Tag Archives: inspiration

I’ve Gone to GoPago; Meatballs for All!

26 Jul

I am very happy to announce that I am now working with the awesome team at GoPago. This free mobile app combines all of my favorite things: reading menus, restaurants, shopping, customizing, ordering, purchasing, technology, efficiency, community and my smartphone. The community aspect is of the utmost importance to me so please be sure to follow us on Twitter @go_pago, on Facebook and on the app to keep the community expanding and to let me know what you think!

Speaking of expanding, the amount of restaurants offering our services is ever-growing but I wanted to highlight a few dishes at some of our restaurants because I am currently meat and chickpea ball obsessed. I have already written quite extensively about my love for the Meatball Gigante at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. Although, if you can’t order one of the 25 made daily, the regular size are equally delicious and a more manageable ball.

For my vegetarian friends, GoPago has three Sunrise Deli locations where you can try one of the best falafels in the city. The Super Falafel with eggplant and potato included in the pita pocket or lavash wrap is the way to go.

For those looking to combine the best of both worlds and marry the most awesome things together, like GoPago does, I have an awesome Frankenstein-esque ordering  kind of solution. You must try the dish I recently wrote about that combines Italian with Middle Eastern. The Safeehat Falafel at Jannah, which is basically a pizza with a falafel crust and the most delicious toppings: pesto, eggplant, roasted red bell pepper, green and red onions, shitake mushrooms, tomato, feta, and goat cheese.

I want to offer you $10 in credit to try some of the restaurants out, since I am so excited about my new role, the company, the app, and these food selections. Simply download the app and enter my special promo code “Meatball” to try one of these awesome dishes, all under $10, for the next 48hrs. Come over to the new way of ordering/paying quickly and let’s have a ball!

Israeli Cuisine: It’s Real and It’s Spectacular

1 Apr

I have a dumb habit of the second that I bite into a pupusa saying, “I am getting in touch with my brown side.” My dad is no longer alive but he was a Salvadorean revolutionary and refugee and I feel very disconnected with that side of me. Sure I can so-so speak spanish, but it is the second that I bite into the food that I get in touch with that culture.

Being Jewish is quite different. That I get and I know. I can’t speak Hebrew, but I have my own special relationship with that side of me. Obviously I am a food-centric person, but there is no specific food where I say, “I am getting in touch with my Jewish side.” Pastrami, brisket, and a kosher pickle do it for me, but that feels New York. My Jewish grandma was an amazing cook and we spent a great deal of time in her kitchen, but that cuisine was very worldly. I fondly remember her stuffed cabbage rolls (my favorite “Jewish” food), but we just as often made chinese food, dumplings, curries, spaghetti and BBQ together. I know that a lot of the Jewish culture and holidays take place over meals and yet when I went on a Culinary Trip to Israel in February, I really had no idea what that meant. Sure, I know middle eastern food, but nothing that was “Israeli” specific.

It turns out that much like being Jewish, which has no clear and cut definition: a religion, a race, an ethnicity, a culture; Israeli food is also all over the map. It sounds so cliche but it is an absolute melting pot, not just with the bordering countries, but with the entire word.

Right outside the shuk in Jerusalem, we visited one of the first neighborhoods that was built out of the city walls and there was this great legend that we heard. These neighborhoods often had a central stove outside and each family would have their own special meals cooking and when the sons would fetch the pots sometimes they’d mix them up. The Ashkenazis would get the Iraqis’ food and think it was too spicy and vice versa and the Iraqis would think their food was too bland. Then over time the families would request that their sons would grab the wrong pot on purpose. Thus, the cuisines do meld together and there is room at the table for each place the wandering Jews wandered to make its way back into Israeli cuisine.

During my visit I did hear a great talk by Janna Gur, the Queen of Israeli Cuisine, and learned that some things are strictly Israeli. For instances, Israelis are the only people in the world that eat salad for breakfast, they invented the cherry tomato, and date syrup called “silan” is more popular than honey and sugar.

However, the real joy about Israeli cuisine is that everything comes together: schnitzel in a pita is the epitome of that. Another example I saw was at Shuk HaNamal (The Port Market), where the slow food movement is very much embraced. We got a demonstration from a chef that showed how an Israeli would make a panzanella salad: a variety of the freshest tomatoes, za’atar thrown on and strained yogurt.

I have never been to Yemen but this Yemenite flatbread that was all of over the country was a personal favorite. This four cheese and mushroom dish I got in the Kabbalah town of Tzfat was delicious.

