Sunday, December 26, 2004

Saturday, December 25, 2004

happy holidays

third and fairfax wishes everyone the happiest of holidays, and that your days are merry and bright. i wish you all the best for you and your family.

Monday, December 13, 2004


Hot Dog Vendor: "What do you want?"
The Dalai Lama: "Make me one with everything."

truthfully, the last time i ate at pink's was after a heavy night at either sit 'n' spin or club f*ck (o los angeles, you know how to name your clubs!), and i saw my math professor sharing a dog with a very pretty young man a la lady and the tramp. but noodlepie's recent post on a search for a hot dog stand in saigon got me thinking about how la's burger shacks and hot dog stands are disappearing. land is pricy, rents are up, and building and health codes are actually being enforced.

i'm annoyed that these walk-up stands are being replaced by noxious drive-throughs of fast food chains (btw, i know i've exclaimed this before, but who the bleep buys kung pao chicken from a drive-through?!). my neighbourhood is dangerous enough--i don't need to add being run down on the street by some guy reaching for a dropped french fry. i don't advocate eating fast food, but it happens, and i happen to enjoy it every once and again. but i don't want to give any money to what spiceblog refers to (with vile, vigor and contempt) as "scottish restaurant", which seem to be popping up all over town at an alarming rate (oh, now would be a nice time to bring up my rant over the i-am-asian website). it has its place/places/even more places but really, it has got to stop supersizing itself. granted, not all food stands are offering better quality than the chains, but some actually do, and most offer character to the city along with personal service for the people. it would an absolute shame to see them go.

oh so back to pink's for a minute. the parking lot is really small, but don't park in the adjacent flower shop's lot. bring some coins because you'll probably need to park at a meter. there will be a line pretty much any time of day or night, but it moves. pink's has a quality dog, i'm told, and i recall it being quite good. it has that "snap" that aficionados look for in the casing, and perhaps it actually tastes like something, even though you can get your hot dog dressed with anything from guacamole, sour cream and tomatoes, to bacon, pastrami, and swiss (no, not all together, although every combination is possible). they've got burgers, too, grilled chicken, tamales, and a veggie dog that's supposed to be really good. me, the next time i go, i think i'd stick to the classic chili-cheese combo, but i might get the 10" stretch, or a polish dog. none of this freaky stuff for me. although the lord of the rings dog sounds interesting. or maybe the martha stewart. hm. the possibilities.

709 n la brea
los angeles 90038

Sunday, December 12, 2004

the apple pan

damn straight!

first, an open apology to reid and to the apple pan: dude, i did have a burger when i was in town, and an apple pan burger to boot. to forget is a crime--their burgers are so good.

the apple pan is small brick and wood cottage nestled amongst the anonymous fast food and coffee franchises that line pico blvd, across from the westside pavilion. open since 1947, it hasn't changed much during the years; when you walk inside, it's like stepping back into time, but not like in a johnny rockets/ed debevic's sort of way--it's shabby, it's badly lit, the counter men are grumpy as all get out, and whatever you do, don't look to closely at the floor behind the grill. having said that, i gotta say i love everything about it. when you walk in, you are faced with a u-shaped counter that surrounds the grill that dominates the space. there is only enough room behind one of the dozen and a half seats for person to stand behind you (and a person will, as there is always a wait), and only enough room between the counter and the grill for a counter man to slap down a menu. there's not much to order from the apple pan, but what there is is pretty darned good: burgers, hickory burgers (burgers with a slosh of really good barbecue sauce), burgers with tillamook cheddar, hickory burgers with tillamook cheddar. tuna, egg salad, or ham and swiss on rye. fries. pie. don't ask for anything not on the menu, 'cause yer just gonna get dead silence or a mouthing off, depending on how grumpy your counter man is. yeah, they are grumpy. eh. i don't mind (secretly, i get a thrill from trying to get them to soften up, but you have to approach it verrrry carefully. they don't like that).

i've been going here since my college days, but it was only recently that i started ordering the burgers--i am a big fan of their tuna and egg salad sandwiches, and i'm not the only one. but the reason why there's always a wait no matter what time of day it is is the burgers. so impressive they don't even come on a plate, and they stand up on their own. your burger comes to you minutes after you order it, cooked exactly as you want it, moist, flavourful, meaty and delicious. maybe a little too much lettuce, so ask them (nicely) to go easy on it. i got the hickory burger this time, with a (paper) plateful of their hot-from-the-fryer french fries. people will tell you not to bother as the burger is substantial enough, but the fries are so crispy and piping hot, they are worth loosening your belt for.

oh yeah. loosen that belt a little more for the pie. the night i went, they were all out of their so-impressive-the-joint-is-named-after-it apple pie, that is at least six inches tall, and filled with warm, cinnamony chunks of apple in the flakiest imaginable crust. if it's available, get a slice a la mode, as the vanilla ice cream will melt into the warm apple-y filling and create a gorgeous river of cream. i got a couple of slices of pie to go--the pecan, which is really good, and not cloyingly sweet as some can be, and my personal fave-rave from here, the coconut cream pie. it's a ginormous slice of fresh vanilla pudding, mounds of whipped cream, and toasted coconut on the thinnest, flakiest, butteriest crust imaginable. in fact, the apple pan embodies the word "crusty" in every possible way, but in every way it endears itself to me.

