vivaldi at the walt disney concert hall

Look at me, posting for the second day in a row!  I must have serious work that I’m avoiding.  Anyway, on to substantive matters.

Did you know that, if you are a student, like me, you can get $10 rush tickets to any show at Walt Disney concert hall, provided you show up an hour or two before the performance?  Well, you can!  And I did.  This is very exciting.  Last summer I developed a taste for excellently produced classical music in spectacular venues for not very much money.  So this is sure to change my life.  L and I went down and got some tickets, hit up the pirate bar for drinks and some mac and cheese, and got back in time for what was a quite lovely series of concertos by Vivaldi.

The works were performed by a group called “europa galante” that apparently specializes in baroque Italian music, in some cases ‘rediscovering and restoring’ lost 18th century operas.  They were joined by the charmingly narcissistic mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux, who dramatically laughed after every performance as if she were surprised people were clapping (there was all together too much clapping and bowing and fake encores in this performance, but that’s beside the point).

I was not too familiar with the works of Vivaldi.  Ok, let’s be honest – I don’t know that much about classical music in general.  If not being able to play the piano is the greatest failing of my life, this is obviously 1a.  Also, I have trouble relating to anything pre-romantic in general.  So his music appeared to me as would something by Donne; I could appreciate the crafted beauty, even if I was emotionally unmoved.  The melodrama of his lyrics, in particular, did not match well with the jaunty uprightness of the music.  Also, the translations of these lyrics (given to us in the program) were poor.  Not that I am so great at translating 18th century Italian, but I know when someone else is messing up a text.  My incessant criticisms aside, I quite enjoyed the performance as a whole.

For $10, this was totally awesome.  The concert hall is beautiful and the sound carries well; even though we were in the back, and there were only a dozen musicians on stage, and they were (I think) un-miked, we could hear fairly well.  This will hopefully and probably become something I do very frequently.


lazy ox canteen

This is a place that I’ve been wanting to go to for sometime.  And so I went, with VH.  The place itself is fairly inviting, but then I like places with chalkboards.  Though I’m not sure I like chalkboards themselves.  Because of scheduling issues, I teach in a room that doesn’t have a ‘smart’ podium and has chalkboards, which is good in a lot of ways.  Chalk, for example, is quite cheap; you can get 32 pieces of white and different color chalk for $1 at Target.  But it doesn’t erase well and is very messy.  I always get it on my hands and all over my clothes.  Anyway.

The lazy ox is a small plates place.  Wary of ordering too much, as we did at Ink, we got four plates of food.

1. Crispy rabbit livers w/ radicchio, apple, hearts of palm & anchovy vinaigrette

A very good apple salad, with bright, acidic salad-y notes.  The rabbit livers were more fried-crisp than liver, and so somewhat disappointing.  Not bad, but it felt like it could have been anything, deep fried.

2. bellwether farms ricotta fritters with saba & saffron honey

omg so good!  Though I eat meat now, my heart still lies with well conceived, satisfying, vegetarian food.  And fried cheese counts.  The creamy fried intensity of the cheese mixed with the saffron honey was fairly irresistible.  I could have had ten of these.

3. Poached egg, quinoa and crispy pork belly

I was wary of this because of the pork belly, given my difficulties with bacon.  But we figured out that the reason I don’t like bacon has to do with the smokiness.   In this case, the fried pork belly was the perfect complement to the spicy, lemon-y, extremely flavorful quinoa.  The creaminess of the egg made this the most cohesive dish of the evening

4. manila clams w/pork sausage and potatoes

We wanted to get at least one clam dish.  This one was extremely flavorful and satisfying, though maybe less memorable than the others.

5. rice pudding with caramel & hazelnut crumb

We were advised to get the butterscotch pudding or the chocolate pate, but that’s not what we wanted.  We wanted the rice pudding.  And it was phenomenal!  The caramel sauce was completely delicious, and having just made a bunch of candy, I appreciated its gooey, viscous consistency.  This wasn’t making a chocolate cake taste good, which can’t be so hard.  It was making what could be a very ordinary dessert extraordinary.  We were very happy with this.

I mentioned to VH the small-plates similarity between lazy ox and ink, and she rightly pointed out the differences.  Ink is trying to be exciting, with its whipped fish sauce and kelp pasta and carrots that don’t taste like carrots.  This restaurant was dealing in more ‘tried and true’ combinations, like brussels sprouts and bacon, or pork sausage and clams.  That being said, I still find this food creative and interesting, and more importantly, will go back with no hesitation.

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I eat more than I blog

Life can be confusing, you know?  Right now I’m hoping Mr. Focus on the Family taps into his spirituality to get a fucking first down against the worst defense in football.  And he was just sacked.  Twice.  It’s in these times of need that I turn to the lord’s sustaining bounty, for it comforts and soothes my yearning soul.

I’m sorry I made you watch that desecration of a VU song, because now your eyes are bleeding.  Anyway, on to the food.

