Comfort food and killer cocktails.
My report at the L.A. Times here.
Tag Archives: hollywood
Comfort food and killer cocktails.
Read Jonathan Gold’s review here, and do go if you’ve never had authentic paella. It’s simply life-changing!
Paella de Llamatol with Patagonia Shrimp, Garlic Lemon Aioli, Bomba
Photo by Jo Stougaard
Comfort Food & Moonshine? HECK YES!
My first bites at George Abou-Daoud’s Township: Kitchen Americana & Saloon…
District has closed, but luckily we now have Township!
George Abou-Daoud’s District On Sunset is my kind of hangout. A casual, friendly bar with killer food including a raw oyster bar, SPAM (woot!) Sliders and a Venison Relleno with Goat Cheese, that recently made GQ Magazine’s “Best New Dishes in America” list.
L.A. Times Food Critic, S. Irene Virbila wrote: “It’s a little bit steampunk, a little bit West Village back in the day. First of all, there’s the bar, a glorious hunk of mahogany that stretches from the front to the back of the long, narrow space. It was built in 1913 in France; you can’t help but wonder at all the changes and characters it must have seen in its many years.”
I think the space is a lot like its proprietor (who also owns several other eateries including the Mercantile next door). District is elegant yet so welcoming, with a surprising bit of sass on the menu.
Guess where I’ll be celebrating this New Year’s Eve?
Photos from District:
Note: This restaurant is now CLOSED.
District On Sunset
6600 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Dinner at RH restaurant has been one of the best all-around dining experiences I’ve had in quite a while. It’s not just the sleek surroundings of the restaurant, the attentive staff or even the food writer’s dream of an open kitchen. It’s mostly about the straightforward, yet sumptuous market-driven cooking of French-trained Chef Sebastien Archambault.
Having grown up in the 70’s, I also loved the fact that I was dining at the “Riot Hyatt” (RH), the center for all rock ‘n’ roll badness way back when. One of the best-known stories of the infamous hotel was when (as Wikipedia notes): “Led Zeppelin rented as many as six floors of the hotel in the mid-to-late 1970s for the band members and entourage. Drummer John Bonham was reported to have driven a motorcycle along the hallways”.
If you’ve seen the film “Almost Famous”, you’ll remember the hotel scene where Penny Lane takes William to meet with the band. Director Cameron Crowe did a wonderful job replicating the hotel’s free-spirited fun of the era, and even though I never got to actually stay at the “Riot Hyatt”, a few years ago I did come very close.
In 2004, my husband Peter rented out the legendary Whisky-a-GoGo club for my 40th birthday party. He knew that as a kid, I used to sneak out to see bands like “X” and “Motley Crue”, so it was a real treat to play guitar on the same stage.
The Whisky is just up the street from the hotel, so after our gig we loaded up the band equipment, then dropped off Greg and his mates at the legendary flophouse. The hotel was renovated in January 2009 and is now called the Andaz West Hollywood.
The food at RH Restaurant is more “French Brasserie” than “Sunset Strip Room Service”, but take one bite of Chef Archambault’s “RH” Burger and you’ll feel like a self-indulgent, spoiled celebrity. The Black Angus beef is topped with a piece of perfectly seared foie gras, morel mushrooms, and it comes with a side of TRIPLE-fried french fries with fresh truffle shavings (not just truffle oil).
The RH Burger is absolutely my favorite burger and fries combination EVER. On top of that, the rest of the meal was excellent as well.
What we ate:
RH at Andaz West Hollywood
8401 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(323) 785-6090 Website
Dining Date: 7/1/09 with Peter, Julian & Wendy
My brother Greg’s band (in 2004) playing at my 40th birthday
“Riot Hyatt” clip from “Almost Famous” (scene starts at 1 minute in)
“Almost Famous” on IMDB
“Almost Famous” DVD
All my RH photos on Flickr
With my brother Greg, on another legendary L.A. stage
I just purchased my ticket to Taste of the Nation 2009, and wanted to share a few photos from last year’s event. If you’ve never been before, it’s a great opportunity to taste wonderful food from many of our top L.A. restaurants.
