Little Sister, Manhattan Beach, CA

Little Sister is so good that on a recent trip to Los Angles I had to visit the spot twice. The best dish has to be a whole lobster deep fried salt and pepper style.

IMG_0063.JPG

If you save part of the body they will take it back and turn it into an excellent, eggy fried rice that is served in a hot bowl and gets crunchy on the bottom (everybody knows my kryptonite is crispy rice).

IMG_0064.JPG

I don’t have any other photos because I was enjoying the excellent company – but a papaya salad with grilled shrimp, the shaky beef, the grilled pork spring rolls and the ma la pickles were also excellent. If I had one tiny bit of criticism it would be that some dishes could have packed a little more heat. But that won’t keep me away next time I’m by the beach (which is hopefully soon)!

Starry Kitchen, Los Angeles

Go to this place and eat chili crab with beer beignets. I shouldn’t need to say anything else, though actually the other food is fantastic and innovative too (I just can’t stop thinking about that crab meat in addictive fiery sauce). The quirky location inside a dive bar adds tons of character too. P.S. You have to call 24 hours in advance to get a crab.  The answering machine will tell you they aren’t open.  Don’t believe it. Leave a message or call from a mobile phone so they can text you back!

IMG_5077.JPG
FullSizeRender

Ad Hoc Fried Chicken

If you’ve heard me talk about the time we ate at Ad Hoc in Yountville then you’ve probably heard me say that the fried chicken was life changing. I’m not the only one who thinks this:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Rosemary-Brined-Buttermilk-Fried-Chicken-368790.
Seriously. Crispy skin and super moist meat absolutely bursting with flavor – it’s the perfect combination. I think about it often. But, to my great chagrin, I can’t just fly back to California whenever I have a craving for some chicken. So this weekend we decided to make it at home.

We followed this Food and Wine recipe almost exactly: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/lemon-brined-fried-chicken  (I cut up the chicken before the brine step not after, we used a deep fryer, and I threw in a few extra wings).  The brine was key. The chicken was so moist and flavorful. The batter came out crunchy and golden brown under the watchful eye of the Bob who manned the fryer, though we did find that the pieces that had a thinner coating were more delicious. It wasn’t AS good as it was at the restaurant, but it was an excellent reproduction and certainly a successful first at-home attempt. So I leave you with some pictures and some thoughts about fried chicken generally (or rather a list of do-not-dos): don’t take the skin off, don’t put cornmeal or corn flakes in the batter, don’t make chicken fingers and call it fried chicken, don’t serve me breasts, do not use less than excellent meat just because you’re frying it …

photo1

photo2

Doggies like it too!

photo3

Waterloo & City

IMG_2292

It was high time I made it out to this charmingly named British gastro-pub in Culver City seeing as my little brother works in the kitchen. If you think this is going to be a biased good review you should know he gets no breaks from me.  Even though he did send out tons of free food. Starting with a plate of house-cured meats all of which were delightful.  The show stopper was the head cheese (which I wouldn’t have ordered on my own) but ended up being perfect, unctuous, porky, fatty goodness. Everything else was also excellent except something called beef drippings which was just a very salty beef gelatin.  Not that it doesn’t sound up my alley but it was just too salty for me.

For starters we went with the hamachi crudo with poached rhubarb, jicama, and tamarind dressing and the fried octopus with shishito peppers, potatoes, and squid ink aioli.  I usually think dishes that sound like this are trying to do too much. But in both cases this time it really worked.  the octopus was tender and smoky and and the peppers added just the right amount of heat to cut the aoili.  The hamachi was ocean fresh and the jicama added just the right crunch. Along with the head cheese these two were my favorites of the night.

IMG_4226

And then I don’t know what happened.  There was a parade of food and sparking wine. I can’t even remember everything we ate. There was a springy pasta dish with excellent morels and another that was redolent of smoky bacon, there was sticky toffee pudding, and popcorn ice cream (really cool because it tasted just like popcorn and also good!).  Even though I swore that night that I would never eat again, I can’t wait to go back and try some of the other offerings especially an Indian butter chicken pizza and of course some beef wellington.

As an aside, I think I should also note that this restaurant has the coolest wallpaper I’ve ever seen.  I really want it for our powder-room for that day (far far in the future) when we remodel. What is it you ask? Oh just a classic looking toile by Timorous Beasties depicting London muggings and the like.