Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Spuds and His Mother Take the Train to Olvera Street

Spuds and I went to Olvera Street on Saturday night just as the Chinese New Year’s celebrations were winding down. Luz Del Dia and La Golondrina both had long lines so we tried El Paseo, just to say we had. I’ve heard all the hubbub about the dastardly Americanization of Mexican food, but Spuds and I both like fajitas. There, I said it. Plus, they are lower than fat than many other Mexican items, if you use corn tortillas and go easy on the guacamole. I’m also fond of tamale pie but won’t digress that far.

The beef in El Paseo’s fajitas was sort of chunky and tough and misshapen. I was pleased that the onions were cooked to a clear state and the accompanying peppers were nice. They were out of handmade tortillas (out of hands, I guess) which was rather a crushing blow. A plate with the requisite mediocre rice and bean (w/ cheese) and guacamole, all together on the same plate after more than a few minutes under a heat lamp, didn’t perk things up. Note to self: mounding guacamole on a nest of shredded lettuce does not protect it from exposure to heat.

So, edible but mediocre but we ate inside in an ancient (for Los Angeles) basement dining room and a long communal table and it was one of the most incredibly monastic dining experiences I have ever had. Truly a gorgeous space, well worth not enjoying a meal in.

After dinner I succumbed to the lure of Mexican candy and bought about a dozen pieces, few of which made it home. Even Spuds loved it and we both noticed how pure it tastes next to some of the other sweets I hate to admit we all consume all too frequently. We picked up a couple of different cajeta bars, a few different coconut candies (including the one with the pink and green stripe which is just TOO sweet), pumpkin and sweet potato which are remarkable and I am not stupid enough to believe that eating a small piece of pumpkin with about a pound of sugar BOILED INTO is righteous. But, hey.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What Food is there in your life that you must account for?

Rice Crispie Bar, at this moment, untouched.

There is a Rice Krispie Bar on table at Budget

And more about food VERY Soon. Here. Promise.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Preliminary Report on the Big Bat Mitzvah

Being such a fair-weather Jew of late, I sometimes even think about reintroducing pork and shellfish to my lexicon but I sort of like the artistic challenge that restrictions and limitations pose. Plus, avoiding treyf forces me, usually daily, to have at least the spiritual notion of avoiding treyf. I pissed off my vegetarians by calling them sanctimonious and I revel in the power I wield and the fear I inspire lest I happen upon a Cup 'o Noodles in a friend’s pantry. I snoop around in your bathrooms too. Some of you should conceal your Viagra more discreetly, bearing in mind the collapsing real estate market and the cost per pill (FROM WHAT I HEAR.) I admit my abuse of my vegetarian friends comes from my own spiritual deficiency. I am too selfish and arrogant enough to feel qualified enough as an artist to rationalize excluding only that which is treyf from my palette. I am sorry.

Even though brisket was part of the main course, I think on the whole. Mollie Goldberg's Bat Mitzvah completely conformed to the Manifeasto credo of eating mindfully. The whole thing has been filmed by Mrs. Kravitz and Paul in gorgeous high definition, although they were going pretty heavily at the wine and I have yet to see the final footage. Likewise, Hayden, Phil, and Robert from Square One (assisted by the lovely Lydia and a gorgeous Snow White beauty whose name I forget) made extra sure that the wines provided by the folks at Colorado Wine conformed to the vintages we tasted there at the store. In fact, the test of John and Jenn the wine merchants’ integrity was a great personal sacrifice on the part of the Square One trio, as breakfast prep at the restaurant begins several hours before dawn.

On the night of the acrobatic gefilte fish grind (video coming to this blog mighty soon) Hayden was totally personally relating to Himself's legendary misanthropy, something like, “Oh. I hate people too.” But, by the end the party, I got wonderful drunken blather footage about how much she LOVES people and COOKING FOR THEM (eyes brimming with fucking tears!). Not to mention the footage in which she admits that my (FALSE!) allegation that her knife cut croutons came from a box, broke her heart and how pastry people have particular and sensitive issues with criticism of this nature. I will note I made a huge and very public retraction and will aver here publicly AGAIN and for the record, Hayden Ramsey, when sober, has such wonderful knife skills that I wish I'd known her before I shelled out for the boob job.

