Duck of the Week: Calle

Calle, like me, is very tired today.  Goodnight duck!

the healthiest thing I ever ate

Alton Brown’s Edamame Salad.  With A REASONABLE AMOUNT OF BROWN RICE!!!  And I went for a run this “morning”!  Oh my.

ps. be sure to add plenty of hot sauce and salt

Duck of the Week: Staycation

Bob and Linda share some alone time in the park

Qualified Authenticity

Three days ago, my friend Kim wanted to try Cowboys and Turbans.  Indian-Mexican fusion “street food.”  It was predictably terrible.  I had a “naan pizza” with tofu which was Indian maybe insofar as there was tumeric somewhere in the sauce?  Sigh.  There are so many things to not like about this restaurant.  First of all, the kitschy title doesn’t even make sense: cowboys and turbans are different kinds of things (cowboys incidentally not really being Mexican).  This lack of coherence is reflected in the food, which is only fusion at the most superficial level – vaguely western food (not always Mexican, such as the naan ‘pizza’) – plus some equally vaguely indian flavors, all toned down to the point of barely existing for the silverlake crowd.  If you want this sort of  quasi-fusion,  watch the infinitely more endearing Aarti Sequeira, at least her youtube show (haven’t seen much of her Food Network show).  Last but not least, what is with this hipster obsession with “street food”?  First, if you go to a sit down restaurant, you are by definition not eating street food.  I get the sense that it’s more authentic to get your food off the street, in a salt-of-the-earth sort of way.  After all, if one were a western traveler in a foreign country, one wouldn’t want to restrict one’s dining to tourist restaurants!  No, one would have to go out among the simple people, and understand what they eat, for they are pure.  And if one were in India, instead of Los Angeles, one might not find people eating Dosas on the street, because they are not really “street food,” but more “breakfast food” (another violator of my food-oriented identity politics is the LA food truck that serves only dosas).  Instead you would eat Panipuris, and then get sick from some bacteria.

Well, clearly I wouldn’t be as excised about this if we weren’t talking about Indian food, especially perhaps south Indian food.  But I do find the whole ‘street food’ thing to be the fast food mentality dressed up in American apparel leggings; the incongruity of ‘gourmet’ food trucks (for example the gourmet ice cream truck I saw outside of the silver lake flea market) epitomizing this trend.

Here’s Aarti:

UPDATE: theoretical footnote – I am fully aware of the disjunction of arguing against the pretension of a certain kind of authenticity (“street food”) combined with the pretension of a crafted inauthenticity (“fusion”) only to seemingly argue for some other kind of authentic Indian cuisine (again fully aware this has no real content).  But I suppose if the choice were between ignorance coated in pretension or unassuming knowledge, even if that were knowledge that there is no knowledge, I suppose the latter will be preferable.  Remaining for me a problem is that I’m not particularly knowledgeable about Indian food, except through a highly problematic, sentimental, gendered ethnic identity, eg. memories of my mom’s cooking.  But you know, the thing about food is that its so viceral – pretension or no, just make it taste good!

In case you wanted to read something that was actually interesting

Reading over my posts, I must, by way of pleasure and citation, introduce you to my friend Tamara’s blog, Keeping the Bear-Garden in the Background.  This blog you will see is also in my blogroll.  Tamara has been in Paris for a year and will be there for another year, and is eating it up, and also going to do ‘art things’ and having interesting thoughts.  So, you can see, this blog is modeled after hers, minus the paris and interesting thoughts.  And art.  Hmm.  Anyway,  I’m not sure why it has that title,  but it’s probably an intellectual reference beyond the scope of my under-read self.  There are many of those on her blog.  Please, enjoy, in an erudite sort of way.

Bar Hopping, Downtown

Recently, my sister Anupama and her husband John came to visit.  It was very exciting, and involved purchasing a gigantic air mattress among other things.  Namely, one of those other things was an excitingly parapetetic evening in downtown Los Angeles.  Being new to this blogging thing and stupid, I forgot my camera.  Another reason I ‘need’ and iphone, aside from the mesmerizing effects of Koi Pond.  This being the case (forgetting my camera), I will attempt the impossible: communicating to you my unique, subjective perception of the experience using only words.

