The Best Kind of Labor

While the rest of the Los Angeles swarmed the Labor Day weekend beaches to beat the heat, see the big waves and watch Laird Hamilton shoot the Malibu Pier, we elected to stay on the mountain, be satisfied with our Pacific breezes and almost-ocean views, and do what most people do for the holiday — barbecue.

The day's star attraction

The day’s star attraction

To be more precise, smoke. When I don my pit master hat, I usually default to one of two things — North Carolina pork shoulder or Texas brisket — or sometimes both. This weekend, it would be the latter. Like a morbid cartoon, I caught a particular pork shoulder winking at me from the meat aisle at the grocery store, and was smitten. More

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Cauliflower Candy

I used to be roommates with my sister Laura, who was a skinny yoga teacher pescetarian type (and partially responsible for the name of this blog). Laura used to roast all manners of vegetables — squash, eggplant, cucumbers — always sliced into little coins, always cooked until they became caramely and delicious. It was a nifty trick I was never quite able to repeat — perhaps because Laura was such a prodigious user of olive oil. Where others would drizzle, she would pour.

Before

Before

One day, I was roasting some cauliflower and forgot about it. It cooked about 45 minutes longer than I had intended. And when I finally returned to the oven, the plump snow florets had shrunk by two thirds into little brown caramel bombs. More

Chopping My Way to Glory

Lately when I’ve gone to the fridge feeling uninspired and not knowing what to make for dinner, I’ve often turned to something that was missing from my repertoire for years — the chopped salad.

While not codified in the same way as other great salads, the Caesar for example (romaine, anchovy, lemon, parmesan and garlic), or the Cobb (avocado, bacon, egg, chicken, etc.), it is precisely its flexibility that makes the chopped salad so great. More

A Mansion of Dreams

When I was a lad, saké was something warm and exotic we drank at the local sushi bar that served underage kids. Not ones for moderation, we used to do something called a “saké bomb,” where we would drop the small ceramic cup of hot saké into our glass of beer, and then down the whole thing.

Saké Still Life (with Sushi Knife)

I remember once, several bombs in, I chucked a California roll at my friend Pat, sitting a few seats away. It hit him on the forehead and fell into his saké-and-beer. He lifted the glass, drank the bomb and ate the roll at the bottom in one epic gulp, and we all applauded. More

An Ode to Joe’s

Sometimes I feel like eating a cuisine I’m not particularly good at, or don’t have the cupboard resources to roll out on a dime. Chinese food is one example — if I ever want to feel inadequate as a cook, I’ll try to make a Chinese dinner. Same with Indian. I can could a reasonably good generic curry, but am lacking the encyclopedic pantry of spices and unusual ingredients to go much further. Fortunately, my cravings for either of these two cuisines is rare, and when need strikes I can usually survive on the occasional take out. I’m mostly satisfied with my repertoire, and will leave the meins and masalas to the experts. Or, I eat Trader Joe’s.

Palak paneer with Malabari paratha from TJ's

I get annoyed when I meet people from the East Coast who ask whether we have Trader Joe’s on the West Coast. More

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