Friday, September 29, 2006

Food Photo Friday!

Parsnip wins ugly vegetable contest. See full story here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Comeback Kid

I have found that Butterscotch is the new comeback flavor. National Butterscotch Day was just last week(September 19th). I bought some pudding and made myself up a batch. The taste brought back a lot of memories. If you are from the Mid-West you must remember getting those round, individually wrapped, Brach’s translucent hard candies. What about hot Butterscotch sundaes? I remember sharing Butterscotch Lifesavers with my Grandmother. It was her favorite flavor.

The definition of Butterscotch is: “a type of confectionery made by boiling sugar syrup, butter, cream, and vanilla. In many ways the ingredients for butterscotch is similar to toffee; the major difference is that the sugar is boiled to the soft crack stage for butterscotch and the hard crack stage for toffee”.

Chefs in LA are using this flavor as an idea for new desserts. Here are some I have been reading about: Butterscotch Parfaits, Butterscotch Pot de Crème,Butterscotch Crème Brulee and Traditional Butterscotch Pudding.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Salt! Kosher

Kosher salt is regular salt that is named for its use in the preparation of meat according to the requirements of Jewish dietary guidelines. Kosher salt has half the saltiness of sea salt and is often the salt of choice in professional kitchens. It is a mined salt, free of chemicals and additives. It generally comes in flakes rather than granules. The flakes dissolve easily, and taste more salty than ordinary table salt. Due to the shape of the granules, there is simply less salt in a pinch of kosher salt than in a pinch of table salt. This is the kind of salt most often used on top of pretzels and on the rims of margarita glasses. Kosher salt comes in fine and coarse grain.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

“Happy no-bun-in-the-oven-for-the second-time-since-the-weddin’ birthday”

Can you say that 10 times fast? Last Friday night I celebrated my dear friend Erika’s birthday. We went to dinner and had a feast fit for a king (or Queen!). This birthday was a special one for dear Erk as this would be a non-pregnant birthday. She has only been married for three years and out of those three years she has been pregnant for two of her birthdays.

I made necklaces out of buns that were marked with a large “X” in celebration of our theme. We all wore them proud! The comments from the restaurant staff were hilarious. One person commented: “Is that some type of tribal jewelry?”

We went to Ciudad. It is in downtown LA (Yes I said downtown). I love going downtown for food. It reminds me I live in a huge city. Living in the beach communities you seem to forget how “city” we really are. Ciudad is one of the restaurants from Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Their other restaurant is Border Grill in Santa Monica.

The food: We stared with “Argentine Empanadas” and had a serving of the “Goat Cheese Fritters” to share. The fritters are drizzled with honey and are served with sherry soaked Bing cherries. There are layers of flavors with these-a great combination.

Our night was one of the first nights Ciudad offered their fall menu. They have a great variety on the menu. We tried many of the “Platos Principales” but our favorites were the “Argentine Gaucho Steak” and the “Tamarind Glazed Salmon”.

Ciudad is known for their Mojitos. The first round was excellent. For the second round, my Mojito tasted like a Long Island Iced Tea. I sent the second drink back but what came back was a watered-down Long Island Iced Tea. Bummer-if only the first bartender hadn’t left for the night.

Monday, September 25, 2006


I finally went! I was really curious about this new frozen yogurt joint that has made all foodie heads turn. And by no way was it a disappointment. After standing in line for 20 minutes on a Sunday night-the anticipation was killing me! Pinkberry is delicious. The yogurt is real non-fat yogurt but with less sugar than the traditional frozen yogurt (TCBY).

They have two flavors: plain and green tea. I like the plain best but I am usually a purist when it comes to food (or anything else for that matter). I added some raspberries and a small amount of granola on the side but the yogurt doesn't require any toppings.It is so delicious by itself. At the register they will offer you samples to try the two different flavors.

The yogurt is soft serve and has a slight tartness to it. It has an almost icy texture like a sorbet but it is creamier than that.