We started out, with their friend Franchesco and my friend Adonia at the supposed inventors of the french dip sandwich, Cole’s.  Their rivals for inventing said sandwich are the nearby Philippe’s, but since I don’t eat this particular food and the ones at Cole’s were reportedly not even that great, there’s no need to spend a lot of time on this issue, now or ever.  Cole’s had been on Adonia and I’s list after I suggested wanting to find classier places to drink.  In fact the irony of this whole bar hop night was that I hardly ever go to bars, or try to avoid going, especially past 10pm.  For someone who could name off the top of his head, in reverse order, his top ten bars in San Francisco, this development in my life certainly signals something about entering, in fact now almost leaving, my late twenties.  Except other people who are older than me aren’t this lame.  In any case, our first experiment along these lines was going to Thursday happy hour at The Edison, a very snazzy place in an old Edison electric building where I had to actually dress up a bit and where they had 35 cent happy hour martinis.  I also had an ok grilled cheese sandwich there, and a cocktail made with Bourbon, honey, and citrus.  That should’ve been it’s own blog post.  Anyway, this Bourbon honey citrus  cocktail was slightly better than the old fashioned I got at Cole’s, though both were good, and neither as good as the similar drink I got a few months ago at Allston Yacht Club.  This is almost a yelp review at this point.  Ok, moving on.

We then went, sans Adonia, to The Gorbals, which I learned, due to conspicuous posing inside the restaurant, is the home of Top Chef season 2 winner Ilan Hall, who is several months younger than me, but then who isn’t these days.  It was a pretty hipster-y, with the bartender having a handle bar mustache, a slightly affected ‘jollyness’ to him, and sexual tension with the other waitress.  The place itself was very white, almost like a gallery, with a menu of $14 cocktails in different colors on a chaulkboard, and open kitchen, and one long family style table.  The bar itself was steel.  I had a glass of the Cosentino Cigarzin Zinfandel.  Actually I didn’t know it was a Zinfandel, as this was not indicated on the menu, but instead thought I was tasting a new kind of “cigarzin” wine.  Anyway it was very interesting, spicy and fruity and strong flavored at the same time.  Wines like this don’t need to be paired with anything, and beleive me I’m an expert in non-pairing wine.  That should be it’s own job, a sort of anti-sommelier.  Anyway, given that the winery sells this for $26 a bottle, clearly the $14 per glass price was over the top, like the prices of everything in this top-restaurant, but it was half off for happy hour.  BTW, if you are keeping track at home, selling a bottle of this wine at the above price, assuming they pay retail value per bottle, would yield them a profit of $44, or 60%.  This, along with being able to charge $7 for roasted corn, is the real benefit of winning Top Chef.  Speaking of, did Ed just lose because Ilan is no Michael Voltaggio?  I think so.  In any case a very pedestrian ending to a pedestrian season; I was even rooting for Angelo by the end.

Anyway, from there we toned it down by going to La Cita.  I will share my thoughts on La Cita with you, my dear non-existent reader, some other time, as I will surely be back.  After that, at what seemed like 2am but was really 9pm, we went to the revolving lounge at the Bonaventure Hotel.  This place is a destination for any grad school idiot like myself, due to its importance to ‘postmodernism’, thanks to Frederic Jameson.  The downstairs space really is disorienting, not only because there are lots of suspended platforms and passageways that make it look like a spaceship, but because you can’t see the whole space from any one point.  Rather, there always seems to be something more either around a different corner, or behind another column.  While the decor, including the generous use of concrete (ala UCI), is very 70s, in some ways its even more postmodern now, in the sense the whole thing looks like an abandoned mall, which it is actually (the bottom five floors are all shops, or spaces where there should be shops).  Or maybe that’s just what the 80s looked like.

Anyway, it’s always nice to go to the top of tall buildings, and this one had a lounge that revolved slowly enough to be even more disorienting than the phenomenological experience of the downstairs mall.  Being the nominal end to our night, I got a very small glass of port.  Not much more to say here – imagine LA at night time from the perspective a skyscraper.  That’s what it looked like.

Unfortunately the helicopter that seems like it wants to land on my roof is still circling my house; nevertheless, I will try to go back to sleep.  I have a morning date with Intelligentsia, which means putting on my Thursday best, which means not dressing up or trying at all, just hopping into Mark Jacobs jeans and grabbing my Ray Bans, because, whatever.

(note: I don’t have Mark Jacobs clothes or Ray Bans; this blog is vapid but not that vapid.  I don’t even know if those references are current.  I just saw Jacobs on the TV the other day with Anna Wintour, so I assumed it must be).

Duck of the Week: Erik takes a day off

Sorry for the belated Duck of the Week, my non-existent readers.  Here is Erik, taking advantage of the odd sunny day in Seattle, WA.

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