Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Gluttonous Night with Daily Gluttony & Friends...

First off, I want to apologize to Mrs. Daily Gluttony for taking so long to write about her special evening. I've been meaning to, but work has been EXTREMELY crazy. Anyway, we had our local LA food blogger dinner a few months ago at Manna Korean BBQ in Koreatown. She asked if I would like to cater her wedding party and I gladly accepted. After all, Daily Gluttony is one of the funniest personalities in the food blog world and simply enjoyable to be around. Don't be fooled by her potty mouth and sometimes, brash writing... she's really great haha.

A few months later, the event really felt like it was just around the corner. With the help of J and Yoony of Immaeatchu, this was going to be a fun and smooth night. Pam decided on two seafood dishes and two vegetarian. Ugh. We were both irritated by the fact that we had to throw in some kind of veggie dish. No matter what, it was good practice. Things could be worse... I could be dealing with vegans and non-glutens. The good thing is, I could pretty much go outside of my place and collect all my ingredients.

"Yes, this dish is made especially for you. I've deep-fried this oak leaf in panko flakes and topped it w/ bark that I've braised in soy sauce, garlic and cilantro. The garnish of freshly-mowed grass should really bring out this winter's flavors. Enjoy."

Yoony met up with J and I on a Saturday afternoon and we were simply fascinated by Pam's place. It really had the Brooklyn loft feel that you see a lot in movies. The place was huge and could easily hold a 100+ people. We immediately set up our post in her large kitchen. With two fridges and a 6' foot fold-out table, we had an ideal setup. In addition to that, the bartender was set up right in front of us, forming a blockade from nosey, finger-happy guests. Two hours later, the guests started to pour in. Music on, food being cooked, drinks pouring.... party time.

Ahi Tuna Poke with Yuzu and Green Apples on Wonton Crisps
I'm no longer making the avocado mousse wonton crisps. This version blows it out of the water. The microgreen garnish adds a nice bitter taste that balances with the sour green apples and sweet fish.

Crabcakes with Roasted Red Pepper Remoulade
I don't think I can bury this dish just yet. I've made them smaller and used a different panko crust and it's now edible in one crispy bite.

Truffled-Edamame Hummus on Parmesan Crisps
This was my first time dealing with parmesan crisps. I cannot stand baking but had to try this dish out sometime. The crisps had a nice cracker-like texture to it and made a nice appetizer. The truffle oil really brings out the tastes of the garlicky hummus and cheesy crisps. Unfortunately, this dish takes FOREVER to make. Goodbye, off the menu for good haha.

Yoony's Harissa Dip on Pita Crisps (Not Pictured)
My photo was so lousy and blurry that it wasn't worth putting up. Zteve of Gastrologica did a nice interpretation of the dish. Sorry Yoony! I first had this dish at AOC and fell in love with it. I could not stop eating it. Yoony was kind enough to help me out and prepare this dish at home and it was awesome. Spicy and flavorful... a good kick to the bunch.

Victor of Zarape Tacos
Pam's genius idea of hiring a taco guy really made the party fun. Who doesn't love tacos? Victor had a nice choice of carne asada and pollo asado with all the fixins. After cooking for two straight hours, the last thing I wanted to eat was anything I cooked. I treated myself to three tacos. Yum.

It was a really great experience catering for someone that first got me into blogging. Thank you Pam for giving me the opportunity to do this. I was really stoked to be able to cook for you as well as our other food blogging friends there that night... Jonah of LA Foodblogging, Best of LA and Gastrologica. Colleen Cuisine, where were you??? J, Yoony and I had a blast. Hope you don't mind that we were all buzzed from drinking on the job haha. Congratulations again to you and Mr. Daily Gluttony.

Thanks for reading. Read more!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Anthony Bourdain: A Lunch to Remember

Anthony Bourdain Thai Town Noodle Whore

It's really a nice feeling when you get noticed for doing something you love. In my case, it's writing about noodles and food, in general. Two weeks ago, I got a call from the producer of Anthony Bourdain's show "No Reservations". If you haven't caught a glimpse of the show, the show follows the fearless chef/writer as he eats the unique foods of the world. In Indonesia, he ate Penis Noodle Soup. In Vietnam, he ate porcupine. In Europe, he ate the head cheese of a sheep. The list goes on. The producers came across my Noodle Whore site and read the review on a coffee shop in Thaitown that serves up some of the best Thai Boat Noodles in Los Angeles. The quirk factor: a broth made with cow's blood. After two weeks of correspondence, they asked me to be his sidekick at the Sapp Coffee Shop. Hmm, lemme think about it.

