Showing posts with label 90036. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 90036. Show all posts

Friday, October 19, 2007

the refresher.

the refresher

i'm ashamed to say i don't frequent the refresher in the farmers market all that much. it is one of the few stalls i clearly remember from my childhood that is still in the market, and one of the least changed. it only sells drinks--and soft drinks at that--and a few of the frozen confections that are house-made at the owners' other stall, bennett's ice cream. despite its quaint exterior, though, it does have a rather remarkable selection of sodas from hard-to-find brands (cactus cooler, anyone?) to bottled microbrews--in fact, at some point the bennetts had their own branded soda--a tasty root beer, an interesting lemon cola, and i think there was even a habañero cola. don't know if that still exists. i might just have to stop by to find out.

eam bars

the refresher
stall # 622 at the farmers market
6333 w. 3rd street (x-street fairfax)
los angeles 90036.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Saturday, January 06, 2007

open all night: canter's.


when i was younger, we'd inevitably end up at canter's deli after a night of clubbing, enjoy a post-mortem of carbs and more carbs, sometimes stumble out at the break of dawn to sleep away the hangover. now it isn't the first late night choice it once was, and seems more like the actual hangover, but it still holds a place in my heart; no matter how long i've been away, the food always looks and mostly tastes the same, the decor remains untouched, and the same characters work there. everything--from the items in the bakery display to the barflies in the kibitz room--look like they've been there since the late fifties but in a completely unfaded way; they haven't been sitting there since then, i've just travelled back in time. or, time stops the minute you walk in the door. it's my own personal ghost world.

canter's deli counter

canter's bakery counter

look, there's enid. it's not the best bakery in town, but there's an appealing quality about the squares of cheesecake with the plasticky gloss of cherry filling, the giant bearclaws, and piles of crumb-dusted rugelach, marbled ryes, and coffee cakes. the main room is 'sixties naughahyde banquette and fluorescent lighting perfect, with waitresses who have worked there since then or longer, the crowd is still somewhat lively and convivial. the side room that leads to the lounge, however, is another story. still vinyl-boothed and artificially lit, but in a somewhat dimmer way, like a photograph beginning to fade. it's always less populated, and almost always manned by the younger male servers (and by younger i mean mostly in their forties than the women in their sixties). there's a very transitional quality about the room as people wander into the kibitz room to listen to local bands, or to go outside for a smoke. no one seems inclined to stay very long, including the servers. it's like a quiet bus station lobby on late weekday night, in los angeles of 1974. jack webb would eat here. he probably did.

canter's back room

the menu is a little all over the place and expansive. they've got typical deli platters, sandwiches, boiled dinners...chicken milanese and eggplant parmesan? guacamole and quesadillas? obvs a menu like this isn't going to be stellar throughout, but it's not horrible. a little pricey, but it's late night, it's decent, and there's something quite comfortable about it. the staff is generally efficient and genial. possibly the only smiling face you'll have seen all day. $10 for a sandwich of just meat and bread (although a generous portion of meat on generally fresh bread) and all the pickles you can eat isn't so bad when it comes with unspoken empathy and kindness. and foodwise, there's always some happy surprise. the chinese chicken salad is really good. you can't go wrong with a fried baloney sandwich. i'm a big fan of their knishes, blintzes, and even the matzo ball soup, which is really just a tumor made of matzo sitting in chicken fatty broth. mmmm.

canter's matzo ball soup

not a leaden baseball, but not quite light and fluffy; could be hotter, but the chicken stock is good, if plain. and it comes with a side of warm saltines, which is magically delicious.

cyrano at canter's

canter's deli is never fine dining, but still an experience all the same. wouldn't be los angeles without it.

canter's menupage

419 fairfax (x-street rosewood)
la 90036

google mapped!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

rip this joint! dinner at mozza.

mozza sugar

mama says yes, papa says no,
make up you mind 'cause I gotta go....

