Posts tagged ‘foodie’

March 16, 2015

Austin Adventures T-Minus 48 HOURS

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I’m going back to Austin! Before my road trip in October I had hardly traveled anywhere out of California in my adult life. Except for mini road trips to Arizona and Nevada. My trip to New York last summer was the first time I bought a plane ticket as an adult. Not my first time on a plane, but the first time I looked at a flight schedule to figure out pricing and what worked best for me. Anyways, Bowerbird is playing SXSW and it’s one of those experiences I want to share with him. A craziness I could experience firsthand and not just through road stories. So with a little encouragement and the help of a credit card, I booked my flight to Austin. Bonus, I have friends in Austin, friends flying out to Austin, and Under the Radar throws their own party (former intern). SIDENOTE: I suddenly I have the urge to watch LOSER.

I fly out on Wednesday, just as the music portion of SXSW kicks off. When Bowerbird and I went to Austin on our road trip we felt like we didn’t have enough time to explore. The city seemed to be overflowing with good food, adorable window shopping, and of course great music venues. It will be nice to get ROUND TWO in. I’ve been using the one music venue we went to, Cheer Up Charlies, as a point of reference in figuring out the distance of my hotel to where Bowerbird will be playing and the rest of the SXSW madness. p.s. Bowerbird’s band Flaamingos will be playing a showcase at Hotel Vegas presented by Levitation.

Flaamingos SXSW

AUSTIN HIGHLIGHTS FROM OCTOBER 2014:

Cheer Up Charlies – is an eclectic space, a colorful music venue with a back patio that seems to be carved out of a rock. We totally ended up with an epic Cracker Jack box prize when we went there, as Ted the Block, a side project of musician Winston Goertz-Giffen happened to be playing. Ted the Block is totally weird in a hypnotizing way. He and his girlfriend were also road-tripping, and we made instant friends with this set of creatives. We later met up with them in Marfa, total coincidence so more on that later.

cheerup charlies

FLASHBACK – a vintage clothing store. It’s inside a purple house, and we wandered in while waiting to meet up for lunch with a friend nearby. Being from LA and in a new town, we tended to be extremely early to places.  The clothing and merchandise weaved throughout the rooms of the house. Flashback had really amazing finds I had to fall in-love with and walk away from, like dresses fit for June Carter Cash. I wanted them all.

Flashback Vintage Clothing

MICKLETHWAIT BBQ – One of the well-known and highly recommended BBQ establishments in Austin. It’s a trailer with a smoker next to it! We weren’t very aggressive when it came to the BBQ game in Austin, so we really lucked out in getting some BBQ at Micklethwait. We had gone around 5:00pm for an early dinner, and were met with a sign that read SOLD OUT till 7:30pm.  Later we found out the only reason they had any meat for dinner was because they were hosting a movie night.  We camped out in their parking lot for a few hours patiently waiting.  But the wait was totally worth it! Especially for Bowerbird as he can’t eat anything with refined or added sugar. While on the trip Bowerbird had to miss out on Memphis BBQ, and we avoided most Southern BBQ places because 99% of them use sugar in their rubs or sauces. But Micklethwait rub was all spice and flavor!

Micklethwait Craft Meats BBQ

This time around, I really want to get a picture with the Hi, How Are You alien aka the Daniel Johnston mural. We drove by it in October, but forgot to go back for a photo-op. This time I’m sure there will be a line of tourist trying to snap their picture with the iconic wall. I used to intern at a gallery that at one point represented Daniel Johnston, and there were tons of photocopies of Daniel Johnston drawings in boxes, random boxes. I wish I would have nabbed some – I’m sure no one would have noticed. It was a strange place. Guess I can keep the karma points. Plus, I should just buy a t-shirt and help support Daniel.

I’ll be vlogging, instagraming, blogging (maybe) – we all know how blogging and traveling works for me, and tweeting. So hope you enjoy exploring Austin with me.

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November 4, 2014

SC : HUSK RESTAURANT – The Food

HUSK Restaurant Road Trip

This road trip was all about being open to new experiences, approaching life with an openness to meeting new people, trying new foods, taking detours, and seeing where we end up. Luckily we ended up at a table in Charleston, South Carolina at the acclaimed Husk Restaurant; there is a location in Nashville as well. Currently Chef Sean Brock of Husk restaurant is in the middle of a book tour for his first cookbook Heritage. I’ll need to pick up this book for Bowerbird, so we can relive our night of pure gastro bliss. Getting a table at Husk was a significant part of this culinary adventure, and I can’t thank Sean and Kristin enough for making it happen.

