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August 2, 2010

Quick Bite: Stuffed Squash Blossoms at Rustic Tavern

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Rustic Tavern, Santa Monica, Los Angeles. 2009.

July 27, 2010

Quick Bite: Tapenade

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Olive Tapenade, Fraiche, Los Angeles. 2009.

July 7, 2010

Los Angeles-less

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The powers that be have decreed that I won't be making my annual pilgrimage to Los Angeles this year.

What's funny is that, I dreaded going to LA my first couple times out there, but after getting my bearings - and a ton of recommendations from friends - I really came to enjoy it out there.

Sadly, I suspect the most work travel the job will be sending me on will be to the mothership in the depths of Office Park Land.

December 16, 2009

Lunch: Is Go Go Going?

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It's a testament to my priorities in the world that the first reports that Hideki Matsui was leaving the Yankees for Los Angeles, all went something like this: "What about Go Go Curry?"

The hazard of basing your entire business around a single free agent player is pretty clear. But then, we've all enjoyed the quirks that make this place so interesting. According to reports, there is no plan to close up shop, although a Los Angeles branch may be in the works and the owner maintains his allegiance to Matsui.

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Despite the recent abundance of Katsu in my diet, I decided to stop in yesterday to check out the scene on the ground.

There was no sign of a change in color scheme or Angels gear anywhere. The staff still wore Yankee colors and most importantly, they still give out free toppings coupons on 'Go' days, that is any date with a '5' in it.

Best of all, the Katsu is still wonderful, the curry still think and the new-to-me pork sausage makes for a tasty combination with the other elements of the meal.

December 15, 2009

LA: Metro Rail

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Back when I went to Los Angeles over the summer, I explored the LA Metro a little more. Last time, I was too intimidated by the lack of turnstiles to go very far in for a look. This time, I braved my fare-beating phobia and wandered in further.

As it turns out, payment seems to be optional all up and down the west coast public transit systems. Besides San Francisco, my western explorations this year yielded a bunch of fare cards that were never read, checked or even requested. It's an odd thing. More on that as Transit Week progresses.

As for what I found deep under Hollywood Boulevard, it was curves and arches and vast open spaces. There actually appeared to be people flowing in and out this time, although even with the traffic of a two trains coming in the space is so big that it seems like just a trickle.

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October 10, 2009

LA: Kogi

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I've been putting off my Kogi post (for months!) because there is just so much already written about the phenomenal hype surrounding the truck. You've heard it all before. It's been on the food blogs, the food mags, trend reports on the cutting edge and even on NPR. Yes. Food trucks are awesome. Yes. Many of them use Twitter. Got it. And really, more importantly, yes, Korean and Mexican foods fuse well.

So, here's the short version:
Long line, great food, totally earns the hype.

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I had two tacos, one with spicy pork, the other with short ribs and a pair of sliders. All were topped with shredded kimchi.

In hindsight, given that the beef on the sliders is that same as is in in the taco, I'd have made my second taco chicken or maybe have used it as an excuse to gorge myself on a kogi dog.

Regardless, much like the dinner the other week at Minetta Tavern, I walked away disappointed that the hype for Kogi seems to be entirely earned.

Being so good means that it's actually worth jumping through stupid hoops like standing in line for 45 minutes or having dinner at 5:30pm because you aren't important enough to score a reasonable res. And that annoys me, because really, I'm rarely willing to put up with that crap.

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The good news is that the little secret of the Kogi Truck is that they sell the same menu most nights at Alibi Room in Culver City. I didn't make it there on my last trip, but it's definitely on my short list of places to go next time I'm in Los Angeles.

September 30, 2009

Food Finds: Big League Chew

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Mitsuwa, Torrance, Los Angeles. 2009.

Who knew they still made this? It seems decidedly unwise to sell gum designed to look and chew like chewing tobacco. But there it is, still on the shelves somewhere.

August 30, 2009

LA: Santa Monica Pier

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The pier at Santa Monica sits on the other side of the Pacific Coast Highway from the Downtown area. Walking down the wide wooden pier reminded me of a mini-Coney Island. There are shops, a restaurant and a small amusement park. Buskers danced to Michael Jackson songs and off to the side a dozen people were fishing.

Down below us, on the beach, people played night Volleyball.

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August 13, 2009

LA: Japanese Toilets

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The Mitsuwa in Torrance has Japanese toilets! I wonder if the one in Jersey does. Not that I need one, but it would be pretty fantastic....

August 12, 2009

LA: West 4th/Jane

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In the middle of Santa Monica, West 4th/Jane sits in homage to a transplanted New Yorker's memory of Corner Bistro, a couple thousand miles away. I didn't get to go in, so I can't say how well the burger compares.

Apparently they just opened a couple months ago and got a fair amount of blog attention. Based on at least one site, which refers to it as being inspired by "NYC Gastropubs," it sounds nothing like the original.

Hell, the fact that there seem to be more than 5 things on the menu and a hundred beers available should tell you all you need to know.

West 4th/Jane
1432 4th St
Santa Monica, CA 90401

August 11, 2009

LA: Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs

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While it does seem as though I ate everything while in LA, there was one local delicacy I passed on: The bacon-wrapped hot dog. Oh, I've had hot dogs wrapped in bacon before, I just haven't had any that were 'griddled,' as seen here, on a baking sheet on the street.

As someone who has often celebrated street meat, it's probably dubious for me to draw a line here, but I was skeptical enough to pass it by. All I had heard about the dogs was that the local health department was down on it. I mean, bacon cooking at lowish temperatures in sunny California presents a few obvious concerns to me too.