In Tel Aviv, I dined with friends at a very cool Georgian restaurant called Nanuchka. There was a picture near the stairwell of a man with his very large member showing, after much questioning, I learned that all of its glory belonged to the DJ at the restaurant/louge. However, nothing compared to the warm chickpeas in the hummus at Abu Hassan in Jaffa. The picture of the DJ didn’t ruin all other men for me, but one bite of this warm hummus ruined me forever with the refrigerated packaged stuff.

Another great thing I put in my mouth was a Persian Jewish dish called Gondi, which reminded me of matzo ball soup mating my all time favorite, meatballs. As soon as I took a spoonful of this ball and broth, I grabbed my ipad to tweet this very import message: Gondi > Gandhi.

During my ten days in Israel the highlight was picking carrots in, of all places a tomato farm in the desert, Shvil Hasalat. Later that same busy day, my carrot relationship became even deeper as I found myself cutting pounds and pounds of carrots with the dullest of knives at Nahal Brigade for a vegetable soup my group and I cooked up for more than 350 soldiers.

While at the farm, I heard that carrots were initially from Afghanistan and that they were white. When they were imported to Holland, orange was an important color to the country so they only grew orange carrots and that’s how they became known as orange. I have no idea if that story is true but I like the metaphor for Israeli cuisine and I love that I got to pull out some O.G. carrots from soil in the Middle East. Jews have spent generations living all over the world, taking in cuisine influences and now they get to bring it all together in their own country, which is beautifully delicious!

Carina Ost: On Course in My Mission Fruition

11 Jul

Photo Credit: Henri Matisse. Nude with Oranges. My favorite painting.

If there is one universal truth that I believe in, it is synchronicity. Last year, when I moved from LA after a good solid year and a half of writing about food and a building a young lifestyle company for foodies I was unsure of my direction, identity, and next steps. My move to San Francisco, mainly Noe Valley, brought me to a colorful sign that read “Ripe Fruit Writing.” Hmm, my new life plan was to be a writer and no longer dreams of being a reality tv star or media mogul. Two of the six new domains that I bought were entitled Ripeness is All dot com and Mission Fruition dot com. “Ripeness is all” was taken from Shakespeare’s King Lear and is often used to stand solo because those three words are the meaning of life for me, even if not Shakespeare’s intention. Ripeness is All was meant to be my personal growth blog and Mission Fruition is where I would try and talk about my main passion: food. I have done a pretty shitty job adding to both but I’ll blame the luck of great jobs and opportunities falling in my lap for that one.

Anyway, back to Ripe Fruit Writing. It was a writing class in my neighborhood where we had a teacher, prompts, notebooks, and pens and took breaks with hot tea and ripe fruit. In other words, it was the perfect class for me and only blocks from my house. One of my prompts that we did was trying to recall our first memory. What do we see when our mind transports us back in time to our youngest self? Supposedly, this is what will follow you for your whole life. For me, I was probably nearly three. I was just out of the bath with my mom and I refused a towel. I was wet and naked and specifically remember wet hair. I am at my grandma’s house. There are only white walls and then large pink and orange artwork of Matisse nudes, musicians playing in New York, and Asian women warriors riding lions that she batiked. My grandma and I both loved fruit but she  loved her fruit very under ripe and ice cold, straight from the fridge. I hated that feeling on my new teeth. She handed me a peach and it was so cold that I held it to my mouth like it was my egg and I was it’s mother. I would patiently wait until it was the appropriate room temperature before I took a bite. I then remember juices running down my face and deeply looking at the colors, the oranges and the reds closer to the pit.

Immediately I can see how this first memory has continued in my life. First, I still take ridiculously long baths and my mom and I normally are simultaneously in the bath in our respective homes when we talk on the phone together.  It is our bonding time. I also get made fun of for not knowing how to dry myself off. I don’t blow dry my hair and barely use a towel. The most comforting thing for me is getting under the covers wet and taking a 10 minute nap after the exhausting bath. Secondly, my grandma’s asethetic is all over my apartment and embedded in my style. Granted, I have a ton of her artwork but even the pieces I choose are very similar. Asian influences with female subjects and reds, pinks, oranges and yellow. Lastly, on to the peach, fruition is my favorite word and has been since I was 12 and fruit follows me in all that I do. When I was in this writing group we read these aloud and my classmates commented on how sensual that was and it was no wonder that writing about food is what brings me the most pleasure.

