A passion for food + fashion

Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Easter Baby!

In Baby Love, Fashion on March 31, 2010 at 10:10 am

We interrupt this programming to bring you the ultimate in baby chic, NOKO, and just in time for Easter! Featured everywhere from the New York Times to OK Magazine (as modeled by Suri Cruise), NOKO produces exquisite girls clothes (size newborn to 6 yrs) inspired by a traditional Japanese hand-printed fabric called tenugui. The company was co-founded by my neighbor Jennifer Freise with her friend Maureen Chianese when both women were living in Tokyo back in 2006. Today NOKO is sold across the country (here in LA, it’s available at Pumpkinheads in Brentwood) and is a fave with the likes of Suri and the SJP twins to name a few.

I am in love with this Michi dress with the obi sash (above), and Tiny G is in love with the model, his friend Hazel. I might need to have another baby, just so I can dress her in NOKO! Either that, or get Jen to design one in my size?

Make Your Own Vegetable Stock

In Food, Recipes on March 31, 2010 at 8:21 am

Yesterday I was making a soup that called for vegetable stock, and since I had all the ingredients I thought I’d give it a go. The resulting broth tasted so rich, and I love that it didn’t come out of a can. Active time is about 20 minutes, and then you leave the broth to simmer for an hour and a half. The recipe makes about 3 quarts, so you can freeze it until you’re ready to use.

Vegetable Stock, adapted from The Jimtown Store Cookbook

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large yellow onion, sliced

2 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks

4 celery ribs with leaves, cut into 1-inch lengths

3 large garlic cloves, mashed

4 quarts water

1/2 bunch (4 ounces) flat-leaf parsley, stems and leaves

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled

In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add the water, parsley, salt, peppercorns, fennel seeds, and thyme. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours.

Cool stock, then pour into strainer set over bowl. Press hard on the solids with back of spoon to extract as much of the liquid as possible. You should have about 3 quarts. (If you have much more than this, return to pot and simmer until reduced to 3 quarts.)

Cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to one month.

Everything’s Coming Up Roses (and Nasturtium, Poppies, Geraniums, etc)

In Design on March 30, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Last night was warm and lit up by a beautiful new moon. My husband and I sat under our rose-scented pergola and sipped margaritas late into the night. It’s the first time the climbing roses have bloomed since we trained them up the pergola last summer. Just dreamy. Here’s a closer look at the blooms:

I was reminded of a comment recently from an LA expat and tropical plant enthusiast now living in Washington, D.C., who told me that people in Los Angeles need to stop growing roses. But I can’t. There are few things that make me as happy as these gorgeous spring blooms, especially on the rosebush I gave to Mr Foodinista for his birthday last year:

How is that flowers have such magical properties? I was feeling kinda blue this morning and so pulled over at the new Rolling Greens Nursery on Beverly (OMG – it’s AMAZING, much smaller than Culver City location but just incredible housewares, cement vessels and plants), and loaded up the trunk of my car:

And now I feel like this!

Spice Up My Salad

In Food, Recipes on March 30, 2010 at 10:44 am

Believe me when I say this Spicy Lime and Avocado Vinaigrette will change your life. The recipe comes from Jimmy Shaw of Loteria, and he generously shared it with Bon Appétit last September. I made this salad to take to a neighbor’s barbecue (it is an undisputed fact that our neighbor Chris grills the best carne asada in town—any town) and promised to share the recipe. Don’t get scared by the number of ingredients. It all comes together pretty quickly (especially if you use cayenne for pepitas instead of toasting & grinding peppers), but warning: this salad disappears just as fast.


9 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced peeled seeded avocado
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup unsalted shelled raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 garlic clove
3/4 teaspoon minced seeded serrano chile

To make vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.


4 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup unsalted shelled raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Finely grind chiles in small spice mill or in mortar with pestle. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add pumpkin seeds and stir until evenly toasted (seeds will pop), about 5 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with sugar, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon chile de árbol powder. Toss to coat. Transfer pumpkin seeds to bowl and cool.