quality forever!

the apple pan
10801 w pico blvd
los angeles 90064

mashti malone

ah, mashti malone. the story is that when mashti and mehdi shirvani first set up their ice cream shop in this rather threadbare strip mall just off of hollywood boulevard, they couldn't afford to change the name on the sign of the previous business, "mugsy malone". so, they did what every enterprising immigrant in the city has done and changed around a few letters and thus was born mashti malone (btw, other clever reworkings around la: winchell's donuts-->michelle's donuts, von's supermarket-->jon's/mom's/ron's), purveyor of fine persian ice creams and some pretty tasty american ones too.

the shirvanis make all the ice cream and sorbets on offer, and their repertoire has expanded so much that not all flavours are on offer daily. of course, i totally skip over the pralines and cream and strawberry cheesecake varieties and go straight to the 'exotics'--the offerings this day were saffron ginger ice cream, rosewater ice cream, rosewater sorbet, rosewater and pomegranate sorbet (rosewater sorbets have rice starch noodles in them to add texture and body to the delicate ice) and a mysterious herb sorbet, flecked with green bits and black seeds that weren't poppyseeds. i couldn't decide, so i got a scoop of the rosewater and pomegranate and a scoop of the herb sorbet.

after you get your ice cream or sorbet, you can pour lemon juice or sour cherry juice over it for extra flavour, but the choices i picked were flavourful enough. the rosewater pomegranate was a nice little kick, much like regular rosewater when sour cherry has been added, and the herby seedy thingo was funky. i couldn't figure out any of the herbs, although there was a bit of a limey taste (kaffir lime leaves?), a basil taste, and heaven knows what the tiny, tiny seeds were, as they imparted very little flavour. i'm thinking nigella seeds, but possibly only because i had seen nigella lawson recently, and i had her on my mind (oh, if only i could have brought ms. lawson here!). despite the large portion, i devoured every bit of it, as it was light, refreshing, and more than a little addictive.

the shop also had other treats for sale--dried fruit, persian candies, tetra-pack 'exotic' juices--and pints of ice cream and sorbets to go. they also have the heavenly yet devilish ice cream sandwich known as 'the mashti': two thin wafers sandwiching two scoops of the super rich, super fantastic rosewater saffron pistachio ice cream. ultra-creamy rosewater ice cream is blended with saffron and whole pistachios, and paired with whisper light and crispy wafers for an out of this world chunk of gluttony that i think ms. lawson would approve of. i do.

mashti malone
1525 n la brea

Friday, December 03, 2004

chocolate sour cherry bread

from la brea bakery. it's a dense, deep and earthy loaf with chunks of chocolate and sour cherries throughout. it used to be more savoury, but in recent years has become something more like a quick bread with some heft. not that it's a bad thing. it is, however, a bad thing when you consume three-quarters of a loaf in one sitting. not that i did. this time.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

pickled pink

i think somewhere on the guam blog i discussed an aunt's penchant for cooking with colour cues and not by flavours--she uses enchilada sauce and cream cheese in her lasagna because it's the right colour. eek.

occasionally i fall down that weird shame spiral, but so far i haven't had any horrible taste sensations come from it. the latest "it's the right colour" recipe is for pickled onions. i was craving them after i had them in our border grill feast, so i set about making some, without benefit of a recipe. eh. kitchen chemistry (btw, did i ever tell you my AP chem teacher worked in a michelin-starred kitchen in belgium? she made the best quiche i've ever had on a bunsen burner in the lab).

easy enough, this. i just looked for sweet, sour, and pinky, so i brought a half cup of balsamico and a cup of pomegranate juice to a gentle boil, along with thyme, pink peppercorns and bay leaves. dumped in some red onions, cut into rings, so they could absorbed some of the pickling liquid easily, then took it off the heat, placed it in a jar, and let it sit overnight in the fridge. the next day i had lovely, slightly crunchy, mellow sweet and sour onions. tasty accompaniment to a turkey asado i made but didn't photograph. sorry. next time.

paging san francisco shopping queens!

i bought this cakestand and a matching cheese plate stand from MAC (modern appealing clothing) when it was still on post, and later couple lamps from the same store after it moved to grant. they are all designed by the same person, whose name i've completely obliterated from my memory; i am now trying to track him or other pieces by him down.

all i can remember about him is that he lives (lived?) in the bay area, and his deceased aunt left him a shoe factory in fresno. his pieces incorporate wire, car parts, discarded or old hardware, and glass findings. if anyone knows anything about him or pieces like the cakestand above, please let me know!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

pineapple sage

i was at the santa monica farmer's market and found pineapple sage, or salvia elegans, which is known as a great hummingbird attractor. i've never seen it actually used as an herb, just in gardens, but it's so pretty and really fragrant (just like pineapples!), that i knew i had to incorporate it in our thanksgiving meal somehow. i ended up using the tiny red trumpet-like flowers in a mixed green salad with cayenne-spiced caramelized walnuts and a mango juice/balsamic dressing, and the basil-like leaves in the poultry marinade and in the chestnut stuffing. i can't say i noticed it much in the marinade or the stuffing, but the flowers were a wonderful foil to the spiciness of the walnuts and the watercress in the salad. mmm. i'll have to attempt growing this from seed back home.