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[Pad See Ew at Sticky Rice in Echo Park]
Hey there, how's everyone doing? Last you left me, I was just getting over a stomach bug. Well: turns out: that was just the beginning. I know this is a food newsletter and I have lots of new readers this week (thanks for the plug, David Lebovitz!) so I won't delve into too many graphic details, but let's just say that last week was a rough one. And in terms of cooking, I was really limiting myself to four ingredients that come highly recommended when battling the forces that were raging inside of me; it's called the B.R.A.T. diet and those ingredients are bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.
Here's the crazy thing: after days of laying on the couch and taking Immodium A-D, my decision to start the B.R.A.T. diet was miraculous. It fixed me in almost 24 hours. So if you take anything away from this newsletter, let it be this: next time you're reenacting Bridesmaids in your bathroom, join the B.R.A.T. pack. You won't regret it.
Aren't you new readers glad you signed up for this?
Sorry, but this was all a necessary preamble to explain the rest of today's newsletter: because my tummy was still wonky, I decided that the healthiest choice I could make was to eat mostly carbs for the rest of the week. It's what my imaginary doctor calls an emergency carb diet. In L.A. you can get arrested for such a thing, so let's just keep what follows between us, ok?
What I've Been Cooking:
1. Prosciutto Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Gouda and Biscuits from the Freezer.
I think weekend breakfasts are my favorite meal to make, because I just scavenge through the refrigerator and freezer, see what I see, and make something out of that. Loyalists of this newsletter will remember that I made biscuits a few months ago from some recipe that I found online; I froze the ones that I didn't use that day raw on a cookie sheet and then plopped them (once frozen) into a freezer bag. I can't believe more people don't do this with the stuff that they bake (works for cookies, pastries, you name it); just make too much and freeze the rest raw.
All I had to do was put those on a cookie sheet, pop them into a 500 degree oven, and wait 20 minutes for them to turn golden brown. See?
As for the eggs, I found prosciutto from a dinner party a few weeks ago and decided to cut that into lardons and to crisp them up in a little butter.
To that, I added six eggs beaten with some salt and pepper, I lowered the heat, and let it all come together, folding with a rubber spatula, until I had soft, large curds; then I added some questionable smoked gouda that Craig insisted that I use, even though I was slightly convinced it was moldy... (hey, maybe that's why I have a stomach bug!).
Poisoned cheese notwithstanding, this was a most excellent breakfast.
2. Greek Yogurt with Banana, Toasted Coconut, and Honey.
So, for previously mentioned reasons, I didn't cook that much this past week... but when I started to feel better, I read that yogurt's a good thing to eat to restore gut bacteria, so I bought some of that.
My favorite morning yogurt technique is to do the following: put yogurt (preferably Greek, unflavored) on the bottom of the bowl. Top with some fruit (in this case, bananas; but it can be anything: plums, apples, pears, you name it). Then add something crunchy; ideally granola, but if you don't have granola, do what I do... take some slivered coconut (unsweetened), add it to a small skillet, crank the heat to medium, and toss it all around until it's toasted. Sprinkle that on top and then drizzle on some honey. It's simple but satisfying and kind of pretty.
Where I've Been Eating:
Speaking of Bridesmaids, do you remember that scene where Kristin Wiig is trying to convince Rose Byrne that she's not sick and so she eats a Jordan almond in front of her in the bridal shop as a bead of sweat slowly drips down her forehead? That was me at Felix on Saturday night.
We were there with our good friends Ryan and Jonathan who'd come with us to see my Uncle Jerry in a talent show in Santa Monica (more on that in a bit). Jonathan had the good instinct to call Felix in Venice to see if we could get a table and lo and behold, they had one. We got there a little early and had a drink next door:
I could tell during the drinks that I wasn't feeling my best, but decided to soldier through because I was enjoying everyone's company so much.
At Felix, I met my first hurdle with that focaccia that you see above. That focaccia is legendary. It's basically like a savory doughnut; light as air, salty as a potato chip, and more slicked with oil than John Travolta's hair. I ate a few nibbles (what a challenge) and then ordered, what I thought, was a simple pasta: trofie with pesto.
