Archive | February, 2010

Feb. 28, 2010

28 Feb

9:30 am

1 bowl of Chocolate Cheerios

12:30 pm

The Shack

Shack Burger with the works

handful of fries

3 glasses of water

In honor of the USA-Canada Olympic gold medal hockey game, I ate a cheeseburger topped with a Polish sausage. The split links could be like two hockey sticks, and the burger patty could represent the puck. Right? I’m just trying to justify the 3,000 calories I consumed for lunch, and what I was thinking when I ordered it. When you bite into a Shack Burger, the grease from the sausage oozes out, melds with the cheese, and permeates the 1/3 pound beef patty into one awe-inducing concoction. None of the ingredients would be special by itself, but melded together, it’s pretty remarkable. It’ll also shave a few years from your life expectancy. The owner kept raving about the burger, but confessed that he rarely eats one. He’s a smarter man than I this afternoon.

I watched the hockey with a few friends including my former college roommate Rob, who’s from Vancouver. Even though they won, someone should put a montage together of Canadian reactions when Zach Parise tied the game with 28 seconds left. If you watched that 1970’s mini-series “Shogun” and remember the scene where a samurai had to commit ritualistic suicide, that’s what it reminded me of. The stunned look on Rob’s face was kinda funny, though I didn’t laugh outwardly lest I drive him over the edge. In a way, it’s fitting that Canada won. They LOVE hockey, while Americans only care if we conveniently have a chance to embarrass another country. We never would’ve shut down major metropolitan centers if we won, but they did in Toronto and Vancouver. And the US population did not drastically decrease after we lost, but I don’t know if I could’ve said the same if it happened to Canada. So congratulations, you hosers, for having a good hockey team and for culling together a wonderful Olympics after an auspicious start. As for us Americans, baseball spring training starts soon. Now THAT’s a sport.

4 pm

1 apple

7 pm

1 bowl of rice

side of kimchee

side of spinach


This dinner was probably for the best, after my burger-Polish sausage lunch.


Feb. 27, 2010

27 Feb

11 am

3 eggs, scrambled

2 pieces of wheat toast

One of the few things I prefer eating at home as opposed to restaurants are scrambled eggs. They’re almost always overcooked and rubbery when I order them. I know some people freak out about slightly undercooked eggs, but a lot of restaurants, even the better breakfast places, err on the side of overcooking them. So I implore you to scramble your own eggs at home, they’ll taste better that way.

– Heat a good size pat of butter in a skillet over low heat until they foam

– Whisk three eggs with seasonings and herbs. Pour into pan and let it set for a few seconds.

– When the sides coagulate, push that into the center and let more egg pour to the edge. Then take your spoon or spatula and stir the center of the pan constantly, occasionally folding the edges into the center as well. The eggs should have a near custard-like consistency from not being allowed to sit in the pan for too long.

– As soon as the eggs come together, but while it still looks a little wet, remove from the pan onto a plate. Residual heat will cook the rest of the eggs through.

That’s it. If you cook them any longer, then you’ll have eggs that feels like packing foam. This is very basic, but sometimes it’s good to go over them again.

4 pm


1 tall nonfat latte

6:30 pm

baked rotini with mushrooms and cheese

1 can of Boddington ale

11 pm

1/4 bottle of Grey Goose vodka (!!)

cranberry juice mixer

handful of chips, with accompanying dips

A party I went to had this Buffalo blue cheese dip from Target that had blue cheese AND gorgonzola. I like blue cheese and I like gorgonzola, so this has to be delicious, right? WRONG. There was so much salt in there that it felt like a saline implant exploded in my mouth. My teeth seriously quivered from the amount of sodium it made contact with. It was disgusting, and yet I scooped out 1/4 of the jar with Tostito’s Scoop tortilla chips. Those suckers, shaped like tiny cups, truly do scoop things devastatingly well as the name implies. That’s why I ate so much of the cheese dip. Oh, that and the vodka. God damn alcohol. It makes any disgusting food a good idea. My heart might explode from too much sodium? Who cares, I have Grey Goose.

