Sunday, July 26, 2009

aye yi yi yi yi Porto's

by Jacki

Sometimes my mouth is faster than my camera...
This weekend, I helped clog the on-ramps of our freeways to attend Cinespia, an event that could sound mildly morbid upon first hearing of it: cult movies are shown on a huge wall as you picnic on the well-kept greens of the Hollywood Forever cemetery.

The goal of the evening was to gather with two other couples, watch The Muppet Movie, drink some wine and have a picnic amongst the dead. That picnic would include 2 Buck Chuck and Five Shakes Macaroni and Cheese. Nooshi’s co-worker, friend, and thumb-sucker extraordinaire Rebecca (inside joke) and her husband, Nick, would be bringing sandwiches from a little place called Porto’s Bakery.

It would be my first time sampling the fare of this Los Angeles institution but I was already jazzed. Always liking to know what I’m getting into, I had perused their lunch menu on Thursday and requested a Cuban. I couldn’t wait to try it…which of course, if you’re familiar with my gravitational pull on Murphy’s Law, meant I would have to.

After standing in an atrocious line with a wait-time of over an hour while hampered by picnic baskets and the eclectic actions (and fashions) only Angelinos demonstrate without shame, the grounds of the cemetery reached maximum capacity. We weren’t getting in – and were left with food that was cooling and wine that was warming.

Time for Plan B: Rebecca and Nick graciously opened up their home to me, Eric, Nooshi, and Nooshi’s Eric, as it was just a short drive up the road. Soon, I would have my Cuban, and one of the most entertaining evenings I've had in a long time!

I’m going to skip over a lot here that’s actually really important; such as how stunning, cozy, and full of soul their home was, the fact that I should have let Rebecca reheat my Mac and Cheese, and my viewing of the most awesome bathroom tile I’ve ever seen. I’m even going to give mild details on the Cuban, which was incredibly good! Roasted Pork and Ham over Swiss cheese with a spread of mustard, mayo and just the right amount of pickles on Cuban bread…what could be more satisfying?

Apparently, dessert.

I bit into a big section of heaven that Porto’s calls the Refugiado™. Yes, heaven has been officially trademarked in this Guava and Cream Cheese pastry that’s listed as a top-seller.


Me, post-bite. I can't remember when I've taken such a happy photo!

I testified I would pay at least $3 for this delightful, buttery, flaky treat with a bonanza of sweet and tart tropical fruit and bite of flattering cream cheese flavor; but you can get them for 0.85 cents each.

From the two selections I’ve had from Porto’s, I believe you could go there, order anything, and find yourself satisfied in the way only truly simple dining selections with an affordable ticket can. Porto’s is just one of those magical places that strikes like the Midas touch, and caters to a neighborhood of happy clients who know how lucky they are to live so close.


*As always, sorry for the non-professional photos!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The new kid in town: Ramen California

by Ivy

For Ramen purists, the new kid in town may be a bit appalling. He's got a new organic swagger that will fend off the loyal tonkotsu/shio, AKA porky broth fans. For the one's who are a bit more open-minded to new flavors and flavor combinations, Ramen California could be your new friend that shows you how to strut in skinny jeans and skip class. This interpretation isn't as deeply rich, creamy and heady as the original version, but it's not trying to be anything like the old and tried--it's daring to be different. Everything about this place bursts with creativity and even touches upon a bit of molecular gastronomy(he's friends with Ferran AdriĆ ) as innovative chef Shigetoshi Nakamura offers you his culinary adventures.

“One day, I want people in Japan to think of this as California-style ramen.” Love or hate the results, what Nobu did for sushi, Sean might well do for the slurpy stuff.
-Rameniac on Shigetoshi "Sean" Nakamura

Here are some shots from two different visits. Sorry for the quality--I used my camera iPhone on both occasions.

Original Ramen California with 20 varieties of vegetables.
For the Vegetarians, you can get this without grilled chicken.
It comes with an intensely focused and clean chicken broth--
instead of the usual pork broth ramen is known for.
It also comes in 3 sizes(small, regular, large)


My first reaction before seeing it was, "I don't think I even know 20 different vegetables". Now I know! The bowl is filled with nibbly bits of edamame, carrots, cauliflower, baby corn, squash, beets, radish, arugula etc all either fresh, blanched or steamed to perfection--it's feels like a ramen with salad thrown in--oddly enough it works for me.

After all, an artist needs quality materials to work with and not only a great concept--the chicken broth is incredibly clean and pure--a standout base for all its dishes at Ramen California.

The 2nd visit for dinner, which was last night...

We were given complimentary Rosemary Kashi bread. This was pretty damn farkin' delicious. BUTTERY with an all-around crunch, sea salt mohawk on top, fluffy... Somehow they surprise you more by the texture within, more bread twirled on the inside. I could just come back for the rolls. Mmmmm

Here's the next ramen I tried.
I've heard this one sells out alot...
Reggiano Cheese-Tofu Ramen.

