30 June 2007


I just started a food writing thing. (note to self, "thing" is not a descriptor).

So I'm posting my first...um...thing.

About an Apple

An apple crisp in my mouth is as satisfying as any steak. My teeth bite through the flesh and the fruit gives way to juice and meal. Held in my hand, I eat hurriedly and worry I might bite a thumb or finger as I work my way around the sphere.

I prefer apples brought to room temperature, neither hot nor cold as to not scour my teeth—I like to keep myself out of it when I’m eating. A good piece of fruit, a vegetable rich in flavor, or a piece of meat cooked to perfection will transport this diner beyond her physical self. This can cause problems as she would like to stay there—but alas her belly fills to the brim and her body cries to come back.

I come back and find one more bite left; I'll make it fit. The last bite is not as good as the first, for I’ve already satiated my urges, but the juice of the last bite drips down my chin and catches the eye of my dining partner. He steps forward to help and whisks me up in a deep, fruity kiss, satisfying both of my appetites.


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Cooking Is Easy

Even a Monkey can do it.


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29 June 2007

EEW Number Two

Celery STRAWS!

Soon, they are going to start engineering celery forks, celery plates, and celery couches!

How are we going to keep up our promise of 5% Celery >rr<, how?


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Top Chef, Episode 3

First let me start by giving you a secret.

If you can't cook, this is not the season to be on Top Chef.

These people can cook! They have knife skills, they know the product and they are good at executing the dishes. This year staying somewhere near the middle isn't going to cut it.

My friends are always trying to get me to go on Top Chef, and since I'm more of a behind the scenes type, you will probably never see this head of messy blond hair on your flat screen--but if there were a season that might make me rethink that, it's this one.

It is fascinating to me that all of the contestants this season are either chefs or sous, yet they make things that cause Tom Colicchio to gag; "inedible!" Mostly though, he seems happy with the food that is presented, and might even be taking some ideas for his own restaurants. (I think he has a thing for CJ, I wouldn't be surprised if you don't see CJ running the show someday at Craft LA).

This week, I was impressed with all of those folks that know how to cook conch. Look, conch is a regional thing, so those that are not from the Atlantic South or the Indo-Pacific Oceans, probably have never even handled the gastropod (check meeeee out). I knew about this much about conch, "ewwww....it's gross." Otherwise, I've not cooked it myself, and have never had to use a tool to get it out. But I'm gonna go with my gut here, if they've made a tool, it's probably easier than trying to break the shell...MICAH. I mean it doesn't take much to look around and see that everyone else has a tool that looks like a crooked chisel, it must have a use!

The "reinvention" elimination was surprisingly difficult for this group. Season one would have rocked that challenge, and perhaps this season's chefs are less creative than the other two seasons. The challenge certainly showed the limitations of this group, and my advice is to sit down with some cookbooks at night and do some studying, because the weakness has been revealed, Top Chef exec's aren't gonna let that one past them.

So far I'm batting three for three. I knew Micah was going to go. If all goes as it has been, Hung, Brian, Tre, and Howie are gonna be the last to go. CJ, Camille, and Lia better kick it up if they want to move out of the middle.

This season ain't easy--the middle of the road is not the safe spot this time around.



28 June 2007

Mrs. Jagger in London

No sooner do I read in InStyle about how white wedding suits a la Bianca Jagger's are again in vogue (she wore the iconic one, a supremely low-cut jacket and trousers, with a fabulous white hat) do I receive an invitation to join her for dinner. No matter why--let's just say that while she may once have been known for this:

and for looking like this:

and for causing people to say things like "Remember the night Bianca Jagger rode into Studio 54 on a white horse?"...
she's now quite the international human rights activist and political figure. I tried to talk fashion with her for a moment, and she quickly steered the conversation back to Nicaraguan government. As she should--that's clearly the more pressing topic, and I'm really in awe of the woman now for refusing to sit back on her popstar laurels and instead really making a second career about something other than herself.
Also, I'd be amiss in leaving out the restaurant. Even trusty Toscana, Italian landmark of Brentwood, doesn't turn out delicacies like the shoestring zucchini fries we started with at this place (Sandalini or something--I'll have to fact-check that one), the cheese-filled zucchini blossoms, handmade pasta, and the startling fruits scooped out and filled with gorgeous sorbets at the end. They say the Brits aren't really foodies, but the past few days here have proven more than otherwise.
In the immortal words of middle-schoolers, TTFN...I've got to pack for Paris.
> r r <

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27 June 2007

The Oinkster, A Review

I picked up a bottle of wine.

