Friday, July 28, 2006

sweet relief

frozen grapes

frozen grapes, a cheap and cheerful treat for a more tolerable summer. think of it as mini sorbet sacs. or not. i'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

more with the meyer lemons.

preserved meyer lemons

i've been procrastinating over doing anything with the meyer lemon bounty; not so my friend, merry, who so kindly gave me a jar of preserved meyer lemons from the same crop. i don't recall what recipe she used, although, i think it might've been one from marcella hazan, or paula wolfert. i'm hazarding to guess it might be this recipe from ms. wolfert's book,"slow mediterranean kitchen", as she said i could use them after a week (which i haven't, but i will).

preserved lemons are a staple ingredient found in moroccan, tunisian, and algerian cooking, and usually it takes a few weeks before they are ready to be used; however, once preserved, you can keep them almost indefinitely. that is, if you don't use them all up.

here are some recipes to get you started:

yoony's zucchini couscous with chicken, preserved meyer lemon and harissa

suzanne goin's snapper with green rice and cucumbers in creme fraiche, as documented in grant's blog, well fed

jules' take on claudia roden's sweet potato and preserved lemon salad

elise's moroccan chicken with olives and lemons

or emily's version, or perhaps june's version :)

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.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

a shady place to sit.

a shady place to sit.

overheating. possibly overeating, too. i'll get back to you once i cool down. do you have a favourite place to cool off? photos, please!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

the trianon

the trianon

the trianon, commissioned by the legendary hollywood couple, mary pickford and douglas fairbanks jr, as apartments for actors and actresses in a (then) conveniently located part of the 'wood. it was built in 1928 by noted architect, leland a. bryant, who specialized in luxury apartment buildings, but whose best known work is probably the sunset tower hotel in west hollywood.

trianon turret

french-inspired architecture was popular in hollywood during the twenties and thirties, but as most châteaux and castles were single family dwellings on a grand scale, they were reimagined as apartment complexes. although the building is named after the home of mme. du pompadour in versailles, it was actually architecturally inspired by chateau d’azay-le-rideau in the loire valley. i suppose d'azay le rideau isn't as catchy as trianon. certainly i can't get that damned fleetwood mac song out of my head.

trianon fountain

anyway, i digress. the building is still fully occupied (you can live there, too!), and i imagine it to be quite a unique place to live. v. hollywood fantasy. v. hollywood fantastic.

the trianon
1750-1754 n. serrano ave (x-street loma linda)
hollywood 90027.

Monday, July 17, 2006

la maison du pain

la maison du pain

i don't eat a lot of bread, so really, i'm not the one to review a bakery best known for their breads. or, more accurately, a bakery with a dedicated following that probably needs to be better known. i actually came to la maison du pain because i read this la times article about them (you can also read it here without registration), and i loved the story about these two sisters from the philippines with a dream to open a french bakery, and what it took to realize that dream. i found it especially appealing because the bakery is in my neighbourhood, and one of the sisters is also a 'santos'--hey, we might be related.

la maison du pain display

the bakery is on pico boulevard just east of fairfax, on an unassuming stretch near hauser that has a lot of autobody shops; in fact it is next door to and across from two of them. the shop itself is really quite lovely, with beautiful contemporary wrought iron in front of a large plate glass window, and a lovely light-filled interior that invokes calm over chaos. there are café tables both inside and out, a couple of display cases, and of course, racks of bread. besides several types of baguettes, there are various loaves and rolls, croissants, tarts, and other pastries. when i arrived, they had just put out some freshly baked cinnamon rolls, and i noticed there were some very filipino-looking ensaymada in one of the cases as well.

la maison du pain cinnamon rolls

everything looked quite enticing, and i found the prices to be quite reasonable--downright cheap for some items, i thought. i talked to one of the owners, carmen, who was working behind the counter that morning, despite also seemingly working in the kitchen in back; although completely harried, she was gracious enough to answer my questions about both the product and the shop. carmen said she kept the prices low because she wanted the prices to reflect what the neighbourhood could afford. the la times' article implied they wanted success on a large scale, but i was impressed that they really wanted to establish themselves as a staple of the neighbourhood. in fact, although all the baked goods were lovely, i was most impressed by the clientele in the shop at that moment: a filipino man having a meeting with a latina woman, an older white woman picking up something after her yoga class, a younger african-american man in an impeccably cut suit, slipping a baguette under his arm on his walk home around the corner. this was truly one of the most diverse group of customers i have seen in this city, and i was charmed that it was just down my street.