Feb. 26, 2010

26 Feb

12 pm

California Pizza Kitchen

BBQ chicken pizza

1 glass of water

I HATE California Pizza Kitchen. Not because their food is bad. It’s more of a Pavlovian reaction to a job I had several years ago. I worked at a small start-up post-production house that provided meals for all clients and employees. The two owners of that company had a general dislike for food. One of them, Dave, said he was traumatized from his mother’s cooking and looked at eating as a chore. He only ate Big Mac’s and fries. My other boss, Rob, usually picked meals for everyone from three places: Cheesecake Factory, Jerry’s Famous Deli and California Pizza Kitchen. In the seven months I was there, I had a chance to eat every single item off the menu from those three places, repeatedly. Soon enough, eating turned into a chore for me as well. The other employees, including one of the boss’ girlfriend, tried rebelling by ordering Thai Food. But that was quickly squashed, and we had to settle for Cheesecake Factory. CPK was my favorite of those three, I guess. The BBQ Chicken Pizza, one of the quintessential California-style pizzas, is one of the few things I don’t hate. So if I have to go to a CPK, that’s what I’ll get. Or the BBQ Chicken Salad. Everything else is too painful of a reminder of six-days work-week at 14 hours a day while eating the same dish for the third time that week. It’s not you, CPK. I’m the one with issues here.

7:30 pm

Pizzeria Mozza

1 sausage and fennel pizza

1/2 butterscotch budino


There isn’t a whole lot I can write about Pizzeria Mozza that hasn’t been written before. Yes, it’s good, and it’s definitely worth a visit every now and then. It’s not a traditional Neapolitan pizza per se, but you can’t argue with the crackling results on that phenomenal pizza-bread crust. Some of my favorites include the two topped with an eggs, with either guanciole, radicchio and baugna cuda or potatoes, bacon and onions. The squash blossoms and the rapini with anchovies are also ones I’ve enjoyed. But my personal favorite is the sausage and fennel, and it’s the only one I’ve ordered more than twice. There’s a potent punch of fennel powder that hits your nose before you even bite into it, and that effectively cuts through the sweetness of the sausage. I devoured the entire pizza in about 15 minutes. I also end every meal at Mozza with at least a shared order of the butterscotch budino, still my favorite dessert in LA. It’s caramel, salt and cream, ’nuff said.

10:30 pm

2 bottles of Sierra Nevada beer

2 bite-size mini-tarts (from Susina Bakery)

1 mini-grilled cheese panini (from Susina Bakery)

If a party is going to serve various goods from Susina Bakery, of course I’m going to park myself by the food table and eat what I can, even after eating two pizzas in one day. And this is why I gained a few pounds the last few weeks. God damn free food! It’s evil for a weak-willed simpleton like me.

Feb. 25, 2010

25 Feb

11 am

1 bowl of Chocolate Cheerios

2:30 pm


1/2 grilled chicken panini

1/2 side salad

1 glass of iced tea

2 scoops of ice cream (1 banana dulce de leche, 1 strawberry sorbet)

1 one-bite red velvet cupcake

I always tell my non-LA friends that not everyone in this city is skinny, health-obsessed and good-looking. If you wait in line at Tito’s Tacos late on a Friday night, you’d know that there are some fat people in this city as well. But then I hiked Runyon Canyon on a Thursday afternoon and my friends might be onto something. Runyon Canyon is one of the quintessential LA locales where people go to be seen just as much as they’re there to actually work out. There are a lot of semi-employed actors, most of them are good looking, and they tend to congregate in the same areas. Runyon is one of those places. Let’s just say that I felt self-conscious about not wearing sunglasses and for wearing a bright-orange t-shirt that was too large. Oh well. I don’t know why I’m complaining. The weather was gorgeous and there were a lot of beautiful women wearing skimpy workout clothes. So yes, my non-Angeleno friends. LA can be health and looks obsessed. That can be a good thing sometimes.

7:30 pm

mandoo soup

2 glasses of water

I made mini mandoos, or Korean dumplings, this weekend with pre-made wrappers and a simple pork filling. I planned on posting recipes and taking pictures and whatnot. Unfortunately, I didn’t store them properly, so the dumpling wrappers tore to bits because of excess moisture. It looked like carnage. So, I’m not going to post any pictures, or write anything about it, and will wait until I produce a more proper version.

