Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Summery Santa Monica Saturday

I had a wonderful Saturday last weekend! I took the bus (boo to gas prices and traffic) out to Santa Monica to have lunch with my dear friend Phil and then we saw a movie at the L.A. film fest before heading back to the east side where we had a rousing game night that culminated in our drunken gang of kooks going to dance the night away at Akbar.

(The movie we saw was "Must Read After My Death." I liked it, Phil did not.)

We lunched at Real Food Daily and while I've been to the WeHo location many times, I've never been to this one by the sea. Phil had the Ciao Bella sandwich which is portabello mushrooms, red peppers, and pesto on hemp bread and I had the Mexicali chop salad which is your basic Mexican salad but it's set apart by RFD's own lime-cilantro dressing. It usually comes with tortilla strips but I had them taken off in an attempt to cut the calories a tad. We also both had the roseberry ice tea which our server recommended, but that was a total bust: paying 3 bucks for watered down apple juice with a pink hue is not my idea of a good time.

I loved the chop so much the last time I had it that I ran to ye olde local public library branch and copied the recipe for the dressing from the RFD cookbook. And here it is, a gift from me to you:

Real Food Daily's Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette
1/3 cup coarsely chopped red onion
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp brown rice syrup
2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro

Process the onion, lime and lemon juices, rice syrup, vinegar, coriander, salt, cumin, and cayenne peppers in a food processor or blender until smooth. With the machine running, gradually add the oils. Add the cilantro and process just until is is finely chopped. Season the vinaigrette to taste with more salt and cayenne pepper, if desired.

Real Food Daily
514 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gary's Breakfast Bowl of Champions

I've had set catering ranging from cold takeout from The Olive Garden (AFI film) to gourmet cuisine from a three star Michelin chef (a commercial for Hummer). While the caterers on our show don't have any stars to their name, they serve up an amazing array of delicious food.

Breakfast is where our caterer really shines. Unlike at lunch and dinner, there is no menu, you just ask for whatever your little heart desires and they whip it up for you on the spot. Whenever I roll up to the order window in the morning I always say the same thing: "One Gary's Breakfast Bowl please."

Gary's Breakfast Bowl, or GBB, is your typical tofu scramble with tofu, spinach, various veggies, and a sesame/soy sauce. Its name comes from our first AD who insists the tofu scramble be served in a bowl so he can easily carry it while bossing everyone around on set.

I always mix in some of our caterer's homemade pico de gallo to make a perfect little breakfast!

And just for kicks, here is the infamous George Maya chowing down on his breakfast sandwich:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Simplest Dish on the Planet: Summery Avocado Salad

Well, it didn't take us long to go back to Beacon after our fabu meal there last week. This time I got the avocado salad and miso soup. I had the avocado salad there before and make the same thing at home a lot--it's the kind of dish you feel a little dumb ordering because it's so simple you could whip it up yourself in 2 minutes, but whatever, it's free for me! Thanks, work!

The Beacon version uses Tokyo Negi (a kind of Japanese leek) and while it's good, the dish is just as good without it and really who wants to go to the trouble of tracking down Tokyo negi? Here is the way I make this simple salad at home:

Knock-off of Beacon's Avocado Salad

1/2 avocado (pit removed)
1 bunch microgreens, washed and dried
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1 tsp. cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. sesame oil
3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

Slice the avocado and arrange in a fan on the plate. Top with microgreens. Sprinkle plate with sesame seeds and cilantro.

Whisk rice wine vinegar and sesame oil together; drizzle over avocado.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I <3 Dashi

The episode we're shooting right now takes place in the desert, so our shooting crew is on location in Joshua Tree for the week. With the company being so far away, work was a little slow, which meant we got to venture out of our little Culver City bubble for lunch. Friday we ordered in from Mishima where I got this big bowl of Steamed Japanese Mountain Veggies and Soba Noodles in Dashi broth.

I am totally baffled by how few restaurants use Dashi. It's this soup made with kelp and shitake mushrooms that rocks my face off everytime. Fred 62 makes a killer noodle bowl with it, but does anyone know where else they serve it? It's completely vegan and very flavorful so you'd think it would be on more menus. Whatevs, I'll just keep going back to Mishima!

8474 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Thursday, June 12, 2008

We should all be so lucky to work on shows that are 20 seasons old .

My dear friend Joe works down the road from us on a certain animated t.v. show about a quirky, yellow family. Every day around 11 o'clock we have the same gchat about where our respective productions are going for lunch that day. And everyday I have to hear about how Joe and his coworkers are being treated to L.A.'s finest cuisine while we have to adhere to our strict $10 per person lunch budget.

Beacon, the asian fusion joint in Culver City, is a favorite of Joe's show and he has always made me insanely jealous when he got to go there. We had always assumed Beacon was way out of our price range, but the other day I was flipping through the menu and realized we could totally swing a lunch there and come in under budget! So we did and it was a huge hit. I had this Thai Tofu and Vegetable Wrap with cellophane noodles, cilantro, and a super good peanut sauce. Our show still has 15 more seasons before we can get the kind of food budget Joe has, but at least we know we aren't eating like a brand new mid-season replacement in the meantime.

3280 Helms Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Word to the Wise: If it looks like real bacon, smells like real bacon, and tastes like real bacon, it probably is real bacon

I cannot write a proper post about the delicious food we had from Cooks Double Dutch today because I accidentally ate some real bacon and it's still bumming me out. But here is a picture of their version of the classic vegan club, complete with tempeh bacon and Veganaise. I normally try to stay away from chemically things like fake mayo (except, of course, when it comes to lethally enhanced cola--then all bets are off!) but I needed something bready to soak up the alcohol still lingering from last night's cocktails. Throw in some of Double Dutch's all-killer-no-filler sweet potato fries and you get one tasty hangover cure!