I was really curious about this newfound phenomenon as I experienced frozen yogurt as a kid and wondered if this would be the same as what I tasted back then. It was the early 70’s and I was in a health food store with my Mom when she handed me this treat called “Frozen Yogurt”. It had the same tartness as Pink Berry but it wasn’t soft serve. Back then-the yogurt was served in a hard scoop just like traditional ice cream. All good things do circle back. Pinkberry's yogurt did more than bring real frozen yogurt back-it is invading LA. We are all in love with it!


868 Huntley Dr
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 659-8285

*Update: Opening in Westwood soon!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Food Photo Friday!

His name is Lenny. And yes...he is chocolate.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Secret Breakfast Spot

I have decided to share a secret. There is a small place on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica called Il Dolce Café. There are a few seats out front or if you walk through the restaurant to the back they have a covered outdoor seating area. I call this place a secret because everywhere I try to go in SM for Sunday breakfast is always packed except for this little Italian place. My favorites on the menu are the basil parmesan scrambled eggs or the oatmeal pancakes. The food here is basic-nothing fancy. The seasoning is sparse so you may need to add salt and pepper. The egg dishes are all served with “Potatoes, Tomatoes or Fruit”. They have a surprising varied bread selection for your side of toast. They always seem open to substitutions or ideas if you don’t see exactly what you want on the menu. If you want a quiet simple breakfast on a Sunday morning this place is a great find.

Il Dolce Cafe
1023 Montana Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

No Salty Matter

Salt is such a HUGE topic. I started my research of salt and I found there is so much to learn and so much to tell!
So-I am going to do multiple postings on this subject and not limit myself (or you) to one posting.

I find myself getting swept away by all the salt types and buying each of them to see what I like. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a guide on salt use? I would like to do a “beginner’s guide” to help us all discover salt. So-for the next few weeks every Wednesday I am going to cover the basics of salt, salt types and their appropriate uses. Stay tuned! -Fer

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Weird Food

I read an article over the weekend from the PBS website. The article lists the following strange types of food:

A West African dish made of pounded yam formed into slimy balls, fufu is served with meat stew or any dish with sauce or gravy.

An acquired taste—and smell—durian is a large, spiny green fruit from South East Asia with a dense skin that protects a creamy center that some swoon over and some find putrid. Durian has such a distinctive odor (sewer-like is the most common description) that it has been banned on public transportation in some countries.

Dozens of people in Japan die each year from eating this blowfish, which has an organ containing a toxin so deadly that only specially licensed chefs are allowed to prepare it.

Do you have to be drunk on whisky to eat haggis? A Scottish favorite made from the chopped heart, lungs, and liver of lamb or beef and mixed with suet, oats, onions, herbs, and spices, then stuffed into a sheep’s stomach, haggis is not for the faint of heart nor the weak of stomach.

An Icelandic dish that consists of putrefied shark meat that has been buried for months, then dried for a few more months, Hakarl is typically accompanied by a shot of Brenivinn, a caraway-flavored schnapps.

Hu-Hu Grubs
A New Zealand native, the larvae of the huhu beetle can be found in rotting logs and eaten raw or cooked. Connoisseurs describe the grubs as tasting nutty or like chicken.

File this one under “If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em.” The nutria is a large semi-aquatic rodent that is indigenous to South America and was imported into Louisiana for the fur industry. Over decades the critters extensively damaged the state’s coastal wetlands, so officials decided to promote nutria as a cheap and readily available food source.

Named for the scrap odds and ends of pig it comprises (lips, snout, organs, etc.), scrapple is an old Pennsylvania-Dutch dish that was typically eaten at breakfast. Scrapple is comprised of a cornmeal mush made with the meat and broth, seasoned with onions, spices and herbs and shaped into loaves for slicing and frying.

So-after you read all of the above food descriptions the article takes a poll: If you had to choose to eat one food listed above-which one would it be? Please let us know! Fer will tell after I hear back from a couple of you!

