January 2011

Radish salad 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

1.13.11 Radish Fetish

I've been quite taken of late with all the little vegetable dishes on offer at restaurants of all sorts. Starters often include numerous ingeniously composed salads that really let seasonal produce shine. Sides are no longer merely a choice between boring steamed broccoli or french fries, and I've been known to make a whole meal from the enticing options—pureed squash with hazelnuts, chile-sauteed broccoli rabe, ragù of mushrooms, polenta with gorgonzola, fennel braised in cream. I think I've mentioned to you a few lovely meals I've had recently at A Voce, Missy Robbins' Italian-inflected restaurant in New York City's Time Warner Center. The lunch menu includes a selection of verdure, small vegetable dishes like eggplant with calabrian chile; beets with pistachios and orange; cauliflower with almonds and raisins; and a delightfully simple salad of radishes with an anchovy vinaigrette. After trying this last combination, I began craving it at home. It's crisp, salty and satisfying while still being light and healthy.
Salts 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

1.12.11 Salt Seller

Salt is in the zeitgeist. Although the stuff has been around literally forever (read this book on its fascinating history), it's being particularly fetishized at this moment. No fewer than 3 people gave me salt this holiday season, bringing my collection to 18 different types! A couple of the gifts came from the same store: The Meadow, on Hudson Street in New York City. Jennifer Turner Bitterman and her husband "selmelier" Mark Bitterman founded this boutique in Portland in 2006. It specializes in salt, chocolate, flowers and wine (though on a recent visit I noticed only bitters; more on those later). The assortment of salts is truly mind-blowing. From Bengal Blue to Smoked Red Alder, there are more than 100 types, sourced from all over the world. The most instantly striking thing in the store are blocks and slabs of pink Himalayan salt, big translucent pieces for cooking and serving food. You can arrange sashimi on a chilled brick of the stuff and watch the edges of the fish turn pale and firm as it actually cures right there. Or heat a block on the stove or the barbeque and grill thin slices of flank steak for a unique and delicately salty flavor. I can't wait to try this!
The meadow 790 xxx
the meadow is a sunny sliver of a shop on hudson street

Pizza 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

1.11.11 Last Gasp

Home sweet home. Stuffed. And officially back in the saddle. But before I dispense with the vacation entirely, let me just wrap up the litany of LA dining. There was lunch at Terroni on Beverly Boulevard, an outpost of an Italian restaurant from Toronto that hits all the basics—salume, antipasti, pizza, pasta—but does them surprisingly well. That pizza above had a super-thin crust with molten pools of fresh mozzarella, and salty hits of caper and anchovy. It was delicious but gave me heartburn, a rare occurrence that for me signals the end (of over-indulgence) is nigh.
Bacon crunch bar1 790 xxx
dessert at animal in los angeles

1.7.11 Animal Planet

This bacon-chocolate crunch bar was the end to a very porky dinner at Animal in Los Angeles. Does it surprise you to know I'm gearing up for a cleanse when I get back home? For those of you who marvel that the glutton is not obese, I want to point out that I only ate 2 small bites of this decadent dish. Still, I did share several other pork-intensive plates at this popular place opened in 2008 by chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. Since then, they've been awarded Food & Wine Best New Chefs of 2009 and received a James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant. They also starred in a reality show on the Food Network called “Two Dudes Catering”and came out with a cookbook, “Two Dudes, One Pan.” If you're interested in reading a more in-depth profile than this one, they were featured in the New Yorker in an April 2010 article by Dana Goodyear called "Killer Food."
Santa monica 790 xxx
the santa monica farmers market

1.6.11 To Market, To Market

On a Wednesday morning, if I am in Los Angeles, you will find me at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. The largest of the various Santa Monica markets, it is held downtown on Arizona Avenue and is one of my favorite spots in this world. Rain or shine (but preferably shine), the place is a swirling mass of produce, people and possibility. Open since 1981, it attracts some nine thousand shoppers every week! I love coming here with friends, or running into them. From this market I have been lucky enough to indulge in incredible artichokes, enormous chanterelles, the most astonishing array of citrus and avocados and dates, fantastic sprouts, heirloom carrots, fresh oysters...and on and on. Here I've discovered dried persimmons, purslane, Santa Barbara spot prawns, local black truffles and Rudolf Steiner health bread from the Röckenwagner bakery cart. It's truly an embarrassment of riches. Next time you're in LA, put it on your list of must-dos!
Villa santa cruz 790 xxx
photos by george billard

1.5.11 ¡Feliz Año!

As it turns out, Villa Santa Cruz in Todos Santos, Mexico, is absolute perfection. This funky and spacious 4-bedroom home is just off the best surf beach in the area and has a gorgeous view of the Pacific. We could lie in bed and watch the sunset—not to mention the all-day show of whales, dolphins and pelicans. It was a bit cool so we didn't do a lot of beach time, but we did go out for a lunch of fish tacos, hike in the desert among the dramatic cacti, and host an impromptu poolside gathering on New Year's day. Our good friends Sarah and Gordon have a house in town and brought other expats over to enjoy our spacious digs, partake in some sweet local shrimp and toast the new year with delicious house tequila, aging in an oak cask just inside our front door.