rip this joint, gonna save your soul,
round and round and round we go.
roll this joint, gonna get down low,
start my starter, gonna stop the show.
oh, yeah!

oh, the inevitable mozza post. after a couple of false starts, more than a few canceled and re-appointed reservations, i finally made into the mario batali/nancy silverton pizza joint, mozza. i went to dinner with a friend, whose previous experiences in that space on highland avenue included a collapsed lung, so you know this night was destined to make some sort of impression.

i do have to say, it was probably not a good idea for me to check out a new restaurant right after thanksgiving feasting, and on a bitterly cold night where lethargy was the highest form of energy i could muster. however, i had been really curious about this place, and after canceling out on three reservations in a row, it was a very kind thing of them to actually let me in (and not ban me for life). during regular dinner hours, even. i got there, actually found a space on the street to park (otherwise, it's $6 for valet parking--which is somewhat cheap, i think, considering how the valets risk their lives crossing highland all night), and opened a giant barn-like door to a high-ceilinged largish room that was darker than it was out on the street, and about 5 times louder. heaving with people, "exile on main street" on the stere-ereo. loud. we were seated promptly, at a banquette table at the back, and then handed what looked to be a stylized folded street map. oh, wait, that was the menu. it sorted reminded me of a font catalog, someone spent a lot of time on it. too bad they didn't hire that person to paint the dark orange and ochre walls, which seemed hastily done. guessing from the colour underneath the framed mirrors, the space was a little more soothing at some point--maybe nancy silverton influenced?--but now i'm told it looks similar to batali's pizzeria in nyc, otto, all orange-hued and honey wooded. i'm told orange is a colour that stimulates one's appetite. mario batali is very orange. i, er, am pretty sure that batali does not whet my appetite. the menu items do not seem very much like otto, but very much more like nancy silverton's doing (as other blogs and reviews have mentioned), even though the press kit says the food is not only "silvertonian" but "batalian" as well. (ergggggh. i just got the batalian/italian pun. bleah.)

our server asked us if we wanted anything to drink, i think, i couldn't tell as mick jagger was telling me how got his rocks off in a very loud yet muffled way. my companion ordered quartino (a 250ml carafe, maybe a third of a bottle?) of a dry-ish house wine, never found out which one as i couldn't hear him, even though our knees were touching (and even though i was at elbows with people at the tables next to me, i couldn't make out their conversations either).

mozza squash blossoms

we ordered the fried squash blossoms, because everybody orders the fried squash blossoms. they were filled with a fresh ricotta, and lightly battered in what i venture to guess is a rice flour/soda water batter, then salted with maldon sea salt. light and delightful. i don't know if this was a dish about flavour as everything seemed quite delicate; i think it was more about the creamy texture of the cheese and the delicate shards of batter that were only the tiniest bit greasy. no sauce to speak of, but also unnecessary. i think it was at this point that i realized there wasn't any salt nor pepper at the tables (my friend merry hates this, that the house presumes the chef's seasoning should suit everyone--what do you think?). also, that while the blossoms weren't cold, they mightn't have seemed a little greasy if they were warmer.

mozza crostini

these were followed by a crostini with cannellini (white) beans, caramelized onions, and capezzana olive oil. beans on bread. carby, but packing more flavour than i expected. however, i found myself doing that thing where you start mentally calculating how much this dish actually cost to make, and thinking if you made it at home it might be just as good as the restaurant version.

