Wednesday, March 25, 2009

San Francisco Trip-Spring Break 2009

During the middle weekend of my two week spring break, my Dad and I took a culinary road trip up to the Bay Area, where we dined at Chez Panisse. However, that was not the best meal we had; not by a lpong shot. Rather, my Dad's friend JB (below) whipped the best meal of the trip up.


Here, you can see him slaving over his cippolini onions. These are special italian onions, which JB tends obsessively for 4 hours while they are simmered in beef stock. As the stock level dips down, more broth is added, always only going halfway up the onion, which is wide and flat. As the onions cook they are saturated, more than I would believe possible, with the thick, rich taste of a beef demi-glace. They were by far my favorite part of the meal; an unbelievable accompaniment.


For appetizers, some hummus and pita bread appeared.


Everyone knew that the real start was going to be the spit roasted prime rib. JB rubbed it lovingly with salt, pepper and mustard before piercing it through with the spit in preparation for the barbeque.


He is very proud of it.


Here JB (right) posed with my dad (left) after we put the prime rib on the grill for its hour and a half long revolving ordeal.


It came out beautifully. The crust crisped up beautifully, creating the elegant roast which all prime rib lovers crave.


We sliced into its delicious pink interior and plated it next to some of JB's heart bustingly so-good-but-so-bad-for-me twice baked potatoes.


For desert, we went to the James Beard ward winning bakery Tartine, where we bought a chocolate hazelnut tart (front left), blackberry tart (middle right) and banana creme pie (back left.

The meal just knocked me out of the park; honestly. It had everything one wants in a meal. Great food, great old friends.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring Break 2009: Sushi Gen, Los Angeles

During spring break, my friend Chris and I decided to get some nice sushi. We normally head over to Studio City when a sushi craving hits, to a place called Midori. They offer a really affordable all you can eat that has some delicious sushi and really fun rolls.

I will admit it- I love a good roll. Sushi Gen offers no such things. Here, you will find only the most traditional edo style sushi, as well as other japanese dishes which we did not try. I do not remember the names of everything, but I can describe the taste of all.


Sushi Gen is located in Little Tokyo, in downtown LA.


When we walked in, we knew that they were serious people. The bar was sparklingly clean, and there 9 (I counted!) chefs behind the bar preparing sushi only. The rest of the cookery was handled in back.


I think this was mackerel. It was pretty good- honestly though, it was not the best piece. It wasnt a great start.


Salmon is my favorite type of sushi, and the beautiful pieces they served at Gen more than made up for the sub-par mackerel. You can see the gorgeous marbling in one direction, but if you look REALLY closely, so can see the individual muscle fibers with the fat running in glistening strands along the side. Needless to say, this was great. It had the creamy, unctuous flavor which all salmon lovers crave.


Next, we called for the king of sushi: prime otoro. Otoro is the meat from the belly of the tuna fish, when the fish is at its most slothful and fatty. As you can see, it is thickly marbled and very fatty.

I was glad I tried this, but not overwhelmed. It had good flavor, but I cannot say I loved the texture- it was a little odd.


Their unagi (eel) was incredible though. It was like they had plated damn near the entire eel- the sushi was huge! It was at least 5 inches of delctable unagi, and the sauce, which can sometimes be cloying or overwhelming, was just perfect. Probably my favorite.


Great story: as we were eating the eel sushi, a chef holds up two large, wriggling shrimp. Chris and I immediately yell that we want those! The chef kills the shrimp, peels them and plates the shrimp. Fresh as can be.


And that wasn't all! We then ate the crispy fried head of the departed shrimp. The head, in my opinion, was better than the body- it had a great crunch to it, due to the exoskeleton.


I think this was albacore- nothing special.


I forget what this was- we asked the chef for his favorite, and he gave us this. It was completely forgettable.


Some excellent hawaiian king mackerel. Silky and smooth.


We ended the night by splitting the monkfish liver- by FAR the best. It tasted like rich, delicious pate or foie- just amazing.

Overall, I really liked Gen. My friend and I disagree, but in mu opinion I will stick to Midori, my all you can eat place. I didn't feel like this was that much better. Or maybe I just can't taste the difference.

Spring Break 2009: Sunday night JJ's Run!

At 10:30 Sunday night, my friends Chris and Haley, as well as myself headed to our favorite Hong Kong style cafe in Monterey park: JJ's.


They are pretty much always open; to my knowledge they close for about 3 hours-from 4Am to 7AM.


We got there by 11: just in time to order from their special 11PM-4AM menu.


We had some pork and preserved egg congee: rice porridge. Like everything I have ever had at JJ's, it was delicious. The pork was all at the bottom, but once we stirred that up it was a perfect porridge. Just the thing to put meat on one's bones.


With the porridge came some chow fun. Now, all of JJ's noodle dishes are just wonderful: they come out in something like 2 minutes after ordering, steaming, blisteringly hot from the pan. I do prefer the chow fun with beef, but the order above was good as well. The chow fun (the thick noodles) have the nice elasticity that I crave from a chow fun.


Haley ordered her personal favorite: the fried rice with seafood and smelt roe. A heaping pile of rice, it contains scallops, shrimp, egg and all sorts of other greasy deliciousness.


Haley, like a champ, wasted no time in digging in.


And no trip to JJ's would be complete without some milk tea: tea with condensed milk. Nom nom nom!

Spring Break 2009: Sunday Dinner

My family loves cooking; I thought I would show you what a typical Sunday dinner at our house looks like.


We started off with some Iberian shepherds cheese; a hard sheeps milk cheese, traditionally served with a type of cherry jam.


My Dad and I had been to the farmers market earlier, where we bought some golden beets (above). They would be roasted.


In an intriguing turn, there was a man selling salads with flowers in them at the same farmers market. It turned out to be delicious; some of the freshest, crispest salad greens I have ever had. Plus, flowers!


For the main course, my Mom whipped together a pasta with roasted tomatoes and asparagus. A little bit of olive oil, and we had a perfect spring pasta.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring Break 2009: Paella at the beach












Spring Break 2009: My farewell to Des Moines


Spring Rolls with Shrimp


Vietnamese Coffee


Pho Ha Dao: Pho with beef tendon, brisket, meatballs and beef eye round. I ordered the beef raw, and on the side (below)


Dinner: Namaste Indian



REALLY spicy peppers stuffed with lentils. Too hot to eat.


A dosa that must have been 18 inches long. A dosa is a crepe like thing, filled with potatoes and lentils. Along side was served sabmhar, a soup, and a ginger chutney.


Interior shot of the dosa. Note how crispy it is.


Onion kulcha: naan stuffed with onions and banked in a tandoori oven, and then smushes down.


Lamb vindaloo. Very yummy.