Category Archives: Food Stories (written by me)

Phil’s Food Fest

One of the joys of writing a food blog is getting positive feedback from readers, friends and family. Naturally, I expect my own family to be supportive and not criticize me (too much) for spending almost all my waking hours consumed with thoughts of food.

Dinner w/ "My Life As A Foodie", MyLastBiteAt first, when complete strangers complimented my writing or photographs, I felt sort of stunned because I couldn’t believe anyone (who wasn’t forced via family ties) would take the time to visit My Last Bite. I thought each visitor HAD to have found my website by accident, and very much appreciated each and every comment left.

I still do, and as a “Twitter Fanatic”, I can appreciate how difficult it is to read a blog post that has more than 140 characters these days. It’s a bit frustrating because I’ve found myself becoming impatient when I click on a link to read a detailed recipe or even a two page food story.

What I’m learning to do now, is to stop myself, shake out of “Twitter Mode”, and force myself to relax. This way I can enjoy the words that someone has taken the time to share with the world.

So to those of you who take the time to visit my blog, I want to say THANK YOU! And a very special appreciation of thanks to my good friend Phil Nigash (aka my most frequent commenter!).

Phil and I first corresponded via email after he commented on a Molecular Gastronomy Class post I wrote last year. He was at that time, just thinking about dabbling in “Modern Cooking” and during that first class, we got to make Ferran Adria’s FAMOUS Pea “Ravioli”.

Phil was downright angry that he didn’t know about the class and even spoke about it on his radio show (audio link below). His blog is called “My Life As A Foodie” and focuses on every part of the food industry… not just the pretty side either! Check below for links and more info.

After I heard that first radio segment, I thought, “Wow, what a really generous and solid guy”, and felt totally thrilled that he even mentioned me on his show. I wanted Phil to be my new best (foodie) pal, but of course I was wary about making friends with a complete MALE stranger.

We continued emailing, FaceBooking and getting to know each other’s spouses through photos. Our daily messages consisted of shared food articles, restaurants we wanted to try, or chefs we dreamed about meeting someday.

With my good buddy Phil, MyLastBite.comIt wasn’t until two months later, that Phil and I actually met in person. In February he drove up from Orange County with a friend to attend another fun Molecular Gastronomy class at Sur la Table. My husband Peter and nephew Cody joined me for the class again, and this time we focused on making groovy “Airs and Spheres”.

Soon after I got to meet Phil’s wife Katrina, and we planned an evening at the Bazaar by José Andrés (molecular cooking heaven!). Ever since then the four of us have shared more and more of our lives with each other, including spending some great evenings with my sister’s family and friends.

Since late Spring, Phil and Kat had been trying to organize a dinner party for us at their home in Irvine. The dinner was not only for myself and Peter, but for my sister Janet, her husband Paul, plus family friends; Afaf, Ray, David and John.

Due to scheduling conflicts, the dinner didn’t happen until last month, and it was so worth the wait! The food was fantastic (Phil is an awesome cook), but more importantly we all enjoyed the warm friendship and delicious fun of the evening.

Less than a year ago we were all complete strangers, and because of that first blog comment by Phil, we now get to share this friendship (plus lots of tasty food!) for the rest of our lives.

To this day, Phil is usually one of the first readers to leave a comment on any of my posts or photos, and each message is so thoughtful and supportive. Thank you Phil for your ongoing encouragement and for being my wonderful food-obsessed friend!

Phil’s Food Fest:

Dinner w/ "My Life As A Foodie", MyLastBite
Photos Top Left: Shrimp Cocktail and Bisque.
Top Right: Poke Tacos
Bottom Right: Calçots and La rouille sauce
Bottom Left: Serrano Ham

Dinner w/ "My Life As A Foodie", MyLastBite
Chorizo Sarta, Green Olive Piquillo Pepper Anchovy, Serrano Ham

Dinner w/ "My Life As A Foodie", MyLastBiteCantimpalos (cocktail chorizos) and Aoli

Dinner w/ "My Life As A Foodie", MyLastBite
Potato Blini, Creme Fraiche and Smoked Salmon

Dinner w/ "My Life As A Foodie", MyLastBite
Savory Lobster Ice Cream w/ Chervil, Horseradish Cream and Caviar

Dinner w/ "My Life As A Foodie", MyLastBite
Phil in the kitchen (Savory Lobster Ice Cream)

Dinner w/ "My Life As A Foodie", MyLastBite
Cassoulet (white bean stew, duck confit and garlic sausage)

All Flickr Photos from Phil’s Food Fest


Dining Date: 8/29/09


Phil’s Blog: MyLifeAsAFood.com


Phil’s first mention of MyLastBite on his radio show


At Molecular Gastronomy Class with Phil


Phil’s radio show on Molecular Gastronomy Class


The first Molecular Gastronomy class


Dinner at the Bazaar with Phil & Kat


Sur La Table Cooking Classes


About Twitter


Follow Phil on Twitter


Follow Me!

