Follow Me To The Deep End!!

Aug 1, 2015

Deep End Dining Tip: Raw on the Side. Pho Sure!

pho saigon 1
Filet mignon pho at Pho Saigon 1

When you order that steaming hot bowl of beef pho (or pho bo in Vietnamese), be sure to request your meat slices on the side. If it's a legitimate pho establishment, the server won't look at you funny because plenty of customers likely have made the same adjustment.

Why ask for this? Well, it's simply to avoid overcooking the most delicate cut of meat in the broth. The other bits (if you order them) like tendon or brisket are safe because they've been cooked already and won't be overdone within the dining duration. However, because of the really hot soup, thinly sliced pieces of beef are more vulnerable. If they are plunked in by the cook, then the meat may get a little tough by the time the pho gets to you.

If you're squeamish about raw meat, don't sweat it. Pho broth is supposed to be scalding hot, so if you place your raw meat into the soup in a timely fashion, it will be perfectly cooked and, more importantly, tender by the time you flavor the pho with your various herbs and accoutrement. The result is nice soft slices of meat instead of tough and rubbery. I personally like it a bit pink, therefore I wait until the broth cools a tad then drop in the cow flesh—then it's perfection!

Pho Saigon 1
21701 Devonshire St.
Chatsworth, CA

Jul 31, 2015

Let Them Eat Cotton Candy! It's National Cotton Candy Day, Kids!

cotton candy head barton g
Me and cotton candy dessert at Barton G.

Today, all day, is National Cotton Candy Day. Yup, I know, everyday is some kind of food day, but this one is different—it's cotton candy!!! I love cotton candy, but not too much or else I get a little wacko. And, no, you're not seeing pink everywhere. It's just cotton candy all up in your face. Although, this fluffy, airy, sweet treat is fairly commonplace, the examples I've experienced are not. Here are a few:

At West Hollywood's Barton G., Marie Antoinette’s Head "Let Them Eat Cake" is served alongside "Raspberry & Strawberry Cream Cheese Petit Cakes with Fresh Berries and Schlag." Apparently A-listers like Salma Hayek and her daughter, Valentina, can't get enough of the stuff. While I was there dining, I spied my own Hollywood star, Taraji P. Henson who plays Cookie Lyon on Empire.

cotton candy martini barton g
Cocktail garnished with cotton candy at Barton G.

An interesting sleight of hand item at Barton G. comes in the form of a chilled martini glass topped with cotton candy. The server then reveals a cocktail shaker, shakes it, and pours the contents over the cotton candy, thereby dissolving the confection as it blends into the supremely sweet concoction.
It's a fun trick, and the ladies love it.

cotton candy ep lp
EP & LP's cotton candy dessert named "Black Beauty."

Chef Louis Tikaram is the new chef on the block, but is fitting right in on La Cienega Blvd's flashy restaurant row with items like this. For dessert, Tikaram whips up the "Black Beauty" ($12) with "Black Sticky Rice – (two ways: Puffed & Ice Cream) with Cucumber Cream and Szechuan Cotton Candy." It's artful and fun at the same time.

cotton candy joes stone crab
Just like at the fair.

A while back at the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, I got this treat from the Joe's Stone Crab exec chef Andre Bienvenu.

Perhaps one of the most famous examples of fancy cotton candy is found at Jose Andres' The Bazaar. Here, cotton candy cocoons a chunk of foie gras like a bug caught by a spider but more delicious (to humans, at least). Unfortunately, when I dined there, we didn't get the foie gras cotton candy for dessert as a part of our tasting menu.

It's yet another example of this childhood goodie—that has exasperated parents everywhere with its hair-attaching tendencies—and how it has evolved and become elevated. Coincidently, each one of these local restaurant examples of elevated cotton candy can all be found on La Cienega Blvd. Is there some kind of cotton candy monopoly in this part of town? Or should the street be renamed Cotton Candy Corridor. There's a ring to it.

Barton G.
861 N La Cienega Blvd,
West Hollywood

603 N La Cienega Blvd,
West Hollywood

The Bazaar
465 S La Cienega Blvd,
Beverly Hills

Jul 29, 2015

Deep End Dining Book Review: Josh Friedland's New Book EATYMOLOGY Compiles a Bunch of New Food Words That'll Bust Your Gut. Welcome to My "Meatmare"!


Just got this bad boy in the mail. EATYMOLOGY by Josh Friedland. Who's Josh Friedland? Maybe you know him better as Ruth Bourdain. Yes, Ruth Bourdain, the loco popular Twitter account that blended the voices of former Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl and ex-kitchen punk rocker, current CNN Parts Unknown host Anthony Bourdain, into haiku-style tweets. Friedland's cross-polination of the two food celebs was so popular that the Twitter feed won a James Beard Award for humor in 2011. Ruth Bourdain also spawned a hilarious book called Comfort Me with Offal.

Now Friedland puts out a new book called EATYMOLOGY under his true identity. It's just as funny as his other tasty tome and useful too. If you've been looking to stretch your food lovin' lexicon, this is the manual for you.

After quickly flipping through a few pages, I recognized some lingo like "bone luge" aka "a method of drinking alcohol whereby spirits are poured down a length of hollowed-out roasted marrow bone into one's mouth." But terms like "felfie", "Goodfellas thin", and "smushie" were new to me.

Can't wait to finish it and, maybe, incorporate "raota" and "meatmare" into my rotation.

EATYMOLOGY by Josh Friedland drops November 3, 2015.