1. Cafe Sanjang

I have not had very much Korean food in my life, because by the time I was in a place where there was Korean food I was vegetarian.  I guess you can be vegetarian and still eat Korean food, but everyone kept going to Korean BBQ and gushing about how they loved the meat and I was annoyed.  Anyway, not a problem anymore.

Sanjang is a fairly large restaurant that must be a pretty happenin’ spot at night.  But I was there with S at 4:30 on weekeday, so hardly anyone else was there.  No matter, the happy hour prices were great.  We shared cold saki and a fried seaweed wrap appetizer, while I got the Bulgogi bowl and she got the eel bowl.  I have to say it was a very satisfying food experience.  First of all the sake was served like this:

With the blue part being ice that kept the bottle cool.  The seaweed wrap, meanwhile, was pretty amazing.  It was seaweed wrapped around potato noodles and vegetables, then deep fried and served with a tangy, spicy sauce.  The potato noodles were like glass noddles, maybe a little thicker in texture and flavor.  I could have gone for more of the sauce.  I will go back for these.  The bulgogi bowl was beef and rice and very hearty.  I tasted the eel bowl and it seemed the same.  I’m new to this kind of food so maybe I’m just being generous, but this place sort of hits the spot.  I want to see it at night filled with youthful, nubile, extremely annoying college kids.  That way I can eat my fried seaweed roll, while watching the mayhem with disdain.

2. Lou

Wine bar that has turned into a restaurant, in a very inconspicuous strip mall spot in Hollywood, just north of Larchmont village area.  I had medium-low expectations for this place as a wine bar and medium high expectations for this place as a gastro-pub-y restaurant.  I mean, they had a chalkboard and everything.  But it turned out the other way around.  I had a series of red wines, most notably a fresh and mineral-y bergerac that is not listed on their outdated online menu and so is lost forever.  For food, we had pig candy, mac and cheese, and quail stuffed with mushrooms.  I think it was meant to be done-up homespun food, ‘new american’ style, but instead was just homespun.  Nothing wrong with that, though you get the distinct sense you could have made any of these dishes at home with your eyes closed.  I also finalized something while eating the ‘pig candy,’ which was bacon caremlized in brown sugar: namely, that I don’t like bacon.  The smoky/salty flavor and smell are just too overpowering for me (or should that be, ‘too powering’?).  If anything, making it sweet would make me like it, but I don’t.  It’s disappointing for me as well.  Somehow, I still want to go to animal.

3. Daikokuya

One of the 99.  Being able to eat things cooked in miscellaneous broth was probably the primary reason I originally became vegetarian last year.  I just wanted tacos and noodles without worrying, in other words.  Still, I’ve always had my issues with something everyone else loves: noodles in broth.  This has nothing to do with the dish itself, but rather with my idiosyncrasies:  I am not fantastic with chop sticks, I hate messy eating, and I don’t like being too hot.  So, however good the dish, I find noodle soups drippy and slurpy, and they make me too hot.  Wow, that sounds really dirty.  Well, that’s how it is.

After waiting for 30 min, I can’t say this experience was any different.  Too much food, too much mess.  And also very very tasty.  If I could eat ramen in an efficient way and in an air conditioned room it would probably be my favorite thing.  As it is, I dripped broth all over my coat, and got full really quickly.  But it was still good and I’ll go back, if anything just for the mysteriously cooked hard/soft egg.


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Doom Scenarios: Holiday Gifts

My immediate response to the United States officially becoming an Orwellian police state has mainly been to focus on ‘new american’ home ec with even more fervor.  I say this in preemptive defense, so to speak, of my decision to turn to Martha Stewart to guide half of my holiday shopping.  Much of what I needed to get was already accomplished by my ransaking of the Lord’s cricket giftshop while I was in London (for my dad) and deciding to get my mom the ole’ alan watts + murakami combo.  She went to Japan a couple years ago.  Anyway, for everyone else I was cooking.

As mentioned, all of my gifts were culled from Martha’s (can I call you Martha?) not-too-upscale tweeish holiday gift guide.  I made the fudge, the toffee (with lavender salt), the caramels, and the marshmallows (gifted with graham cracker’s and mint chocolate squares, copying R’s holiday gifts).  The fudge turned out the best, but only with milk or dark chocolate.  Something about white chocolate makes it not work.  I also realized that making different types of candies mostly consists in heating up butter and sugar to various different temperatures.  Even so, somehow my toffee turned out more bite-able than my caramel’s.  Here’s a picture of the fudge, which, really, was quite good.  Put crushed candycanes on shit.  It’s good.


Anyway, I think my respect for Martha Stewart is growing.  Before I didn’t understand what she did or why she was famous, and then I thought she just got lucky, but no, I think she’s the real deal.  I looked at lots of other homemade holiday gift things, and her were the best, by far.  Even better than Saveur’s cookie advent calendar, which was pretty good.  What can I say, she has a gift.  Either her or her people.

Duck of the week: new years duck

Albert hopes to be more consistent in updating his blog, while still maintaining quality.  Maybe I’ll be better as well?  Quality?

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