In Food on March 31, 2009 at 8:09 am
Yesterday I had jury duty, and was exhausted by the time it was all over (guess who got on a jury?). So we decided to try takeout from Larchmont Larder, where we’d been when it first opened and enjoyed, but hadn’t been back in a couple months. We wanted something easy and extra comforting so we went with the meatloaf. It’s a classic blend of pork, beef and veal, and comes with a naughty mushroom cream gravy, which, let’s be honest, was kind of just what the doctor ordered. It’s not cheap—for four slices of meatloaf, and sides of sauteed spinach and mushrooms with shallots and herbs—it came to $35. But when you consider that I spent $17 on an egg salad sandwich and an Arnold Palmer last week at Café Midi, it’s a little easier to swallow. Plus, the meatloaf was satisfying and good, and we have leftovers.
Update 4/3/09: I feel it’s important to call out my friend Selena’s comment in the section below. She and her office ordered takeout from Larchmont Larder today, and it was very disappointing. It seems there are consistency issues, e.g. our meatloaf was tender and tasty on Monday night, yet a sandwich order with meatloaf today was like a “brick of clay.” Please post if you have any recent experiences—good and bad, please.
In Baby Love, Design on March 30, 2009 at 8:37 pm
Tiny G loves mealtime, and until recently he was a pretty clean little eater. But then he discovered how to blow raspberries, which he likes to do when he has a mouthful of mushy peas. I’ve learned to keep my distance when he strikes up the band, and keep him covered with a wipeable bib. My favorite is this handmade, vinyl-covered (for easy wiping) skull-and-crossbones number from Sheriff Peanut, available through Mahar Drygoods. By the way, if you haven’t visited Mahar Drygoods, it’s an “online outpost of vintage and artisan-crafted curiosities for children.” I love it, and it’s a great place for gifts that are both functional and well designed. And the owner is so nice. He will gift wrap items in recycled kraft tissue and kraft paper and tie with red-and-white kitchen twine. I might need to “gift” Tiny G with one of these light switch plates, made from vintage wallpaper:
In Drink, Recipes on March 30, 2009 at 9:56 am
My dad called last week to remind me that yesterday was Race Day. No, we’re not talking about The Tour de France, Kentucky Derby or Indy 500, but the annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race (my dad’s college was St. Catherine’s, so the Oxford victory yesterday was the outcome hoped for). What better excuse to make a mint-filled pitcher of Pimm’s Cup, the traditional English cocktail of Pimm’s No. 1 liquor, bitter lemon soda, strawberries, fresh mint, cucumbers and orange slices! (I also like to add blueberries and a splash of gin.) When we lived in England as kids, they’d serve these marvelous cocktails at weddings and boat races. Kids got the unleaded versions with no Pimm’s, but truth be told we were missing the the best part, and that’s letting the fruit soak up the booze and eating once the cocktail is finished.
Tiny G and I went to the Larchmont Farmer’s Market yesterday, and got a bunch of beautiful berries and mint. And my husband picked up some Fever Tree bitter lemon at Whole Foods. Then I mixed up a pitcher, and took it across the street and knocked back a glass or too with my neighbor Alyssa. It’s a cocktail that is greatly enhanced by sharing.
Makes one pitcher, or four cocktails
1 cup Pimm’s No. 1
4 6.8 ounce bottles Fever Tree Bitter Lemon
Splash of London Dry gin
Cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
Strawberries and blueberries
Fill a pitcher with ice. Add Pimm’s, bitter lemon, cucumber, fruit and mint. Stir gently and serve.
In Drink on March 29, 2009 at 2:17 pm
I attribute the fact that I’m feeling so fresh and scurvy free today to the refreshing Cheladas we enjoyed with friends last night. Cheladas are basically fresh lime juice and light Mexican beer served in an ice-filled glass with a salted rim. (Micheladas, on the other hand, are more savory and include Worcestershire sauce, Maggi seasoning and hot sauce.) Chiladas are very low in alcohol since you’re diluting already light beer with lime juice and ice, and they are super refreshing. There’s nothing quite like having a fridge full of beer and a boatload of limes to get the evening off on the right foot.
Tiny G’s BARNSLIG DJUR Ikea bib ($3.99/set of 2), below, made a great shield from the lime juice splatter on the marble countertop. I really hate juicing citrus, so I love the KitchenAid Citrus Juicer attachment, which makes this a snap.
Hold onto one of the juiced limes, and use it to wet rim of glasses. Then dip glass onto a plate of salt to coat rim. I had a special glass for my friend Adam, who has amassed a truly impressive tiki collection in his garage, complete with a grass skirted tiki bar and a Margarator. ¡Salud!
