My new favorite PORK dish.
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My new favorite PORK dish.
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.
At 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.
It 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:
All Flickr Photos from Phil’s Food Fest
Dining Date: 8/29/09
Since our very first visit to Pizzeria Mozza (Christmas Eve 2006), Peter and I have continuously wished for two things: That Mozza would offer a Pizza-to-go / Delivery service, and that Nancy Silverton would make a pizza with chicken liver, guanciale and burrata. If you love Mozza’s Chicken Liver Bruschetta, then you’d understand how amazing this dream pie could be.
Last Thursday, when I learned (via @Foodwoolf on Twitter) that “Mozza 2Go” was OPEN, I immediately texted my husband and wrote, “DO NOT MAKE PLANS TOMORROW!”
Peter had Friday off from work, and up to that moment, we had no actual plans for the 3rd of July. I searched online to find an opening time for Mozza 2Go, but the closest thing to actual hours listed (at that time) was an Eater LA article stating that, “the first order accepted at noon and the last order at 11:00 pm”.
Thinking there would be a line around the block (hey, it’s Mozza after all!), I told Peter we should plan on getting there by 10:30 AM. I figured we could order a pie, eat it there and then do some shopping at the Grove afterwards. There’s a Mac Store at the Grove… and Peter was obsessed about getting his new iPhone. All I wanted was to check out the new Mozza 2Go. It was a “win win” situation for sure.
By 10:45 am, the only people visible at Mozza 2Go were locksmiths working on the doors to the Scuola di Pizza (Pizza School) next door. I took several photographs of the exterior and called the Mozza 2Go phone number. The lovely voice on the recording noted that they were open Tuesday through Sunday, and that the phone lines opened at 11:00 am, with the first order availalable at noon. The message also said to check the Mozza2Go.com website for more details, but as of that morning (Friday July 3rd), the site was not yet online (Peter kept checking with his old iPhone).
So, we waited. “Mozza Groupies”, just the two of us. I kept calling the number and got the same recording… over and over again. At 11:30, we (meaning Peter) decided we should drive to the Grove and come back afterwards. My iPhone-obsessed husband traipsed off to the Mac store, while I impatiently shopped at World Market and Sur La Table (both stores are near the parking lot).
At about one o’clock we finally got back in the car (Peter flying high from his 3Gs iPhone purchase), and drove back to Highland and Melrose. The sidewalk was still empty, but Mozza 2Go was finally OPEN! Yes, some wishes do come true!
No crowds yet, just us and another couple waiting to order pizza. For some reason (hunger?) I thought we could order a pizza and have the choice of either eating there or taking it home, but of course it’s called “Mozza 2Go”! After a quick look around (they sell the chicken liver AND the Budino to go!), we decided to try to get a table at Pizzeria Mozza around the corner. Having skipped breakfast, we were both, by then, famished and a little cranky (at least I was, Peter was playing with his shiny new toy).
During the end of our lunch at Pizzeria Mozza (photos & link below), Peter called Mozza 2GO and ordered a Fennel Sausage Pizza for us to pick up afterwards. We figured we may as well try the 2Go service since we were there, and heck… we never get sick of Mozza!
When we got back to Mozza 2Go, I was curious about the Pizza School next door. “Where do I sign up?” was the first question out of my mouth, but it turns out it’s for private events only, with a max of 45 “students” per class. A press release was recently sent out that noted, “In addition to pizza training the Scuola will be home to a variety of cooking demos, wine tastings and other culinary exploits”. I asked about the cost for a private pizza class (with 44 of my nearest and dearest), but no one had any answers yet. My birthday isn’t until March, so there’s plenty of time for Peter to sort that out.
Scuola di Pizza
6610 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
323 297 1130
Hours: 12pm – 11pm
Free 15 minute parking for take out orders available behind Mozza 2 Go.
Dining date: July 3, 2009
While waiting for the new Mozza 2 Go to open last Friday, my husband Peter and I decided to get some lunch at Pizzeria Mozza, which is right around the corner. We’ve never gone to Mozza just for the pizza, although they certainly do make our favorite pies in town.
