Your viewing "Los-Angeles" (19 posts).

I visited Public School in Culver City last night. This is their second location, the first being located in downtown Los Angeles. The Culver City spot officially opens on Monday but were running rehearsals this week. The meal was free, and 100% of the so-called donations for drinks went to a local education fund.

Despite being a rehearsal run, everything went smoothly from initial greeting to the end of the meal. Impressive. The service was very good, and the food was solid. We chose from a limited rehearsal menu, though I took a glance at the full menu underneath. It resembled a lot of the gastropub fare you find in every hip neighborhood in Los Angeles. I know some people are tired of gastropubs, but I don't mind that if the food is well executed. Some of the dishes could have used improvement but overall were good.

My favorite part of the meal was the Boulevardier (shown above), which I only later learned is a classic cocktail attributed to Prohibition-era bartender Harry McElhone. A combination of Carpano Antica (an Italian sweet vermouth), Campari, and I believe rye, with a twist of citrus, it was the right amount of sweet and well balanced. It is much like a negroni, except with whiskey.

Microscopes and globes line the walls, in line with the public school theme, as do mechanical meat grinders and tile. At the end of our meal, we received blank "report cards" to give letter grades to various elements of our experience.

I would go back for the atmosphere and drinks alone. In fact, I can't wait to go to Recess (happy hour)!

 

I'm a sucker for packaging and had to try Stumptown's Cold Brew Stubbies at least once. I know people love their Stumptown, but this was too bitter for my taste*. I'm happy with my homemade cold brew, which tastes smoother, doesn't cost $4.50 a pop, and doesn't use hundreds of bottles.

This little jar bottle could hold a lone flower or a trio of aroma sticks.

* Sad is the day when it's necessary to make these kinds of obvious statements, but in case the obvious wasn't clear let it be known: I am not a coffee connoisseur.

Coffee and water

Good luck! (With what?)

Sycamore Kitchen, Los Angeles

I never tire of open-air displays of food, even if they consist mostly of sweets. Sycamore has plenty of hipster appeal, plus an outdoor patio. I'm not complaining.

 

I received a surprise in the mail today--Recipe Zine #1 from Thank You For Coming.

Thank You For Coming is a soon-to-be community-run restaurant and art space that plans to, among other things, invite resident artists to "run" the restaurant and host all sorts of programs and events in the space. I forgot how I found out about their Kickstarter campaign but was glad to see they surpassed their fundraising goal.

A multipurpose space, community outreach, education, friendship, good food...all are reasons why I supported this project. Will they succeed? Time will tell. I last heard the team is still setting up the space.

Yo Mama

Photocopies, Courier font, hand-drawn illustrations

Buddhism and knives

What are these seeds?

Obviously unrelated to the zine, but I would like to note that this iced Debello coffee from Intelligentsia reminded me of artificial grape flavor. Apparently my palate is not as refined as that possessed by people at Intelligentsia.

Do I drink it because I like it or because that's the law on Abbot Kinney? Sadly, probably both.

 

Left photo from Forage; Right photo from Winner Celebration Party

When I'm not compiling photos from Spain and Portugal, I'm doing things like guest blogging for NoshOn.It. What's NoshOn.It? Just the latest venture by my catering and events extraordinaire cum business school alumnus friend Vijay. I'm always impressed by Vijay's passion for food and his drive to create not just food resources but online food communities. NoshOn.It is a great way to get recipes and cooking tips sent to your email inbox. You can subscribe by day (ex. Meatless Monday, Seasonal Saturday); it's simple, and the photos are lovely.

The prompt was to recreate a dish from my favorite restaurant in my city. I chose Forage and their quinoa salad with butternut squash and navy beans. It sounds like a mouthful of health, but take it from me-my usual feelings about quinoa and squash are lukewarm at best-the salad is delicious and substantial.

Check out my full post over at NoshOn.It!

 

Salmon Breakfast Toast at GTA

Folks, I just got a bike, and it has transformed my life! Transformed sounds exaggerated, but it is true. Going to the beach feels entirely different now that I can ogle houses and smell the eucalyptus trees in the time I would otherwise be looking for parking.

I'm only going short distances for now-my fear of riding bicycles in the city amidst vehicular traffic persists. However, I already note the fact that food tastes better after a morning of pedaling and that my experience of home is rapidly expanding.

