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Los Angeles » digest LA

meatball & burrata sandwich

meatball & burrata sandwich

porchetta sandwich

porchetta sandwich

Cart for a Cause is a food truck slash non-profit program benefitting St Vincent Meals on Wheels of Los Angeles. Once a month, the truck comes to Helms Bakery near my work and I can spend $10 to get “get a meal prepared by a top celebrity chef with 100% of proceeds going back to help feed homebound senior citizens.”

This month I got to eat a meatball and burrata sandwich made by Chef Tony DiSalvo and Chris Crary from Viceroy Santa Monica. My buddy had a porchetta sandwich. We meant to do halfsies, but both of our sandwiches were too good to switch up. We could barely stop eating just to take the picture. Can’t wait for next month!

Lindy Grundy

Lindy Grundy

I have been excitedly waiting for Lindy & Grundy to open for months. Lindy & Grundy is a new sustainable butcher shop opened in my neighborhood by two butchering ladies. I went in tonight and asked for something easy to make after a hard week.  I got a single pork chop figuring the shop is so close I can come by every day for meat if I want to.

pork chop, chinese broccoli, garden salad

pork chop, chinese broccoli, garden salad

Of course, I didn’t expect to disrespect Lindy & Grundy’s beautiful pork the way I did. I decided to try a breaded chop since I had awesome panko bread crumbs. I put the chop in the pan and ran outside to cut some fresh salad greens (zomg, can you believe that lettuce came from my garden?!) and came back to some burning breadcrumbs. I don’t think I had enough oil in the pan. It ended up okay, but a bit overcooked. If I have learned anything from Top Chef it is that you have to respect your protein. I also steamed some chinese broccoli and served it with a little garlic oil and lemon.

spice rub station

spice rub station

I definitely know where to find more pork chops when I need them. Now, how to cook them?

This weekend I got the opportunity to pitch a startup idea at Startup Weekend at the Coloft in Santa Monica, CA. I had an awesome team that totally bought into and improved my idea for Recipe Byte, a github for recipes. Recipe Byte combines my two passions – cooking and technology. Here is a screenshot from the prototype. Rest assured, Alex would never actually recommend replacing brown sugar with Splenda!

Recipe Byte screenshot

Recipe Byte screenshot

truffle burger, fries, onion ring

truffle burger, fries, onion ring

Umami Burger is one of my two favorite restaurants in Los Angeles so far.

Umami is “a fifth basic taste (along with salty, sweet, sour and bitter) that is commonly associated with Asian foods. It can be helpful in pairing wines with foods. Its legitimacy is still under debate in some scientific circles.”

I don’t know about the definition, but everything at Umami Burger tastes like mushrooms. What can I say? I love mushrooms. We went the other day for work and I took a few pictures.

umami pickle plate

umami pickle plate

the umami burger

the umami burger

the manly burger (+ french man)

the manly burger (+ french man)

tuna melt from The Point

tuna melt from The Point

The other day, I walked from my office to this little spot called The Point. The Point is a tiny breakfast and lunch counter in an office building. It was created by Mark Peel who is a famous chef in LA. He also owns Campanile and Tar Pit, two well known LA restaurants. I was standing waiting for my tuna melt sandwich when I noticed a man turn a table over and start fixing a wobbily leg. He then turned the table right side up and came over to the counter and started talking to me. Like any dedicated Top Chef Master viewer would, I immediately recognized him as Mark Peel from season 1.

I was pretty excited to be meeting my second Top Chef Master. Just the week before I had eaten dinner at Susan Feniger’s Street and told her I loved her short ribs. I took my little tuna melt to an outside table and thought how funny it is to live in Los Angeles and meet culinary celebrities just like that. But then it hit me… when I am sitting at home watching Top Chef, I really want to be tasting the food on the show. But I am eating these chefs’ food all the time. I have had Marcel’s animal fries, Rick Bayless’s camarones, Susan Feniger’s kalbi and Mark Peel’s tuna. Sometimes it is really good and sometimes it is just okay, just like all the non-celebrity chefs’ restaurants. I still haven’t tried Elan’s bacon-wrapped matzoh ball, but that just sounds silly. On Labor Day, my friend’s chef boyfriend will make us all skewers on the grill again and those I guarantee, will taste amazing.

sky above night club in Hollywood

sky above The Music Box in Hollywood

I went to a real LA party last weekend. Drink:Eat:Play organized a speakeasy party The Music Box in Hollywood. I dressed up in my closest to a twenties approximation and went with some friends. The party was really an expo for different liquor distributors, which isn’t quite as romantic as a speakeasy.

Fred 62 burger

Fred 62 burger

All that milling around and sampling liquors fired up our appetites so we went to Fred 62 for post-speakeasy dinner. We were all dressed up, but I ordered the burger anyway. The burger was a big delicious mess. Who cares about dry cleaning bills anyway?

toast at First & Hope

toast at First & Hope

Me: I went to a restaurant the other night where the theme is Supper Club and the waitstaff uniforms were designed by the costume designer from Mad Men.