19 Comments

Filed under Food Stories (written by me)

LudoBites – Chefs Are Rock Stars

My first hard-core rock star crush happened when I was twelve years old. All I wanted was Peter Frampton to “Show Me the Way”. To what or where I wanted him to lead me I wasn’t sure, but I was certain I wanted it. Not only did I sleep with the “Frampton Comes Alive” album cover every night, but I obsessed about him so much that I wanted to LOOK like him.

Chefs are like Rock Stars, MyLastBite.comOn a weekend visit to my grandparents house in San Marino, I succeeded in talking my grandmother into letting me get a perm. Unfortunately she took me to a local beauty school in Pasadena, and the outcome was not even close to the tousled, carefree ringlets on the glossy photo I kissed goodnight. I was a half Japanese, half Scottish girl with an AFRO. It wasn’t pretty. Enough said.

I still have that “Frampton Comes Alive” double album (from 1976). As a matter of fact I still have ALL my favorite albums from my childhood, which is pretty amazing considering the fact that I moved no less than eighteen times before settling in my current home, here in Studio City. Some of the moves were global: Okinawa to California (when my parents divorced), Maryland to the Virgin Islands (during my first marriage to an airline pilot), but most of the moves were throughout California, and it really is a miracle that my delicate record collection survived at all.

Chefs are like Rock Stars, MyLastBite.comEven the two albums I brought from Okinawa (in 1972) are still intact, although they’re now so shabby I finally placed them in protective plastic sleeves. “Peter Pan” and the soundtrack from the film “Oliver!” always take me back to our home in Takahara Heights. I can listen to them on my iPod of course, but there’s nothing better than popping open my battery-operated Japanese record player and spinning vinyl with a cocktail or two.

Looking through my old records over the weekend, I had to laugh at some of my “favorites” way back when. Some of the more embarrassing 33′s I’ve held on to are albums by Leif Garret, Shaun Cassidy, Andy Gibb and the “love of my life” at fifteen, General Hospital’s own Dr. Noah Drake, aka Rick Springfield. Two of my multiple vinyl collections that I’m MOST proud to have, are Elton John and David Bowie.

As I entered high school, like most of my girlfriends, I crushed on Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth and Sting. A few of the bands I still listen to on a regular basis are the Pretenders (Chrissie still rocks), X, Motley Crue, Poison and of course, “classics” like the Stones, the Clash, and the Runaways.

On stage at the Whisky-a-GoGo, MyLastBite.comI was eighteen when David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” was released, and drove my big sister crazy playing “Modern Love” every morning for an entire year. Not only did I listen to the music, but I also grew up playing piano and writing my own songs. This passion for music is now shared with my husband Peter, who I thank on a daily basis for teaching me how to play guitar, and with my niece and nephews. For my 40th birthday, Peter even rented out the world-famous Whisky-a-GoGo so I could have a “rock star” fantasy party. It was amazing.

Growing up, there wasn’t anything more exciting than watching my favorite musicians on stage, but these days I get that same happy rush when I spend time with some of my favorite chefs. I get a little star-struck even, whether it’s watching Vinny & Jon at Animal, chefs Voltaggio* and Vigneron in the open Rojo kitchen at Bazaar, or even strolling from chef to chef at the recent Taste of the Nation event. Call me a “super chef fan” or a groupie even… I don’t care because I’m having so much fun!

To me, chefs ARE ROCK STARS, and the restaurants (at least the ones with open kitchens) are my favorite type of THEATER. The food they create is ART, and I’m just one of the the lucky fans who get to devour each tasty NOTE.

LudoBites, MyLastBite.comOn July 8th, I had the pleasure of attending what I am calling, the BEST DAMN GIG in town. LudoBites (at Breadbar on Third) starring the immensely talented, (and super hot) ROCK STAR Chef Ludovic Lefebvre.

LudoBites is described as “a guerrilla style pop-up restaurant event… that teams up with restaurants that only have breakfast and lunch service… LudoBites will move to a new space every few months, similar to an artist exhibition”.

My friend Charles made the 7:30 reservation for the four us: myself, husband Peter, Charles and his partner Robert. When my friend Bob saw me tweeting about my dinner plans that evening, he called and asked if he and his boyfriend Andrew could join us for what Peter called, the “Food Rave”.

LudoBites, MyLastBite.comThe six of us were giddy after we were seated at the table closest to where Chef Ludo would be working. The setting was surprisingly intimate, and right off the bat, Krissy, Chef Ludo’s beautiful wife made us feel comfortable and welcome. Come to think of it, rock stars always have gorgeous model wives don’t they?

Throughout the evening we went about ordering almost everything on the menu. I THOUGHT we had tasted every main dish, but in fact we missed one (the duck) which I’ll have to order on my next visit. I tried to pick out my favorite bite of the evening, but I couldn’t. Even the lavender honey butter was phenomenal!