Pulled out my handy, traveling corkscrew.

Grabbed a couple of paper cups and a pulled pork sandwich and visited heaven for half an hour.

It was good.

Yep. It was.



25 June 2007

The Foundry, A Review

I wanted to love it.

Then they lost my reservation and I just wanted to like it.

Then they gave my dining partner and I the best seat in the house (in front of the kitchen) and sent two glasses of champagne and showered us with attention and amuses.

So I should have loved it.

Eric Greenspan has made his name about town first with Patina and then with the short-lived, but much discussed, Meson G. The Foundry is his own baby, and only a month old, it runs rather well (in spite of the reservation debacle).

The servers are passionate, the hostesses are friendly and helpful, and the bartenders are happy to pour samples. From my vantage point the line is on fire! It looks like a high stress kitchen, quiet--not rambunctous, but busy and stressful just the same. I'm not sure why, but in my experience whenever that happens the rhythm is off, and sometimes it is due to one cook that doesn't understand the dance of the kitchen.

Eric's menu is startingly similar to another restaurant I've dined in recently--but no matter. If the food is good, then the food is good--and I'll be happy to eat pork belly every other day if done well.

It wasn't. The pork was good, but the sauce and the ravioli were bland.

The gnocchi were undercooked on the inside and perfectly caramelized on the outside. The sauce added nothing--not even flavor.

The prawns were nice--and well cooked. It seems whomever is on the seafood station is doing well. The fish was cooked very well and nicely seasoned.

I figured out where the salt on all of the other dishes went...into the sauce on the chicken. Though the chicken was cooked well, the sauce was too--TOO. The greens were cooked nicely, but again everything tastes as though it has nothing to do with one another, as though they were all just meeting for the first time and in front of the pickiest eater in LA. Some of the items stood in the corner by themselves, having never met seasoning or salt; the grits were especially shy.

Don't get me started on dessert. Two measly quarter sized doughnuts (at the cost of $10.00) thrown onto a 4x4 inch square plate isn't dessert. It's an afterthought. The afterthought tasted good--but my eyes definately went hungry.

I believe they will get it down. The other restaurant down the street with a similar menu should be thanking their lucky stars for such a good kitchen staff. That is what sets these two restaurants apart. Over the next year let's see what happens shall we?


Disclamer #1 and #2:

A.) I will visit again in a couple of months--because sometimes it takes a couple of months to get a shipment of salt.

B.) My friend Jase visited the next night and he LOVED it.


24 June 2007

Ew, Ew, Ew...


And someone paid $11.00 for it!?!?

EBAY Link.
What would YOU make with it? Let us know. Whomever comes up with the best idea, DOESN'T get a box of this s*&^t.

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22 June 2007

Quote of the Next Day

Three young women, in the store, on a 3-week vacation to the States with their parents. One of them seems in a total flashing-eyed funk. She hisses to a salesgirl:
"We can't take any drugs! I haven't taken any drugs in two weeks!
" The salesgirl replies, "Well, just think how fun it'll be when you
get back." "I know!" she squeals, "I'm going to take so many drugs. It's going to be AMAZING."


> r r <


20 June 2007

Quote of the Day

Overheard in the store: a tall woman in her late 30s, I'd say, who was talking to her companion about having dogs.

"I think she's going through a, like, digging phase. She seems to have a lot of
aggression--I got her a twelve-hundred-dollar rug last month, and she's already
chewed a hole in it."

Tough times.
> r r <


19 June 2007

Top Chef, Season 3 and Top Chef All Stars

I’m going to kill two birds with one stone; take it all in one bite. Top Chef and Top Chef All Stars aired at the same time in my household, since Tivo is my life’s source.