If there are any of you out there that has actually eaten one of these food items-please let us know all about it!

Food descriptions above taken from the PBS article “Gonna Eat That?" By Marina Gordon and Brad Smith.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Popeye has seen some sad days...

I was in a restaurant this morning reading a menu when I overheard the next table having a discussion with one of the wait staff. “I would like Eggs Benedict,” announced the customer sitting in the chair behind me. So-the wait staff quickly replied back “Ok but there is no spinach today”.

At times like this I think about how scary it is that we depend on and always assume that our food is safe to eat. We bring groceries to our home, prepare them and then eat our meals without a worry in the world that it will make us ill. How lucky we all are that normally we can live this way. That is until times like these where something goes askew.


Read: How Ready-to-Eat Spinach Is Only Part of the E. Coli Problem

Friday, September 15, 2006

Food Photo Friday!

This is sushi made out of edible paper. Fancy. See:When Sous-Chef Is a Ink Jet

(Image thumbnail taken from a larger picture on FirstScience, credited to Stephen Orlick and Homaro Cantu)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Where's the Juice?

My pet peeve lately is cutting open a lime to find no juice. I squeeze and I squeeze and maybe if I am lucky I receive one squeeze worth. It may be the most beautiful lime on the outside but nothing to offer on the inside. I looked into what is recommended in selecting a juicy lime and this is what I found: Select limes that are bright green in color and have a shine to their skin. For the juiciest limes chose only the fruit that is firm and heavy for their size, because heavy limes will produce the most juice. Select limes with thin skins, avoiding the thicker-skinned fruit, which is an indication of less flesh and juice. Fully ripe limes will have lost their acidity and will be bland in flavor compared to bright green tart limes. Select those that are fairly smooth skinned, free of blemishes and do not have soft or hard spots.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Food "on a stick"!

Have you ever wondered how many foods are offered on a stick? I have always loved kabobs, corndogs and ice cream pops. But-have you ever considered alligator “on a stick” or cheesecake “on a stick”? I found that most “on the stick” food is from carnivals and fairs.

Watch this video!

The closest spot for me to grab some food “on a stick” is Hotdog on a Stick at Venice Beach. If you have never been or if you ever make it this way you should really try it. (This counts as one of my guilty pleasures-doesn’t it?) They offer cheese “on a stick” too. Let us know what you have eaten “on a stick”!


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Heirloom Tomato Salad

My favorite lunch spot is at Lucques. They have the best Heirloom Tomato Salad I have ever tasted. I was so curious to know the cheese they use and what was in their dressing. My wish came true. Suzanne Goin published a cookbook of Lucques favorites. Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Recipes From Market to Table. To my surprise on page 135 was my favorite salad recipe. Here it is:

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata, Torn Croutons, and Opal Basil

1/3 pound country white bread
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon oregano leaves
1/2 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
3 pounds heirloom tomatoes, assorted sizes, shapes and colors
1 teaspoons fleur de sel
2 tablespoons sliced opal basil
2 tablespoons sliced green basil
1 pound burrata cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
Cut the crust off the bread and tear the remaining loaf into rustic 1-inch pieces. Using your hands, toss the pieces with 2 Tablespoons olive oil, squeezing the bread gently to help absorb the oil. Toast on a baking sheet 12 to 15 minutes, stirring a few times, until the croutons are golden brown and crispy on the outside but still soft and tender on the inside.

Using a mortar and pestle, pound the oregano, garlic, and a heaping 1/4 teaspoon to a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the vinegars. Whisk in the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil and taste for balance and seasoning.

Stem the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half. Core the heirloom tomatoes. Cut them into wedges and set them aside. Then one by one, hold the remaining tomatoes on their sides and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Season the slices with the fleur de sel and some pepper. Place the slices overlapping on a large platter, spoon a little of the vinaigrette over them, and scatter a little basil on top.

