Friday, June 30, 2006

Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken

Due to the topic of this blog, you may be surprised to hear that I've been on a vegan/macrobiotic detox diet for the past 13 1/2 days. Why? Um. No good answer, other than that I was feeling unhealthy and wanted to set things on a positive track for the start of summer movie blockbuster season. I'm a serious movie watcher people... it was time to get in fighting shape.

I'm not quite sure how long I can keep this up, because posting about macrobiotic food just isn't all that compelling (neither is eating it, for that matter). Fortunately I have a little stash of the photos that led me to the detox here.

This was me, sliding down into a sea of fried goodness...

Best. Damn. Fried. Chicken. EVER.

Whole fried catfish - after you eat it, you can comb your hair with it.

Coleslaw counts as a vegetable, right?

And by that token, lemonade is a fruit, right?

Up until now, I had been a Popeye's junkie. While Popeye's is good, it doesn't even hold a candle to the juicy, crispyliciousness of Honey's Kettle. This is seriously good fried chicken, best enjoyed piping hot.

Sure beats tofu...

Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken

9537 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pinkberry Is Coming to My Neighborhood!

Oh joyous of most joyful days!! Pinkberry is coming to my neighborhood!

A mere 2.09 miles and one year (or less) are all that separate me from my one true food addiction. The new Pinkberry will be right next door to M Cafe de Chaya in a cute and tiny little space - it looks to be about 10 feet left-to-right.

I'm going to camp out prior to the opening, Star Wars style. Who's with me?!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Chowhound Meets the Modern Age


Let me say that again: Wizzaa-WHAAAAAAAAA???

I never thought the day would come. After years of secretly loving how low-tech Chowhound was, I can now say, with a sigh, that the simple days are over. Yes, Chowhound actually looks like a real modern Web site now. With formatting. And pull-down menus. And - GASP - required registering. Yes, no more anonymous posting... you actually have to create a profile now to post.

It's new. It's different. It should be simpler, but it took me about 25 minutes to figure out how to post something. I never thought I'd say it, but I think I like the old format better.

What's next, cruel internets? Craigslist?

And by the way, dear poster, NO, you should not put bleach in the baby pool, or in the baby bottle, for that matter.

Friday, June 23, 2006

101 Coffee Shop

When Brian and I lived in the Hollywood Hills, the 101 Coffee Shop was our breakfast, lunch and dinner of choice. It's almost always open, reliably good, and fairly cheap. If you're into being healthy, there are a few healthy items on the menu, but not too many (go to Hugo's if you want healthy... much better for that).

But what I love most is that the place has a great kitsch about it. Formica, wood paneling, stone walls, 70's lighting... it'll definitely take you back to childhood (either as an actual child or as an adult, depending on when you were born). If you go, be sure to check out all the 70's photos lining the walls - you may even recognize a few relatives. Daily Gluttony has a great review with some photos of the 101 decor... yes, what's old will always be new and hip in Hollywood.

Time to eat.

Brian and I always seem to pick the times when it's crowded, which means two for the counter. The counter features an angled mirror near the ceiling, so you can see everything going on behind and around you. It's a great place to sit and check out the many types of people who hang out at the 101 Coffee Shop. And when I say "many types of people," I mean, "people who are in A.A." It's like the Swingers on Beverly crowd, but greasier.

I spy... Colleen Cuisine on the ceiling:

The sign for the 101 Coffee Shop boasts that it's the Last Cappucino before the 101. Well, I had the last latte... and a foamy latte at that:

101 Coffee Shop has really great diner food. Yes, there is such a thing. The food is a little bit like Fred 62, but with fewer choices, lower prices, MUCH lower music volume and (in my opinion) better food. Stick to the basics and you'll never go wrong...

Here's the huge and glorious Hamburger:

Perfectly simple - great beef, great cheese, nice bun, juicy, hot, fresh. It usually comes with fries, or you can get mashed potatoes (like Brian did) or any of their other sides.