If you were to ask us separately, what our favorite pizza was at Mozza, there is no doubt we would both say, “Chicken liver and Guanciale”. It doesn’t actually exist, but we pretend like it does by each ordering our own serving of Bruschetta with Chicken Livers, Capers, Parsley & Guanciale (three pieces each). It’s the one dish that Peter and I always crave, so whenever we sit down for a bite at the pizzeria, we treat the chicken liver on bruschetta like the “main course”, then split a pizza “on the side”.
I want to note here that the bread that comes with the chicken liver is beautiful. The bruschetta is warm, crispy and is a sturdy vehicle for the creamy chicken liver. I have no complaints about the bread, but I just think the chicken liver mixture would be stellar on Mozza’s light and airy pizza crust. The dough could be cooked with just a little olive oil in the wood-burning oven, then topped with chicken liver, guanciale and burrata while still warm.
This brilliant idea of ours hasn’t made it on the menu yet, even though we hint anytime we see Nancy at a food festival or at the restaurant. I was thrilled to learn that Mozza 2 Go will be selling their chicken liver for take-out as well, so you can bet I’ll be having some fun whipping up my dreamy concoction at home!
The pizza (that we shared) on this visit was a luscious Egg, Bacon, Yukon gold Potato & Bermuda Onion Pizza. We also each had a quartino of Bastianich Tocai Friulano wine, and it was a perfect start to the holiday weekend.
641 N. Highland Ave. Los Angeles,
Dining date: July 3, 2009
Mozza 2 Go (website)
Peter and I haven’t been to Nobu IN YEARS, but we used to love going to Matsuhisa (also in the Nobu family) on dates when we first met. As a matter of fact, it was in Matsuhisa’s dining room where my sweet husband proposed to me back in 1994.
While reading a recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine, I was pleasantly surprised to read that Nobu (in Los Angeles) was on a list of America’s Top 10 Sushi Spots.
Bon Ap’s Andrew Knowlton wrote:
“Twenty-two years after he launched a raw-fish revolution with his restaurant Matsuhisa, pioneering chef Nobu returns to America’s capital of sushi and opens another branch of his empire. Expect all the trademarks—Hollywood A-listers, cutting-edge design, and signature dishes, including yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, black cod with miso, and rock shrimp tempura with butter ponzu.”
We had a wonderful evening rediscovering why we fell in love with Nobu’s food (way back when), and also reminisced about those precious date nights too!
903 North La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Dining date: 3/19/09
Bokado is a new Spanish restaurant, bar, and gourmet market, conveniently located ten minutes from my home in Studio City. I first read about it on LATimes.com last month, then added it to my lengthy “to do” list.
The LA Times wrote:
The casual space blends the comfortable grace of a Basque asador (grillery and roast house) with a congenial full bar where updated pintxos (tapas) include spicy patatas bravas, artisanal cheeses and oysters Rockefeller.
When my husband Peter came home early from work last week, we decided to go out for a light dinner and drinks, because it was way too hot to cook, and almost too hot to eat!
Bokado, which means “little bites” in Basque, sounded perfect. When we arrived, the outdoor patio tables were already filled, so we went inside (where it was nice and cool) and grabbed seats at the bar. The interior is modern but also really charming, with the small gourmet market (or gourmet counter really) at the entrance.
As we walked in, we couldn’t help but stop and admire the red-hot standing Berkel slicer near the front window. Someone once told me that the reason chefs prefer this motorless, hand-cranked meat slicer is because the blade doesn’t heat up when slicing paper-thin pieces of meats like prosciutto. On electric-powered slicers, the blade can become too hot, which in turn changes the flavor of the meat.
After we settled in our seats and ordered, I noticed that Bokado owner Frank Leon was in the house, graciously stopping at every table to say hello. Frank also owns La Loggia, a nearby Italian restaurant that we’ve gone to for years, and next to La Loggia is a tapas bar conveniently called “Next Door”, which Frank owns as well.
The tapas (or pintxos) we had at Bokado were delicious and filling, but we still need to go back for a full dinner. I really liked the bar atmosphere because it was light and relaxing, so I’m sure we’ll be spending a lot of summer evenings there with friends.
