, she said Sa Rit Gol was good.  As a LAite, I’m more than used to amazing restaurants being in unassuming strip malls, but this joint was tucked in the corner of the most un-un-unassuming scraggly strip mall ever. 

 

 

Me:  How do i blog the coolness of Hite beer without compromising your identity??!?! what a quandry
Christopher: i’m not all that attached to my anonymity so fire away if it’s key to your story.  wait. what are you writing about? that bi bim bap place?
Me: yep any deets you want to add? what show was taht? oh vampire weekend
Christopher: i think the waitress disliked me. nothing else unless vampire weekend is considered part of the meal.
Me: mmmm blood
Christopher: quitting time. i’m outta here like vladimir.

“I’m outta here like Vladimir!?!??”  This is why we get along.

Anyway, in an unprecedented violation of blog-onymity, Christopher’s last name is Hite!  As in Hite Beer, the Budweiser of Korea!  Christopher is of Irish descent but sometimes there are weird overlaps in completely non-related languages, like how Naomi is a name in every single language.  Anyway anyway, drinking Hite beer out of Hite beer glasses brought us both much merriment.

I hope that one sentence was worth the loss of anonymity, Christopher.  Cheers!

 

So, the food.  The bahn chan was different from the usual glass-noodles/potato salad variety.  The weirdly spicy/stinky tofu thing in the foreground in the top photo, for example, and a cheesy/sticky fishcake.  I loved it all.

Don’t let me forget to tell you that the waitress hated Christopher.  I don’t think it was personal, or even a whitey-hating thing – Yelpers comment often on the rude service.  Maybe it’s a non-Korean hating thing?  Oh but here’s a thread that says that even a native Korean gal got mean-o service.  

There was no time for BBQ due to the aforementioned Vampire Weekend show, but who wants non-all-you-can-eat KBBQ anyway?  It actually freed me to order what I really really love, which is bi bim bap.  Dol sot bi bim bap, specifically, in the hot stone pot.  I just love the little-kiddyness of stirring the shit out of your food with a spoon, you know?  Here, I loved the sesame seeds flung on top, which went “PCH!  PCH!” as they hit the sides of the pot and got toasted.  The veggie insides were…rather…fibrous?  Which made me feel like a bit like a ruminant-type animal, but in a good cow-kitty kind of way.

3189 W Olympic Blvd (at Serrano)
Los Angeles 90006
213.387.0909