Like a well-crafted piece of music, everything Chef Ludo prepared simply ROCKED MY WORLD. Hopefully I’ll be able to score a few more “front row seats” at LudoBites before the tour ends in August.

What we ate:

LudoBites, MyLastBite.com
Shrimps, Sweet and Sour Emulsion, Rosemary $10

LudoBites, MyLastBite.com
White Asparagus Veloute, Mozzarella Ice Cream, Shaved Fennel, Dried Black Olives $14

LudoBites, MyLastBite.com
Grilled Hangar Steak “Kobe Style”, Black Sesame Miso, Potato Chips, Shallots and Charcoal Oil $24

LudoBites, MyLastBite.com
Sauteed Diver Scallop, Red Port-Creme Fraiche, Candied Bacon, Potato by $14

LudoBites, MyLastBite.com
Seared Foie Gras with Corn, Passion Fruits by $22

LudoBites, MyLastBite.com
Creamy Polenta, Cantal Cheese, Oxtail Beef, Black Truffle $14

LudoBites, MyLastBite.com
Lacquered Pork Belly, Mustard Ice Cream, Napa Cabbage, Imaginary Choucroute $18

LudoBites, MyLastBite.com
Heirloom Tomato Salad, Red Onions, Feta Mousse, Oregano $14

LudoBites, MyLastBite.com
Chilled Chorizo, Cantaloup, Cornichon Soup $11. Foie Gras Tart, Maple Syrup, Lemon Paste, Hazelnut Oil $18

LudoBites, MyLastBite.com
SORRY this is so blurry! Poached Egg 65 Degrees, Caramelized Savory French Toast, Smokey Mornay Sauce. $9. Bottom: Kumamoto Oyster, Chablis Wine, Iceberg Lettuce, Borage Flower $12

LudoBites, MyLastBite.com
Chocolate Mousse, Ganache, Chantilly $10

LudoBites, MyLastBite.com
Cheese Course, $35
Photo missing: Halibut, Spiced Butter, Fresh Porcini, Fresh Almonds, Tonnato Style, $22

LudoBites, MyLastBite.com
Chef Ludo, his tats and one of his cool art pieces

All my LudoBites Photos on Flickr

LudoBites at Breadbar
thru August 22, 2009
8718 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
310 205 0124
Dining Date: 7/8/09

About Chef Ludo

Check out his gorgeous book, “Crave”

More about LudoBites

About Kristine (“Krissy”) Lefebvre

Mentioned above:

Peter Frampton Video “Show Me The Way”

Charles (website)

Bob (website)

Peter (his band)

Playing guitar with the twins

Animal Restaurant

The Bazaar by Jose Andres

Taste of the Nation

Chef Marcel Vigneron

Okinawa

Whisky-a-GoGo

*Chef Michael Voltaggio (formerly at the Bazaar) is now working at The Dining Room, Langham Hunginton Hotel

Dr. Noah Drake / Rick Springfield

With a few of my favorite Chef Rock Stars

Ludo Bites (@ Breadbar) on Urbanspoon

More LudoBites Visit @BreadBar >

Photos from ALL LudoBites @BreadBar

LudoBites @RoyalT Cafe

27 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me)

Church and State (1 & 2)

Chef Walter Manzke’s smile is infectious. Wait, maybe I shouldn’t say “infectious” since we’re in the middle of the H1N1 Flu scare (I refuse to call it the OTHER name because I love my bacon).

Church and State, MyLastBite.comOn my first visit to Church and State, I didn’t get to meet the chef until evening’s end, when I stole a few seconds of his time to tell him how much Peter and I enjoyed the restaurant. During our entire dinner though, from across the room, I was carefully watching him as he expedited orders and finished off each plate in the open kitchen.

Between bites of the luxurious beef short-rib bordelaise and the perfectly baked (and cute) tiny ramekins of escargot, I would look over and see Chef Manzke’s face beaming. It’s almost like I could feel his joy drifting through the kitchen, then up above the beautiful, antiquated string of lights, and finally, smack down onto my plate.

Delicious food always makes me happy, but seeing chef Manzke’s ear-to-ear grin in the kitchen definitely made me more aware of the joy and care he (and his crew) puts into each dish.

Church & State, MyLastBite.comI love everything about this restaurant; the exterior, interior, the decor. It resides in a beautiful, old brick building that used to be the loading dock for the Nabisco Biscuit Company, and the downtown location makes me feel like I’m in New York City, or at least “New York Street” at Universal Studios. I was shocked how nearby it was as well: Door to door (with no traffic), it’s only fifteen minutes from our home in Studio City.

The bistro is casual enough for jeans and charming enough for a little, black dress. But personally, it makes me feel like dressing up in a boho-chic skirt, over-sized hoop earrings and chunky, cork platforms (something I imagine Ali MacGraw wore in the seventies, on fabulous trips to Paris).

