My Ten Favorite LA Restaurant Dishes

My Ten Favorite LA  Restaurant Dishes In No Particular Order 

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world”. JRR Tolkien

Sea Bass Ceviche at Lonzo’s Bakery Restaurant http://www.lonzosperuvianrestaurantbreadcompany.com/

IMG_0768

Turkey Burger at Golden State http://www.thegoldenstatecafe.com/

IMG_2055

Charred Cabbage with Yogurt and Sumac at Charcoal https://www.charcoalvenice.com/

Pasta Al Pomodoro at Ponte (formerly the Pasta Al Pomodoro at Scarpetta)  http://thepontela.com/

Roast Chicken with Panzanella and Olives at AOC http://www.aocwinebar.com/

Salmon Sashimi with Dried Miso at Matsuhisa https://matsuhisabeverlyhills.com/

Any hot dog at Pinks http://www.pinkshollywood.com/

Shakshuka at République http://republiquela.com/

img_0738

Glazed Donut hot out of the oven at Krispy Kreme https://www.krispykreme.com/

IMG_3606

Caesar Brussel Sprouts at Baco Mercat http://www.bacomercat.com/

Fly safe,

JAZ

I Don’t Eat Meat Except When I Do

I Don’t Eat Meat Except When I Do

“Life is too short for self-hatred and celery sticks.’ Marilyn Wann

I’m not a meat eater. I can live without bacon. I don’t have a plant-based diet. I’m not a vegan or a pescetarian. I don’t have a superior I’m going to be healthier than you while saving the planet attitude. Meat is just never my food of choice unless it comes in a casing or is ground.  It is my occasional secret guilty pleasure. I’ve switched to chicken sausage and  turkey burgers in public but the truth is that it is just not the same.

I’m not even an ethical carnivore. Can one still be spiritual and eat the occasional ground meat? Even if it is not grass-fed, free range and organic? I pride myself on being an honest person. Is it dishonest to be a secret fast food eater?

Once in a while I need a real burger. I want an In N Out Burger or a Pink’s real hot dog every time I drive by. I rarely go in. Comfort food  is comforting – as long as you don’t overdo it. I’m not buying the 24 pack of hot dogs or burgers at Cosco. There is a difference between getting McDonald’s for dinner or scarfing down a bag of cookies or pint of ice cream so fast you didn’t enjoy it.

Quarter Pounder with cheese is my go to when necessary comfort food. You can’t beat McDonald’s prices and it’s only 600 calories if you were counting calories at a fast food restaurant. I feel like McDonalds is getting better at making their burgers look good and hiding the grey meat in the middle so you can’t see it. I notice when McDonalds says Deluxe it means they  add lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, because apparently nothing adds class like mayo.

It brings up a cherished memory of how much my son and his friends enjoyed going to McDonald’s. Waiting in line at the drive through, I think about all the Happy Meal toys we collected and all the Chicken McNuggets they consumed. I was not allowed to eat sugar or junk food as a kid which is why I crave it. I made sure it was a part of my children’s childhood.

Stored in my brain is the memory of when McDonald’s came to Brooklyn. I went with my boyfriend and all our friends for the first time. We  cut classes to have lunch there and ordered everything so we could try it. I believe everything was Filet of Fish, Cheeseburger, Hamburger and Fries. If there was chicken it was not McNuggets and no one ordered it. We thought it tasted good and was definitely cost-effective. There were no fancy burger options then. I take the first bite and I see them all dressed in their cool seventies fashion once again.  

And of course there was the movie Pulp Fiction. “What do they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris? They got the metric system. They don’t know WTF a quarter pounder is. They call it Royale with Cheese”’

I  call it the taste of memory.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

Foods That I Grew Up Eating For Lunch In New York

Foods That I Grew Up Eating For Lunch In New York

“The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question ‘How can we eat?’ the second by the question ‘Why do we eat?’ and the third by the question ‘Where shall we have lunch?” Douglas Adams

When I was a kid, we did not have the lunch choices that are available to our children today. Lunch usually involved two pieces of bread. There were two or three small delis on a block. If you lived in an Italian or Chinese neighborhood, there were several of those restaurants on the block as well. New York’s wealth of immigrants honed our eating habits and favorite foods.