I'm hooked on the tuna melt and onion rings:

The tuna melt is outstanding - just make sure to order it without tomatoes if you don't like tomatoes in it. The tuna salad is simple, the sourdough bread fresh, doughy and crunchy on top when cooked.

But the best part of the 101 Coffee Shop is the onion rings. Holy moly... these are good onion rings. If you're into the breaded vs. battered debate, you must know that I stand clearly on the side of battered. Breaded onion rings are just soggy, oily, flaky and gross. Battered onion rings, on the other hand, are crispy, crunchy, hot, not too oily, and delicious. SO delicious!

Check 'em out:

The onion rings were so good I could not stop taking photos of them.
OK, I know taking pictures of your food is a little weird and funny looking, but you don't have to LAUGH at me for goodness sake!

The above photo is part of a new series I'm working on: Life through the Onion Ring. It's the first in a series of about 50 photos I took, only 2 of which I'll post here (otherwise you'll be laughing at me like the guys above). Clearly you all don't see my vision.

I think I got a little too ambitious with the onion ring photos. However, I continue to believe that this would be perfect as Brian's new author photo...

He's a bit skeptical. Honey, I work in marketing, I KNOW these things!

101 Coffee Shop
6145 Franklin Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Hours: Daily 7AM-3AM

Friday, June 16, 2006

Monsieur Marcel

Here's how I feel about The Grove.

(and to my all-time favourite painting, RIP)

No, I'm not talking about the traffic, the always-packed parking, the parents who feel the need to take their whiny kids out shopping, or even the look-at-me-I'm-so-trendy Apple store (aren't 98% of us PC users?). The Grove, to me, symbolizes the highbrow version of the mini-mall-ization of America. We think we're too good for the Best Buy/Target/Bevmo/Baja Fresh/Jamba Juice/Starbucks/Borders mini mall (oh wait, we have that too), so instead we build ourselves a grand, sweeping outdoor extravanganza that eschews the less elegant retailers. Instead of Target, Crate and Barrel. Not Ross, but Nordstroms. We'd never eat at Claim Jumper, just Cheesecake Factory. Etcetera.

Woe to he who tries to visit the Original Farmers Market in peace. Once a place to spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon, it's now a place to dodge strollers, squeeze by pudgy, slow-moving Midwestern tourists, and stand in line to BUY, BUY, BUY.

The Original Farmers Market vendors surely appreciate the increased foot traffic they get from being right next to The Grove. But sometimes I wonder if they too wish for one Saturday afternoon in peace, where those who visit visit only to meander, enjoy some great food, and relax. I'll guess we'll never know.

Fortunately, there remains one stall that offers a bit of leisurely escape: Monsieur Marcel. It's a sit-down restaurant in the far corner of the market, and while you do get the occasional traffic through the tables, it's mostly a quiet respite from The Grove mania.

Monsieur Marcel offers a wide menu, with traditional French bistro fare, cheese, wine, and many other dishes perfect for a weekend afternoon.

Our lunch started with a generous bread basket:

For an appetizer, we felt like having a salad. Among the many delicious-sounding salads, we chose a caprese, which had fluffy fresh mozzarella, sweet, perfectly-ripe tomatoes, and garden fresh basil:

Choosing lunch was a bit more difficult. There are some really great-sounding menu items, and I'm anxious to go back soon to try a few more. I settled on the Croque Marcel, which is kind of like a Croque Monsieur, but with turkey instead of ham:

MMMM. Delish. The top of the bread is crispy with cheese, the turkey warm, thick and melty. It's incredibly rich - I could only finish about a quarter of it, but man is it good. It comes with crispy shoestring fries which were quickly outshined by the other potato dish on the menu... potatoes au gratin (see below).

It's rare to find a great steak at a decent price. Like blue jeans, the price of steak in Los Angeles has crept up and up over time - $40 now seems de rigeur for a good piece of meat. The Steak au Poivre at Monsieur Marcel is only $22 (I think... somewhere around there), and it's OUTSTANDING.

A juicy cut of sirloin, it's tender like a filet but with a great beefy flavour. You can choose from a variety of sauces on the side - the gorgonzola sauce is great with the steak. As I mentioned above, the potatoes au gratin are delicious... a great crispy crust on top and flavourful, rich potatoes underneath.

