Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Informed Indulgences: My Dinner ar La Vecchia Cucina

My time is coming, sooner than i think. Pretty soon i'm going to have to decide what it is that i am going to do with my life. Will it be something along this newly found passion that i have for food? Or will my consolling affection with music prevail?

In my chaotic attempt to make a decision, my brother in my support, had a friend who happened to know someone, that knew someone that that knew someone else that was married to the new Head Chef/ owner of this italian place in Santa Monica, La Vecchia Cucina Italiana . He happened to mention me and my affection with food and seemed intrigued.

By next tuesday, we were having dinner their. The aroma of garlic and olive oil, the noisy chattering of blatant Westsiders, the fancy pyramidal set tables and me with my usual levis and back-patched black sweater...i felt like a fish out of water. But like so many times before, i was not going to let that ruin it for me.

I was really looking forward trying it out and meeting him. Italian food was probably one of my first cuisines that i've had other than Mexican. (even though it was probably some sort of enriched pasta product with a fake "Ragu" sauce, but it doesn't matter!)
I was also really looking forward to the complimentary bread and olive oil that are given in most italian restaurants, me being the carb-a-holic and all. And soon enough, a big steaming basket full of fresh bread was in our table ready for my carb compelled indulgence.

This was probably the best complimentary bread and olive oil blend that i have ever had. The bread was warm, crusty, and toasty on the outside and soft as pillow on the outside. The oil was was the perfect accompaniment to this, especially since i had a craving for anything doused with garlic. I usually don't like eating olive oil by itself but this was different, not having that "fruity" taste that most store brands have but this rich, smooth taste. It was full of shredded basil and was infused with garlic, but not the Prestos kind of garlic that leaves you reeking of garlic for days on end, but enough.

I don't know why I've been having this huge craving for garlic and this hit the spot. I decided to try shrimp one more time(I don't know why, i'm starting not to like shrimp anymore) and get theLINGUINE MARE E MONTI , Linguine noodles in a pesto sauce with butterflied shrimp and Shitake Mushrooms. It was alright, the noodles were perfectly Al Dente but the sauce was a little bit too creamy for me, and the shrimp...well, i guess i just don't like shrimp anymore. That still didn't stop me from finishing it though.

The best dish was the Penne Arabbiata that my brother got(like always). Exquisitely spicy with a little bit of tangyness. My dad's INSALATA ALLA TIBURCIO, Baby mixed greens topped with roasted pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes
and goat cheese tossed in our raspberry vinaigrette was also quite good. Sweet enough to be a dessert, just how i like it.

After finishing, the owner/chef Mark had recognized my brother and came to ask us how it was. He was very nice, he answered many of my questions about culinary arts and what it took for him to get there. Very informative.

Like if we hadn't had enough calories already, my brother had told my about the chocolate cake they had there. He said, they've had the same jewish lady make it for years and it my brother had told me that it was exceptionally rich compared to other ones we've had before, of course we hadto get it. "Rich" is an understatement. This is one of "the world's going end and you know you're going to die" kind of things to eat. Me and my brother could barely finish one slice! And thats us. I could almost hear my heart crying for mercy....poor little heart

By the end of the night, i know i probably ate like 4 days worth of calories, but i didn't feel bad. It was worth it.

La Vecchia Cucina Italiana

2654 Main St.
Santa Monica CA
(310) 399-7979

La Vecchia Cucina in Los Angeles

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Alright, Alright...(El Tepeyac: Boyle Heights)

I'm still in a tight schedule but i just had to mention this.

I finally went to El Tepeyac yesterday with my mom (you would think after living in East L.A for over over 10 years, i would of at least know all the local gems, huh?).
Long story short, this is probably the exception I'll make when it comes to Mexican restaurants. I don't think it could get any more comfort than this. Almost-like-moms food, extremely generous portions and amiable waitresses that i would confuse for my own family members. I felt some sort of soothing and safe feeling there, like if i was at home. If only the food didn't have that signature "Mexican Resturant Flavor" that I notice almost every where I go, don't know how to put it, its this slightly stale grease flavor, its not totally offending would be nicer without it.

Oh yeah, and I just want to say,

I could of finished The "Manuel Special" but i wanted my dad to see.

