The Parents Are Here!
Plus: Ed Levine on Lunch Therapy, Trips to Gigi's, Rao's, & Pasadena, and Leftover Steak Stir-Fry.
It’s time for the free monthly newsletter! And this is a fun one because after a year and a half of not seeing my parents (!) they’re here in L.A. and we’ve been living it up.
Before we get to that though, guess who’s on Lunch Therapy this week? That’s right: the founder of Serious Eats, Ed Levine. You can watch the whole interview here on my new Lunch Therapy YouTube Channel (be sure to subscribe) or listen to it on Apple Podcasts.
If you happen to be on Apple podcasts, do me a favor and write a quick review. It makes a big difference!
Okay, back to my parents. Our first night, we met for dinner at their favorite L.A. steakhouse, Boa. (It’s funny because it’s become overrun with TikTok influencers so we didn’t quite fit in.) It was great seeing them after a year-and-a-half; they’ve both been on serious diets and lost almost 55 pounds each. (If you want to hear more about my mom’s history with dieting, don’t miss her Lunch Therapy episode from two years ago.)
On Wednesday night, we introduced them to our quarantine family, our friends Ryan and Jonathan, over dinner at Gigi’s.
Gigi’s was quite a scene. After being inside and eating at home for the past 500 days or so, it takes some getting used to being back in the world again. But it makes you feel more alive to be in a place bustling with people, all that excitement of eating new food in a new setting.
The deviled eggs at Gigi’s come with fried oysters on top and are absolutely delish:
My mussels were a little dinky, but the housemade baguette totally made it worthwhile, especially for soaking up the sauce.
And the Napoleon for dessert was beautiful and tasted as good as it looks.
The best meal that we had with my parents, though, was easily the one that we had at Rao’s Hollywood.
It’s funny because I thought the idea of Rao’s Hollywood, when it first opened, was a little hokey. The real Rao’s is impossible-to-get-into; then it opened in Vegas and Craig and I ate there when we were there ten years ago, and it felt like a tourist’s idea of New York Italian food.
But the food at Rao’s Hollywood? It’s shockingly good. I mean just look at our table:
Veal Parmesan for dad, the famous lemon chicken for mom, chicken Parmesan for Craig, and shrimp scampi for me. All of it delicious; mine reminded me of that scene in my favorite food, Defending Your Life, where the waiter offers Albert Brooks shrimp scampi and says, “We can make it so fresh they crawl up and put it in your plate themselves.”
My parents loved their time at Rao’s, especially the visits from Johnny Roast Beef (a real person) who told some hilarious stories as he made the rounds.
On Saturday, I took my parents for their first-ever trip to Pasadena. My friend Harry, whose family is from there, coached me on where to go. So we started with brunch outside at The Raymond:
The space is very cute and outdoorsy and my dad liked his burger, my mom liked her smoked salmon toast, and I enjoyed my chilaquiles.
From there, we toured around The Langham Hotel, which has been a Pasadena landmark for over a hundred years.
Then it was off to Old Town Pasadena, where my parents had their first Salt & Straw.
Mom went for the chocolate chip cookie dough, dad had the mint chocolate chip, and I had the rhubarb crumble: all excellent decisions.
I think my parents may have gained back their 55 pounds after this visit.
I’m actually traveling with them back to Florida on Wednesday so I can spend time with my niece and nephew (you’ll get to read all about it next week), so stay tuned for that.
In cooking news, my mom didn’t eat her whole petit filet that first night at Boa, so on one of the nights that I didn’t meet them, I cut the leftover steak into cubes and stir-fried it with garlic, ginger, shredded cabbage, and peppers.
At the end, I added soy sauce, fish sauce, Sriracha, rice wine vinegar, and toasted sesame oil and garnished with scallions and sesame seeds.
An excellent dinner that followed the protocol of a little meat, a lot of veg.
Now for some links that caught my attention:
And, in similar news, Eleven Madison Park is going meatless (NYT);
Devastating takedown of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island where Craig and I had a magical dinner once (see here) and had no idea of the abuses and fraud going on in the kitchen (NYT);
Make your own Halva (Epicurious):
Loved this Eric Kim article about cooking with his mother during quarantine (NYT);
I want everything in this new tableware collection by Ottolenghi (Serax).
Okay, that’s all for this week folks!
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Until next time….
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)