A.G. Newsletter #51: Alegria on Sunset, Parents Here, Little Dom's, Cut & Tuna Pasta



Hey Amateur Gourmet Newsletter Readers,

Two quick things: I fixed the lighting in my kitchen! Read about that here. And I made last minute hot French cheese puffs (a.k.a. gougères) for my friend Dara on Saturday night. Read how I did that here.

When I edited my pictures this morning (as I do every Monday morning) I was a bit startled by the quality and quantity of food that I ate last week. In one two day span, I ate the best Thai food of my life and the best sushi of my life (both experiences, I'll blog about tomorrow), plus--between those two experiences--I ate pretty excellent Mexican food at Alegria on Sunset, a place I like as much for the environment as I do the food. Here's Craig with his burrito dinner:



And here's my enchiladas with salsa verde:



Tangy, spicy and rich from the cheese and sour cream on top, this totally hit the spot. I love that I can get amazing Mexican food for not a lot of money just down the street on a lazy weekday night. That's one reason to love L.A.

And speaking of L.A., my parents came to visit me for the first time as an official L.A. resident. On our first day together, I drove them up Beachwood Canyon so they could see the Hollywood sign up close (we didn't go all the way to the top, but we got close enough for me to take this picture of my parents taking a picture of themselves):



For lunch that first day, we stayed close to where I live and had lunch at Little Dom's (which is also where Craig and I went on my first night in L.A.).

It's a charming place--cute and cozy with lots of light during the day. My parents and I shared this hearty antipasto salad where all the antipasto (provalone, salami) was chopped up along with lettuce and tomatoes and chickpeas and tossed with a tangy dressing:



We all loved it.

Then, for my entree, I had this pizza which was HUGE but also incredibly light (the dough, that is):



Like, it looks super intense but when you lifted it up you were like "oh, this is light and airy pizza."

Here are my parents with their food (dad had a salmon sandwich, mom had pasta):



It was a tasty lunch indeed.

And while Little Dom's is more my speed (low-key, younger clinetele) my parents generally like things a little swankier. And so it was that night that we joined them for dinner at Wolfgang Puck's steakhouse, Cut.

Here are some shadowy figures in the kitchen doing their work:



Having done my research, I knew that I was supposed to start out by eating the bone marrow flan. This was both a wonderful decision and a terrible idea. Here's the flan served in the bones themselves:



It really is a dazzler of a dish (the waiter called it "the best thing on the menu") but it's basically pure fat that you spread on toast points with that tangy demi-glace on top. I loved it--it's last meal worthy--but then I had a giant aged rib-eye and I was done-for:



Let's not even talk about the creamed spinach with the fried egg on top:



Or the onion rings:



Or the baked Alaska for dessert:



I left there feeling like I'd just swallowed a Mack truck. It was not a happy feeling, though I really do think all of the food at Cut is wonderful (flavorful, brilliantly executed). I suppose it's upon the diner to order smartly which means if you get the bone marrow flan (and you really should) maybe get something lighter for your entree. (Although missing the steak there--and that steak was one of the best I'd ever had--would be a shanda. It's a tough call.)

Finally, last night I whipped up a pasta dinner so ugly I didn't want to take a picture of the end product. But it tasted great! Here it is in progress:



Essentially, I sauteed red onions in olive oil with red chile flakes until they were just soft but not brown. Then I added 2 anchovies and 3 or 4 cloves of sliced garlic.

At that point, I dropped bowtie pasta into a pot of boiling, salted water and just as the garlic started to color I added a ladleful of the pasta cooking water to stop the garlic from browning.

Eventually, I added a can of oil-packed tuna and a can of white cannellini beans to the saute pan and allowed all the flavors to infuse. Any time the pan looked dry, I added a little more pasta cooking water.

Finally, when the pasta was just done, I used a spider to lift it into the saute pan and tossed everything around so the pasta would absorb it. I took it off the heat and drizzled fresh olive oil on top along with chopped fresh parsley. (If I'd had pickled red jalapenos--something that i like to make--I would've chopped them up and added them too for color.)

Point is: this was a tasty pasta dinner, though butt ugly. I needed a lot more parsley to make it look ok. But, still, give it a try!

Ok, folks, I'm off to go food shopping. WILL THIS FOOD OBSESSION EVER END?

Until next time....

Your friend,
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)

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