Two weeks later, I found myself leaving work for what would be a very, long lunch break. All the information I had researched on Thai Boat Noodle soup began spinning around my head like a laundry load in a washing machine. I said forget it, I'm just gonna have to play it by ear. I got to Thai Town about 15 minutes early. I stood outside my car and smoked a cigarette and again, started to think about what I would say. I felt like I was doing a last minute run-through on a college final/midterm. I grabbed my backpack which contained my chef coat and 3 books for him to sign. I started to walk down, staring aimlessly down the street. Within a few steps, I started to notice a very familiar figure: a tall, slender, grey-haired man wearing a black leather jacket, puffing away on a cancer stick... Anthony Bourdain. All of a sudden, I wasn't nervous anymore. I felt calm and relaxed. I walked directly to him and introduced myself and met the producers who were setting up the cameras.

We then walked into the restaurant which had about 5 occupied tables. All of them oblivious to what was going on because they were too busy inhaling their food. We picked a table and I was then mic'd up. *Note: you may not see it on the shows, but everyone is wearing a tiny mic that clips on to the underside of your shirt with the receiver tacked on to your belt like an old Motorola Bravo pager. We then decided on the dishes we would be ordering and took our seats. Mmm, Thai Boat Noodle soup and Pork Noodle soup. Anthony then stood up and said to me, "See you in a few minutes". He stood up and walked outside of the restaurant to film the shot of him walking into Sapp Coffee Shop. I sat there and took a deep breath and all of a sudden... pure silence. I turned around and gave one last look at everyone in the restaurant. The cameraman stood next to me, anticipating Anthony's entrance. The patrons, who really didn't give a f*ck about what was going on, were still inhaling their food. The crew sat in the back table also waiting for the camera to roll. The restaurant staff stood behind their counters holding menus. I then looked at the window of the neighboring store for a reflection and saw Anthony approaching. Here we go.

AB: "Hello Dylan, how's it going?"
Me: "Hey Anthony, how's it going?"

The waitress then came up to us and handed us menus. We ended up ordering the Thai Boat Noodle soup and the pork version of it, which includes pork blood. From there, a 20-minute conversation began. What are we eating? What's the story behind this dish? What's in it? What's up with the strip malls? What's up the 'C' rating? What do you do for a living? What kind of noodles do you like? Blah, blah, blah. I could tell Anthony liked the noodles. Not only was he building up a sweat, he actually finished a bowl of noodles before I did. People that know me, know that I inhale, rathen than eat. It was so weird eating next to him. Each few bites, he let out a moan of satisfaction in the food. This guy really eats anything and everything. When the camera wasn't rolling, I took every opportunity to ask him questions. I told him that my friends and I had tried to do the same things he did in Osaka, Japan. I asked him about the importance of blood in French cooking. I asked him about his experience in China. Just a few of the many questions I fired at him.

Me: "How do you like the food?"
AB: "This is good stuff. Americans really underestimate the power of blood as a thickening/flavoring agent."

As soon as he was done with the Thai Boat Noodle soup, the cameras stopped rolling. Before he could leave, I pulled out my chef coat and books and kindly asked for his autograph. I asked him to draw his trademark chef/skull logo which is displayed in his book, The Les Halles Cookbook and in tattoo form. You can see it in one of the Miami Ink episodes. I held the chef coat and folded it neatly back into backpack. And before I knew it, Anthony stood up, shook my hand, took a photo and quietly put his black blazer back on and was out the door back to his hotel. Wow, very cool.

Anthony Bourdain is someone I highly respect. After reading his Kitchen Confidential novel, I knew I wanted to try my hand as a cook/caterer. He's funny, drinks, smokes and is probably more open-minded than anyone out there when it comes to food. He's the anti-Food Network celebrity and is a true badass. Most of all, I admire the fact that he knows how to enjoy life, and will never stop pursuing it until the day he dies.

Thank you Anthony Bourdain for your time, this means a lot to me. Thanks to everyone for reading.

"No Reservations" Season 3 will air sometime in January and will feature the Sapp Coffee Shop segment including Phillipe's French Dip and many other LA establishments. Eat here soon before it gets crowded. It's good! Read more!

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