The bar sits directly across from the kitchen, and we were seated near the large, front windows on our first two visits, with perfect views of both. There’s an antique absinthe dispenser on the bar counter which reminded me of the vintage absinthe spoons I started collecting back in 2001, when Peter worked on the marketing campaign for “Moulin Rouge!”

I think Toulouse-Lautrec himself would have loved one of the small tables along the cool, brick wall along the back. And just because I want to try a different view of the gorgeous room, that’s where you’ll find me on my next visit. Just look for the platform shoes and over-sized hoop earrings.

Church & State, MyLastBite.com
The entrance
Church & State, MyLastBite.com
Escargots de Bourgogne: Snails baked in Garlic and Parsley Butter, $12 (for 6). We will always order these on every visit!

Church & State, MyLastBite.com
They were SO GOOD.

Church & State, MyLastBite.com
Pied de Cochon: Pig’s feet and cheeks (made into a fritter cake), lentils, frisee aux lardons with a poached egg on top, $9. My FAVORITE dish so far! (Pied de Cochon means “pig’s foot” in French)

Church & State, MyLastBite.com
Tarte Flambée: Caramelized onions, Bacon, Gruyère cheese, $11. I love thin pizza crusts, and this was perfection.

Church & State, MyLastBite.com
Steak Frites: French fries, Sauce Béarnaise. Classic and DELICIOUS, we got the smaller “Petite Assiette” (small plate) size for $15 (full size, $25). Note: All the main dishes or “Plats Principaux” are offered in two sizes.

Church & State, MyLastBite.com
The whimsical interior.

Church & State, MyLastBite.com
Oreille de Cochon: Pig’s Ears with sauce bearnaise, $7. Courtesy of the nice couple sitting next to us. Crispy, Fatty, Goodness! (the pig’s ears, NOT the couple!)

Church & State, MyLastBite.com
Our wonderful server/pastry chef Marge (aka Mrs. Manzke!), showing us the dessert offerings for the evening.

Church & State, MyLastBite.com
I forgot what dessert we chose TO SHARE. Instead this incredible plank of sweetness was brought to us by Chef Manzke himself!

Apricot Tart, Pot de Crème au Chocolat, I loved the quenelle next to the chocolate (if I remember correctly, there were tiny delicious bits of toasted hazelnuts underneath), Apple Galette (I think), Croustade aux Fraises: Warm strawberry crips, vanilla ice cream.

I didn’t have the heart to tell the chef that I’m not really “into dessert” (one bite and I’m good). Luckily, Peter is INTO dessert, so even though we were full from dinner, we finished most of it!

Church & State, MyLastBite.com
The bar and Absinthe sign (it’s blurry, you’re not drunk)

Church & State, MyLastBite.com
Desserts and Cheeses in front of the open kitchen

Church & State, MyLastBite.com
The kitchen

Church & State, MyLastBite.com
Chef Manzke finishing two dishes, ticket orders

Church & State, MyLastBite.com
Top Left: Immersion Circulator (for cooking Sous Vide). Bottom Left: Chatting with chef Manzke. Right: Chef Walter Manzke expediting. I wanted so stand there all night and watch!

With Chef Walter Manzke, MyLastBite.com
All Smiles with chef Manzke.

Our perfect dinner was made even better by a chance meeting with Tasting Table’s Lesley Balla (former Eater LA editor). We’re “friends” on Twitter and Facebook, but it so was nice to say hello in person!

Church and State BistroChurch & State, MyLastBite.com

1850 Industrial St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 405-1434

Website (with pdf menu)

Reservations on OpenTable

Dining Dates:
4/5/09
5/2/09

Mentioned Above:

Moulin Rouge!

Toulouse-Lautrec

Absinthe (about)

New York Street, Universal Studios

Ali MacGraw

More about Chef Walter Manzke (work history)

Beef Short Rib Bordelaise that we had on our first visit

All my Church and State photos on Flickr

Church & State on Urbanspoon

9 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me)

Casa Vega

Casa Vega restaurant in Sherman Oaks has always meant “pure comfort” to me. Peter and I have been regulars since 1994 (when I moved from San Diego), and for years we ate there at least once a week. That was before the smoking ban came into effect (not that either of us ever smoked), and before hungry patrons were forbidden to drink cocktails outside.

They’ve never taken reservations, and back then we didn’t mind sitting out in the waiting area for an hour or more, because the covered patio felt like an extension of the inside bar. We always had the same drink; Two large “Tres Generaciones” Margaritas on the rocks.

After making our way into the actual bar, we’d wait a bit longer and loved watching the crowd. It was such a wild mix of people: Studio execs (like Peter), families with small kids, single gals and guys on the prowl, and a fair share of San Fernando Valley’s aspiring porn stars.