Cook's Double Dutch
9806 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Sunday, June 8, 2008

George Maya: My Own Personal Coke Mule

Our little art department was really bummed when we found out our beloved set designer Shu Shu would not be returning for our new season. He opted to stay on the feature he started during the hiatus which was probably a terrible idea since it's just some low budget indie that probably no one will see. Idiot.

When meeting the new candidates, we figured this guy George would fit in pretty well with this work-hard-but-party-harder art department when he had to schedule his interview around the Dodger's pre-season. Turns out we were right. George Maya is a true man about town and is an actual Los Angeles native to boot!

This morning George came into my office and the following conversation occurred:

George: Hey, Liz, come look at what I have in my trunk.
Liz: Stranger danger! You sound like a child abductor!
George: But it's me, George!

So I reluctantly accompanied him, making sure to tell everyone I passed, "I'm going to the PARKING LOT with GEORGE." That way, if he did abduct me, people could tell the police who dunnit.

Down in the lot, George opened his trunk and the sight I saw can only be described as SHOCKING. There was not one, but two flats of COKE LIGHT.

You see, George happens to be Yo Soy's most avid reader and he took note of my entry asking where to obtain this uber illegal pop and then promptly arranged to have some smuggled from Mexico.

Because that is just the kind of guy George Maya is.

The picture at top was taken on George's first day of work here. Please do not pass it along to the feds as I am thirsty and want to continue reaping the benefits of the underground coke railroad.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Summer brings Stone Fruit Salad to Tender Greens

Another favorite restaurant on our daily lunch rotation at the office is Tender Greens. We go there at least once a week. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu: all the food is completely organic and fresh. They offer up some fun salad specials every day, which is how I ended up with this awesome Stone Fruit Salad. It was composed of grilled peaches, hazelnuts, baby spinach, and balsamic vinaigrette. (There was supposed to be goat cheese too but I just had them leave that off.) T'was so summery and good!!!

Tender Greens

9523 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Friday, June 6, 2008

My Beef with Top Chef: All the Beef

Did anyone catch Top Chef this week? I love the show but this week was a tad annoying. They kicked off Antonia which is totally whack. TC needs to take a cue from Project Runway and keep in the likable contestants regardless of their work. Lisa is staying and she is unbearable--mostly because of her eyebrow ring. I mean, can you think of a bigger crime against humanity than an eyebrow ring?! It is so painfully white trash circa 1996.

But perhaps the bigger problem I had with Wednesday's show was the pig situation. The elimination challenge was to butcher a whole pig and make a meal out of it. As if it's not bad enough that in its four seasons, TC has NEVER had a vegan/vegetarian challenge of any sort, they had to show the chefs whacking away at a pig that was basically Wilbur without eyeballs. As it is, I have to watch the show with a willing suspension of disbelief to ignore that every dish is a major violation of animal rights, but it was pretty much impossible to do that when Babe was lying lifeless on a counter.

Meanwhile, my lovely Art Department Coordinator, Canada, attended Taste of the Nation this past weekend and had the chance to sample Antonia's food and meet her and her daughter. Here is the two of them:

Canada said her food was outstanding (she mad a linguine with clam sauce and a spicy chocolate shot with cream and saffron.) If you are in the L.A. area you can check her food out for yourself at Foxtail, that is, if you are sexy enough to get in. Word on the street is that this latest addition to the SBE empire is particularly hard to get into. Bonne chance!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pho du Fafa

Working on A Popular Television Show has its perks. Sometimes a little namedropping is all you need to do to gain access to exclusive events; which is exactly how our little art department got to see the completely sold out Flight of the Conchords show at the Orpheum on Friday.
Before we headed downtown for the show, we grabbed dinner at my new favorite neighborhood joint: Pho Cafe.

Now I've never been to Vietnam, but I have been to Thailand and my tailor is from Hanoi, so that pretty much makes me an expert in all things Asian. So trust me when I tell you that the food at Pho Cafe tastes exactly like Vietnamese food should taste. I had the tofu spring rolls and tofu bun (rice noodles), both of which were wunderbar. It's nothing new, per se--just classic Vietnamese--but its served fresh, cheap, and in a fun place.

One thing that does stand out at Pho Cafe is their vegan pho!!! This is very good news for we vegans who love Vietnamese food but usually can't go near the meat fest that is pho.

As for the show: our seats were great, the cocktails were insanely strong, and the duo was delightful. I have developed a huge crush on Jemaine who is now sporting a sexy hipster haircut. I know Bret lives in Silver Lake but does anyone know where Jemaine lives? Please advise so I may promptly begin stalking. Thanks!

Pho Cafe
2841 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Monday, June 2, 2008

Pure Luck and Scoops is the new Brangelina!

Went to Pure Luck with a sweet little gang of amigos including a couple fellow foodie friends: Kirby Von Scrumptious and Andrew. We looked like a sweet little gang of idiots though with the three of us snapping away when our orders arrived...

The food was tres bon! I had the tofu pesto sandwich with killer sweet potato fries. Both the pesto (awesomely chunky) and the bbq sauce were divine.

The only thing that was lacking was the tea. I am an iced tea connoisseur and the totally weak brew at Pure Luck was basically just brown water. But luckily I was too thrilled with my dinner to pay much attention to it anyway...

We finished the meal off with some gelato at Scoops. I had a mindblowing soy coconut flavor. Pure Luck and Scoops is shaping up to be my favorite summer combo!

Pure Luck
707 N. Heliotrope Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

712 N. Heliotrope Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90029