My sister: LA is weird.

LA is weird is right. Never go to a restaurant that spends more energy on waitstaff uniforms than on their food. First & Hope in Downtown LA clearly does that. They also spend a lot of time on presentation.

oyster

oyster - the best of the worst

mac and cheese

mac and cheese

tater tots

tater tots - the worst of the worst

I think I should also make a rule not to go to restaurants that feature food from the 50s and 60s. The middle of the 20th century was a terrible time for American cuisine. Just because fashion was awesome then doesn’t mean you should build a restaurant around it.

brunch spread

brunch spread

To commemorate 6 months of living in Los Angeles, I made brunch for a few friends. I might have overdone it a bit with the amount of food, but there were so many recipes that I wanted to try. I also needed an excuse to use my table for the first time. Just because I make fancy food, doesn’t mean I don’t usually eat it by myself in front of the television.

butter bibb lettuce with mango, berries and raspberry vinaigrette

butter bibb lettuce with mango, berries and raspberry vinaigrette

I made a lettuce wedge of butter bibb and paired it with some fruit. Missing from the pic is the raspberry vinaigrette I made. The dressing is made of raspberries, raspberry vinegar, egg yolk, oil, and water blended together. It wasn’t the best party food because I had to plate it for each person individually, but otherwise quite delicious.

baked french toast bread pudding with candied pecans

baked french toast bread pudding with candied pecans

I spent the day ahead of time preparing dishes so that everything would be ready when my guests arrived. This baked french toast bread pudding was perfect for that. The challah is soaked in the custard overnight and just has to bake in the morning. I made some candied pecans to top it with. Delicious!

mushroom and fontina quiche with truffle cream sauce

mushroom and fontina quiche with truffle cream sauce

I made this mushroom and fontina quiche with truffle cream sauce.  I sauteed some crimini, oyster and shitake mushroom in butter with shallots. I guess anything sauteed in butter with shallots is a pretty good start to a recipe. My friend Megan brought delicious pumpkin muffins, which you can see a peak of in the corner.

I also made cornmeal cake with berries and whipped cream, but I didn’t get a picture of that. Thanks to my friends for coming over and making me delicious things like a bloody mary with tequila! I think I better start planning the menu for my next brunch.

my first tomato

my first tomato

One nice thing about living in LA is that it is perfect for gardening. I only have a balcony, but I was able to start a container garden. I am growing basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage (2 kinds!), chives, green peppers, strawberries and tomatoes. I have never gardened before other than some experimentation for the Wildflower Meadow Glacier Robot way back in the day. I harvested my first tomato this week. It sat on my counter for 2 days because I wasn’t sure what to do with it… one tomato. Plus I was nervous. What if it tastes bad? I hate a mealy tomato.

tomato with a little balsamic and salt

tomato with a little balsamic and salt

After an especially hot marathon training run, I was feeling like I needed some salt and nutrients to replenish. I cut up my little tomato and ate it with some balsamic and a pinch of salt. Pow zoom, what a tomato. I can’t wait to harvest the other 5 tomato buddies that are on their way.

me as a tomato

me as a tomato

Speaking of tomatoes, I have a tendency to turn as red as one when I run. Today was an extremely hot 7 mile marathon training run. I tried out a running skirt and it was awesome. Who knew? No pickles and peanut butter today though. Please consider supporting my efforts by donating to AIDS Project LA in my behalf. I will definitely think of you when I cross the finish line tomato red after 26.2 miles of Honolulu heat.

Baron, Bourbon and Doughnuts

Baron, Bourbon and Doughnuts

Last night a bunch of us visited Grace Restaurant for their Bourbon and Doughnut flight. Once we all sat down, we realized that we didn’t really know what a Bourbon and Doughnut flight was. We also realized that we were pretty hungry. So we started with a meal.

pork chop

Pork Chop

Brian ordered the pork chop. He wasn’t sure between the chop and the shank, but since none of us knew definitively what a shank is, he got the chop. The chop was big enough to feed the whole table.

Scallops and English Pea Risotto

I ordered the scallops, but cobbled together a tasting menu by also trying out the pasta, beet salad, olive oil poached halibut and the pork chop. The scallops were definitely my favorite. Of course, scallops are probably what I would order as my last meal (maybe a little surf and turf).

Here is a little Michelle origin story about my love of scallops… When I was just a wee scallop in my mom’s belly, she went to Paris with my father. He was on a business trip, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take my mom to that classy city. I think it was both of their first times in Paris. They agreed that every night, one would order the seafood special of the night and the other the… uhhh… mammal special. On the first night, the seafood special was Coquilles St. Jacques. My mom loved it so much that she preceded to spend the entire trip ordering it at every restaurant. Because I gobbled up so many scallops before I was even born, I was bound to love them.

my parents in france in the 80s

My parents in France

Here is a picture that I really love of my parents in France, years later.