Toss the heirloom wedges and cherry tomatoes gently in a large bowl with the sliced shallots, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, a pinch of pepper, and 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Taste for seasoning, adding more vinaigrette if you like. Toss in the croutons. Arrange on large platter. Scatter parsley and remaining basil over the top of the salad.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Over The Weekend

Berries were the find at the Farmer's Market over the weekend. I found Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries and even Fall Golden Raspberries. They taste just like a regular raspberry but are pale yellow in color. Strawberries are still “growing” strong at the market. I bought a few baskets of them.

As you know I am a huge fan of the Heirloom tomato so I bought three pounds to make a great salad for later this week(stay tuned!) One thing I have noticed lately are “Heirloom Potatoes”. This made me think-what is it about a fruit or vegetable that causes it to be called “Heirloom”? I researched it and this is what I found:

“The definition of the use of the word heirloom to describe plants is highly debated. One school of thought places an age or date point on the cultivars. For instance, one school says that it must be over 100 years old, others 50 years, and others pick an arbitrary date of 1945 that marks the end of World War II and roughly the beginning of widespread hybrid use by growers and seed companies or industrial agriculture. It was after the end of World War II that hybrid seeds began to proliferate in the commercial seed trade. Another way of defining heirloom cultivars is to use the definition of the word "heirloom" in its truest sense. Under this interpretation, a true heirloom is a cultivar that has been nurtured, selected, and handed down from one family member to another for many generations”.
Above excerpt taken from:

So-I find that I am more apt to believe the “Heirloom” is handed down from one family member to another for generations but that doesn’t mean the first definition cannot also be true-right? Because maybe the family handed it down for 50-100 years? Hmmm.

The Heirloom potatoes are delicious. I like to make them sautéed with some olive oil, a small amount of sea salt and a sprinkle of blue cheese on top. I find I love the combination of the nutty flavor of the blue fingerlings with the blue cheese.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Food Photo Friday!

Need a date for Friday night?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

"Heat Wave" Breakfast

This last Spring I went to Sicily. I was curious to know the differences between the mainland Italy and its island Sicily. I found Sicilians proud of their own history apart from the mainland. I could not wait to partake in Sicilian foods: Cannolis, Pizza and Granita. The Cannolis were absolutely amazing. The ricotta filling was so fresh and light inside the tube of pastry. Each end of the Cannoli is dipped into either chocolate chips or pistachios. In the past I would of never thought of ordering a Cannoli. I am too much of a Chocoholic and would prefer something chocolate related. That has all now changed since I have had a real Cannoli. If a restaurant offers a Cannoli on their menu I order one in hopes to find this Sicilian experience closer to home.

We stayed in Taromina, Sicily at the hotel San Domenico. This hotel was a monastery in the late 1800’s that at the turn of the century turned into a hotel. They offer an amazing buffet breakfast. Granitas aren’t typically offered many places in the states but I knew it was a coffee slushy of sorts. What I didn’t know is it was originally created for Breakfast to escape the 90-degree days that Sicily has for most of the hot summer months.

This beverage has perfected the “heat wave” breakfast. But-it is not just a slushy. It is made of espresso and ice(sometimes cream). The ice has a perfect consistency. Not cubes crushed but more like snowballs of ice that have been mashed that offer a soft cold ice that is slightly chewy and not at all too crunchy. It can be made with coffee or fruit juices. Most of the American recipes I have found include liquor or refer to this drink as a dessert. Remember-it was created for breakfast! Here is a simple recipe:

3 cups hot brewed espresso
*Use only a good, strong dark-roasted espresso for the best flavor
1/3 cup Sugar (Plus 1/2 TB more for the cream)
1/2 cup heavy cream

Put hot coffee in a bowl. Add 1/3 cup sugar and stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to a shallow pan and place in the freezer.

