Wednesday, January 28, 2009


3300 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(323) 730-9889

While I realize that my busy-ness at work and attempts to tighten my belt financially have rendered my blog somewhat anemic and irrelevant, I did have a remarkable but brief food experience yesterday. I tried Pinkberry for the first time. Working in my old stomping grounds in K-Town, lunching at the infamous Fat Fish on the corner of 6th and "is this fresh?", I wandered into the next door Pinkberry after a close to inedible lunch.

I found two remarkable things at Pinkberry. First was a controversial frozen yogurt concoction flavored of pomegranate that delighted my taste buds and gave me brain freeze. The second were these rubber kitchen/household items by Italian company Alessi. The squirrel cat dish drew me in...

And these alien-esque hand soap/lotion dispensers fascinated me further. I am height challenged. It is no secret. On the top shelf near the ceiling (um, we're in K-Town, not in the NBA locker room at Staples Center, WTF?) were huge dog dishes with gigantic rubber bones attached. WANTS!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Shameless Belated Plug

Because I have been working and doing nothing much more, this blog is grinding to a post-holiday slump. I was browsing Youtube faves and came across this video. I love this song, and I love the indie cleverness of the video production. Have a listen and a look-see, if you fancy.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fleet Foxes on SNL

I have been a little obsessed with Fleet Foxes' Winter Hymnal since, ironically, last summer. This last Saturday they were a beacon of talent in an otherwise tepid SNL broadcast.

They played Blue Ridge Mountains:

And Mykonos:

At what point did hipsters start dressing as students from Humboldt County? We ran into some similarly dressed hipsters at The Well Saturday evening, and I thought they were taking the piss. They were not from LA. I realize now, years after my own hipster phase, that LA is not really that hip. A great place to have a career, an outdoor lifestyle, get discovered at a soda counter, but really, not that hip. That's OK. It's January 19th and I am going to play tennis in the 80 degree sunshine. To Hades with hipness. I left it behind with my Doc Martens and vintage dresses years ago.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wolfgang Puck Cafe at the MGM

Wolfgang Puck's
MGM Grand
3799 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109

(702) 891-3000

It may carry the name of America's collective favorite chef, and the food may look stunningly delicious. However. The food was not worthy.

We strolled in here after a long drive and a short workout at the Signature for a snack and some grog.

We all shared several dishes. This one was blue cheese & truffle housemade potato chips. Way too much going on in here. Tasted pretty good, but I think it was a conceptual mess.

Below is a tuna tartare. This tasted fine, but nothing special. I felt like the greens were a little wilty and the tuna itself didn't have enough flavor.

Steak on a stick. What's not to like? Smothered in BBQ sauce this is something one would be served at a neighborhood pot luck block party. I liked the cole slaw on the bottom.

These chicken wings were a fail. crusted in some super thick batter and deep fried, honestly there was almost no meat on these babies. What a waste.

It all made for some pretty photos.

It was only a memorable meal because of the company, and out collective efforts to turn Carrie's frown upside down with a shot of tequila. Carrie on tequila is a sight to behold. One of my favorite things on the planet, but only when necessary!

NYE 2009 at The Bazaar

The Bazaar
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048

We were so happy with our initial experience at Jose Andres' The Bazaar that we decided to take little C there for her birthday, coincidentally, on NYE. When I made reservations I was told there was nothing special going on that night, and was very excited to have the regular menu.

Unfortunately, no one called me on December 30th to confirm, which gave me pause.

I rang them on the 31st, and sure enough, they had given me a reservation for the 1st. P'shaw. Who eats out on the 1st? This distressed me greatly, as we now had no reservation and they were planning for pomp and circumstance a'plenty on NYE.

Fortunately, they told us we could still have our table with the regular menu as long as we vacated by 9:45. Well, this was no problem, as we had a party to go to elsewhere. The Bazaar, bring it on!

The infamous Brine Air Dirty Martini, garnished with the spherical olive. This time, I had the full dirty martini treatment, with the brine flash frozen and laid atop my martini like a dirty little cloud of acid rain.

The spherical olive. If you are interested in this fascinating bit of culinary history, please read this entry. I go into the spherical olive in great detail, complete with a video on the production.

It's really an explosion of olive essence in your mouth, a little.

On the menu, they have a category called something like "cart dishes" or some such thing. You order, and the server goes over to a little cart and throws this together for you.

We found the description of these little cones to be irresistible. Mini cones filled with a very light creamy cheese something, then topped liberally with caviar. A perfect little hors d'oeuvres.

Above and below is something C read about as one of Jose's passions. Our beautiful server informed us that it is the flavor more than the work that goes into these that excites Andres. Each one is a cube of the sweetest watermelon, topped with the juiciest interior of a small tomato. A bamboo pick stabs the whole thing together with a tiny nasturtium blossom, then drizzled with a little olive oil.

These look nowhere near as beautiful as they taste. I think that is saying something.

