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

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Food Marathon Site, Please Update Your Links

I've switched over to
Please update your links, bookmarks, blogrolls, etc.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Fancy Food Marathon

The good people at Foodzie bestowed upon me such a great honor that a simple blog post can't do it justice. I was allowed to join them at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco to serve as an additional stomach and palate for the team. The vast convention featured 80,000 healthy and fattening, natural and chemical, chocolates, cheeses, frozen meals, chips, candies, teas, pickles, patés, cookies, olive oils, curries and more tastes than a food marathoner could dream of. Overall it was a brilliant whirlwind of eating from 10am-5pm.
I was on sauce detail for Foodzie and my favorite was San Angel Mole. Cooking mole is a complex task, which Foodzie can attest to. With 20 ingredients it's imperative that each one is fresh. San Angel's flavors were strong, and it's the subtle difference between their red and black varieties that stood out in my mouth.
I wasn't impressed with that many hot sauces because I have an affinity for Marie Sharps (who unfortunately were not in attendance). Half Moon Bay Trading Company's lines of Iguana and Bee Sting hot sauces were good. They had distinct flavors that rose above the tomato-based options throughout the show.
The other decent salsa company was Xochitl, who were one of the few sauce makers to actually sell a tongue-searing habanero salsa- the rest were masked behind other flavors.
Also, to all the salsa companies, enough with the mango/habanero salsa people- I get it, the sweet cuts the heat. However, it's boring and everyone else is doing it. Are mangos really the only other fruit in the forest?

My overall recap:
- Blue Cheese Chocolate?I haven't posted about The Bazaar's foie gras cotton candy yet, but if food items could fall in love with each other I found the cotton candy a stunning bride. Lillie Belle Farms' Smokey Blue Truffles were easily the best tasting bites of the convention. They were unique, smooth, evenly balanced and demand that everyone try them as soon as you can. The result of extensive gag-inducing tests, this was the type of innovative thinking I wish I'd seen more of at the show. Their spicy chocolate covered caramelized almonds were terrific as well.

- Spain 's Super Kick A chorus line of Ibérico Pork legs thronged the aisles of the Spanish section of the south hall. The current home of the world's best restaurants held the title belt high at the show, boasting more foot traffic than Italy and France combined.

- Ghost Ride the Dip (that's a bay area rap reference....) Dave shows why he is the all-powerful dictator of spice with a new hot sauce made from the spiciest pepper in the world, the naga jolokia (aka ghost pepper). His Ghost Pepper Jolokia Private Reserve only requires the dip of the tip of a toothpick to assault your mouth, tongue and lips. Keep in mind I've been in spice training for the past few years and I was totally floored by the powerful punch this sauce packs.

- It looks like the cupcake trend has finally gone away. I only saw two exhibitors with cupcakes in the whole show.

- Fresh Natural Gourmet International
The show proves that it's a frightening task to enter the food marketplace. There are so many similar companies, selling such similar products that standing out is extremely difficult. It begs the question why some exhibitors chose such boring names. When there's already Gourmet Village, Sisters Gourmet, Gracious Gourmet and Original Gourmet Food, do you really need Gourmet in your name? Sweetriot, Grumpy's and the old standby Yoo-Hoo were all notable names on the positive side. Spicy Nothings stood blandly on the negative name side, while Looza just didn't translate. Then there was the Fartless Factory. Agree to disagree with whoever thought that was a good idea...

Friday, December 19, 2008


Just because it's future predictions season here's one more: Foodzie will be the main online marketplace for small artisan food producers and growers, eventually becoming a brick and mortar chain that will rival Trader Joes and Whole Foods.It may be because they sell Luca Chocolate's Bacon Box which includes Chocolate Covered Bacon, Bacon Caramels and Bourbon & Black Pepper Truffles. Or the best popcorn on earth. Or Cayenne Habanero Hot Sauce.Most likely, however, it's because they sell all of the above on one site.

