Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Getting Our Nacho On

[Apparently none of you cares about the chickens, so we're trying something a little easier today: sweet, glorious nachos.]

I don't know if we've talked about it here, but I love nachos. I do. But not as much as my friend Brad does. When Brad told me that yesterday, October 21, is the International Day of the Nacho, obviously we had to celebrate.

It had to be at Lotería because they have the best nachos in town, and I'm a loyalist having gone to the Farmer's Market one five thousand times, but this time we went a bit out of our way to check out to the new Lotería Grill in Hollywood because, well, they have margaritas. So we rounded up our people, and alit on Lotería. They didn't know what hit them (mainly because they didn't know about the International Day of the Nacho. For shame!) Here are some numbers for you:

- people in our party: 13
- ginormous plates of nachos, piled on with black beans, cheese, green salsa, scallions, tomatoes, optional meats, and delicious broily goodness: 7
- times the stories of Ignacio Ayana -- the inventor of nachos, and Carmen Rocha -- the Nacho Queen of El Cholo, responsible for bringing the fantastic stuff to LA (who sadly, passed away last week, just missing the holiday that celebrates her calling), were told or mistold: 4
- frighteningly strong margaritas, palomas (that's right kids, it's like a margarita, but with Squirt. Classy!), and Bohemias: lost count at 11
- micheladas ordered, despite fascinating variations like the the one with Worcestershire and Maggi sauce, and the spicy michelada enchilada: 0
- bus boys that sang along with me when "Oye Mi Amor" came on, then hit on me incoherently en español: 1
- depressing Aimee Mann songs that came on in between the mix of fun Spanish pop: 1
- sad little Mini Coopers that got towed(!) from the deceptively amazing spot around the corner from the restaurant: 1, mine.

The moral of the story, other than that nachos are good and we should eat them often, is that the new Lotería Grill is a Good Thing. I love a place where I can get a really tasty meal (along with the all the menu items from the Farmer's Market stand, they also had awesome-sounding specials like Veracruz-style red snapper and 2 kinds of shrimp tacos) and a cocktail for not too much money, in a casual, but really energized setting that's not at all a scene, from a friendly team of servers. It seems simple, but it's hard to find. I just wish the Hollywood that surrounded it, and its obnoxious parking pitfalls, didn't suck so bad.

But still, go there! (Park carefully!) Eat nachos!

Loteria Grill is at 6627 Hollywood Blvd., just east of Cherokee.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Prop 2: What Do I Do?

Friends, I'm completely torn. I've read the Fast Food Nation, and all the Michael Pollan, The Food Revolution, Animal Vegetable Miracle, and more. I've pored through countless articles, blog posts, and stories about the sorry state of our food supply and the plague of factory farming. I know the plight of the chickens. It's pretty awful for them, and they pass on the yuck to us: in the form of diseases and the antibiotics they have to take to combat them.

So, there are all sorts of reasons that conceptually, giving chickens, as well as other livestock, adequate room to turn around and spread their limbs and wings is a good, good thing. But then, the LA Times isn't endorsing Proposition 2: They fear that the high costs will drive the egg industry out of California, just exporting the inhumanity, rather than eliminating it, all the while decreasing our options for local eggs.

So, I'm confused. Is this Prop 2 pro-farmer, or against him? Is it too much to ask our state's egg industry? What's more important -- eggs from humanely-raised chickens, or eggs produced locally? Or can we have both? After all, the Proposition's limitations wouldn't kick in until 2015 -- ample time to figure out alternatives to the current system.

I want to hear your opinions. Please share your thoughts in the comments and help me figure this out! How are you going to vote on Proposition 2?

[thanks to chez pim for the photo]

Sunday, October 19, 2008

nicky! birthday!

things i learned at nick's birthday dinner last night:
- there is a hershey theme park in hershey, pennsylvania. a theme park all about chocolate!
- heinz is the pride of pittsburgh. never serve that cheapo albertson's ketchup to a local.
- meatloaf in muffin pans is as adorable as it is delicious. (but why stop there? i'm envisioning a meat bundt.)
- a candelabra hanging in a tree is very, very dreamy.
- the ISO setting on my camera is the most amazing thing in the world ever.
- oh, but nick's grandma's ginger snaps! a respectable second.

After My Own Heart

a glass of white and the crossword? not a bad way to spend a sunday.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday is made for genmai-cha

Today I got an email from the editor of the Shofar, an Iranian Jewish quarterly that my dad has a hand in publishing. She wants me to contribute something to their winter issue, which is very exciting. I started to reply, but quickly realized it's not going to be a one-liner. I put on some hot water, and pulled out a couple cookbooks. It was time to do some research.

Let's face it: this isn't a coffee home. The coffee I make in my little French press never comes out as good as I'd like, and the stupid Senseo I got for 'free' is a swill-machine that ust takes up precious counter space. We do tea really well though. Today was the day for genmai-cha: a nutty-tasting Japanese blend of green tea and toasted brown rice. I have a fancy tin of the stuff I was given as a gift -- really great tea from an Australian company called Tease. Perfect after a night of over-imbibing, I boiled some water and poured it directly over the leaves. I'm always skeptical that the leaves, toasted rice grains, and twiggy bits will actually settle to the bottom and let me drink in peace, but they always do.

Then began the 'quick reply', which was in fact a deliciously satisfying archaeological dig through many topics and many media, just what I love. Pore through old interviews from the cookbook, looking for Hanukkah-related recipes. There are none. Find an old sufganiyot recipe, get reminded of its symbolism -- doughnuts fried in oil to symbolize the ancient miracle of one day's oil lasting eight days. Take a couple sips, burn tongue, call Violet and Saeed to ask if there are any Persian fritters that would be suitable for Hanukkah. Settle into bed a little deeper. Find the recipe for zoloubia -- fried funnel-cake-like sweets doused generously in a honey syrup, in Najmieh Batmanglij's New Food of Life. Hmm. Kind of a stretch though. Ooh, there's a page on the winter solstice feast. Carrot brownies? Fascinating. Whoa, carrot pudding. Saffron pudding. Crap, I digress.

Pour more hot water over the now-soggy leaves. Pull out my beloved Book of Jewish Food; consult. Claudia Roden has never let me down, and once again, she holds the answer: apparently Egyptian Jews eat fritters called 'zalabia' at Hanukkah time. Zoloubia is not a stretch at all. (And for Russian Hanukkah, you douse a sugarcube with brandy, set it on fire, and throw it in your tea. Not even remotely relevant, but rad!).

It comes to this: All I want to do is sit on my bed and read Claudia Roden and write and pour glass after glass over my soggy tea leaves, but alas, errands call. All I did was answer one email. How is it already noon?!