Friday, December 3, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth

For the past year I've been a passhole. I've held an annual pass to Disneyland in Anaheim, California and I have enjoyed the hell out of it. The reasons why I go are many, but the reason why I keep coming back has a little bit to do with the food. Here's a list of some of my favorite things and places to eat, keep in mind I haven't eaten everywhere and I am not including the Disneyland hotels or Downtown Disney.

Dole Whip
A magical soft serve sorbet made from Dole pineapples, only found outside of the Enchanted Tiki Room. Completely refreshing and completely addictive, best enjoyed with popcorn or while watching animatronic birds click and sing above an enchanted fountain.

The Monte Cristo
Best known served at the Blue Bayou, which is the restaurant next to the legendary Club 33 and inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Definitely worth visiting once or twice, if only for the ambiance. Make a reservation way ahead of time for best seating.

Freshly popped. Need I say more? The black pepper popcorn in California adventure is also good but becomes too intense after a while.

Soup/Gumbo/Chowder in a Bread Bowl
Best in California Adventure, right where they bake the bread. The line is longer but it's better than you'll find in New Orleans at the little gumbo stand.

Mickey Mouse Beignets
That lovable scamp may just be most lovable when deep fried and coated with powdered sugar.

Cream Cheese Filled Pretzels
Delicious. Sweet inside, salty outside, warm and delicious.

Corn Dogs
Famous and deservedly so. I never enjoyed a corn dog until I had one here. I like them best in Frontierland where they are served with apple slices to make you feel like you shouldn't hate yourself for eating such a deep fried calorific treat.

I have had very few bad meals at Disneyland. I will warn you away from their mediocre chicken tenders, as well as their drenched-in-dressing salads. Honorable mentions for this list include french fries, churros, ratatouille, stir fry tofu bowls, and anything from the mexican places.

Happy eating fellow Mouseketeers!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

To all the Girls I've Loved Before

Many of my greatest stories involve people I have loved and many of these stories do not portray them in a flattering light. When you tell a story in person you have control over your audience, you can tell who is in earshot, you can tell who you are talking to and usually know who they know. Word of a story can travel, but it usually not very far. With the internet you never know. Everything is public and this is frequently forgotten, but not by me. How can you tell a story about a pathological liar, when he could easily read it? How can you tell a story about someone afraid of food, when he will see the link and the subject to your food blog. Some people have a good sense of humor. Some people don't. One thing I never aim to do with my writing is hurt anyone, but what you think of as endearing or mean without offense, can attack someone's weakest point.

For six months I dated someone with cibophobia, fear of food. There was a list of food items he would eat, and he was terrified of anything else. Perhaps it came from his weak stomach and the fact that he would constantly claim to have food poisoning after meals that left me completely fine. Regardless, it meant that the idea of going to a new restaurant filled him with fear, loathing, and usually an upset stomach. He would scan the online menus of restaurants for items he could eat, he would order items without sauce and would stick to the mainstream chain menus that he had eaten his entire life. I couldn't cook for him, due to his fear that he wouldn't like what I made. Perhaps it was his grocery-store catered Thanksgiving dinners, perhaps it was constantly eating out, perhaps it was his lack of exposure to vegetables, but even the idea of a new sauce would send him into a frenzy.

He went to therapy for it, found that he still didn't want to eat cheese, and never went back. With one standard dish he could order at each type of restaurant, he could at least give lip service to eating out with friends, but the amount of plain burgers and substandard Jewish deli sandwiches, eventually began to drain me.

I never realized how much I enjoy eating new things and going to new places as much as after I stopped dating him. Once the worlds of Korean, Caribbean, Japanese, and all the strange foods that one can find in Los Angeles were re-opened to me, I found that life tasted sweeter, spicier, more bitter, more sour, and had much more umami*, and not just when it comes to food.

*a category of taste known initially only in Japan which refers to savory, brothy, or meaty. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

On Chain Restaurants

Last night I downed appletinis and fried green beans with "wasabi sauce", "pot stickers"*, boneless buffalo wings, and a chicken quesadilla at the flashy institution known as T.G.I. Friday's. No longer does TGIF mean the upcoming weekend or even ABC's Friday night TV line up that included Boy Meets World, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the latest incarnation of the Olsen twins, but a restaurant serving mediocrity.