Which brings me on to me next subject, did I find what I am supposed to be doing? I don’t know yet. However, I do know that the other day I was looking through my closet and stumbled across some old school  papers. Among them was an alphabet book that we had to make. For my subject, I chose food and while flipping through the pages I discovered that I have been writing about food and taking pictures of food for far longer than I ever imagined. I also remembered in Jr. High doing a presentation where you were supposed to teach the class a skill and I did cake decorating. It was a complete and utter diaster, but again food was my beacon.

Anyway, I can’t describe how good it felt to connect the line in the map of my life from the past to the future and realize that there is a reason that I am doing exactly what I have always done and representing the person at my core. I mean, it’s impossible to ever really go off course, at then end of our lives we can clearly see the path and it will make sense but I really felt so lost just a year ago: new career ambitions, new city, new friends, and new life.  My college application essay for undergrad was called “Why I Deserve to Be Like Merv” about Merv Griffin. First, I wanted to own hotel. Later I wanted to be Martha Stewart and made a brand plan that looked identical to hers. Now, I can say that I am paving my own way and it is more true to myself than I could have imagined. As someone who grew up reading nothing but biographies there is something so profoundly liberating about filling up my own pages instead of reading and following along to someone else’s.

Sony WX-9: A Camera Love Story for Foodies

30 Apr

There are certain times when I can categorically say that my life does not suck. Building a career based around my love of food and words is pretty good, even if at times my waistline and wallet disagree, but then every once in awhile you get these invites that truly and eternally make it worth it. Last month, I got an invite from Sony Electronics to take part in a foodie event with bloggers from all over the country. Towards the end of March, I flew to San Diego and met up with some of my favorite food writers that I consider close friends and then people that I have just admired from my Twitter feed or Google Reader. The Minty, pretty much my favorite person from my LA food blogging days, Yay Fiona from FoodSpotting and the Punk Domestic boys also came down from SF and made me very happy. The first night I was introduced to the rest of the group, which included some big name bloggers like  No Recipes and Mouth of the Border. I can’t explain enough how good it feels when you are surrounded by your kind of people. People that love making up hashtags for events on Twitter, adding venues for Foursquare, taking pictures of every bite before it hits their fork, and giving a proper intro that includes a Twitter handle. I’ll happily admit it, food bloggers and twEATers are my people. The next day, during breakfast, we were introduced to our new lover – Sony Cyber-shot WX-9. It was ours and we were going to take it for our test drive at our mecca: a farmers’ market. The camera is very impressive, a ton of easy settings for food, pets, soft skin, and fireworks, there is also 3D functions, photo layerings, and an easy panorama mode. All of the pictures from here on out were taken with my new cyber-shot, as genius as the camera is, I couldn’t figure out how to photograph the camera with the camera. Here were some of my first photos taken, a quick lesson and my silly mind just pointed and shot. As far as I am concerned, this camera allowed me to shoot like a professional.

We then took our cameras to the beach of Ocean Beach for an amazing lunch thrown together by Chef Chris Ivens-Brown who let’s just put it this way, has enough power to make a fish extinct.  He is the VP of Culinary Development  and Executive Chef at Compass Group, the leader in foodservice management including for the Sony corporation, there are only a handful of corporations whose food he does not touch. In the words of Spiderman, god, and everyone else with a conscience, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” He preached sustainability, local, and organic with such vigor that I had to make sure that I wasn’t still in San Francisco. It was actually refreshing as was his strawberry lemonade, the ocean view, and the buffet lunch spread that just didn’t quit.

After this feast I napped, watched Oprah, and got ready for dinner. I couldn’t help but laugh at the Sony Execs who looked like they were in so much pain on the shuttle from lunch. They were so not used to eating such large lunches and then having to prepare for dinner in only a few hours. Leave it up to the professionals; this is what I call Tuesday. Dinner was where it was at and my crew was ready. We arrived at the breathtaking Sony Headquarters, went up to the top floor dining room and were lead into the kitchen where Chef Chris was leading the team. He gave us some appetizers and gave us a behind the scenes on how to make a potato basket that we later saw in one of our 9 courses to be had.

Being lead in to the dining room is where the Chef, Sony, and the trip sparkled. Interesting and inspired food, more than one pairing with Nickel & Nickel wine, and a chance for mixed tables and mingling with new people from the group.