Our favorite tables were (and are still) one of the wall booths in the back right, larger dining room. If you’ve never been, and like people-watching, they’re well worth waiting for. From there, you can keep an eye out for whoever is coming into the dark room, and over the years we’ve spotted (to name just a few); Jennifer Aniston (several times, pre and post Brad), Mickey Dolenz from the Monkeys, and the one and only (“give-me-another-margarita-so-I’m-brave-enough-to-say hi”) George Clooney.

After settling in our booth, we never had to pick up a menu or actually order our food. The waiter would look at us and say, “One Casa Vega salad, one carnitas combo to share, flour tortillas, and a chile relleno on the side, right?”

Our love for the restaurant extends throughout our family. When my brother Greg visits from Scotland, the first place he wants to go in ALL of Los Angeles (straight from the airport) is Casa Vega. It’s legendary even in far away Bridge of Weir and Glasgow, although like most locals he refers to it as simply, “Vega”.

On the afternoon of 9/11, like everyone, we were glued to our television re-watching the footage and listening to a frightened America shut down. Our good friend and neighbor, Nelson, was with us and we sat around in tears, holding our dogs and feeling helpless.

After awhile I just got angry and didn’t want to sit home and cry anymore. I jumped up and said, “That’s IT… we are NOT going to stay here and be afraid… we’re going to Vega”. Thank goodness they were open. It was early (5pm or so) and there were only a few other people in the bar. Slowly, the restaurant started filling up and although the mood was somber, the camaraderie in the room made it okay to be out getting drunk and socializing on such a horrible, tragic day. Nothing could take away the shock of what happened earlier in the morning, but that meal at Casa Vega was one of the most comforting I’ve ever had.

Admittedly, the food isn’t pretty to look at, but it is ooey gooey delicious. We’ve spent many a crowded Cinco de Mayo there and no matter what the occasion, we never stray from our favorite dishes: One Casa Vega salad (a crisp tortilla with chorizo, spiced beans, lettuce, tomato, beets and parmesan cheese), one Carnitas combo to share (tender pieces of seasoned pork, served on a bed of shredded lettuce with freshly made pico de gallo), flour tortillas, and a chile relleno on the side. And of course at least two “Tres Generaciones”Margaritas on the rocks. Now, that’s pure comfort if you ask me.

My Favorites at Casa Vega, MyLastBite.com

Casa Vega
13301 Ventura Blvd (at Fulton Ave)
(818) 788-486
Website

Cinco de Mayo 

Bridge of Weir, Scotland

Tres Generaciones Tequila

My brother Greg

Our friend Nelson

More Vega Photos 

Dining Date: Since 1994

6 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me)

Kogi

The Kogi Taco Truck made me miss being in my twenties. Especially over the last couple of months, since I started following their Twitter updates on my cell phone. Late at night I’d be in bed reading a book, and have to stop so I could see the incoming Twitter text: “10PM-2AM@The Brig – Abbot Kinney and Palm in Venice”. I couldn’t stop wondering, “Who ARE these people partying EVERY night of the week, chasing down the Kogi taco truck at 2AM?”

It was sort of depressing, because I wanted to be out there chasing the truck too, but then again, I didn’t want to be OUT THERE chasing the truck (or chasing anything for that matter). The Alibi Room in Culver City actually runs a Kogi kitchen (monday thru saturday), but still, I had no desire to fight rush-hour traffic and wait in a ridiculously long line, just for a TACO. 

I admit it, at 45 years old, I’m definitely more of an OpenTable, “reservations a month in advance” sort of eater these days, but of course, that wasn’t always the case.

Twenty-Something, MyLastBite.com

Shortly after I turned twenty-one, I moved to Pacific Beach in San Diego, then spent the next couple of years partying non-stop with my friends. Our days consisted mostly of working in retail during the day, sunning ourselves on our days off and planning “girls night out” EVERY single night of the week.

Most of us were on pretty tight budgets, but we knew which beach bars served free “happy hour” food (drinks bought by the fellas), and it usually consisted of nachos, taquitos or plates of bacon-topped potato skins. Remember when potato skins were the cool, new appetizers?

Roberto's Taco Shop, MyLastBite.comOur favorite drinking holes back then were places like the Beachcomber or the Pennant, and we never missed a Tuesday $1 Margarita night at Diego’s on Garnet Avenue. Quick trips to Mexico for cheap lobster and margaritas were followed by dancing all night at the local clubs.

These nightly adventures always ended with a trip to Roberto’s Taco Shop in Mission Beach, which was steps from the shore, next to the aging Big Dipper roller coaster. The giant, carne asada burrito was my favorite and I always ordered it with extra guacamole. I can’t recall ever eating there during the day, or going there sober for that matter, but back in the day, Roberto’s Taco Shop was MY Kogi.

