9.29.2009

Falling For You: A Guide to Fall in LA (Part 2)

For Fun:

  • What better time than Fall to enjoy the season’s finest apples, figs, broccoli, escarole, and tomatoes, and cook a comforting meal at home. Take a pie baking class or fresh pasta making class. There are many fun cooking classes around the city: Sur La Table at the Grove offers a wide variety of classes as does The New School of Cooking in Culver City.
  • On the first Friday of every month the Natural History Museum is open late for you to roam around and see their exciting scientific exhibits. They have live music, custom tours, and discussions.
  • Oktoberfest is officially here! From September 17 - October 25th Alpine Village is transformed into a drinker’s wonderland. Dawn your finest lederhosen and be prepared for long lines and bounties of beer.
  • With the changing of the seasons comes the changing of our favorite music venues. Say goodbye to the Hollywood Bowl until next summer, and hello to Walt Disney Concert Hall for all of your LA Phil needs. With Gustavo Dudamel conducting, this season is sure to be an experience!
  • Beer and a movie please! Silverlake Wine presents Saturday nights at Barnsdall Park. They offer an artisanal beer tasting followed by a movie screening. And if you haven’t sampled LA’s ever-growing army of roaming food trucks, this is the place to find them parked.
  • What says Fall better than pumpkins? I love everything about pumpkins - from their orange hues to the tasty confections made from them to carving them. There are a few pumpkin patches around the city, or you can drive out near Bakersfield and see a magical array of shapes, sizes, and colors. For something local try the Calabasas Pumpkin Festival, a weekend event of pumpkin patches, pie eating contests, and more.
  • Of course there are many options for a spooky ghostly Halloween. For a good scare and scream Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights is one big scary movie backlot. Hollywood Forever Cemetary celebrates Dia de Los Muertos Oct. 31st with a day of costumes, ceremonies and more in honor of the dead. For something a little less creepy try the LACMA costume ball, where you can admire creative costumes over cocktails.
  • Talk a walk and get to know your neighborhood a little better. The Fallen Fruit organization has created neighborhood maps listing areas of public fruit trees ripe for the picking. Grab a friend and bring a tote and pick some public fruit. The organization holds community jam making, as well as nocturnal fruit forages. Take your gathered fruit and make your own Autumn jam.
I hope you enjoy a festive, fun, fruitful Fall!

fall-leaves.jpg


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Falling For You: A Guide to Fall in LA

Summer is melting away into Fall, however subtle that change may be in Los Angeles. The nights are getting a little cooler and a little longer. The farmer’s markets are overflowing with apples and figs and squash. It is time to put away the bikinis and dust off your Halloween costumes!

For Eats and Drinks:

  • October 4-9 and 11-16 is Restaurant Week in Los Angeles again. DineLA is hosting specially priced three-course menus many different participating restaurants in the city. This is your opportunity to indulge in that restaurant you’ve always wanted to try, but at an affordable price point.
  • Bistro LQ has a special menu available through Fall in addition to their regular dinner menu. September 29 & 30 is pot au feu night, October 17-28 is cassoulet night, and November 16 & 17 is choucroute night.
  • On Monday nights Little Dom’s is featuring a $15 prix-fixe supper featuring three courses of seasonal specials. Dago red and white wines are available for $10 a bottle and Peroni is a mere $2. A comforting Monday night meal to get the week started off right.
  • Cozy up with the one you love or a close friend and make some s’mores over a small fire right at your table. Luna Park offers s’mores for dessert. They provide the graham crackers, the chocolate, and the marshmallows and you build yourself a tasty treat.
  • With Fall comes pumpkins and what better way to enjoy them than a pumpkin cupcake or scoop of pumpkin gelato from Joan’s on Third. Come October through November you can be sure to enjoy them!
  • Sit close to the fireplace or enjoy the cool air on the outdoor patio above - the new Rockwell VT bar is sure to provide tasty Autumn inspired libations to keep you warm and toasty. It officially opens this weekend October 3rd!
  • Fall always makes me think soup. My favorite place for soup is Le Pain Quotidien. With so many locations to choose from, you are never too far from a simple, savory, oh-so-delicious bowl of hot soup.
  • The Hatfield's have moved l0cals, but their former space now houses Eva, the new restaurant by Chef Marc Gold. Eva will surely satify your Fall food needs. Their seasonally fresh and changing menu currently includes a creamy onion soup, burrata ravioli with a corn glaze, and an assorted hot out of the oven cookie dish.
a pumpkin grown for pies sitting on my kitchen counter

9.23.2009

Viet- A Sardine Masterpiece!