Everything from the carrot and cilantro Soup to the surprise beta swimming in the bowl beneath my lobster salad and up until the steaming pineapple potpourri was breathtaking and mouth watering.

For the final course we moved on to petit fours and Veuve on the patio with the fire pits and got to begin our goodbyes after a magical couple of days. All of us food bloggers discussed how pleased we were that Sony “got it,” we go to so many food type events with shitty food and people/companies who don’t care. Rocco DiSpirito may have a perfect penis but sending him to a food event with frozen dinners in hand, just won’t cut it. You know what I am sayin? This was delightful and yes I left with a nice and easy to use camera, but more importantly I left with some fun memories, new foodie friends, and much more. My camera did showcase my memories and meals perfectly and, really, what else can a food blogger ask for?

Here I am with my SF crew and my Minty.

Here is what the others had to say and shoot:

The Minty on the farmer’s market, lunch, and dinner.

Travel + Wine

Chickpease Please

Foodspotting

Wayfaring Wanderer with the most insanely beautiful photos and posts on the event

Amy Blogs Chow’s posts

Sukhjit’s video teaser

The Flickr photo pool

Most Romantic Foodie Dates

17 Feb

My artichoke heart and hearts of palm V-Day dip

We are still in the month of February and love is still in the air. I have recently written about S.F’s Best Restaurants for a First Date and Eight Dishes to Get Your Valentine Thinking About Sex, so I guess that makes me an expert on food and love. One question: Why I am never fully satiated with either and still on the hunt for delicious food and a delicious lover? True Story:  I once had a guy work on a comic book for me called The Insatiables.

Let me steer men and women to foodgasms and orgasms alike, and hopefully polish myself off at the same time. In my experience, people that are passionate about food are passionate about love making. Foodies make the best lovers! So here are three different date ideas to indulge in some good food and land yourself a foodie.

Date #1: How about we…head to Tartine and share a banana cream tart.

Photo Credit: BrasilPo P. on Yelp

Tartine can be trite, there is always a line around the block, and since the New York Times deemed it the “Best Bakery in America” it is a top foodie destination. So, why am I recommending this place? First, it does give you some foodie street cred. Secondly, it is a damn good bakery and the dish that I am talking about is perfect. Bananas in cream, is just as sexy as it comes. Hot apple pie is for teenagers, banana cream pie is for lovers. Grab a fork for each of you, dig into the flaky crust, and go to town on the sweet creamy filling.

Date #2 How about we…sit at the Hog Island Oyster Co. bar and slurp oysters together.

Photo Credit: Katherine C. on Yelp

Anyway you shuck it or serve it, oysters are sexy. A well-known aphrodisiac that has reminded us of lady parts for centuries just happens to be the most elite of foods meant for the most refined of palates. If foodie was a religion, then the Ferry Building would be it’s Mecca. The Hog Island Oyster Co. in the Ferry Building is an institution in itself and is the perfect place to have a date. The guys will do the heavy shucking, you and your date just get to slurp away and let the slimy goodness work its magic.

Date #3 How about we…head to Tony’s and eat a meatball pizza pie, eh?

“When the moon hits your eye
Like a big-a pizza pie
That’s amore”

The two things we are talking about, food and romance, the Italians do very well. A date in San Francisco’s very own Little Italy, North Beach, is a date worth having. Tony’s Pizza Napoletana is by far my favorite pizza in this city. I am a meatball girl (how am I still single?) and my favorite pizza is the Soprano with Tony’s famous meatballs on top, I also have them add on some ricotta. I think of Tony Soprano, my mouth experiences great things, I down a couple glasses of chianti, and even if my date happens to be lame I come out a winner. Between meatballs and a circular pie, I will be having a ball and so will you!

These three date options will charm the pants off of any foodie and if, for any reason, it doesn’t you will at the very least go home feeling that the food satisfied you!

Benu: Where the Whole Menu Will Blow Your Mind

22 Sep

If there is one thing I stand for, it is curves. I love them on my body, on my plate, and in my words. I am currently enrolled in an Art of Languaging writing class where we try and look at words in different ways, whether it be the sounds or lines. Looking at the word Benu to me is the epitome of curvaceous. The b and  e are a bubbly opening and then you have the up and down, yin and yang, open wave form of n and u. I am not a design person, so excuse me for explaining this clumsily, but as I walked down the steps from the host to the carpeted dining room and I looked up, I somehow saw the word “benu” in the design. The ceiling had the “nu” hilly form. It is a rare thing when the aesethic style perfectly matches the name and idea of the establishment. White, minimal, clean, and bosomy.

