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Showing posts from 2010

Who's Ya Pappa?

Papa Cristo’s
Papacristo.com
2771 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(323) 737-2970

Did you grow up in a gregarious household where everything that came out of the kitchen was delicious and everyone was welcome? Well, if you didn’t, you’re lucky to have Papa Cristo’s C&K Importing as a second home – a relaxed atmosphere with food that is not simply to be missed. It was opened in 1948 by Sam Chrys to bring authentic Greek products to Los Angeles, and his son Chrys Chrys “Papa Cristo” has kept up the tradition of low prices for high quality with friendly service. A refreshing departure from the norm of paying sky-high prices for imported foods in specialty stores (Do you hear me L’ Occitane?).

Nutritionists have been increasingly recommending a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, fish, vegetables – but while this is news to the average American diet of processed substances that pass as food and saturated fat – the Greeks and their neighbors have known the health benefits of their diet…

MMMM! Naga Naga Ramen

I was famished yesterday while waiting for an appointment in Pasadena and wandered the blocks of restaurants, eateries and just plain chain-store food establishments looking for something that I really wanted to shovel in my mouth. Then I saw Naga Naga Ramen, and then I smelled the intoxicating mixture of Chinese, Thai and Japanese food that solved my problem.

The service was quick and friendly. My biggest problem was that I wanted to eat every side dish on their menu... OMG! Can you imagine Soft Shell Crab/Gyoza/Fried Corn Croquette/Seaweed Salad/Geso Kaarage with Isobe Age?!?! I considered it as I wouldn't have to moisturize for a week because my skin would be well-lubricated from within. But then I looked at their more nutritionally sound Ramen Tonkotsu and Ramen Shoyu and Ramen Miso and Udon dishes and abandoned my sinful idea to take a walk on the wild SIDE(dish) of fried heaven.

Then there was the offerings of "revolutionary ramen" which completely flipped me out bec…

STELLA! STELLA!

What can I say? Stella's won my heart and my stomach and my ears. Last Monday I was turned away when trying to make dinner reservations by every other restaurant in town* except Dennett's Warf on the pier - but I'd just eaten there twice in 2 days and was looking for something new. Lance at The Castine Inn recommended Stella's with a happy "They have the best food in the area!"

The place was packed but the staff made room for the two of us and we cozied in to peruse the menu while sipping a really dirty martini. Their pasta is delicious but the show stopper is their stacked fried green tomatoes and lobster. The delicacy and texture and just darned yumminess of this towering Napoleon of flavor had us dueling with our forks for the last morsel. The crisp crunch of the coating on the tomatoes yielding to the tender inner tartness - sandwiching succulent chunks of lobster. Oh! If you're up in Castine taking in the lovely fall foliage, don't pass up the opp…
PACIFIC FRENCH BAKERY PANADERIA
4152 W Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90018
Neighborhood: Mid-City
(323) 735-1700
www.pacificfrenchbakery.com

OK, all I can say is "SHUT UP!"
I've been cruising past this panaderia on Washington Blvd since I moved to the neighborhood and cursed the unbelievable buttery, yeasty, baking aromas that emanate from the building -- because there always seems to be a line that snakes all the way out onto the sidewalk. Patience and I have never been friends. I hate crowds and detest lines. It even keeps me from Disneyland which is the happiest place on earth... or so I've heard but I wouldn't know because it has crowds and lines for everything. *sigh But these delicious scents get right inside my car as I cruise past and they're better than hot Krispy Kreme aromas!

Last weekend I broke down because our Sunday farmer's market at Washington and Wellington Square had a surprise no-show from our baker. Breadless I headed back to Pacific, ready…
SANTA MONICA SEAFOOD
1000 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Neighborhood: Santa Monica
(310) 393-5244
www.santamonicaseafood.com

After my office relocated to Santa Monica last year, I vowed to investigate new places to shop for groceries -- and seafood is something that I prize not only quality and freshness -- but provenance above all else. Preferably I'd like to speak to the fisherman, but a monger who can speak knowledgeably about the waters, and characteristics of the fish is good too. I cook by the rule "If it smells like fish, it ain't a dish" at least not one that I'm cooking.

True, I adore pickled herring, but that is preserved fish -- never to be confused with fresh fish. Today my schedule cleared as two meetings cancelled back to back so I grabbed my shopping bag and headed to Santa Monica Seafood. It was just before the lunch rush so I easily found a parking spot behind their store/restaurant. I was happy to find it spotlessly clean and pleasingly laid out…

B' CAUSE

MY FAVORITE FOOD CHARITIES (check em out!)

Our seafood choices matter! I frequently update my pocket guide on what to avoid:
http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_aboutsfw.aspx

Gathering surplus food and distributing it to those in need:
foodbanknyc.org

Globally teaching farmers how to farm without depleting the land:
oxfam.org

Teaching children about healthy nutritious foods and basic kitchen skills:
commonthreads.org

Volunteers pick thousands of pounds of excess fruit and vegetables from gardens and donate to local food banks:
foodforward.org

Supporting underserved communities's ability to gain access to local food.
wholesomewave.org

Because they're fighting to be heard over the bit CostCo's and so much more
GreenPeace.org

The Tandoor Won't Hit You in the Butt

Tandoor-India
2622 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 581-9964

My prowl for food I want to eat at lunch continues. I'm finding good stuff, and I want more. Hudson & I popped into Tandoor- India today and it could be one of my go-to lunch spots.