so what did i think of the product? like i said, i'm not qualified to say, but i enjoyed the almond croissant and bread roll i picked up; whether or not it was 'authentic', i've no idea--yoony, rachael, and hungrysheep all seemed to have sampled more items, and have a better idea of how good such carbo-loaded treats can be. check their entries, and the bakery out.

i will return to the sisters' bakery, whether i'm related to them or not :)

la maison du pain baguettes

la maison du pain
5373 w pico (x-street s. ridgeley)
los angeles 90019.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

the return to mr. pizza.

red light

we were foolish enough to be driving down fairfax avenue on friday night; being in a car on fairfax, on any given day at any given time, is not unlike being a lemming stuck in concrete flowing down a cliff--you're trapped, you're fighting your way out amongst the throng you stupidly followed, and more lemmings are piling up behind you and flailing around like you. friday night at 10pm is no different, except for that someone turned the lights out.

we were hungry; canter's wasn't appealing at the moment, and eat-a-pita had just closed. i remembered my old haunt, damiano's (aka 'mr. pizza'), and felt an overwhelming desire to have their pizza again. i hadn't had it in years--not because it was bad or because damiano's is too far away, but because there really isn't any parking ever, and it would take too long to fight the traffic to get there. damiano's was, and is, open until something like 4 or 6 am, and probably more filled with customers at midnight than at noon. although what time it was in there was really never known as they kept it so dark you could barely see your food, let alone a clock. i spent many an early morning there, eating the giant slices of cardboard thick, slightly charred, substantial pizza with a sour-sweet tomato sauce and incendiary melty cheese. a wave of nostalgia passed, and i made my companions stop.

i lied about the no parking ever, because we found a spot--only two area codes away, whoot! i thought it might be worth it to stop in because i had in my head rather mythologized the pizza there as The Best Pizza Ever™. which of course, could only spell disaster. however, as we walked towards it i was greatly reassured that the storefront was as i had remembered--a propped open door, small window looking into a kitchen you probably don't want to be looking into, a cheapie park bench with random characters sitting on it. none of whom look like they're waiting for their order, and all of them looking like they've been there all day. week. year.

things were looking good. i stopped abruptly at the door, and my dining companion looked at it, startled, then looked at me, then back at it. she pointed. "what? in there? that hole in the wall?" i nodded. she wasn't being derogatory, because the entrance really looks like hellmouth--you can't see anything past the two large drinks refrigerators that hold damiano's vast collection of beers and sodas (101 on the menu i believe, which sounds impressive, but--and it's a big one--they only have one of each. fnarrr). past that is almost pure darkness, save for weak candles on some of the tables, and a dim 20-watt red lantern above that probably doesn't radiate light but sucks it all up (to be fair, it is actually brighter in there than it used to be as the red has faded to a tongue-coloured pink--and by brighter i mean you can almost see what the lantern looks like, but it still doesn't cast out light). why is it so dark? it's not to create a romantic mood, i'll tell you that. it's drafty, there aren't any windows, and you are serenaded by almost ear-splittingly loud jack fm, which i think is the radio version of lad lit/spike tv--guy music. i think the reason for the darkness is so they don't have to redecorate. or clean. although, as far as i could tell, none of the surfaces were sticky or dusty, so i'm okay with that. i plunged into the darkness, with my companions following timidly behind. a waitress immediately stopped us. "hey you can't go in there!" um, but we're coming in to eat. she looked at us like we were nuts and shrugged a "suit yourself" and we slid into the first booth, because it was the only one we could make out.

waitress slapped down some menus (near impossible to read without the aid of the table candle), which is surprisingly large. the food at damiano's is old school italian-american, lots of pizzas, pastas, hero sandwiches, fried vegetables, parmigiana dinners, but there are a surprisingly decent selection of vegetarian and vegan options. although it's not on the menu, and i haven't actually ordered it, you can get vegan pizzas made with a meltable vegan cheese, and apparently they have vegan pepperoni as well (their marinara sauce and minestrone are also vegan, and quite good). we placed our order for a large pizza, and a couple sides of spaghetti with marinara sauce, then kicked back.