Monday, December 15, 2008

2009 Food Trends

What does the future hold? Food and Wine says sandwich shops and butlers that cook. Bon Appetit says the new American tavern will be the trend to watch. I made my own food Oscar predictions and now I'll do some other food forecasting. Trends of 2008, like pescatarians, locavores and post-Atkinsians, have made diet labeling a bit absurd. So here are some food/diet trends that just may be idiotic enough to be real:

Typovores- People who only eat animals that have the same blood type as they do. This stems from the Blood Type Diet. We realize this diet might be difficult, as it requires knowing your own blood type and getting a blood sample from every animal before they hit the grill. That said, you'll be amazed by how thin and energetic you feel after just two months on the diet...

Greenkillivores- Combining the environment-saving and locovore trends, this group only eat roadkill hit by hybrid and fuel efficient vehicles. Inconveniently Truthful dinner.Last, but certainly not least seems to be everyone else aka Bacon-eaters. Between the bacon bowls, bacon weaves (filled with cheese no less) and bacon-wrapped turducken it seems the bacon industry is recession-proof.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Vegan Hanukkah Test Drive

I skipped Thanksgiving this year because I was sick and I kept getting these shocked, remorseful responses like I missed a free meal at Mastros. Honestly, if you had to base a meal around one animal would you ever choose turkey? Over pork, over beef, over lobster? Really? Turkey? And I'm sorry, but cranberry sauce- that's your sauce of choice over all the other sauces in the world?

Anyway, agree to disagree on the whole Thanksgiving thing... Let's talk about a meal that's not worth missing- Hannukah.
Here we have a meal centered around fried potato. That's what I'm talking about- rich, flavorful, crunchy yet soft, hand-held, greasy goodness:My uncle tested out his vegan latke recipe last night, which if you didn't tell me, I wouldn't know were vegan:

Vagan Latkes (Potato Pancakes)
5 large Russet potatoes peeled
1/4 of an onion; white or brown or sweet if you prefer
1 Tablespoon flour
3 Tablespoons egg substitute powder
Salt and Pepper to taste.
plenty of peanut or Canola oil

Grind or food process potatoes and onion together as course or fine as you like. Mix egg powder with 3 Tablespoons warm water until it is very smooth, no lumps. Move potatoes to a bowl, add flower and egg substitute, salt and pepper, mix well. If it is too watery, add a little more flower, but not too much.

Heat a thick layer of oil in pan, get it fairly hot. Spoon in the latkes about 3" in diameter, not too thick. Watch for brown edges and turn over. When just brown, remove and drain, don't over cook them, they will continue to cook a little as they drain. Replace oil and heat as needed. Makes about 30 latkes.

The vegan pumpkin cheesecake with maple pecan topping was delicious as well.Vegan Pumpkin Cheese Cake with Maple Pecans
1 pre-made graham cracker pie shell
1 15-16 oz can pumpkin pie filling
2 8 oz tubs of Toffuti cream cheese (blue lid)
2-3 oz maple coated pecans

Combine pie filling and cream cheese in a bowl and blend well. Pour mixture in pie shell. Bake in 350 oven for 25 minutes. Layer pecans on top, refrigerate until chilled and firm.

Stay tuned for a full Hanukkah dinner report in a few weeks.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Food Oscar Preview

With the announcement of the totally useless, meaningless and altogether unnecessary Golden Globes today, I thought I'd present some of the food related Oscar favorites:

Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and a curiously delicious pork butt... I smell an Oscar for The Curious Case of Benjamin Pork Butt-on.

Frank Langella gives a powerful yet sweet performance in Frosting/Nixon.

The compelling story of how an impoverished Indian teen uses one of the finest deep fried foods to earn true love in Corndog Millionaire.
A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s struggle to come to terms with their personal problems with a certain ice cream fetish in Revolutionary Rocky Road.

