Tag Archives: foodie

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Dogs and Cats Join Forces with Burgers and Beers at Plan Check

This post originally appeared at FlyandDine.com

If you’ve ever wondered what a meal heavily seasoned with cuteness tastes like,  LA gastropub  favorite Plan Check has the answer waiting for you this month. From June 10-July 10th, they are offering their latest menu collaboration with Hello Kitty creators Sanrio. For $39, diners will get a 5-item meal featuring the dog and cat duo of Pompompurin and Chococat.

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Holding up the savory core of the meal is the Pompompurin Grilled Sausage Sausage sandwich, made with house blended sausage, and topped with kimchi slaw and kewpie cilantro mayonnaise (kewpie mayo is a popular Japanese condiment made with rice vinegar instead of distilled vinegar). The whole thing is served on Plan Check’s signature crunch bun emblazoned with the image of the stylist beret-wearing puppy character.

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On the side, dig into Togarashi potato chips –  essentially Yukon gold potato chips seasoned with a Japanese spice mixture. Accompanying them is a very Plan Check version of mac and cheese, made with Americanized Dashi cheese, bread crumbs, and parmigiano reggiano to form a creamy, delicious umami bomb. Definitely plan to be begging your server for seconds on this one.

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Heading into dessert, you’ve got a very Instagram-worthy Chococat cookie served with vanilla ice cream, and a Vanilla cream soda with whipped cream adorned with the chocolate powder likeness of Pompompurin.

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Diners will leave with a full belly, melted heart, and boosted karma, because a portion of the meal proceeds will be donated to L.A. Love and Leashes,  an animal adoption space created by non-profit Friends of LA animal shelters.

The 2nd Annual ChewNtell Edible Gift Guide

I just took a glance back at my very first post (Gift Guide Numero Uno), almost a year ago to the day. It unsurprisingly confirmed one thing for me -my enthusiasm for all things tasty hasn’t wavered much in the last year . I still want to force feed my favorite foods to friends, and a gift guide is still a much kinder and palatable way of doing so (pun intended, of course). The fact is, I spent a good bulk of this last year trying to have as many new food experiences as possible, discovering along the way all the great edible items out there that people are putting hard work into making.  It makes me so happy to share the “fruits” of my labor with you, and for you to share them  with other people (or hoard them for yourself – I won’t judge). The holidays are a perfect time for this to happen. So,  if you have someone (or two) on your list that loves delicious food, be happy….your holiday shopping just got a heck of a lot easier.  I’ve compiled a list (and snapped beauty shots) of my tastiest discoveries of 2014….click on the names for links. Happy shopping!

Baia Pasta

photo 6 Okay, so….I freakin’ LOVE Baia pasta.  These guys are fighting the good fight in reminding the world that gluten consumption is a damn good thing.  Based out of the Bay area, they have crafted some of the tastiest noodles I have had the pleasure of eating. What really sets them apart is their  beautiful varieties of cuts – accordions, spinners, and mohawks, oh my! They are 100% organic, and they offer flavored pastas that will really take your homemade pasta dish up a notch or two. I tried their new Ajo & Olio(aka garlic & habanero) flavored pasta  for the first time a few months ago, and it was a spicy, garlicky party in my mouth. That pretty much cemented them in the #1 spot as my top pasta provider.  It’s worth mentioning that the folks at Baia are super nice….so nice, in fact, that they want to give you guys 15% off your online purchase! Enter CHEWNTELL at checkout, and try not to feel smug you got the best pasta money can buy at a discount.

 Compartés Chocolate

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If there was such a thing as a Chocolate Bar Beauty Contest,  Compartes would shut the whole thing down and send the other bars home crying.  With some of the prettiest wrappers you’ll ever lay eyes on and an array of uniquely exotic flavors , these bars have both style and substance.  Handcrafted in small batches here in the City of Angels, each of these bars feels like you are unwrapping a present sent down from the gods of chocolate. So, your shopping for that choco-lover in your life is pretty much done-zo, and you don’t even have to bother putting a bow on it.  With flavors like Donuts and Coffee milk chocolate, Cereal Bowl white chocolate, and Thailand (Ginger & Lemongrass) Dark Chocolate, your biggest problem will be keeping these bars under the tree and out of your mouth.

Laguna Salt Company Smoked Salt

photo 3The fact that I only discovered the magic of smoked salt this year is something I’m almost ashamed to admit publicly. It is, without question, a serious pantry game-changer.  Salt is already the #1 most important ingredient in your kitchen, but smoked salt is an awesome and dynamic way to change up your cooking.  Avocado toast was  the “it” girl of the food world this year, but have you tried it with a sprinkle of smoked salt? Better. Scrambled eggs? Better with smoked salt. Roasted veggies? Better with smoked salt. Hell, I even put it on chocolate chip cookies. There are a ton of different smoked salts out there, varying by which types of wood they are smoked with. After trying extensive “research”  my favorite is Summer Smoke salt from Laguna Salt company. It is smoked with pecan, red oak, alder, cherry, hickory, maple, and mesquite woods.  Apparently that’s a truly winning combo – so you can put that in  your dish and smoke it!

