Friday, October 30, 2009

gold vs. grimes, represent!

Last night, much fun was had at the Los Angeles Public Library for this week's edition of their ALOUD series. The Taper auditorium hosted this "bi-cultural binge." Moderated by Good Food's Evan Kleiman, a classic East Coast/West Coast battle ensued between LA Weekly restaurant critic Jonathan Gold and former New York Times restaurant critic (and current obit writer!) William Grimes.

As more of an adventurous home cook than restaurant junkie, I was thoroughly engaged and entertained by the panelists' vast knowledge of food and restaurant history in their cities. Conversation spanned nearly two hundred years, from the 1837 opening of Delmonico's in New York City to current foodie trends-- food trucks and nose to tail eating.

Gold and Grimes bantered to clear up misconceptions of their respective "scenes." Kleiman proposed LA food spotlights health while New Yorkers are pleasure-seekers. Both of the guys thought instead the food cultures were more of a result of geography and physical space. Los Angeles home owners are more likely to entertain in-house using local ingredients, while shoe-box dwelling New Yorkers store books in their ovens and eat out three meals a day. Both coasts came together to shape moden food movements, from the DIY/punk rock mentality to the internationalization of chefs and resurgence of public markets.

As the crowd thinned out, probably headed to Cafe Pinot to sample their special prix fixe menu, Grimes was kind enough to give the man some insight into NYC's craft beers while I picked Gold's brain for butcher recommendations.

Check out the William Grimes' new book Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York and Jonathan Gold's Counter Intelligence.

And a special thanks to tryharder for giving us your place on the list.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Things I Love Thursdays.

Here it comes, this week's edition of "Things I Love Thursdays!"

On the radar this week are fellow recreational butchers, courtesy of the New York Times. Great article, even though it uses every conceivable butchery anecdote, leaving me to feel a bit like a can of potted meat.

Legendary food writer Jonathan Gold shared his words of wisdom and caution for us aspiring food writers at class on Tuesday. He is quite the inspiration-- had the class hanging on his every word! Just as candidly eloquent (if that makes sense) in person as he is in his columns. Too bad his event at LAPL is full for tonight. Any suggestions on how a lady might sneak in?

My new issue of Meat Paper magazine came in the mail this week! Such a lovely magazine. Gorgeous and full of flavor. In this issue, they set out to determine whether a T-Rex tasted like chicken. The diagram is priceless. Truly the best way to stay on top the trends in the meat world.

KCET (or your local PBS, I'd imagine) has been airing loads of episodes of Julia and Jacques cooking at home. I caught an episode this week about pork and watched Jacques break down an entire rack. His methods and instruction were so simple and straightforward I could imagine someone actually doing it at home for themselves. All the while, Julia towered over him making fabulous yummy sounds and smacking her lips. Now that's classic TV.

And because we really just like cook dinner at home, drink wine, and watch bad TV, I made an somewhat elaborate birthday dinner for the man that I have to share.

We love, love lamb, and these chops were pretty killer. They come with a silly story, too. I usually buy my lamb either from my favorite local butchers, Marconda's Meats or Huntington Meats at the Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax or from Whole Foods, but the giant Ralph's near my house now carries quite a selection. I didn't give it a second glance when it first appeared, as grocery story lamb makes me think of the suspicious meats I remember as a child-- an oozing slab of a mystery cut shrink-wrapped with a little packet of mint-flavored jelly.
Not wanting to be too pretentious, I thought I'd check out Ralph's supply. I then ran into roadblock number two. All of the packages of chops were labeled "Wine and Mustard Marinade." Hm. I kept walking. That didn't seem right.
One more try. Aah. They weren't actually marinated, just topped with a poorly designed, misleading recipe card. So four pretty little lamb chops came home with me and did not get marinated in mustard.
Instead, they were quickly seared in my trusty cast iron and topped with the birthday boy's favorite mint sauce, a zippy seasoned-to-taste puree of fresh mint, olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, garlic, onion, salt and pepper.
Delicious. Sweet, spicy, savory and just special enough for a birthday.

Have a protein-packed day!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

beer, bikes, birthday, and bacon maple cupcakes.

Call me cliche for jumping on the bacon bandwagon, but would you turn one of these down?

Yeah, didn't think so.

The man had the brilliant idea to celebrate his 30th in style (and by style, I mean of the trendy hipster-type), with a biking beer tour of downtown LA. Admist the DineLA and Beer Week festivities, he's hosting his own mini-tour, starting at Wurstkuche and ending at Bottle Rock, where I will be serving the ridiculously decedent cupcakes, modified from this recipe from Bacon Today and Vanilla Garlic. And yes, there is bacon, bacon grease, and maple syrup throughout, not just on the top.
Isn't meat fun?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

things i love thursdays!

This week has been somewhat "meat lite" for two reasons-- an unexplained shortage of my favorite 365 brand nitrate-free bacon at Whole Foods and a new found focus on writing about my recreational meat activities! I'm so glad Pat Saperstein from eatingla posted about this UCLA writing workshop, taught by Patric Kuh, food critic for Los Angeles Magazine. Thankfully, the man was very supportive of my impulsive decision to sign up. So far, it has been super fun and inspiring.

I do have a few things to share.

First, I would like to give thanks to the artisan butchers of America. I know that all is not sunshine and happy cows in the meat industry here, but at least I can feel pretty sure that the USDA has some regulations on things like this.
Fiji meat man. Now, I've never been to Fiji so I don't want to judge. I thought their cuisine was primarily made up of fish and seafood? On second thought, maybe that explains their excitement for the pig heads and sausages.

