Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sous vide, the sequel, GONE WITH THE GEIST

From the New York Times:

So do you still want to poach stuff in bags? Maybe not.

Reporting from a secret location. But I will have more to add.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Stay Local Chapter 2

Let's face it you can't afford to buy gas. So once again I am singing the praises of one of my own local places.

The North End in Hermosa was once known as Critters and one of the diviest bars in all of the South Bay. Surfing legend Dewey Weber drank himself to death there. Two great friends of mine formerly owned the Mexican restaurant across the street. But since it changed hands I can hardly bring myself to go back.

The news about the North End is that it actually has a very talented executive chef, Jessica Jordan. The big guy on the left is Salvador. He has a counterpart, Servendo. I've seen these guys cooking in back, then washing glasses at bar triple sink and then bussing tables. There is a lot of multitasking going on! Jessica herself frequently works at the bar.
Now to the food. The regular menu is typical bar food. But the lunch specials are typically pretty good. However Monday is "gourmet night" with a special menu of five courses. Wednesday is "tapas" with a choice of eight small plates. Both nights are wonderful. I think in between there is the traditional LA "taco Tuesday" but I'm not going there...
The special menus change all the time. On recent visits (Monday) I've dined on pan seared duck crepes with hoisen and plum sauce, as well as a bay scallop and crab saute over cold angel hair. Both dishes are obviously Asian inspired but you might also find fire grilled jerk chicken with mango salsa, sweet pepper rice, roasted corn and pineapple saute'. Doesn't that make your mouth water!
This past week I stopped in for tapas and had delicious tempura battered squash blossoms with a yellow pepper-jalapeno sauce.
Chef Jessica's cooking rocks! And I encourage all of my friends to go.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Next Geist

The new zeitgeist sweeping through American kitchens is sous vide. Basically you vac seal a plastic bag and cook the contents. I'm not sure what accounts for its popularity after our molecular gastronomy phase, but my friend David at Bay Books, in Coronado showed me the new Artisan catalog and Keller (yes, that Keller) is bringing out a book on the technique. If I remember correctly, the book title is COOKING UNDER PRESSURE.

Okay, I guess I'll try some things out but this does remind me of cooking Stouffers' stroganoff when I was a college student in the days before microwaves. You dropped a bag of stuff into a pot of boiling water. Today's college students don't even know how to light an oven.

Today I think I might be preparing a "pasta primavera." This is not a traditional dish from anywhere in Italy. It was created at Le Cirque in New York in order to charge rich people exorbitant prices for inexpensive ingredients. But it can be prepared al minute.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Eat local, buy local

Pierino believes that you should support your community businesses. He believes that with all his whole heart. It might cost you a few more dollars than shopping at a chain or eating at a KFC but it matters!!!

In the photo at left you will see Big Bob who is a Hermosa Beach icon. He could be considered the Mount Rushmore of Hermsoa. Big Bob is the nicest person you might ever meet, and he is always sporting a cool hat. He guards the door of Cafe Boogaloo and when he unfolds from that chair he stands up at somewhere between 6"11" and 7'11". Let's just say he is a big guy. Bob is probably the reason that at Boogaloo there are no problems (unlike other bars/restaurants in the neighborhood). Sweet, gentle man but I would never want to mess with him.

But Boogaloo also offers up really great food. Owner Steve Roberts comes from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The menu is great but what often is off the menu is frequently better! You just have to ask. It's known locally that Tuesday is Fried Chicken night. And it's really good. But you need to ask your server.

Cafe Boogaloo is at 1238 Hermosa Ave 310 318 2324

I didn't mention that one of the reasons Big Bob sits outside the door is that on weekends they have a great live music venue. Recently I was lucky to see an impromptu Blasters reunion. On the bill was "The Gene Taylor Band featuring Dave Alvin" but toward the end of night Phil Alvin (giant head and all) stepped out on stage and all of a sudden it was the Blasters! One of maybe the top ten bands ever to come out of LA. Ever...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Surfin' Santa Barbara

My favorite dining spot in Santa Barbara at this moment is Hungry Cat. No sign, but it's located at Chapala and Anapamu, with Hungry Cat discretely lettered on the the window. It's operated by Susan Goin who has the magnificent Luques in LA as well as another Cat in Hollywood. Also AOC in LA.

Down to business: the Santa Barbara Cat is small. The kitchen is available for all to see. Best seats are at the bar. Seafood again, rules!

In the photo above I'm not sure if the chef, Dylan Sultineer (big guy with beard at left) is conferring with his staff on the night's menu or comparing betting slips.

What I dined on was the "salted black cod [aka sable fish]. It wasn't anything like a real salt cod which must be dried and rehydrated. I think I'm doing that this weekend. But rather more like a cured, gravalax. The "local beans" were less successful---and I believe in buying local---kind of tough. But the cod was great. I wish I could have revisted on the following night to order the fried boquerones (anchovies) with dandelion, fennel and grapefruit...

There are so may wonderful things to taste here. Go for it