High-Five Friday


This week has been a roller-coaster of highs and lows. There is a lot of preparation for my upcoming surgery, including an out-patient procedure on the 24th of July just to get a better idea of how my heart and liver pressures are doing, and that pre-op running around has me running ragged and frazzled. As this is all happening less than one year of another surgery, and less than 3 years from another surgery that took 7 months to heal from due to complications, you can guess exactly how thrilled I am and how difficult it may be for me to come up with another list of positives. The point is to try, though!

TACOS!


1. TACOLANDIA

Tacolandia and the LA Street Food Festival wound up being scheduled on the same day. I received a media ticket to both, so I had to make a Sophie’s Choice with a good, old fashioned and impartial coin flip. Then a pro/con list, because I am not neurotic enough. Tacolandia won out because I’d already attended LASFF three times, and it isn’t as easily accessible by public transit. If I’m in town during LASFF next year, though, I’ll be sure to make that event my priority. Whichever event you choose, I hope you have a fabulously delicious time! I can’t wait for the taco-laden fiesta.


2. HOUSE-SITTING

Is it cheating if I mentioned this last week? …No. Dog and house-sitting is going well so far, and I’ve already fired up the grill twice and had both Evan and my sister in law over (separately) for a nice summer dinner. Having to care for the dog gives me a new appreciation for my slightly more independent cats, although I relish the fact that I can leave food and cords out without worrying about an animal leaping up and mercilessly devouring both.

3. DATING…KINDA

I kept it fairly under wraps, but at the end of last summer, I had a decent sized heartbreak. I’ll not go into details, but suffice to say, I felt no desire to date for a while. I tried again a couple of nights ago, and while I don’t think I’ll be pursuing the gentleman I went out with, the point is I went out there and did it. Woot, vulnerability.

4. MY GP IS RETIRING

Not really something in and of itself I’d like to give a hefty high-five to, but I did make an appointment with him under the guise of checking out my still healing finger, when in reality, I plan to say goodbye. Most people, as in people not chronically ill, list their GP as their primary physician, whereas all of my GP’s have kind of been the doctor I see the least. Dr. H has always been a god sport, and taken care of all of the run-of-the-mill ailments that luckily do not plague me as often as my more pressing health issues do. I’m sad he is retiring, and a bit more than nervous about having to break in a new GP (I’ll probably see one of his partners, who is my mom’s GP, since she’ll have some notion of my health from having undoubtedly heard it from my mom), but I want to give the man my thanks before he settles into retirement for good.


Shrimp Bhuna - Electric Lotus
Shrimp Bhuna from Electric Lotus

5. SHARING IS CARING

Monday was bad. Very bad. After a breakdown at the doctors, mom took me to dinner and I finally had the wherewithal to remember that one of my favorite Indian restaurants, Electric Lotus, is on the way home. My sister and I went there years ago and have been singing its praise ever since. It moved to a neighboring spot last year, but it still serves up some of the finest Indian cuisine Los Angeles has to offer. I stuck with my same old, shrimp bhuna, while mom went balls to the wall with garlic chicken tikka, lentils and bhindi masala (okra) – plus garlic naan, rice and vegetarian samosa. It was an all out feast, and judging by the way she is still going on about the food, it won’t be long before we’re back.


How was your week? What are you looking forward to in the coming days?

Recipe: Cold Vietnamese Beef Salad

Cold Vietnamese Beef Salad Header


Cold Vietnamese Beef Salad



Heatwaves are par for the course here in Los Angeles, and acceptance of their fickle presence is mandatory when taking up residence. December, July, or in this case, April, it matters not when the heat arrives like an unwelcome house guest, but that you are prepared to combat it. During oppressive heatwaves, I typically want nothing to do with my oven or stove. I want food that is light, crisp and refreshing. Nothing that will sit in my stomach like a rock, please and thank you.

So, what to do with my steak leftovers, cooked when the weather was more spot-on for April? Digging around in my cupboard and fridge, I discovered a handful of ingredients that could easily be thrown together for this honky’s version of a chilled Vietnamese beef salad.

Ingredients:
1 cup rice noodles, cooked and chilled
1 flank steak, cooked, sliced, and well chilled (or any leftover steak)
1 carrot, washed and julienne
1 (small) cucumber, washed and julienne
1 generous handful (a cup or more) of fresh cilantro
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts (I used unsalted, roasted)
optional: fresh mint leaves (which I sadly did not have)

1-2 tablespoon chili garlic/Tuong Ot Toi sauce

Dressing:
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1-2 tsp sugar, to taste
2 tsp lime juice
1 freshly minced red serrano chili pepper

These are eyeball measurements, so consider this your friendly reminder to taste everything and adjust to your palate.