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.comIf you’re not familiar with Kogi BBQ, then you probably don’t live in the Los Angeles area. The first time I read about Kogi was on an EaterLA/Lesley Balla post back in December (boy, do I miss her on Eater these days). Ever since then, Kogi has been the “it” taco truck in the city, offering the flavor of spicy Korean barbecue, conveniently wrapped in a fresh tortilla. Kogi gained even more followers when they started using Twitter to communicate upcoming locations with their customers. It was a simple (and brilliant) way for Kogi to keep in contact with hungry, usually late-night, eaters.

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.comLast Thursday, I just happened to be reading the Kogi website, when I noticed a post titled, “What 20 Bucks Can Buy You”, and was thrilled to learn that it was for a fundraiser in nearby Burbank the same evening. The Gina Alexander Philanthropy Project partnered with Kogi to offer All-You-Can-Eat Kogi tacos for $20, with the proceeds benefiting the Center of Hope Village (for abused children) in the Philippines.

I called Peter and made sure he could make it home early so we could finally try the now-famous Kogi tacos together. Just last week the Kogi truck had been on the Fox lot where he works and he hoped to try it then, but the line was just too long for a my workaholic husband, who doesn’t like to break for lunch anyway.

We arrived at the event 30 minutes early, and after paying our $20 donation (each), we headed for the Kogi truck line, quite pleased to be very close to the front. It was another hour before the truck actually showed up, but there was plenty of entertainment to keep us occupied (photos below), and we didn’t mind because it was all for a good cause.

Peter and I both ordered two Korean Short Ribs and one Spicy Pork. The All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Taco offer, was limited to three at a time, which made sense because when I looked back at the line behind us, there must have been at least 150 hungry people waiting on the street. 

The tacos were terrific (LOVED the spicy pork), and we were content with the three that we tried. Of course if we didn’t have to get back in line and wait again, we would have definitely made it a furious pig-out session, but mostly it felt good to make the donation (Peter later told me he slipped them another $20), and to FINALLY get a taste of the Kogi phenomenon!

Afterwards we headed home, took our pups for their evening walk, and then I fell asleep next to my husband reading my favorite, new book. And guess what? I was tickled pink, NOT to be in my twenties again.

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
Peter saving our spot in the Kogi line

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
DJ Derek Basco entertaining the kids (and us grown-ups too!)

Wrestling at GAPP Event, MyLastBite.com
Waiting for the wrestling event

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
The Kogi Taco Truck arrives!

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
Peter almost up to order… and check out the line behind him.

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
The Kogi Truck menu

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
Korean Short Ribs and Spicy Pork!

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event, MyLastBite.com
GAPP founder (Gina Alexander Philanthropy Project) Gina Alexander, with Kogi owners Caroline Shin-Manguera and Mark Manguera.

Upcoming All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Taco dates: 

Thurs, June 25
Thurs, July 30
Thurs, August 27
You must rsvp for your name to be placed on the list.
Email/RSVP or Get more info by contacting
gapp@ginaalexander.com

More Kogi photos on Flickr

Mentioned Above:

Kogi Website

Gina Alexander Website

Center of Hope Village in Philippines

Kogi on Twitter

About Twitter

The Alibi Room

All-You-Can-Eat Kogi Event Info

Eater L.A. – Lesley Balla on Kogi

Lesley Balla currently writes for Tasting Table

OpenTable

Eater LA

My current, favorite book (that I’m reading again)

With Peter

Our Pups

Roberto’s Taco Photo Courtesy of David C.

The Pennant Bar

The Beachcomber

Dining Date: 4/30/09


Kogi Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

13 Comments

Filed under Food Events (festivals, classes, etc.), Food Stories (written by me), Food Trucks

Greek Lemon Chicken

Allergy season in the San Fernando Valley is, by far, my least favorite time of year. It’s now been a month since my spring-time symptoms kicked in, and I’ve been feeling pretty lousy the entire time: Itchy and watery eyes, non-stop sneezing, postnasal drip (with congestion, which I don’t understand), loss of smell, and the worst part, for me, are those dreadful hours when I loose my sense of taste.

I’m currently taking two different prescription medications that definitely help ease the symptoms, but living with three dogs (who sleep in the bed) only adds to the problem. Peter and I will never get rid of our dogs (aka our “kids”), and honestly, most of the time I just feel really grateful that seasonal allergies are my only health issues.

But last week, on top of dealing with my sensitive sinus problems, I came down with a nasty, head cold. I didn’t even know it was a cold for the first few days because I hadn’t had a good night sleep in weeks, and already felt drained and depressed. I tried to shake the blues by drinking extra cups of green tea, reading my current favorite book on the sunny porch out front, and also by taking extra walks with the pups.

When I woke up Thursday morning still feeling gloomy, I suddenly remembered that one thing that was missing from my days. Talking aloud to myself (with my dogs tucked in snugly beside me), I sat up in bed and said, “cook, stupid”.

