Sometimes a journey to a quiet green spot like the Gardens of the Self Realization Fellowship Headquarters is the perfect antidote to living in Los Angeles; admittance is free and all are welcome to breathe in the peaceful surroundings. Enjoy the view from the top of Mount Washington; if you are on the West side, visit the Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades.
Monday, March 13, 2017
I miss going to the marché in France and having fish and shellfish galore at several fishmongers, all competing for my business with the freshest catch and the best prices. Americans don't seem as enamored by preparing their fish whole as the French; most people I know here want only the filet and nothing else. I have eaten with friends who literally sent a fish back because the head was still attached :(
Having grown up eating whole fish (yes, I am that person who loves eating the eyeballs), I searched for some place nearby that had a fresh varied selection other than Whole Foods, which had only the American trio of salmon, halibut, and swordfish, with an occasional appearance of sea bass or trout. After a scary journey to a dark, dingy, very smelly "fish market" which shall remain nameless, I finally found Seafood City. Yes, there are Asian markets nearby, but none offer the freshness and variety of Seafood City. A great deal of their fish is farmed, and some have been frozen and defrosted, but for sheer selection they can't be beat on the East side of Los Angeles. Santa Monica Seafood on the Westside has perhaps twice as big of a selection with more high end and wild caught choices, but price wise they are also twice as expensive.
The market is in Glendale in the mall that houses only a Target and a Macy's, so there is plenty of parking and easy freeway access. Being a market, they also have vegetables, fruit, noodles, and all kinds of foods Filipino's might crave, since that is their primary clientele. There is a small butcher case, but I've never seen anyone in line for anything other than the fish counter. It took me awhile to understand the system, but basically, you choose the fresh fish or seafood you wish with tongs, putting your choices into clear plastic bags.
Then you line up to tell them if you would like your fish cleaned and or fried FOR FREE. I opted for cleaning only, so I was given a claim check for pick up at another counter. The wait varies according to the lines; one day I waited 15 minutes for my fish, on a busier day I waited nearly 30 minutes. If you just want shrimp, mussels, calamari, or crabs, they will package up your baggie in a sturdier bag, wrap it and put a price tag on it immediately at the first counter. It's a much simpler process than it seems, and the customers will help you figure it out if you get confused. If all else fails, get one of the prepared packages of fish to go :)
Yes, you are reading that correctly, whole yellowtail for $3.99 per pound!
Wild Seabream is one of my favorite fish and
for the same price, I also bought wild yellowtail snapper.
They have clams, oysters, squid, and mussels. If you want your shellfish swimming, they have tanks of live lobsters and crabs at the end of the counter. The Maine lobster was only $12.99 a pound, so if you are lucky there will be some left.
Many sizes of shrimp were available, all at very low prices.
One day they had a huge tub of live crayfish
and a huge tub of live blue crabs!
Fresh calamari (which I cleaned) and stir fried with bok choy.
Wild White Perch from Canada which I roasted with scallions.
If those crayfish and crabs are still there when I go back, I may make a cajun shellfish boil :)
Monday, March 6, 2017
Los Angeles has so many food options, it would take several lifetimes to cover all the choices, changes, and cuisines, but it's fun trying :) Today's post is on some places where I only ate one meal, but I will be returning to all three.
King's Gastro Pub is in an alley behind Old Town in Pasadena. I walked by one day and made a mental note to come by because it has a casual dog friendly patio, live music some nights, and once a month they do a pig roast! I'm not a beer connoisseur, but if you are, they have 24 on tap, as well as a full bar, so this place should be on your radar. I came for brunch one warm Winter day; it was around 78 F in January and people were in shorts and sandals! The patio filled up quickly as we got one of the last tables for our brunch. This is a family friendly place during the day because not only were dogs on the patio, but also lots of kids, and they even have high chairs!
We decided to share an order of fish and chips. The fish was a marvelous beer battered cod and so crisp and tasty we didn't need any sauce other than a squeeze of the lemons. The fries were addictive and we ate every single one.
We shared a very brightly Californian salad of goat cheese, carrots, spring greens, walnuts, and red onions (covered by very greasy but fresh naan which we didn't enjoy that much). This salad could have easily been a light meal by itself. Both the fish and chips and salad were under $15 each and well worth it.
Redbird is in Vibiana, the first city's first Catholic Cathedral, now a full service event venue. The chef/owner, Neal Fraser, has always been one of my favorites since his days at Grace (which was one of my favorite restaurants until it closed in 2010). The DineLA $25 menu was a great excuse to experience what he's been working on lately in a stately location.
I chose the starter of chicken pot pie with hearts, thigh, thyme, hen of the woods mushrooms. It arrived in a tiny saucepan that was both functional (oven to table in one receptacle) and fun.
Underneath the flaky top was a rich filling of complex and rich root vegetables with chicken pieces that was so rich it could have been a meal in and of itself. The filling was a bit salty, so you will want to dip the top into it.