After all that, we were pretty stuffed. The desserts looked especially delicious - I've gotta go back and try the tart tartin! We were also running late for a movie, so we got an espresso and closed up the check.

I'm not a big espresso-file, but I do know that a major component of the properly brewed cup is a good head of crema, that rich, reddish-brown foam you see floating on the surface here.

After the espresso, we saddled up to once again to face the madness in the walk back to movie theater.

Monsieur Marcel
Inside The Original Farmer's Market
Third & Fairfax
Mon-Thu 11:30am-10pm
Fri-Sat 11:30am-10:30pm
Sun 11am-8:30pm

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Boa Steakhouse on Sunset Blvd

Every once in a while I decide it's time for a food extravaganza, and Brian and I talk about what restaurant we'd like to empty our pockets at for the evening. This time, we decided we were in the mood for steak, so we headed over to Boa on Sunset Blvd.

Boa has reached that point in its life cycle where it still looks hip on the surface, but the cool crowd has moved on to something newer and better, leaving behind the Sunset second string. The greasy guys, the boob-job-ed divorcees, the parents, the tourists... it's not the place I remembered from several years ago, and the Dodd Mitchell-designed room certainly outcools the clientele. I guess all formerly trendy restaurants reach this point sooner or later, and fortunately for Boa, the food is still good.

When Boa was Balboa, they stuck to the more basic dishes... crabcakes, caesar salad and the like. Now that they're Boa, they've added some more adventurous menu items. Sometimes you see things on a menu that you can't NOT order. For example, Truffled Nachos:

Truffled nachos sounds totally awesome IN THEORY... but let me assure you friends, they are anything but awesome. The major problem seems to be the chips, which are homemade yukon gold potato chips - great on their own, but the flavor completely overpowers any possible hint of black truffle in the cheese. The second downside is the cheese itself - much too runny for proper nachos, it had a consistency more like ranch dressing. When you taste the cheese on its own, you can certainly locate the truffle essence, but all together, it's a bit of a gooey, discombobulated mess. Great concept, flawed execution.

Despite the truffled nacho lowlight, there was one major highlight of the evening: a special for tonight only, real Kobe beef from Japan. When the waiter informed us they had Kobe beef I was skeptical. "So, is it Wagyu beef raised in the states?" "From Japanese seed cattle?" and various other snobby foodist questions. The waiter passed the test and assured me that this was indeed REAL Kobe beef - the cow had been flown in from Kobe, Japan the day prior, a connection with the owners and some friends in Japan, or something. Do Kobe cows fly first class, I wondered? I assume the cow was dead... but at $13 an ounce (another sign it was possibly real Kobe), I have to wonder if even a slab of it was seated in business class, receiving a posthumous beer massage.

I had real Kobe once before at Sugiyama in New York, and this tasted much like I remembered - very raw, very buttery, very rich. If you've had excellent toro, the texture is very similar to Kobe, with a similar rich-but-mildly-flavorful taste that melts in the mouth. I have to admit, I don't think Kobe is so amazing that it's worth $60 for a few bites. It's a novelty, and an expensive one at that. But sometimes it's fun to try things just because they're there.

Each of these is a one ounce cube - about one square inch:

It's always served seared, because to cook it is to detract from that which makes it special: the marbling, which is best observed extra rare. Kobe served medium or medium-rare tastes just like regular steak... I've heard.

After tasting Kobe, you wonder if your main event steak will pale by comparison. This bone-in Kansas City filet (Brian had the same), certainly stood up to the test. Rich, tender, surprisingly flavorful for filet... it must have been the bone:

I don't have much else to say about Boa - I liked it before, I will continue to like it.

On another note, sorry the photos are so hard to see. I'm looking for a new camera that takes good low-light pictures... anyone have any suggestions?

Boa Steakhouse
8462 W. Sunset Blvd. (inside the Grafton Hotel)
West Hollywood, CA
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 7-11PM, Fri-Sat, 7-midnight