Because I was suffering from both allergies and a head cold, I hadn’t cooked a proper meal all week. Hot tea and cereal for breakfast, cold meds for lunch and “frozen entrées” for dinner. No wonder I felt like crap. Physically, I wasn’t getting any real nutrition, and I’d forgotten to do the one thing every day that makes my spirits soar.

I then decided to make one of my very favorite, super EASY one pan meals. Greek Lemon Chicken with Roasted Garlic and Potatoes. I first had it when I visited friends in the Greek Islands over twenty years ago, and it’s always a comforting plate of food. And as you can imagine, I felt amazingly better after just one bite.

Greek Lemon Chicken w/ Roasted Garlic and Potatoes

Ingredients:

3 1/2 to 4 pounds of chicken pieces (I prefer thighs and legs) with skin.

3 medium lemons (juiced, but save lemon halves)

3 pounds of baby potatoes (your favorite)

1 tablespoon of oregano

2 to 3 teaspoons of salt (to your liking)

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

2 medium heads of garlic

1/2 cup of olive oil

Greek Lemon Chicken 2, MyLastBite.com
Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Clean the chicken and potatoes, dry then place in large baking pan.

Cut tops of garlic (be careful) to expose cloves, and set face up in pan.

Next add olive oil, the juice of 2 lemons, then rub over everything.

Make sure there’s a nice coating of oil on the bottom of pan, so the chicken doesn’t stick.

Add oregano, salt and pepper. Coat everything in the pan.

Add the last two lemon halves in pan and let bake with the other ingredients.

Now, turn chicken pieces so the skin in facing down on the pan bottom.

Greek Lemon Chicken 3, MyLastBite.comCook for about 90 minutes total:
After 30 minutes, carefully remove hot pan from oven and gently turn over the chicken pieces so the skin is facing UP. This way you’ll get a nice, crispy and flavorful skin.

At the same time, turn over the potatoes and then place back in oven for 60 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

To serve: After the garlic heads have cooled, you can pop out each roasted clove with a knife and serve the sweet, mushy cloves on top of the chicken. Or, do what I did and serve the entire half of the clove itself. They’re delicious smashed into the potatoes or added to warm, crusty bread as well. The extra lemon halves (now soft and baked) can be eaten too. Enjoy.

Greek Lemon Chicken 4, MyLastBite.com

Note: The dish is terrific on it’s own, but it’s even better with a Horiatiki Salata (classic Greek country salad). I didn’t think to get the Greek salad ingredients at the market that day, so I tossed together a side dish with things I had at home: clementines, fresh green beans, and roasted beets.

Mentioned Above:

Horiatiki Salata: Recipe for Greek Country Salad

My Pups

In Greece

Cuties California Clementines

Current favorite book: “A Homemade Life” by Molly Wizenberg

“Cook, Stupid.” written by Jo Stougaard ©MyLastBite.com All Rights Reserved. No usage allowed including copying or sharing without written permission.

Greek Lemon Chicken W/ Roasted Garlic & Potatoes on Foodista

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Filed under Food Stories (written by me), Recipes

The Flirtini Incident

The last time Peter and I hosted Easter brunch at our house, it was sort of a disaster.

We invited my sister Janet, Peter’s sister Susan and both their families for a late Sunday brunch. I spent a few days getting the back garden perfectly decorated with new flowers, and set up a long dining room table outside with my great aunt’s hand-painted china. I even got out my Scottish (clan Maxwell) grandmother’s antique linen napkins and gently ironed each piece, which wasn’t so easy to do because of the hand-embroidered “M” sticking up on the corners.

It was a gorgeous Easter Sunday and our backyard looked like a page out of House & Garden magazine, especially with the flea-market chandelier hanging above the table. Peter secured the heavy fixture to a large branch on our oak tree, even though we didn’t need the light of course. The glass made the garden so pretty, twinkling in the sun through the leaves.

I always like having a “signature” cocktail when I entertain for a large group (even for brunch!). It makes it easier for the hostess (so I don’t have to set up a full bar) and it makes it fun for the guests, especially if the drink is something new.

A few weeks before the disastrous Easter, I was watching the Sex in the City episode where Samantha befriends the transvestites in her new apartment building. Throughout most of the episode she and the “ladies” were arguing over late-night noise outside her bedroom window and Samantha couldn’t get any sleep. After an ongoing catfight with the “guys”, including throwing water on them from her apartment window, she finally decided it would be better just to make nice, and hosted a roof-top barbecue for the whole gang. The episode ended with Samantha raising a glass, toasting Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and her new “girl friends” with a cocktail called, “Flirtini”.

Samantha’s Flirtini Recipe:
2 oz. Vodka
1/2 oz. Apricot Liquor or Triple Sec
1/2 oz. Pineapple Juice
Splash of Champagne, garnish with a strawberry

I thought it would be so fabulous to serve Flirtinis for Easter lunch. They sounded so “fresh and fruity, like springtime”! It was about noon when our guests arrived and the grown-ups started drinking the first of several pitchers. I had never gotten a buzz so fast before (I’m sure it was the vodka mixed with champagne), and by the time we sat down to eat, we were all stinking DRUNK.