On our way out, we stopped to take a closer look at the goodies for sale at the cute, little market. The entire back wall was stacked with gorgeous baguettes, and the refrigerated display case held bottles of truffle oil, cheeses, meats and small containers of imported ingredients including quince paste. I like the flavor of quince because it’s not overly sweet, but have never purchased the paste to use at home.
When I asked to buy a container, the gals behind the register couldn’t find a price list anywhere, because as it turned out, they weren’t ready to actually SELL any of the market items yet! Peter and I just laughed and said we’d pick it up on our next visit, but owner Frank overheard the conversation and insisted we take home the quince paste as a gift. Thanks Frank!
Note: This restaurant is now closed
12345 Ventura Blv.
Studio City, CA 91604
Note: Bokado is open for breakfast and lunch too!
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.
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?
Our 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.
If 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.
Last 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.
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
My current, favorite book (that I’m reading again)
Roberto’s Taco Photo Courtesy of David C.
Dining Date: 4/30/09
by Jo Stougaard
I hate dieting. I hate it especially because I love writing about food. Trying NOT to think about food makes me depressed and cranky. Dieting means I can’t eat out at the newest brasserie. Dieting means I can’t make pork belly in my gorgeous Le Creuset braising pan. Dieting means I can’t watch José Andrés eat his way around Spain. It also means I can’t fantasize about sharing salmon tartare coronets with Bourdain and Ripert at the French Laundry. And most importantly, dieting means I can’t talk or write about my favorite foods… which for me equals NO LIFE.
Thankfully, I officially gave up dieting a couple of years ago and decided just to work out more everyday. I know…Duh. With my three dogs it’s easy to get in extra runs each day…. especially living in sunny Los Angeles.
If I have a really big food night planned (a new restaurant or food event) then I’ll cut out carbs for a few days, but that’s it. No regular restrictions on any of the things that bring me so much happiness. The days of morning after guilt and self-loathing are gone. It’s all about joy now. It took most of my adult life to get here, but at least I’m HERE.
Last month my sister invited me to go to the L.A. County Fair with her kids. I hadn’t been to a county fair in years and wasn’t interested… until I remembered all the scrumptious fried foods. Having been a relentless dieter for the past TWENTY years, I would have felt guilty and shameful even stepping near a junk food carnival stand in the past. But this was a whole new fried freak show experience!
We arrived at the fairgrounds around sunset, just in time for dinner. With my niece and nephew in tow (twins, ages 12), we made our way through the late summer crowds and headed straight for the infamous Chicken Charlie’s. We stood there a little dazed under the huge neon signs. So many choices… too many choices! I was so excited my heart was racing. There were Deep Fried Poptarts, Deep Fried Cheese Ravioli, Deep Fried White Castle Cheeseburgers, Deep Fried Frog Legs, Deep Fried Twinkies, Onion Strings, Zucchini, Avocados and more.
Since only the three of us would actually be eating the delightfully greasy entrees, we settled on just four plates. Deep Fried Spam, Deep Fried Poptart, Deep Fried Oreo and my personal favorite, the Deep Fried White Castle Cheeseburger. The WHOLE burger, battered and fried. It was SO good! I’m a huge fan of SPAM and thought that would be my favorite, but I was all about the cheeseburger. My niece Kindal loved the fried Poptart the best and nephew Chace devoured the fried Oreos.
The next morning I woke up feeling a little bloated, a little gassy and not really in the mood to lace up my running shoes. But I did. I took my dogs for a morning run and then ran again in the afternoon. No lingering guilt about the THOUSANDS of calories I consumed the night before. Just a cheerful feeling, remembering a fun evening with my family. Which is what going to the fair is all about right?
Chace & Kindal
Fair Visit: 9/17/08
Note: Max Restaurant in Sherman Oaks is now CLOSED.
Above dining date 9/25/08
9/28/08: We returned with Ron, Diane, Jade & Cody. Started with the Steamed Pork Buns (filled with scrumptious Pork Belly, Pickles and Kimchee)… AWESOME! A must order for our next visit. Cody had the Beef Shortribs- Two Ways, Jade had the Seared Ahi, Ron had the Hangar Steak (so did Peter), Diane and I each had the Angus Burger. Really fantastic meal.
13355 Ventura Blvd. Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 (818) 784-2915