Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Silverlake Wine

Crystal visited Silverlake Wine recently and was so taken with the place that she wanted to share it with the world. I asked her to do a guest post, and here it is.

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During a recent visit to my parents' home in Los Angeles, I had the pleasant surprise of discovering a truly great wineshop in the Silverlake district of Los Angeles: Silverlake Wine, also known to Angelenos as SLW (Note: truth be told, I didn't really "discover" it... my twin sister used to live in the neighboring Echo Park and she had mentioned it in the passing. There's an interesting array of small shops and businesses surrounding Silverlake Wine, including a fusion Vietnamese restaurant, a skateboard shop, a yoga studio and a high-end lingerie store called Panty Raid. Around the corner at Sunset Junction, there's also the renowned Cheese Shop and Cafe Stella, one of my favorite restaurants. *Sigh*. I miss LA... you can take the girl out of Los Angeles, but you can't take Los Angeles out of the girl).

Silverlake Wine is an incredible little place with quite an array of different wines and some nice varietals. But what really makes the place ::truly great:: is the ownership: George, Randy and April really strive to make wine into a social experience for both the aficionado and novice. With three tastings each week, their wineshop has transformed into a neighborhood haunt and a social hub. The most structured-- and popular-- is the Sunday tasting (you need to RSVP): there's a different theme every week. The tasting includes generous portions of four different kinds of wines plus an apertif, and each wine is paired with an hors d'oeuvre prepared by visiting Los Angeles chefs.

All of this love for $20. Who the hell needs Napa when you have Silverlake Wine?

This past Sunday's tasting was all about Slovenian + Croatian wines... the importer from Blue Danube Wine was at the tasting, and he had some interesting things to say. Admittedly, I didn't enjoy the whites very much, but the reds were great. My favorite was the Croatian Bibich Reserva 2006. It was served with an assortment of Italian cheeses and sausages. I'm not embarrassed to say this: I could have easily eaten the whole plate and drank an entire bottle on my own. The wine was really perfect for the summer: light and smooth, but also spicy and aromatic. I had no idea that they even made wine in Croatia.

Oh man. Silverlake Wine. You have my heart.

Silverlake Wine
2395 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pegboard

Here is our Julia Child inspired pegboard from our previous apartment.


We are going to do without the pegboard at our new place, and I am going to miss it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hagi

Hagi, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Ha-gi. Ha. Gi.

Mabel and I fell in love with the place on our first visit, even though the ceiling was leaking. I didn't know it then, but we were there right at the beginning of the end of an era. We were part of a mad rush to eat there after they got a bit on No Reservations. It hadn't been so crowded before.

We made numerous visits to Hagi over the course of only a few months. What follows are some memories of some of those visits.

1st visit: Sat at the bar. There was a leak in the ceiling. Jan 4. Tried a "peculiar" sake called Sugei.

2nd visit: Came with Ben D. after a vodka and caviar tasting. The 3 of us sat at our usual table. Jan 9.

3rd visit: We were turned away. Got there at 2:10 AM after seeing No Country For Old Men. Learned that the kitchen closes at 2:00. Jan 10.

4rd visit: Nikhil was visiting, so I took him, Nicole, Jason, and Dave there for the first time. We waited about 2 hours for a table. Jan 11. Nikhil and Dave were very gracious with the wait, though. Nicole had a cold. Mabel couldn't make it.

5th visit: We had Yellowtail Collar for the first time. We also had a gross octopus dish. We don't like the texture of mountain yam. Sat at our table. Jan 12

6th visit: Sat at bar again and decided that the bar is the best spot. We discovered the door camera and buzzer system.

7th visit: Got pork belly hotpot and chicken with ponzu. Mabel really liked the chicken. I really liked the hotpot. I tried sweet potato shochu with hot water (Ikkomon) and liked it. Mabel said that it tasted like what you would think warm water should taste. Decided to get a bottle of it the next time. Jan 20. Sat at our table.

We both had weird dreams that night, after eating the pork broth. Mabel dreamt that she was holding a dying talking dog and saying, "Wait are there other German Shepards that can talk?" And then the dog died. I dreamt that my grandmother put my knives in the dishwasher. I kept asking why she would do that. The wood handled one was all chewed up, but the plastic handled one was fine but dull. I told my dad about it in the next room when he asked what all the commotion was about. Mabel never has dreams about talking dogs, and I don't remember any other dreams where I see my grandmother.

8th visit: Went with Josh and Eve after seeing Cloverfield with Josh. Mabel couldn't make it. Jan 23. Sat next to our table.

9th visit: Jan 25. Got the Fried Pork Belly that we'd been meaning to get. Got a bottle of Ikkomon shochu with plum (umeboshi) and hot water (oyu-wari). It came with a thermos of hot water. They save the bottle for you if you can't finish it for up to 3 months. Sat at our table. Sat next to a couple on a bad date. The girl looked so miserable and couldn't get a word in the entire meal.

10th visit: Jan 29. Went to celebrate Mabel's getting into an anesthesiology program. Sat at the bar. Met someone named Caleb who was interviewing for ortho residencies. We ended up sitting at the bar together. It was crazy. He just stumbled on the place because his hotel was nearby. He hit the jackpot.

11th visit: Got a new bottle of shochu (Tomino Hozan) and got to sit at the counter again. Mistakenly ordered a bunch of snack food for dinner, but it was still good. Rayfish fin with mayonnaise is the ideal drinking food. Finished with the deep fried pork belly. Found out that our waitress' name is the same as Mabel's favorite sake.

12th and beyond: At this point, we just lost track

We last ate there on May 1st, when we learned that they were halting their bottle-saving service because of potential legal problems. We ate there before seeing Captain Picard as Macbeth.

I'm not sure we'll ever return. We've moved to the West Village, and we're not so far away from izakayas in the East Village. There are plenty of late night places in our neighborhood. But while the blood still throbs through my writing hand, you are still as much part of blessed matter as I am, and I can still talk to you from here to Alaska. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Hagi.

Hagi
152 W 49th St (btn 6th and 7th Ave)
New York, NY 10019

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Outback

One of the first things Mabel and I did when we went on vacation was to eat at Outback.


It seemed appropriate. Mabel likes to call our June vacation a staycation because we kind of stayed at home. But I like calling it a suburbication or exurbication. Anyway, what's more suburban than Outback?

Mabel had never been there, and I'd gone only once or twice before, a long time ago.

We both got steaks. They were good and had a slight aged taste to them. The price is right.

Outback Steakhouse
2520 York Rd
Jamison, PA 18929

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Red pork belly

I decided to honor my half pig by making one of my favorite pork belly dishes, indeed, the only pork belly dish I know how to make: Chinese red braised pork belly.

I cut off two thick slices of fresh pork belly. The rest of the belly was destined for bacon.


I think I can say that this red braised pork dish has recently been popularized in America by Fuchsia Dunlop as evidenced by the fact that when you google "red braised pork" her recipe for Chairman Mao's Red-Braised Pork (or Mao Shi Hong Shao Rou) pops up all over the place.

I use her recipe for the most part, except she doesn't emphasize that you need to pour off the fat, because there is a ridiculous amount of grease that you need to pour off. And she also gives a cooking time that is way too short. You need 3 hours. Maybe 2 hours in a pinch.


This is one of our favorite things to eat, and we learned the hard way not to overeat it. It expands in your stomach more than other foods, with the possible exception of roast duck. Three walnut-sized pieces and some rice is good for a full meal.