Husk Charleston is well situated in an antebellum style home built in the late 19th century. A white picket fence surrounds a courtyard that leads out to a separate side house where waiting diners can start with drinks and appetizers at the bar, which was packed with liquor and people. Bowerbird and I squeezed through the crowd to the opposite end, away from the door, to get bourbon before dinner. I tried to snap some photos but the dark lighting made it difficult without being obnoxious to other patrons. The bartenders were sharp and fast, there were about 30 people inside and only two bartenders attending them- I commend them. Just as we were about to take our drinks out of the bar house and into the courtyard for a less claustrophobic experience, the bartender unveils a massive ham leg (what I think) for fresh sliced Prosciutto. Please correct me in the comments below, but whatever that was, I want it next time.

 

HUSK Charleston Bar House

When we were seated our extremely nice waiter made a comment that we’d traveled a long way. Being a giant dork, I didn’t even connect the fact he would know about my road trip tweet and went into the entire story. He politely smiled and said he knew then he inquired if I was a chef myself. I informed him I wasn’t, but an avid eater and food appreciator. Confession: I’ve been caught more than once talking to my food in a restaurant.

To begin our dining experience, the waiter brought out warm rolls served with a side of pork fat honey butter. These rolls were light and could be pulled apart like cotton candy. There was a subtle flavor of bacon, topped with toasted sesame seeds adding a woodsy flavor to compliment the sweet bread. As a first impression, the rolls had me on my knees; I could eat those morning, noon, and night.

HUSK dinner rolls

Bowerbird and I shared two first courses and two suppers. Based on the menu from the night before, we strategized our dining experience during our drive from Richmond to Charleston. We had wanted to experience as many flavors as possible and in the end chose four different proteins to sample.

We ordered wood fired clams and smoked Surry County sausage with braised peppers and mustard greens in a tomato broth served with roasted garlic toast; and TN pork ribs with peach BBQ, pickled peaches and green peanuts with puffed pork skins as our two first courses. Bowerbird can’t have anything with added sugar, which makes experiencing southern BBQ difficult, as brown sugar tends to be a main ingredient. But our waiter assured us there was no additional sugar in the peach BBQ and relied strictly on the natural sugars in the fruit.

 

We started with the wood fired clams which had a delicate flavor profile and were light and buttery while bursting with garlic flavor, the tomato broth was savory and void of acid. The sweet onions and red bell peppers balanced the bitterness of the mustard greens and fennel in the Surry County sausage. It seemed as if the saltiness in the dish came straight from the ocean, we sopped up every last drop of the broth with the one piece of garlic toast we had. At times I wish I didn’t need to be classy at the dinner table, manners prevent one from truly having every last bite.

We waited until we were done with the clams before eating the BBQ pork ribs. This unfortunately had us experiencing the ribs when they were lukewarm but none-the-less they were still amazing. The TN pork ribs were thick on the bone, they’re then charred on the outside just enough to add a good smoky flavor but not unpleasantly burnt. Slathered in BBQ sauce, it had a spicy kick that built with each bite. The caramelized peaches brought a unique element to the BBQ sauce. I was most impressed by the elegant touch of green peanuts, as it added a satisfying crunch to the tender meat. The puff pork melted in our mouth and stuck in our teeth like taffy, it added a fun factor to the plate. Being of Hawaiian heritage, in reminiscing about the dish it reminds me of something I would have in Hawaii; but instead of pineapples they used peaches, and instead of macadamia nuts they used green peanuts.

For our supper we ordered cornmeal dusted catfish, sweet corn and VA sausage “gumbo” with Carolina gold rice, charred okra, and confit cherry tomatoes. I’m a duck fiend, so we also ordered the confit duck leg with Anson Mills Brewster oats, heirloom pumpkin and chestnuts, Tuscan kale, honey vinegar, and spiced chevre. Both of these dishes were delicious and inspired very strong narratives. When I had a music and art blog, I’d describe the music in narratives. It’s the same for how I experience food. Stories develop in my imagination, the food being the inspiration.

The catfish was soft and flaky and it didn’t have that odd bottom feeder flavor, instead it acted as the perfect canvas to the gumbo Creole spices. The cornmeal crust was a crisp delicate second skin on the catfish. The confit tomatoes were out of this world- while being only the size of my thumb nail, this tiny tomato burst in my mouth, enveloping it in a rich savory flavor. It was like tasting a tomato for the first time. The dish was young, fresh, light and vibrant.

 

HUSK Catfish

 

On the other plate, the duck was moist and tender. The entire flavor palate rich and warm, it resonated within a deeper place and felt more mature. I didn’t know this was possible, but the cooked kale was succulent. The oats, pumpkin, and chestnut were mixed together as sort of risotto, spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon; it was like tasting autumn.

 

HUSK Duck Confit

 

Every bite of the duck confit wrapped me up in a cozy blanket and invoked a sense of nostalgia. Its a dish you’d want to serve your family during the holidays. The catfish was more youthful, its story younger. I could imagine it being made for a one year anniversary, and the home cook’s funny little mishaps till it was executed just right.