The design of this place was rather overwhelming. I kept trying to remember the last time I saw plush carpet in a restaurant and how nice and luxurious it was. Only one painting adorned the wall in the dining room and it was far away from me. I was convinced that I had the best seat in the place. The silverware design with the fork with five tines and knife on a handcrafted smooth wood rest was as elegant as can be. My favorite musician, Regina Spektor, was playing throughout the restaurant and the mood was set. My eyes and my my ears were stimulated and I was waiting for my mouth to get in on the action.

When the hard deciscion of the day is whether to get the tasting or a la carte menu, you have what I like to call Princess Problems…life ain’t bad. My dining partner already had the tasting menu and it was the description of the duck entree that swayed me to the a al carte side. Have no fear, we still each ordered a dish from each menu section. The first thing to come to the table is the Buckwheat Lavash, seasonsed with nori and seasame, which are stood upright in a slotted box, similar to that of Dexter’s blood files. Next, is the amuse bouche, pictured above, it is a dashi broth with a tomato water sphere and summer blossoms. It was a lovely pop to the proverbial cherry (tomato) of the meal.

Under the small appetizer section I chose the apple, bacon, celery branch, walnut, mimolette, mustard, beer. Once again, the hilly form was showcased and I was really excited by the textures and tastes. The apple was peeled and perfectly sweet, the bacon was thin and crispy as can be, and the beer was a foam. This was a playground for the palate and I was going from the cheese swing to a dip in the mustard pool. Everything in this dish was fun and whimsical. My dining partner ordered a much more grown-up appetizer, the monkfish liver torchon, almond, endive, cherry. It was creamy, decadent and silky. The pairing, with the cherry and bread on the side, showed me that this is the foie gras of the sea.

The following menu section was pasta, and I chose wisely with the risotto, sea urchin, corn, lovage, black truffle. The dish came lid on and as soon as the server removed it the aroma of truffle filled the air. Uni is one of those foods that literally changed my life. I own the domain Looney Uni dot com and everything about it is the sexiest food ever. It reminds me of a tongue that just perfectly melts itself in your mouth. It is like velvet. I have heard it described in much more sexual terms but this is the ingredient that does it for me. This combination of the creamy risotto, sweet corn, fragrant black truffle, and fresh uni worked beautifully. This is quite possibly the most perfect dish I have ever had. My dining partner had this dish on his first visit and although he said he wants three of these dishes he ordered the rigatoni, sea cucumber, oxtail, wood ear mushrooms, star anise, red wine, butter in effort to try something new. It was rich and earthy but it couldn’t hold a candle to the risotto.

On to the fish and shellfish portion, I ordered the big fin squid, pork belly, turnip, cucumber, mizuna, preserved plum. The squid was thick, but not rubbery, and it worked well with the plum sauce. The pork belly was fatty and crispy, as it should be. My companion had the more interesting dish, the shrimp boudin, snapping turtle, vegetable matignon, burnett. The boudin had plump chunks of shrimp and the snapping turtle in the broth was rich and flavorful.

As I mentioned, it was the description of the duck that brought me over to to the a la carte side. Duck, artichokes, chanterelles, coriander, lemon, olive oil are all of my favorite ingredients, so clearly this was my dish. This dish did not disappoint in any way. It was a beautiful duck breast and then duck mousse under the crispy skin. The artichoke puree and the hearts themselves added this creaminess to the plate that complemented the duck very nicely. Part of the reason I love artichokes so much is because of the aftertaste, that herbal aftertaste that reminds me so much of green tea. This crisp flavor along with the lemon and coriander left the most delightful taste in my mouth and mind. My dining partner, thankfully, preferred his own dish more, which was dry-aged, “pré salé” lamb rack, garlic sausage, cauliflower, date, pine nuts, ginger. I liked this dish a lot, especially with the lamb dipped in the cauliflower puree but I preferred my tailor made dish. It is always nice when the orderer prefers their own dish.

When it came to dessert we ordered the soft chocolate ganache, feuille de brick, banana ice cream, Bourbon caramel, ginger and the blackberries, douglas fir meringue, candy cap sablé, natural cream. Both desserts were interesting, but that candied ginger several different ways and the banana ice cream were the stars of the dessert show.

