i went to LA this weekend. first time! everything i know about LA i learned from the teevee, and from this seminal video from my childhood:
my plan was to 1) gorge on all the LA food my lil’ foodie blog reading self has heard about–my trusty traveling companions entrusted their gullets to me, 2) do cheesy hollywood stuff, and 3) procure citrus for my participation in the can jam. i mainly succeeded!
so anyway, L.A.! i like to do about a ton of food related research before i travel anywhere. and that’s what i did last week when i was supposed to be doing other things. ahem. you gotta love the chowhound boards and yelp for this exact purpose. find out what the locals like. check and double check recommendations. have some alternate choices in mind in case of emergencies. find out the cool slang. and so on. my food plan had several parts. part one was to eat good mexican food. it seems i’ve always lived somewhere with a reputation for abysmal mexican food, and its always the same old anthem…you gotta go to southern california. i did have some good burritos in northern cali (can i call it cali?) in 08. nopales even! and they were delicious. but i was looking to have my socks knocked off. i had mexican three times. two were a success. the first was pretty scenic. double S and i land at john wayne (!) international airport in the o.c., and proceed to be whisked away by our friend Big A to our first night’s lodging in beautiful downtown san clemente, ca. within minutes we were eating some of pedro’s tacos right on t street beach.
this was not planned but it was a cool local joint. if had more time i would have hit up the many thrifts lining el camin real. i was in the O.C.! here’s a little home video i took.
oh, california. california. here we come! welcome to the OC, bitch. i never did get a chance to quote that iconic line of mid-aughts pop culture while i was actually in the OC. or punch some indie dweeb while i was hangin’ out with my water polo buddies. R.I.P…the o.c. this happened again the next morning as we took the scenic route to L.A. by way of newport beach. ah, tv. you ruined me.
part two of my great LA food plan was to hit the food trucks. i wanted to go to kogi or frysmith. i went to twitter(!) and discovered where the trucks would be. i felt cool because i was twittering. then i realized i would only be twittering if i was tweeting something. then i realized i knew the active and passive tenses of twitter, circa 2009. then i wanted a nap. then i just went to the websites and got the information like a normal person. note: abbott kinney boulevard is not in silver lake. thus, if you are at a bar in silver lake, trying to make the kogi truck before it leaves said location on abbott kinney blvd at 1am, you will be disappointed to learn that abbott kinney blvd is in actually in venice beach, which isn’t very close to silver lake. you will then check your thoroughly comprehensive notes, discover that the frysmith truck is in silver lake and feel morally superior because of your ability to save your friends from a night of hunger, as everyone waited to eat at the truck! you will then rush to said food truck and gorge. oh and we did! we had the rajas fries and the kimchi fries and the best coca-cola in a bottle i’ve ever had. mainly because i never drink soda anymore and when i do, it’s a bit like crack and, importantly, i was really thirsty and they were out of their soda pairings that interested me. yes, they do soda pairings. anyway, in regards to the aforementioned fries…lawdy! they were a taste sensation! a flavor explosion! they were pretty freakin’ good! the kimchi fries were my favorite.
the kimchi was tart and tangy and kimchi-y, and went surprisingly well with cheese and potatoes. the pork belly was not even necessary and did not overpower. the kimchi was the star. the rajas fries were also good and were double S’s favorite. i’m always asking about her favorite and top fives. she (doesn’t) love(s) it! the meat was flavorful and there were plenty of green onions. the green onions were just killin’ it on both dishes–they added the perfect something. debate on the street at 12:45am: are green onions and scallions different names for the same thing? answer in the light of day: for cooking purposes, yes. anyway, eat at frysmith!
the third part of my food plan: to eat at langer’s. and that i did. as soon as we got to LA on saturday afternoon. stop what you’re doing right now and book a trip to LA. go to langer’s. i don’t care what else you do. i’m talking about langer’s! you can dig it. we had the number #1: pastrami, cole slaw and russian dressing on untoasted rye, and we had the special, described as: hot pastrami, sauerkraut and nippy cheese grilled on rye. we were intrigued by nippy cheese and really wanted kraut, so we got it.