With that, I'm off to my parents' house to celebrate my dad's 60th birthday! In Korea, this would entail a large party with a gathering of extended family, but ours will be a smaller affair.

p.s. I'm leaving for Europe in about a week and will be gone for a month! I'm doing the first half solo, which leaves me wondering: If you had to decide between spending two weeks in one place and visiting 3-4 cities in that time, which would you choose? I'm not the type of person who necessarily needs to check off all the must-see sights, but with the knowledge that this will be my last trip abroad in a long time, I suddenly feel the pressure to do a moderately busy trip-a few days here, a few days there. Another part of me feels the urge to simply park at a seaside port village or to land at an agriturismo and take it easy, but seeing that I already live by the beach, I think I would feel slightly guilty for not getting out of my comfort zone.

Either way, I'm excited and am grateful for the chance to take a trip like this. Hopefully I'll gather some interesting photos and stories to share with you!

 

Maple Bacon Donut with plenty of bacon

After a week of lying in bed sick, there was nothing I wanted to do less than cook, and nothing I wanted to do more than to consume delicious, heart-clogging food.  Have you been to Nickel Diner in downtown LA?  Pure bliss.

Brioche cinnamon toast

 

Chilaquiles special.  Tortillas slathered in tomatillo salsa, poached eggs, chicharrones ("Are these crackers?" "Better.").  Plenty for two.

I crave these.  Good thing the diner's on the other side of town.

Happy and full, we saw the Lakers nearly lose (and then, in the final minutes, Kobe comes back!) to the Hornets.

 

I've always been drawn to being behind the scenes.  Take college: Two or three people behind stage frantically trying to help a dancer change from one costume to the next in less than thirty seconds.  Or pulling last minute all-nighters to sew pieces for a fashion show.  Lots of coffee.  Sometimes Rockstar.

So when I read via Susan Park's Twitter* that she and her chef husband Farid Zadi were launching a soft open of their first restaurant, Eat. Good. Clean. Food., I was very excited to check out the space in progress and, of course, to try the food.

The words Eat. Good. Clean. Food. are hard to miss from busy Venice Boulevard.  Mike and I walked inside the unassuming building and were immediately greeted by Susan.  She welcomed us with the ease of someone who spends her days juggling responsibilities and meeting people.  Chef Zadi soon emerged and gave us a tour.  The entire operation was a delightful work in progress--the best part is that people like me can walk in and witness the transformation.

I don't intend to give you an explicit textual tour, so in a nutshell: This is a multipurpose space.  There will be a seating area for casual dining or take out, a store selling specialty food items, an area dedicated to butchery, and a patio for special or private events.  A second kitchen will play host to a new location for the couple's established cooking school, Ecole de Cuisine (needless to say, they are busy).  As of last week, the space was bare, leaving you to imagine what it will look like when finished.

Asked why the name Eat. Good. Clean. Food., Susan cited Chef Zadi's international experience and repertoire.  People assume that because he is a French Algerian, he only cooks North African cuisine, she said, without knowing that he also happens to make a very good pasta.  As for Clean and Good, these are two adjectives people frequently use to describe Chef Zadi's food. 

Indeed, every dish we tried was delicious, and the flavors came through clearly (not muddled).  We sampled a trio of tagines: chicken, spicy beef cheek, and seafood (pictured).  Chef Zadi also brought out a merguez, a soft and flavorful beef and lamb sausage that we ate with harissa.  The menu will change, we were told, as the restaurant settles in.  I can't wait to return and see this place in a few months.  Until then, if you are interested in stopping by, you can follow this link and make a reservation by email.  

* In fact, my first time meeting Susan was last weekend, since I first learned about her via Twitter.  Just goes to show that you can't ignore social media.  And this is coming from the person who still uses SMS to use Twitter (the humor of which someone had to explain for me to understand).

Yes, you read correctly.  Somehow, my Korean cousin and I managed to get ourselves signed up for a food photography workshop slash competition today.  Us and 68 other people.  I have butterflies in my chest, especially after learning rather late in the game that we are required to bring photo-worthy dishes and our own props.  

Instead of going for fancy, we are sticking with simple but hopefully delectable dishes.  A chocolate tart topped with fresh berries (see yesterday's post) and japchae, i.e. clear Korean noodle salad.  Photos will be coming shortly!  Wish us luck.