I like to think that for the most part, restaurants have multiple locations because they are so good that one location can no longer serve their customers completely. In the case of corporate chains like Friday's, it's awkward sister Ruby Tuesday, Red Robin, Outback Steakhouse, etc etc etc. What they end up serving is consistency. It's the standardization of the menu, restaurant, and ambiance that draws the crowd. I will acknowledge that like all chain restaurants, there are better and worse locations. My mother used to live near the Denny's at Denny's corporate headquarters and swears that it was some of the best breakfast food she's ever eaten. However most locations of most national chain restaurants are incredibly mediocre.

Do people who live within 10 minutes of a coastline with restaurants serving up the daily catch go to Red Lobster because the food is good? Or do they go because they know exactly what the Cheddar Bay Biscuits are going to taste like. I'm referring to people who live in cities or places filled with good restaurants, not places where The Olive Garden is the nicest and most delicious restaurant around. I have been to these places. I have eaten at many Olive Gardens there.

Humans fear the unknown, in some cases to the point of phobia. There are people who refuse to eat at unknown restaurants or unknown foods, but for the mass of people who enjoy trying new cocktails, eating at new trucks filled with food, and finding the most authentic and delicious ethnic foods, what place do these restaurants have? An article on NPR which I can't currently find told me about a group of young professionals in the hip Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington DC who started going to happy hour at TGI Friday's ironically. They still go every week. "When does it stop being ironic and start being delicious?" asked the article. I'm not sure.

Perhaps it's the constant wave of nostalgia that pop culture rides. The never-ending re-makes, the T-shirts of characters we loved as children, and the restaurants that our parents dragged us to when we were younger? The restaurants haven't changed, but we're facing more and more crises; jobs or lack thereof, relationships or lack thereof, family or lack thereof, not to mention the stress of just existing. Perhaps the comfort of a place that still serves a never ending pasta bowl, is just what we need.

* quotations indicate mere passing resemblance to the food they are named for

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Burgers and Pie

Across the street from my work is a Los Angeles institution, The Apple Pan. Famed for their hickory burger, they are a little slice of lunch counter heaven on Pico in Westwood. Their menu is only one page and includes very little, most people order the Steakburger or the Hickory Burger, and French fries. The French fries are crispy and delicious, and the burgers include a lot of quality beef and a huge slice of iceberg lettuce which really cuts the deepness of the dish and makes you feel like less of a bad person for eating a giant burger with a giant plate of fries. 

The key to the Apple Pan is the ambiance, the men working the counter have been doing so for years, and adeptly take your order, deliver your food, constantly refill your drink, and keep the counter moving. It's frequently standing room only and don't forget to order pie. Their cream pies are the best even though their apple pie is the golden standard.

The Apple Pan
10801 W. Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Closed Mondays

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Real Animal

Every month my boyfriend and partner and crime Eron and I alternate choosing a restaurant, choosing a place for drinks or something special afterwards and hosting a date. The dates range widely depending on our budget at the moment. This month, for our slightly more special six month anniversary, Eron took me to Animal.

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo are the chefs behind Animal. They have been awarded with accolades and press attention for their restaurant as well as their book, Two Guys One Pan. The menu is heavy on all parts and kinds of meat, and is created using the products of local farms. The menu changes daily according to what's fresh as well as the whims of the chefs.

We started the night with the Quail Fry with collard greens, slab bacon, and grits. This decadent take on Southern cuisine was tender and crispy, though somewhat difficult to eat politely. I struggled taking the meat off the tiny bones with the suddenly too-big fork. 

The next course was a dish that can only be served in LA, and only in the summer; Heirloom tomatoes with blue cheese and cornbread. The tomatoes were what all tomatoes want to be, but only a very few ever will.

The next course, which overshadowed the others was the seared foie gras over a biscuit with maple gravy. It was overwhelmingly rich and decadent, tastes that I savored and absorbed, shushing my boyfriend while I closed my eyes to taste the sweetness of all three levels of fat. What really made this dish special was the pepper on top. Without it, it could have been too rich and too bland but the pepper helped it to step back, and helped me to enjoy it. This is one of Jonathan Gould's 99 things to eat in LA before you die, and with good reason!

Still hungry (portions are small) we ordered the Foie Gras Moco Loco. Imagine if you will, Rice, then hamburger steak, spam, and seared foie gras with a tiny quail egg on top. Levels and levels of what meat is meant to be, soft, strange, and with spam. 

We finished the night with the chocolate bacon bar. The cream which was surprisingly savory, really made the bar what it was and I was disappointed there was not more. The dessert felt more like it was falling into the hipster trend of bacon with everything instead of doing something really revolutionary with the sweet and salty taste in the dessert. 