What type of food did I serve for our beautiful Easter brunch? I can’t remember (or maybe I don’t want to remember). I had a hangover by late evening and spent the next two days cleaning and packing up the antique dishes. All that effort setting up the garden, gathering our family together, and the memory of the day is just a painful blur.

I haven’t had a Flirtini since, and only remembered it when I suggested to Peter that we should host Easter at our house this year. But he had a much better idea: How about we treat our family to Easter brunch at the Bazaar?

*Brunch at the Bazaar by José Andrés [visit 10]

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Huevos a la Cubana “Andy Garcia” (12 Tiny Eggs Sunny Side Up), $12. One of the three new brunch items on the menu at the Bazaar by José Andrés. I know this LOOKS like a lot of yolk, but these were small quail eggs. Lightly crispy underneath with a savory tomato sauce on top.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Eggs Benedict “New Way”, Iberico Ham, $18. So beautiful that I couldn’t stop turning the plate and taking photos! The piece of ham was CRISPY and crackled when I bit into it, and the foam tasted like butter. I’ll never be able to have Eggs Benedict anywhere else again.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Savory Spanish Torrijas: Iberico Ham, Egg 63 (egg was poached at  63ºF.) and Idiazabal Cheese, $18. This was my favorite new brunch item. It was very similar to french toast under the ham… but so much better of course!

Along with the new brunch items, we shared dishes (that I’ve had several times before) from both the regular Traditional and Modern menus including:

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Tuna Ceviche and Avocado Roll, $12. My sister Janet’s favorite.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Crab Meat Steamed Buns with Pickled Japanese Cucumbers, $18. Three per order (about two bites per little sandwich), never enough!

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Croquetas de Pollo (Chicken and Bechamel Fritters), $8 This is ALWAYS a favorite at the table. Perfect bites (like large tater tots) of little “chicken pot pies”.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Bloody Mary: Freshly made tomato juice with a celery-wasabi foam, $16. Definitely could have been a meal in itself! I loved the wasabi foam on top.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
In front: Tableside “Nitro” Blood Orange Screwdriver: Frozen liquid nitrogen blood orange and vodka, $20. House-made Lemonade (freshly squeezed lemon juice, rosemary syrup), $6. Bloody Mary (back, left).

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Felix Meana making the “Nitro” Blood Orange Screwdriver: Frozen liquid nitrogen blood orange and vodka. I love when the liquid nitrogen cart comes rolling up to the table. This screwdriver was velvety smooth and strong! We all loved it.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Clockwise from top left: Jade (partial), my nephew Cody, Peter’s niece, Chanel.
Top Right: My niece Kindal and Cody’s girlfriend Jade.
Bottom Right: Peter’s sister Susan and her boyfriend, Jerry.
Bottom Left: Chanel, Peter and Miles (Peter’s nephew).

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Clockwise from top left: Miles and my friend, Laur.
Top Right: Susan, Jerry, my sister, Janet and nephew, Chace.
Bottom Right: Jo (me!) and Peter.
Bottom Left: Cody and Chanel.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Clockwise from top left: Miles digging into dessert, Chace gets comfy on the Blanco couch. With the twins, Chace and Kindal.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Peter holding court in the Blanca room! The Rojo room was closed for the restaurant’s first official brunch.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Chef Marcel Vigneron invited the twins (my sister’s kids, Chace and Kindal) back to see the kitchen. They are both fans of “Top Chef” and have been cooking since they were really little, so this was heaven! Thanks Chef!

Dishes we also shared, that I’ve had on previous visits:

Sweet Potato Chips with Yogurt Tamarind Dip, $10

Philly Cheesesteak Air Bread, $8

‘Pa amb’ tomaquet (bread with tomato in Catalan)

Foie Gras and Quince on mini Brioche Bun, $15

Nitro Coconut Floating Island Dessert, $10

We also shared a pitcher of Sangria Rojo, $42. (no photo)

The Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 9004
(310) 246-5555
Dining date: 4/12/09

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.comAn extra treat for me was meeting Chef Katsuya Fukushima (in photo, at right). I had seen him on an episode of “Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie” and was wowed by his knowledge of “modern” cuisine. Chef Fukushima works closely with José Andrés at MiniBar in Washington D.C.

A very special THANK YOU to Bazaar Manager, Felix Meana (also in photo) for taking such good care of us. You made the day extra special.

Thanks also to William and Audra for organizing our large (table of twelve) reservation!!

All my Bazaar photos on Flickr

Mentioned above:

Sex in the City: Episode 48

Top Chef

The twins cooking

House & Garden

“The Flirtini Incident” originally published April 15, 2009

The Bazaar no longer serves brunch.

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Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me), Molecular Cooking