In these final days before the return of school, I have put a fair number of miles on my old but patient car.  It turns out that having a cousin from Korea stay with you for a week is a strong incentive to overcome one's fear of driving.  This has been a week of firsts: First time visiting the Hollywood sign, first time touring Los Angeles by car, first time eating at Gjelina, and today, my first time visiting the Santa Monica Farmers Market. 

Farmers markets in Los Angeles look the same as markets in San Francisco, for the most part.  But they feel different.  I can't put my finger on it yet.  It's something about seeing a table seating well-dressed, well-coiffed men and women, next to a sign packed with words strung together.  Celebrities Meeting Celebrity Chefs.  Or mohawks and mullets atop white chef coats roaming the market like characters at an amusement park.  Everything iconic, everything available for consumption.

Still.  Food is food.  There were so many things I've never seen in person, and things I had never even heard of, like sweet Persian lemons that taste like sugar water.  I am eager to return, with an empty tote bag and hopeful dreams of dinner gatherings. 

Slender asparagus look like some sort of gentle ocean foliage

Baby artichokes resemble flowers in a Northern Renaissance painting

Dragonfruit that's red, not white, inside

And oh, the berries!

Golden raspberries with a slightly tropical flavor

Nature's colors, man's composition

An afternoon snack

Corn Meal Waffle Pear BLT

Harissa Scramble

Somehow, perhaps by magic incantation, I managed to squeeze in both work and friends today.  This involved being at the library at an unseemly hour and working with the intensity of a hamster in a wheel.

Bianca-who seems to know everyone in Los Angeles-gathered ten of us for brunch at KTCHN 105.  I won't say much, other than: The food was great, the space very special, and the time well spent.  I loved the little garden outside, with chard, fennel, and various herbs.  Oh, and a menacing, spiky tree that could literally do you mortal damage if you threw yourself upon it.

I've been to BCD Tofu House so many times that I have never thought to recommend it.  Growing up, I would climb into the back seat of the car for a solid two to three hour drive to LA.  There would be groceries, and trips to the hair salon, and dinner.  BCD is still one of our reliable go-to's.  It's a chain with locations scattered across the country, but I recommend the one on Western and 9th in Los Angeles.  Why?  It's always busy, and I for some reason associate rapid turnover with fresh food.  I've been to two others, including the one on Wilshire and the one in Irvine, but this is my favorite.  Unfortunately, it takes me a while to get downtown, so maybe I will have to learn to make it myself, with my Korean cookbook and mother to guide me.

[photo by avlxyz via Creative Commons. This isn't BCD but fairly close.]

How to spot it: The Western Ave location is housed in a standalone building, along with other restaurants, on the edge of a parking lot.  It's not glamorous, but it's bright, clean, and always packed with Koreans (don't worry, non-Koreans come, too, and have no trouble ordering from the bilingual menus).  You will recognize the logo above the glass doors.  Parking's free and not an issue.  Snag a spot in front of the small building or in the big lot surrounding it.

What to order:  You come here for the soondubu jjigae*, or tofu stew ("dubu" being Korean for tofu, "jjigae" for stew).  Some call it simply "tofu pot."  The menu is straightforward: Get a tofu pot by itself-it comes in a handful of varieties like kimchi, dumpling, seafood, and original.  I like it all.  If you're extra hungry or are eating with a group, order a combo: tofu pot plus a dish like galbi (marinated beef marshort ribs) or bulgogi (marinated beef).  Oh, and be sure to tell the server how spicy you want your stew.

* What is soondubu jigae? This is a popular Korean stew consisting of fresh, silky soft tofu and various combinations of meat and vegetables.  Everything is cooked in a very hot iron pot in a broth, along with lots of spicy Korean red pepper paste.  You eat it with rice and banchan.  It's pronounced SOON-doo-boo GEE(as in "gee whiz")-geh (as in "get").