The two suppers were like the past and future existing on our table. Bowerbird and I have been together for two years. The catfish dinner tasted like those first few dates where you’re nervous and everything is electrified with newness. The duck confit our future, with decades of memories collected together and a deep love enriched by time.

Sean Brock is all about the story and heritage that is conveyed through food. I felt like I was served, tasted, and understood those stories; at least on how they apply to my own life. I hope I was able to give our dinner justice. I did order dessert, but at that point had pushed my stomach beyond its limitations and with a few mindless bites of the apple potpie, all I can report back is that it was good. My dinner at Husk was one of the best meals of my life. It almost brought me to tears. The whole experience of getting the table, the amazing food we ate, one of my favorite bands Drive by Truckers playing over the speakers in the background. It was a culinary dream come true. Husk completely indulged my five major senses. I’m so happy I didn’t give up when I saw there were no reservations available or that I didn’t surrender to a full stomach when dessert came.

If you are incredibly lucky and in Charleston looking for the best meal of your life, book in advanced for a fantastic night at HUSK. Here is a link to book your reservation.

August 15, 2014

MY NY EATS – SATURDAY

I love the term foodie as it expresses a person who appreciates and loves food, but isn’t a formal food critic. My NY Eats were a big part of my weekend in New York, and trying new restaurants is a big part of any adventure for me. I hope you enjoy reading my recap of where I ate, and I give you a sense of the space and flavors. I didn’t take notes so it’s all from memory.

Our first stop on Saturday was Williamsburg. Wei explained Williamsburg is what Los Feliz is to Los Angeles. Which, for the reader unfamiliar with both; can then compare to the hip part of town where successful architects, musicians, artists, and other creative types reside who have moved far out of the starving stage of their craft.  We got brunch at an adorable rustic looking restaurant called Rabbit Hole. It was still fastened with its late 19th century character. Molded ceiling and narrow bar running down the side. Apparently the back outdoor portion of the restaurant is really nice, but we were starved and I just wanted to be seated. So we were right in front next to a large window facing the street. It made for some great lighting, and I was seated beneath a funny sign.

brunch in williamsburg

The brunch menu was creative and hip. A balanced selection of savory and sweet. One could easily be torn between, stuffed brioche French toast with strawberry mascarpone or salmon egg benedict on an herb biscuit. Since my friend ordered lemon ricotta pancakes and was willing to share a bite. I ordered the salmon benedict.  I’m a bit of benedict addict, or in a classy sense a connoisseur.  And the Rabbit Hole’s benedict easily made my top 3 benedicts of all time. It was a good hollandaise sauce, but what stood out the most was the fantastic biscuit the salmon and poached egg rested on. It had the texture of a drop biscuit but was incredibly light and buttery. It easily crumbled just enough to get a bite on your fork and melt in your mouth. I will dream of that salmon eggs benedict. Liz’s lemon pancakes zinged with zest, but were not tart. Sweet like a lemon cake. Surprisingly I don’t like lemon desserts, but I enjoy lemon pancakes. The service was also delightful, I ordered Orange Juice and a coffee to combat last night’s mule, and our waitress was really great at keeping the joe flowing.

salmon eggs benedict on biscuit

Fast forward through a day of sightseeing and bucket list accomplishments. We met up with Wei’s friend Chris, and Liz’s boyfriend Darren at Bryant Park. Darren’s birthday was the following day, so it was his choice for where we’d go for dinner. And not sure of what he wanted to eat, his only request was that he wanted a big frosty mug of beer. There are only two types of dining establishments that sell large frosty mugs of beer, and those are German restaurants and Japanese restaurants. Chris and Wei the actual New Yorkers, were racking their brains when Darren was making his mug request. After repeating it a third time, the light bulb above Wei’s head burst and she knew exactly where to go. A Japanese restaurant called Kenka, there is a blinking badger outside of it.

— WARNING FOOD GETS GRAPHIC & NOT VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY —

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June 13, 2014

Lock and Key Social Drinkery, a DTLA style bar located in downtown Downey!

lock and key social drinkery

Lock and Key Social Drinkery located in Downey, in the words of the owner, is designed so you wouldn’t feel like you were in Downey. A restaurant bar, the interior is industrial chic complete with vintage styled Edison light bulbs and an illuminated sign of the gastropub’s initials affixed to the ceiling. The walls are partially covered in wood paneling, and sleek black booths. Socially aware, tall tables set for eight run down the middle to accommodate large parties.

Downey is only 13 miles from Downtown LA, and its residents vary from lower middle class to those living in a mansion maze worth millions. With the increase in twenty-somethings living at home, and relatively affordable housing where young families plant their roots; there exist a demand for great food and atmosphere in Downey. A market, owner Marc Shelton, understands and is tapping into. On a Friday night at 7:00pm the restaurant had open tables, but was far from empty. And by 8:00 there was a line waiting to get inside.

