Los Angeles

PonoStrawberry-MilkshakeOn this very hot day I can’t stop thinking about the strawberry milkshake I inhaled for dessert at Pono Burger a couple weeks back. Strawberry was all time childhood ice cream fave flavor.

But somehow I abandoned it in adulthood in favor of the “more interesting” salted caramel, brown bread, you know the drill. But seeing those frosty glasses brimming with pink creaminess being carried across the room seduced me. I wish I had one right now.

Strawberry is Back!

I’ve passed the quonset hut at the corner of Broadway and 9th many times, wondering what it was but never stopped in. How lame! Turns out it’s Pono Burger and as treat we ladies of Good Food went for Pono’s first anniversary dinner to meet Chef Makani.

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bludsologoThis is like an April Fool’s Day joke; a BBQ joint write up by a vegetarian! There is a method to this madness. After all there’s more than one way to come at anything!

Here’s the theory; there are a lot of men out there who love BBQ. It’s such a manly man food. A lot of those manly men have wives, girlfriends, partners who are vegetarians. This makes going out to BBQ with their loved one difficult. Probably an adventure saved for boy’s night out. You know, after playing poker, shooting hoops, or screaming at TV skirmishes, they go grab a few ribs and some beers.

Ladies. I’m taking a page out of my book and handing it right to you. Want to make your hungry he-man happy, take him to Bludso’s BBQ and Bar on La Brea where you both will eat well and be happy. There probably won’t be any romance that night because he will be stuffed like the pig he just ate, but he will fall asleep with a bloated smile on his face and you will have won several gold stars! (To be cashed in later for jewelry, an i-pad, a weekend away with (or without) him or whatever your need might be at the moment.)

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foundry-on-melrose.jpgI hold restaurant grudges. Big time. If they take french fries off the menu and replace them with sweet potato fries (ahem, Melrose Bar & Grill), if I get sick from the seaweed salad (ahem, Reel Food Daily), if the take out portions are unreasonably small and unbelievably expensive (ahem, Nook), mark my words, I will never come back. EVER. But what happened the first time I went to the Foundry, might not have been entirely their fault.

I was starving and jet-lagged and I was with my then new, "not-quite-boyfriend" with whom things were getting increasingly awkward. We ordered vodka sodas while we waited for our table that wasn't quite ready, plopped ourselves into bar stools and took a much-needed sip of . . . tonic. I hate tonic. I'm actually allergic to tonic, but no one ever believes me when I say that. It was an honest enough mistake and was quickly corrected. But when we finally sat down, I noticed there were only four things on the menu. Four. Something with duck confit, some kind of lamb situation, veal and chicken. They were out of chicken. So Mr. Wrong left some money on the table, politely explained that I'd just gotten off a plane and we needed something a little less . . . fussy.

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wilshireoutsideLiving in LA is easy. Eating out here is hard. Sure you can wear whatever you want, and reservations for most places aren't necessary, but the high prices for ho-hum food and lackluster service by kids waiting on you while waiting for their big break (this is not a myth) mostly keeps us at home where the food is at least warm, the company enjoyable and (for us) the wine cellar filled with lovely selections. When we want a fix of beautiful, inventive food, we just turn on Top Chef and watch the pans fly. That's where we discovered Nyesha Arrington.

A contestant on the recent season in Texas, we couldn't help but root for her and Chris Crary, another LA chef to win the top prize. They both seemed, not only genuinely talented, but to be decent people as well. Which is not, by the way, a requirement for a chef, though it probably helps in the kitchen and certainly when you're on reality TV. Unless you want to be cast as the villain. They say all publicity is good publicity, but that is surely a double-sword when you're "playing" yourself. Regardless, we would be able to taste their food and, yes, the fact that we saw them on TV did sway us to go to their respective restaurants. Actors are a dime a dozen. Someone who can cook perfect pork belly truly has my attention.

We met Nyesha at LudoBites 8.0 while she was waiting to be seated. We felt a bit silly, nervous and dorky approaching her to chat, but she was incredibly gracious and I think a bit surprised to be recognized. (She was not eating yet. We would never be so rude as to interrupt someone in that manner.) We told her how impressed we were with her kitchen skills, especially during the Last Chance Kitchen segments, and promised to come into Wilshire soon. (She's the executive chef.) We had been there once - before she took over the kitchen - and enjoyed the experience, so now we were doubly excited.

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hatfields_logo.jpgMarriage is a beautiful thing: the union of two people who perfectly complement one another.  So be it with food.  And what better way to appreciate them both than at Hatfield’s, an epicurean labor of love for husband-and-wife chef team Quinn and Karen Hatfield.

Due to both poor time management and navigational skills, we arrived unfashionably late on a Friday night.  Despite our tardiness, we were graciously welcomed like old friends, albeit old friends who are known for being late.  Bourbon, lemon juice and prosecco played nice (for once) in the perfect, pre-dinner French 95 cocktail.  Flaky cheddar biscuits were served with perfectly spread-able butter, and it is well known that butter serving temperature is an art form not easily mastered.  By the time our delightful amuse bouche of quail eggs and parsnip soup made its way over, we knew we’d be back.

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