Some of my favorite things…

I made my food commentary debut this weekend on American Public Media’s Splendid Table. You can check out the interview labeled “Eating in Los Angeles” here. I always get a kick talking about my favorite foods! So I thought I’d highlight some of my favorite meals vial photos with you.

All of these photos were taken by me and I was often accompanied by friends who are food lovers. I admit I am one of those people who take photos before they eat like the NY Times wrote about this week (thanks to friends who thought of me and sent me that article). Why didn’t the NY Times talk to me!? I’ve been doing this for years. Come to think of it, I think my food picture-taking really got underway when I was living in Minnesota. I wanted to capture it for my friends who weren’t living in the Midwest. Also, I think it was the time when I began to develop my palette more and appreciate more flavors – and miss the flavors for food I had back in California.

Let the food pornography begin…

Bacon… this is the reason I can’t be a vegetarian. Just hearing the word or inhaling the smoky scent… it makes me salivate and my taste buds go wild. The first time my tongue fondled chocolate covered bacon with sea-salt was in the summer of 2008 at the Minnesota State Fair. I admit it sort of underwhelmed me because I thought the ratio of chocolate to bacon was not right – too much chocolate weighed down the flimsy piece of bacon. So why am I sharing this with you? Well, I appreciate the effort and I hope they figure out the right formula to bring the smokey, sweet, and salty flavors together. And admit it, isn’t your mouth watering just a little?

Sticking with the Midwest theme, I bring you cheese curds. You know curds? It’s the stuff that Mary Had A Little Lamb talked about. Too bad Mary wasn’t eating deep fried cheese curds! This Midwest delicacy is something I associate with outdoor fairs and bars in Minneapolis. I’ve dipped them in ketchup, mustard, and cheese (yes, I’m talking about deep fried cheese in MORE cheese!). The secret to eat these bite-size melted goodness is to eat it right when it’s super hot. That first crunch when you bite into it – you get a little squirt of hot cheesy oil and a rush of salt… there’s nothing like it. Mmmm…

This meal cost me around $2.50 in Buscarias, Mexico. It’s basically 2 carne asada tacos with handmade tortillas and a can of Coke. It’s so simple and tasty. I loved this because I could taste each ingredient when I took a bite… the cilantro, the onions, the meat… and for me, the perfect taco should be washed down with a carbonated beverage – Coke is my choice! Not diet, not Coke zero… just the regular stuff, please. I heart tacos!

This dessert was a surprise to me. I went to eat at W.A. Frost in St. Paul, Minn. with some friends and decided to skip main course and go straight to dessert – don’t judge. I ordered an apple cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel – I figured I”d get some square crumbly piece of apple pie with some caramel then I see this – a thinly sliced crisp apple towering above the apple cobbler with fresh caramel drizzled on the plate. I love it when good food is good art.

I admit I like fine dining but  my not-so-fine salary allows me to plan those experiences sparingly – like for special occasions. However, a couple times a year there is restaurant week which allows us, the masses like you and me, to check out fancy-pants restaurants for a fraction of what it really costs. This year, I was lucky enough to try Craft in Century City, Calif. My friend and I ordered the tasting menu and for my main coarse… I got this prime rib. The meat was soft and succulent and the caramelized onion on top added a slight sweetness. A+!

I think the banh mi is the perfect lunch. The fresh crisp baguette cradles the fresh cilantro, carrots, and other tasty fillings which await your mouth to devour. It’s filling but not heavy. This banh mi is from Golden Deli in San Gabriel Valley right outside Los Angeles. Around LA, you now see gourmet food trucks selling these sandwiches for about $5 – which is almost sacrilege for me since I’d get these sandwiches for about $2 during college at places like Lee’s in Westminster. But you know what – I think I would pay $5 because it’s that good! Shh… don’t tell Lee’s though.

If banh mis are the perfect sandwich – ice cream is the perfect dessert. Nothing beats a really good hot fudge sundae with nuts, whip cream, hot fudge, and a cherry on top. This photo was taken at Hans’ Homemade Ice Cream in Costa Mesa/Santa Ana. I grew up with this place! Why do I love it? Well, besides the fact you can watch Hans make ice cream and the fact that it’s a ice cream shop where you can sit at a booth and enjoy your ice cream – it’s the flavor! It’s super creamy (sorry for those who are lactose intolerant – this may not be the place for you).  Also, Hans has a special flavor or two that he introduces each month depending on what fruit is in season. The place isn’t sleek or fancy – it’s really down home and looks like it hasn’t been redecorated since the 80s but that’s why I love it. You scream, I scream… we all scream for ice cream!

Hope you enjoyed some of my favorite things. I’m working on some posts from my trip to Korea and Hawaii so stay tuned. Cheers!

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