My favorite part (besides all the food) was chatting with the chefs in a relaxed, fun atmosphere… all while supporting Share Our Strength’s fight to end childhood hunger. It’s a “fill up and feel good” event for sure!
From the Share Our Strength Website:
“Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation is the nation’s premier culinary benefit, featuring top chefs and mixologists — all of whom are coming together to donate their time, talent and passion to end childhood hunger in America.
More then forty of the area’s finest restaurant and wineries will participate in Taste of Nation Los Angeles, bringing a memorable afternoon that will highlight some the best food and wine that Los Angeles has to offer. Come join us for an afternoon in Culver City, enjoy a strolling buffet, entertainment, live auction and much more. Join us as we work to create a hunger-free generation. 100% of ticket sales benefits Share Our Strength’s fight to end childhood hunger.”
Taste of the Nation Los Angeles
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Corner of Venice Blvd. & Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Note: The “Early Bird” ticket price is no longer available on the Taste of the Nation site. Thanks to SinoSoul for letting me know.
Tickets are $125.00.
Price at door is $135.00. (I know this seems expensive, but last year there were over 40 restaurants at the event, and it was worth every penny to try a taste from each!)
2008 Participating Restaurants A-K
2008 Participating Restaurants L-Z
My friend Laur invited me to lunch yesterday and suggested we go to Sri Siam Café, our favorite, local Thai joint. She wanted me to meet her niece Sherry, an intensive care nurse visiting from Chicago. I was totally fascinated with all of her exciting hospital stories, especially about the time she got to hold someone’s lungs during surgery (she said they felt “spongy”). Obviously it wouldn’t be appropriate lunch conversation for everyone, but for three gals with iron stomachs (sitting there filling ourselves with fiery Thai goodness), it was perfectly lovely.
I ordered the Spicy Basil Seafood with pan-fried Squid, Mussels, Shrimp, Sole, Peppers and Chilies. The dish came with rice and an eggroll and is not on the regular menu. Look for it on the “All Day Special” menu. $11.50
On each visit I’m trying to taste a new dish, but the one thing I have to order EVERY time is the Crispy Rice Salad with Sour Sausage (Nam). It’s tangy, spicy deliciousness!
Sri Siam has over 100 dishes listed on the regular menu, plus ten dishes on the “Specials” menu. If none of those delights interest you, then you can always check out the “Off Menu” items listed here (you may need some help with the translation).
Sri Siam Café
12843 Vanowen St.
North Hollywood, CA 91605
Sri Siam Café Website
Dining Date: 2/26/09 (Visit #4)
For my third visit to Sri Siam Café, I invited my good friend Bob for lunch. This time I was determined to eat Thai food the way I’ve always eaten Thai food… very HOT and very SPICY. Not all food has to set my mouth on fire to be pleasurable. There’s just something about Thai food that doesn’t quite taste “authentic” without the extra heat. I think it’s because when I first tried it (twenty years ago) the dishes were always extra hot and spicy.
For lunch I suggested Bob and I start with the Nam (crispy rice salad), which has Thai sour sausage mixed with roasted peanuts, ginger, green onion and crispy rice. The unusual sour sausage almost tastes like it was soaked in lime juice, and the crispiness of the individual rice kernels are a surprising, savory crunch. The spicy Nam had been my favorite bite from lunch the week before, so I wanted to share it again with Bob, and he LOVED it.
When I asked for “very hot and spicy” on my first two visits, the waitress smiled and brought me what I thought was a medium heat, which is totally understandable since I was a new Sri Siam diner. She probably assumed I didn’t understand how hot and spicy Thai food could be, and didn’t want to throw out perfectly good food just because I ordered incorrectly.