homina, homina, aroooooga! this sandwich stopped all conversation at our table. now i must say, i’m from st. louis, where fake cheese is king. we have st. louis style pizza, where mozzarella is replaced by provel. provel is a pasteurized processed cheese food made from a mixture of provolone, mozzarella and cheddar. provel is also awesome. don’t hate. appreciate. i like bougie things as much as the next blogger (!), and i have discovered over the years that many of the beloved processed foods of my youth actually suck, but i still love me some provel. it seems, based on later research, that nippy cheese, like provel, gets the fat cats in foodietown’s panties in a wad. don’t listen. the sandwich was perfectly tangy, crispy, crunchy, and salty. double S, who doesn’t usually enjoy her annual excursions to imo’s, especially loved it. to the best of my information, nippy cheese is american cheese, but i’m not sure. anyone? regardless, this sandwich was the food related highlight of the trip. we also got a side of pickles (the two you get with every sandwich were not enough, and in fact even the extra side order didn’t satisfy. i’m a pickle monster. they sold them in mason jars too. cute! to round out the lunch we had a side of cole slaw (the only not wonderful thing we ordered, but still good and fresh), matzoh ball soup (my first ever even after living in nyc 7 years. i know, shame), and a cream soda that made me rethink my previous dislike of cream sodas. the decor is amazing, the staff functioned like a well oiled machine, and they validate parking (which is a big deal in LA, i learned). oh. my. god. go to langer’s.
food related things i didn’t get to do. 1) eat at kogi. see above. 2) eat at in-n-out burger. mainly because i was either chasing a truck or full. ya gotta love their antithesis of mcdonald’s politics, especially as evidenced by their ability to retain employees for years and years. 3) eat at roscoe’s chicken n’ waffles. i never even saw one. 4) purchase kumquats. i was disappointed, they weren’t for sale at the farmer’s market in hollywood. however, i saw them for sale at my local PCC after i got off the plane, grown in california. things are weird, aren’t they? non-eating food related thing i did do: went to grand central market. this place looked like an institution. and it was. it’s been in downtown LA since 1917. it’s got spice stands and produce stands and fish markets where they’re frying up fish tacos and herbal medicine booths and a candy counter like nothing i’ve seen since economy candy ( big A and i got tamarind with chamoy and mangos with chili powder and with chamoy) and pretty much any kind of food stand you could want.
i bought ancho chili powder and dried chipotles from these friendly and helpful gentlemen for upcoming food experiments. double s got a very beet-y juice. this place is the real L.A. shopping excursion. go hungry!
the second part of my L.A. plan was moderately successful. no celebrity sightings though. i did see a strange looking, surgically modified woman who was probably a reality tv star, but i can’t verify that, as the most reality i can handle is top chef. i also fell down on hollywood boulevard. that sounds kind of debaucherous. in the middle of the day. the streets are slippery on the walk of fame–don’t wear these when you plan to troll the walk of fame for the celebrities of your youth in the rain. i saw that parks and recreation (which is really just the show that has been at the top of it’s game this year) was filming where i was eating my papusas.
i saw the stars of roseanne and drew barrymore and these fine lads.
i saw grauman’s chinese theater and the footprints/handprints of the stars. many male celebs have shockingly small feet. i drove (LA!) by the beverly hilton where the golden globes were being held. it was the day before. but still! i drove through newport beach, home of the aforementioned tortured O.C. kids. i saw some guns n’ roses looking dudes in front of the roxy that made me exclaim, “people have died there!” without knowing if it was actually true. wikipedia revelation: i was thinking of the viper room, where river phoenix died. but i actually also saw the viper room, so there! next time: tickets to the ellen show! the hollywood sign! the getty! rain spoiled most of outdoor plans for sunday, and caused (there was also the fact that i was walking with my head down staring at the stars. they really hand those out, don’t they?) my aforementioned fall on hollywood.
i’m happy to report that part three of my plan was a success as well. go me! i got a ton of lemons, y’all! one entire carry-on’s worth!
my plan for most of today and tomorrow and thursdsy (except for necessary activities) is to can the shit out of them! probably with my pal, growandresist. then i will post pictures of my travail for the can jam. oh, what’s that? you haven’t heard of the can jam? get with it and read my prior blog entry! i’ve got good old eureka lemons and meyer lemons. mostly organic. the hollywood farmer’s market is so damn big i missed a whole wing with more organic options. i have my recipe in mind (to be uncovered later this week) and i also have plans to make morroccan preserved lemons (i need to decide if i will make a brined or unbrined version. any suggestions?) and indian lemon pickle without oil.
ok, i’m off to commune with the lemons…