A passion for food + fashion

Posts Tagged ‘The Balvenie’

The Ramen Diaries

In Drink, Food on February 14, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Where to begin? The lost hours shopping for ingredients in Little Tokyo, the multiple visits to Jacob at Huntington Meats in search of pork bones, the phone calls and texting between me and my coconspirator Alex, the recipe that redirected us to no fewer than seven other recipes, or the mountains of dishes occupying every last inch in our kitchen? Well, let’s begin at 7:30 am yesterday, when I ignited the gas flame on our monster of a Wolf range and started this damn broth.

7:30 am Chang’s ramen recipe begins, apparently without irony, by saying “First, get everything ready.” Yeah, thanks. So the way Alex and I divvied up labor meant that she spent the previous evening slow-roasting pork butt and belly for HOURS on end. I was starting a broth that would take over 10 hours to make. It begins with rinsing konbu and then simmering over high heat.

8 am … feed Tiny G breakfast, remove konbu…shiitakes simmering for 1/2 hour.

8:30 am … spoon out mushrooms with a spider…chicken legs go into the broth, pork bones go into the oven to roast for an hour

9 am: flip pork bones, back into oven

9:30 am: pork bones come out of oven

9:45 am: chicken legs come out of the broth; pork bones and bacon go in. Mr Foodinista and I walk over to Larchmont for bagels and run into GastroKid’s Hugh Garvey with Violet and Desmond at Sam’s Bagels, continue up street and run into Alex and her kids. Alex pulls a tupperware of pickled vegetables for our dinner from her daughter’s stroller for us to try. They’re insane! Particularly the pickled Asian pear.

10:45 am … back home in time to remove bacon (don’t worry – Tiny G and his Aunt Claire were at home keeping an eye on the broth)

11: 30: Tiny G goes down for nap. Shower. Drive to….

12 pm: Chanel “Blue Satin” manicure with Sandra on Wilshire x Crescent Heights (310-292-2263)

1 pm: bring dashi and mirin to boil, simmer pistachios for one hour (for salad course)

2pm: fry ground chicken patty, reheat puréed cauliflower and chop apple for Tiny G’s lunch

2:10 pm: drain braised pistachios and purée with water … chop radishes and toss with salt and sugar (for salad)

3 pm: write out place cards and set table for 10.

4:30 pm: chop two bunches collard greens and simmer with water, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, brown sugar for 40 mins.

5:20 pm: change into Dolce & Gabbana ghetto gold leaf bracelet, J Brand black twill and an Anna Sui top—the latter is not only Chinese red but a nod to Chinese New Year!

5:30 pm: add scallions, chopped onion and carrot to broth

6 pm: test water for temperature (140 – 145 degrees) and add eggs to slow poach for 45 minutes—Chang’s signature technique is also known as onsen tamago, or “bath eggs”

6:15 pm: Alex and her husband Greg arrive with roasted pork butt and pork belly. I remove bones and veggies from broth and strain thru cheesecloth into pot. As you may have ascertained, I’ve also uncorked a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc…

6:25 pm: Alex removes layer of fat from pork belly.

6:30 pm: Greg preps sashimi course with spoils from Fish King in Glendale:

6:45 pm: Remove eggs from hot water and put into ice bath. My sister’s date arrives to take her to Avatar at the Cineramadome and a late dinner at Street. Claire has spent most of the afternoon outdoors so as not to smell like rendered fat when he picks her up…

7:05 pm: Neighbors Martha and Alex A. arrive with Sapporo.

7:10 pm: Neighbors Alyssa and Chris arrive; Chris is pulling his kids’ radio flyer wagon with a cooler full of assorted Hitachino Nest beer. Here he is serving our very chic neighbor and documentary film producer Martha.

7:10 pm: Tokyo expats and neighbors Whit and Jen arrive with Yebisu beer and sake. Jen designs the MOST amazing Japanese baby clothes under her NOKO label.

8 pm: Sashimi course, beautifully assembled by Greg…

8:20 pm: Fry oyster mushrooms in grapeseed oil and finish with sherry vinegar. Plate salads…pistachio purée, radishes, oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, radish greens, pickled sunchokes and braised pistachios…

8:40 pm: Whit delivers treatise on saké. He knows his stuff. And we toast to living on the greatest block in all of Los Angeles!

9 pm: Alex D. and I sneak out to kitchen, aided by Jen, to assemble ramen. Water boiling for ramen, running long poached eggs under hot water, seaweed torn and distributed among bowls, broth ladeled into bowls, stewed bamboo shoots (prepared previous evening) reheated and distributed among bowls along with ramen, chopped scallions, collard greens, eggs, INSANELY good roasted pork belly and pork butt…

9:10 pm: And here’s a funky one of me peeling and liberating all those damn eggs…tricky…

9:20 pm: Ramen is served! Was it worth it? OH. MY. GOD. YESSSSSSSSSSSS. What followed involved mochi for dessert, an ill-advised late-night decision to crack some Champagne, 30 Year Balvenie single-malt for some, vodka + tonic for others, more beer and Cuban cigars. Yowza.

1 am: And the aftermath? Happy Valentine’s Day!

Julius’ Ides of March

In Drink on March 15, 2009 at 9:51 pm

invite

Without doubt, one of the best invitations I’ve received in recent memory was to yesterday’s Scotch tasting hosted by my friends Mary and Ed. Photographer Julius Shulman was the guest of honor, and it was his Scotch we were enjoying. In addition to his iconic photographs, which include some of my all-time favorite images of Southern California, Shulman is known as something of a Scotch aficionado. Here’s the man himself, along with friend Jonathan, who gave Julius his first bottle of Scotch a decade ago.

Julius with friend Jonathan, who gave him his very first bottle of Scotch ten years ago.

Ed and Mary’s place is incredible, high in the hills of Eagle Rock, complete with a poolside tiki bar. We gathered outside to enjoy some nibbles before launching into the single malt.

pool

Mary had individual water bottles for all of us with our names Sharpee’d on the label.

water

John from Seven Grand downtown lead the tasting, and a mighty fine job he did, taking us through multiple Glens (-livet, -fiddich, -rothes), Oban, Laphroaig, Balvenie, Talisker, Macallan, to name a few. Love the Balvenie and Talisker, both of which we have at home, but am now totally into Oban—briny, honeyed and malty with a bit of smoky spice.

johnscotch

Councilman Tom LaBonge stopped by to toast Julius (with water, which we’ll forgive him thanks to a well-played witticism involving William Mulholland), while the rest of us toasted with something a little stronger. I wish I’d had a moment to talk to him about the street lights that are out at the end of our block, about which we’ve all called him and have been playing a mighty long game of phone tag with his field officer. 

labongeglasses

Unfortunately we had to get back to Tiny G before dessert was served, but the three cakes pretty much spelled it out: ALL. HAIL. JULIUS.

cakes

Thanks, Mary and Ed! Can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon. And thank you Mr. Shulman for sharing tastes of all those amazing single malts!