Comfort food and killer cocktails.
My report at the L.A. Times here.
Tag Archives: mylastbite
Comfort food and killer cocktails.
If you’re searching for breakfast or lunch near San Dimas, check out Twisted Sage Cafe. My Jonathan Gold scouting report for the L.A. Times.
When I was twenty-two years old, I had the ridiculous pleasure of living in the Caribbean for a few months. It was 1986 and my then-boyfriend Perry (a newly licensed pilot) scored a winter job flying for Air St. Thomas / Virgin Air (no connection to Sir Richard Branson). The small island-hopping airline was based in the U.S. Virgin Islands on St. Thomas, so we made our home above the hills in the capital city of Charlotte Amalie.
Always a photo buff, I spent most of my time photographing and getting to know the island. I loved pretending to be a “local” for those few months, and on Perry’s days off we would rent a small boat and head to the nearby British Virgin Islands.
Our favorite spot was Sidney’s Peace and Love in Jost Van Dyke Island’s Little Harbor, just 7 miles northeast of St. Thomas. Once docked, I would pick out a live lobster from a trap near the shore and the cook would grill it on the spot. Perry always ordered barbecue chicken (he didn’t like seafood) and we BOTH drank heaps of rum at the attached open-air bar. It was “serve yourself” at Sidney’s, and also “total the bill” yourself if you weren’t too drunk. An honor system that you just didn’t mess with in the Caribbean.
My favorite shop on St. Thomas was called Sunny Caribbee, where I picked up island spices, oils and trinkets for the kitchen. There was an elementary school nearby and I loved listening to the students pounding on steel drums in the afternoons.
We left the Caribbean when Perry was offered a job with United Express, the commuter division of United Airlines. He now lives with his wife and kids near San Diego. (More about Perry here)
Walking into Roy Choi’s Sunny Spot for the first time made me smile from ear to ear. I flashed back to 1986 and was suddenly transported to my carefree, twenty-two year old, vagabond self.
After several visits (including dinner and brunch) I still get that happy feeling when I walk in the door. It’s a mini-holiday, a few hours of vacation. A delicious and less expensive trip to the sunny Caribbean, that’s for sure.
Left: Fleur-De-Lis: Gin, Hibiscus, Honey, Chartreuse, Lemon
Middle: Death in the D.R.: Dominican Rum, Lime, Honey, Absinthe, Champagne
Right: Dry Harbour: Pot Still Rum, Lime, Absinthe, Habanero Pineapple Shrub
822 Washington Blvd
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie with a Puff Pastry Lid
If you’re searching for a St. Patrick’s Day supper recipe (or a hearty meal to warm your spirits), this is a delicious alternative to the traditional pot of corned beef and cabbage, especially if you’re a “meat pie” lover like me.
The recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s terrific cookbook “Jamie at Home”, which coincides with his show on Food Network. The episode with this recipe is called “Pastry”, in case you haven’t seen it yet.
This dish is now a St. Paddy’s Day tradition in our house, and it’s always a hit with friends and family.
My changes to the original recipe are noted in orange.
3 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
1 oz butter plus extra for greasing
2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery trimmed and chopped
4 field mushrooms peeled and sliced
2 1/2 pound brisket or stewing beef cut in to 1 inch cubes
a few sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 can of Guinness beer
(Instead I used 2 bottles ofGuinness Draught, 11.2 oz size bottles)
2 heaped tablespoons of flour
7 oz freshly grated cheddar cheese
2 sheets of ready made good quality all butter puff pastry
1 large organic free range egg, beaten
(I also added 1 chopped Jalapeno for heat)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large ovenproof pan, heat a glug of olive oil on a low heat. Add the onions and fry them gently for about ten minutes – try not to color them too much.
Turn up the heat add the garlic, butter, carrots, celery, jalapenos and scatter in the mushrooms. Mix everything together before stirring in the beef, rosemary, a pinch of slat and a level teaspoon of pepper.
Fry fast for 3 or 4 minutes, then pour in one bottle of Guinness, stir in the flour and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and place in the preheated oven for about one (1) and 1/2 hours.
Remove the pan from the oven and give the stew a stir. Put it back in to the oven and continue to cook it for another hour or until the meat is very tender and the stew is rich dark and thick. (I added another half bottle of Guinness at this point).
Jamie notes: “A perfect pie filling needs to be robust, so if it’s still quite liquidy, place the pan on the hob (stove top) and reduce until the sauce thickens.”
