A passion for food + fashion

Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Happy Halloween!

In Baby Love, Food on October 31, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Happy Halloween! Tiny G is getting his “friends” ready—the creatively named Doggie, Pumpkin and Baby Witch—to take to a friend’s birthday party later this afternoon. He’s excited that there could be cupcakes on offer. I’m excited because this friend’s father makes the best damn chili around. Post-party we’ll dress up Tiny G in his skeleton costume to embark on his first real trick-or-treating adventure, and then I’ll put on a pot of my dad’s pasta e fagioli to enjoy while passing out candy and hoping that Mr Foodinista won’t notice that a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups has gone missing…

Update 11/1/10: Greg’s chili, below. See what I’m talking about?

Paddle Tennis

In On Location: Out and About in L.A. on October 30, 2010 at 7:40 am

Mr. Foodinista and I are leaving shortly to go play in a paddle tennis tournament in Santa Monica. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Cookie Fortune

In Drink, Food, Out of Town on October 29, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Most wine geeks hear “Teldeschi” and they think gorgeous, spicy Zinfandel sourced from 97-year-old vines in Dry Creek Valley. But from here to eternity, yours truly will be thinking “cookie.” This past week I was working up in Sonoma, exploring some of the most historic vineyards in the country. The highlight of the trip was taking a helicopter ride over Sonoma and Napa Valleys and up through Alexander Valley to the Teldeschi family home, where Caterina, aka “Mama,” hand made exquisite Italian cookies. But first, check out our ride:

The commute from Sonoma to Dry Creek was pretty spectacular and literally gave me a new perspective on where I grew up:

But that view has nothing on Mama’s cookies. She uses grappa and anise seed in her secret recipe, and presses in the most beautiful designs that make these confections look like edible doilies. As the cookies started to make their way around the table, Johnny Teldeschi jumps up and says “I got whipped cream, six cans!” His sister leans over to me and says you’ve gotta try one with whipped cream and hands me a can. She is right. I could have eaten the entire plate and polished off that aerosol can o’ sweetened ultra-pasteurized cream.

Thank you to the Teldeschis for such gracious hospitality. And thank you, Ravenswood, for making such seductive wines from these old vines. Now pardon me while I click my heels to return to the Teldeschi home, where even the recycling bin is the height of good taste.

Fried Egg Sandwich with Sriracha Aioli

In Food, Media, Recipes on October 23, 2010 at 9:19 am

I unabashedly consider myself something of an expert in the field of Fried Egg Sandwiches. The morning after my sister and I ran the 2007 Los Angeles Marathon, we hobbled over to BLD for their exemplary version with Neuske’s thick cut bacon and Gruyère on sourdough. Claire and I are also regulars at Huckleberry Café in Santa Monica. After a Saturday morning run out at the beach, we hit Huckleberry for a version that includes Niman Ranch bacon and arugula on country bread (and the blueberry corn cake is out of this world). It’s a little heavy handed with the arugula but delicious all the same. Check it out:

Not to be outdone by The Oaks Gourmet in Hollywood with their ooey gooey Breakfast Sandwich loaded with fried egg, fresh mozzarella, pancetta, basil and garlic oil on Tuscan sourdough.

But—I humbly submit—the best version is served up at home, thanks to my “secret” weapon: Sriracha aioli. Sriracha is a staple in southern California—a Thai-style chile and garlic sauce that finds its way into all manner of goodness. Yesterday, I shared the recipe for my fried egg sandwich over on Herman Miller’s LIFEWORK blog in an ongoing series called “Good Taste.” It’s a carefully built sandwich that balances nutty, spicy flavors with the warm comfort of a fried egg. I actually prefer a chewy, nutty multigrain bread to sourdough in the mix. (Rudi’s Organic 7 Grain with Flax avail at Whole Foods makes a surprisingly good one.) One thing I forgot to add in that recipe is to sprinkle a teeny bit of pimentòn over the egg for a subtle smokey note. In the meantime, here’s a peek at mixing my not-so-secret Sriracha sauce, a dollop of mayo and a squirt of Sriracha. Voilà! And is epic on a cheeseburger, too:

For The Foodinista’s Fried Egg Sandwich recipe, click HERE.