The white wine list was impressive, but I felt the red wine list was really lacking in the fun and interesting reds that can hold their own next to the food.

We rolled down the street afterward, full of fat but happy. Animal to me isn't a place to go every night, it's a bit too pricey, and definitely too rich to make it a weekly or even monthly affair, but a place I would go again for a special occasion, or if I really just wanted some delicious meat.

Animal Restaurant
435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Buying Produce in Los Angeles

Farmer's Markets have the best produce. This is the truth. They usually have good prices for the quality of food that they have, but if you're not looking to spend a lot of money it's not the best place to be. It's really easy to go overboard. The best farmer's market is in Santa Monica. They have the best produce you have ever had, and will usually let you taste it before you buy it. If they don't have what you're looking for they can usually direct you to a stall that does have it. This is where most top restaurants in LA get their produce, with good reason. There are other farmer's markets in Los Angeles, they are all good and definetly worth a visit!

Santa Monica Farmer's Market
Arizona Ave and 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA

Trader Joe's is usually affordable, occasionally has great unusual things, but for the most part I find that the produce is lackluster and doesn't have the best prices except for their bag salads. I really enjoy their bag salads, and I really enjoy Trader Joe's for a lot of things, but produce is not one of them.

Ralph's, VONs, Albertsons, Pavilions, Etc. All these places are fairly typical grocery store fare. Yes they will have everything but no it won't be in season, and you may end up paying for it.

Whole Foods is out of my price range.

Marina Farms in culver city is as close to a Farmer's Market as you can get on a daily basis. They have a tremendous selection of delicious looking, tasting, and smelling produce as well as inexpensive herbs and a great bulk section with lots of beans and grains and odd sauces, spices, and other additions to your latest creations.
Marina Farms
5454 S Centinela Ave 
Los Angeles, CA 90066-6964

My secret?

Korean Grocery Stores.

The produce is dirt cheap, and usually very fresh. 4 bunches of spinach for a dollar? $1.99 for a pack of organic blueberries? Their selection ranges wildly, but can include tasty $.99 watermelon. Most American items are ridiculously over priced, but they have them. I get out of there with two bags full of produce for $20, and my penchant for expensive shoes is just too great to ignore the glory in that.

I go to the grocery store in Little Tokyo, but there are Korean and other Asian grocery stores all over the city.

Little Tokyo Marketplace
333 S Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Broke? You'll love my latest favorite!

Black bean noodles are a korean dish, with braised beef, onion and a deep smoky brown sauce. It's not spicy at all, but totally filling and delicious. I don't even know the English name (Jam Pong?) but it is one of my top Korean food favorites.

I found a place that serves giant bowls of black bean noodles for $5! Also huge delicious minced pork dumplings, 8 for $5!

Protip: you won't be able to finish the bowl of noodles, and the pork dumplings (named King dumplings there) are delicious and huge. Bring a friend and split it, tell them you're sharing and they'll even split the noodles into two bowls. They only serve one type of kimchi at the restaurant but you're both only going to be spending $5 plus tip. I think you'll live.

Yu Ga Ne
698 Irolo Street
Los Angeles, CA 90005

It is the restaurant in the center of the parking lot for the strip center at the intersection of Irolo and 7th Street. The only english words on the sign are "Authentic Korean Dumpling" if I remember correctly.

Huckleberry Cafe

Huckleberry has become what many restaurants aim to be- the hot neighborhood spot.

Although I have never been in the afternoons, I have also never seen Huckleberry without a line. Frequently creeping out the door, the line to Huckleberry is part of the experience, waiting for your number and then swooping in and grabbing the next available table (never the other way around, let's not be assholes). Their menu is ever-changing and full of daily specials based on what is fresh at the farmer's market (where they get much of their produce).

My favorite part of Huckleberry is their pastries. The ingredients are put together in really solid, really innovative ways. The #1 thing to get is the Maple bacon biscuit. Some may narrow their eyes and wonder if the addition of bacon is just jumping on the hipster trend, but the combination of sweet and salty in the flaky biscuit doesn't even need butter.

Many of their pastries are adorned with giant pieces of fruit, never soggy, always tasting like the original fruit was made to taste. Their Cheddar chive biscuit inspires jealousy from all of Red Lobster. Their fried chicken was recently lauded as the best fried chicken in Los Angeles by Bon Appetit, I will get back to you with my opinion. I had their brisket hash bowl with fried eggs, I loved the greens put on top, but it was still very heavy simple food and not nearly as revolutionary as their pastries.

