Thursday, July 20, 2017

You Should Be Eating This Right Now: Baked Buckwheat Pancake (Friends & Family).

What: Baked Buckwheat Pancake.
Where: Friends & Family (5150 Hollywood Blvd, East Hollywood).

Why: After months of Insta stalking I finally made it out to the new'ish Friends & Family in East Hollywood. Even though it was lunch hour and I had just ordered a Roasted Chicken Salad (also very good/recommended), my dining mate insisted we order a "Baked Buckwheat Pancake" for "the table slash dessert." Not really sure what that was or why we would want it with our meals, I gave him the "Sure, why the fuck not?" nod.

Smart move. Very smart move. I don't think I've ever really had anything like it. It's this delicious battered, Marvel Comics-esque fusion of a regular pancake and a Dutch Baby. Like all good things at restaurants (see: soufflé, deep dish pizza), F&F warns you from the get: allow at least an extra ten minutes for your Baked Buckwheat Pancake. That's because it's no simple cooking process. We're not talking mess hall, pull out the Sam's Club mix, add water and plop on frying pan. Rather, the Baked Buckwheat starts on the stove top, then moves to the oven and then in the middle of the oven baking process, it is flipped. The result is a raised pancake that offers the tasty, fluffy, filling delights of your every day pancake with the girth and hardened edges of a Dutch Baby, plus the distinctive, yet subtle buckwheat flavor.

Although they should never go together, I highly suggest you order one with your Roasted Chicken Salad.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Five Best Things I Ate In Seattle.

I had never been to Seattle. Truthfully, I didn't even really know much at all about the city. Other than that it rained a lot. They had good coffee. A bereaving Sam Baldwin couldn't sleep there. The Mariners. Seahawks. Grudge. The galactic needle. "Singles." They toss fish in the air for some reason.

I did know this though: Seattle was a good food city. So with an Alaskan family cruise ahead, the wife figure and I arrived at our port city a good 2.5 days in advance in hopes of... well, eating. A lot. That's exactly what we did. Mostly, by the way, proudly on foot - as we amassed close to 19,000 steps a day. Was that even close enough to burn off the consumed calories? Absolutely not. But, hey, minor victory!

 Here were my five favorite things I ate in the Emerald City...

Veggie Egg Sammy at Dahlia Bakery - When a spot makes their own English Muffins it increases the greatness of their breakfast sandwiches by a 1000%. That's a fact. Well, actually, it's not a fact at all - but you get it. Dahlia makes their own 'lishes, which are about as talented as any British Invasion, and it's all up hill from there. Their veggie breakfast sando is stuffed with fried egg, zesty AF lacinato kale, a generous amount of gruyere and a slather of garlic aioli. Then for texture/awesomeness: they toss in flax, sunflower and pine nuts. The result: as complete and delicious as a breakfast sandwich gets. 

Pizza at Serious Pie (pictured atop the post) - On Twitter and text message marathons, I went back and forth with various folks in the know regarding which Seattle pizza joint I should visit. Ultimately I decided on the O.G., Serious Pie. This was the right decision. Their pizza tastes as fresh as the Pacific Northwestern air. Especially their house pie, a simple concoction of buffalo mozz, tomato sauce and fresh basil. It's a basic bitch for sure. But she's got a great personality. 

Dungeness Crab Pretzel Roll at No Anchor Bar - All I have to say about this: what took so long for seafood to be introduced to a pretzel roll? 

Cookie Dough (and Strawberry Shortcake) Ice Cream at Molly Moon's - She didn't know it, but Molly Moon's had a TON of pressure on her. I had been secretly stalking the Seattle ice cream institution via Insta for years. Online it looked really good. In person... it's really, really good. The cookie dough rivals Portland/LA favorite Salt & Straw's beloved rendition and their Strawberry Shortcake might be the freshest strawberry ice cream I've ever consumed. Both flavors creamy as heck.

Dark Chocolate Decadence Molten Cake at Hot Cakes - An entire, sizable restaurant basically devoted to dessert and, more specifically, personal chocolate souffles. The signature product has to be pretty damn top notch for a spot like that to sustain. My only complaint: some of the molten cake sticks to the side of the paper bowl. If you eat in house, you should get plastic/ceramic, so you can enjoy the whole thing. Who wants to waste any of this glorious cake? Not me. Certainly not me.

All the hits - 

Until next time, Seattle... 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The LA Ice Cream Arms Race Is Getting Ridiculous.

Not so long ago LA had an ice cream problem. As in, it wasn't very good. We had the progenitorial Fosselman's and that was about it. Then slowly the scene evolved. First came Scoops then Sweet Rose and Coolhaus and Carmela and Mother Moo's, followed by inviting imports Salt & Straw and Jeni's. Most recently we were gifted the splendiferous Magpie's

LA no longer has an ice cream problem.

Yet, the proliferation of Southland scoop shops continues at a breakneck pace. Almost every week or so a new shop pops up and in an attempt to woo customers, almost every single one of them serves more than merely scoops. Just serving quality 'scream appears to be so yesterday. In today's Instagram World, you need a gimmick and goddamnit, it better be photogenic as fuck. 

In this Trump world, you go for the gauntlet or you're left in the streets. Remember under Obama when honeycomb on milky soft serve was considered esoteric? 

Think I'm exaggerating? Here are some examples of the new age of LA ice cream:

Nitrolado - liquid nitrogen ice cream in (and/or topped by) a CHURRO BOWL...

Little Damage - ACTIVATED CHARCOAL-laden soft serve and waffle cones...

Gresescent - ice cream via a 10-FLAVOR "BOUQET"...

Afters - donut milky buns with multiple ice cream flavors AND TOPPINGS.

Yoga-urt - vegan, gluten-free, soy-free ICE CREAM TACOS...


You might have noticed the above doesn't even include the just nitro-made-to-order ice cream or the Thai ice cream roll phenomenons that have swept through our fair city like a Sucrose Sharknado.

It's all very interesting when you view the present ice cream current to the recently passed: the Froyo Craze. As a city for a few years we embraced "healthier" ice cream/frozen yogurt like mad (whether it was, in fact, 'healthier,' toppings included, remains suspect at best), as chains and local swirlers engulfed every neighborhood. The new-new is almost the complete opposite. The above examples pretty much completely throw caution to the wind. It's almost like LA has decided, "What the hell. I'm eating ice cream. It's not good for me. Might as well really go for it!" This motto, accompanied with the rise of Instagram food porn ("If there's not a pic, you didn't eat it!"), leads to the new ice cream age of the City of Angels.

Right now it's reaching its apex. Lines for Little Damage in particular can reach close to an hour. Afters has expanded locations exponentially almost over night. There's also almost no Insta accounts I follow that haven't snapped that Gresescent "bouquet." Basically a prerequisite nowadays. 

So, how long will this "Wall Street"-esque age of local ice cream extravagance last? At the end of the day, it will probably eventually come down to the actual ice cream. I know that sounds really obvious and maybe even a tad parental, but I'm serious. Good, creamy, flavorful ice cream will win out. There are only so many teenagers and college students willing to come to your shop to shoot a 'Gram. They will quickly grow tired of the fads - especially if it doesn't taste all that special. Even more so when you're in an area blessed with delicious "regular" ice cream options.

Just ask Pinkberry, which continues to barely hang on by a thread. The exact same Pinkberry I once waited over an hour in line to try.