R and I have been exploring the neighborhoods around us. To be honest, until recently I had never ventured across the bridge on Hyperion into Atwater Village, that part of town that divides Silverlake and Glendale. I didn’t even know it existed. I am a terrible native Angelino I know, but how can you blame me living in a city as big as Los Angeles? Anyway, Atwater's 'main drag' is Glendale Boulevard, studded with restaurants and shops, including Viet Noodle Bar.

Viet's non-descript brick storefront includes huge glass windows and doors opening the restaurant to the street. The restaurant is bright and open, filled with natural light. With no visible sign from the street you could easily walk by Viet and never know it was there. We actually found ourselves confused and lost when looking for it, driving up and down the boulevard. After a successful quick search of the address on my cell phone, we found it and by the end of the meal we were so thankful we did!

The menu is simple and straightforward. It is separated into starters, noodle bowls, and bahn mi (Vietnamese sandwiches). We decided to share a noodle bowl and a sandwich to get a full range of the menu and we started with a Vietnamese iced coffee.

The iced coffee was incredible, unlike anything I have ever tasted. The drink was cold and creamy. Condensed milk created a thick coating, while the coffee flavor remained strong. It was almost fudgy.

The beef and lemon grass noodle bowl had a gentle, mellow, comforting flavor. The clear broth, tender beef, and unmistakable flavors of lemon grass and cilantro were well balanced. The noodles were thick, soft, and chewy. Everything about this noodle bowl was brilliant.

The sardine bahn mi was by far my favorite - so much so that I went back just a few days later to have another. The baguette was perfectly airy and crispy. With each bite, the delicate crust of the baguette would crack and crumble onto the fascinating complexity of flavors that lay within. The sardines melt in your mouth and then leave it filled with an enjoyable spice. The shredded pickled carrots, daikon and cucumber enhanced each perfectly crisp clean bite. It was a wonderful attack on the palate.



9.14.2009

One Last Bite of Summer



I can’t believe summer is quickly coming to an end! I’m not ready for it to be over. Living in California, I have delicious strawberries readily available year round, but for most of the year they are not the same deep red, juicy little nuggets of nectar they are during the summertime. To capitalize on the sweetness of summer before it is too late, I spent a lovely Sunday at my favorite farmers market and of course bought not one sweet basket of red jewels, but a big three-pack of them; I just could not help myself. I had strawberries on pancakes, I had strawberries with cream, and I had strawberries in my salad. With a ton of delicious berries left I thought what better way to say au revoir to summer than with strawberry ice cream!

I recently got R an ice cream maker for his birthday. Being fanatic connoisseurs of everyone’s favorite frozen dessert I thought it only fitting that we be fully equipped to whip up our favorite treat in the comfort of our own kitchen. Once the machine was out of the box we jumped at the opportunity to make ice cream. Our first attempt was to make a coconut ice cream. We prudently followed each step of the recipe, but the end result of our efforts was an icy mess. Never ones to give up, we soon tried again and this time with strawberry. Step by step, we precisely cut and stirred and mixed each ingredient. Alas, our frozen dessert again was less that perfect. Our first strawberry ice cream was too icy and the strawberry pieces too big. Weary and defeated we took a break from our ice cream making endeavors. We researched the process of ice cream making, comparing recipe after recipe. We questioned why something seemingly so simple could go so awry.

This time we did it right. The step that we missed before was letting the mixture cool overnight in the fridge before placing it into the ice cream machine. From the ice cream maker we let our cold confection rest for a few hours in the freezer, and voila! It was ready.


The ice cream was creamy, firm, and sweet. It was perfection. One last bite of sweetness and the summer is over. Now I’m ready to celebrate the beginning of September and the coming of fall.


1 1/2 lbs. fresh ripe strawberries (washed, dried, stemmed, and quartered)
1 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Toss the strawberries with 1/4 cup sugar and let them macerate for 1 hour.
Then, put the strawberries and their juices into a food processor and puree.