But apparently there is a long history of these dogs in Mexican lore and particularly in Mexican communities in Los Angeles.

Personally, I've let my cautious side stop me from partaking in these in the past. But seeing the crisp bacon and smelling the aromatic peppers and onions, I was truly tempted. It's only the meal I had just finished that stopped me from finally giving one a try.

August 8, 2009

LA: Traffic

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August 7, 2009

LA: Musha Again

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I've got nothing new to say about Musha that I haven't already said. I had another great meal there the other night.

My only complaint for the evening was that the dishes should have been paced out a little better. Within 15 minutes all of the small plates we ordered were delivered and cluttering the table. It felt a little rushed and diminished the experience a bit. Otherwise, the food was spot on as usual.

Instead of yammering on some more about it, here's some eye-candy:

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August 6, 2009

LA: Pizza Mozza 2 Go

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Following the market trend that has popped up here and there, Mozza has opened up a shop a couple doors down from the Osteria. It's called Pizza Mozza 2 Go. The name is pretty straightforward, but the store is not just a takeout window to the popular pizzeria.

Nancy Silverton stocks the shelves in the front counter area with some of the key ingredients that she uses at the restaurants as well as some gems that she's managed to source on trips to Italy.

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In the back room, customers can wait for their pizza over a glass of wine. The waiting area looks awfully familiar to the New Yorker's eye, with marble-topped tables that look to be the same as those used in the large bar area at the front of Otto.

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And really, because I can't stop raving about Mozza, this is what I had for dinner that night. The housemade fennel sausage was fragrant and wonderful.

LA: How To Hail A Taxi

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Apparently, Angelenos require instructions for this very complicated task.

Update: LAist linked to this image the other day. Since holding out your arm is so difficult, texting may be the answer...

August 5, 2009

LA: Fraiche

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Last Monday, after we finished our main setup, we returned to Culver City to eat at Fraiche, a block away from Ford's. The food is primarily country cuisine from France and Italy, serving rustic meals in what under other circumstances could have been a romantic dinner. If I ever manage to come out here away from work and with Tammi, I would love to take her there.

Above is the Oxtail parpadelle I had. Oxtail is great for this sort of preparation. The meat shreds into pieces that fit just right on the fork with the pasta. The sauce was a puddle of broth that moistened every bite and hung along the face of the rough-textured mustard greens. The sweet meatiness balanced out the greens' typical harsh bitterness.

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To start, I had an order of Tete de Veau, which is a fancy way of saying head cheese, which is really just a euphemism for 'cow face and jelly.' It's the jelly bit that usually gives me a little trouble. Sometimes it's just a little too much texturally and lacks much in the way of flavor. It can just get in the way of the meat that I'm actually looking to eat. But when it's done right, there isn't too much gelatin and what there is of it, melts into a concentrated beef juice.

This was like that. The meat was firm and hammy and in thick chunks that fit well on the slices of bread.

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The meal was great and the space was nicely put together. We sat outside in the dining section of the patio. Right across from us was the bar's patio, which featured high tables and stools as well as a couple couches. I could totally imagine sitting out there, lingering for hours with friends after a meal.

Fraiche
9411 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
310.839.6800

LA: Poolside

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Really, after a long day on site, there's little more relaxing that hanging out by the pool. I never actually went in, but just sitting along the side, having a drink and feeling the evening breeze is one of the most relaxing things in the world.

August 4, 2009

LA: Hannibal

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I love it when a plan comes together.

August 3, 2009

LA: Homeward Bound

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Heading home tonight. Back in a bit.

August 1, 2009

LA Observations: An Industry Town

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Even the parking lots in LA reference the movie industry.

July 30, 2009

LA Observations: Preserved Cars

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I can't take credit for this observation. Honestly, I'd never noticed it until my colleague pointed it out: Cars seem to last longer here. Everywhere you go there are older cars. And not necessarily classic, iconic cars, but also entirely forgettable beaters like Hondas from the mid-80s.

According to my travel companion, this is related to the climate. In the Northeast, we've got moisture all year round, whether in the humid, stormy summers like this one, the rainy springs and falls or the snowy winters. It's a desert out here. In my experience, it really doesn't rain in Southern California. Presumably this means less water and rust damage.

The longer I'm here, the more I start to notice the random mixture of cars on the road. I suppose the fact that cars last longer makes it more affordable to live in a town where you have to have one.

July 29, 2009

LA: Ford's Filling Station

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When I told my travel companion that he might not make the reservation I made for Ford's Filling Station, he insisted that we would just have to go again later in the week. He -had- to go back to Ford's. I managed to move the reservation back a couple hours and we had a late dinner that night.

Like a lot of restaurants these days, Ford's menu is based on the notion of working with local, seasonal, quality ingredients. The restaurant is said to be the pioneer of both this philosophy of cooking and of the downtown Culver City area. Apparently, the area was fairly desolate until some investment in a local theater revived it. In a recent interview with LAist, Chef Ben Ford talked about how perceptions of the area have changed as well as his preference of sourcing food from the farmers market.

The food really shows the care that goes in it. My main dish, the Jidori chicken had a wonderfully crispy skin with remarkably juicy meat. The mashed potatoes and succotash on the side completed a great comfort food combination. I ordered a side of Mac n Cheese too, which looked fantastic, but after this and our starter, I couldn't eat another bite.

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We began with a long strip of flatbread topped with jamon serrano, cheese and caramelized veggies.

My only complaint about the entire meal was the order of Pork Rillettes. I found the grind to be too fine, leaving a pasty texture that didn't really work for me.

