Josef Centeno Crawl

4th & Main Downtown L.A.Peter and I both love chef Josef Centeno‘s cooking. With four restaurants in downtown L.A., we often have a hard time deciding which one to eat at. There’s Baco Mercat (home of the bäco) and Bar Ama (with the best queso in town). High-end Orsa & Winston is currently offering a fantastic Yakitori-Ya menu (through March 2). Josef’s newest eatery, Ledlow, recently won a rave Jonathan Gold review. All the restaurants are within walking distance of each other at 4th and Main, and all are simply fantastic.

After twenty years together, it’s not easy to surprise my husband of 18 years. But for his birthday last month, with the help of Josef and his fiancee (my friend) Betty Hallock, we did just that. I joked to Betty that I wished I could take Peter to all of Josef’s restaurants for his birthday and she said they had actually been thinking of organizing a restaurant crawl.

I was thrilled when Josef offered to select the evening’s menu, which included two dishes and a drink at each location. To make things easier, since it was four different kitchens and staff, I paid for the evening ahead of time and left a tip at each (45 minute) stop. Many thanks to Betty and Josef for helping me surprise Peter!

Photos from our December 2014 “Centeno Crawl” below:

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
STOP 1: Bäco Mercat
Peter was shocked and so thrilled to find the first “Happy Birthday, Peter” menu waiting at our first stop, which was Baco Mercat.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
The Moxie Cocktail at Baco Mercat: Bourbon, cynar, lime juice, agave, mole bitters.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Caesar Brussels Sprouts with Pecorino, Anchovy, Garlic at Baco Mercat.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Hamachi Crudo, Avocado, Hash Brown, Abkhazian Chile Spice at Baco Mercat.

STOP 2: Orsa & Winston

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
The menu waiting at Orsa & Winston.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Breakfast In A Shell with Coddled Egg, Pancetta, maple syrup at Orsa and Winston.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Satsuki Rice with Parmesan Cream, Geoduck and Uni at Orsa & Winston.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Clos du Tue Boeuf Chenin Blanc at Orsa & Winston.

STOP 3: Bar Ama

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Peter’s birthday menu at Bar Ama (stop 3).

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
The Nacho Cocktail (tequila blanco, chile-lime shrub, campari, citrus, honey) at Bar Ama.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Slow Roasted Beef Belly with Pomegranate, Cotija and Tomatillo at Bar Ama.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
“Mom’s Green Enchiladas” with Tomatillo & Chicken at Bar Ama.

STOP 4: Ledlow

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Final stop for birthday cake & soufflé at Ledlow.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Grand Marnier Soufflé at Ledlow.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Pastry chef Margeaux Aragon made a birthday cake too! Chocolate Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting at Ledlow.

December 2015 Selfie
20 Years Together (we met in Nov 1994). Happiness Selfie (Dec 2014).

Leave a comment

Filed under Eating Out

Thank Goodness I LOVE Hot Dogs!

10 Over-The-Top Hot Dogs in L.A.
My report for the L.A. Times
10 Over-The-Top Hot Dogs, L.A. Times

Leave a comment

Filed under Eating Out

Butchers & Barbers in Hollywood

Comfort food and killer cocktails.
My report at the L.A. Times here.

My L.A. Times piece on Butchers & Barbers 12/19/14

Leave a comment

Filed under Eating Out

Terrine Brasserie Opens 12/12/14

Read my report at the L.A. Times here:

My L.A. Times piece on Terrine

Leave a comment

Filed under Eating Out

Thankfully FUN.

Last year I flew to Scotland to celebrate Thanksgiving with my dad and step mum at our home in Bridge of Weir, a beautiful village near Glasgow. Having lost my mother earlier in the year, I just wanted to make an extra effort to be with my father for the holidays. We hadn’t celebrated Thanksgiving together since we lived in Okinawa, back in the early 1970s. It was a wonderful celebration combining Scottish ingredients with American dishes (note: haggis stuffing).

My sister Janet organizes our family Thanksgiving here in Los Angeles. Not only is she a fantastic cook but she goes ALL OUT with a yearly theme for the day. Recent celebrations have included Greek, Caribbean, Southern and even a British Thanksgiving.

This year? Well, we’ve come up with a fun retro idea for 2014 that I’ll be sharing on instagram and twitter on Turkey Day. Or check back here at the end of the month for photos and a recap.

If you’re feeling less than excited about the usual Thanksgiving gathering, think about adding a theme to the day. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Just a few ingredient changes (see below), inexpensive table settings and a trip to the thrift store if needed. Don’t take it TOO seriously… it’s all about having fun.

Photos from previous “theme” Thanksgiving meals:

Greek/Mediterranean 

Greek Thanksgiving 2010
Table setting (Greek)

Greek Thanksgiving 2010
Greek Thanksgiving Menu

Greek Thanksgiving 2010
Appetizers: Pita, Hummus and Saganaki Fried Cheese topped with plum and arugula.

Greek Thanksgiving 2010
Blue/White “Greek” Attire: My nephew Camron and his wife Jennee

Greek Thanksgiving 2010
Opa!

More photos from our Greek Thanksgiving

Southern

Southern Thanksgiving 2009
Southern libations!

Southern Thanksgiving 2009
Southern Thanksgiving Menu

Southern Thanksgiving 2009
Table setting (Southern)

Southern Thanksgiving 2009
Fried Green Tomatoes of course!

Southern Thanksgiving 2009
Uncle Peter carving the turkey (in his Southern overalls & bow tie!)

More photos from our Southern Thanksgiving

British

Thanksgiving 2012
Thanksgiving booze (British Theme)

Thanksgiving 2012
Menu (British Thanksgiving)

Janet (my sister) w her 3 sons: Chace, Cody and Camron. Thanksgiving 2012
My sister Janet and her three sons, Chace (left), Cody and Camron. Lots of plaid for “British” theme…

Kindal & Janet (my niece & my sister) Thanksgiving 2012
Janet and her daughter Kindal

I made Haggis Balls too! Thanksgiving 2012
Haggis BALLS (stuffing and haggis)

Lots of Scottish pride! Thanksgiving 2012
Great Scots! My husband Peter (left) and little brother, Greg.

More photos from our British Thanksgiving

Caribbean

Caribbean Thanksgiving 2008
Caribbean Thanksgiving Menu

Caribbean Thanksgiving 2008
Caribbean table setting

Caribbean Thanksgiving 2008
Bacon wrapped pineapple

Caribbean Thanksgiving 2008
Limbo of course!

Caribbean Thanksgiving 2008
Group shot (Caribbean Thanksgiving 2008)

More photos from our Caribbean Thanksgiving

Again, it’s all about sharing laughs and gathering around the family table. Enjoy and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

P.S. My favorite way to use up leftover stuffing? >

Leave a comment

Filed under Family Stories

Obsessed With Food?

Me too.

Follow me on Instagram.

I photograph my EVERY last bite.

InstagramNov2014ForBlog

Leave a comment

Filed under Eating Out, Little Bites

Mac-O-Licious (Scouting Report)

It’s TRUE… there’s a Mac and Cheese restaurant in the San Fernando Valley!

mac-O-licious Scouting Report

Read my scouting report in the L.A. Times

Leave a comment

Filed under Eating Out