...the only type of marathon I will ever run.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Frickles at Johnny Rebs

I'm pretty sure there'd be less war in the world if deep frying was a healthy cooking option. If every George Foreman grill was replaced by a deep fryer , providing an endless list of county fair-style deep fried Oreos, Twinkies, Snickers, cheesecake, hot dogs, cheese, etc, there's no doubt that people would ultimately be obese and happy.

In the meantime we'll just have to get our share of deep fried goodness in the form of frickles (pictured below with a bowl of Ranch Dressing) at Johnny Rebs in Long Beach.

It's certainly not the bastion of health- with southern specialties like chicken fried steak, jars of lemonade, biscuits and gravy. I have no problem eating large portions (still working on my 20 taco post) but the size of Johnny Rebs' plates are ridiculously large. The peach cobbler could easily feed six, but after a meal of that size we just took it to go.

The service was excellent, even staying open late to feed two of Long Beach's finest who showed up 5 minutes before their 10pm closing. We're gonna try breakfast there at some point ("Biscuit Sandwiches" and ?Barbeque Omelette – BBQ beef or pulled pork butt with our smokehouse BBQ sauce?"), as it will take the entire day to work it off.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Quick Review: Sushi Nozawa

The argument goes that sushi purists will live and die by Sushi Nozawa because of its no-frills, perfect quality sushi, and anyone who argues is just an amateur with an underdeveloped, Californianated, spicy roll taste palate.
Yes, the fish is the best sushi I've had. Yes, I appreciate the omission of football-sized (or larger ), sauced-covered rolls. Yes, it's worth $65 per person for lunch (6 orders of sushi, 2 handrolls and 1 sashimi plate per person). BUT for $65 I don't want to be rushed.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Kickboxing and Spicy Soup Part 2: The Heartbreak

Kickboxing was going well. We had a strict regimen that often included weekends. We ate spicy soup almost every time we worked out (except Fridays, as it was too crowded).
Now it should be noted that the city of Los Angeles employs a rating system that is meant to keep eating establishments sanitary. The citations range from admissible to nauseating, although I've eaten at restaurants with ratings from A to C without avail. Palms has a B, and Palms would prove their B-ness in one of the most emotionally painful food experiences I've ever had.
The staff at Palms knew us after a few months, and often put in our order as we were walking in the door (pot of Spicy Fish, Seafood or Shrimp Soup, very very spicy, white rice). Sometime in June we ordered the usual. And as usual it was delicious, until...
the inevitable finally happened. We found a bug in the soup. It was like walking in on your significant other cheating on you. That's the only way to explain the feeling. The bug was long and thin, with wings. It most likely made its way in on the produce. It was not a cockroach. It sent our world into a tailspin.
( be concluded...)

It's Just the Truth

Henry's Tacos is better than Tito's Tacos.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Quick Review: Lucky Devils

Lucky Devils has a lot of unreached potential. If it was on Melrose or Santa Monica it would probably thrive. Its Hollywood Blvd location limits the amount of business lunchers and the menu/decor doesn't have enough 'red state appeal' for tourists.
I hadn't heard the hype about the Chocolate Cake Milkshake so I missed out on that, and will likely return to try it. The veggie burger was bland albeit large, fries were tasty, service was slow.
TV's played big wave surfing videos, walls were adorned with purple-labeled bottles of microbrewed beer, chairs sat much lower than accompanying booths (a pet peeve of mine), friendly staff, very clean.

The new Hollywood (LAX, Giesha House, Mood, Memphis, Bella) is better suited for 'freeway & canyon' nightlifers. Scoobys and Famima are decent daytime additions, but there's a ways to go...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Some Serious Food Blogs

Click here to access some very good food blogs. (It seems that the running theme throughout is that pig is a terrific animal to eat.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Kickboxing and Spicy Soup Part 1: The Incentive

Over a year ago ago we started kickboxing at a martial arts training center in Hollywood. My friend Randy is an instructor there and he offered to give us individual lessons so we could learn the basics before starting our three-day-a-week group classes. So what does this have to do with food? Very simply, location.
We kickboxed across the street from Palms Thai (the venerable home of Thai Elvis). I'd eaten at Palms at it's original spot (referred by my friends at Dublab many years ago). It was tasty, Americanized Thai food.
So we were kickboxing three days a week in the evening. Class ended at around 9 o'clock, at which point our instructors would venture across the street to Palms. They ordered a spicy soup that Palms simply calls Spicy Seafood Soup (but is often referred to as Tom Yum. Click link for further description. There are many variations on the Tom Yum recipe and many different English spellings of the Thai names for chicken, shrimp, etc. We like it without chili paste or coconut, but we'll get to that in future posts.
Here's the non-scientific theory: after working out, the soup replenishes lost liquid/salt and the spiciness purges the toxins that weren't already sweat out. Thus it's a healthy end to a good workout.
It's been said that exercise increases the production of endorphins in the body, and as a result causes you to feel good. The same is said for spicy food. In combination they can produce an almost addictive quality. So we were addicted to kickboxing and spicy soup (although we'll both admit that the soup was the bigger draw). As quickly as this theory made us consummate exercisers, it ultimately lead to our downfall.
( be continued...)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's Just the Truth

Mr. Pibb is the drink of champions.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


How do you blog about what will certainly be the most blogged about restaurant of the season? You try to convey nuances that might get lost amidst the glossy photos and detailed descriptions of "one of the finest meals ever" boasted by other blogs.
Weak excuse, but we've yet to master the subtle art of inconspicuously photographing food in a mood-lit restaurant. Thanks for your patience. Praise to Noah Kalina for his excellent work in the field.