11:30 pm

2 cans of Peter’s Brand Classic beer

It was my civic duty as someone of Korean heritage to stay up late and watch Olympic women’s figure skating. Might as well drink cheap German beer while doing it! I’m not going to pretend to be a figure skating expert, but as a sports fan, I appreciate transcendent athletes. And I especially appreciate the moments when they unleash their singular ability to destroy everyone. When Michael Jordan demanded the ball in the final second and stared down his defenders, you knew he’d find a way to rip the heart out of his opponent. You got that same sense whenever Kobe Bryant produces his scary underbite, or when Tiger Woods glares at the one putt he can’t miss, a la the 2008 US Open (and not um, the 2009 Las Vegas romp with Jaimee Grubbs). When Yu-Na Kim flashed a smile right before she started her figure skating long program, you got that sense as well. For a 19-year-old girl, one who faces a ludicrous amount of pressure and scrutiny from her home country as arguably it’s most popular athlete ever, to smile right before the biggest moment of her life proves she has that it quality. She annihilated her old world-record score. To beat a skater who performed two triple axels by 23 points is absurd. For comparison’s sake, if the Lakers and Cavaliers meet in a game seven of this year’s NBA Finals, it’s if LeBron James puts up 55 points triple-double and Kobe counters with 65 points and the game-winning nail in the coffin shot. It was that momentous of a performance.

The long program was a good follow-up to Tuesday’s short program, which was one of the most compelling sports moments I’ve ever seen. First, Mao Asada skated the best program by anyone all year and set this year’s highest score. Kim immediately followed and promptly set the world record for highest score. Then Joannie Rochette skated 48 hours after her mother’s passing with her personal best score that generated millions of lumps in viewer’s throats. That’s three impossibly clutch performances. There was no way Thursday could match the short program for drama, but it was compelling for different reasons. Four other skaters posted their personal best scores in a very strong field. Asada, Kim’s main rival, was considered the next great skating prodigy. If she was old enough to compete in the 2006 Olympics, she would’ve been a gold medal favorite. Four years later, Asada is still great and no one before or since can match the ease with which she does triple axels. But after her second-place score was announced, Asada looked dazed, as if a truck just hit her. That’s the same look Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing had when they got bulldozed by Jordan’s Bulls. Like Asada, they were all great. Unfortunately for them, a singular talent happened to come along at the same time.

Feb. 24, 2010

24 Feb

I ate nothing exciting today. It involved cereal, a trip to the salad bar at Gelson’s Supermarket, and a lot of beer. Instead, I’m going to post an outtake. This was supposed to appear last Wednesday, but I went on hiatus instead. I figured this is a good time to complain about poaching eggs. And I’m going to admit it, this is a mailed-in post.

Poaching eggs shouldn’t be hard, but I find it near impossible in my kitchen. I have this old gas stove that has a slight slope to it. Hence, the left side of my burners is a lot hotter than the right and I always have to rotate whatever I’m cooking to avoid burning one side. This is a minor nuisance most of the time, but when poaching eggs, one always cook faster than the other. It’s also hard to control the flames consistently, so maintaining a precise simmer is impossible. That’s key with poached eggs. If the water boils too hard, the egg will break up. If it isn’t hot enough, then it won’t cook properly.

For some reason, while scraping together a meal with excess vegetables, I decided to try poaching eggs. Sure enough, one of my eggs overcooked completely while the other one was perfect. And there was a brief period where the water boiled and dismantled the eggs’ shape. I added vinegar because that keeps the egg’s protein from dissipating too much. But vinegar also leaves errant strands of egg whites, and the few seconds of violently boiling water shredded my egg whites completely. I did reshape it into a relatively presentable mound with my hands and got one decent poached egg out of this, but what should have been a simple 3-5 minute process was a complete pain in the ass. Anyway, that’s the behind-the-scene account of today’s picture.