The Foodinista on Taster Tots

In Baby Love, Food, Media on October 22, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Today over on one of my favorite new blogs, Taster Tots L.A., founder Jessica Ritz has posted an interview with The Foodinista! It was so much fun to do, and I love her site with all of the great tips on eating out around town with young kids. She goes bravely where others (namely myself) fear to tread. Thank you, Jessica! And we hope to get her in the interview hot seat over here on The Foodinista soon. Stay tuned…

Uniqlo Fixation

In Fashion on October 21, 2010 at 11:08 am

Why doesn’t the west coast have a Uniqlo? I haven’t been to New York in ages—home to the only US outlet of this Japanese retailer of casual and cheap chic—so have resorted to begging my husband to pick up a cashmere sweater or two when he’s there for meetings. Uniqlo’s cashmere is steal by cashmere standards—$79 for a sweater—comes in Pantone colors and it holds up well. So when Mr. Foodinista announced he had to leave on a last-minute trip to New York yesterday, I got a little giddy. I mean, I miss him like crazy. But, how fortuitous that he happened to be in town when the +J line (a collaboration between Jil Sander and Uniqlo) hit the store??? Last time it sold out in about a minute. Imagine my glee when Mr. Foodinista called me from the racks this morning with a +J Wool Wrapped Jacket in camel (pictured above) in hand. I had to pinch myself!

Rain Gear

In Fashion, Food, Media on October 20, 2010 at 12:15 pm

It is coming down in Los Angeles today and while I would love nothing more than to crawl back into bed with a good book, I’m on deadline and the show must go on. So here are a few essentials for getting through this rainy day.

Get into the groove with (obvi): Rain Dogs, by Tom Waits

Keep warm with: Uniqlo Cashmere Navy Crew Neck Sweater ($79.90)

Keep dry with: Hunter Original Wellington ($125)

And dive into a bowl of: Texas Beef Brisket Chili

© The Foodinista

Talking Coffee with Oliver Strand, Coffee Curator for the New York Times

In Drink, Media on October 19, 2010 at 8:13 am

Chemex coffee maker © Dan Neville / The New York Times


One of my favorite columns in the New York Times “T” Magazine is Ristretto by Oliver Strand, an arbiter of taste in every sense. I am fascinated by individuals who take obsessions to new heights, which is why Strand’s coffee missives are so completely delicious. This morning, Strand takes a few moments in between cups to dish on his coffee habits with The Foodinista—so grab a cup of your favorite joe and settle in. Spoiler alert: I can already tell you that I’ll be spending the next few hours debating whether to splash out on the handblown glass version of the Chemex coffeemaker with a wood and leather belt (at first glance you’d swear it was an Alexander McQueen corset belt), though I think we probably know the answer…

What’s your typical coffee order in a restaurant?
I rarely order coffee after a meal – I don’t drink coffee at night, so that’s out, and because most restaurant coffee is phoned-in there’s little point. That said, I’ll sometimes have an espresso after lunch if I need to jump back into work that afternoon. Or I’ll go with what the restaurant does best. Recently, I had a terrific cup of coffee brewed in a Chemex at a groovy taqueria here in New York.

Japanese Ceramic Beehouse Dripper

How do you enjoy your coffee at home?
A friend recently said: you like the method you’re liking. Meaning – for the coffee-curious — if you’re playing around with a bee house dripper (which is a ceramic filter cone from Japan), you’re probably liking bee house drippers, and if you’re messing with your Chemex you’re liking Chemexes. I’ve been on a Chemex tear for a while, though I’m also messing with the Aeropress right now. Sometimes I’ll pull out my V60. All of these gadgets are in the $20-$40 range, which makes it easy to be promiscuous.

Are you loyal to one bean? Or do you like to mix it up?
You mean one cultivar? (Don’t let my coffee geekiness frighten you.) Cultivar is graduate-level coffee talk. Many coffees these days are labeled as “single origin,” a general term that refers to a region, or a farm, or a part of a farm. In certain circles, it’s no longer enough to call a coffee an African or even an Ethiopian. Instead you talk about a Sidamo, which is a region, or a Yirgacheffe, which is a village in Sidamo, or even better: a particular Yirgacheffe cooperative.

