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

Friday, February 29, 2008

Rock & Roll Recipe Radio

Simple food-music puns are one thing, but Home Sweet Homewrecker takes it to an intelligent step above with Rock and Roll Recipe Radio. They invite you into their kitchen via a podcast of music that inspires their cooking. From the B-52's and Beastie Boys to The Klaxons and Stereolab, these musically inclined chefs have good taste in their music and cooking.This episode features a rock and roll suicide birthday cake to a soundtrack of Radiohead, Cowboy Junkies and.... Cake.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Get Flipped

For the launch of Piper-Heidsieck’s new Rose Sauvage Champagne designed by Victor & Rolf a pre-fashion week party was held at the W Hotel's Whiskey Blue. I'm not one to pass up champagne in any incarnation, but the upside bottle is pretty cool.
I'd eaten before, which was a shame because there was tons of food that looked very good.The bottle's something out of a a Michel Gondry film where the top (which is the bottom) looks like the giant wrapped cork of a champagne bottle.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


In the lieu of the healthy food marathons that are planned, I finally made it to The Juices Fountain in Hollywood. I've always known it as Juices, but it's called Juice on the sign...
Back when I worked in Hollywood I always wanted to try the little stand on Vine, but never made my way over there. They moved to a slightly larger location on Hollywood Blvd and I passed up free lunch at Katsuya to try it.The Fruit Rainbow is a simple $3.75 blend of watermelon, pineapple, strawberry, blackberry, orange and banana. The prices rival other juice bars in town, with a sandwich added for a total of $7.50. More fun than Subway or Jamba and probably healthier.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Academy Awards

If you're invited to the Oscars you work in the film industry and thus aren't phased by seeing celebrities... supposedly. It's therefore bad form (and prohibited) to take cameraphone pictures during, before and after the show. It's not enforced but I also had to maintain a little professionalism so I didn't take pictures of all of the tray-passed appetizers before the show. At $750 per ticket for non-nominated guests, I also didn't attend the Governor's Ball.
I did however, sneak this picture of Daniel Day Lewis and Wolfgang Puck.The food was what you'd expect for a party of 3,000 and not nearly as fancy as the Governor's Ball's Spicy Tuna in Sesame Miso Cone, Mini Kobe Cheeseburgers with Remoulade Tomato Goat Cheese Tart, Miso-Glazed Black Cod on Rice Cracker and Spicy Chicken Mango Rice Paper Rolls.
We had the more pedestrian bite-sized tomatoes with truffle goat cheese, spicy tuna rolls, jidori chicken, red pepper hummus, seared yellowtail and baba ganoush. Some were served on rice crackers and some on tortilla chips. The shrimp ceviche in a shot glass was cumbersome, especially with a tortilla chip in the top- another example of the expanding need for one-handed meals.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Course One of the Cheese Food Marathon

As part of another project (you'll notice the difference in quality of photography below) I'll be going on cheese food marathons over the next few weeks. This is the first post in the series.
The day started with a Tuna Melt from CJ's Cafe.Last time we were there it looked really good and proved to be upon finally tasting it. It's one of the few times where the low quality of the ingredients (mass produced white bread, frozen french fries, industrial mayonnaise) actuality contribute to the greatness of the meal. I guess it's the unhealthiness of these ingredients- hitting directly on the salty, sweet, greasy flavor sensors in your brain.
In an effort to explore the top cheese shops in LA we started with Cube. I've been a fan for a while for their extensive list of cheeses.We sat outside and were served a starter plate of Ubriaco al Prosecco. Simple, easy- a palate cleanser of cheese. The main cheese plate from Cube featured a variety of cheese including a hard (vintage 5 year cow's milk gouda from Holland), a bloomy rind trio (cow's milk, goat's milk, créme fraice from California) and a blue (Tilston's Point cow's milk from Wisconsin).The gouda was paired with pecans, the trio was paired with hazelnut créme (créme de noisette) and the blue was paired with New York basswood honey. I liked the trio, but not with the hazelnut. My favorite was the blue.
Next was Joans on Third for another cheese plate. We kept the cheeses similar to compare and contrast. This time hard (Beemster Gouda, cow's milk), blend (Robiola due Latte, cow and sheep's milk from Piedmont) and blue (Crater Lake, raw cow's milk from Central Point, OR).
Pairings included fig paste, Marcona almonds and honey. The gouda had a much more defined flavor than Cube's. The texture of the Robiola was exquisite. As I'm a fan of blues, the Crater Lake was also one of my favorites.
Joans has a such a vast array of products in their marketplace that it's hard not to choose it as the main place to buy cheese in LA- it's also two minutes from my house. I do like the ease of Cube though, with their BYOB policy, long menu of cooked dishes, easy parking and access.
Stay tuned for much more from Silverlake to Beverly Hills and others in between.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