What to expect: First, your server will bring out your banchan, or side dishes, which usually includes kimchi, potato salad, pickles, and other accompaniments.  Each person also gets his or her own yellow covina.  Note that you can start snacking on the banchan when they arrive, but that normally you eat them with the rest of your meal.  In fact, Korean food isn't centered on a main entree like Western cuisine, so it is not uncommon for Koreans to eat meals consisting solely of rice and banchan (see me raising my hand).  Once you and your friends have settled into some friendly chatter, your server will return with bubbling hot pots and meat sizzling on an iron plate.  Each person gets rice scooped out of an iron bowl, which is then filled with water (for later).  If you like, you can grab an egg and crack it into your pot.  I've seen people eat tofu pot in different ways-some people spoon their rice into the tofu pot, but I prefer to add spoonfuls of tofu to my rice dish.  I am always amazed at how a tiny bowl of rice can absorb so much tofu stew.  You'll feel happy and full about 3/4 into your pot, at which point your server will return a final time to give each person a bowl.  Inside these bowls you will find toasted (euphemism for burned) rice immersed in water, from the very pot your rice came from.  It sounds peculiar, but I like the mild, calming flavor of burned rice (is it a broth? a soup?) at the end of a spicy meal.

Ambiance: Medium to loud in noise, casual

Cost: Expect to pay around $9 and up for a tofu pot, and $15 or more for a combo.

Service: While this isn't a hole in the wall, neither is it a fancy dining experience.  You go for tofu!

Tip: This location is open 24-Hours, so now you know where to go if you find yourself stranded in downtown LA on a late night.

BCD Tofu
869 S Western Ave, #2

Los Angeles, CA 90005
Neighborhood: Koreatown
Phone: 213-380-3807
Hours: 24-7

 

flaky, fragrant, almondy heaven
[santa monica farmers market]

After a few weeks of oscillating between cold rain and sun, the weather finally treated us to soaring temperatures.  Only a few clouds and sprinkles appeared, and not for long.  Amidst conversations about school and work and future plans, there was food.  Northern Thai sausages and salt crusted fish.  Fresh coconuts stuck with straws and ham & egg sandwiches drizzled with truffle oil.  A visitor from Hong Kong commented on the freshness of food all around, and I wholeheartedly agreed.
 

muesli in milk with berries
it tasted as good as it sounds
[three square bakery]

giant artichokes from Lompoc, CA
[santa monica farmers market]

The word "cafeteria" doesn't go hand in hand with "quality."  Frozen chicken fingers, lifeless peas, and milk cartons are more like it.  While I never attended a school with trays and glass protected buffets, I remember Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times, waltzing into a streetside cafeteria, gobbing an inordinate amount of food, and sauntering out without paying a cent. 

I almost wish I could pull a Chaplin-esque stunt at Lemonade, minus the part about not paying.  The food here is always fresh, and the variety is impressive.  The staff is also uber-friendly.  I think three different people asked if they could help me, and the woman at the cashier gave me a small cup of jalapeno green lemonade free of charge, after I expressed hesitation because of my apple allergy.

Not a place to take a date, but good for grabbing a quick, wholesome bite.

sampling the watermelon radish

the end of the line tempts you with vintage desserts

mi cena: arugula with blue cheese, asian pear and balsamic;
lobster noodles with lebanese cucumber; citrus poached salmon.
not pictured: jalapeno green apple lemonade

sister had the moroccan chicken braise and cucumber mint lemonade

[photos by I Heart Woo]

Happy Hump Day.  I hope your week is going strong and that you are staying afloat amidst the deadlines and demands filling your planners.

This is so far a very long week filled with a steady, unrelenting stream of work.  But I've managed to litter the path ahead with some leisurely fun.  Here's what's on my list.  What's on yours?

[photo: Zoe Keating by Jeffrey Rusch]

Radiolab Live Recording of Cellist Zoe Keating

For me, this music veers a little too close to the edge of "pretty cinema"-my imprecise label for the likes of Philip Glass.  Pretty, emotive, but not necessarily interesting.  Nonetheless, pretty and not distracting is ideal for reading cases or barreling through citations.

The music starts about halfway through, and here are two in particular:

102:50: A stripped down version of a classic

108:35: A happier song

P.S. Radiolab is having a live recording at school this month, so perhaps I'll go.

 

[photo: sarah silver]

Stephen Petronio Company

I just caught wind of this event and bought tickets with a classmate.  I am excited.  Of all art forms, dance is my favorite, and it has been almost a year since I last saw a dance performance.  The Company is also teaching a master class that I plan to attend.

Idina Menzel, Darren Criss, the Whiffs

This concert needs no description.  My enthusiasm for this event is out of character; I've been talking about this concert for weeks, probably to the inward groans of my friends.  I hope it lives up to the hype and my love for all things song and dance related!