The interior of Huckleberry is large and airy with beautiful light and comfortable wooden chairs. The only problem with the interior is that it is loud. All the customers eating and waiting make it very loud and raucous. Despite this, the service is very good. Food comes out quickly and when they gave me the wrong item once they gave me my correct item in addition to the wrong item with a strong apology.

My recommendation? Go to the phone order pick up line, pick out two pastries, and take them to go, the beach isn't that far away! Or if you're at Rustic Canyon, order a dessert. You'll be getting the best of Huckleberry regardless.

Huckleberry Cafe
1014 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Monday, August 30, 2010

Special Maryland Update!

As some of you know, I went to High School and my family lives in suburban Maryland in the Montgomery county area. I recently went home for a visit, and wanted to share the top places that I have to eat when I go home.

Caspian House of Kabob
Although the Germantown location is no longer owned by the original owner, I still prefer it. Their marinades are delicious, their rice is spot on, and their yogurt sauce is out of this world (I like to eat it with a spoon). They are known for their kabobs, which you can order with rice, salad, or 1/2 rice and 1/2 salad (my favorite). I prefer the chicken, but all the kabobs have super tender high quality meat. They serve it with fresh baked flatbread and yogurt sauce. The food takes a while because they cook it after you order it, but to save some time we always call ahead and let them know we'll be eating in. They also have a location in Gaithersburg at the Kentlands.

19911-C North Frederick Rd.
Germantown, MD 20876

Crisp & Juicy
Come for the chicken, stay for the sauces. This is a chain of great Peruvian rotisserie chicken. They serve it with cream based hot or mild sauces, and everything I've had there is excellent. I tend to stick to the yucca fries, the plantains, and the black beans and rice but rumor has it the sandwiches are also spot on. The location I go to is in old town Gaithersburg. They also do excellent catering and it's always nice to have some extra tubs of their sauces sitting around as they go on everything. 

18312 Contour Rd.
Gaithersburg, MD 20877

Uncle Julio's Rio Grande Cafe
This is the place. I cannot get enough of this restaurant. I have only been to their Bethesda and Gaithersburg locations, but the parent company has locations all over the US. Their chips and salsa are utterly addictive, freeflowing, and can be taken home to boot. The chips are super thin, well salted, and flavorful and the salsa is spiced but not spicy, it includes lots of roasted tomatoes giving it a really full flavor. Everything else I've had there is amazing as well. We usually order the chicken fajitas, which includes some of the best spanish rice I've ever had as well as unlimited tortillas, onions, a jalapeno, beans, and pico de gallo and guacamole. Cheese and sour cream cost extra but are not necessary. The sour cream sauce for their enchiladas is delightful, and their tamales are really excellent. They serve great frog legs for anyone who hasn't had them and all of their food is really approachable, but excellent. It all goes great with a classic margarita, or their frozen sangria. At least come here for happy hour and enjoy the chips and salsa if nothing else. They get crowded around the dinner hour, but with call ahead seating, you can put your name on the list before you leave the house

231 Rio Boulevard
Gaithersburg, MD 20878

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I should have done this first. I should have told the internet how much I love Chego, my current favorite restaurant in the whole entire world. If I had to eat at one restaurant every day for a month it would be Chego.

Like the Kogi truck? The best of the Korean taco trucks? You'll love Chego which is the creation of the same chef, "Papi Chulo" better known as Roy Choi. A chef with more credit than most high end restaurants, he is always around, and you can tell the secret ingredient is definetly love.

What I like about it
- Cheap! No Entree is more than $10! and it's a lot of food
- Loud Hip Hop music
- Great service! Mostly self-service but everyone is super helpful
- Bring a bottle of wine and some glasses! bring a bottle of beer! They don't care!
- Amazing rice bowls. Super tasty, and nothing you could ever make at home.

My Tips for eating there
- Be patient, it's busy sometimes
- Eat dessert! Get Appetizers! They're amazing!
- Ask what the specials are, that seemingly nonsensical name of a special might just be exactly what you want
- Share! Order different things and taste your friends' food. 
- Too crowded? Take it to go!

My favorite dish is probably the pork belly bowl, but I haven't been disappointed by anything. 
Happy eating!


3300 Overland Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90034
Overland Avenue just south of the 10 in Palms.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Callie Craves: Tea

Tea can be intimidating. There are a million kinds of tea and there's no Mr. Tea to make it just the way you like it. It doesn't have to be hard, here's my crash course.