As you must know by now, Dave (from season one) is one of my dear friends, and so of course I was rooting for his team. I recently visited Dave in NYC where he is there opening a restaurant (UPDATE: he is working on a new project, all very hush, hush—will inform you as I know details) and he was stopped on every street corner. People LOVE Top Chef! And best of all, people love Dave. He is a good guy, and wildly funny—so the editing and the pressure from the Top Chef execs was at play in the building of his personality. He knew going in that he was, “the gay one.” He also knew without saying, he was the “funny one” too.

That and the drive to win and the other difficult personalities make for great TV. Otherwise would we all watch?

Season one-ers have all made nice; even Tiff and Dave. Stephen, turns out, is a really nice guy. Harold is dealing with a lot of pressure trying to open his restaurant. Life after Top Chef is not wine and roses folks. Suddenly a sous is catapulted to a fame that he/she didn’t expect and knows that this is the opportunity to make something out of him/herself. Every chef is aware that we can’t work as hard as we do in our 20’s and 30’s so it is important to find a source of income that will sustain us into our retirement age. We are all looking for that golden egg, and Top Chef will be that egg for some.

Now on to season three. I’m impressed with the cast this season; they all look like good cooks. I think Tom (as in Colicchio) may have had a hand in it…something like, “you cast another season like season two and I’m not coming back!”

He’s back—they all are; Padma and Anthony and the like. And the token gay is back, the asshole and the hot girl are all in residence. My favorite is the token “tall guy”, CJ—I’ve worked with him in the kitchen and he is good. And a total babe to boot—and last I knew girls, he is single (or at least I hope he was…)

The opening was fabulous on TC—they messed with ‘em real good, but does anyone else feel like TC should be sitting suicide watch? I must admit that my soft side has been a little worried about Clay. I hope he is well, and knows that being judged on Top Chef is not the same as being judged in the kitchen—I’m sure he is a fine chef, and years ahead of him to prove it.


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Lanvin Top Man Discusses Haute Couture

I just read a fascinating interview with Alber Elbaz, the genius designer behind stunning fashion house Lanvin (whose Paris outpost I can't wait to visit next week--its window displays are works of art), in which he wonders about the future of aging couture houses in a modernizing world:

Make sure to scroll down and read comment #17. It really skewers fashion in the United States, and makes me realize what I'm missing by studying here instead of in Europe. The artistry is often so secondary to the marketing in this country; that assumption and the fall of true envelope-pushing creativity are taken for granted here, but not everywhere else.

> r r <


This Is Why, I'm a Chef

Because I'm the sane one in a world of crazies like this guy:

(click on picture to find out why.)


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15 June 2007

Buy Stuff, Cheap!

I have more of note to write about when I have the chance, but for now, I'll just highlight today's retail musts:
Sale at Opening Ceremony!!! This is absolutely the most happenin' L.A. shop and I'm scheming in all kinds of ways to sneak out and hit the sale today. It goes all weekend, but I don't want to wait. I'm interested to see their pieces from the Kate Moss for Topshop collection, which has gotten insane hype but, in my opinion, ain't nothing to write home about. Kate looks hot wearing it, but she'd still look hot in mom jeans and a big Hard Rock Cafe Cancun tee. The clothes themselves are, as one NYT writer said, simply copies of pieces in her closet. I did read an article that chronicled her designing the line, and it did seem that she truly designed them carefully. So perhaps they do fit well and are nicely cut. But they're still crappy little shiny dresses and stripy pants. A girl who works with me used to work at Barney's, and when they got the line in, there was a queue around the block. Everything was gone within 2 hours. One woman--get this--even FLEW TO L.A. FROM LONDON to get the pieces she wanted, because they were sold out all over the U.K. All this, for a line that my coworker reports is stuff that you'd expect to see at H&M. Trendy, sparkly, but nowhere near couture. Yet, somehow, Kate Moss as a brand name is so powerful that the line not only generated hype, but enough actual public desire that individual items priced at US $300 (after import markups) sell out in minutes, despite a lack of actual quality or subtlety.
In any case, for actual posh designer goods, check out Satine's giant 50% off sale online. Cheap Mondays are on sale for $32! Insane (in the membrane) (insane in the brain).

