Monday, August 25, 2014

The LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

"Breakfast is how we write the first sentence of the narrative of our day," says Evan Kleiman, chef and host of KCRW's Good Food. As one of LA's many brunch-obsessed citizens, I say amen to that! The story of my Sunday began with airy pancakes, flaky croissants, and crisp bacon at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast, a breakfast-lover's dream curated by Kleiman at the Park Plaza Hotel.

LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Coffee mugs and forks greeted guests at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast}

The Pancake Breakfast vendors were grouped in several different areas of the hotel, including an outdoor patio and a grand ballroom. 

LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

Since booze and brunch go hand-in-hand, a bar served up libations for the pancake-eaters. 

Dozens of vendors from some of LA's hottest restaurant served up their takes on breakfast and brunch plates. 

Salt's Cure at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Oatmeal Griddle Cakes with Cinnamon Butter from Salt's Cure}

Pez at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Red Quinoa Oatmeal w/ Dates, Vanilla Crema and Cinnamon Walnuts from Pez}

Secret Chinese Delivery at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Mushu Pork w/ Scallion Pancake from Secret Chinese Delivery}

Farm Shop at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Croissants and Meringues from FarmShop}

57 at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{House-Made Rolls w/ Lardo from 57}

Good Girl Dinette at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Chicken Handpies and Chilled Coconut Maple Oatmeal from Good Girl Dinette}

Metro Cafe at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Scrambled Eggs w/ Dill from Metro Cafe}

Locali at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Vegan Breakfast Sandwich and Kale Salad from Locali}

Goldie's at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Blueberry Oatmeal from Goldie's}

Here's a look at some of my favorite bites of the morning:

BLD at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes from BLD}

East Borough at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Vietnamese French Toast w/ Saigon Cinnamon, Strawberry Compote and Condensed Milk from East Borough}

Huckleberry at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Brown Rice and Quinoa Pancakes w/ Milo and Olive House-Made Sausage, Caramelized Onions, Fig Jam and Creme Fraiche from Huckleberry}

Valerie Confections at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{French Toast with Maple Syrup, Butter, and Fresh Berries from Valerie Confections}

EggSlut at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Pancake, Eggs, and Bacon from Eggslut}

Jist at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Chashu Hash Skillet w/ Pork Belly from Jist Come Home}

A-Frame at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Chocolate Pancakes from A-Frame}

Wexler's Deli at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast

{Eggs and House-Smoked Salmon from Wexler's Deli}

For a big time fan of AM indulging (like me), the event was a dream come true, offering all the elements of a successful brunch-- sweet, savory and boozy. I'll dream of these eats all week long.

Monday, July 28, 2014

East Borough

Without question, the 21st century innovation most detrimental to my waistline has been Instagram. Once I scroll past a delicious image and tap the "like" button, I can't stop thinking about that dish until it's mine. Such swooning is how I landed at East Borough in Culver City.

East Borough

East Borough specializes in modern, "fraiche" takes on traditional Vietnamese cuisine. Behind the eatery are chefs Chloe Tran and Jason Neroni plus restaurateur Paul Hibler. Tran hails from Northern California, where she worked on her family's food truck before heading south to open East Borough's first location in Costa Mesa (this is the second). Neroni brought California-inspired Italian flavors to Venice at Superba Snack Bar and recently announced that he's teamed with restaurateur Bill Chait on a new project.

East Borough

East Borough

From the colorful tiles lining the floor to the vibrant mural filling the dining room's main wall, everything about the dining room was vibrant and snazzy.

Saigon Soda at East Borough

{Saigon Soda}

Blood and Quicksand at East Borough

{Bloody Mary}

Since brunch calls for boozing, we began with a duo of drinks. For me, the Saigon Soda ($9.00), a bright blend of gin, kiwi vinegar, lime, and Thai basil. For Justin, a Bloody Mary electrified with sriracha, hoisin, and mustard greens. 

Imperial Rolls at East Borough

To kick off the meal, an order of Imperial Rolls ($8.00), a traditional Vietnamese appetizer consisting of pork and taro wrapped in rice paper and then deep-fried. We wrapped the rolls in the accompanying large, crisp leaves of lettuce and tucked in a sprig of mint before dunking them into the side of funky fish sauce. The combination of textures, temperatures and flavor profiles was heavenly.

Oxtail Daikon Hash at East Borough

Justin dove into a plate piled high with Oxtail Daikon Hash ($12.00), an indulgent medley of tender oxtail, crispy daikon hash and chiles, which was topped with a fried egg, a zigzag of hoisin sriracha aioli and finished with a dusting of green onions and cilantro.