Next, let's talk about some bizarre livestock breedings. Have you seen the tiny potbelly pigs?


Kind of cute, in an alien sort of way. Apparently they are the hot new celebrity pet. Paris Hilton ordered one this week, just to tick off those pesky PETA people. They're supposed to be cleaner and more intelligent than dogs (Paris better watch out-- wouldn't want her to be outsmarted), but I can't imagine carrying them around in a designer pet carrier. Would it be inappropriate to mention the possibilities of bacon sliders?

They've been messing with cows, too. This is a Piedmontese cow:

This oddly sad looking creature is the result of a breeding phenomenon that began with an Italian cow that has "double muscling." What does that mean, you ask? Well. According to, "this low fat beef is...lower in calories, higher in protein and contains a higher percentage of desirable Omega 3 Fatty Acids..beef from both full-blooded Piedmontese and Piedmontese-cross cattle consistently has these qualities of leanness and tenderness because it is due to their unique genetic makeup rather than an effect resulting from their feeding or environment." The article also mentioned that these cows were bred specially to retain their positive traits and remove the negative. I'm a bit unclear of what the negative traits were, but since they're mostly bred in Michigan, perhaps I'll ask my parents to look into it. They might want to pick up a few. Might be nice to have some cows to visit next time I make the trip to the homeland.

That's all for this week! Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

things i love!

It's Thursday and I haven't posted anything this week, so here's another shot of "Things I love Thursdays!" Come on, it's fun, right?

Here's my first pick. It's an absolute requirement to wake up early enough every morning to make myself some kind of meaty goodness for breakfast (and often, mid-morning snack!), but I can never seem to make time to eat it before leaving for work. Here's my perfect solution:


The don't forget me lunch bag! So cute and practical with a clever red silk ribbon. Of course, I use it for breakfast instead of lunch. And I don't forget it. It came home with me at felt club last Christmas and has been a good friend ever since. What do I do for lunch, you ask? Well, I currently happen to be lucky enough to walk home for lunch so I can fry up some fresh bacon, along with some berries and a mug of peppermint tea. I'll always be a scavenger at heart.

Here's another thing I love, a weekly dose of internet irony! I found it curious that these two articles circulated in the same week--

Woman's Shattered Life Shows Beef Inspection Flaws

Or, would you rather suffer from E. coli as a result of eating this:

Father's Office burger*

or this:

McDonald's Side Salad

Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely soulless. Every now and then, I do partake in a sketchy ground beef patty or take a chance by not re-washing pre-washed greens (though I find them to be pretty ridiculous in general-- how hard is it to rinse and chop your own lettuce?), and I do so in full awareness that these products come with their fair share of risks. It is so unfortunate that a woman's life was ruined by enjoying a hamburger, but as you can see, anything you eat comes with some sort of risk unless you grow or raise it yourself; that's just the price we pay for convenience. Perhaps these articles will encourage us to be more educated consumers and not just become radical scare tactics...

And speaking of health food, another interest of the week was inspired by this post on svelte gourmand.


Yes, that's right, lard! I'm itching to try cooking something with it. I love the idea of cooking Brussels sprouts in lard, as Joshua Ozersky (author of The Hamburger) suggests in this interview. Perhaps I will get some good stuff next time I visit my friendly local butcher, or perhaps I will try this technique for rendering lard, although since I don't technically have a kitchen window, I run the risk of my home permanently smelling of pig fat.
*I am aware that this is an unfair comparison, since I am fairly certain Father's Office uses only the highest quality meats and grinds their beef in-house, but doesn't that burger prove the point better than a frozen beef patty?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

things i love thursdays!

I am currently inspired to do a fun little weekly selection of meat-related things I like. It will probably most often serve as a reminder to myself of exciting dishes to try or products to buy, but who knows? Maybe you will be inspired (or perhaps amused) as well.

First up-- Candied Salted Bacon

(source: the kitchn)

Now I know it has been done, but I just thought this recipe looked particularly tasty. Perhaps because of the nice story about making it in your kitchen at 2am with or without pants on or maybe because of the lack of "process" pictures these recipes usually include (the bacon caked with brown sugar makes me feel too guilty about even thinking of trying this!), but regardless, it looks super tasty and satisfying in a not too sweet or salty kind of way.

Next up, Juice Box-Sized Stock.

I like to make my own stock whenever possible, but sometimes time just doesn't allow for it. The best option for store-bought stock is Pacific Organic Free-Range Chicken Stock (also available in low-sodium). It is organic, doesn't have any crap that I won't eat in it, and comes in the cutest 8 ounce packages. What more could you want?

...How about a Grill Pan?
I know, this is a poor excuse for an actual grill, but we live in a loft and our HOA sends mean letters for creative things like open flames on narrow windowsills...Our bulky cast iron grill pan does the trick most of the time. Currently, we have a Martha Stewart model from a few years ago (I know!! But it was 1/2 off, okay??), but I'm certain it would be ashamed to show its face around this pretty (and pricey) Le Creuset.

And lastly, Butchery as Theater!

Anyone want to sponsor a lady's trip to SF for this?

In a rare U.S. appearance, Dario Cecchini, Italy's master butcher made famous in Bill Buford's Heat and portrayed in Douglas Gayeton’s new book Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town, will give a demonstration on artisan butchery. You are invited to experience Dario up close breaking down a steer and a pig with mastery and flair at the Cowell Theater. Following his 250-year-old family tradition, Dario will share his exceptional skills with chefs, butchers of all levels, and other sustainable food industry professionals who wish to find a deeper understanding of and relationship with meat.