At the end of the meal, you receive a lovely treat along with your bill and seasonal magnet, you get a box of chocolate. Forrest Gump is correct, life is like a box of chocolates and at Benu you can be assured that life is pretty damn good and delicious. There was not a bad dish in the meal and everything was meticulously made, presented, and served. Clearly Chef Corey Lee’s time at French Laundry was well-served, as nothing about Benu seems like it comes from a restaurant that is only six weeks old. This is a well-designed and executed restaurant and if there were any kinks that still need to be work out I, as a diner, did not see them. Sommelier Yoon Ha was on point with every single wine he paired for us, and a meal here without consulting with this guy is just plain silly. My favorite pairing of the night was the late harvest riesling for the monkfish and uni risotto from C.H. Berres.

This entire meal was a Mission Fruition accomplished. I left the restaurant, full, satisfied, and with all of my senses on overload. When you walk back on to the street from the serene courtyard you can spot a window into the kitchen. It didn’t occur to me until now, but there are no windows in the dining room. You are completely removed and truly get to embark on a culinary journey. It was until I downloaded the picture did I spot the Chef, Corey Lee, in my kitchen picture. Holla! This guy and his masterpiece of a restaurant are well on their way to earn Michelin Stars all their own. Bravo Benu!

Benu

22 Hawthorne Ln
(at Howard St)
San Francisco, CA 94105
Neighborhood: SOMA

(415) 685-4860

www.benusf.com

Taste of the Nation LA 2010: Tasty & Fruitful

7 Jun

I am not sure about what I believe in but, without doubt, I know that I believe in synchronicity. I wrote in my UG and LA Goodbye post that you could see us, Josie and Carina, the OG UG girls at Taste of the Nation LA. However, then I had no idea how significant this event would be. For the last week, I have been up in Nor Cal apartment hunting and trying to get my new life in order. What I have really wanted to do more than anything is write on this site about all of the fantastic LA food that I have had in the last few weeks. I have been busy but on Friday night I finally completed and then accidentally deleted an entire post I wrote about the last night LudoBites 4.0. I was livid but had no time to fix it or rewrite it because I had to be in bed by 10:30P and out the door of my family’s house in Santa Cruz by 5:30A to make it to my TOTNLA volunteer duties back in LA. I was tired and after a very caffeinated Venti Chai and 44oz Diet Coke (which oddly enough was cheaper than the 24oz at the gas station) I was wide awake but with the need to pee every 20 minutes. I made it to the beautiful Media Park in Culver City just in time for my shift. I grabbed my volunteer shirt, went to the station, saw Josie and within minutes we were back to our old antics. We “worked” and, of course, began the day with the most healthy offering at the event…red velvet cupcakes from Sprinkles.

If you really want to know how bad I am, I went directly from those to a St. Germain Cocktail. It was my drink of the day and what I kept drinking even on into the after party.  Champagne, St. Germain, club soda, and a lemon peel was exactly what I needed on a sunny day after driving for 6.5 hours.

After some sugar, a drink, and the realization that I was no longer in a car with the need to pee, I was finally ready to delve into the food portion of the day. Just like last year, the food was beautiful, abundant and definitely did not disappoint. Some of the first dishes I had were actually my favorites and I don’t know if it was just me but I noticed a big crispy rice trend in many of the dishes and frozen adult slushies, both of which I loved immensely. The first dishes I tried were from a Culver City restaurant called K-Zo it was spicy tuna over crispy rice and then a spicy albacore roll. There was also a marinated albacore sashimi with radish and carrots that I loved. It was fresh, fatty, and oh so delicious!

Patina had a beautiful hamachi dish but I think it was a tie between K-Zo and XIV for the better sashimi.

Another common dish was meat and a starch or as Mattatouille said on Twitter, “Nice to see so many familiar faces at @TOTNLA. Food was good though too many beef/mashed potato the like dishes on a hot day.” Several  restaurants did it several different ways. Hatfields had short ribs over mashed potatoes with crispy rice, caramelized onions, and sea salt sprinkled on top. XIV had beef cheek with liquid corn on the cob. Tavern had a really nice piece of meat on a crostini with cheese on top. Lastly, there was the BLT Steak short rib tortelli that was another winner, it was delicate and well seasoned with fresh corn and mushrooms. Tavern was probably the most tender and delicious piece of meat, XIV had the most interesting side, and Hatfield’s was just a nice and solid dish. In fact it was really funny at the Hatfield’s tent because there was a huge line and the chef was thoughtful plating each dish an ingredient at a time. As soon as the meat was atop the mashed potatoes a guy in front of me in line was being polite and told me to take a plate. I said, “Thank you, but I don’t think he is done plating.” After we waited for the last three additions to be added, I happily took my plate first and this man in line with me looked very defeated. Thankfully this well put together dish cheered him up.

