Friday, July 29, 2011

Topic #3: Food, Get in my Belly!

I just love all the vine covered buildings and fences. . . . . .
     Hardly anyone you ever meet in L.A. is actually from L.A. it usually seems. People of different cultures from around the world flock there, fall in love, and fail to ever leave. It's no wonder the surrounding cities can charge so much for housing . . . . . it IS a wonder how the government could be bankrupt, but that's a whole 'nother bag of Doritos. Due to the blending colors of skin, there's such a variety of authentic cultural food to be consumed in such a dense area. One doesn't have to travel far to eat like they're in another country, and I LOVE that. When Patrick and I lived there before, in what seems like another lifetime ago, we had to be extremely frugal on one paycheck, and living like poor folk doesn't leave much change in the pocket book for extravagant culinary explorations. So, we decided to play up the "when in Rome" forte last week.
     With the exception of our hot dog and fried cheese binges at the beach, which if I say so myself is a MUST, we maintained our taste buds in an exploitative cultural heaven. Amy's boyfriend Danny was born in raised in the area and we utilized their combined knowledge to the utmost advantage.

Is that a big burrito on your plate, or are you just happy to see me?
     Friday morning, we actually had the pleasure of sharing some of our knowledge and introduced Amy to El Tepeyac Cafe, merely a updated shack located on the very humble streets of East L.A., this place is only equipped with authentic California Mexicans who know how to put together a slow cooked, souped pork, 5lb burrito! This was the 3rd time in kpLOVE history to attempt tackling the monstrous "Manuel Especial", but the huge pieces of fresh avocado, tender pork, beans, rice and tortilla took rein yet again. I'll never regret defeat to such a winning dish, and it kept us full until dinner too!
I teach chop stick lessons . . . . . on  how NOT to use them. No one told me I was holding them the wrong way . . .
     When night fell upon us, we ventured to little Korea town to indulge ourselves with classic Korean BBQ and more Sake. At first glace peering from the street, ChoSun Galbee looks like a regular old crappy building, but once you walk around the back, onto the patio and inside, it transforms into a beautiful and tastefully decorated restaurant. (As with most places in L.A., you can never judge a book by it's outside cover . . . . . why spend money on the outside when everything around it looks like crap? Its the inside that matters most.) I think it's so fun to cook your own meat at the table, and the little Korean women stayed true to form, coming frequently to "help us", basically treating us as if we've never cooked meat in our entire lives. Their dishes are so different with interesting textures, temperatures, and flavors. You become aware of how important rice is to their culture when in such an environment. Rice as a side dish. Rice liquor. Cold rice punch for dessert, which we all decided tastes like liquid corn bread. It was delicious! . . . . . . . And we got to eat out on the patio.
No that's a spread!
Never pour your own sake! That Sake jar some how ended up in our bag as a souvenir . . . . weird stuff like that happens sometimes.
     It was a pleasure to roll out of bed Saturday morning for breakfast at The Griddle! It will probably forever be my favorite breakfast joint of all time. If a girl could have wet dreams about anything, mine would be about breakfast at The Griddle. It's small and they pack in customers like sardines, blues music charms your ears to drown out surrounding conversations as the aroma of coffee and maple syrup radiate through the air;  there's always a line out the door for justified reason. We consistently order the same thing; the Mom's French Toast is like none you've ever had. Rich. Jam packed with flavors of butter and vanilla on some sort of thick yet tender homemade bread. The Poached y Papas, slang for eggs Benedict is a true original. It's a thick slice of smoked ham, served over a bed of hollowed halved crispy, maybe even battered, potato skins, covered with a decadently creamy hollandiase sauce with perfectly cooked eggs. Order a side a bacon and it comes out thick, smokey, wholesome, and strangely soft but crisp at the same time. Am I drooling again????

Patrick treating his bacon like a fine cigar
     Saturday night came too quickly, but we celebrated the evening with Persian food and wine. It's always the right occasion for wine, am I right?!? We devoured the bread and olive oil/pesto dip, inhaled the empanada appetizers, and slowed down just in time to savor the skirt steak dishes. Patrick was the only rebel, ordering a dish of seafood ravioli's, which were perfect and delightful. He usually rightfully counts on me to over-eat on preliminary foods, so he has a backup for seconds when I push the remainder of my entree to his side of the table . . . . . .Did you guess that we ate on the patio? If you did, you'd be correct, and it was extremely romantic out there! 

This was prior to me donating my jacket and scarf to the wimpy Californians

     By Sunday evening we were exhausted, but our stomachs didn't get the memo and Amy needed at good dose of an alcohol induced coma after studying all day, so we went out in search of a decent patio drink. After driving by an old place that had unexpectedly shut down, being rejected to a casual place because we had on flip flops, and feeling the pressures of frustration starting to set it, we found it . . . . .or maybe it found us. Either way, it was The Spanish Kitchen (we still considered this ethnic since it had a Spain derived menu instead of Mexico), and it was just what the doctor ordered.  The mood setting with just right, the outdoor patio vacant, the chips and salsa free, and the drinks inventive. I had a Ginger Tequila Cosmo . . . . . only one, because it was so strong I wouldn't have remember dinner if I'd had a second.

They were so sweet here, and didn't even kick us out, even though the restaurant had closed and they were cleaning up around us! We stayed and enjoyed our meals.
     By the time we ate two baskets of chips and salsa, we probably could have skipped dinner, but my heart was set on Vietnamese soup. Have you ever tried Pho? Well we did, at the cleverly named restaurant Absolutely Pho-bulous. It's a very light and fresh concoction served in a ginormous bowl with meat, broth, and noodles, accompanied by an equally large plate filled with uncooked bean sprouts, basil leaves, and fresh lime. Then you mix it all into your soup as desired. As an outsider observing our group of 4, you may have thought we were deprived a few meals in days prior with the way we were consuming the spring rolls and egg rolls served with fresh mint leaves as our appetizer. Minus the fact that I ate so much my intestines were pushing up my diaphragm, therefore inhibiting my lung's ability to expand to full capacity, I walked out feeling pretty satisfied with my healthy food choice. It's a good thing we parked an 11minute walk away, because I had some homeostasis digestion to take care of.

Amy and Danny giving a genuine example of what you should look like after a weekend packed with good eats.
    I'm truly going to miss eating out on the patio. Looks like the Texas weather has pushed me indoors until fall.

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