With a Tea Bag.

Boil water, pour the hot water over the teabag in the cup as well as any sugar or sweetener. Do not put in the tea bag afterwards, this is much less effective. Pouring the water over the sugar makes the sugar dissolve into the water more easily. Steep for the desired amount of time. Remove teabag.

With Loose Leaf Tea.

You need something to put the loose leaf tea in. I use the Perfect Teamaker from Teavana- found here

I have also used those mesh metal tea balls, there are tea bags you can buy, and kettles are usually equipped to be able to use loose leaf tea, they include strainers.

Follow instructions to make tea with a tea bag.

To Make Decaffinated Tea.

Make a cup of tea normally. Throw out the liquid, use the same tea bag or loose leaf tea to make another cup. This will get rid of 90% of the caffeine. Note: most tea bags are not able to make more than one cup. Oolong tea makes particularly good second rounds of tea.


Hurry Up Method - make hot tea using twice the suggested amount of tea. Pour over Ice.

Sun Tea Method - put tea into room temperature water, you want to be able to put a lid on this. I like making it in mason jars. Leave in the sun. The next day you will have delicious tea!

Cool It Method- make hot tea. put in fridge. drink after it's cold!

point of reference: 8 oz of coffee has about 100mg or more of caffeine. All caffeine counts are based off of 8 oz. Black Tea

  • has 40-100mg of caffeine 
  • best steeped for 2-3 minutes
  • will taste bitter if steeped too long
Black tea is the classic type of tea. Black tea is what is found in Lipton's, Earl Grey, and is the typical type used in Britain as well as restaurant Iced Teas. If there is no description of what kind of tea it is, it's probably black. I prefer my black tea mixed with sugar and a little bit of milk.

Green Tea

  • has 26mg of caffeine
  • best steeped for 1 minute
  • will taste bitter if steeped too long or using boiling water, let the water cool briefly
Famous for its popularity in Japan and other Asian countries has recently become popular for it's antioxidant properties and possible weight loss properties. Comes in leaf form as well as powders which are frequently used in desserts and in cooking.

Yerba Mate Tea

  • has 80 mg of caffeine
  • best steeped for 5-6 minutes
Yerba Mate tea is a relative newcomer to American tea culture. It's famous for its presence in Che Guevera's writings. I like it as a morning tea, as it has more caffeine. Has lots of antioxidants and is traditionally served in gourds. It has a deeper taste than most teas.

Oolong Tea

  • has 30 mg of caffeine
  • best steeped for 3 minutes
Slightly fermented, and super refreshing in Iced form.

Red Tea and White Tea

  • have negligible amounts of caffeine
  • best if steeped 5 minutes
Red Tea looks different than one may be used to, and is also known as Rooibos, it tastes slightly deeper than other non-caffeinated teas, it is not actually tea. White tea is lighter and is actually tea.

Herbal Tea

  • no caffeine
  • best if steeped 4-5 minutes
Mint, Chamomile, and various other teas make up this large category. Most teas one sees advertised as having no caffeine fall into this category. Not technically tea.


  • caffeine content of tea is debated, but this is the general consensus. Tea has different amounts of caffeine when it is dry and when it has been steeped, and time left steeping also affects caffeine.
  • filtered water makes tea taste better
  • water temperature does make a difference, but that's fancy. This is a crash course.

It Begins

The point of this blog is to share the things in life that help me to be happy. Here are the major things that I love:

Eating Out- I am currently living in a city in the midst of a revolution, a food revolution. Right now in Los Angeles there are more and more unique, delicious restaurants that are more and more accessible. The atmospheres are comfortable, the prices are right, and the food is world notch. LA just beat out San Francisco in's showdown.

Cooking- I am a fairly simple cook, but I do bring my lunch to work every day and don't like sandwiches. Thus, I spend a lot of time cooking. Pastas, rice dishes and other fun things are what I live for. I'm a very carb-heavy eater.

Cocktails- Learning about different drinks and the different ways to make drinks is exceptionally fun. I include wine and other kinds of alcohol in this category, I love matching them to food and discovering new delicious things. You don't have to spend a lot of money to get great drinks if you know where to go.

Clothes- jewelry, make-up, shoes, all these things inspire me. I think about what I'm going to wear on any given day way more than any person should. Hopefully keeping a blog will keep me actually taking photos of the clothes that I wear.