Jayne's prayers for NO RAIN were heard. The rentals arrived. I dropped off a carload of stuff early Saturday morning in the bracing cold to be met by Jayne and Mollie (in shorts!) and cousin Audrey from some place in Canada where it's 30 below, who came down the 50 or so steps (ALL OF THEM BAREFOOT!!!) from the house that would only be owned by a cardiac rehab nurse, WHO APPARENTLY HAS WITNESSED A NUMBER OF PEOPLE SUFFERING EXCRUTIATING DEATH FROM FAT UNEXERCISED HEARTS. They offloaded my car in seconds. Like fucking Sherpas. I came home and watched t.v. with Leo. The Goldbergs schlepped and decorated. Rena packed gorgeous party bags with our custom scallion and lemon zest bagels from the Brooklyn Bakery (footage coming of this too). The folks at Square One spent a busy day running a restaurant, after having put up with me calling their customers assholes on my birthday and interfering with them trying to accomplish anything in their kitchen for the entire week. The ceremony went off gorgeously although I snuck off a little early, ostensibly to help the Square One folks prepare for the onslaught, but truly to snag a good parking place as the valets had fallen through.

I arrived, knowing the crowds would be ascending (those fucking steps) in mere moments to see Phil still unloading unheated food up the cardio rehab stairmaster. I decided to stay out of the way and set up the coffee. I filled the percolator with water and then realized Mrs. Kravitz was chasing me with the camera so, of course, I had to drop everything and go make sure I had no lipstick on my teeth (because I can't trust my own cinematographer to warn me) plugged in the water without adding the coffee and went to preen. Guests were beginning to arrive by then and by some magic, the appetizer stations appeared nearly instantly. I returned to the kitchen and discovered that some nervous nelly had unplugged the percolator, not thinking it could survive a moment without the coffee insert. I plugged it back in and did some real cute mugging for the camera, which then I sheepishly sent off to cover the party while I SUPERVISED the clean up of the kitchen after the explosion of boiling coffee. I was wearing my party clothes!

I chatted merrily in front of the camera again, while the Square One folks discovered that the Goldberg oven was too tiny to accommodate the half hotel pans after I assured them that ANY OVEN IN THE FUCKING UNIVERSE would hold a half hotel pan. I schmoozed and held forth while the Square One folks ingeniously improvised using aluminum foil, the backyard grill and some sort of magic because I can't figure out how all that food got warmed and served. I will add, for the record, I made only the chopped liver by myself. Everything else was perfect and delicious and I think will stand legendary as one of the best party meals ever. And that ain't chopped liver.

Jayne stayed up all night chaperoning the co-ed slumber party the evening dissolved into. Hayden, Robert and Phil had to open for a busy breakfast trade, starting their day at about 4. I cuddled with Himself under the covers, listening to the rain and read a few chapters of The Gospel of Food. Fraudulent and relaxed.

Monday, February 5, 2007

101 Noodle Express Puts Himself over the Edge.

I know, that's not hard to do, but nevertheless it was one of those few restaurants I could get the four of us to eat at without too much fuss, although youngsters have to be bribed by Boba from next door AND Fosselman's and now due to some weird Asian horror thing he watched Leo finds himself unable to eat dumplings. Nevertheless, himself and I like the beef roll there very much and find it the quintessential beer food, which is why we always bring a carefully chosen beer with us.

The waitress struggled as I tried to venture into a new dish so-we ended up with noodles with grain, which was sort of like a mild dan dan noodles with shredded spongy stuff. Not bad but a little help with the menu would have been nice, although we are old hands at point and shoot dining.

The place is way more crowded than when we first started going there. The cucumber in rice vinegar was badly peeled and sliced and quite bitter. The lamb dumplings were delicate and satisfying. The beef roll was as good as ever but just when we were tucking into it, a very officious woman presented herself at our table and announced, "We have no license. You can't have beer here." We didn't start arguing about the dozen or so beers we'd enjoyed there previously as I felt no right to pressure them to do something which made them uncomfortable. I did marvel though at why, when we were obviously struggling to understand the menu, at that point someone didn't someone summon this lass to help us translate.

101 Noodle Express (1408 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra, (626) 300-8654).