Feb. 23, 2010

23 Feb

10:30 am

2 eggs, scrambled

1 biscuit

1 pm


1 bowl of mul naeng myun

plate of galbi

various banchan

glass of water (with multiple refills)

I’d rank Joanna Newsom’s Have One On Me as the second or third greatest triple-album in rock history. It’d rank behind the Magnetic Field’s 69 Love Songs and I haven’t decided if it’s better than George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. Considering that the Clash’s messy Sandinista! is really the only other competition, this list is all dubious. Let’s face it, the length of double albums are rarely justified. Even the great ones, The Songs In the Key of Life, White Albums or Exile On Main Street, have fillers and can be a chore to get through. Triple albums though, those take cojones considering there’s no way the length will be justified. I thought Newsom’s previous album, Y’s, was massive enough, with 10-minute songs full of elaborately dense orchestration, musical left turns and a Byzantine narrative with talking bears. Have One On Me is obviously bigger, it’s two hours long, and again has a long rambling narrative that may or may not involve talking animals (birds in this case). But musically, it’s simpler, less orchestral and more pared down. Her fans might think of Have One On Me Joanna Newsom-light and while I do think Y’s is more interesting, there’s virtue in the more direct approach. When the songs work, they’re her most memorable numbers. In fact, the jazzy and Joni Mitchell-like “Good Intentions Paving Company” is easily her best song ever and the best single I’ve heard all year. When the songs don’t work though, it all blends together. And at two-hours, there will be fillers, particularly on the second album.

Here’s a free mp3 for “Good Intentions Paving Company,” my favorite song of the year so far. Don’t say I didn’t give you anything! Have One On Me is out now, on Drag City.

Eating at Gen-wa, in a way, is like listening to Have One On Me. Look at all those plates of banchan. There’s 21 in all, and they’re all refilled whenever you want. Half of it’s pretty good, though with so many, there are obvious fillers. You can instantly tell how good and generous a Korean restaurant will be by their banchan. If they’re skimpy, the other dishes might be as well. And if the quality sucks, then the food will be the same. With 21 banchans, Gen-wa tries to blow you away on first impression. I’ve driven by Gen-wa everyday on my commute to and from work and never gave it a second thought. It’s at the bottom of a new, soulless apartment complex in an awkward locale away from most Korean businesses, and the restaurant is just a black cube thanks to heavily-tinted windows. The entire apartment complex, restaurant and all, looks empty and foreboding. But inside, it was surprisingly busy at lunchtime. There were a couple of groups of Korean women and quite a bit of non-Koreans, including one E! reporter. The interior is even more black than the exterior. The tables, walls, waiter’s uniforms, they’re all black and sleek. Darth Vader was the obvious design influence.

Most LA locale’s will take Korean neophytes to Chosun Galbi for their first meal. It’s both safe and authentic enough to make a good introduction. Prices are also a bit higher, the food a bit better sourced and the setting is a bit grander. Gen-wa fits into this niche, in terms of food, price and decor.  The galbi uses better quality beef than most places and has a relatively sweet marinade with a pronounced ginger flavor, but you don’t get a lot of it. My friend Robyn’s dolsot bibimbap was massive, big enough for two and easily the best deal of this meal. It’s served in a very wide stone vessel as opposed to a smaller bowl, and that allows for a lot of rice to toast up, but only if the waiter doesn’t scoop it up prematurely. Surprisingly, the majority of the 21 banchans were pretty good. The flavors are tempered somewhat, you won’t get any of the more exotic dishes like jellyfish, and I wish the kochujang, or hot pepper paste, was spicier and not so watery. But the ingredients are of good quality and that made going through all 21 fun. That alone was good enough reason to stop at a place I looked past many times.

2:30 pm


1/2 tall nonfat latte

I couldn’t finish my coffee drink after such a huge meal.

