A Very Few Notes from the Very Interesting Taste Conference

February 13, 2016

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The image above is L.A.s first restaurant.

I spent yesterday at the Taste Conference organized by Design Observer.  I was so curious about what a design publication would have to say about food.

As it turns out, a great deal. They came at the topic from a lot of different directions, but there wasn’t a single talk that wasn’t fascinating.

A few highlights:

Dr. Ricardo Salvador, director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, gave the most cogent lecture I’ve ever heard about the need to redesign the entire food system to eliminate waste, save the environment, create better jobs and fix the health issues our current food system has created. 

He co-wrote (with Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan) this article on creating a National Food Policy.  Read it!

The always articulate Evan Kleiman of Good Food on KCRW, talked about the changing Los Angeles food environment from a very personal perspective.

Josh Kun, author of To Live and Dine in L.A. gave a fabulous talk on vintage Los Angeles menus – and what they can tell us about the city.  Menus, it turns out offer a wealth of information on so much more than food.  Here are just a few images; I know they’re not that good, but it’s one more reason to buy his book and really delve into the topic.

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There was a scientist talking about developing flavors, a man who has a business that mixes cannabis and chocolate, Mark Bittman on creating a new food label, the wonderful Jessica Koslow of Sqirl (who was one of the first people I knew to get on the fermentation bandwagon). The day ended with a talk by the inspirational gangsta gardener, Ron Finley.

And this is what a small group of us ate for lunch – across the street at Guisado’s.  They make their own tortillas, from real masa – and they’re wonderful.  My favorites were  pork in chile verde, and the chicharron with its sly texture.

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Vintage Wisdom

February 11, 2016

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And now for something truly vintage: this 1876 “manual of household duties.” As you can plainly see, this is no ordinary recipe book. Here’s the table of contents: FullSizeRender-2

Toilet recipes? That would be shampoo recipes, more or less.

In the first section on carving, the book addresses itself to the man of the house:

“When you attempt to carve do the best you can every time. Never allow yourself to be careless about it, even should the only spectators be your wife and children.” 

It even offers diagrams. Here’s one on carving deer:FullSizeRender-6

The practical (if esoteric) wisdom doesn’t stop there. Here’s an extremely useful manual for seasonal eating: FullSizeRender-1

And here’s a recipe. This one, for Boston brown bread looked especially appealing to me. Think of it as New England in a can.

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Go Bison!

February 10, 2016

Reading Kim Severson’s piece on bison this morning reminded me of the single finest piece of meat I’ve ever tasted.

It came from my friend Sam Hurst, an environmental reporter for the Today Show, who became so enamored of the idea of free-range bison that he moved to South Dakota in 1993. His ranch did not conform to the Turner school of bison-raisers; his animals were left to roam free, were never taken to a feed lot, and they met their end not in a slaughterhouse, but on the open range.  When it was time to harvest the bison, Sam employed a sharp shooter.  One moment the bison were munching on the wild grasses; the next they were dead.

Sam brought me a bison tenderloin a few years ago, and we simply grilled it.  I’ve never tasted meat like that, and as I ate that sweet, clean-tasting meat I had an epiphany; this meat lacked the flavor of fear. Animals taken to a slaughterhouse are filled with adrenaline, and it’s a nasty taste. This meat taste pure and mineral; it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

So here’s a vote for bison: they live in harmony with nature, they need no barns, no antibiotics, no artificial insemination, no artifice of any kind.  They live good lives, die good deaths. Naturally raised bison are bringing the species back from the brink. 

And they are absolutely delicious.

Sam, sadly, was ahead of his time.  He founded Wild Idea Buffalo Company in 2003, but his own ranch was ultimately a victim of the draught.

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Object of Desire

February 9, 2016

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How could I not buy this artful pressed fruit concoction when it smiled up at me from the shelf?  I figured that even if I didn’t like it very much, the Hawaiian Press would look so pretty on a cheese plate it would be worth the fifteen bucks.

But it is, in truth, delicious.

Made entirely of fruits and nuts, this little loaf combines pineapple, mango, kiwi, coconut, plum, apricot, peach, apple and papaya with almonds and macadamia nuts.  It’s apparently made by a mother and daughter team here in southern California.  And it is spectacular with cheese.

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Random Notes from L.A.

February 8, 2016

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This was among the more delicious treats of the past few days: a Bloody Mary Oyster at Connie and Ted’s.  (And if you go, be sure to try the fried clam bellies, which are absolutely irresistible.)

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Nagoya-style ramen at Anzutei, downtown on Spring Street.  I haven’t had this style of ramen before, and I was completely seduced by the clean freshness of the broth, and the charred deliciousness of the pork.

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This doesn’t look like any tripe you’ve ever seen – and it doesn’t taste like any tripe you’ve ever eaten.  It is spectacular: tripe that’s been cooked four different ways, until it turns into the tastiest, tenderest, most delicious piece of meat you’ve ever encountered.  At the new Moruno in the Farmer’s Market. Try it!!

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Lardo pizzetta at Pizzeria Mozza.  This lily is gilded with guanciale.  Need I say more?

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And yesterday, at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, as I struggled with bags filled with Oro Blanco grapefruits, puntarelle, tiny potatoes, kishu tangerines and loaves of bread, I ran into a friend pushing this wonderful folding cart.  It’s made by Clax, she swears by it, and I absolutely covet it.

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