Overall, one disappointment out of the whole meal was perfectly acceptable. The meal definitely reinforce that Ford's is a place ot return to again and again.

Ford's Filling Station

9531 Culver Blvd. Culver City, CA
310.202.1470

July 28, 2009

LA Observations: Power Lines

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Most power and phone lines in New York have been underground for well over a decade. So long that I tend to forget that the entire world hasn't done the same. In LA, these towers are everywhere, cutting through the landscape for miles.

LA Recs: The Tower of Justice Returns

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Stephen, a.k.a. The Tower of Justice is a long-time friend of the blog. Last year he offered tips on where and what to eat in San Francisco and he has advised on LA Eats in the past as well. Below is an extended and updated list of recommendations. Note the liberal use of the term 'bomb-ass.' That's how you know it's real.

Here are a few options to consider:

Downtown

Near the Staples Center is Philippe's, which as you may recall is the birthplace of the au jus roast beef sandwich.  They don't serve it with au jus in a dipping bowl, but instead ask you how many dips you want--one, two, or three.  Get it with two, which provides you with enough juice to give the meat some flavor but not too much so that the french roll loses its integrity.  They also serve 10 cent coffee.  It isn't transcendent but it's novel.  At each table, you'll find spicy ass mustard or horseradish sauce (I can't remember), which is bomb-ass.

In Chinatown, which is about 10 minutes northeast of downtown, you'll find Empress Pavilion which has some great dim sum.

In Koreatown, which is about 10 minutes west of downtown, you'll find all sorts of good eats.  My favorite is Beverly Soon Tofu on the northwest corner of Olympic and Vermont.  It's a spicy tofu soup made with all sorts of good meat/seafood combinations.  The bowl is a mini-cauldron that is bubbling when it is brought to your table at which point the waitress drops a raw egg into the bowl so that it can add another layer of flavor.  If you go, order the pork/seafood combination broth and ask for it "regular" spicy.  ("Spicy" spicy is really too hot, to the point where it begins detracting from the meal.)

There is also a Kyo-Chon chicken joint in K-town.  I've been to Bon-Chon, which also recently opened a store in LA k-town, and I still prefer Kyo-Chon.

Two other places to think about.  One is Honey Pig, which is a korean bacon joint.  They have giant pans in the shape of an inverted cone placed over a gas grill.  The inverted shape allows the bacon grease to burn off and collect in a pool at the bottom.  They serve the bacon with all sorts of kim chee, all of which you can wrap either in some leafy green or a rice wrap slathered in sesame oil.  Be sure to save some of whatever meat you're eating because the wait staff will come and make fried rice at the table with the leftovers.

Another place to try is Park's BBQ, which is on Vermont, just north of Olympic (and around the corner from Beverly Soon Tofu).  I've never been to Park's but the word on the street is that this place has the best beef bbq in K-town.  I think they even offer kobe beef short ribs.  Yikes.

Mid-Wilshire

One place in the mid-wilshire area you may consider is Umami Burger.  I have a pic of my burger in my mobile uploads folder on FB.  It's more novel than profound.  My umami burger had a patty, shiitake mushrooms, and a parmesan crisp.  My sister had the green chile burger which was better, I thought.  I hear good things about the triple pork burger.  

Another place you might try is Loteria, which is at the Farmers market at the Grove shopping center.  Loteria serves up some bomb ass chilequiles.  The head chef there is often featured on KCRW's "Good Food" podcast.  

Westside
I noted Musha on your list.  Everything there is good, but here are a few things you MUST try:
Kakuni (slow-cooked pork belly)
Saba: this mackeral, which not everyone loves because of its extremely fishy taste.  I recommend this if for no other reason than to experience having the wait sear your fish at the table with a blow torch.
MFC: Musha-Fried Chicken.  Enough said.
Vongore Udon: this dish is a relatively dry udon dish with clams and mushrooms. Savory goodness.
Spicy Tuna-Dip: they mix up some sashimi grade tuna with some spicy sauce, and serve rice cakes on the side.  

Some other good items include the risotto, which they serve tableside in a big block of parmesan cheese; somen noodles, which are really clean-tasting; an omelette with octopus and soba noodles (I can't remember the Japanese name).

Another place in Santa Monica is Bay Cities Italian Deli.  Their "Godmother" sandwich with spicy peppers is legitimate.  

If you get a chance to swing through Westwood, I also recommend your swinging through Stan's Donuts.  They have peanut butter and chocolate and peanut butter and banana donuts, both of which are great.  I usually go with the banana donut because it has real bananas.

A day ago, ToJ added one more suggestion to this list of wonders,

"Check out Daikokuya in Little Tokyo. Bomb ass pork ramen. The broth is milky white from pork parts having been cooked in it for days."

Bomb. Ass. For real.

July 27, 2009

LA Recs 2: Laura's Finds

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This is Laura. She moved out to LA last year to go to grad school. From pretty much the minute she landed, I've been hitting her up to go eat at places I read about. As she was procrastinating during finals, she put together an extensive list of places she likes or has heard good things about. Here are the highlights:

La Brea Bakery La Brea and 7th St - Los Angeles REALLY delicious sweet breads, seating outside and a few tables only at that but great if you want to grab a cup of coffee and a scone or muffin or breadstick. $-$$ (for pastries...)