What a torturous meal for me: I love pasta more than any other food, and this pasta at Felix is so exceptional, so extraordinary (it's all made in-house, you can see the chef Evan Funke rolling it all out with a wooden rolling pin in a glass room) and yet I was feeling so sick as I ate this. Everyone else devoured theirs happily.
I ate about half of mine and then subtly hinted to Craig that I needed to get going (as in: WE NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE NOW!)
I'll leave it at that. The rest of our meal was mostly great with one minor service hiccup: the machine forgot to print our ticket and the cocktails didn't come until the pasta arrived. But they comped them and were profusely apologetic, so all-in-all it was a good night at Felix (stomach trauma notwithstanding).
2. Din Tai Fung.
I feel very hashtag blessed to live so close to the Americana Mall, home to L.A.'s main outpost of Din Tai Fung, emporium for what many consider to be the world's best soup dumplings (don't believe me? There's an Ugly Delicious about it and David Chang basically says as much).
There's not much to say about these soup dumplings except... they're pretty damned good!
We also enjoyed some shrimp and pork dumplings.
Sautéed string beans with garlic...
And spicy cucumbers, which I found very difficult to pick up with chopsticks (I had to stab them, to be honest).
3. Downtown Date Night (Grand Central Market, Birds & Bees, Disney Concert Hall).
On Friday night, Craig and I made our second-ever journey to the Disney Concert Hall to see Dudamel conduct Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet with a ballet by Benjamin Millepied. We decided to make a whole night out of it, so started at the Grand Central Market, where I sought out more carbs by way of this pizza from Olio.
It was a really excellent pizza, made in a wood-burning oven the way authentic Italian chefs like Gwyneth Paltrow do it. Craig, whose stomach could handle spicier fare, went to the Sari Sari Store for a Filipino Rice Bowl (he chose chicken adobo).
We had some time to kill before the show, and I remembered that there was supposed to be a cool bar close by, so I Googled it and found Birds & Bees, which was, indeed, very, very cool... hidden away, as it was, beneath a parking lot.
It had a great mid-century modern vibe (what doesn't, these days?) and a colorful menu.
I had the Echo Park and Craig had the Bunker Hill, both of which were tasty but hard to photograph.
As for the concert, it was absolutely stunning. The ballet started on the stage, but then Benjamin Millepied operated a camera and followed the dancers to various spaces around the Disney Concert Hall where they danced on a screen, in real time, as the orchestra played. We loved it.
Links & Things:
[The ceiling at Woodcat Coffee in Echo Park.]
* Bang The Pan Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Baking Society
* Even More Perfect Apple Pie, Smitten Kitchen
* Ina and Jeffrey Garten Share How They’ve Kept Their 50-Year Marriage Strong Through Distance and Fame, People
* Restaurant Food May Soon Fly Through the Air on Uber Drones, Eater
* Capturing the Sea in a Pasta Bowl (Ottolenghi), New York Times
* Can Eating Organic Food Lower Your Cancer Risk?, New York Times
* Your Next Culinary Destination Should Be Bogota, Eater
So, as mentioned above, we went to go see my 96 year-old Uncle Jerry in a talent show in Santa Monica on Saturday. Here we are before the show started:
Uncle Jerry's a bit of a social media star these days: his Instagram account has 17,000 followers and he's just getting started. As for his talent show performance, he knocked it out of the park with "That's Life."
Otherwise, when I was laid up on the couch, I plowed through season two of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (still love it), watched It's Complicated, which I consider to be a perfectly constructed romantic comedy with one major plot hole: how could Meryl Streep hire Steve Martin to make her a better kitchen than the one she already has?
That's kind of my dream kitchen.
Finally, the former food editor at LA Weekly Katherine Spiers had me on her podcast Smartmouth. I hate the sound of my own voice, so I'll bury my head and listen to it later, but we talk all about pasta and had lots of fun chatting. You can listen through the link here.
All right, folks, that's all for this week!
Promise less bathroom talk next time....