  • Step One: Meat. This recipe works best with leftover steak that you don’t want to reheat because of risking its perfect rare/medium rare sear, as in my case. Either way, have your steak cooked and well chilled before preparing this recipe.
  • Step Two: Noodles. I use dry rice noodles, which some of my friends consider blasphemy, but I’m too lazy to care. Cook the rice noodles as the package instructs, making sure to rinse them in cold water and stick them in the fridge for however long it takes to get them thoroughly chilled. 20-40 minutes is my guess.
  • Step Three: Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing, adjust measurements as needed. Cover, stick in the fridge to chill.
  • Step Four: Wash, julienne, chop and dice all of your salad veg.
  • Step Five: Gather all of the salad components and toss the meat, noodles and veg together before adding the dressing and toss again. Add more chili garlic sauce if you dig it. Garnish with peanuts. Eat and enjoy.

  • Recipe: Cold Vietnamese Beef Salad




    Steffie’s San Diego Hen Party


    It’s never easy when my girlfriends walk down that long, red carpet towards some man I’d shank in a heartbeat should he ever hurt my precious friend. Don’t get me wrong, most of the men my friends have decided to share their lives with I now consider friends, but they should never for a moment forget whose side I stand on out of pure loyalty. Eyes all of them.

    Steffie is my fifth bride, and so far the only one who wanted a bachelorette blow-out weekend. The last time I had a hand in any sort of bachelorette shenanigans was in 2005 when I planned Lynleigh, my first brides’, “tacky bridesmaids dresses” themed party, which took place on a singular night in Hollywood. Nine years and three brides later, Steffie wants not a bachelorette party but a Hen Do, the UK, Aussie, Kiwi and Irish equivalent. The groom-to-be is Scottish and therefore, a Hen is fitting.

    Here are some of the highlights from the weekend:


    Our hostess, Tootie, dressed as Cher (LIPS Drag & Dinner Show)




    They made Steffie and the other brides-to-be do a floor shot




    Samplers from the Stone Brewery




    Bride and Maid of Honor




    Party Favors!





    So I made a little Tastemade video of our trip to the Ballast Point Brewery, which unfortunately cut Steffie off. Sorry, Steffie! She wanted to add that she also enjoyed the Victory At Sea porter and Sculpin ale.


    All in all, it was 48 hours of hot pink, phallic gags and booze-soaked good times. Soon enough, though, it will be time to walk down that aisle, Steffie Love. Your girls will be there right behind you whenever you need us.
    XoXo,

    High-Five Friday!



    I have been trying to get my shit together to start this series for, oooohhh, about two months now. This is sort of a mash-up between “Things I love Thursday” and “The Friday Five”, which after a little research, seems to be fairly open to interpretation. Sometimes it’s always really easy to micro-focus on the negatives and obsess over the stressors in our lives, but I’m hoping High-Five Friday will help teach me how to stay focused on the positive. Five reasons I’m looking forward to the future rather than dreading it.

    Ready? Here we go:


    1. Steffie’s Hen Party in San Diego

    An event I’ve been both dreading (financially, alcohol-themed shenanigans, the stress of co-piloting an event) and looking forward to at the same time. We leave in a couple of hours, and I know I am going to have a good time if I allow myself to have a good time. Tonight will kick things off the right way, with a reservation at Lips San Diego dinner and drag show. Nothing will perk up my mood more than a fabulously bawdy drag queen possibly embarrassing the hell out of my best friend.

    2. Cleaning

    Cleaning is very cathartic, and this week I tackled my room once more. Having a floor I can actually see and walk on without tripping over piles of clean clothes I was too lazy to put away is awesome. Now if I can tackle all of the little piles of clutter, THEN I’d feel super powered.

    3. Cool Summer Haircut

    My sister, shortly after becoming my sister, turned to me one summer and asked, “Hey, do you wanna buzzcut?” To which I replied, “Sure, why not?” What followed was a series of undercuts I received for several summers to help thin out my luxuriously thick locks, to help keep the summer heat off of me. I decided to embrace the long hair undercut again and have had no regrets.

    4. House/Dog Sitting Adventure

    Next week I embark on my annual dog/house-sitting adventure, which means I get to play house and enjoy cable TV, a stocked fridge and a grill any master chef would be proud to barbecue on. It’s going to be awesome.