La Buca Design Party

The decor of a restaurant isn't always something worthy of a party, but in the case of venerable Los Angeles eatery Osteria La Buca it is. La Buca previously had one of the smallest dining rooms in LA, making reservations difficult and privacy impossible. The small space used to be a turn-off for some diners. The food always was terrific, with mama churning out simple pastas and pizzas in portions that left you stuffed, but some just thought it wasn't worth the hassle.
Many rejoiced when word spread that the space next door would be turned into a proper sized restaurant and many eagerly awaited the opening. Finally last night I was able to see the fully functioning space (a few weeks ago I ate there but one stairwell was closed and the current lobby/former dining room was not complete).A lot of people have already talked about the wine bottle chandeliers. Under them, the downstairs bar/dining area is comfortable and open. The lobby features pictures hanging across the wall where the kitchen once opened into the dining room. The upstairs is the real draw though, with an open skylight, large fireplace and voyeuristic views of the dining room below. My only complaint was smelling like smoke from the fireplace.
Food included bruschetta, mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto, ham and cheese sandwiches, fried risotto balls, pizzas (cheese, artichoke, sausage, pepperoni) and eggplant parmesan.
Mama held court, greeting guests and spreading her Italian mama-ness throughout the party.

Friday, February 15, 2008

"Look Mom- No Hands"

Because America isn't lazy and fat enough already, fast food chains are focusing on ways to eliminate the use of two hands while eating. "Last year McDonald's started selling chicken and other stuff wrapped in tortillas. This product was a response to consumer appetites for something to eat between meals and with one hand on the steering wheel."
At 300 calories each they're meant to be eaten between meals (to help diminish your appetite?). Not the most scientific method of weightloss, but they're probably healthier than Taco Bell's 4th Meal concept.

So it was funny when the only complaint about this genius idea was that you need two hands to eat it. It's a cup that contains both the meal and the soda together. Perhaps if there was a spout the chicken bits could be poured directly in your mouth....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Recipe and story behind Madame Chocolat can be found at Just One Plate.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Forgot-It's-February Food Marathon

With the unseasonably warm weather (read: inconveniently truthful global warming) we headed beachward for a day of eating at summery restaurants with outdoor seating.I'm not sure why I felt like this was summery but we started with Samosa House, the Indian market/restaurant for a quick bite. After checking out the goods we opted for more than just a samosa and added spinach, cauliflower in yogurt sauce and their house specialty jackfruit.More than any other food that "tastes like chicken," the jackfruit literally has the look and consistency of chicken. We washed it down with a thick mango lassi.Next stop was Tacomiendo. Seated outside in full summer mode, we noticed an interesting advertisement under the "Open" sign.
I know Kenny G is in with Starbucks and Pinkberry, but Tacomiendo too?Just one carnitas taco with chips, salsa and guacamole was a perfect mid-marathon meal. We always get the same thing at Taco-miendo, which is unfortunate because they have a long menu with a lot of good choices. If only it was a little closer to home.
The final stop was the most summery of all- Diddy Riese. One mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwich with chocolate cookies and one cappuccino chip on chocolate chip cookies later and we success'full'y rolled ourselves home.
After living in Wisconsin, I never take LA's amazing weather for granted. Nor it's food.

There's a list of upcoming food marathons planned including the the cupcake marathon (because someone has to support all 500 designer cupcakes shops in LA), the sandwich marathon, the under $2 marathon and the LA Marathon food marathon amongst the many others.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hour of the CHIPwreck: Audible vs Edible

Update: I should have saved this post as now that the album is out and getting radio play it's probably more appropriate.
My last food music post was a face-off between Frittellis donuts in Beverly Hills and a Fratellis concert at the Troubadour.
This time I decided to combine a post about Hot Chip's new album with Kettle's People's Choice hot chips.
Hot Chip
hot chips
The battle of audible vs edible occurred on Christmas Eve. The potato chips were the front-runner, because it's hard to beat a Kettle potato chip- even with club banging bass and vibrant electro hooks. But first let's get up to speed on the Chips:
October 2005- I downloaded "And I Was a Boy From School" by Hot Chip after much hype (probably from Good Weather for Airstrikes). The song is a terrific electronic blend of intricate harmonies, head-nodding beats and memorable melodies. Since then Hot Chip has managed to recreate this magic on numerous synthy hits. Overall, however, I've never been blown away by their albums.
Kettle chips, on the other hand, have been impressive in almost every flavor since their inception-including their new baked pretzel crips. With an affinity towards spice I was elated when I saw their "people's choice" fire and spice 5-pack. I ordered it immediately and it arrived with a party pack of stickers, placards and booklet. It wasn't easy but I saved them for over a month to be tested at a Christmas Eve dinner.
July 2007- I first heard Hot Chip's new single "Shake A Fist." It was a live version on KEXP (home of John in the Morning, the greatest show on the radio) and didn't even feature the song's highlight breakdown.
September 2007- I heard the album version of the song featuring said breakdown and was impressed enough to seek out the whole album,
Made in the Dark.December 2007- I got a hold of the pre-released full length and I listened steadily up until the Christmas Eve chip-off:
I was drawn to the Death Valley Chipotle first because they were supposed to be the spiciest of the 5-pack. I stress "supposed to be" because I've been building up my tolerance to spice and this would be a good gauge. There's definitely a kick, some heat in the afterburn, but nothing too painful. It was a very flavorful chip but ultimately too similar to Lays BBQ flavor to earn a top spot.
"Out at the Pictures" is a great track to start the album off with. An array of time signatures throughout the song identify Hot Chip as a talented, risk-taking band. The chorus lacks a little but should afford them some key commercial and trailer licenses as it's catchy and reminiscent of Fatboy Slim's popular late 90's electronica.