Campanile
La Brea and 7th St.
Same owners as La Brea Bakery
Good brunch on the weekends. Fancy place that is kid friendly. Website says brunch times during the week as well but when I went at 11:30 on a Friday they gave us lunch menu only. But that's ok because the mushroom and truffle omelet was still on there and it was YUM!
$$

Phillip's BBQ
Crenshaw just south of I-10
I haven't been here personally but I have seen the trough of meat (pork ribs, beef tip, chicken, you name it-they BBQ it) that my friends have ordered and it smelled good! You order in pounds of meat...and if they run out of corn bread then they just give you a whole loaf of Wonder Bread...mmm
$$

fraiche
9411 culver blvd
culver city ca 90232
310.839.6800
Really good specials and seafood! And wine. Kind of a fancy place, totally delicious!
$$$

Taco truck by the Ralph's parking lot
Glendale Blvd and Alvarado (just off the 101 N Alvarado exit)
Need I say more...great taco truck with like 5-6 salsas to lather on the yummy meat!
$

Chano's Tacos
Figueroa - North of Adams (East side of Fig)
Just a must eat when near USC...took me WAY too long to try this place out! Good carne asada burritos. Nachos are cheap kind w cheddar melted on top and bottom layers don't get any cheese but other than that they have great food!
$

http://www.wingstop.com/
Crenshaw north of The Cobbler Lady on the West side of the street
Just yummy wings in like 7 flavors with at least 3 dipping sauces at a cheap price, w seasoned fries and a drink you can't miss. 10pcs (2 flavors), w fries, and a drink for under $10. Eat in or take-out. One of the few places open after 10pm in my 'hood!
$

Mexican place down the block from Lyric Café
Great drinks and food is delicious! Pricing comparable to NY prices and gives a generous helping of food.
$$

July 26, 2009

LA Observations: Parking

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Besides all the smog and traffic, one of the effects of the car culture out here is the amount of space taken up by parking lots.

I'd never really thought about it, but those cars have to go -somewhere- when people aren't in them. And those places take up a ridiculous amount of space.

Being from New York, the idea of wasting all that space on empty cars is unfathomable to me.

July 25, 2009

LA: Food Recs, Part One

This year, I asked 'the network' (read: Facebook) for some recommendations as well as a couple well placed experts on the ground. The results could fill a month of eating even with an open schedule, so I don't know how much of it I'll be able to actually make, but I intend to try my best to put a dent in the list.

In addition, I plan to make visits to some old favorites, like Musha, Pizzeria Mozza and tonight, when my colleague with the car comes, it's Ford's Filling Station in Culver City.

I was going to collect all the recommendations in one post, but looking at them now, I'm realizing exactly how intense this list is. Let's start with some of the highlights:

First and foremost, the Kogi BBQ Truck, which has lit the blogotubes on fire with praise received forceful recs from no less than four of my friends. I was already hoping to make it out there, but a little dubious about all the hype. I still am, but really, Korean barbecue tacos are too brilliant to pass up.

Beyond that, recommendations varied from Ethiopian at Merkato on Fairfax to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles.

I got a nice music recommendation from Joshu, who worked in the college radio station with me back in the day, "It's been a while, but last time I was there, Catalina Jazz Club was putting it down with the music and food. Goes without saying that you need to eat some of the divey Mexican that Californians on the East Coast bitch relentlessly about missing."

Along those lines, Harriet, who lives in LA chimed in about the "Great Mexican food ... at Loteria in the Farmers Market at the Grove (a stand) or at their new restaurant in Hollywood."

I've been to both in past years and would definitely go back. She continued, "For dinner, try Susan Feniger's The Street on Highland near Mozza. My favorite restaurant is Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica."

I like Santa Monica because it's the only area of LA I've seen that's remotely walkable, but with one or two exceptions, I haven't been blown away by the food. So, I definitely want to give this a try.

Over the next couple of days, I'll be posting more recommendations from a couple locals. Stay tuned.

LA: On the Road Again

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Last weekend's trip to DC was the start of travel season for me. I just arrived in LA an hour or so ago. This afternoon I'm getting settled in at the hotel and unwinding before the work begins.

I'll, of course, be doing my best to sample the good food around town as time allows. I'll be posting here throughtout the trip, but if you just. Can't. Wait. I have joined the Twitternets and you can find my up to the minute, possibly drunken impressions of every bite of food I take on my feed. Enjoy!

September 20, 2008

Return to Musha


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Here's a bit of awesomeness I've been saving from the Los Angeles trip: Scallops, seared by blowtorch at Musha in Torrance. After rereading last year's post on the Musha branches, I have nothing new to add except this: Yum!

Above is a shot of the seared scallops cooked tableside by blowtorch (awesome!).

Below is a shot from the bar at Musha Santa Monica. (Plug: It was posted here on Eater LA)

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August 19, 2008

Photo of the Day: Over the Edge


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Summer X Games 2008. Los Angeles, CA. 2008.


I'll be taking a brief hiatus from the blog. Next week this time I'll be in San Francisco, exploring and such. When I return, expect more SF food, Graffiti and all of that.

See you in a bit.
::c::

August 18, 2008

Photo of the Day: To Get to the Other Side


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Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles. 2008

August 12, 2008

LA: Luna Park Fondue


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On my last day in LA, sfter we wrapped up with work, we headed downtown for lunch at Luna Park. I've had some great meals at Luna Park in San Francisco and visited the Los Angeles branch a couple years ago.

I wasn't blown away by my sandwich, a Baked Ham and Cheese. I had hoped for something more interesting, but in the end it was just ham and cheese.

But my starter was a different story. A fantastic spin on bread and cheese, the fondue is simple in concept, but complex in flavor. The thick chunks of bread were seared, presumably aftera dip in olive oil, allowing just enough char to add new texture and flavor.

The goat cheese was thick and velvety and clung to the toast. I can't even begin to tell you what it does with the apples. Awesome.