...for over 45 minutes. ah, yes. i had forgotten about the service, or lack thereof. there is a reason why i always got my pizza to go, and basically it's because you could wait all night for your 'za (good thing they are open until 6am). we watched a couple sit down, order beers. then we watched them drink the beers. then try to order the same beers, but they drank the only bottles of chosen liquor, so had to order two different ones. then another couple walked in. lather, rinse, repeat. by the time we got out pizza (mushroom, spinach and garlic), the place was full, and we were the only ones with food.

and how was the pizza? not quite as i had remembered it but still close to great--a solid crust, with the sort of heft you find in a good artisanal bread crust, a minimally spiced tomato sauce, just the right amount of cheese, and the barest amount of toppings. this is not an overloaded pizza, but it somehow works perfectly as a whole--the toppings don't weigh it down, and it never gets soggy (not even the morning after). there is something quite compelling about the combination, because most people--including myself--can't stop eating the pie until it's done. it's total pie crack. the pasta was cooked al dente, just a bit salty, and liberally doused with sauce; there's nothing else involved, but the sauce is as addictive as the pizza, so that's all you may want. there are also very good homemade meatballs and italian sausages on the menu, should you want to supplement the gravy, but i'm happy with it as is.

there are no photos of food because it was just so comically dark in there. yet, the wait was definitely worth it, and we walked off more sated than bloated. and still the only ones fed in the joint.


i had lunch with bekki, dave and keith a few days later, and keith informed me that some rock star died at damiano's a few years back; i was more surprised that there wasn't more than one fatality there, than the thought that one had died there. we couldn't remember who it was, so a quick search on google told us that bryan maclean from love died there one christmas day. yike. well, rock'n'roll cred to mr. pizza, and maybe mr. maclean had a good meal before he went.

mr. pizza

update 18 july 06: we returned! and brought back a slice for inspection:

damiano's pizza, dissected

412 n fairfax (x-street oakwood)
los angeles 90036.

Friday, July 14, 2006

although they are plain, they are quite lovely.

pistachio almond cupcakes

pistachio almond cupcakes, because nuttiness and los angeles go hand in hand. i adapted a recipe for almond cake i found on david lebovitz's blog, which in turn is a recipe adapted from one used at chez panisse. i used a pistachio almond paste i bought at the ever fantastic surfas, and baked the cupcakes until just golden, about 35-40 minutes. just keep a close eye on the oven.

moist, surprisingly light, incredibly rich and delicious.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

brunch at campanile.

campanile table

i don't know if i have too much to say about campanile. it's nice, in a large but somewhat cozy space, good food under the direction of chef mark peel, discreet and cordial service, home to its überpopular offshoot, la brea's very grown-up, yo, which i don't feel like i am most of the time. however, when you are up to being all grown up and adulty, this is the place to take your friends and family to show them that yes, you are in fact a functioning member of society, that all your food does not come from a drive-through window nor trader joe's, and that you don't flinch at eating in establishments where valet parking is $5.50, and streetside parking is practically non-existent.

to be fair, although it is all starched linens, shiny silverware, and dutiful waitstaff, it does have a rather casual and easygoing clientele, with lots of families, presumably from the nearby hancock park neighbourhood. although, that laid back thing might just be a los angeles thing. my neighbour, larry, is rather bemused that people go to "nice" restaurants in flipflops and t-shirts here. it's true, that describes more than half the crowd during the sunday brunch i attended, but is casual really a bad thing?

the food itself is somewhat casual (at brunch/breakfast anyway)--lots of omelettes and egg dishes, pancakes, french toast, some open-faced sandwiches, some salads. all rather expertly done, with very fresh ingredients. no one shirks their responsibility in the kitchen, and it shows, both in quality and in price (a bowl of granola is $9. nine dollars. ) most of the entrees range from $10 to $15, and you don't get a huge amount of food, but you are well satisfied.

campanile tuna melt

i think i lost my mind momentarily when i ordered a tuna melt sandwich, which was a thin plank of grilled la brea bakery country bread topped with albacore tuna, dill, lemon and caperberries and then covered with melted gruyere cheese and tomatoes. madness, because i know la brea bakery bread all too well--although it is tasty, it can severely test one's mastication ability: hard, hard, hard. although the bread is nowhere near as crazy difficult to eat as it once was (flying shards could take an eye out), grilling or toasting can still give somewhat zwiebackish results. which it did in this case. i think i spent most of the meal testing the strength and control of my forearm muscles, trying to get my ineffectual dinner knife to cut through the plank without crashing into the other tableware and avoiding the rest of the sandwich from flying into the party next to me. good tuna salad, though. caperberries are a nice touch.