El Tepeyac Cafe
812 N Evergreen Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90033
(323) 267-8668

Friday, May 26, 2006

No time for anything!

This week has been so fucken hectic, too much work and responsibility!. So much shit has happened to me lately (stupid supposed "dogging" fights at school, drama) It's so different here in Alhambra than back at Garfield. It's so fucken hard!. I haven't had enough time for anything, just school, eat and practice, school, eat and practice. The only plus is probably that because of practice being right after school, i have been forced, yes forced to have a late lunner (lunch and dinner) right before i go. And I've actually been taking pictures too!. Really expensive specially requested sandwiches at Lovebird's or Baguette Du JourI'm such a fucken weirdo, spending all my money and going by myself to go eat at these places. And even ditching 6th period (RELAX Roy, it wasn't really important anyway) hopefully I'll get to tell you why pretty soon. It's not like anyone else cares, since I'm pretty sure no one except for my brother and quite possibly one or two other individuals that accidentally went on it have seen this stupid piece of shit. Why do i even continue this stupid blog?

Oh yeah, it's my way of "venting", i guess...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Am I Normal?

It was afterschool, Thursday, and i was starving.

At home i knew there were only your usual "leftovers" that were usually some enriched day old rice and some sort of dry chicken. When other teenagers would have settled for that, I remembered that i had some frozen tofu veggie patty that i bought from my savior, Trader Joes and since i had to go to practice, knew i could do something quick with that. As soon as i knew it, i found myself going to the market and buying some Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns and an Avocado to see what i could come up with when i got home. But that was not enough, i needed something else, some sort of starch to fill me up but i had been eating pretty shitty lately so knew that it wasn't going to be your traditional french fries. I pondered for a while, then i thought...about some "vegetable chips" that would do the job but without the heavyness. So i went to 7-11 where they surprisingly sell them and bought a bag. Of course i could not wait and had some on the way over.

On the way overthere, i was thinking of what i was going to do first and how i was going to do it. When i finally got home i took my backpack off, washed my hands and turned on the stove.

I layed the patty on the pan and attempted to remember the recipe for thousand island dressing that i once did from the The Joy Of Cooking. But with my suffering memory, i opted for some vegenaise, a little bit of mayonaise, some diced red onions, lemon juice and ketchup. Hey, i was starving so i didn't care.

But i needed more! so i sauteed a couple of onions until caramalized and a couple of sliced mushrooms. And voila! i give you Spexy's VeggieMuensterburger with homemade Thousand Island Dressing, Caramalized Onion and Mushrooms, Romaine Lettuce and Avocado on Whole Wheat Buns

Disgusting? Maybe for you. But for me? ...Heavenly.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Blue Marlin

Aww...Sawtelle, where the hipsters come out and play. Colorful, young "cool" people killing time sipping their bobba and conversing about the latest whatever. This place has certainly been given a lot of attention lately. The restaurants leading the Japanese revolution, fusing it with such techniques as complex as French or as comforting as Italian.

I still dream about Orris, blending Japanese and Italian. So i thought i would try another place around there, Blue Marlin.

Italian and Japanese? Under one roof? Wow right?...Wrong.
I really had high hopes for this place, but too bad they will remain as just that.

I hate it when i am the one that suggests somewhere to go and it turns out to be crap, it makes me feel it's all my fault and makes me feel bad. When i first walked in, i thought for sure it was going to be good, having that abating aroma that we all know and love of garlic & olive oil.

Being the carbaholic that i am, i find it really pleasing when any restaurant brings fresh complimentary bread before any meal, it keeps me from going ravenous and makes me savor every bite of the main course even more. But for some reason the waitress did not bring any to our table. At first i did not notice, but then i saw that everyone else was enjoying them, everyone except us.

Looking at the meny, they had a bountiful amount of both Japanese and Italian plates. Me and my brother decided on the most interesting sounding plates in the menu. Our entrees came with a small salad and a bowl of soup. The salad was pretty good, although the fluorescent soy/citrusy orange dressing did need some getting used to, i managed to like it. The bowl of "soup" was just a bowl of Miso Soup, which i don't like so passed it along to my dad. Savoring the people next to us as they gorged their bread, i hoped the entree would be worth it.