As previously mentioned, the other trend that I loved and supported were adult style slushies. They were refreshing on this hot day and alcohol is always a fantastic accompaniment to food. I had The Bazaar nitrogen Caipirinha and the cucumber adult slushie aka “Brain Freeze” from Marcel at Bar210

In attendance were some famous Top Chef Alum from Marcel to Michael Voltaggio. Michael did a live cooking demo for the event and I was unbelievably impressed by his dedication. He could have easily shown us an amazing and decedent dish to prepare but instead he really promoted the cause and did something much more meaningful. He made a healthy and delicious meal for 8 using $10 worth of ingredients. Also I never noticed it before but Marcel looks an awful lot like Ryan from The Office, although he is not this Michael’s crush. This Michael, Michael Voltaggio has another crush and that is ending childhood hunger. He was so impressed by TOTNLA and Strength that he got their famous apple logo tattooed on his calf, that my friends is dedication.

If you want to know about dedication, then I am the wrong person to ask as much as I was volunteering I was more interested in food. Josie and I had “Talent” on our name tags that wasn’t because we were the talent but rather we worked that station. It was our job to make sure the talent made it to  the stage and that the stage area was clean. The very funny Sklar brothers were the hosts and we offered to walk with one of them to hoard food for his wife and child who arrived late. While we were walking the tents, I ended up only getting food for myself. Side Note: the brothers had a funny bit about the TV show Hoarders and how they couldn’t delete any episodes of the show from their DVRs because they had so many memories of watching each of the episodes. Anyway here were some more of my favorites and even some Mission Fruition worthy dishes.

This one bite dish from Church & State totally allowed me to reach the elusive foodgasm. It was eggplant on the softest most delicate chickpea pancake. As soon as I took my first bite I reacted by saying “Baba Ghanoosh, that is good!” Another dish that I loved was no surprise, because I loved it last year as well. The miso ginger black cod in butter lettuce from Nobu West Hollywood is quite simply one of the greatest dishes ever. It is always perfect on hot days and Nobu has been doing this dish for years and way better than everyone else.

Another perfect dish that I loved was the Burmese melon salad from Susan Feniger’s Street. There were nuts, sesame seeds, fresh melon, and delicious coconut shavings that made this dish perfection. I love fruit and this dish brought me to fruition at first bite. Another sweet and seductive dish was the vanilla bean panna cotta from Mozza that came with fresh berries and a brittle. It was the creamiest panna cotta I have ever had and I loved that this dessert was not too sweet.

By far the most filling thing I ate was the hot dog from Fig. I had the one with pork belly and Fritos but I preferred the taco dog that Josie had with just about every taco topping smothering it. When we realized that we needed a picture of the two of us we each had a hot dog and I also had the lamb burger from Ford’s Filling Station (where I ended up last night at the unofficial after after party) in my hands. It was synchronicitic and something about yesterday just felt like old UG times.

The last Taste of the Nation LA event was an entirely different experience, for me, from the event this year. Both events had beautiful weather, delicious food, and both times I was overwhelmed by familiar faces and new tastes in my mouth. Last year, Uncouth Gourmands was just starting to make a name for itself and everything was exciting and new. I met new people, famous chefs, and reached multiple mission fruitions in my mouth. This year I arrived and it was more about closure. Yes, the food was fantastic and it was a good cause. But I really wanted to see old and new friends and say goodbye before I make my move. I rushed for that aspect of the event rather than just the food. I really feel that in going yesterday it made me more ready and able to move on. I have had a ton of amazing LA restaurants experiences, many of the restaurants were featured at this event, in the last few weeks to share with you and perhaps I needed this closure to start the ball rolling on this new site, more blogging, and my new life. I have already proved that I will drive down from NorCal in the wee AM morning hours and trust me a move to SF will not stop me from attending Taste of the Nation LA 2011…this is THE food event of the year! Just to tie it all together and prove that life really is synchronistic as I was downloading photos of the event on iPhoto I hit the Last 12 Months folder and this picture of Josie and I was taken exactly one year ago yesterday. We are still girls eating hot dogs but we are eating our own dogs and heading in two different directions.