campanile beef brisket

my cousin, thud, definitely made the better menu choice with poached eggs on beef brisket, which was described as beef brisket hash on the menu, but i don't remember anything hashy (hashish?) about it. it was just brisket cooked slowly until meltingly tender and falling apart, with perfect roast potatoes, poached eggs and country toast. the country toast is good when it's on the side, and you can sop up all the lovely juices from the brisket.

campanile strawberry crumble

we decided to split something sweet between us, and picked the fresh strawberry cobbler with cream. the cobbler seemed a little more like a crumble to my cousin, but i don't know. it was a lot strawberries, tossed with a bit of sugar and maybe lemon, and topped with a butter, flour, sugar mixture. with all the strawberries i'd been picking up in ventura, i had already been down this route, and was perhaps hoping for something slightly flashier or different. like their fandabidozy coffee eclairs, cinnamon buns, and sour cherry brioche. alas, it was just a simple cobbler that i hung my disappointment on, despite the fact that it was well made, obviously bursting with fresh fruit and buttery goodness.

campanile strawberry crumbled

which is probably the reason we devoured it.

624 s. la brea ave,
los angeles 90036.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

seagulls are the new pigeons.

seagulls are the new pigeons.

parking lot of the whole foods across the street from the farmer's market. it's like a hitchcock film, i tell ya.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

'b' is for "better"

i have had quite a hankering for thai food these days, and decided to try a few of the restaurants in thai town, which is centered on hollywood boulevard in a part of hollywood actually known as little armenia (tell me again that los angeles isn't multi-culti, 'cause i ain't buying it). i've been reading the internets for thai restaurant recommendations and am a little bemused by people's descriptions of some of the restaurants i've already frequented; apparently as an island girl, i've got different standards of what is considered 'dirty' and 'a hole in the wall'. in fact, most of the asian restaurants i've been to with an 'A' health code rating have only been okay; so far the winners have all had a 'B' rating--i suppose in this case 'B' stands for "better." ha. i decided to stick to simon's low end theory restaurant guide as my primer; so far, i've not been disappointed whenever i've consulted it. here are the favourites so far: ord noodle, ruen pair, and yai.

ord noodle duck noodle soup

i ended up at ord noodle, thinking i was going to find yai noodle, the sister restaurant of yai cuisine; unfortunately, it looks like the satellite restaurant has shut down, but i was not disappointed by the food at ord. it is a bright, bricky, somewhat arty looking space (i'm told a holdover from whatever resto was there previous to yai noodle--wasn't it a mongolian barbecue place?), with two rows of tables lined on either side of the narrow space. my dining companion and i both ordered bowls of the barbecued duck noodle soup, which could be ordered with a choice thin rice noodles or wider egg noodles; we both chose the egg noodles, which was a nice choice as although they were cooked just al dente, i think they managed to soak up enough of the rich, fatty broth, which was slightly sweet and quite spicy with red pepper flakes, onion and garlic. fresh green onion, cilantro and bean sprouts along with a generous portion of fatty but tender barbecued duck meat topped the steamy bowl of noodles and broth, which would have easily been a perfect sized meal for the both of us.

ord noodle larb ord noodle sausages

but no, we had to order more. we added the chicken larb and thai sausages to our lunch order because they were there and they were cheap (less than a fiver each). the larb was a combination of ground chicken meat, stir-fried with red onion, green onion, chili peppers, cilantro, rice powder and lime juice and served hot on a wedge of fresh cabbage. it was spicy, not greasy, but the mostly white chicken meat seemed somewhat overwhelmed by the spices and i couldn't detect the rice powder. it has been awhile since i've had larb as i don't find it particularly exciting, so i'm unsure as to how it is supposed to be served, and are you in fact supposed to taste or feel the texture of the rice powder anyway? no matter, as i found it to be tastier than i had recalled, a sort of cooked meat ceviche. i was far more interested in the order of grilled thai sausages, which were served with raw peanuts, whole cloves of garlic, chopped cilantro, and whole chili peppers. i was unsure as to what to do with all the raw condiments, so i just sort of chopped up the larger bits and mixed them all together with some vinegar to make a rather tasty if chunky sauce to dip the sausages in. the sausages themselves seemed to be rich with pork fat and pork blood or liver, but managed not to be completely overtaken with that...awful offal overtone that some intensively intestinal (intestinally intensive?) foodstuffs can have. just the right amount of richness tempered by the charred casing and herby vinegar.