After a couple of minutes, my Sauteed Jidori Chicken and Organic Vegetable-Salty finally arrived. Although they were extremely generous with an abundance of vegetables and a whole oval plate stacked with white rice, The chicken was overly dry, i mean i had to drown it in Ponzu sauce in order to make it somewhat acceptable. The selection of vegetables were nice though; broccoli, cauliflower and the root end of a carrot? Oh well, i didn't really care about that but did mind that on both my brother's dish of Stuffed Pork Cutlet with Demi-Glace Sauce and my dad's Vegetable Tomato Risotto there a slice of what seemed to be some sort of fried squash that was really good. Why am i always the victim of unlikely odd's such as these? The Stuffed Pork Cutlet was probably the best dish of the night(again my brother's). Very moist and not greasy oozing with Demi-Glace Sauce and Mushrooms It came with a little shredded cabbage salad and a scoop of potato salad that none of our plates had. I wonder why? I also noticed that they used the same type of rice that they used for the white rice in the Tomato Vegetable Risotto. This was very similar to mexican fried rice but with enough garlic to feel it the next day.

After this, i was really looking forward to the oddly interestingChocolate Caramel Pyramid with Vanilla Ice Cream that I've had my eye on it ever since we walked in, But of course, they were all out. So we settled with a typical Chocolate Souffle that was nothing out of the ordinary. I was going to take pictures, but didn't feel it was worth the walk to the car and get it. Maybe it's just me but oh well.

Blue Marlin
2121 Sawtelle Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Blue Marlin in Los Angeles

Monday, May 15, 2006

Stereotyped Teenage Review About Food (Angelo's Italian Restaurant)

Today i had Pizza and i don't care!

And No! It is not my favorite Food!

To save us from my sister's dreadful cooking, we ordered Pizza from our local Mom & Pop Italian Restaurant, Angelo's.
I remember i used to always come here. I haven't had their pizza in a while and managed to convince my sister to order it rather than buying some fake franchise cardboard "pizza" and making the pockets of those greedy assholes bigger, sorry.

I remember this pizza being really good but then again, it was pizza and i was a little kid so...yeah. Sadly, like so many other's have said before, L.A pretty much sux when it comes to pizza, and this just furthured their argument.

The slice was 85% crust, and 15% toppings.

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I mean, damn... i usually like the crust but this was way too much. Very dry, dense and thick. Almost like a mexican birote One slice probably accounted for 4 or 5 servings of grain. And being that, i still ate 2 slices. Even though, one was more than enough. The ossified cheese did have a nice richness though but I like my pizza heavy on the sauce, not heavy on the dough.(by the way the sauce wasn't that good neither). kinda made me feel bad since i was the one that suggested it. So far around here, the best place to get a decent pizza continues to be Rios Pizza in Monterey Park.

1540 West Valley Boulevard
Alhambra CA 91803
Ph. (626) 282-0153

Angelo's Pizza in Los Angeles

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Orris: My first encounter with Food

When I was first discovering my newly found love of food, I remember my brother’s friend mention “Orris” as a recommendation for a unique tapas style meal. We did not go but the mystery of the name still lingered in my mind. It wasn’t until recently that upon my daily browsing of other Los Angeles Food Blogs that I decided to make it a goal to experience this place for myself.

Actually making up my mind about something I decided to try to find it and hopefully be able to experience it. And there it was, the blue sign like an answer to a question that I thought I would never get.

Reading the menu, I noticed that this place was unlike any other place I had dined before. I knew I was going to remember this day. As usual I could not decide what to get, but with the help of my dear brother we were able to decide on four small plates.

First we received the anomalous Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Shrimp Mousse fried tempura style with Olive Salsa. Anything that is deep fried always tends to be good and although I am not a big fan of shrimp or olives, I liked this quite well. The shrimp mousse was very fluffy and not too fishy. The olive’s acidity countered the shrimp very nicely. I found the bitter root ends of the squash more to my liking. We devoured this in an instant.

Second, we received a array of what should be the standard of anything that is grilled vegetables that consisted of a duo of really red sweet peppers, Chinese eggplants and Shitake mushrooms flavored with oregano and topped with a mild feta cheese. The sweet peppers natural sweetness were brought out intensely by the perfect caramelization, and evened out by the creamy feta, The chewy eggplants were intensely flavored with smoke absorbed by it’s flesh and also evened out, but the best of all had to be the thick meaty Shitake Mushrooms that even fooled my dad as a piece of steak. It made my brother consider ordering another order of pure mushrooms!