On this visit I asked our server (a waiter this time) which dish was the “spiciest” on the menu. He pointed directly to “Poh Tak” (spicy seafood soup). It’s a hot pot filled with mussels, shrimps, crab, fish and squid in a sour spicy broth. I ordered the Poh Tak and made sure the waiter understood that I wanted it extra spicy. I made a point of saying that my food wasn’t spicy enough before and to please ask the chef to make the soup extra HOT and VERY SPICY. The waiter then raised an eyebrow and was probably about to ask me “are you sure?”, when I butted in and pleaded “I need my food to be very, very spicy PLEASE!”.
When my hot pot of spicy seafood soup arrived, I gave the waiter a look of “hmmm… this looks a little spicy, but we’ll see if you succeeded here”. He graciously scooped out the first little bowl of soup for me and then I went ahead and started in on the beautiful (and delicious) green mussels. Bob ordered the Panang Chicken lunch special, which came with steamed rice, soup and a vegetable egg roll. After I took a few sips of my soup, Bob asked me a question and it was the strangest thing… even though I was trying to answer him, my mouth wouldn’t work. Right then my eyes started blinking and I sat there with my mouth open, struggling as I mouthed “OH MY GAWD”. This was the hottest (and spiciest) thing I had ever tasted in my life, and it was truly a whole new level of fire in my mouth.
I know spice and heat are all relative, but I just want to note that I can easily handle blazing habanero chilies (even with the seeds intact). One of my favorite spicy treats I make at home, is a dessert I saw on tv a few years ago called “Fire and Ice”. It’s half of a habanero chili filled with lemon sorbet. The fire and ice gets under your tongue and it’s sort of paralyzing (in a good way) for a second.
Back in my 20’s I read (in some glossy, fashion magazine) that rubbing a slice of jalapeno on my lips would make them plump… a cheap alternative to lip injections. On the morning I decided to try this “natural” method, I was also scheduled to meet my new boss, who was flying in for the day to check on his photo gallery. Following the magazine instruction, I cut a dime-size piece of the jalapeno and pursed my lips while I rubbed the chili round and round. At first, nothing… then came the screaming and crying. NOTHING took the pain away and I ended up with a large, uneven, red outer ring that looked like “double” lips. If you can remember “Wax Lips” candies, then you get the picture.
Later in the day, when my new boss shot me a strange look, I just laughed and said my lips were overly chapped and did my best to hide in the office. I never admitted that I’d purposely rubbed jalapenos on my tender, perfectly fine, natural lips.
Currently, I have my fridge stocked with habanero stuffed olives that I order online from Primos Gourmet. The habaneros are perfect little, painful explosions that make me do the “happy eating dance” around the kitchen.
Just how hot are habaneros? Chili peppers are rated by Scoville units. As noted on Wikipedia: “The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present. Capsaicin is a chemical compound which stimulates nerve endings in the skin”. For example, on the Scoville scale, a bell pepper would measure 0 (that’s zero, zilch, nothing). Jalapeno peppers would measure from 2,500-8,000.
The hottest chili pepper I’ve ever eaten is the habanero, and it would measure approximately 100,000-350,000 on the Scoville chart. Culinary Masochism? Well, if that means I’m getting intense pleasure (go endorphins!) from intense pain (gastronomically speaking), then fine, I admit it…. I need a little C&M in my life.
Sri Siam’s spicy seafood “Poh Tak” soup felt like it was OFF the Scoville chart, and at first I thought it was way too fiery for me. After the initial shock wore off in my mouth I absolutely LOVED the broth, and from then on it was a heavenly seafood feast of squid, crab, shrimp and those delicious green mussels. Poor Bob had to watch me wipe the sweat off my brow, and he laughed as I dashed to the restroom several times to deal with a heat-induced runny nose. This meal was the perfect Thai experience I’d been after.
When we finished lunch, I went back to the kitchen and thanked the chef. He gave me a little smile and looked a little baffled, so I wasn’t sure if he understood what I said to him. I can’t imagine it, but maybe it was the first time he’d ever heard, “Thank you, thank you… thank you for making me hurt so good“.
A few photos in the Sri Siam Kitchen, and the wonderful crew.
Sri Siam Café Website
12843 Vanowen Street (at Coldwater)
North Hollywood 91605
818 982- 6262
Dining Date: 1/16/09