We were starving when we got there, and knew it would be a long night. So we ordered again the amazing bread. This is so simple. Just a sourdough-esque type of bread, toasted with a tomato garlic puree on top, then the entire plate liberally doused with olive oil. I could eat an entire plate of this for dinner several nights a week.

The Brussels sprouts were different this time, just as nice but a little less hearty. The preparation was more or less the same, slightly warm and shredded with warm olive oil, yuzu and dried apricots. However this time, there were less sprouts and we were treated to a lemon foam accessorizing the sprouts.

The lemon foam looks as light as it tastes. The texture was ever so curious, however. It was somehow firm, but as soon as it hit the tongue it dissipated. Just a trace of citrus-y goodness.

I had to take a stab at the artichoke salad with pomegranates and orange blossom dressing. I cannot ever resist an artichoke. Ever.

Yanno, the above dish was a seared fish, but I cannot remember what kind nor the preparation, and the only seared fish on the online menu is a trout and this does not look trout-like. I am in the dark. Looks good.

Our server raved about this and actually treated us to an order. This is Japanese baby peaches (very rare, short season) with persimmon towers served atop yogurt and olive oil. It also looks like a few saffron threads laying across the persimmon cubes.

The peaches are so young, the pits have just started to form with a slightly thickened skin in the middle of the fruit.

I wanted to try the "Organized Caesar" again, however I went for the "Organized Arugula" salad instead. Served with raspberries atop grilled corn with bleu cheese crumbles. This was rolled like maki, light and fun to eat.

And fun to photograph.

This was my favorite dish of the evening. These are seared piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese. I am definitely going to try these at home for an appetizer sometime when I have guests. I might search for a recipe, or I might go into Bazaar sometime between now and then and have another go at them.

Again, we ordered the lobster dish with smoked paprika, and again, by the time it came I was too full to eat. D gobbled it down. It's a very simple and hearty dish.

To round out all the light veggies, we ordered this simple cous cous with pomegranates, pine nuts and raisins. Perfect.

I love The Bazaar.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas in the Keys

I just really want to get my Christmas Day post up here! After lunching in Little Havana, we hopped in the car and sped south down Highway 1 toward the keys. They are haunting and beautiful, and also more than a hair redneck. We had a lovely day, stopping mid-afternoon for a libation at the Ocean View Inn & Pub.

Apparently, the Ocean View has the oldest and most established liquor license in the keys. What does most established mean?

This place is adorable, tip to toe.

The bartender on duty was a peach. Lots of TVs and regular friendly customers.

I like the old wooden bar seats attached to the floor.

You have a view of the Gulf of Mexico off the back patio, and there is a lovely tropical feeling bar out there as well, with just as many customers.

I can imagine a long summer day, lounging in an Adirondack chair drinking mai tais and watching the sun move across the sky.

They have several areas for the kids to burn off steam..

And even a lovely little pool. This is a mini-resort. I can definitely see myself staying here sometime down the road when we come back and do this trip for more than the novelty.

They do huge BBQs in the summertime back here, and they even have a smoker.

As we got on the road, the sun was really starting to sink. We headed south toward the 7-Mile Bridge enjoying the last of the scenery.

After the sun really goes down, you are no longer in the keys. You are just on another dark two-lane highway, Anywhere, U.S.A.

Christmas Lunch at Casa Panza in Little Havana

Casa Panza
1620 SW 8th St
Miami, FL 33135
(305) 643-5343

Christmas Day found us at odd ends. We were hoteled out, puffy from drinking and a little weary of South Beach. D steeled himself, rented a car and lit a fire under my ass to get me out of bed before noon. We jumped in the car and headed out in search of lunch. We had been toying with the idea of Little Havana the entire trip, so we thought we would have a drive-by just for a look-see.

Low and behold, Casa Panza's doors were wide open.


Casa Panza is a Spanish restaurant/music venue with live music and dancing nearly every night of the week. We would have had a great time here had we chosen to venture from South beach after dark. But alas, vacation makes one lazy.

The interior is quite lovely, despite the Christmas accents. Working retail has taught me to hate Christmas decor. It tends to cheapen everything in my eyes. Nevertheless, this restaurant was inviting and fun.

We sat at the bar and chatted with a Cuban guitarist and his wife who was running the joint for the day. D ordered a Spanish beer.

I sipped a sangria, drunk with chunks of fruit and spirit strengthened red wine.

To start, D ordered the white bean soup with ham. This might be the best tasting thing I ate the entire trip.

The chunks of ham were immense and the soup was clearly homemade.

For Christmas brunch, I ate shrimp in some lovely pepper sauce. I cannot even remember what the heez this was but it was nice.

D's entree was more memorable. It was a pan rice dish with lots of saffron, peas, carrots and chicken. All cooked in one pan. Granted, some of the veggies seemed frozen or canned instead of fresh. And the meal was not fancy. But the flavors were good, and I am still thinking about that soup.

I cannot wait to return to Casa Panza. After dark, with the music playing, with a cigar in my hand made by the cigar factory across the street in Little Havana.