Clean? CHECK! Friendly? CHECK! Efficient? CHECK! and while some diners were ordering off the menu, as usual, I had NO time. I opted for the All You Can Eat Buffet. While making up my mind, they delivered steamy hot samosas (stuffed with peas, spices and potatoes). They have 3 sauces at the table including that refreshing green mint sauce I've seen only at some Indian establishments. Hudson is a sucker for it and has to ask at most Indian restaurants and I get to enjoy his description of what it is. Hilarious! I feel him. I mean, how would you describe it?

Hudson: Well. It's green. I mean, very green.
Server: Hot?
Hudson: No, it's not spinach. I think it's mint, but it's not just mint.
Server: But it's a sauce?
Hudso…

JAVAN RESTAURANT

11500 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 207-5555

I was just dropping off a package at the post office on the corner, and was enticed by the aroma of well seasoned food. You know, that scent of herbs and spices that makes your taste buds override your schedule? I stood looking at my car and then involuntarily turned toward the food... Javan was what the sign said. I figured I'd check it out.

The place is nicely decorated with a lovely full bar that features a cut stone wall cascaded by a waterfall. Having to rush back to work from my lunch break - I was sorry that I didn't have time to relax and be seated, but Hamid greeted me warmly and offered the menu To Go. As I ordered my kabab take out, he remarked, "I see your mouth is watering already". The price was right too! $7.63 with tax for lunch. You'd pay that for a "medium meal" at a fast food restaurant.

And it was fast! I sat for just a few minutes awaiting my lunch, but it was enough time to s…

La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill

While running errands on Pico today I swung into La Salsa for a quick lunch to go. I'd been here years ago - and recalled their yummy fish tacos. I was greeted by a busy yet happy staff who offered me water and chips and salsa while my order was processed. They recommended both the Sonora and Baja fish tacos so I got both.

Let me just stop for a moment and re-live my pleasure at sitting and munching free chips & salsa in the minutes that my tacos were being made. Hmmmm. Ahhhh. Yes. La Salsa may look like Subway or Quizno's, but they don't turn their backs and ignore you as soon as they have slammed the cash register closed on your money. All of the customers munched happily and made little salsa cup treats while we waited.

In about 5 minutes I was on my way out of the parking lot with 2 tacos, assorted salsas from mild to "very hot wash your hands after touching" plus black beans and rice. Not too much food for a hungry working gal - but you'd have thought…

Island Fresh Fish Market & Restaurant

5101 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 936-9778

In the mood for shrimp or fish? Check out this neighborhood spot for everything from gumbo to curried shrimp bowls to salmon steak. And their eclectic menu offers more than just fish – locals crowd in for offerings like jerk chicken wings, steak kebabs and veggie burgers.

Last night we received a hearty welcome from Andrew, the owner, who was happy to recommend his favorites in his soft Jamaican accent. He took great care in his preparation of our lemon pepper snapper on the griddle so it was still juicy on the inside, and lightly crisp on the outside. The fried fish was equally delicious, and while both dinner specials were served with tartar sauce, he beamed with pride as he presented us with his secret Island Fresh Sauce. That sauce is a real winner! Sweet with a light spice that lends a warmth and excitement to anything you could put it on. I had to close my eyes and savor it on every part of my meal, fish, shrimp, greens, hush …

ENJOY YOUR FOOD

Yes. That's my simple philosophy of dining. Enjoy your food. When you get to a point where you're so hungry you don't care what you eat, you're not dining... your settling and then shoveling... aren't you? Hey, I'm borderline hypoglycemic so when I need food, I go into a nervous meltdown and am capable of violence for ANYTHING to eat.

But that's not what I'm talking about here. If I'm paying for a dining experience, it should be enjoyable. Here are my enjoyment criteria:

1. Inviting entrance. One of my favorite entrances is Mario Batali's little Greenwich Village restaurant LUPA which has a homey neighborhood presence and amazing aromas wafting subtly into the residential street.

2. Staff with personality who take their jobs seriously. Pretty simple actually. Greet me. And then communicate with me. Will it be a few minutes until my table is ready? Tell me that and offer me a seat at the bar. Or bring me an iced tea and a menu in the host area.

3. W…

BUT NOT IN AMERICA...GENERALLY

That will roll right off the tongue right? IvyEatsEverythingButNotInAmericaGenerally. Catchy. No? Well too fucking bad. That's the new reality. Deal.

For years I've purchased yummy veggies and products from local farmer's markets and knew that it was good to buy fresh food from local farmers -- but I didn't understand the gravity of the choices we make when we eat.

I watched the movie Food, Inc. on Friday evening and after about 10 minutes, I vowed to stop eating any and all fast food - that includes sodas as well as any and all industrially raised meats. Done. I'm only going to purchase eggs from small farmers at markets... no big grocery chain eggs anymore. Ugh!

I love vegetables, so it's not a hardship, but I'm so programmed to eat, well, everything. Now I have to think more about my selections. Today at Ralph's salad bar, I had to put the spoon back into the oriental salad because I could see it had some shredded chicken in it.

Awareness of what we…