The gorgeous Wyoming Golden Trout, with sultanas, oregon hazelnuts, quinoa, spinach and brown butter was an enormous, perfectly done filet, with crispy skin, tender flesh, and interesting sides. I loved the contrasting textures of the crunchy hazelnuts, the grainy quinoa, and the soft spinach. I have no idea how I managed to eat this entire serving after the chicken pot pie, but it was so good, I couldn't stop. I just took my time and small bites :)
The last stop on today's blog post is at Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica. Taking advantage of DineLA once again, I went for a $25 lunch. When I took a bite of the Ahi tuna tartare with lemon and olive oil on a herb pistou crostini, I smiled in delight. The crunchy toast and the herb pistou added depth of flavor to the fresh fish with a brilliant twist on the ubiquitous appetizer.
Their famous lobster roll, offered dressed or undressed (I chose naked) on either brioche or butter lettuce (so it can be gluten-free for those who care), served with a large side of fries. The lobster was moist, warm, and already had plenty of butter, so the melted butter on the side was completely unnecessary. What can you add to lobster to make it any better? Nothing :)
Monday, February 27, 2017
The Los Angeles Magazine Whisky Festival offers both aficionados and novices tastes of at least 30 (I didn't count and I could not find a list of participants online, so I am guessing) spirits ranging from single malt scotch to blends, bourbons, ryes, and some specialty ones made from rice! Tickets were $95 and included 3 hours of tasting (using a Waterford glass we could take home).
I am fairly well versed in French wines, and although I do have a smattering of whisky knowledge, I have neither the tolerance nor purse to imbibe several fine spirits on a regular basis. I was invited as part of a friends' birthday who not only knew many of the participants, but shares my palate preferences, so his girlfriend and I just said, "You tell us what we should try!"
Our first taste was an 18 year old single malt scotch by Duncan Taylor which turned out to be my favorite :) As noted by Compass Whisky (not a participant), the age noted on bottles refers only to the youngest component, so keep that in mind when making buying decisions of blends!
There were many award winners
and specialty distillers.
I thought I didn't like Bourbon until I tasted Angel's Envy, poured by the blender herself of a special blend only available at the Intercontinental Hotel in Los Angeles; it's the highest award winner for a delicious reason! Macallen was on hand with a double cask that I enjoyed very much.
The guys at Duncan Taylor wore kilts!
This was my first time inside the La Brea Tar Pits Museum, and it was mind boggling!
This is a sloth!
Fun interactive display with that required two hands to slightly budge one lever!
The space was incredibly educational and entertaining for an event venue, this was one long wall,
and the workspace was on display as well as the finished assembled pieces.
The lines for food were longer than the lines for scotch, but the passed bites were more interesting than the mashed potato bar and the usual charcuterie, cheese, and crudite buffets. Since this was a spirited event, the emphasis was on the drinks not the food, but the bites were varied and well presented. Some bites not shown were mini crabcakes, stuffed mushrooms, and fried macaroni bits; on the sweet side at least three kinds of mini cupcakes floated through the rooms as well. The space was so large that a DJ, a jazz combo with singer, and a vinyl playing stereo all filled various sections with music without overlap.
There were also some fun booths like a photo stand, shoe shine,
and cigar rolling by El Canito Cigars.
I got a Robusto to go :)
Monday, February 20, 2017
My go to method of getting to DTLA is via Metro, especially during peak traffic hours and any day it rains in Los Angeles. Another perk of traveling by train is that I don't have to think about whether I can drink since I don't have to drive, so as I was waiting for a friend at Water Grill, I had a nice and spicy Bloody Mary. At $15 it was both strong and tasty enough to merit the price.
The lunch crowd was a bit sparse since it was chilly and rainy, but it did fill up a bit more as it got later.
The light fixtures at the bar carried the nautical theme with a fishing rod base.
When my friend arrived, we decided to split an appetizer as well as have the DineLA $25 menu, which included an appetizer and entrée. The Wild Tahitian Big Eye Tuna crudo with red beet jam, horseradish cream, mizuna, red beet chips and olive oil $15 which we shared had perfect tuna, but neither of us liked the horseradish cream which had neither bite nor flavor, but we did enjoy the beet chips for the contrasting texture.
We ordered the wild spanish grilled octopus $19 with tomato, feta and nicoise olives and when we tried to cut it it was so tough we each took one bite and sent it back. It's difficult to ship any food overseas and maintain its integrity, and octopus is also fragile in that it is perishable. They saw how charred it was and when we said it was too tough to cut with our knives, they immediately offered to redo or replace our order. We decided to go with the crudo to completely avoid any risk of overcooking.
My friend chose the Wild Costa Rican Mahi Mahi caponata with Sherry gastrique and maldon salt and enjoyed it although the thinner parts of the filet were slightly overcooked; it's a fine line between under and over cooking any piece of fish which is cut unevenly. Since we both cook, we know the challenge well and found it was still a nicely done piece of fish.
I ordered the salad nicoise with wild Australian Albacore with white anchovy and haricot verts and found this deconstructed presentation as unusual as the choice to serve the Albacore over beans. The ingredients were all good, but I had to add seasoning to my plate to perk it up a bit.
The atmosphere and service were impeccable; this is a perfect setting for a business meeting or if you want a good drink at a stylish bar. Portions are large, and the fish is very fresh, so if you stick to the oysters or raw/rare choices you can't go wrong.