7:15 pm


1 steak burrito bowl (with guacamole added)

1 medium Diet Coke (with 1 refill)

8:30 pm

Peet’s Coffee

1/2 cup of coffee

10:30 pm


1 bottle of Anchor Steam beer

1 24 oz. can of Pabst Blue Ribbon

This band is Free Energy, a rock band from Philadelphia signed to DFA and produced by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. As much as I like my insipid indie rock (like Beach House’s Teen Dreams), I do miss good old-fashioned rock. Back at the turn of the century (the early 2000’s), people went nuts for the Strokes. Grunge was officially a memory, Rage Against the Machine imploded and Britney, Christina and the Backstreet Boys dominated the charts. The Strokes weren’t actually great, per se. They just sounded like “authentic” rock music, and people clung to that hope. Ten years later, Free Energy has been hyped by the blogosphere for similar reasons. They ape Thin Lizzy and T. Rex, rather glossily like “Dazed and Confused.” It’s all a bit too precious. The one thing I like about Free Energy is their fizziness. Rhythms are bright, punchy and danceable. Considering that one half of LCD Soundsystem, that’s not a surprise. And I can see why Free Energy is the first rock band on the DFA record label. It sounds like actual rock and roll in a way, but they still want you to dance.

Here’s yet another free mp3: Free Energy’s “Dream City.” Their album Stuck On Nothin’ is out March 9, on DFA.

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Feb. 22, 2010

22 Feb

10 am

1 bowl of Chocolate Cheerios

Chocolate Cheerios! In cereal parlance, Chocolate Cheerios is the equivalent of that upstanding Christian girl who, to retain her virginity for marriage, only takes it up the ass. Half of this cereal is the wholesome whole-grain goodness of regular Cheerios. You think you’re eating a healthy cereal that’s good for you, and according to the nutritional information, it is. Then you finish the bowl, look down at the milk, and see that it’s stained brown. And yet, you kinda enjoyed it. That, my friend, is Chocolate Cheerios, my new favorite cereal of the moment. Dang, Chocolate Cheerios, you a nasty one.

2 pm

Alcove Cafe & Bakery

blackened salmon sandwich

side salad

1 glass of iced tea

The horrible new HBO series How to Make It In America makes me want to punch a young person in the face. I’m 32 and not that old, and yet this show makes me feel cranky and senile. Paste Magazine parties! Models! Casual hookups with ex’s! Hey, we earn it by living in cramped apartments and barely affording food to eat. God, this show is so self-serving that even the virtues of being poor is handled in a smug manner. It’s like the other smug HBO show, Entourage, except without the insider-Hollywood feel and machinations. They just took the crappy parts of Entourage, plopped it in New York, and made a show out of it. Since The Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet Under and Sex and the City all ended around the same time, HBO’s only been pursuing buzz shows, in lieu of actual substance (Big Love being their one exception. And True Blood is entertaining, but that’s about it). How to Make It In America is that philosophy carried to it’s most ludicrous extreme.

Eating at the Alcove Cafe in Los Feliz reminds me of How to Make It In America in a sunny LA setting. In other words, it’s like Urth Cafe in Entourage without the Hollywood gossip. There really is no better place to go to get a perfect sample size of young Los Feliz/Silver Lake types who are questionably employed. There are quite a bit of tattoos, skinny pants and sunglasses to wade through. Most of the dining space is outdoors, in an actual garden setting, with old mismatched furniture. It’s all carefully calibrated, but Alcove does feel properly bohemian. On a sunny day, there really is no better place to idle away an LA afternoon. Except on weekends, when everyone has the same idea and the ordeal in landing a tables is a pain in the ass.

With the idealistic settings and atmosphere, food was always an afterthought. They revamp their menu occasionally, but everything is still bland, overpriced and massively portioned.  I usually get breakfast here, but opted for the lunch special, which was the blackened salmon sandwich. It was probably the blandest blackened salmon I’ve ever ate. For a dish that’s supposed to be crusted with spices and charred, I don’t know how it’s possible for this it be a black hole of flavor. Yet they topped the sandwich with half an avocado, which I brushed aside for the salad. So my food wasn’t good, but it really didn’t matter when it was a balmy 70 degrees. There are a lot worse ways to spend a Monday afternoon.

7:30 pm

1 pan-friend chicken breast

side potato salad

1 can of Peter’s Brand Classic beer

Just because a beer is from Germany doesn’t make it good. Isn’t that right, Peter’s Brand Classic Dutch-style lager? In a more American analogy, if Pabst Blue Ribbon decided to be mimic Labatt’s, you get that shitty brand.

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