After my friend ordered the Reggiano Cheese-Tofu as a Tapas dish, we realized the tofu and cheese had been blended together to form a sauce.

Based on friends' reactions, I think this dish wouldn't go over well with somedue to the yogurt-like texture who ordered it tapas-style. However, I liked it.......... inside the ramen. I was confused whether to mix the sauce into the soup or dip the ramen into the cheese-tofu sauce--I ended up doing both. Also, there was an edible flower in my soup which I found to have a definite citrus taste to it(pic: see the orange spot in the greens?)! Quite original and summery.

But after comparing the two, I still prefer the original Ramen California with 20 vegetables sans cheese-tofu sauce. However, the cheese-tofu sells out the most.

Overall, I really liked it and definitely would go back--I still can't turn my back on tonkotsu or shio broth ramen. I like what it's trying to do--but I know it won't replace the good old hat. For the uninitiated, I wouldn't go in with any expectations of what ramen should taste like but go to experience a new culinary branching and artistry with, well, ramen! Their concept lies in "organic"--so they also have an offering of organic wines and lighter, brighter healthier ramen. Everything about this place feels fresh! I'd still like to go back and try their heirloom tomato ramen and Masala ramen and various proposals of Japanese-inspired tapas(carpaccio, oysters!).

Other related links worth reading:

Ramen California
24231 Crenshaw Blvd. Unit C
Torrance, CA 90505
(310) 530-2749
Tuesday - Sunday, closed Mondays
Lunch: 11:30am - 2:30pm
Dinner: 5:30pm - 10:00pm

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Utthapam at Udupi Palace

by Nidhi




The few times we make it out to Little India / Pioneer Blvd in Artesia, we end up at Udupi Palace for South Indian food. My interest in finding good South Indian food is mostly because I can't cook most of those dishes nearly as well or at all at home. I can cook decent enough North Indian food that fulfills the craving for mom's cooking.

I had the mixed vegetable utthapam which is a thick pancake with spices and vegetables. The staple sambhar here is delicious and so is the coconut chutney. Nikhil had the spinach masala dosa where the dosa was coated with a thin layer of a spicy spinach mix inside and stuffed with potatoes. I am getting so hungry as I write this.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

PROVIDENCE

by Emi
Sorry for the lack of pictures but I lost my camera this weekend in a freak accident involving a drifting boat and a port-a-potty on the lake in Mammoth. The camera was 3 years old so I guess it was time for a new one.... I digress....

So, upon my return from said trip to Mammoth I went with my cousins to my first Michelin starred restaurant, Providence in Hancock Park. I was really excited since one of my favorite food bloggers, KevinEats (http://www.kevineats.com/2007/03/providence-los-angeles-ca.htm) has visited this restaurant FOUR times!!

So typically when I go to dinner with my fellow foodie cousins/friends we order a bunch of stuff and share it family style (in true Asian fashion!). However, upon ordering 3 appetizers and 2 entrees for a party of 5, the server taking our order scoffed at us saying "that's it?" RUDE!! I guess they were hoping they would sucker us all into ordering one of their 12 course chef tastings for $160 each. Not this group sorry buck-o!

So we ordered the following:

Maine Lobster Risotto (carnaroli rice, rosemary, shimeji mushrooms, lemon)
Foie Gras Ravioli (italian summer truffles, aromatics, parmesan)
Shitake Mushroom, Polenta, Sunny Side-Up Egg and Endive
Prime New York Steak (Mc Grath farms baby broccoli, tomato compote, bone marrow, sauce bordelaise)
Liberty Farms Peking Duck Breasts (Weiser Farms globe carrots, black trumpets, duck jus)

Overall I would say the best part of the meal was the Bacon Brioche Rolls and the Foie Gras Ravioli. It's definitely a special occasion restaurant as their portions are kinda small but the food is so rich you don't need much to be satisfied.

Btw, only one drink was ordered and no desserts it cost about $50/ person. Not too bad.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Strawberries=Summer.

by JeeRemember to buy local strawberries. Just try to buy local produce, period.

For this simple recipe go to:
http://jenncuisine.wordpress.com/2009/07/05/happy-independence-day-white-chocolate-mousse/

It's HOT, let's go get some nang-myun.

by Jee

It's officially summer time. That means it's officially time to enjoy some nang-myun, which is korean cold noodles. I don't really know why that spoon is there as we Koreans like to just drink the cold soup straight from the bowl. Don't forget to add the vinegar! Mo' vinegar mo' better.

(the picture is of homemade nang-myun that my friend, Ester's mom made. You can get nang-myun from most Korean restaurants as it is the staple meal for summer.)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My 4th of July present to you.

by Jee

Vanilla ice cream with raspberries and blueberries in a brownie sandwich.