Hand's down my favorite track and chip. The song's rich, layered production is akin to the chip's depth of flavor. Jangly bass undertones in the song are similar to the chip's subtle ginger flavor. The bass and wasabi are the highlights the song and chip respectively- notable in the aforementioned mid-song breakdown. The citrus in the chips is best represented by the overall synths in the song- both are well-defined, well-chosen and blend well with the other elements.

My second favorite track and chips were the Jalapeño Salsa Fresca and "Ready for the Floor." The jalapeño chip is not a new creation. I remember eating Crunch Taters at the beach when I was a kid. They were the first jalapeño chips that I'd ever had and I loved them. I felt the same about Kettle's version.
"Ready for the Floor" is similar to Hot Chip's past triumphs. Their signature harmonies, smooth electronics, bouncy beat and pop sensibility create songs that are as enjoyable as... well, a bag of potato chips.

Wrestlers is Hot Chip's version of R Kelly's hit song Ignition. Although thinner in its production, lyrically and musically it could have been a chapter in the genius creation that was Trapped in the Closet.
Similarly Wicked Hot Sauce could be any boutique chip company's spicy flavor (Tim's Cascade, Cape Cod, etc.). I think the chip is more of a cop-out than the song, as Kettle could have attempted a spicy curry or kung pao flavor.


I had high hopes for the Mango Chili chips. The sweetness of the mango wasn't pronounced enough, perhaps because the flavor couldn't be replicated in the factory in New Jersey where they were chemically produced.
I had high hopes for a lot of other tracks on the album. They range from weak dance tracks to semi-soulful r&b to uninspired ballads not worthy of full reviews.
Also, all the chips have the same nutritional information, confirming the chemically produced nature of their construction.

Conclusion: I think Hot Chip should produce Britney Spears' next album. It would earn her street cred with the hipsters and capitalize on the endless media coverage, while exposing Hot Chip's pop-friendly song writing. Plus the tour would put Britney back in her dancing shoes and pull her away from those calorie-filled potato chips.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Grammy Food Marathon

In honor of the Grammy Awards I made a trip around LA on a Grammy Food Marathon. You know there's an awards show in LA when the limo population doubles and the rented Bentley convertibles triples.At first I was trying to think of music-inspired restaurants like the Rainbow Room (Guns N Roses), Roscoes (Tupac), etc but wasn't really excited about the options. So I just based the marathon around Staples Center, the site of the Grammys.They were setting up for the big event.
The Original Pantry Cafe was the first restaurant I thought to visit, because it's one of the closest places to Staples and an LA landmark. I've been to the Pantry, however, and preferred places that were new to me. I've never eaten at Grand Central Market and had heard their pupusas and tacos were good, so that was my first stop.It should be noted that parking downtown is as expensive (or more expensive) than Beverly Hills, Santa Monica or any other area in LA. 2 minutes for a nickel, 4 minutes for a dime and 10 minutes for a quarter...
I started with a pupusa at Sarita's. In trying to describe a pupusa to someone who didn't know it was, I found myself trying to mimic the process of its construction. Thanks to the wonders of the worldwide web you can just watch here.
I ordered one with queso and chicarrón (fried pork rind), and about ten minutes later was served my handmade creation. It was a little greasy actually, but the flavors were good. The sauce wasn't terribly hot. Overall, not a bad start.
Next was Ana Maria's for a taco.
Normally on a marathon tacos are good choices because they're small, but at Ana Maria's they might have been trying to inhibit forward marathon progress. The taco (note, it was just one taco and cost $2) came with two extra tortillas because it was so large. The carne asada was spiked with onions and cilantro, and the fatty meat was flavored to perfection. Standing on the side of the food stall, I happily hit the tacos with fresh lime juice and salsa and finished them quickly. Definitely tasty- not the best in LA but certainly not the worst.
The final stop would be dessert at Grandma's Deli Babushka (get it Grandma/Grammy... ). Grandma's is a Russian deli/market with a variety of fresh salads, side dishes, entrees and other Russian treats.
They sell Dadu- these pre-packaged ice cream cones, which are surprisingly good.
After that I stopped by the famous Capitol Records building. The stack-of-records architecture reminds us of the changes the music industry has gone through recently. Follow that up with this shot of American Idol, and you'll see how the business model of artist development has changed drastically- with songwriting being completely omitted from the equation and television used as the means of growth (over radio). Note also Juno, which featured songs by Kimya Dawson (of The Moldy Peaches). The song made famous by the film was released back in 2001 and took seven years to reach mainstream audiences. Credit Juno's director for having the good taste to use the rare gem-of-a-song. Suffice it to say my favorite song from that Moldy Peaches album was "Who's Got the Crack."