    5. Summer Cook-Outs!

    Piggy-backing off #4, I am looking forward to tackling many new dishes this summer and mastering all of them. Among them: Grilled octopus, Boiling Crab dupe recipe for “The Whole She-Bang” shrimp, pizza on the grill, and the perfect potato salad.


    Do you have anything to high-five about? Share in the comments!

    Fickle – Downtown L.A. (Vlog)



    My friend and fellow food adventurer, Evan, had prompted me to suss out some new places for us to try. We like to keep it fairly local, and without too much trouble, I narrowed it down toThe Boiling Crab and Fickle. I put it to Evan, and The Boiling Crab won out for its proximity to our area. We fell in love with TBC, but that is another story for another day. Fickle had been weighing on his mind, and we wound up giving it a go once our schedules aligned. Though I’m wearing exactly zero make-up, my hair was cute and the lighting was amazing so I felt the inspiration to film another Tastemade episode. Enjoy!






    Here are a couple of snaps I posted on Instagram:




    Buffalo Cauliflower


    The buffalo cauliflower is an item on their special happy hour menu only. On the weekends and after 7pm weekdays, it’s unavailable. It’s made with “tapatio buffalo sauce”, which Evan enjoyed but I thought tasted more like Tapatio rather than a buttery buffalo sauce (like Frank’s or Duff’s). It’s still good, especially with those generous blue cheese crumbles. Mmmmm!




    Roasted Bone Marrow
    Ginger Soy Lacquer | Citrus Basil Gremolata | Pickled Daikon Salad

    My favorite bite of the night, hands down. Though anyone who knows me well enough is not surprised in the least, because I have been writing sonnets about my love for sucking the literal marrow out of life for quite possibly forever and a day. The gremolata added a layer of flavor and texture I never knew I was missing before, but now need to incorporate the next time I decide to roast some bone marrow at home. The daikon salad was refreshing and just the juxtapose to round out the dish.




    Bacon Wrapped Quail
    Mushroom Risotto Filling | Spinach | Pine Nuts | Cranberry Demi Jus



    Evan and I zeroed in on that quail as soon as our eyes fell on the mains portion of the menu. Quail is not something I’ve attempted to cook yet, but not for lack of interest on my part, just a touch of nervousness I have when dealing with poultry. Also, I don’t really remember that I want to work with it until I am wandering the butchery at Bristol Farms, but then I have no idea what to do with it and you know what? Stop hounding me. I’ll get to it eventually; for now let me enjoy the occasional quail dish. Yeesh. This dish had everything going for it: a bed of greens, my favorite nut in the nuthouse, a savory delicious sauce to sop up the meat and spinach with and stunning risotto. My one quibble? The bacon was a touch salty for my palate. Otherwise, a damn tasty dish.

    Though Fickle didn’t completely blow our minds, Evan and I were overall impressed and know we have another spot to check out when the seasons (and therefore the menu) changes. Best of all, Fickle is located just one short block away from the Metro Gold Line!

    Fickle
    362 East 1st Street
    Los Angeles CA 90012
    Tel: 213.628.1888
    http://ficklela.com
    Happy Hour: Monday-Friday, 5p-7p

    4th Annual Taste of the Eastside


    Taste of the Eastside

    4th Annual Taste of the Eastside

    On June 1st, the fourth annual Taste of the Eastside took place at the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens in Cypress Park. Taste of the Eastside is a food & drink festival that showcases the evolving and diverse food scene of the eastside neighborhoods of Silver Lake, Echo Park, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Los Feliz, Atwater and beyond.

    You ready to dig in?

    Continue reading

    Dining With: Tastemade Party

    Last Thursday evening the Doubletree Hotel in Little Tokyo (Downtown Los Angeles) played host to soiree thrown by Tastemade, my go-to app for one-minute video reviews of my favorite places to dine at. I almost didn’t make it, as I was bone tired from a full morning and sweltering early afternoon at the Los Angeles Zoo (for my Beastly Ball media sneak peek!)



    Here are some close ups of my favorite dishes:


    Crab, Scallop & Shrimp Ceviche by Ayara Thai


    Orecchiette with Truffle Sauce & Peas by Artisan House L.A.


    Wachoes by The Lobos Truck


    Bold Ramen by Tatsu Ramen


    Pork with cabbage, rhubarb puree & crispy Brussels sprouts by Local Table

    Thanks again for the fabulous evening, Tastemade! So happy to be part of this great and ever-growing community. Now I have all of these delicious restaurants to add to my “To Eat” list!