ruen pair is in the same strip mall complex as the old palm thai location (currently undergoing renovation), and the jonathan gold recommended red corner asia, but of the three, i think i'd pick ruen pair as the winner. it's small, cramped and dark, but strangely cheery, maybe because it's almost always packed, and people seem to really like what they are eating. the menu is rather extensive, but the specialty seems to be a green papaya salad with raw blue crab, which everyone ordered. except us. i was with "safe" eaters, so i was restricted from ordering anything undead and too odd. still, we managed to pick out a good array of dishes from the extensive menu.

ruen pair spicy combo salad

we started with the spicy combo salad, which was kind of like a crazy antipasto platter filled with sliced salted eggs, preserved ducks' eggs, sliced chinese sausages and preserved/pickled vegetables then drizzled with an onion/chili pepper/garlic-laced vinegar and tossed with green onion and slivers of fresh ginger. tangy, spicy, sharp and mellow all at once. we also had the deep-fried shrimp patties (shrimp and fish meat minced with green onion and bound with corn starch) which were bursting with chunks of seafood but not fishy, and springy in texture, without being tough.

ruen pair noodles ruen pair kang kong

the starters were quickly, quickly followed by kai kua, flat rice noodles stir fried with chicken, bean sprouts and egg, spicy steamed catfish in a red curry sauce with fried basil leaves (not pictured), and a very simply sauteed kang kong (water spinach/convolvus), served with a chili vinegar sauce. all three of these were only slightly greasy, but very fresh, quite generous in portions, and very clean in taste.


i think my hands down favourite of the lot--simon's and kirk from mmm-yoso's favourite, too--is yai, which is in a poky little strip mall near the 101 freeway junction. i've read a lot about how absolutely dire the interior is, but i didn't find it dirty or off-putting at all. what it lacks in interior design it wholly makes up for in easily wipeable white laminate, and the bright fluorescent lighting only highlights how very good the food looks as well as tastes (my lovely dining companion begs to differ with me on this point, i can only imagine how horrified he'd be over the interior of my favourite thai restaurants on guam).

yai thai bamboo shoot salad yai thai gai sapp nok

we started with a rather refreshing bamboo shoot salad made up of shredded bamboo shoots marinated in a lime, basil, onion, chili dressing. it was clean, crisp, somewhat bracing, and wholly addictive. the fresh lime and chili perked us up on this hot, muggy day, and also awoke our taste buds. i picked a dish off the specials board called gai sapp nok, which turned out to be ground chicken stir-fried in a red curry sauce with basil leaves and sweet peppers. it too was also spicy, and a more interesting relative of the tamely spiced and more common larb.

yai thai duck noodles

again, we checked out the barbecued duck noodles, which came "dry" this time (without soup); their version came with a more than generous amount of fragrant roasted duck that was meaty and not-too-fatty and not-too-salty, with thin shards of perfectly crisp and delicate skin attached to the tender meat. the noodles themselves were superb, still with a firm bite, and sauced lightly with a soy-tinged duck broth and finished off with chopped fresh cilantro, green onion, and bean sprouts.

yai thai black egg pow

the highlight of the meal for me, however, was the black egg pow, which was at least half a dozen quartered preserved ducks' eggs stir-fried with sweet red peppers, medium-hot green jalapeño peppers, and fiery bird chili peppers, then topped with a tangled nest of deep-fried basil leaves and a sweet soy dressing. the eggs were the perfect base to all the peppers and soy--creamy custard soft, with a little bit of a crunchy crust, with a slight mustiness that only helped bring out the freshness of the basil and chilis. truly excellent. i'll return. soon.


also worth seeking out is the fabulous dessert/snacks emporium bhan kanom thai, which has a branch in the same complex as ruen pair. baked goods, a shave ice bar, a hot dessert bar, steamed rice cakes, grilled rice cakes, dried fruit, dried fish, thai bento, pork sticks...the assortment is mind-boggling. here are some photos. check it out, y'all.

ord noodle
5401 hollywood boulevard,
hollywood 90027.

ruen pair
5257 hollywood boulevard,
hollywood 90027.