Luna Park
672 S. La Brea (near Wilshire)
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.934.2110

August 9, 2008

LA Signs: Carson Gardens


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Carson, Los Angeles. 2008

Photo of the Day: Teardrops


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Luna Park, Los Angeles. 2008.

(Whoops, didn't realize I already had a POTD today. Consider this a bonus.)

LA Signs: Circus Do-Nuts


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Carson, Los Angeles. 2008.

August 8, 2008

LA Signs: Bel-Aire Park


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Carson, Los Angeles. 2008

Photo of the Day: Kick


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X Games 14, Los Angeles. 2008.

LA Signs: Louis Burgers


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Carson, Los Angeles. 2008.

August 7, 2008

LA Signs: Wilshire


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Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles. 2008.

LA: Wrap Up


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I've returned from LA right into a busy busy time at work and home. When things calm down a bit, I have a few more things to post about. In the interim, here's the quick run-down of the meals I haven't had a chance to mention:

-Dinner at Ford's Filling Station in Culver City
-Dinners at Musha branches in Santa Monica and Torrance
-Lunch at Luna Park

And finally, above is an evening at Union Cattle in Hermosa Beach, not typically the sort of place I'd end up going to, but it was entertaining. And no, I didn't end up on the mechanical bull.

So, stay tuned, I'll be back in a couple days with more LA dining and SF planning.

LA Signs: Lavanderia


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Los Angeles. 2008.

Photo of the Day: Next


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Summer X Games 2008. Los Angeles. 2008

August 6, 2008

LA Signs: Los Altos


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Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles. 2008.

LA Signs: Felix Chevrolet


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Near USC, Los Angeles. 2008.

Photo of the Day: Bike Flip


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BMX Street, LA Live, Downtown, Los Angeles. 2008

August 5, 2008

LA Signs: The Hair Shop


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LA Signs: Deco Staples


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Los Angeles. 2008.

Photo of the Day: Empty


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Carson, Los Angeles. 2008

August 4, 2008

LA Signs: Hallmark Cleaners


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Los Angeles, CA. 2008.

LA: Santouka


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The US branch of Santouka, the Kyoto Ramen shop where I had that fabulous pork cheek ramen last year, is located in the 'restaurant row' of the Mitsuwa marketplace
in Torrance. This row, which looks suspiciously like a food court has the best looking mall food I've ever seen. Besides Santouka, other eateries serve curry, tonkatsu, and sushi, among other Japanese foods. There's a branch of Mifune as well, which I've been to in San Francisco a few times. There was also a place called Italian Tomato that serves cakes and spaghetti, which I don't really get.

Like most food courts, the restaurants only offer counter service, with most diners eating in the central seating area. This was interesting to me because the original Santouka is a full service 'sit down' restaurant in Kyoto. It was oddly converse to my visit toLoteria Grill. Whereas the original Loteria is based in a barely covered section of an outdoor farmers market with picnic furniture tossed in for quick eating, the Hollywood branch is much fancier, with a full bar and waitstaff.

Regardless of the setting, the food was just as wonderful. I had to have the pork cheek ramen again. It was fantastic.


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While looking through the Mitsuwa website, it seems there is a branch in Edgewater, New Jersey, apparently with a Santouka. I may finally have a reason to cross the Hudson. More to come...

LA Observations: RV Living

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There are tons of Winnebagos and like vehicles in LA. I don't get it.

LA Signs: Galo


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Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles. 2008

Photo of the Day: Walking into the Sunset


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Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. 2008.

Yes, some people do walk out here. Mostly to their cars...

August 3, 2008

LA Signs: Vermont Plaza


IMG_8399 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Koreatown, Downtown, Los Angeles. 2008.

LA: Return to Mozza


IMG_8355, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Last year I raved about Mozza, part of the west coast outpost of the Batali-Bastianich empire. The other day I took the opportunity of a trip downtown to go back for lunch.

There isn't really much more to say, it's fabulous. The pizza above is the unofficial 'Meat Lovers' pizza, topped with pepperoni, sausage and guanciale. It was intense. I can't say enough about the crust. At times chewy and soft or crisp enough to shatter, it stood up to the weight and flavors of the toppings admirably.

I still haven't made it to Osteria Mozza, the higher end, dinner-only space next door. I've still got a couple more nights here, so maybe I'll figure out a way to get back there.

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.297.0101

LA: Donuts!


IMG_9014, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

An interesting thing I've only just discovered about Los Angeles, is that it appears to have avoided infiltration by the Donut cartel. Everywhere we go there's some small doughnut shop selling their wares. If one recalls, I've ranted before about the chain mediocrity and what a revelation _real_ doughnuts can be.They vary wildly in quality, with many selling morsels as stale and tasteless as the mass market competition. Others transcend.

I was more impressed with the custard filled on my second visit than the glazed on my first. Bob's Donuts in San Francisco is one of the greats I've had. On that scale, Randy's is pretty damn good, but thinking about it makes me want Bob's.

LA Observations: Morning Mist


IMG_9009, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Nearly every morning I've been here in Los Angeles, I've opened my drapes to this cloudy, gray vista. Each time, I'm surprised and begin to worry that the clothes I've packed weren't warm enough.

And each day, a few hours later, it's 80 degrees, the sun bears down and there isn't a cloud in the sky.

LA Signs: Marvelous


IMG_8396 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Koreatown, Los Angeles. 2008.

Summer X Games 2008


IMG_9294, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Another year, another X Games. I've posted many photos in a Summer X Games 2008 set. Keep checking for updates.

