Thursday, March 11, 2010

Original Fast Food

When I was very very young...we'll say maybe 8 or 9, but I'm going to check when places like Foster's Freeze was always a huge focus on my life. the 40's in Inglewood. Yeah...Went there when I went to the Master Chef Competition. Didn't know that was THE one. We went to the one on Venice Blvd. WLA.

I remember going to McD's in I THINK Venice or Culver City...also need to check that out just out of morbid curiousity. BUT I do remember vividly going to Foster Freeze on Venice Blvd in So. California after church. It started out as Nesbit Orange soda and THEN we discovered malts and burgers was a standard fare after recovering from getting one of the numerous flus that were just one of those things that you got back when life wasn't so dramatic and scary. You got sick, you got over it. Now it's panic city and 8 courses of

ANYway....In Culver City before the glitz and the Malls and all...there was an 'international food court'. cool can you get? It housed what I THINK was one of the first Sizzlers, a 10 cent hamburger joint...hamburger hamlet...that kind of stuff. Brunos Italian Restaurant in WLA was a favorite near our house, Haji Babas was a great Mediterranian place in Inglewood. I was 11. The waitress asked everyone if they wanted a drink. I kinda remember that. Ummm...wha? Kebabs and rice...wonderful. There was a great little hole in the wall on Pico that served the most fantastic thick cut batter fried fish and chips with cinnamon rolls of all things. Also on Pico a little Mexican restaurant that was a regular for us. The most fantastic basic mexican food you could ever imagine.

One of my first memories was a little hamburger joint at the end of out block across from the Mar Vista Bowling Alley. The Bowling Alley later was a focal point of my life with Peter B's. The most fantastic cafe you could imagine. But the little joint...I don't even remember it's name. Only the little burgers with In and Out style grilled onions. Lovely.

Then there was Woody's Smorgasburger. Flame grilled burgers, steaks and fish. Open kitchen. All out there. Simple menu and the first salad/topping bar including ice cream...

I fell in love with grilled halibut sands at that point. Beautiful thick perfectly seared grilled steaks on a kaiser bun. Tartar sauce. Put your own veggies and extra sauces on but you didn't need them.

They had the most phenominal salsa. I have been trying to emulate it for the past 40 years. It's a kind of thick tomato sauce but not like a 'sauce'. Kind of chunks and a little bit clear like diced tomatoes in sauce but cooked. With maybe peppers and onions...It has been my white whale food thing. If you taste it you'll know why.

Once I saw a very pregnant woman going to the condiment bar and she grabbed a bowl of dill pickles and topped them with chocolate sauce from the ice cream bar. Wow. Thought it was a myth.

Anyway...about's dinner time.

Tomorrow it's all about Farmer's Market in LA.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Malstrom (however you spell it)

OK, you know that scene from Pirates where Calipso essentially flushed the ocean.

Yeah. That's where I'm at right now. Not as dramatic but essentially the same.

We just got back from a trip to LA to attend a casting call for Master Chef. At a serious disadvantage because I was making homemade potato gnocchi and seared salmon with lemon/dill cream sauce in my motel room over a hot plate. I wish I could have impressed on the interviewers what my somewhat insanely driven personality is that is pushing me to drive 1100 miles to a 'job interview' and cooking over a hot plate in my room.

At least Hell's Kitchen was only an 800 mile trip to Las Vegas.

Bottom line, I'm gonna MAKE it one way or another.

The casting call:

It was held in a place near and dear to my heart and one of the focal points of my being a foodie - FARMER'S MARKET in LA. My grandmother would take me there almost once a week. Literally 50 years ago I was enamored with all of the food booths, my first experience with 'black bottomed pie'. The market reminds me of the mercados in Guatemala. Only in Guate they're more like a flea market. And a lot cleaner.

But it's all CHANGED. I remember the heart of the market being much bigger. Everything around it is now gone. I think they keep the basic hub for a token purpose. How sad.

I remember the booths with the blackbottom pie...hell anything food. Yum.
Dupars was a weekly ritual. I loved the avocado bacon burger on an english muffin.

As usual I was freaking last moment. My daughter (who is also an excellent cook but doesn't want to pursue it) helped me pull it off. Pretty much getting fed up and slapping me upside the head. YOU"RE FUCKING GOOD SO GET OVER IT!!!

Traffic really wasn't so bad, which was a complete shock, but parking was.

I had literally pulled a pretty great pan seared salmon with HOMEMADE potato gnocchi and dill lemon cream out of my ...ahem in my MOTEL ROOM over an electric burner.

Of course how could I explain that over the din?

The almost last second (yet again) presentation obviously didn't make the cut. I'm sure there were plenty of people who were decent but I know I have that edge that I have to find out how to present. time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Once upon a time...

Thinking back...all of my memories are surrounded by food. Or maybe my memories are triggered by the memory of food. Disneyland.... we went every year with my reltives... tuna sands, the Rum Cake at the Blue Bayou in the Pirates attraction...The little taco cups...Knotts Berry Farm and of course their fried chicken, biscuits and boysenberry jam...

Guatemala...whole fried chicken or Mojara, Tortilladas, enchiladas, sopa de ajo... Autralia...Thai...oddly enough, a white sauce pizza with shrimp and calamari from Dominos...

There are hundreds of memories. I'll share them...

This is my new beginning.