And with that, I look to the clock, and it's 1:57 a.m.  Time for bed.

a good morning greeting, before settling in to work

brown rice, pesto chicken, broccoli with lemon juice
(and a few stray grains of rice)

Just a friendly PSA reminder to eat your vegetables.  In the time it takes for you to whine about not having time to cook, you can rinse some broccoli, hack it into pieces, toss it in a hot pan, and sprinkle some lemon juice over the whole thing.  If you marinate meat and cook your rice beforehand, you will be eating in less time than it takes to go to Jack in the Box and back.  Forget how tempting chicken strips are.  Treat yourself right.  And buy yourself some flowers.

Thanks to my friend Natalia for the completely unexpected yet much needed set of dishes (featured).  You might have seen her in a fall 2010 Subaru commercial (yes, she's really moving to Wyoming) or at a play near you in Los Angeles.  She also happens to be a choreographer and one of my former fashion models (pictured above). 

Does converting Winner into a gerund constitute a celebrity copycat?

I spied Jamie Oliver in Santa Monica last weekend.  Me and a giant crowd of onlookers.  Cats crowding around the food bowl.  He looked smaller than his name, smaller than the big stage and semi-trailer surrounding him.  The tired look on his face made me tired.  And his face was pudgy.

From my tall perch, I spy carefully
wrinkled chambray and rolled hems.

What's that?

A flash, beckoning.

Lunch is as easy as "down the street," to that other street much loved by the locals and now, by me.  Zoning has frozen the structures in time, so that shops can piggyback on the charm of a tucked-away cottage.  The effect works.  In the span of a ten-second ride, I imagine myself carefree, sandals on the pedals and flowers in the basket.  You know, for all those days when I have utterly nothing to do.

[I want a city bike.]

We set off.  Early, but not too early.

If only you had a house, because houses are where you put stuff.

Renditions old and new.

First, think of a word.

Parade, parade!

Flashes of excerpts from Emile Zola's The Ladies' Paradise.

Once intimidating, now a home fixture.

New dressed as old, scattered to hide the guise.

Like pre-ripped jeans.

For the collector, or the hoarder.

For the decorator, or the buyer risking a hospital visit.

His pick. 

Mom: "Did you see how much they cost?!"
Teen Daughter, shy among the older, hip females: "Yes, I know."
Mom: "Fifty dollars. FIFTY! For old shoes!"

[Photos by MK]

With neither house nor means, our main role, it became clear, was to stroll.  Some strolled magnificently - high fives and leather workmen's boots, breakfast sweaters and tousled hair.  Others creaked with hips stiff from age or a child's bottom.  We belonged to neither, leaving me to feel I didn't belong.

We left five hours later for a place where you need neither home nor a name: Whole Foods.  Corporate as they may be, Whole Foods is a golden land where we can do two of our favorite things simultaneously: grocery shop and eat.  [It is possible to spend less than your whole paycheck at WF and eat well, as I hope to share later.]

Peering eye level at tins of coffee with a steak and Malbec before you is not a bad way to watch the world.

The beginning

Plotting out the plan

From Left to Right:
Blue pot: Lemon Balm, Brown pot: Peppermint, Apple Mint, Big pot: Parsley, Rosemary, Creeping Thyme, Common Thyme, Oregano, Black pots: Flowering Kale, Blue patterned pot: Sweet Pea seeds (I spied the first sprouting today!)

A few more seeds: Basil, Chives, Thai Chilies. 
I plan to add the basil and chives to the big pot o'herbs outside.

The basil sprouted this week.

My morning view

When I first moved to Los Angeles, my eyes were in a temporary state of shock.  All I saw was a low, flat, sprawling, brown, iron jungle.

To be fair, it was less Los Angeles than it was my dramatic transition.  My universe in San Francisco was small.  The world was compact and intimate.  There was only so far that you could walk north, west, or east before you reached water. 

I sought the same point of reference here.  I said goodbye to the gridlock and moved as far as I could toward the water without severing myself from the bustle.

The noise here is familiar.  I hear a bird in the tree, a boy playing swordfight in his backyard, and a small aircraft flying low.  My windows and doors are open.  The plants are my way of staking my preference for the ocean over the 405 Freeway.  Claiming a niche seems to be a prerequisite to being a Los Angeles resident.

I don't know if I have much of a green thumb.  But the dancer in me loves the graceful motions of gardening.  When else can you scoop soil with your hands, or pour out the contents of a watering can? 

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