mozza gorgonzola pizza

then the pizza. you know about the crust: woodfired, crisp and bubbly on the edges, still crisp on the outside towards the center, but with a thin, chewy middle. you like it or you don't. i like it. it's not as hard as some of the bread crusts i've encountered in silvertonian breads (i am using that foolish phrase from now on), but there's enough heft to not sag under the weight of the (albeit modest) toppings. pizza not sliced all the way through, so for a minute i had a vision of a pizza tussle where half of it goes flying as i try to sink through the possibly impermeable crust. luckily it was easy going. the gorgonzola dolce, fingerling potato, radicchio and rosemary pizza was exquisite; the sweet creaminess of the gorgonzola matched the sweet creaminess of the roasted potato, the wilted radicchio cut through the fattiness, the fungal tang of the cheese and the pine-iness of the rosemary lent a very earthy, woodsy quality to the 'za. very very nice. if just a touch cold. the white anchovy, tomato and hot chilies (? the menu says olives. there were no olives) pizza wasn't as successful--the white anchovies were marinated in vinegar, which didn't quite blend well with the tomatoes. the spiciness of the chili was dull and one note. spice and acid, not much else. also a touch cold.

mozza white anchovy pizza

by now, i was fully carbed out, but still got dessert. the butterscoth budino (pudding), which many people have already raved about, and a fig crostini with a meyer lemon pannacotta.

mozza butterscotch budino

the butterscotch pudding was something like a not-to-sweet caramel dairy thing, texturally a cross between a creamy pudding and a mousse. it was topped with a layer of caramel, a sprinkling of maldon sea salt, and whipped cream. i can't say i cared for the pudding part of it--the texture was great, like something i'd want in a hair product--but the flavour was mild (neither buttery nor burnt sugary) and not particularly interesting. the caramel topping and maldon was much better, like a liquid version of a very good candy. very rich, but the blander pudding balanced this out. it was served with pine nut and rosemary butter cookies on the side, which were tasty on their own, but didn't enhance the pudding itself in any way.

mozza fig crostata

the fig crostata was a small free-form pastry with a buttery shortcrust and stewed (?) figs. fig jam. something. like an adult fig newton. the figs were quite good, but very one note--i didn't notice if there was any other flavours in there, of which it could have benefitted, maybe a little citrus or anise? the crust was okay, but again! cold. i would have been happier with a warmer pastry, to contrast against the very good meyer lemon pannacotta on top, which was like a sunny, citrusy greek yoghurt--tart, jiggly, sweet, refreshing.

oh, and coffee, which was really, completely, stone cold.

impression so far: effing loud. is "exile on main street" really restaurant music? orange paint does not whet my appetite. also, overall, while the food was competently prepared, i would have been much happier if the meal was hotter in temperature overall. i'll definitely return, but maybe during the afternoon, or any off hour. see if there's a difference in temperature and acoustics.

mozza interior

641 n. highland (x-street melrose)
los angeles 90036.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Monday, July 24, 2006

taking the heat at singapore's banana leaf, farmers market.

singapore banana leaf

(let's just get this confusing punctuation thing out of the way now, in case you'll be doin' some googling later: it's singapore's banana leaf, at the farmers market. possessive singapore, a large group of non-possessive farmers)

i have to say, i like hot summers in the city; there's something intrinsically sexy about it, in a dirty, sweaty, heaving, sort of way. i heart new york's lower east side, during those crazy, sudden thunderstorms that come in the middle of the afternoon, with steam rising from the asphalt, and everything going from yellowy gray to blue gray all at once; london's hampstead heath, with pasty gentlemen sunning themselves on striped lawn chaises on a vast green sea, little children running rings around them, and naughty boys trying to peek into brush surrounding the women's bathing pond; or dc, where the atmosphere is so heavy with humidity that you need to take a shower immediately after stepping out the shower, and the air is as thick as water and you can't breathe....okay, maybe i don't like that so much, but i do enjoy the seasonal heat and oven-like temperatures occasionally. (perhaps it's because i normally live in the equatorial tropics, which is like a perpetual steam bath.)

anyway, on one of the balmier nights, a friend and i headed to the farmers market for dinner, not really knowing what we wanted to eat. we walked by the all the stalls, and somehow, the crowd at singapore's banana leaf beckoned. eating la's pat saperstein is correct in saying that the food at the farmers market is rarely a stellar example of their respective cuisines, but they tend to fare well all the same; sbl is no exception to this. however, the weather, the cramped tables, and the bustling environs really capture the spirit of an asian market stall/street food vendor which only adds to its appeal. we placed our order, and beadily eyed the people who managed to get a table in front of the stall, until a couple finally left and we slid into their seats (yes, they were finished with their meal, and they ignored us, so there was no "go go mojo" going on).

