Random Notes from LA
February 9, 2015
This is the MOST delicious congee from the Hollywood restaurant, Porridge and Puff. (In the daytime it's known as Field Trip, and is equally worthy.) The restaurant focuses on various kinds of congee – all wonderful. It's right in the Hollywood Farmers' Market, so it makes a great Sunday morning breakfast stop.
Sea urchins are everywhere now. They even sell them, in the shell, at the Whole Foods on Fairfax. (They'll clean them for you if you ask, but I like doing that myself.) This one, however, is from Connie and Ted's, my favorite seafood shack. Everything they do is great, but I'm especially fond of the extremely fine fried clams below – and excellent cole slaw.
Here is Evan Kleiman, making knishes. The dough is really amazing – I think it must be at least half chicken fat. Lovely to work with.
And here are her knishes. (Do you want the recipe? I didn't ask her for it, but I could…)
Evan, incidentally, caters entire meals out of her house. Not surprising, given that she was the chef/proprietor of the much-loved Angeli for thirty years. But there's this: she doesn't have an oven! I'm trying to persuade her to write a book about how she manages this feat. She has a lot to teach the rest of us.
This is Shawn Askinosie, who not only makes the most delicious chocolate I've ever eaten, but also is among the more inspiring people I've ever met.
And this is the tasting of his chocolate.
After the chocolate tasting at Farmshop, I bought this Kalona cottage cheese. I am now a hopeless addict; it's rich and tangy, the kind of cottage cheese that makes you understand why people first fell for this usually dull stuff.
I've written here about the amazing meal I had at Chi Spacca, but here's just another little taste of what I ate there: Anchovy. Butter. Toast.
Lunch at Pok Pok, in Chinatown. It's just a little hole in the wall in a grubby mall, and you take your food to picnic tables. But the food's cheap, big and delicious – and there are often celebrity sightings.
And then a spectacular meal at Spago, a place that never lets me down. The service is superb. The space is calm and lovely, and if you sit outside, you find yourself on the perfect patio, with huge trees and a roaring fire. The food from chef de cuisine Tetsu Yahagi is constantly exciting, always new. We had a long dinner, whose highlights included this superb version of abalone chawan mushi…
made with a fascinating dashi that used not bonito flakes, but "petrified" chicken breast (it's dehydrated, smoked, and then shaved into flakes)
This luxe version of a Thai greeen curry; fish cooked en papillotte with coconut, lemon grass, lime, basil, and served with jasmine rice.
and the MOST luxurious truffled agnolotti, little pillows filled with pureed celery root and swathed in cream sauce. The meal went on for hours, one fabulous dish after another. I loved everything we ate, but what I loved best is that the food ignored all international boundaries, taking us on a world-wide trip. It was a wonderful evening.
Downtown LA, Marugame Monzo, where they hand-make the udon. It's quite a show.
and the udon is clean and silky, a joy to eat. (This is a cold version, with spicy cod roe.)
One of my favorite LA places is the bar at Jar, a dark, sexy space that is congenial and consistently delicious. The other night I had this lovely squid pasta with truffle cream sauce
followed by the best lamb chop I'ver ever eaten (it was from Elysian Farms).
And here's what I'm drinking at the moment. I've fallen in love with this coffee.
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