Remove it from the heat and stir in half of the cheese, then season carefully and leave it to cool slightly.
Cut about a third of the pastry from the block. Dust a clean work surface with flour and roll both pieces of pastry out evenly with a floured rolling pin to the thickness of a pound coin.
Butter an appropriately sized pie dish then line with the larger sheet, leaving the edges dangling over the sides.
Tip (pour or spoon) the stew into your pastry lined dish and even it out before sprinkling the remaining cheese over it.
Brush the edges of the pastry with a little beaten egg.
Cut the other rolled sheet of pastry to fit the top of the pie dish and criss-cross lightly with a sharp knife. Place it over the top of the pie and fold the overhanging pastry on to the pastry lid to make it look nice and rustic.
Brush the top with beaten egg then bake the pie directly on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes until the pastry is cooked puffed and golden.
Serves 4 to 6
Jamie Oliver’s Official Website
“Jamie at Home” on Food Network
If you have the U.K. version of the book “Jamie Oliver at Home”, it’s on page 342.
I use this Gram Conversion Calculator
Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry
Originally posted Mar 13, 2009
I loved watching the recent “Street Food Special” episode of “No Reservations”. It brought together my very favorite Anthony Bourdain clips; the scenes when he’s out and about eating “real food” with the locals, and also recapped Tony-visits to Singapore hawker (food) centers. It really made me wish we had something similar here in Los Angeles.
As Bourdain so eloquently stated: “Whereas in America the food court is the nexus of all things generic and awful, in Singapore these open-to-the-street food centers, coffee shops and hawker centers offer a near limitless variety of Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes”.
In a 1991 LA Times piece, my favorite food writer Jonathan Gold wrote: “The closest thing to a hawker center in Los Angeles is, of course, the Grand Central Market downtown… Among the fruit stalls and the poultry stands, there are 10-odd places where a hungry person can get something to eat”. I haven’t been there in years, and look forward to rediscovering the Grand Central Market again soon, but still it’s not exactly what Bourdain calls, “a ONE chef, ONE dish vast food court”.
It’s true that our multicultural city is filled with delicious strip-mall eats, and I personally plan to spend more time searching them out (hint to my foodie pals). But the large food courts I’ve been to (at various local shopping malls) would never be a destination dining trek of sorts. Well, except for “Hotdog-On-A-Stick”. I’m a sucker for any type of food on a stick.
Susan Feniger’s Street Food
When I first read about Chef Feniger’s new restaurant, I envisioned it to be a sort of miniature hawker center. An enclosed space filled with individual street carts from the around the world. In my mind, I even imagined individual cooks (in traditional attire) selling the dishes at these tiny indoor food stalls. I don’t know WHERE I came up with these ideas, but reading Jonathan Gold’s description in LA Weekly certainly added to my fantasy:
“Street is a virtual museum of world street food, snacks and savories from every part of Asia — Korean-style mung bean pancakes studded with bits of anise-braised pork belly; hollow, potato-stuffed Indian ping-pong balls called paani puri, moistened with a bit of spicy broth; a juniper-laced salad of roasted beets and crumbled walnuts; even a take on the classic Singaporean breakfast dish of toast with coconut-jam kaya and a runny egg. There are dense dal fritters, a delicious version of the do-it-yourself Thai bundles of roasted coconut, bird chiles, peanuts, tamarind jam and minced lime, among other things, sensibly wrapped in bits of collard instead of the traditional betel leaf.”
So no, Susan Feniger’s Street is not the culinary “It’s A Small World” experience that I fantasized about, but it is a wonderful, exciting (and fun!) restaurant that brings my dream just a little bit closer.
What we ate:
My FAVORITE bite: Kaya Toast, a uniquely Singapore experience; toasted bread spread thick with coconut jam; served with a soft poached egg drizzled in dark soy and white pepper (link to recipe below!)
Top Photo: Vietnamese Corn – wok cooked medley of fresh corn, spring onion with glazed pork belly.
Bottom: Saag paneer with Kokum Dal and Rice Plate – A South Indian spinach dish stewed with homemade paneer cheese, tomato and spices; served with dried plum dal and yogurt rice.
Susan Feniger’s Street [CLOSED]
742 N. Highland
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Dining Date: 5/30/09
with Peter, Julian & Wendy
More about Singapore Hawker Centers
Kaya Toast Recipe via LA Times
Jonathan Gold’s LA Weekly Street Article
Jonathan Gold’s L.A. Times Food Stall Article
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Official Site