5757 hollywood boulevard,
hollywood 90028.

bhan kanom thai
various locations, including
5271 hollywood boulevard,
hollywood 90027.

more photos of food from yai

Thursday, July 06, 2006

17,965 belle & sebastian fans can't be wrong: live at the hollywood bowl.

belle + sebastian at the hollywood bowl

simply extraordinary: belle and sebastian, playing with the los angeles philharmonic orchestra, in a sold-out show at the hollywood bowl, along with opening act, the shins.

there are moments in my life i will remember always, and usually they come when i least expect them. i wasn't expecting much from this, but i was compelled to go. from the first minute to the last, it was so good, it felt like a momentous occasion; the shins were the perfect rock'n'roll band--tight, clean, energizing--and belle and sebastian made the most of this unique opportunity with lush, transcendent orchestrations. mr. murdoch seemed genuinely happy and honoured to be there, as did almost everyone else in the bowl. onstage was perfection--all the best of music from everywhere i've ever been, and at any given time. it was like every great concert i'd ever been to in my life combined with every great musician or band i would have loved to have seen encompassed on this one stage. all i can say is that i'm truly grateful to have experienced this perfect, magical moment in time.

belle + sebastian at the hollywood bowl 5

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

well, there was fire. and they worked. sort of.

fireworks stand

it's nice to know that illegal fireworks are a mere county away (only three exits away off the I-10, yo).

firecracker 7

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

hey baby, it's the fourth of july.

fourth of july berry macarons

je suis une américain, y'all, but for this independence day i bring you hazelnut macarons with an italian buttercream flavoured with vanilla bean, and topped with fresh raspberries and blueberries. i used clement's recipe almost to a 'T' and found it easy to follow, with successful results. don't be afraid of french cookies, kids!

have a great day whatever you're doing--i will as it's my birthday, toooooo

(i'll be on kxlu tonight from 11pm to midnight PST)

Monday, July 03, 2006

blogger meetup: death in the valley; meet me at the cemetery gates.

saturday morning was an unlikely meeting of food bloggers, at a very unfoodie location: the fox and hounds pub in studio city, to watch the world cup quarterfinal match between england and portugal. the delicious life's sarah, akatsuki talks rot's bramble and her partner, P, and i met up (immaeatchu's yoony was to join, but she went on to another pub), not to eat, but to ostensibly cheer on england to victory.

well as much as one can at 7.30 am on a sunny saturday in the san fernando valley, where temperatures were already somewhere in the nineties. i believe we all sort of lugged ourselves over there--my beloved swedish vehicle certainly didn't help as it employs a freon-free air conditioning system, which is to say, there are hamsters behind the vents that blow hot hamster breath out to us. no parking, of course (and absolutely no desire to take photos, either). the brambles made their way in, but delicious sarah and i were somewhat taken aback by the all-too-authentic setting of the fox and hounds--the windows were black out, the bar was heaving, the walls were dripping with sweat and ale, and there were far too many people with their faces painted red and white. actually, there were far too many people, full stop--if the pub normally holds 100, there were certainly 250 300 there. the publican, a typically expat sort of ray winstone/robert palmer hybrid who you absolutely know wears speedos at the beach, stood watch for the the fire marshal and turned people away. we were stuck in the doorway as literally the last people in, but the heat, the sweat, the fact that our noses were at armpit level of many of the heated, sweaty punters forced us out onto the sidewalk of ventura boulevard before the match even started. of course, sexy beast immediately stood guard and refused to let us back in, so whilst the brambles were stuck in, we were put out.

by rights, though, that's how it really should have been, for as far as footy goes, ms. delicious and i aren't exactly on the same level as the others who had made their way into the fox and hounds. on the scale of devotion, bramble would be at the head of the table, i would be somewhere down in the middle, and sarah somewhere further below. to be fair, though, i think sarah's and my enthusiasm is relatively high considering our interest in the game--hey we showed up at blinking 8 am, didn't we? still, i think bramble was more than horrified when we started discussing the fashionability of the st. george's cross/english flag motif of the team's world cup kit over the union jack (soooo much nicer, don't you agree?).