Photo of the Day: Thrill


IMG_8998 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Danny Way. Big Air Finals, X Games 14. Los Angeles. 2008.

August 2, 2008

LA Signs: Carson Plaza


IMG_7572 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

One of the more interesting things I've noticed in LA is all the crazy signs everywhere. Obviously, large, noticeable signage is necessary in a place where your customers are rarely going to be just walking by. What's surprising is how old a lot of it is.

Most, like this one hearken back to the 50's and 60's, while others display distinct styles from other periods. I'm going to post some of the most striking ones over the next week or so.

Graffiti of the Day: Expectations


IMG_8366 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Melrose Avenue off North Highlands, Los Angeles. 2008.

I came across this Banksy piece after getting lunch at Mozza the other day. I was really psyched to see it. I haven't really seen a lot of his work as much as heard about it. The sentiment here is one I'm pretty familiar with.

Random Observations: Hotel Meetings


IMG01031.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

There are things you know have to happen somewhere, but never quite expect to run into. . .

Biking LA


IMG_7467, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Amazingly, I've seen more than a few people on bicycles here in Los Angeles. Each time I've pondered how unpleasant an experience that must be. I'm not even comfortable riding around Manhattan.

Riding in place where everything is a half hour drive away, boulevards have 8 lanes and no sidewalks and the temperature is invariably in the 80's seems ridiculously dangerous.

Apparently, that's pretty accurate. This morning I glanced at the Wall Street Journal in the hotel lobby and found a piece discussing the difficulties biking Angelenos face. It gets pretty ugly. The most severe hazard seems to be belligerent drivers, which isn't particularly surprising.

Last month, a pissed off driver slammed his brakes ahead of a couple of riders, sending them to the hospital. It's a toss up whether this story is more disturbing because the driver had been in a similar accident a few months earlier or that he's a physician, who knows exactly the type of damage that sort of behavior could lead to.

Predictably, this incident rallied the biking community, but it seems to have also begun a long-needed conversation about sharing the road.

Hopefully it all works out, but I won't be renting a bicycle out here any time soon.


July 30, 2008

LA: Loteria Grill Hollywood


IMG_7526, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Monday night my colleagues and I had dinner at the new Hollywood branch of Loteria Grill. We had a great time there. The food was excellent, the service was friendly and the space was beautiful.

While my companions went for burritos, I chose tacos so I could sample more varieties of fillings. Obviously, pork was my priority. On the left is the shredded Cochinita Pibil, pork slow cooked in a banana leaf. On the right, Carnitas, roasted and crisp. I loved them both, but that isn't a surprise.

The one disappointment of the meal was the Albondingas taco, not pictured, which I had high hopes for. It was filled with three small beef meatballs in a tomato chipotle sauce.

It sounded awesome, but the meatballs didn't have nearly the chipotle flavor I expected and the meat itself seemed overground and had a slightly pasty texture to it.

I have made similar meatballs before from a cookbook I bought in Mexico last year, but have never had anyone else's, so I was very excited. I'll have to stick to homemade for now.

Regardless of that one small disappointment, I really enjoyed the meal at Loteria.

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There is much I could say about the beautiful space and interesting decor, but the most important note for anyone who may go there is that there is no noticeable sign. One of the folks I met up with there got totally turned around after walking by it a couple times. The only reason I knew what to look for was because I'd seen photos on Eater LA.

Loteria Grill Hollywood
6627 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles
323-465-2500

July 28, 2008

Celebrity Sighting: Brad Dourif


IMG_7726, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I hadn't even gotten out of the airport before seeing my first 'celebrity.' Brad Dourif stood behind me in line for a taxi. Who? Yeh, I didn't know his name either but I imdb-stalked him and found his name and his rather lengthy filmography.

I initially recognized him as having been in the second The Lord of the Rings chapter, but later discovered that his career goes all the way back to playing Billy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. If you were to see him and recognize his face, it would be for his creepy, piercing eyes, but his most well known work is probably as the voice for Chucky in those terrible Child's Play Movies.

I had planned to write this post more tongue-in-cheek, about how ridiculously obscure this guy is, but really I have a lot of respect for character actors like Dourif. These are actors who go in, do their jobs and go home. We don't have to hear about who they're sleeping with or which parties they attend or what their political cause is. Because he's just an actor doing his job.

July 22, 2008

Return to LA LA Land


IMG_7713, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Work will take me out to the City of Angels again next weekend for a little over a week. Clearly, I'm already planning out my meals. Musha and Mozza are already in the plans. Hot dogs at Oki Dogs or maybe Pink's are a must as well.

I've been checking out Eater LA among other sites to hear about what's new and wonderful out there. Last week I discovered that Loteria Grill, whose Farmers Market location I visited in my first time in LA, has opened up a new location a few weeks ago. That's on the list.

Rummaging through my delicious bookmarks, I was reminded that there is apparently a branch of Santouka in Torrance. I'm so hoping they have the pork cheek ramen. I have to have that again.

Last summer I visited Santa Monica beer bar and restaurant Father's Office on my last day. It reminded me of the 'new' Blind Tiger with it's interesting and wide selection of beer and tasty bites.

It's also time to revisit the recommendations the TOJ gave me last year.

More to come...

December 11, 2007

Back Again

Apologies for the shortage of posts. I've got a ton of Mexico City stories, photos and so on, but haven't had a lot of time to write them up. I'm out in Glendale, California again, very briefly. Hopefully the time away from the usual distractions will give me a chance to get my posting organized again. Expect a fair number of posts coming in the next few days.
::c::

November 16, 2007

Photo of the Day: Flip!