When seated you’re served a tiny glass and chilled water in a large medicinal bottle which you’d imagine would hold pharmacy tonics in the 18oo’s.  The menu is creative and reads like a competitive cooking show, while not being off putting to those that might not be foodies. Gourmet classics taken up a notch or wrapped in bacon. A Grilled cheese with fontina cheese and white truffle butter. An appetizer called Amazeballs, that is fried Brussels sprouts, apple smoked bacon, candied walnuts, with an apple gastrique.

Being a Downey native, I had to start the dinner off with a Hot Cheeto pie. A sliced open Hot Cheetos snack bag drenched in jalapeno (nacho) cheese sauce topped with chorizo and scallions. I might have lost you, but understand Hot Cheetos and nacho cheese was a lunchtime staple for Downey kids. I didn’t eat it very often but I understood its delicious allure. It’s hard to get all food writer when talking about a bag of hot Cheetos and nacho cheese,but the warm melted jalapeno cheese compliments the Hot Cheetos seasoning without overpowering it. You still taste the Hot Cheeto flavor and its spicy build, while the creamy cheese coats the Cheetos without making it too soggy. Where it get gourmet is the peppery chorizo, and crisp scallions that add another dimension to this appetizer. I loved the Hot Cheeto pie, but I did regret starting off with it as it had scorched my palate a bit.

hot cheeto pie lock and key downey

Yet by the third bite of my dinner sandwich, I felt my taste buds could fairly assess the flavors.  I ordered the Sweet Thang Chicken Sandwich, a panko crusted chicken breast, apple wood bacon, sunny side egg, prairie cheddar, raspberry chipotle compote, on a pretzel bun.  Its presentation was on point, and technical execution excellent. The sunny side egg’s yolk was thick and creamy. The panko crust crispy and light, chicken itself tender and moist. But lacked its own unique seasoning aside from “tempura” flavor.  So the apple smoked bacon is what brought in an element of salt, and the prairie cheese forgettable unless the raspberry chipotle compote was in the bite. And that is where all the flavors came together and the sandwich made an impression. I picked at the top portion of the bun with drizzles of compote to eat with a bite of the other ingredients. Because without the compote, it was just an ok sandwich, but with the compote it hit all the flavor notes of sweet, salty, and tangy.

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May 11, 2014

A Love Letter to Umami Burger

love letter to umami

In LA food can be flavored with hype or even worse, a stale reputation. Fortunately Umami continues to deliver exceptional burgers and service. Personally I’ve been a patron of 4 different locations, Los Feliz, Downtown LA, Pasadena, and Hermosa Beach. With big flavors matched by a reasonable price tag, Umami is guaranteed good.

I write my love letter to the restaurant establishment Umami, because not only do I love the companies core values but it has been a fundamental part of my own great love story. Dan and I’s first date was at Umami Catessen, now Umami Broadway on March 28, 2012. Sharing the classic truffle burger and manly burger, we split onion rings and French fries while I had him expertly choose beers for me off their extensive list. Having been together for almost two years now, both Valentine’s Day nights’ have been spent with Umami. Our first V-day  in 2013 I surprised him with a replication of our first date menu, and this past Valentine’s 2014 was made extra special by event manager, Melissa Summers.

I’d purchased tickets to see the band Spiritualized at the ACE Theater on Valentine’s for Dan and I. Never giving a second thought to the holiday, I completely didn’t take into consideration how we’d eat before hand until Friday February 14. In the morning it dawned on me that, oh crap its Valentine’s Day and we probably won’t be able to get a table anywhere to eat.  Searching Yelp for any possible small restaurant option around the Ace Theater in Downtown LA, I saw that Umami was on the same street. Then like a scene in a movie, the memories of our first date came back to me.

21414

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February 23, 2012

Five Fun Facts – V

1.  The part in Mary Poppins where they jump into the chalk drawing to cartoon word, had me attempt to jump into my own chalk drawings for years!

3.  When I was a child and went to see Hocus Pocus in the movie theaters with my family, I was so entranced by the film I didn’t drink any of my Sprite soda.

4. I used to walk into my closet and close the door behind me waiting to transport to Narnia.

4. I Love FOOD! A total foodie, when I had cable the food network was my favorite channel. Can’t wait to travel the nation and EAT! But at the end of the day my favorite food is my dad’s shepards pie.

5. Coloring and drawing is one of my favorite things to do, but as I’ve gotton older I have put more expectations and judgements on myself. Now I am trying to just have fun and play with color, by creating for an hour a day with out reason or concept. Check tumblr for post-http://blanketfortadventures.tumblr.com/

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