A Waffle Does Not Make Good Sandwich Bread (and Other Thoughts)

I received a Groupon in my in-box this morning (why I still receive Groupons in my in-box is another conversation) for a place called “Red Maple Café”. A rather generic attempt at an Americana tavern/eatery type name (the trend these days). Obviously not drawing the people they expected, if they are putting out a Groupon.

The photo included with the Groupon was of an ill-conceived sandwich, a meat of some kind — probably smoked heritage pork belly — suspended between two waffles. Making matters worse was a sprig of cilantro sitting ominously close to the meat.

A waffle does not make good sandwich bread.

I was in Hollywood a few nights ago and passed the famous eatery, Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles. Fried chicken and waffles are a surprisingly good combination, although I do wonder if they weren’t somehow culpable for spawning sandwiches with waffles for bread.

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I actually purchased a Groupon awhile back for a poke bowl joint. I took my 8-year-old daughter, Imogen, for lunch there one day. The bowls were quite good, but there was nobody in the place. That’s because there are too many poke bowl restaurants. You can have a lot of pizza joints, but how many poke bowl joints can any one community sustain?

I was at the elementary school, walking Imogen to her class, and was chatting with her friend Myla, who was upset she didn’t get a pineapple backpack. “Pineapples are kinda the thing this year, aren’t they,” I said.

“Yeah,” she replied. “They’re everywhere. And flamingos. Last year it was narwhals and rainbow unicorns.”

The food world has trends, too. The aforementioned American tavern/eatery, for example, serving pork belly bahn mi sandwiches and house-cured charcuterie with house-fermented pickles. I wonder what it will be next year in the food universe?

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I was busting up a cauliflower the other day to make some Indian pakora, when it occurred to me what a weird thing a cauliflower is.

“What the hell is this thing?” I said to myself, suddenly perplexed after a half century of eating them without even thinking about it. Is it a flower? It’s more like a mushroom than a plant. Cauliflowers have become quite a thing lately too. People are frying them every which way, much like I was for my pakoras. I’m not totally immune to trends.

I wonder if anyone is frying cauliflower and putting it on waffles for a sandwich?


Popcorn for Breakfast and Other Minor Revelations

Leftover popcorn, I’ve discovered, makes a good breakfast. My wife often makes popcorn for the kids in the evening, and there it is in the morning, half a pot — the butter soaked in and coagulated. Like many things, it is better the next day.

I especially like the crunchy, half-popped ones that congregate at the bottom of the pan. My wife worries: “You’re going to break a tooth on one of those one day.” But I like to live dangerously, I guess.

I made another delightful breakfast discovery this morning. It’s soft-shell crab season — one of my most favorite of all foods. Last night, I made seven soft-shell crab sandwiches for our dinner party. I had miscounted, and there were only six of us. So my second course of breakfast was a reheated soft-shell crab sandwich. What a start to the day!


Go Away, Gastropub

I ran into a chef friend of mine at my son’s baseball game the other Sunday. I asked him what he was up to, and after a harrowing tale about his time as private cook for an online poker billionaire, he confessed he was putting wheels in motion to open a restaurant.

I asked him when, where and what. He wasn’t sure, but said he was scanning food trends for inspiration.

“Don’t do a pork belly bahn mi,” I said.

Gastropub burger with truffle fries

As serendipity would have it, I had also been discussing the possibility of opening a restaurant with a friend. A unique opportunity had arisen, and we were exploring it. Which got me to thinking about what kind of food I would serve. I would not serve a pork belly bahn mi. More

The Japan Series — Imogen Dreams of Sushi

“Are we going to eat a lot of sushi in Japan?” my 7-year-old daughter, Imogen, asked before we left on our trip.

“You betcha,” I assured her.

“Just sushi!?” she clarified hopefully. And it was my sad duty to inform her that we would probably eat ramen and tempura and yakitori and other things as well.

Immy’s first sushi meal in Tokyo

In case you’re checking into this blog for the very first time, this is a theme that comes up with some regularity. That is, that Imogen loves sushi. She is an expensive date.


The Japan Series — Salvation at the 7-11, Big Pig and More!

Our flight arrived in Japan around 3:30 p.m., which for us was 9:30 p.m. the previous evening. We left Los Angeles at 11 a.m., and flew 10 hours in daylight, although when we arrived in Japan it was the next day. On the flight, they served breakfast, lunch, and then breakfast again.

It was around 6:30 by the time we figured out how to take the trains into Tokyo and locate — on streets that do not have names — our Airbnb. We were hungry, although we weren’t sure if we were hungry for dinner or breakfast. I offered to go out and find some take-out while the family got settled, which suited everyone just fine.

Flynn and Willa at the Airbnb in Kanda

Tokyo, from a non-Japanese-speaking westerner’s perspective, is a bit confusing at first when it comes to food. There are many, many restaurants — our little pedestrian walking area of Kanda was chock full of them — but it is challenging to figure what many of them serve. You look into the dark restaurant, there are six seats, and bodies are hunched over plates of something. Many restaurants serve only one thing — eel, for example, which would not have gone over well with 3/5 of my family. The point being, that a jet-lagged gaijin fresh off the plane trying to find some quick, not-to-exotic takeout in a non-tourist neighborhood of Tokyo was not going to have an easy time of it. More

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