©2006 bbc

the valley sun was high overhead, the hole in the ozone layer opening wider by the minute, and ms. delicious and i were melting like the wicked witches of the west we probably are. so, bad footie fans that we are, we slipped out for a bit down the street at the 101, where it was blessedly cool and we restored our good humour with a good round of breakfast.

photographing the photographer

and thoroughly refreshed, we made our way back to the pub, where our high spirits were definitely exclusive to us as apparently the match wasn't going well. nil-nil score, both teams playing rather badly, and key players had been sent off. we slipped in as sexy beast was complaining about two rabid portuguese fans and we were determined to cheer england on to victory.

which, as you know, didna happen. one minute there was absolute joy and hope, and the next silence and tears. in the midst of the crashing disappointment someone quietly said, "it's all over, love" and it was. oh, england! oh, studio city! never have i seen old men and young women weeping in such commiseration before, people so openly stunned and weakened they leaned against the (still sweaty) walls, and crumpled to the floor. my heart, it went out to them, but, but, but....these were english footy fans, surely they were no strangers to disappointment?? i felt cruel stepping over the heaving, inconsolable latino lad who was in a foetal position on the floor, but um, i really needed the loo.

©2006 itv

and i felt the disappointment, i really did, as even though i really knew it would be a difficult road for england to victory, i did think they were in there with a chance. i know the players, i know it was a good(ish) team, i was shocked with the send-off of owen and rooney, and when captain david beckham threw up, i threw up a little. and when he cried, i cried a little. (and when victoria beckham cried...i threw up a little too)


bigsby douglas fairbanks memorial johnny ramone

later, in the evening, i met mike, maria and baby blogger from franklin avenue at hollywood forever, which used to be known as hollywood memorial park. it's a cemetery, yes, and no, we weren't there to bury the hope of england. hollywood forever is the final resting place of such movieland luminaries as rudolph valentino, douglas fairbanks (both senior and junior), peter finch, mel blanc, tyrone power, and um, johnny ramone. it is also where every saturday night during summer months cinespia hosts screenings of classic movies along the wall of one of the mausoleums. we packed up a light picnic and a blanket to sit on, and joined some 1000+ other movie fans/ex-goths/current hipsters/people who didn't leave the city for the long weekend on the lawn in front of the mausoleum (only one crypt in the way, and no, you don't sit on any graves).

hollywood forever summer movies

it was, rather surprisingly, a lot more fun than i had anticipated. we arrived at 7pm and saw that the lawn in front of the cemetery was already filled with people waiting in a strange concentric spirally line (get into the middle of the fray to get to the end of the line--i know it sounds weird but it works), and cars were lined up in the middle of santa monica blvd, waiting for the gates to open at 7.30pm. we opted to park on one of the side streets (gower or van ness), and schlep over to the lawn; this turned out to be the better decision as not only was it easier to leave at the end, we also made friends with other people in the line with whom we ended up sharing cocktails and cakes. the crowd is relatively young and hipsterish, but incredibly laid back and committed to the whole endeavour; everyone i've met who was been to one is a regular, and no one shirks the $10 "donation" cinespia asks for at the gate.

hollywood forever summer movies screening

the movie that night was "dr. strangelove or: how i learned to stop worrying and love the bomb", which i had never seen before, but apparently a good portion of the people around me had, as they were reciting lines and talking back to the screen, much like a midnight showing of "the rocky horror picture show". if you're truly horrified by rustling sweets wrappers and muttering in movie theaters, this may not be the place for you, but for the most part, everyone is relatively quiet and really there to watch the movie. the sound is fairly good, as are the sight lines (beware the back of the lawn, however, as there is a slope to it), and the choice of movies excellent. a great way to spend a summer saturday night.

did i feel like i was desecrating sacred ground? um. a little. did i think it was a travesty? no. i figure, if someone is buried in hollywood forever, the name pretty much tells you what the place is about: not only all the glitz and glamour, but the invasion of privacy, and the throngs of dedicated fans. for eternity. the audience is still watching.

hollywood forever at night

some tips:

--arrive early as there can be a significant crowd. people and cars start lining up around 6.30pm the gates open at 7.30pm. parking along the side streets of gower and van ness is usually available.

--wear comfortable shoes and clothing. bring a sweater or jacket as it can get chilly at night; as the summer progresses into autumn, the nights will get colder, so you may even want to bring a blanket. bring a blanket, towel, or low beach chair to sit in/on (no "high" chairs are allowed).

--there are restrooms available on the grounds, but no food concessions. schlepping of goods is inevitable, so don't weigh yourself down with too many things unless you know you can park on the grounds.

hollywood forever cemetery
6000 santa monica boulevard, between gower and van ness

summer cemetery screenings schedule at cinespia