Everything’s Better with Butter

Did you ever play that Desert Island game — you know, the one where someone asks you what 10 albums you would choose if you were marooned on a desert island? I like to play this game with food. Which 10 ingredients would I want if I was stranded on a desert island? And high upon my list would be that glistening, glorious gold of the dairy case: butter. I could make a palm frond taste good so long as I had butter.

I’d been meaning to put my infatuation for beurre to words for some time now. Sitting here eating my leftover grilled chicken from a few posts back — basted on the barbie with melted butter — I got thinking about just how important this simple, elemental ingredient is. More

Clarity of Flavor

One day recently, I was reading a restaurant review by one of the great treasures of the L.A. culinary scene, our Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer, Jonathan Gold. If you don’t know Jonathan or his work, he is a grizzled hippy Jewish rocker who used to write concert reviews for the L.A. Times, and at some point transitioned to food — and now is one of the country’s most celebrated authors on all things edible, the only food critic ever to win the Pulitzer. He brings a literate rock & roll sensibility to his reviews that is perfectly suited for Jim Morrison’s City of Night.

The makings of a perfect dinner.

Anyway, in this particular review, he was praising the fresh, focused cooking of whatever restaurant it was (“seasonal, well-sourced produce presented in a way that lets its virtues shine through undisturbed”) against the prevailing trend of molecular cooking and the “restless mutation that modernism needs to survive”. He went on to point out that ” in California, the taste of a Cara Cara orange straight from the tree will always eclipse the flashier pleasures made possible by a packet of xanthan gum.” More

Crustaceans in Oz

I do a lot of shopping. I go to farmers markets, Japanese markets, Persian markets, Vietnamese supermarkets, Indian spice stores, Mexican carnicerias, Chinese poultry shops… And on the way home, I usually stop at the regular old grocery store. It’s where I get staples — sugar, cheese for the kids, bananas, hamburger buns, etc. Our local one has reasonably good produce, an excellent wine department and a nice view of the Pacific Ocean across the street.

Butter-poached Australian lobster with saffron risotto and lobster sauce

On Valentine’s Day afternoon, I dropped by the local overpriced seafood market to see if anything caught my eye to serve with the bottle of Perrier Jouet I had chilling in the fridge. And everything was, well, overpriced. More

The Tomato Bank

Sometimes in life you stumble upon an odd confluence of food and commerce. And more often than not, the Japanese are behind it. Witness the business I noticed today on a sojourn to L.A.’s Little Osaka to pick up some fish: The Tomato Bank.

Happy customer leaving the Tomato Bank

I’m not sure I would feel confident entrusting my savings to the Tomato Bank. But maybe that’s not what kind of bank it is. More

A Phoenix from the Flames

Among the world’s barbecue meats, next to regal rib-eyes and blissful racks of pork baby backs, chicken is the ugly red-headed stepchild.

More often than not, as I’m sure you’ve experienced at your share of backyard feasts, chicken is ruined on the grill. Rubbery thighs emerge black and blistered. Breasts languish on blazing grates while the host chats and tends to other things, turning them six or eight times over the course of an hour or so and eventually asking, “Do you think they’re done?” (Is it possible to successfully cook a chicken breast on the barbecue? Yes. Is it likely you will encounter it this summer? No.) More

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