Every 30 minutes, using a fork, stir the Granita, scraping it off the bottom and sides of the pan so that it freezes evenly. Continue to freeze and break up ice crystals until it is completely frozen. This will take about 3 hours. When ready to serve, if you would like to add whipped cream, whip the heavy cream and add 1/2 TB. Sugar until thickened. Spoon Granita into chilled glasses and add a dollop of the cream on top. I have also had the cream mixed into the Granita before serving. Experiment and see what you prefer!


p.s. Don’t you love the word “Dollop”???

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Mitsuwa Marketplace

I finally went inside Mitsuwa Marketplace. It has had my curiosity for months! It was no disappointment. For someone like myself that adores food and packaging. This was a place of pure heaven. The food is all uniquely packaged in the Japanese way. I walked the isles in pure amazement. Everything is written in Japanese but with a tiny description in English underneath.

I think my favorite department was the meat/seafood where you can find it all cut into perfect rectangular pieces. Perfect pieces to make your own sushi or just add beauty to your own recipe. I bought Ahi and Salmon steak.

There are many dressings I am curious to try. I grabbed a jar of roasted sesame seeds to coat my Ahi tuna. I also couldn’t help myself but pick up a package of toothpicks that were beautifully packaged. In addition to the grocery, the marketplace offers a café, gift shop and book/music shop. On my next trip I plan to stay for lunch.


Mitsuwa Marketplace
3760 Centinela Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90066
Tel: 310-398-2113

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Top Five Picks To Eat Before You Die

Melissa Kronenthal of The Traveler’s Lunchbox set out a challenge for all of us food bloggers. Create a list of food bloggers' five top picks for things they have eaten and think that everyone should eat at least once before they die. This was a tough one. But I always love a challenge! I made a list of about 25 items and then decided I needed to just choose from my long list and not make up more ideas. Let’s face it there is so much food out there that would be so sad to miss! I thought about all of the fancy meals I have had in my life and when it comes down to it, as always it is the experience and the simplicity that wins me over. I did my best and this is what I decided (drum roll please):

1. Diced Fresh Fruit with Lime Juice and Red Pepper, Los Angeles, CA
I am in love with the fresh fruit cart. You walk up to a cart and pick two or three fruits that you would like to have together. The vendor dices them into bite-sized pieces for you. The fruit is then placed inside a bag with a fresh lime squeeze and a small amount of hot pepper flakes added to the top. The bag is then given a gentle shake and handed to you with a fork. My favorite combination is pineapple, watermelon and cucumber.

2. Freshly Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Tall Glass of Cold Milk
Does this require any explanation? I can’t imagine going through life without having tasted a hot chocolate chip cookie dipped in milk.

3. Coffee in Everyway Imaginable
I am what you call a coffee fanatic. I am in love with this drink. It is so versatile and so delicious. I love to experience all the different ways to drink coffee. In my travels I always look forward to the way each country or region serve and experience coffee. Everyone should try all of the different processes and see which one appeals to them the most.

4. Roasted Marshmallows from a Campfire
I grew up going camping. There is something so thrilling and fun about hunting for your very own perfect stick to roast your very own marshmallow. There are many ways to complete the roasting task. When I was very young I was a “burn it quickly, torch the mallow kind of kid” but as I grew up I learned the craft of slowly browning the crust to reveal the most perfect crunch on the outside and perfect “goo” on the inside.

5. Fresh Fruit Sorbets, Portofino, Italy
I first experienced fresh fruit sorbets in Portofino, Italy. They are simply amazing. In a small Italian restaurant, the owner will bring out a plate of today’s fresh sorbets. The sorbets are made of everything from oranges, bananas and lemons to chestnuts and walnuts. The sorbet is made from the fresh fruit that has been scrapped out of its skin. After the fruit is made into a sorbet, it is then placed back inside the original skin or shell and kept frozen. Even the small piece of skin or shell that was cut to allow access to the center fruit is assembled back as if it the fruit was never cut open in the first place. The chestnut version was my absolute favorite.

So-for all of you Fer Food readers...what would be your top five?


Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day Picnic

Say goodbye to summer with a Labor Day picnic...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Food Photo Friday!

Treat Street, San Francisco August 2006