In Fashion on March 29, 2009 at 8:38 am
A couple weeks ago I was at a party and my friend Shana was wearing this killer Missoni skirt. I totally freaked out over it, and turns out she snapped it up for a song (like under $100!!!!) from Gilt Groupe. Gilt Groupe offers sales of up to 70 percent on luxury brands. I hadn’t been on the site for awhile, because even 40% off an Oscar de La Renta dress can still rival the better part of a mortgage payment, but then saw that a Helmut Lang sale was on the horizon. Helmut Lang used to be one of my faves, back when the man himself was at the helm. I haven’t purchased a single item from the label since he left in 2005. Then again, I haven’t purchased a single item from any label in a quite some time, because let’s face it, who can spend the money right now?
But then I saw this crinkled taffeta blazer in oyster gray with single flap pockets (functional) and a vent at the back hem on sale at Gilt Groupe. The best part? The price tag: $158, down from $550! Of course it all adds up, which is why I’m talking myself out of a bone-colored Costume National square toe flat with suede trim for $198. Sometimes parting is such sweet sorrow.
In Food on March 28, 2009 at 4:44 pm
Bon Appétit‘s February issue was all about eating green (in the global sense), and one of my favorite recipes from that delicious issue is the Tuscan Kale Chips (eating green in the literal sense!) from Blue Hill Farm’s Dan Barber. I’ve been on a bit of a kale jag lately, and love the nutty nuances in this super healthy green. Also, I don’t like potato chips, never have, so this is a perfect sub for crunchy goodness to snack on either all by themselves, or alongside a tuna fish sandwich.
First, you’ll want to use Tuscan kale, which you’ll find under a myriad of names including cavolo nero, dinosaur kale, Lacinato kale, black kale, but is basically the one with long bumpy leaves. Rinse the leaves, dry and cut in half to remove the center stalk. Then toss them in a bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt and pepper.
Then arrange leaves in a single layer on two baking sheets, and bake at 250 for 30 minutes or so. They are so satisfying, nutty, crispy, slightly briny, and betcha can’t eat just one.
In Food on March 28, 2009 at 9:22 am
Last Sunday we had tuna sandwiches along with kale chips, inspired by a recipe from Chef Dan Barber that ran in Bon Appétit. My husband declared this the best tuna sandwich he’d ever tasted, and I hope so. Because I have a confession to make about the ingredients. Namely, the list doesn’t include Bumble Bee. Let’s start with the bread. I got a sliced loaf of whole grain from La Boulangerie at the Larchmont Farmer’s Market. (Their French boule is incredible, too.)
On to the tuna fish. And here’s where I’m likely to get in trouble. I used Ortiz Bonito del Norte (white tuna in olive oil), that I got either at Surfas or Whole Foods, I don’t remember, but I do remember that we’re looking at $13 worth of tuna for two sandwiches. The tuna is caught by line and rod, which is environmentally friendly! It’s from Spain, is aged in olive oil, and it’s dolphin safe! And it’s $13 for 8 oz??? Okay. Moving right along, I mixed this heavenly tuna with just a dollop of mayo—you don’t need much if any—and some homemade celery salt (simply celery seed, below, + sea salt). Crack a little fresh pepper in there, too.
Then I slathered one slice of the toasted bread with mayo (wish I’d had some Kewpie mayo left, which would have been amazing, but we’re out), and Mendocino Suds & Seeds Mustard on the other. I spooned the tuna onto one of the slices, topped with thick shavings of parm and some Bubbies Bread and Butter Chips. Et voila, pure nostalgia at its grown-up best. I’ll post later about the super yummy kale chips, because they knocked this combo out of the park.
In Food, On Location: Out and About in L.A. on March 27, 2009 at 5:52 pm
After skating through the week without having to appear for jury duty, I got nailed on the last day. So this morning I made my way downtown super early to report for duty and realized, you know, jury duty downtown is kind of fun. Provided of course you don’t actually get on a jury. More on that later. But where else can you find jury parking underneath a building as good-looking as Disney Hall?
We broke for lunch at noon, so I called my friend Adam, who works down the street at the Los Angeles Times, and met him on the corner of Spring and Second to walk over to Cole’s at 6th and Main for lunch. For those of us in downtown L.A. today, wasn’t it gorgeous? I love those old buildings near the Times.
I hadn’t yet been to Cole’s since Neal Fraser (of BLD and Grace) had revamped the menu at this historic joint. And I’m not going to get into whether or not Cole’s or Philippe’s invented the French dip in 1908, even though we all know it was Philippe’s. At the advice of my friend Katie, I ordered a lamb dip with blue cheese and a side of cole slaw, along with a pint of draft root beer.