Pho Baguette at East Borough

The object of my Instagram affection was the Pho Baguette ($13.00), the lovechild of a banh mi, pho and a French dip sandwich. Tucked inside the most satisfyingly crusty baguette were slices of juicy beef brisket simmered until it's fall-apart tender, bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime, chiles and, again, that killer sriracha hoisin aioli plus a "sidecar pho" for dipping that was bursting with flavor. This sandwich lived up to my Instagram dreams and then some; the Pho Baguette is one of the city's newest must-eats.

East Borough
9810 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90232
(310) 596-8266

East Borough on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Food GPS Rib Festival

Food GPS Rib Festival

{Tents lined Chinatown's Far East Plaza for the Rib Festival}

This weekend, the first ever Food GPS Rib Festival took place in Chinatown's Far East Plaza. The event boasted a variety of rib preparations and sides from some of LA's best chefs plus desserts, craft beer, and cocktails. Normally, BBQ isn't my thing (I hate getting dirty when I eat), but Justin adores it and rarely gets to dig into a rack of ribs since we're usually glued at the hip. Since relationships are about compromise, however, I suggested attending the, I owed Justin big time for (begrudgingly) agreeing to go to Hello Kitty Con in the fall. It also didn't hurt that a portion of the event's proceeds will benefit The Pablove Foundation, an LA-based charity with a mission to fund pediatric cancer research and advances in treatment, educate and empower cancer families, and improve the quality of life for children living with cancer through hospital play, music and arts programs.

Here's a look at the event:

Cliff's Edge at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Crispy pork ribs with honey and fish sauce glaze and a toasted rice, watermelon, red onion and herbs salad from Cliff's Edge}

Corazon y Miel at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Rib tips with fruit and spice salad from Corazon y Miel}

Chi Spacca at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Pork rib confit with trotter beans from Chi Spacca}

Heirloom LA at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Heirloom LA adorably decked out their stall}

Heirloom LA at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Chicharron-wrapped "McRib" roulade with Sweet Baby Todd's BBQ Sauce, Hawaiian bread, Napa cabbage and carrot slaw from Heirloom LA}

Komodo at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Komodo Food grilling up ribs}

Komodo at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Island ribs with homemade pineapple BBQ sauce and an addictive, sweet Filipino mac salad with fruit from Komodo Food}

Mexicali Taco & Co. at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Mexicali Taco & Co. prepping plates}

Mexicali Taco & Co. at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Costillitas al Pastor from Mexicali Taco & Co.}

Scarpetta at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Spiced spare rib with smoked tomato agro dolce and mustardy peanut potato salad from Scarpetta}

The Grilled Cheese Truck at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Cheesy mac and rib sandwich from The Grilled Cheese Truck}

The Park's Finest at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Short ribs with beans and an outstanding bibingka from The Park's Finest}

Two swoon-worthy dishes tied as my favorite bites of the festival:

Chef Chris Oh at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Spicy Korean BBQ spareribs with Colombian street corn from chef Chris Oh (Seoul Sausage and Escala)}

Chef Bryant Ng at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Lamb ribs with cumin, chile and mustard and burrata with sambal-marinated grilled eggplant and breadcrumbs from chef Bryant Ng (The Spice Table)}

The all-inclusive festival event also offered cocktails from Jason Bran and Damian Windsor, beer from El Segundo Brewing Co. and Strand Brewing Co., and refreshing craft soda from Los Angeles Ale Works in unique flavors such as Thai Tea, Cornbread (made especially for the event) and, my favorite, peach ginger ale. There was also a Pure Water cooler station which, may not seem like a big deal but, after attending many a festival seriously lacking in hydration, it was enough to catapult this event to the top of my best-of list. Thanks for thinking of the thirsty, Food GPS!

Drinks at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Melon Blossom Breeze: Pavan orange blossom liqueur, fresh watermelon and lime}

After making the rib rounds, we moved on to the dessert options. 

Cake Monkey at Food GPS Rib Festival

{Inside Out S'mores from Cake Monkey Bakery}

Salt & Straw at Food GPS Rib Festival

{The most incredible Stumptown Coffee and Chocolate ice cream from Salt & Straw. A location will soon open on Larchmont. Looks like Sweet Rose Creamery will have some competition for the top spot in my heart!}

Sugarbloom Bakery at Food GPS Rib Festival

{This flaky, balanced Curry Apple Hand Pie from Sugarbloom Bakery was perfection. As a sugar addict, I couldn't believe that I'd never heard of Sugarbloom Bakery, but now I'm hooked.}

With the perfect number of well-curated vendors, manageable crowds, and plentiful drink options--both alcoholic and (arguably more importantly) otherwise-- the inaugural Food GPS Rib Festival was impressive and a total hit. I'll dream of ribs for days...and that's saying something.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Weekend Eats: Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July! After three and a half days of vacation, I'm feeling refreshed, relaxed, and ready to tackle the week...but, before we return to reality, here's a look at the holiday weekend.