1. The ambiance, atmosphere and staff make this an extremely fun restaurant. It either had to do with the sheer excitement LA people feel when the term "opening" is tossed around or the positive vibe from the staff of mostly-New Yorkers spending their winter in globally-warmed Los Scandalous. Either way I've never seen so much inter-table conversing. It should be noted that many restaurants riding this much hype cram in as many uncomfortably placed tables as possible (I'm talking to you Mr Chow). Yes this does promote neighborly conversations, but it's most often 'excuse me while I slide my ass across your dinner plate while I make my way to the restroom'. Yet even with comfortable table placement, there still was way more friendliness than traffic-adled LA usually produces (shocking and fear-inspiring as it may be). Personally, we liked the camaraderie and met two cool new people; new to us, new to LA and new to food blogging.
2. Kirsten Dunst and George Christy were there. Take that for what you will.
3. We had to wait for our table, which is to be expected on opening night. Increased attention from the floor manager, made up for it.
4. The location has been home to many failed restaurants. Lying east of AOC/Grace/Little Door/etc, it's not out of the way, but not in the thick of it either. Neighbor Red Pearl Kitchen should benefit from spillover business. Someone should take advantage of the street's new attraction and open a new bar in former nightclub AD's spot just north on Highland.
5. And now, the meal:
- Wine - 2000 Gironia, Biferno Rosse. A sangiovese blend. (I'm not a wine snob but it was terrific, mild and went well with the meal's meats).
- Breadsticks - On the table, totally useless.
- Appetizer - Affetati Misti - two types of salumi/ salami, proscuitto americano, and the piece de resistance, Lardo (The Italian equivalent of fatback. This unrendered form of lard is avaialable brine cured or seasoned with herbs and spices. Lardo is considered a delicacy in Tuscany and it used not only to flavor soups and stews but used to make a traditional crostini). Served sliced on bread, it was delicious. Stock lardo photo:

- Appetizer - Chicken Livers and Guanciale - enormous flavor, so rich, liver was not too intense, bacon balanced perfectly.
- Pizza - Squash Blossoms with Burrata - Crust is outstanding (3 day process means they don't have to ship in water from New York to make it, as rumor often goes regarding good pizza in LA), squash blossoms were fresh, burrata was flavorful without being too pungent.
- Pizza - White Anchovies and red chiles (but really it was just part of sauce), good spice, sweetness to anchovies.
- Desserts - Butterscotch Budino with Rosemary-Pine Nut Biscotti AND Gianduia Terrine. Budino was excellent, terrine was missing the strong hazelnuttiness that traditional gianduia usually boasts. This is a fine example of SALT being the very IN thing for desserts these days. It was apparent in both the cookies and the caramel topping of the budino.
6. Overall a fun meal, outstanding food and service. Price was $110 w/ a $32 bottle of wine.

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mozza Monday/Trifecta 2uesday

Last night was Monday and today is Tuesday. Last night we went to see Hour of the Shipwreck at Spaceland.

We had 2 shots and 2 beers, then each had 2 tacos at the taco trucks at Western and the 101. We christened it Trifecta 2uesday (for the alliterative qualities, even though it was Monday).
There are 2 trucks- we ate at the northern-most. The tacos al pastor were the best of the lot (above the dry carnitas and average asada). The hot sauce they use is phenomenal. The glass-bottled drink selection was plentiful- we had an apple cider-type soda.

Subsequently, we're going to Mozza tonight, which alliteratively would work better as Mozza Monday.
So tune in tomorrow (Wednesday) for the review of Mozza Monday which actually will happen on Trifecta 2uesday (but only this once).

Monday, November 13, 2006

In the Future

Besides Thailand, what does spicy thai soup have to do with kickboxing?

Can you eat 20 hard shell Taco Bell tacos in one hour?

Does anyone trust Oprah's opinion about food?

Does the Westside have an upside when it comes to ethnic food?

Sherman Way?

Which restaurant plays the best and worst music?

..and a number of other food and non-food related topics...

Friday, November 10, 2006

It's Just the Truth

Quizno's toasted sandwiches taste like airplane food.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Origination of the Food Marathon

Recently the LA Times, the Travel Channel and the Food Network have been doing stories on food trips; where the restaurant is the destination. Famous Fat Dave even takes you along in his cab for such a trip. This is my story:

In November of 1996, I returned home to Los Angeles from Madison,
Wisconsin. I was about three months into the best years of my life.

College at the University of Wisconsin was as cold and beer-ridden as
you would expect, and I loved every minute of it. Unfortunately the
menu of bratwurst and cheese left a lot to be desired.

So, I was home for the long Thanksgiving weekend, which only left one
day of freedom from family, errands and much needed sleep. I met up
with a few friends who were also home visiting family, and we were
stuck with one of the worst dilemmas a college freshman could face;
In-N-Out or Henrys Tacos . Or Yuccas. Or Tommys. Or any of the other
countless, greasy, west-coast-only establishments that serve up
different variations of meat and cheese delicacies.

The unanimous decision was to make a marathon out of it and stop at
each place. As everyone knows, the key to lasting through a marathon is
pace. To keep a safe pace we chose to eat one item from each
restaurant/stand. Thus began the Food Marathon.

Since the initial three-stop marathon, we've expanded and specified the
course. We've done a Mexican-food-only marathon, a San Fernando Valley
marathon and an LA Weekly Best-Of Issue marathon.

Stay tuned for posts about the past two marathons (the '50+Miler' and 'NYC Chinatown').

This blog will not just be about Food Marathons, however we're very excited for the ten year anniversary in a few weeks. Much more to come...