Maybe it sounds too obsessive. And just because there’s a place-name on a bag doesn’t mean it’s great. But most of the great coffees I taste have a place-name on the bag. Right now I’m working my way through the last of Aida’s Grand Reserve, roasted by Counter Culture Coffee. It’s Bourbon, Kenia and Typica beans all grown on farms owned by Aida Batlle, in El Salvador. It’s one of the most expensive coffees you can buy, but I’ll argue it’s worth it. In fact, this is my second batch. In September, I bought one of the last of Aida’s Grand Reserve from Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

I think what you’re getting at is: do I have any favorites? The answer is yes, but coffee is a seasonal crop, so I go by what’s on the shelves. If I like something I savor it, then I wait until it’s available next year. Just like produce at the greenmarket here in New York: tomatoes ended three weeks ago, but the pears and grapes are crazy right now. I’ll see what coffees are around next week. I’m already looking forward to Aida’s Grand Reserve in 2011.

Where were you most surprised by a good cup of coffee or espresso?
Most recently, at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. There’s a kiosk by the gate to the alcazaba, the fortress that looks out over the city, where I had a beautiful cortado. It was break time for the groundskeepers, and there were dozens (I want to say hundreds) of workers mobbing the counters, and even though the shack was cramped — it was built around a well and had trees growing through the roof — the coffee was immaculate: saucer, glass, spoon, water on the side. Everybody served in order. There was this breezy sense of ceremony, that coffee should/could be elegant even if it costs $1 and you’re outside and leaning against a wall next to a dude in a dusty jumpsuit.

Plaza de Armas en la Alcazaba in the Alhambra of Granada, Spain

Do you have any guilty pleasures at, say, Starbucks?
I like my mochas, especially after the first cold snap. That’s not as much a Starbucks thing as a coffee-wide impulse. I’m just balancing the summer, when I’ll go out of my way for a Carvelanche.

Where is the coffee capital of the world?
New York, of course. And the Yankees are going to take the Rangers in six.

In all seriousness, New York is becoming a great coffee town, in part, because there’s no dominant roaster – this is the only place in the country where you can get an exceptional shot of espresso made with beans roasted by Counter Culture Coffee, or Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea, or Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Blue Bottle Coffee started roasting here this year, and now PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. is making a run at the city, then you have local talent like Café Grumpy, Dallis and a dozen more. There are few cities anywhere with such a broad selection. Just as important, the baristas here are good and getting better.

It’s an exciting time for New York. Though to be fair, I should say that Seattle, Portland and San Francisco all have deeper benches. Then you have cult coffee cities like London and Melbourne, Oslo and Copenhagen. Notice I didn’t say Paris.

Favorite movie moment with coffee?
Pulp Fiction. Five Easy Pieces. I Am Love.

How much do you drink daily on average?
Two cups in the morning, then more depending on the day. I’m the author of the Filter, a guide to New York coffee from the New York Times for the iPhone and iPad (it’s free and available on iTunes – not coming on too strong, I hope?), which means I’m always checking out new spots, popping in at old places to see if they’re still up to it. It’s done wonders for my mid-morning social life. My dance card is full from 9:30 am to 10:30 am.

Food Writing Workshop

In Food, Media on October 18, 2010 at 8:07 pm

I meant to blog about this last week, but there’s still time to sign up for Patric Kuh’s excellent food writing workshop offered by UCLA Extension. The first class was on Saturday, but there are five more sessions left and I will be guest speaking at one of them! In addition to being one of the most elegant writers in town (period), Kuh has won two James Beards writing awards and is restaurant critic for Los Angeles Magazine—and we all have a lot to learn about the craft from him.

Douro, Te Amo

In Drink, Out of Town on October 18, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Speaking of the October issue of Bon Appétit, my column in that issue is about the Douro region of Portugal. I was there a year ago this week doing research for the story and wanted to share some of my photos from the trip. The terrain is some of the most beautiful wine country I’ve visited in the whole wide world. Look at those hills, and the river snaking through them. Below is Quinta do Crasto, where brothers Miguel and Tomàs produce some of the region’s most spectacular reds.

Before lunch, we had salted almonds and olives, both plucked from trees on the property, which has been home to a working winery since at least the seventeenth century.

Oh, and they make a pretty mean 1970 Quinta do Crasto Colhieta Tawny Port, which was never released commercially, but Miguel uncorked for our lunch. Luscious nutty and butterscotch flavors. I want to time travel back to that afternoon.

Their friend winemaker Luis Seabra from Niepoort was also at lunch, and shared what was my favorite bottle of white on the trip—the 2008 Niepoort “Tiara” Branco, made from unpronounceable grapes like arinto, codega, donzelinho, viosinho, rabigato and more. It was GORGEOUS, and in no way was I biased by my tiara fixation.

And let’s not forget the cheese…

But nothing quite beat coming home to see this little guy dressed as a bee for his second Halloween.