Coffee shops and luncheonettes were on every street. Coffee shops were what we now call casual dining restaurants. Despite that these places primarily sold sit-down meals and not just coffee, you were usually welcome to sit in one for hours while ordering nothing but coffee with free refills.They had a lunch counter in the front with round stools and small tables in the back. They served burgers, grilled cheese, BLTs, pancakes and scrambled eggs. No lattes, almond milk or farm to table eggs with a side of avocado and chicken sausage. If you wanted fresh fruit it was half a grapefruit or cantaloupe and cottage cheese. No smoothies or green juice.  Cottage cheese was the diet food of diners and luncheonettes.  If you didn’t want grease and carbs, the diet plates were cottage cheese and cantaloupe, cottage cheese and tuna or cottage cheese and a burger patty.No one there had ever heard of kale.The coffee shops were often owned by Greek immigrants and had Greek specialties on the menu.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 4.48.13 PM

The egg cream is the iconic growing up in New York drink. Everyone has a best egg cream story from a lunch counter somewhere. There is no egg in it – only chocolate syrup, seltzer and milk. The seltzer should be fresh from a soda gun . The most important thing is the correct ratio of chocolate to seltzer to milk and the frothy head with flecks of chocolate syrup at the top of the glass. U- Bet is the chocolate syrup of choice for egg creams.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 4.52.38 PM

The Hebrew National Deli in my neighborhood was part deli and part convenience/grocery store. I think it had a few tables in the back but we never sat there. We usually got  grilled frankfurters with mustard and sauerkraut to go and walked and ate them. Hot Dogs are the original street food in New York and sold out of carts on corners in Manhattan. I always found it odd to sit at a table in LA and eat a hot dog with my kids.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 4.45.15 PM

The deli was located across the street from Mrs Stahls legendary, dingy knish store on Brighton Beach Avenue under the elevated train. A knish is baked dough with a filling. I remember cheese, kasha or potato. I’m not a knish fan. The smell would hit you when you got off the train and I would often find one in my hand from my mother who thought I should be eating more.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 9.35.22 PM

Sometimes we rode our bikes on Sundays to Nathans in Coney Island. We had hot dogs and fries. The hot dog popped when you bit into it with a perfect blend of meat and spices. The fries were not thin but thick, crinkly cut and fried to perfection. Nathan’s was  located on the corner of Surf and Sillwell Avenues in a neighborhood where you stayed aware of your surroundings. My parents went as kids when the mobsters and film stars frequented the place. By the time we got there, Coney Island was a shabby version of its former splendor. We still rode the Cyclone and Ferris Wheel but it was before the hipsters and gentrification.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 4.43.10 PM

New York had such a large Italian immigrant population that pizza places were everywhere. Everyone had their favorite but they were all good. A New York pizza is traditionally hand tossed and I have memories of some seriously skilled pizza tossers. High gluten flour and NY water are credited with giving the crust its unique taste. It is made with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese and traditionally cut into eight slices. The New York way to eat a slice of pizza is to pick it up and eat it flat to get the full flavor. You can fold it when it gets messy but a knife and fork will immediately peg you as an out of towner. The crust is not paper-thin. It’s not thick like Chicago. It is in between. There are no chicken and sweet sauce or pineapple toppings . It was sausage, pepperoni or red peppers.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 4.40.11 PM

When I wasn’t having pizza for lunch, I would be eating a meatball hero sandwich. It was meatballs with tomato sauce topped with melted cheese between two slices of Italian bread. I have never seen meatballs served like that in Italy. It was a NY Italian American spaghetti joint meal. The Italian restaurants in my neighborhood were Sicilian. There was always a lot of red sauce, shellfish, pasta, bread, red wine and cannolis. We sat in restaurants with red and white checked tablecloths and posters of Italian tourist attractions eating those very messy sandwiches.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 4.41.24 PM

Blimpies was the original submarine sandwich fast food chain. It was shredded lettuce with tomatoes on cold cuts with red wine vinegar and oil. A salad on a sandwich was unheard of in Brooklyn and people used to line up to get them.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 7.11.07 PM

I still eat all these foods for lunch. Living in LA, it is more about turkey burgers and turkey hot dogs. I’m trying not to eat gluten – unless I’m eating pizza. I ate Subway sandwiches with my kids when they were young.  I wouldn’t attempt to find a good egg cream or cannoli in LA.  Your environment teaches you what comfort food is. Pizza is still my favorite food.  Every once in a while I will go to Carneys, wait on line at Pinks or order the meatballs at Jon and Vinnys for a taste of my childhood.

Fly safe,

JAZ