The hand-carved lamb and bleu cheese combo is incredible, and the slaw is mighty mighty good; Cole’s differentiates itself by hand-carving its meats and serving au jus on the side, while Philippe’s doesn’t hand carve and warms its meat in the au jus before serving (no complaints here!). But one fact is indisputable. Cole’s is a hell of a lot better than its previous incarnation, and I will be back soon to try the classic beef au jus. Like maybe on Monday, because guess who has to report back to the courthouse? Oh, and is it just me, or is Esa-Pekka Salonen on the side of Disney Hall a poor man’s version of Don Johnson, who was working the room at a neighboring table at Cecconi’s last night?
In Film, Food on March 27, 2009 at 6:38 am
Friday Follies [n., pl.] postings on Fridays about fashion and food in film from guest bloggers with impeccable taste.
From the neon-edged downpours of Blade Runner to the absolutist cynophilia of Must Love Dogs, American cinema does not lack for brutally dystopian versions of Los Angeles. But few films conjure up a Southland-gone-wrong like the 1984 masterpiece Repo Man (release 25 years ago this month) in which food is used as a metaphor for social control, a Jungian allegory and a moderately messy weapon. What food could be so versatile? Only Generic Food. Because in this film, all food is so generic that the cans it comes in are simply labeled “Food.” Beer is labeled “Beer.” Nonalcoholic drink is “Drink.” The dominant visual motif of the film’s oft-robbed commercial spaces is a sea of bland white and blue packaging in which the viewer sees not a single brand name.
This chilling generic tableaux apparently arose more by accident than by design, as the film’s producers found themselves unable to generate product placement opportunities with dialogue like “Look at ’em, ordinary fucking people. I hate ’em.”
Indeed, the film’s central tension is between protagonist Otto (brilliantly underplayed by Emilio Estevez*) and the conformist society that surrounds him. Otto begins the film by severely beating a co-worker for continuous singing of the “7-Up” jingle. Shortly thereafter, he displays contempt for his new employers by pouring out a generic “Beer” on their floor.
When Otto finally becomes hungry enough to actually open one of the ubiquitous cans of generic “Food,” the very act of eating serves to measure the distance between him and his zombified parents. As Otto plates his “food” (and by “plates” I mean he plops the gelantinous mass onto his plate where it lies, still faintly embossed with can markings, like a cylindrically-ribbed turd) his mother offers the following advice in monotone: “Put it on a plate, son. You’ll enjoy it more.” To which Otto sarcastically responds, “Couldn’t enjoy it any more, Mom. Mm, mm, mmm.” Babette’s Feast, this is not.
The rest of the film is replete with gastronomical references. Four of the film’s characters (Bud, Miller, Lite & Oly) are named after brands of beer, and when challenged to devise a crime spree, a hardened gang leader says “Yeah. Let’s go get sushi and not pay.”
Miller, the film’s wisest character, even uses the phrase “plate o’ shrimp” as an example of the Jungian concept of synchronicity. However, Miller also posits that time spent driving is inverse to intelligence and uses a slur to suggest screen legend John Wayne was a voyeuristic homosexual, a theory that, while unproven, nevertheless inspired someone to scrawl the exact line from the movie in this sidewalk.
Ultimately, Otto is trapped in a nightmarish hellscape lacking in flavor, a world where literally generic food and/or beer has robbed all but a transgressive few of the pleasures of taste. Yes, there may be alien corpses in the trunk of a 1964 Chevy Malibu, the “gypsy-dildo-punk” Rodriguez Brothers are a constant annoyance, and Otto’s girlfriend develops a serious torture fetish, but in my opinion Otto’s true struggle remains against the conformist mindset best epitomized by a character who, while dreaming of employment at a fast-food restaurant, says in reverent awe, “There’s fuckin’ room to move as a fry cook. I could be manager in two years. King. God.” —Ted Mulkerin
Ted Mulkerin is Head Writer of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, but years ago he worked as a Repo Man.
For the previous FRIDAY FOLLIES, click HERE.
In Food on March 26, 2009 at 6:26 pm
Before my friend Hugh chimes in to ridicule my new obsession as being one step removed from Lawry’s seasoned salt, I’d just like to hold my head high and say it: I love homemade celery salt. And it’s easy to make. Just grind up sea salt and celery seed with a mortar and pestle (about 1.5 parts sea salt to 1 part celery seed). It adds a great sort of grassy, savory, and slightly bitter note (in a good way) to all sorts of scenarios. The classic use is in a Bloody Mary, which I totally support, but I also love celery salt in tuna salad, tossed with green beans and butter, or sprinkled on gorgeous spring onions, which is what we did last night, and then grilled them with two thick-cut heritage Berkshire pork chops. (And while we’re at it, can we just take a moment to admire Mr. Foodinista’s grill marks on that chop???)