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Showing posts from September, 2008

THE RULES OF IVY

I've been accused of odd food quirks, but I'm not elitist, I'll clarify. This is a list of my dislikes which shape my opinions of dining experiences in general. I'll add to it as I think of more things.

DIRT
If the dining area or bathrooms are dirty, I'm outta there. A restaurant owner knows that I can see the dining area and rest room, and those areas are easy to clean. If they're letting me see dirt there, I shudder to think how filthy the kitchen is-- which is difficult to clean properly (hello under the counter coolers!) and they know I can't see in there. UGGGHH. Now I must go barf. I'll be right back.

RUDE STAFF
I can even look past awkward exchanges with a waitress who is trying to be funny, because I don't get everyone's brand of funny, but don't be fucking rude. And contrary to what many people believe, rudeness is not part of a sommalier's job - and no, it doesn't make them seem particularly knowledgeable or intimidate me, it j…

A TASTE OF BRASCA

Pollo Ala Brasca
NRETSEW
758 S. Western Avenue (approx)
Los Angeles, CA 90005

I don’t know what Ala Brasca means, but I believe Brasca is a surname so the little joint I pass each day at the corner of 8th street and Western Avenue is Pollo Ala Brasca or chicken Brasca I guess. What has intrigued me is that under their name on the big yellow sign is the word WESTERN imprinted backwards and mirrored like the word ECNALUBMA on an ambulance. I wonder who did that and why. I was also intrigued by the smoke stacks always puffing away and the large cords of wood stacked between it and the car wash that shares the triangle of land between the splits of 8th street and Western. There is no parking that I can see, but lots of foot traffic.

It was doing a brisk business when I entered and made my way to the back of the dining space to read the menu posted on the far wall. I could smell the wood burning which fueled my appetite. My eye fell on the first item Antichuchos described as “BBQ beef heart” wh…

I LIKE THE PAIN

Le Pain Quotidien
WWW.lepainquotidien.com for locations


Let me explain. This restaurant is down the street from the Greenwich apartment and it's name is Le Pain Quotidien. The locals who have lived on the street since they were born all call it 'The Pain' and not with the French pronunciation of “P-ehn” with an almost imperceptible “uh” sound. Just 'The Pain'. Or they call it 'The Bread Place on the corner'.

I’ve popped in a few times and made many fervent decisions on what loaf of bread to bring home until I lose my mind and have to wipe my sweaty palms on my jeans and steady myself and walk out with nothing more than an iced latte. Fuck! I’ve got to get a hold of myself around their loaves of perfection. I’ll get there.

I’ve also had breakfast a few times and ordered things like black bean hummus with tomato, olives and fresh greens on toast with a cup of gaspacho. I must say, if you are ever feeling like you’re not hungry in the morning, try that combination…

I’VE BEEN AWAITING CORRADO

Corrado Bread & Pastry
35 Christopher St.
New York, NY
(212) 2423535

Recently I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in Greenwich Village New York and just steps from the accupressurist that I stagger into after my transcontinental flights, I have had my eye on a little café with a sign that was very pleasing “Corrado Bread & Pastry Coming Soon”. I have no sweet tooth so the pastry part wasn’t doing it for me, I have no idea what the allure was, but it was strong. So since last spring, I’ve been pressing my face to the window looking in at the old fashioned white and black tile and dreaming. Maybe it was the name Corrado. It always evokes lines from Prizzi’s Honor and the name Don Corrado. That could be why I was so intrigued.

Well, they’re open! As usual, last week I was eating my way around Greenwich & other village areas, and hollered to Hudon “OMG! Corrados! After acupressure, I’m so THERE!” Hudson who is only learning to understand my epicurean freak outs nodded and opene…

SWEET HOME VENEZUELA!

CARACAS AREPAS BAR
91 E 7th Street
New York, NY 10009
(212) 228-5062

I just love saying the name. Caracas Arepas! It's fun. Try it. Rolling the word arepas around on my tongue makes me smile. Arrrrr-EH-pas! Kind of like Arrr-EE-bah! So popular they've got 2 doors! Actually, it's true -- they have such a big fan base of regulars, they don't have enough tables in the cozy cafe, so they've got a To Go cafe to handle the overflow and the fans who don't have a sit-down dinner in their plans.