IMG_9109, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Summer X Games 2007, Los Angeles, CA.

November 14, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: WWFD


WWFD, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Los Angeles, CA. 2007.
::c::

November 7, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: LA Buff Monster


IMG_0282, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Los Angeles, CA. 2007.
Artist: Buff Monster ::c::

October 24, 2007

Post Earthquake Internal Meeting Place

Office Building. Glendale, Los Angeles, CA. 2007.

Gee, the things you don't think about when you live on stable ground.
::c::

August 10, 2007

Deja Vu

Due to a glitch in the matrix that is the the corporate world, I'm going back to LA in a week and a half. This trip is much shorter, only a couple days, but I hope to use the time to catch some of the things I missed last week.

I'll be staying in Glendale, which I'm told is a bit more convenient to the places I might want to go.

If anyone has ideas for where I might want to go, let me know.

::c::

August 8, 2007

Pizzeria Mozza

I'm loathe to ever admit that anything is better outside of New York. It's a very difficult thing fo me to do. I love to travel and I think about living elsewhere all the time, but ultimately the deficiencies I may see at home are owing to some larger national or regional issue than anything specific about New York.

So when Eric told me that he thought the pizza at Pizzeria Mozza was better that Otto, owned by the same folks here in New York, I was skeptical and very confused. I've learned to respect Eric's opinion about such things over the 20 years we've known each other. yet here it was, he was claiming that LA, the anti-New York had a better pizza pizza! than a place in the city of our birth.

Unfathomable.

Yet, I headed out there Sunday night after the games were all done and had a meal that I only wish were available back home. And this isn't like going to France where everything is butter and fat (which is to say fat and fat) and finding that everything is better, of course that's better. No, this is head to head, chef to chef, even sharing the same owners and backing and LA topping New York.

Continue reading "Pizzeria Mozza" »

Musha!

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While in LA, I managed to check out both branches of Musha, an excellent izakaya out there. As mentioned earlier, I got recommendations for Musha from two expert sources, Eric and the TOJ. My visits completely reinforced my faith in both of them.

I had the Musha Fried Chicken at both places. It's excellent. A crispy breaded boneless chicken thigh sliced into strips. The presentation reminded me of Tonkatsu, the breaded, fried pork cutlets I had in Japan. The flavor was something else entirely.

According to the Menu, the Musha Fried Chicken is "Marinaded in soy sauce, sake, ginger and garlic served with 2 kinds of grated daikon and a ponzu sauce." The flavor of light citrus permeated, particularly when dipped in the accompanied sauce made up of soy sauce and ponzu. Sweet, salty and tangy all vied for my attention in each bite.

The photo above is Tanshio, salted beef tongue, that I cooked on a Shichirin Griller, yakiniku style. The small charcoal grill was the perfect size to fit on the counter in front of me at the Santa Monica branch.

On my visit to the Torrance branch, I had Unagi, broiled eel sliced into chunks and mixed in with rice in a variation in its typical presentation. There was also Braised Pork Belly, served in a soy sauce based broth and cooked with sweet potatoes. My dining companion had a wonderful Ahi Poke, Hawaiian style tuna tatare.

I was also very interested in Musha's Cheese Risotto, which is served out of a giant block of parmesan cheese. I only skipped it - along with noodles and most rice in order to save room for other dishes.

More after the jump!

Continue reading "Musha!" »

Double Double!


IMG_0280, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I love In n Out Burger. Amazingly, when I first tried it, in San Francisco a few years ago, I wasn't so into it. The one I had was too dry. Thankfully, I tried it again last year when I was back in LA. Then I tried it again. And again. This time around I only got my Double Double fix once, but I take what I can get.

Louisiana Fried Chicken


IMG_0239, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This pile of crispy loveliness was found in the depths of Carson, California, a bit of a hike away from the X Games site in Los Angeles.

It was quite possibly the best fried chicken I've had. The breading was thick and crunchy and full of spices. Underneath the crusty skin, the meat is juicy and flavorful. There was a hint of garlic in there somewhere. The hot sauce is served in a cup for easy dipping, which was perfect. The sauce was tangy with a heat that creeps up on you.

Some folks had brought some back to the trailer for the crew and I was blown away. When I found out that it was just a few blocks away, I headed out there for lunch the next day. Louisiana Fried Chicken is a total hood spot. It's got the bulletproof window at the counter, the whole thing. If it wasn't in a strip mall, I'd have felt like I was back in Brooklyn.

August 5, 2007

I Lost My Cellie in El Segundo


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Originally uploaded by ultraclay!
With Apologies to A Tribe Called Quest, I did lose my cell phone in the hotel, which is actually in El Segundo.

Thankfully someone turned it in to the Lost and Found. There's something to be said for having a phone no one wants to steal. I had just managed to finally get all my numbers synched across all my devices, I'd have been pissed if I had to do that all over again.

I also discovered how to use my own MP3s as ring tones on the SLVR, which I wondered for ages. I found it on the Interweb posted by someone named UVADaniel. I've reposted it after the jump.

Continue reading "I Lost My Cellie in El Segundo" »

August 4, 2007

Centrally located across from the airport


IMG_8904, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Or something like that. My hotel is really pretty good. It's got a steakhouse as its only restaurant, so I really don't have much alternative to eating steak whenever I feel like it. It's tragic. Really.

The only drawback is that it's directly across from the airport. Like, right there. The pic above was taken from my room. And that's not really an issue for the expected reasons. The windows are thick enough that you barely hear the planes at all.

The problem with being near the airport is that there's nothing worth doing near the airport. As good as the restaurant and bar are at the hotel, I'd really like to hang out somewhere else for a bit.

