for June, 2011
My first meal at Xoia Vietnamese Eats elicited a mixed review. I had nothing but love for their beef pho and salsa, but I was a little down on some of their other specialties. In the year since, however, the Mexican-tinged Vietnamese restaurant has really thrived, becoming a worthy mainstay on Echo Park’s Sunset Blvd.
While Xoia’s original menu has come into its own—their Lemongrass Pork Carnitas Bahn Mi even made the Gastronomer’s list of LA’s best Vietnamese sandwiches—their new dishes have rounded things out rather impressively. I’m crazy for their very addictive and outrageously delicious Bunrria, a birria-meets-bún bò Huế dish, complete with rice noodles, slow-pressure steamed red chile beef, and a smokey broth made from said beef. I swear, I dream about that stuff.
If you haven’t given Xoia a try (and even if you have), tomorrow would be a good time to stop in. Xoia will be celebrating its first birthday and you’ll get a free Pho Beef Taco or Vietnamese Coffee when you order an entrée. Yeah!
I complain a lot. But it’s mostly about one thing: my commute. If you already know me, then you know this to be a fact, and if you ever meet me, the subject will most definitely come up. I think I’m entitled, though, since I endure the dreaded Los Angeles east to west commute everyday.
Festering in traffic 2-plus hours a day is harrowing enough, but doing the math makes it worse: 12 hours wasted on a weekly basis. That’s why I rarely venture any further than Lincoln Heights on the weekends and compulsively dream of a job Downtown.
This being my lot, I relish the rare opportunities I get to work from home. Avoiding the drive is a treat, but even sweeter is the chance to lunch in the eastern hemisphere of LA…on a weekday! Just last week week, such an opportunity arose and I found myself at Forage in Silver Lake.
It was kind of thrilling to be so far east of Santa Monica at 1 o’clock in the afternoon on a Thursday. So thrilling, in fact that I got a little out of hand and ordered the ham and cheddar bread pudding. Though a little salty for my tastes, every rich and savory bite was joyous. The slab they piled on my plate was remarkably moist inside (is there egg in that thing?), with a crispy baked top crust and thinly sliced ham pieces with a nicely seared texture—no flimsy, soggy pork here.
To squeeze in a bit of nutrition, I chose kale salad and beet and citrus salad as my sides. However, seeing as the kale salad had a parmesan bread crumb topping (a perfect texture contrast for the kale) and the beets had more cheese, I barely fooled myself.
But, I was celebrating my freedom from the 10 freeway so…
I don’t even really like Umami Burger, if you want to know the truth. I’ve been twice and, while the first time was alright, the second was a soggy mess that left me seriously questioning Umami-mania. I’d been expecting fireworks, but all I got the beefy equivalent to a bum sparkler.
Nonetheless, I still found myself in Eagle Rock last Friday night, queueing up for The Oinkster’s take on the signature Umami Burger. It was a misguided attempt to make up for having missed the pretend Tommy Burger they’d served earlier in their Burger Week. You see, I’ve loved Tommy Burgers since I was a kid, when my dad would take us to the original location on Beverly. But that’s when I was brave–these days, the drippy chili-cheese burgers scare me, which is why I was clamoring for the safer-seeming Oinkster version.
Sadly, it was not to be.
It’s sort of here, but just like last year, it’s proving to be mild. In my heat-hating mind that’s a good thing, but I know all you summer lovers get disappointed by this sweater weather. But I offer you a reprieve— here’s something fun, summer-y and community-boosting for you to do in July.
Galco’s, Highland Park’s soda pop mecca, is hosting a Summer Soda Tasting event with Galco’s owner John Nese. According to The Eastsider, you’ll be tasting new products and flavors from Hanks, Fentimans, Bundaberg, Waialua Soda Works and Red Ribbon.
Proceeds from this event go to benefit The Friends of the Southwest Museum, a very dedicated community group with a mission to save the Southwest Museum, which has been more or less closed to the public for a couple of years. Plus, it’s a good excuse to take your friends to Galco’s if they’ve never been. The old-timey candy and shelves and shelves of soda are pretty fun to behold.
You can buy your $12 ticket online through Paypal with this link.
I’ve returned from my trip to France, and I’ll be back to writing about LA very soon, but in the meantime, I thought you might like to see some delectable sights from the Flower Market of Cours Saleya in the Vieille Ville (a.k.a. Old Town Nice). There were plenty of beautiful flowers, but I was more interested in the food, of course. I was really blown away by the quality and variety offered in this (almost daily) market–from a robust selection of produce to vibrantly colored salts (pictured above) and confections that were seriously a site to behold.
It’s no secret that France is a food lover’s dream come true, and this market really blew me away!