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11 June 2007

Shorts Are Suddenly Deemed Cool

I remember back in eighth grade when May rolled around and I hit Filene's Basement with my mom to get some new shorts. I think they were by Z. Cavaricci, they were very short, they had zippered pockets, and I thought they were way hot. Then whenever I wore them to school, this horribly snarky girl named Clio, who had bright yellow bleached hair that clashed badly with her bright pink face, would sing the "who wears short shorts?" song at me. I still thought they were hot, but in hindsight, they might not have been the best idea. If not slutty, shorts generally have been considered Way Dorky in the past few years, until the advent of Formal shorts and Long Shorts a year or so ago. Now Dame Fashion has gone beyond those categories and returned to normal ol' casual shorts, somehow sprinkling her magic Vogue sprinkles on certain pairs to make them gleam with chic instead of frump. I'm not saying that they're randomly classified as cool when they used to be dorky. No--dorky shorts are still dorky, but some designers have come up with new tweaks to make shorts flattering and interesting, rather than horrible and hi-I'm-going-hiking-with-my-boyfriend-who-wears-socks-with-Tevas-and-a-CamelPak.

My personal epiphany that shorts are cool started not with the fashion magazines' proclamation (which did occur, but I didn't believe it), but with this pair of Isabel Marant shorts (above). Look how COOL they are. Slouchy yet tailored, big yet they make your legs look long and lean, thick linen that's still lightweight, pleats that somehow add cool volume without looking like your mom's Dockers...genius, Isabel. Sadly, they cost $400 or something. So I kept them in my little mental shrine as I looked for more attainable options.

These Free People shorts were a good jumping-off point. A little crunchy-granola, but still neat with the pockets and the cuffs. Flattering for the stems, I think. And I noticed they've gone on super sale at Nordstrom (clicky the pic! [God, $44.99 is now cheap for shorts. The shorts Clio commented on cost about $12 at Filene's Basement, I think.]).

I happened on these James Perse long shorts at Nordstrom, thought they were the answer to my search, but then tried them on and saw that they tapered in a weird way and made the legs look not-so-nice. And then I saw the price tag, which was also no-so-nice. But I still like the idea of long shorts with the slouchy tailoring.

7 for all Mankind did a cool denim short that has volume and neat details without being too ass-expanding or too girly. They could be formal or casual depending on the shoe and top. I hate 7 jeans--they're so ubiquitous now on girls standing in line outside of lame West Hollywood clubs--but these I like.

The Final Fantasy of Shorts showed up, believe it or not, in the store window at Express. Somehow I can't post photos, but here are similar ones on the website. They have pleats and volume and cuffs and good butt pockets and they would never cause Clio to yell anything at me. Fingers crossed that the shorts pendulum doesn't swing too far anytime soon, because I got two pairs for the price of one and I intend to wear them basically constantly. Thank god I don't work in corporate.

> r r <

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03 June 2007

Stars & Spirits: The Latest

Helloooo, boys and girls! Granny RR is here today to dispense some invaluable wisdom. If you haven't gone to church this morning, the next best thing is the church of 5%C.

The Celeb Update:
Friday was a great day for me at the store. I was very popular. Not only did several friends stop by, but at one point, a salesgirl came back and said, "Uh, Rach, do you know Jenna Elfman? She wants to see you." No WAY. This must be a mistake! So I go out, see the very adorably pregnant Jenna, and she lights up and goes "Oh HI! TT [who works down the street, where Jenna had just been shopping] said to make sure and say Hi to you!" Awesome. We had a little chat, and I managed to keep myself from shrieking, "Dharma is the greatest!" She was a sweetheart, too.

The Music Update:
Listen to Pavement's "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain" on Sunday morning. Good idea. I think anyway.

The Food Update:
Elderflower Modified Mimosas. Combine champagne, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and pineapple juice. Hot damn, girl, that's a winner.

> r r <

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