In a medium bowl add the cream, milk, remaining sugar, and strawberry puree and blend.
Let the mix chill overnight in the refrigerator.
Pour the mix into an ice cream maker, add the lemon juice and process according to your machines instructions.

Makes 8-10 servings.
Enjoy!



9.04.2009

Fry Me To Puerto Rico!


I recently returned from a memorable trip with R to Puerto Rico. It was five brilliant days, three different locations, and lots of lasting memories. Puerto Rican cuisine has its roots in the traditions and practices of Spanish, Taino, and African cultures. I was anxious to enjoy all of the new gastronomic delights Puerto Rico had to offer. While I enjoyed our meals and I relished my time in Puerto Rico I wondered why everything was fried? Around every corner was fried this fried that, fried pig, fried corn, fried bread and barley a trace of anything green. Don’t get me wrong I am definitely of the school of thought that fried equals awesome, but can’t a girl see a vegetable or leafy green every now and then! Feelings of guilt overcame me with each meal, but I turned a blind eye and enjoyed each oily oozy bite. Here are a few of the things I enjoyed.

When we arrived we wasted no time and headed for Old San Juan. It was a humid, cloudy day but the clouds and trickles of rain cast an eerie and romantic shadow over the coble streets of the old city. Wet and hot we trudged through the narrows lanes in aw of the ramshackled beauty of the city. After hours of walking, exploring, and laughing we decided we were ready for our first meal. Afternoon or not we had not officially had breakfast since we were on the plane so we headed to La Bombonera. La Bombonera, established in 1902 continues to be a landmark for Puerto Rican cuisine. It is an unassuming diner with a large red awning you can’t miss and if you do the enticing aromas of sugary sweetness floating out each time the door opens for another eager patron, will certainly draw your attention. We ordered a cafĂ© con leche and their famous pan de mallorca. The pan de mallorca was brought to our table and having no prior knowledge of what it was we blindly sunk our teeth in. It was truly more delicious that we could have ever imagined, grilled and buttered sweet bread dusted with powdered sugar.

La Bombonera : 259 Calle San Francisco, Old San Juan, San Juan

We spent our second day in Puerto Rico traversing the windy green paths of El Yunque Rainforest. The myriad shades of green, the limitless shapes of trees were breathtaking. After a few hours under the impressive canopy of El Yunque we had worked up an appetite and were in need of giving our feet a rest. We drove to Playa Luquillo a local beach known for its innumerable stands of “comida criolla”- classic Puerto Rican cuisine. We enjoyed the palm trees, soft sand and clear waters and were ready for a treat. We walked by each food stand to be sure not to miss out on the best street food offered. Stand after stand the food was the same. Confused we continued down the row only to find more of the same. Each stand was the same, a rundown counter with one glass enclosed case filled with copious fried fare. Nothing was named or had a price or looked particularly appetizing. I had read about surrulitos a fried corn meal log stuffed with cheese, so I focused my search for that. “Cuando es maize,” with limited Spanish in my inventory discovered which fried shape was the surullito. We ordered two and a coke and ate the fried confection from a napkin. It was surprisingly good. It was more savory than sweet with a perfect amount of cheese to offset the spongy texture of the cornmeal. My fingers, lips, and napkin saturated in oil, but my stomach was pleased.

On our last night in Puerto Rico we enjoyed comida criolla at Ropa Vieja in the district of Condado. Here we enjoyed Mofongo, a popular Puerto Rican dish made from fried plantains seasoned with garlic, olive oil and pork fat all mashed into a mound. We ordered ours with a saucy beef served on top of the plantain mound. It was a glorious pile to taste, but from the looks of this it was an ordinary meal almost reminiscent of a giant meatball. The layers of flavors burst with each bite. Thankfully we shared one because at the end of the meal our buttons were ready to pop from satisfaction.

There may not have been salad, but there were plenty of greasy memories to make me want to come back for more! When in Puerto Rico fry fry again!



*** While traveling I relied on the Lonely Planet Guide to Puerto Rico: it provided great maps, fantastic walking tours, and attraction guides. For more questions email me theletmeeatcake@gmail.com***
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