1 5-ounce package mixed baby greens
2 avocados, halved, seeded, peeled, sliced
1 12-ounce container cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced
1 medium jicama, peeled, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices, then 1/3-inch sticks
1/2 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled cotija cheese or feta cheese (about 7 ounces)

To assemble salad, place greens in very large bowl. Add avocados, tomatoes, cucumber, jicama, and onion. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat. Sprinkle with cheese and spicy pepitas.

Sunny in Seattle

In Food, Out of Town on March 29, 2010 at 1:57 pm

After another gorgeous weekend in Seattle for Taste Washington, I have to wonder if it actually ever rains there. I have visited this fair city at least a dozen times without ever having seen so much as a drop. Is it a conspiracy to keep the rest of us out? As a counterattack on Seattle, I would like to wage my own conspiracy to kidnap Macrina Bakery—the whole damn place—and relocate it to Los Angeles. Then I could get fat on these multigrain raspberry muffins sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, to say nothing of a perfect pastrami sandwich smothered in melted fontina on a crusty Italian loaf. (Sorry, I gobbled it all before remembering to snap a photo.) Now pardon me while I walk over to my local bookstore to purchase a copy of Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery and Café Cookbook so I can dream of recreating some semblance of these heavenly muffins at home.

R.I.P. Taylor’s Refresher

In Food, Out of Town on March 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm

taylor's refresher via kristen&joe

When I was a kid, Taylor’s Refresher in St Helena was a local’s only roadside stand where you could get a 50-cent corn dog. Sadly Taylor’s was threatening to go the way of the dodo back in ’99 when, by the grace of god, Joel Gott and his brother, Duncan, rescued the joint and turned it into the now-famous and cash cow franchise, home of the  $15 ahi burger. (You read that right, $15.) Here’s a snap of one along with some sweet potato fries I enjoyed last Christmas when I was visiting my parents.

Last week the Gotts made the decision, “for legal reasons,” to change the name to Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet. While I totally get them wanting their family name above the door, I hate it (the change that is, not the name). But more than that I am beside myself—like, throw myself into oncoming traffic on Hwy 29 upset—that they have done away with the Green Goddess aioli for the sweet potato fries, which has been replaced by ranch. RANCH! The loss is unbearable. But as another childhood favorite, Crystal Gayle, (and yes, you read that right, too) says, “You never want a sip of water, till the well runs dry. You never miss a real good thing, till he says ‘goodbye.'”

Ask the Foodinista

In Fashion on March 23, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Dear Foodinista:
I am traveling to Maui next week with my family. We’re going to eat well, and they’re going to bake by the pool while I go look at some of the island’s new organic farms. But my problem—I need a hat that can look great poolside, but also won’t seem too stupid fashiony while I’m trekking across irrigation ditches. I’ve noticed you seem to have the SoCal hat situation down pat. Any suggestions?
Sun Damaged in Los Angeles

Dear Sun Damaged:

In lieu of a cliché Rag & Bone or Juicy Couture straw fedora, why not check out one of these Irish linen hats (above) from Australian designer Helen Kaminski? They are chic and understated and perfect for travel. I have one in navy but I feel like the sand might be better in the heat. They have them at Pickett Fences on Larchmont, or I think I’ve seen them at Saks. Of course if money were no object—and, ultimately, I think it’s too loud for Maui—I’d be going the way of a Lanvin upturned crochet straw hat (avail at Barneys for a mere $368):

You Are (In Bed) What You Eat

In Food on March 23, 2010 at 11:22 am

A few weeks ago over (luscious) dumplings in Monterey Park, my friend and former Allure editor Robyn Brown and I were debating the correlation between food and sex. I’ve long held the theory that any man who orders chicken on a first date is be ruled out in the bedroom. Her thoughts on the matter are far more evolved and erudite, so I hand you over to Robyn for this most excellent guest post…

You Are (In Bed) What You Eat: The Food-Sex Corollary

“Never date a man who’s afraid of trying new foods,” a boyfriend once told me over a steaming pot of florescent orange, kimchi-scented stew. “They’re awful in bed.”