Flying Disc Ranch Dates

photo 5Here’s one I highly doubt you will find on any other gift guide out there….dates.  Not just any dates, though – the BEST dates you will EVER have in your life. Yeah, I know that’s a bold statement, but I have witnessed these particular dates convert date-haters into date-lovers.  For those who don’t know, I spend a lot of time scouring farmer’s markets in the LA area, sampling every possible bit of produce I can.  One Wednesday I came across an unassuming stand in Santa Monica, and what happened took me by surprise .  What looked like an average, everyday date crossed my lips and changed my life.  It was lovingly grown by the folks at Flying Disc Ranch in the Coachella Valley, who use eco-dynamic farming practices. Don’t know what that means? That will have to be a whole ‘nother post (and it’s worth knowing!).  They carry several amazing varieties, but the ones I have in mind are the Zahidi and Barhi dates.  They are pillowy, buttery bites of sun-fed happiness. If you don’t want to just take my word for it, Martha Stewart and Alain Ducasse (a fancy French chef) are both fans. The little sweet buttery babes are  just $5 & $8 a pound. The important thing to believe is that I want to be your foodie matchmaker, and this is one blind date you can count on ending well.

Plenty More

photo 2I have a LOT of cookbooks, and I love each one of them so much it practically warrants a DSM-IV diagnosis (that’s some mental health humor for those of you unfamiliar ). This cookbook came out two months ago, and I have barely been able to stay out of the kitchen since. I dare say no other cookbook has ever been as inspiring to me….the photos are absolutely beautiful, and recipes are filled with gorgeous flavors and ingredients. The fact that it is vegetarian is a minor detail overshadowed by the beauty of the dishes (and let’s face it, we ALL need to be eating more vegetables).  This is truly a wonderful gift for that person in your life who loves to cook (and hopefully they have an Amazon prime account or a Whole Foods nearby….there are some amazing exotic ingredients involved). So order away, and plan on “randomly” dropping by around dinner time, all the time.

Happy and delicious holidays to you all!

Chewing and Telling: LA Weekly’s Food and Wine Event

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 Sunday, March 9, 2014 was a momentous day for many Angelenos. Thousands pushed themselves to never-before-reached limits of physical and emotional achievement in the LA Marathon, running through pain and fatigue until they hit the finish line. I thought of them often that day as I, too, tested my endurance and willed my body to new limits of food consumption at LA Weekly’s 6th Annual Food and Wine event .

Situated in DTLA’s LA Mart, this impeccably curated event featured 40-plus members of LA’s all-star restaurant roster. Chefs from the likes of Animal, Bestia, and Lucques had tables featuring bites of their best culinary creations. The event had sold out about a week before, and as I arrived a I was alarmed to find a seemingly endless line around the block. It became clear that the potential for this to be a culinary sh**-show was running about 99%. I finally made it to the entrance of the event about a half hour after I arrived, and as I saw swarms of people crowding around tables for bites of the city’s best, I had a realization:  there was no way there was going to be enough food for all of these people. Everyone looked like they had fasted all morning in anticipation of gorging themselves. This wasn’t going to be a casual, take-your-time-and-savor-each-bite kind of food event. No……this was going to be a real-life Hunger Games.   People were hungry, and survival instincts were about to kick in en masse. Luckily, there is one area of my life where I feel I have Katniss-level superpowers, and that is eating. “What about the lines of people, the crowds, and just plain old etiquette“, you ask? To which I say, “May the odds be ever in their favor”.  Luckily I had my fellow food zealot Melanie in tow, and quickly we devised a plan to divide and conquer.

My first stop was at Mexicali Taco Company (which I was unfamiliar with), and I immediately met my first challenge as I was presented an escargot taco (aptly named the “Taco Frances”). Snails – not really my thing. But, I made a decision that this was going to be a day of no-holds-barred eating, and down the taco went. It was the right decision – the combination of the chipotle-garlic sauteéd escargot, cilantro-lime gremolata, micro-greens and cheese hit all the right notes and made for a delicious bite.
What ensued after this was a rapid-fire onslaught of samples, detailed here:

Superba Snack Bar: Fried chicken with pickled chilies and red wine vinegar glaze. Yep, it was as delicious as it sounds -crunchy, salty, and tangy.
The Oinkster: House-cured Pastrami sandwich. It was good. It was a pastrami sandwich – no more, no less.
Nickel Diner: a trio of delectable treats: Maple-bacon doughnut holes, strawberry-jam doughnut holes, and Nickel Ho-Ho’s. (The Ho-Ho’s were the best; I had to swoop back around for a second one)
Night+Market: Papaya Salad. It was tasty, to be sure, but I guess I had hoped for their all-star chicken wings, which are one of the greatest things you can possibly eat in this city.
Bestia: octopus carpaccio. Absolutely stellar. Beautiful presentation and so delicious. Bestia can do no wrong. (Extra props to Genevieve who was plating beautiful bites while very preggo. She makes some of the best desserts in town- that kid has got it made)
Animal: Big-eye tuna crudo. Oh my, this was delicious. John and Vinny have had one of the most beloved restaurants in LA for the last 5 years, and they are clearly still bringing their A-game.
Beverly Soon Tofu: Spicy Kimchi, and cucumber salad. Fresh, light, and delicious.
chi SPACCA: Spicy spreadable salami. Yes – spreadable salami. Genius…and definitely spicy. I have had this relatively new Italian heavy-hitter on my list to try, and they did not disappoint.
Coni’seafood: Ceviche and shrimp tacos from Inglewood’s renowned Mexican restaurant. Yummy.
Jitlada: Spicy tofu curry with green beans. This was really great – I don’t particularly love tofu, but it was delicious once Jitladified. Also, extra shout-out to them because they were one of the only booths with food left at 3pm
Starry Kitchen: Singaporean popcorn-shrimp with curry leaves and red jalapeño “shooters” – consumed while an asian man in a blonde mullet wig chanted for me to “down it!!” Of course, I succumbed to peer pressure.
AOC: Lamb tartare. It was ok. I don’t really like consuming baby animals, so this one was a little hard to enjoy.
Little Sister: A super-tasty green papaya salad with shrimp, served in adorable chinese takeout containers. I will definitely have to make the trek down to Manhattan Beach to check this new asian-fusion establishment.
Drago Centro: To be honest, all I remember was that it was some kind of pasta dish, and it was savory and rich. This is about the point where it was all starting to get hazy. But fear not! I powered through….
Angelini Osteria: The restaurant’s famed lasagna verde with beef and veal ragu. Yes, it was delicious, and I was so excited to try one of the venerable Gino Angelini’s creations. Again, though, baby animals were involved, so guilt muddled the taste of this expertly crafted bite.
Hinoki and the Bird: I was thrilled to see this restaurant participating as it has been on my “to try” list for ages. They were serving up an “avocado mousse” dessert – topped with chocolate crumble and beet-juice soaked chia seeds. This was both a simple and special creation, and re-affirmed that this is a must-try LA dining establishment. At this point, supplies were dwindling, so I ate it this splendid mousse concoction with a knife (pictured above).
Sqirl: YES! I Love Sqirl! (See my last post). These east-siders did not disappoint with a delicious sampling of their Crispy Kokuho Rose Brown Rice Salad – followed by a chocolate cookie. I love Sqirl.
Craft: presented a pretty plate of avocado, tomatillo, hearts of palm, and spiced peanuts. Though it seemed a bit “light”, I was grateful..as I was hitting a feeling I had truly never had before:

I could not eat one more thing. The idea of putting one more morsel of food in my mouth made me want to cry. You see, in addition to all that was listed above, there were samples of ice cream, candy, tea, and juice – all consumed in under 90 minutes. Luckily, my stomach has “trained” for this challenge over time, but I knew I had just crossed my own personal food consumption finish line. I came, I ate (…a lot), I felt enormous pain, and in the end….I conquered (with a little help from my friend – thanks, Melanie!)  It is worth mentioning that there were still several restaurants that I was sad I did not get to try (Allumette, Chichen Itza, Salt’s Cure, and Church & State, to name a few).

On a final note, the folks at LA Weekly did an amazing job of curating a wonderful event at a reasonable price. It gave a lot of people the opportunity to try great restaurants that may normally be out of their budget. Sadly, though, most of the vendors were out of food by 3pm….with two hours left to go. At that point, most  people began channeling their efforts in to getting wasted on the free alcohol, the only thing left. (Imagine the poor, hungry schmuck who showed up at 4pm in an effort to “avoid the crowds”). Maybe next year there will be a better system to ensure that everyone gets to eat. Until then, I’ll be continuing my excessive-food-consumption training, one meal at a time.

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  • Superba’s fried chicken,  Mexicali’s escargot taco, and Oinkster’s Pastrami Sandwich
  • Trio of treats from Nickel Diner
  • Animal’s Big Eye Tuna Crudo

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  • Bestia’s Octopus carpaccio
  • Cone’Seafood’s ceviche tacos
  • Beverly Soon Tofu’s Kimchee and Cucumbers