singapore banana leaf roti

the roti paratha--grilled indian bread served with a vegetarian curry sauce--was first, and it was okay. it was hot off the grill, and generous in portions, but slightly thicker than and not as flaky as i would prefer. the curry sauce lacked heat, but had a nice, mild flavour.

singapore banana leaf gado gado

i enjoyed the gado gado, a salad of shredded cabbage, cut (frozen?) green beans, boiled potato, fried tofu, hard-boiled egg and bean sprouts, topped with a warm sweet peanut sauce and krupuk (shrimp chips). the thing that makes or breaks this dish for me is the peanut sauce, and i have to say i do like sbl's version. i reckon the sauce is made with peanut butter, but there are ground peanuts in it as well, which adds to the flavour's richness, along with the sambal belacan (shrimp paste), soy sauce and spices. the vegetables that were supposed to be cooked were the right consistency and didn't taste like they were pre-cooked hours earlier, and the fresh vegetables were crisp and new.

singapore banana leaf laksa

the laksa, a coconut curry-based soup with thick(ish) rice noodles, tofu, bean sprouts and homemade fishcake or chicken (i chose the chicken), was a bit of a disappointment. although the portion was quite generous, i found that the soup itself lacked a depth of flavour, underspiced, and perhaps not made with a fish- or seafood-based stock, which i am used to tasting under all the coconut milk and curry (perhaps it was missing sambal belacan??). i also found the noodles to be a slightly more al dente than i prefer.

singapore banana leaf mee goreng

the mee goreng, or indian-style pan-fried yellow egg noodles, was packed with onions, chicken, and tofu, but the spicy tomato-based sauce lacked that certain boldness of flavour i've come to expect in really good mee goreng (i'm under some suspicion that the secret ingredient in a good sauce is ketchup, eyuw, but hey, if it works it works), but the abundance of ingredients and relative lack of oiliness make this mee goreng a decent dish.

singapore banana leaf ice kachang

we capped our meal with ice kachang, a shaved ice concoction with sweetened preserved jack fruit, sweet beans, evaporated milk, rose and pandan syrups. now this was the business, and certainly welcomed on this steamy night. in fact, it was so successful, i believe half the people standing in line waiting for their orders and beadily eyeing us also ordered ones for themselves. good move, but we were so full that we didn't actually move off in a timely fashion to allow the next sweltering and starving couple to swoop in. we were happy where we were, and despite the "eh"-ness of some of the dishes, we'd be happy to return.

singapore's banana leaf
at the farmers market,
6333 w. 3rd street (x-street fairfax)
los angeles 90036.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

bob's coffee and doughnuts

okay, i have to admit, my favourite la-area doughnuts are not in the farmers market, but at stan's in westwood. stan has a peanut butter cup filled doughnut that is one of the most disgustingly fantastic things i've ever tasted. the peanut butter and fresh banana one is good too. definitely a guilty pleasure. it's a good thing i'm never in westwood or i'd be in big trouble.

i do like bob's in the farmers market though. i've been going there since i was a kid first visiting los angeles, and later in college, i'd still pop on in, even though my school was much closer to the roadside attraction famous randy's (note: if you drive by randy's at 2 or 3 am, the doughnuts are just out of the fryer fat and really taste like krispy kremes). i like bob's because it hasn't changed much during the years, the doughnuts are mostly the raised fluffy types--airy but greaseless, not too sweet but tasty--and the ladies who work there are lovely. i usually get their version of a beignet (ben-yáy), which isn't particularly authentic, just a fluffy diamond shaped doughnut covered in powdered sugar, but i also love their kitty doughnuts for the kids. simple and charming.

bob's coffee and doughnuts
farmers market, stall 450