His comment was obviously a self-serving one, at least if one infers the inverse, that men who are adventurous eaters are good in the sack…But since that meal, further reflection (and some, ahem, field work) has satisfactorily confirmed for me that cocky or not, the guy was right:  Much about how a person behaves in the bedroom can be foretold by how they behave at the table. Show me a man who balks at the idea of Indian in Artesia, Chinese in Monterey Park, sushi in the Valley, and banh mi in Little Saigon and I’ll show you a man who either thinks certain parts of the female anatomy are kind of ucky, or is too busy vying to become Master of the Universe to go to bed with you in the first place.

After all, pleasure is still pleasure, and for the most part we tend to be consistent in our view of it, whether it comes in the form of touch, taste, sound or sight. Some people will always seek pleasure out; others are content to let it come to them.  Still others fear pleasure, even punishing themselves for wanting it.

I concede several exceptions to the Food-Sex Corollary rule: The reluctant dieter, for one, who has to regulate eating for health reasons (the only other acceptable reasons for calorie counting: an approaching beach vacation, a wedding dress, or anything 50% off in size 38 Prada). Also, the latent foodie, who is not so much apathetic to food as utterly oblivious to it. The female half of the most culinary couple I know recently told me that her husband ordered plain, broiled chicken on their first date, and shortly thereafter threw a party where guests were served nothing more than a couple bags of chips. Now he waxes rhapsodic over the virtues of Piedmontese beef. Some of us are just waiting to be given our first taste; to be awakened to the possibilities.

A few friends have protested that I’m reaching, here, which I find surprising. The food-sex connection is as old as…well, hell, probably food and sex. Maybe our dinner date ritual can be traced all the way back to the origin of the species, when a hunk of slaughtered antelope demonstrated that a man could provide food for his future family, thus doing as much to increase his attractiveness and viability as a potential mate as the Valentine’s aphrodisiac tasting menu at Aureole.

Over the ensuing hundred thousand years or so, it’s likely the biological drives for food and sex have just grown progressively conflated. Tame bedroom preferences, for instance, are now deemed “vanilla.” Edible body butters look and sound less like lubricants than something one might want to spread on toast. And a certain women’s magazine routinely urges its readers to seduce men by drizzling chocolate syrup down their abdomens and painting on whip cream bras. (To which I say: Ick. Sex writer Dan Savage once put it more pithily than I ever could when he pointed out that “sex is a savory experience.” It’s not an issue of prudishness as much as an issue of taste—I’d no sooner put whipped cream on steak frites than on my boyfriend’s body parts. But, I guess, to each their own.)

I encourage everyone to think back through their former flings. See if their tastes—sexual and papillary ones, let’s call them—don’t seem to eerily line up, again and again.

I have yet to hear about a “no butter or oil, please” guy who was revealed to be secret Casanova; I’m just sayin’.—Robyn Brown

Eat Cheese, Drink White

In Drink, Food on March 22, 2010 at 7:39 am

While traveling in the Languedoc last week, I ate a LOT of cheese. The region produces mostly Roquefort, goat and Tommes. After almost every lunch and dinner, we were served a cheese course, like the one above featuring a disc of perfectly tangy goat with the Languedoc cross in ash. And every time, we were offered a glass of white wine to pair with the cheese, even with Roquefort. When one of my companions asked for red with her Roquefort, our host seemed genuinely confused. In fact, white wine is almost always a better pairing with cheese as it doesn’t overpower more delicate cheeses and provides a crisp counterpoint to rich and salty flavors. My favorite pairing was a slightly sweet muscat with Roquefort but I also loved the acidic and fruity white wines of the region paired with goat cheese.

Home, Sweet Home

In Drink on March 21, 2010 at 11:31 am

While I will dearly miss starting the day with a strong little jolt of espresso—like this one enjoyed high in the hills of Minerve (and how sweet is that little heart-shaped sugar???)—before heading out into the rocky vineyards and heady garrigue, there is nothing quite like waking up in your own bed in Los Angeles to a large cup of freshly brewed Ristretto Roasters coffee. It’s almost enough to make you forget that Air France lost your luggage AGAIN (that’s two times in a row)—and that you have to drive back to LAX to retrieve it since they won’t deliver it to your home, sweet home…