I first experienced Caracas Arepas Bar on a sultry (read warm) night after a massive early September rainstorm, the street out front of the Arepas Bar was packed with people happy to wait for a taste of Venezuela. The wait for a seat at the little bar was 30 minutes and a table was 45 minutes. But the host was ON IT and was somehow accommodating the crowd and we got a seat at the cozy bar where we were quickly served refreshing Tona beer, a Nicaraguan cerveza I'd never had befor…

I'M ALL ABOUT ALEJO'S

Alejo's Presto Trattoria Italia
4002 Lincoln Blvd.
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 822-0095

About 10 years ago a girlfriend of mine and I used to go to unassuming little Alejo's after work. Somehow we were lucky enough to get off work at a time that allowed us to get a table before the nightly rush. We'd happily munch the delicious fresh bread after dipping it into the insanely divine garlic oil. Then we'd admire the handsome waiters and finally order dinners that silenced our conversation - only groans of ecstasy would emanate from our mouths. Every last item on their menu was delectable beyond words.

Then we'd go home to our boyfriends who would could tell where we'd been by the waft of garlic that preceded us through the door. Mine would tell me to go shower and brush my teeth, but it never worked. Alejo's garlic is powerful.

Last night I went back to Alejo's and the place was packed. We signed in for a table and only waited 5 minutes. We didn't bring a…

BLOOM IS WORTH A SHOT

Bloom Cafe
5544 Pico Blvd. Los Angeles
(323) 934-6900

It's hip, it's into organic, it's surprisingly big for a neighborhood cafe with several eating areas including indoor tables, back enclosed patio and tables out front. We found parking right in front and found our little dog was welcome as he flopped under our table and flirted with everyone who walked by... including the occasional pigeon.

The service was lacking even though it wasn't busy, but I was able to occupy myself with the intriguing listing of "wellness enhancers" that you could select to supplement or enhance your juice or smoothies. For $1.25 you can get Flax Seed Oil, Dr. Green's Superfood, Echinacea, Aloe, Bee Pollen, MSM, Hemp Protein, Ginger or Spirulina. Wow! Look out Jamba Juice!

Their less-virtuous caffeinated offerings were more what we were looking for, so we had lattes with non-fat milk.

I ordered the fritatta but found it sadly lacking in the roasted red peppers, carmelized onions and…

YAWN. EL CHOLO

EL CHOLO
1121 S. Western Ave.
(323) 734-2273

Established in 1923. this Mexican restaurant is charmingly named for a, um, well, Cholo which is - as I understand it, a derogatory term for a person of low means. I can respect their history, and I've always found their staff to be great at serving and being gracious - I like their atmosphere and even the fish tank behind the bar. But their menu is begging for an update. You can't tell this by the traffic jam that happens out on Western as people line up to get into the parking lot however.

One of their claims to fame is that in 1959 Carmen Rocha invented nachos at this El Cholo. Cool, except nachos have clearly benefitted from the fiddling that other chefs have done since they tasted Carmen's version which are a greasy glob of cheese that doesn't cling to the corn chips as much as it just pools on them in a rather unwholesome fashion.

Apparently back in 1938 when they came up with their chile relleno, they were short on Poblan…

EXOTIC TANA TAKES YOU A WORLD AWAY

TANA ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT
1905 S. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 734-7393
Located on the S.W. Corner Mall at Washington/Western.

Tired of the same old lunch or dinner? Whatever that is, you won't find it at Tana. Tucked behind an unassuming storefront in a strip mall, you would never expect step inside this shop and into one of the oldest countries on earth - Ethiopia. I had heard good things about Tana's unique food, so I didn't hesitate. I nodded to the people finishing their dinner and watching television in the front of the space. I stepped past the shelves of convenience items like Band-Aids and Tylenol Cold Formula toward the smiling owner, Solomon. He greeted me with a courtly bow and introduced himself. He was closing in 15 minutes but was eager to review his menu with me.

I ordered a vegetarian combo and the lamb as he hurried into the back to speak to the cook. I opened the cooler that was stocked with American drinks and selected a bottle of AMBO, an imported Eth…

BREAKFAST AND MORE AT EUREKA

EUREKA CAFE
4053 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018
(323) 732-8600
Owner Jerry Green

Located just 3 blocks East of Crenshaw, this brand new cafe is something really special and should be a regular part of your weekly plan - for more than just delicious food that's good for you - but for a friendly spot to meet your neighbors. Even if you're not hungry, the espresso drinks are especially yummy and served over ice, they're a refreshing way to cool off and perk up.

When I first visited, I loved my breakfast sandwich with fluffy eggs and turkey bacon so much that I didn't share it (unusual for me) and the herb potatoes were more than the usual sad after-thought that most restaurant potatoes typically are.

The cheerful and hard-working staff made every effort to accommodate special orders even while learning how to operate the new cafe, and the owner Johnny was close at hand greeting everyone and keeping everything running smoothly. Dana gets high marks for her great attit…