So far, I haven't gotten to see much of LA this time around. With the exception of a fantastic meal at Musha and a couple hours in Santa Monica the first night I haven't gotten out at all. It's making me a little antsy. The biggest problem is that I just don't know this place well enough to be able to get in the car and go somewhere. The fact that I can't drive is a close second, given that getting in the car requires a second person who's up for whatever I feel like.

Typically, by the time we get back to the hotel, I can't even fathom the idea of considering where to go. I don't know where anything is and unlike most travel, there's little in the way of a central area to go wander around. I may make another trip to Santa Monica just for that, really.

August 3, 2007

LA Observations #1

Last night, the shuttle driver and a co-worker were talking about smog in LA. According to the driver, the smog's only in the valley. He said something about the wind from the ocean blowing it away every where else.

He followed that up by talking about how much more smog there is in New York because of the humidity and the concentration of traffic in a much smaller space.

I left it alone, but laughed to myself a few minutes later when we passed through a tunnel getting off a highway:

The walls were black with a thick layer of soot collected from the exhaust fumes of the million cars that had passed through it. The only clean spots were scrapes and graffiti that industrious taggers carved out of the filth.

August 1, 2007

Tips from the TOJ

The Tower of Justice, an eating buddy much more familiar with this land of highways and movie stars than I sent me some recommendations. I'm not sure when I'll be able to go off the reservation and actually check out some of these places, but I have hopes:

It will be hard to find good food without a car if you're staying by the airport, unless you have in mind establishments with pole dancing as their primary attractions. If you can manage a car, here are a few suggestions. Alternatively, if you're on a tight schedule, I would recommend taking a cab up to Santa Monica and just walking around in that area. Lots of good places to eat there.

Musha Restaurant (Santa Monica): I took Guy to this little trendy dive of a restaurant in Santa Monica, and I resisted making bathroom runs for fear that Gallo would swipe any remaining morsels on my plate. This place serves Japanese pub food, and Sapporo beer on tap. Highlights include: braised pork belly, octopus omelette with noodles, musha fried chicken, udon noodles with shimeji mushrooms and clams.

Versailles (Palms/West L.A.): this place serves Cuban food. It's a fun place, and if I recall, they have a couple of killer pork dishes.

Zankou Chicken (West L.A.): this is an Armenian owned joint that serves the BEST rotisserie chicken. It also offers hummus and other middle eastern goodies.

Let me know if you have a more flexible schedule and will have access to a car. The list of great restaurants in LA is endless, so once I know where you're heading, I would be more than happy to give you a more targeted set of recommendations.

Eric suggested the Musha in Torrance last year when I stayed in that area, but I never made it. Maybe that'll be dinner tonight...

July 31, 2007

The City of Angels

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I'm on the road again, back in LA for Summer X Games.
I'm not sure how much of the city I'll be able to get to without a car, but I have my hopes. If nothing else, I should have some photos from the events, once everything starts up.

Stay tuned...

May 14, 2007

Photo of the Day: Big Sista is Watching


IMG_0553, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Back up singer, Blackalicious. Summer X Games 13. Los Angeles, 2006.


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April 5, 2007

LA: Summer X Games

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It's very funny that I've ended up going to the X Games for my job. I'm not much of a sports fan in general, but in particular, I've never paid any attention to 'Action sports.' Jumping giant ramps and doing death-defying flips on motorcycles always seemed profoundly stupid.

That said, it's really an amazing thing to see up close. I definitely got into it.

The craziest part of the whole event was the competition called "Big Air." It was a double ramp. These guys took a header off of the higher end, 8 stories high, going straight down.

They were supposed to hit that ramp, do a trick, land on the next ramp and do another trick. Fucking crazy. I got there days before everything started up. The skateboarders were already practicing.

They went through it over and over again. And the most ridiculous part is that they didn't make a single jump. For the first 3 days I was there, they fell every time. But they picked themselves up, hopped in the little go-kart and took the elevator back up to the top.

Profoundly stupid, but very persistent.
::c::

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March 31, 2007

Photo of the Day: The Plunge


IMG_8308 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.





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March 21, 2007

LA: Oki Dog


IMG_7717, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This place was totally sketchy. It's just a little shack on Fairfax.

I had grabbed some tacos in the Farmer's Market and was walking up towards Hollywood.

I had a Chili-Cheese dog.

The dogs were plump and juicy, much rounder than the narrow sabretts we get everywhere in New York. The cheese wasn't the cheez whiz that you usually get, it was a thick slice of cheese wrapped around the dog. Between the heat of the dog and the chili on top, it had started to melt immediately. The cheese was gooey, but still firm enough to add a little more resistance when bitten into. The thickness added another texture to the experience. The roll was big enough to stand up to the saucy chili without falling to pieces.

So good...

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March 20, 2007

The LA Metro


IMG_7768, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

When I went to Los Angeles last summer, I didn't know what to expect. All I had ever heard was that it's the anti-New York. On the short list of things I just had to see was the LA Metro. The idea of a subway system in this city of drivers intrigued me.

While walking through Hollywood, I walked down to the Metro station at Hollywood and Vine. The station is a lot farther underground than most stations in New York. It's steep escalators and high ceilings reminded me a bit of the DC Metro.

Even though it was early evening, when I'd normally expect a rush in one direction or another, the station was empty. I never saw more than 10 people, even when a train came in.The wide, cavernous space seemed that much bigger without people. Seeing a subway station that big deserted seemed vaguely apocalyptic.

Continue reading "The LA Metro" »


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