On Thursday, Justin and I took advantage of our half days at work and headed out for happy hour. The gorgeous, sunny SoCal weather called begged for outdoor drinks, and we settled on Perch, a rooftop lounge with a panoramic view of downtown LA.

Drinks at Perch

{The Spicy Concombre: Plymouth gin, cucumber, jalapeno, lime, St. Germain}

After our round of rooftop sunset drinks, we moved down the block to Grand Central Market, which was launching dinner hours that day. While not every stall's yet serving dinner, the object of our affection was up and running: Belcampo Meat Co. The Belcampo Meat Co. raises its cows humanely, allowing them to graze in a well-tended pasture, and processes them in a Temple Grandin-designed facility, resulting in organic, free-range, high quality meat. 

Cheeseburger at Belcampo Meat Co.

{The Belcampo Burger: 5.5 oz. dry-aged, grass-fed beef, cheddar, and caramelized onions with crisp, flavorful beef tallow fries}

Later that night, my sweet tooth hit me hard, and Cook's County's dessert menu of seasonal sweets made it the perfect spot to indulge my craving. 

Strawberry Shortcake at Cook's County

The strawberry shortcake with juicy, fresh seascape strawberries, creamy strawberry ice cream and fresh whipped cream totally hit the spot. I'm still swooning over this perfectly-executed, refreshing, and decadent dessert. 

Every Fourth of July, we keep our plans to a minimum so we can stay home with Mona, blast the AC and watch TV to hopefully drown out the sound of fireworks for our scaredypup. During the day, however, we made a couple of stops to get our Fourth on. 

Fourth of July

{Riesling and patriotic cookies at my friend Danielle's house}

Fourth of July at The Churchill

The Churchill celebrated the holiday with a seafood boil featuring deep-fried softshell crab and snappy shrimp with corn, potatoes, English peas, chorizo, and lemon with Old Bay seasoning. This plate coupled with the spot's killer happy hour made for one delicious afternoon. 

On Saturday, we packed up Miss Mona and hit the road for San Diego for a doggie play date and to spend the day with my good friend and her husband who live down there. 

Sidecar Doughnuts and Coffee

Any time we drive through the OC, a stop at Sidecar Doughnuts and Coffee is a must. Their rotating menu of fresh, seasonal flavors is always nearly impossible to choose from, but their July flavors especially called to this fruit-loving, tropical-obsessed gal. We ordered a Peach Melba donut topped with fresh peaches, raspberries and housemade peach leaf cream, a Passion Fruit Meringue donut topped with passion fruit meringue and fresh cream, and a Guava donut. The most simple of the trio turned out to be my favorite-- the tart guava glazed raised donut, which I devoured in record time. 

Fueled by donuts and banh mi we picked up at Tan Hoang Huong in Westminster, we arrived at Fiesta Island, Mona's favorite dog beach. Mona and my friend's dog Maddie loved running in and out of the water and tumbling in the sand with the other dogs. As a crazy dog mom, nothing makes me happier than seeing my girl having fun on a special day. 

Mona at Fiesta Island, San Diego

{Mona, wading in the water at Fiesta Island}

After the girls' playtime, it was the humans' turn; we headed back to my friend's house and spent all afternoon floating in the pool with margaritas while Mona and Maddie alternately sunned, napped, and chased each other around the yard. On a daily basis, my mind constantly zooms from one item on my to-do list to another, and I struggle with "turning off" but not on this day! I can't remember the last time I allowed myself to be so blissfully lazy with no schedule or plans, and it felt pretty stupendous. 

Mona and Maddie

{Maddie and Mona taking a break from playing}

On Sunday, we met up with my friend from high school who was in town for a wedding. Is there any better way to catch up with a friend than over bottomless pancakes?

Mango Lechera Pancakes at A-Frame

{Round one of Justin's All You Can Eat A-Hop Pancakes-- mango lechera pancakes-- with my Waikiki Ho, a Hawaiian-inspired cocktail made with gin, angostura, passion fruit, pineapple, and lime}

Buttermilk Pancakes with Fried Chicken at A-Frame

{Round two: buttermilk pancakes with a fried drumstick}

Croque Monsieur Pancakes at A-Frame

{Round three: Monsieur pancakes with Benton's ham dust and aged white cheddar}

The Surfer's Sandwich at A-Frame

I couldn't pass up the Surfer's Sandwich, an epic tower of housemade "spam," grilled pineapple, iceberg lettuce, nori, and hot sauce on toasted Hawaiian sweet bread. Of course, I added a fried egg. 

I hope that your Fourth of July weekend was as filled with fun, friends and food as mine was!