Third, we were served a petite piece of Basil-Marinated Black Cod that was beautifully displayed on a small bed of mashed potatoes next to three little silver dollar- sized pieces of grilled zucchini. This was one of the highlights of the night, the fish was so tender and buttery and tasted like it too, with the crunch of the skin in your mouth. It’s hard to believe this fish was not caught minutes prior. It was leaking with what I thought was a mixture of olive oil and butter.

And lastly (so we thought) came the Lamb Loin Carpaccio infused with garlic and rosemary topped by bitter Aragula leaves and shavings of robust Manchego cheese made from high quality sheep’s milk. Nervous about the blood red shade of the meat, I did not know what to expect. Although it was a new concept for me, I bit into my first piece confident that like everything else that night, was going to be delicious. Everything worked out perfectly as if every flavor was meant for each other, the chewy, natural gamy taste of the lamb, the bitterness of the Aragula and the nuttiness of the sheep’s milk was like a some twisted form of a salad.

Thinking and feeling bad about the bill, I thought that was going to be it for the night. Then daaada,da,da,da,daaaa!! My dear brother pulls me from my depressed thoughts and sets me straight by ordering his Berkshire Pork Medallions with Blue Peppercorn Sauce that he had his eyes on since the beginning. He did not want to leave without trying them and damned he was going to be if he left without tasting them.

After a couple of minutes, the waiter brought us out some warm crusty baguette that I had been craving since the beginning that tasted too much like a Mexican Birote that I’ve had all my life. I was curious as too why he brought it(although I didn’t mind at all) since it only came when you ordered a specific plate. It was then that I realized that the chef had forgot to make the Medallions. And because he probably noticed how fast we engulfed the first couple of plates, he wanted to keep us busy in the meantime and keep us from going crazy.

After that short delay we received our long-awaited Medallions. The smell made me reminisce in my younger years and all those times I would indulge in the artificiality of “Macaroni & Cheese with my secret ingredient…pepper. Remember right before you added the “cheese” and had that aromatic mixture of butter-flavored margarine and 2% milk? yeah, that one. I never thought an animal that has gotten such a bad reputation could be that tender and soft.

Of course, after such a good meal, we had to give in to our hereditary sweet tooth’s and challenge our hereditary fast metabolisms by ending it with the perfect ending. And since I was with my brother, that was going to be anything with chocolate. I did not even put up a fight once I saw Flourless Valhorona Chocolate SoufflĂ© with Coffee Gelato but I did show a huge interest in the ultra-exotic sounding Fresh Fruit Wonton with Yuzu Cream and Caramelized Poached Pear. That was something I would only read about other people enjoying but never experiencing myself.

When the waiter came, my brother ordered his usual indulgence and since we usually share the dessert surprised me and insisted on ordering the Fruit Wonton that I only dreamed of eating. “Fucken Roy” was what I said. Again, he surprised me and just wanted to make me happy. But this time, I did not feel bad. He has made me see that everything that i overthink about was all… just… in my head.

My fantasy dessert came beatifically displayed with the fresh fruit mixed with the citrusy Yuzu cream and the crispy wontons sandwiching them. With the caramelization of fruit that I only saw on T.V. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to partake in this work of art. The fruit was nothing like what I’ve had before. The perfectly ripe blueberries, the perfect sweet strawberries, the crisp poached pear, it was probably one of the best desserts I have ever had in my life. Like usual I couldn’t help myself from tasting everything, so I tasted my brother’s indulgence. It was hard to believe it was not flourless, so fluffy and chocolaty, not sweet…chocolaty. I can’t think of any better combination of the combinationn of ice cream (in this case, Coffee Gelatto) and a pastry (chocolate soufflĂ©).

“I think I just made up my mind about what I am going to do in life.”


“This is the way to eat” were my dad’s words exactly.

2006 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 268-2212

Orris in Los Angeles

Saturday, May 13, 2006


I finally got my lazy ass to stop procrastinating and finally make one!
Hopefully, this is the start of something special.
I'll start posting as soon as i figure out how to use this.