Milk, Doubt and The Reader didn't work well for puns so they didn't make the list.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Missing Matsuhisa

I have to admit, I've been down on Nobu Matsuhisa lately. His La Cienega-based Matsuhisa was a go-to spot for work lunches and dinners over the past few years, but didn't make the list once this year. In part it's due to the opening on Nobu up the street. Maybe it's also because Sushi Park, Sushi Zo and Izakaya by Katsuya all have fresher fish (and better prices at the latter).
So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Nobu featured on Bizzare Foods' Japan episode recently. Zimmern and Nobu stood in the kitchen of his Tokyo restaurant eating a brilliant array of dishes including octopus egg (simmered in a mix of fish stock and soy sauce), sea cucumber eggs (harvested eggs formed into a solid sheet of cucumber egg jerky) and turtle blood shooters (fresh blood mixed with sake).
It renewed my interest in Matsuhisa and reminded me why he was able to create the empire that he has today, with scores of imitators (Katsuya...) around the world. To pay my respects I'm making a reservation for before the end of this year.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Fancy Burger Food Marathon

Choosing the best burger in LA is as futile as choosing the best sushi. The argument will rage on longer than the Arab/Israeli conflict. So why not add fuel to the already out of control fire:

The Pug Burger from The Hungry Cat
I didn't get an egg on it, which might render my opinion obsolete but it's a damn good burger. Juicy, rich, almost too big too eat... all wonderful attributes for a burger. The blue cheese is very pungent which could overpower the burger for the faint at taste. With avocado and bacon this burger pulls out all the stops.

The Comme Ça BurgerA more subtle, refined burger bursting with flavor. Pound for pound it might be the best in LA. The way the cheese melts around the patty, it's almost like a cheddar casing. And the bun is worthy of eating on its on.

The Classic at 8oz
This was my second visit to 8oz and I can confidently say it doesn't belong on any "best of" lists. The meat is mealy and dry, the buns don't have that freshly baked quality- it's just outclassed by the other gourmet burgers in LA.
Next time will be the Dirty Burger Food Marathon, for those wonderful greasy under-$5-gut-bombs that LA does so well...

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Trucks Trump

Recently there's been a few of examples of the right way to open a restaurant and a lot more examples of how not to do it:
First the Americanized/fusion Korean bbq. Shin, Jian, Gyenari all opened outside of the delicious confines of Koreatown boasting smokeless bbq and high quality meat in a trendy/upscale environment. Not sure how their doing financially but I haven't heard great things about any of them. Shin was ok, but I'd much prefer a Koreatown restaurant than one in the heart of Hollywood (especially one where most of the tables don't have bbq's and can move for "parties"- be a restaurant, focus on the food first and worry about the parties later).
At the same time a brilliant new concept has opened to rave reviews in the form of Kogi Korean BBQ taco truck. It's an example where fusion works, price is right and eventually they'll grow (while Shin, Jian, Gyenari will eventually disappear).
Another concept that continues to fail is the foodie nightclub. Three ventures opened this year; Foxtail, One Sunset and Kress (Apple can probably be added soon)- all of which initially claimed to be for foodies but have scaled back their menus to simply be bar food to accommodate the freeway-and-canyon club-goers.
At the same time Let's Be Frank started selling healthy/gourmet hot dogs from mobile locations outside the otheroom and now outside Silverlake Wine. There's a right way to combine drunk people and food- don't serve both from the same location. Let the bars and clubs handle the booze and let the foodies handle the food.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Food Marathon Counter-Programming

Food marathoning can take its physical toll. I've been blessed with a fast metabolism but certain 3,000 calorie binge days slow the heart down a bit. That's why I counter my monthly weekend marathons with light/healthy weekday meals. Besides the occasional tom yum soup from Jitlada I tend to eat turkey sandwiches from Subway (no cheese, no mayo). Another standby is Mickey and Sam's Ice Cream Plus. It's a no frills ice cream shop that serves salads, soup and sandwiches exactly how you would make them at home. Regular old iceberg lettuce, store-bought wheat bread, brown rice, microwaveable tofu, jarred sauces... it's really nothing special at all. It's healthy, inexpensive, easy and then there's the dessert. There's yogurt, gelato, sorbet, fat free, low fat, sugar free, low sugar and different combinations. Flavors range from cinnamon to lemon, raspberry ice tea to peanut butter. This one is banana and chocolate hazelnut.For around $10 it's my go to weekday spot for lunch and/or dinner.