for January, 2012
A decent donut is a fairly easy find, but a stellar one? That can be an enigma unless you’re willing to drive to Inglewood or Glendora, which is quite a commitment to quench one little donut craving.
It’s not like there’s a shortage of donut shops on this side of town. They’re as ubiquitous in this corner as any other in Los Angeles—just pull into any strip mall, and you can probably emerge with a bearclaw or cruller in seconds. No sweat.
But, let’s be honest: it will most likely be just so-so, all kinds of ho-hum, a little waxy, on the dry side, too dense, or just plain eh.
You deserve better.
That’s why I’m letting you in on the best kept donut secret in Highland Park/Hermon (it’s right on the cusp, so I’m not sure which neighborhood it’s actually in). If you passed by it, you wouldn’t even give it a second glance. There’s no gigantic, beacon-like donut sign to reel you in, no buzz to spark your curiosity….nothing.
If there’s one thing I don’t care about it’s the Super Bowl.
Just now, I even had to look up whether it was one word or two. That’s how not part of my consciousness it is.
I do, however, care a lot about party food—chips and dips, meat in blankets, etc. etc. And, since I figure some of you might be looking for something breathtaking to take to a Superbowl (darn it!) Super Bowl party, I’m sharing my should-be-famous Spicy Cheese Ball recipe with you.
Seriously, it’s the best in the world. The BEST! People go crazy for it.
It’s pieced together from the many cheese ball recipes I’ve followed over the years, plus a few of my own ideas. I did get the idea to use Gouda from Amy’s Sedaris’ Lil’ Smokey Cheese Ball recipe, but the rest of the credit, I’m holding onto.
Here’s what you need:
4 cups of Gouda cheese (about 1 lb)
2-3 Habanero chiles (depending on your spice desires and tolerance)
1 heaping tbsp of cilantro
2 packages of cream cheese (room temperature)
4 stalks of green onion
2 tbsp of mayo (Weird, right? But trust me.)
2 cups of chopped nuts (I use 1 cup walnuts, 1 cup pecans)
Though reasonably healthy and fit, my brother and I have fat kids inside us, and they are partners in crime. I’ve evidence this phenomenon before on this blog, during a certain chili dog outing that took us all the way to West Hollywood. This time, our carnal food desires lured us to Nick’s Cafe, an LA institution and cop hangout since 1948. And, oh, was there gluttony.
Pure and unadulterated.
I’ve heard great things about Proof Bakery but never the pleasure, so when a friend suggested lunch there, I said “Oooh! Sure.” I don’t get to see Atwater Village on weekdays or by sunlight too often, but since I started working from home (no more east-to-west commute!), I’ve been trying to squeeze in local lunch spots.
Proof Bakery doesn’t bowl you over on sight. The small, unassuming space is all clean lines, modern airiness and marble tables. The dessert case/counter doesn’t have Marie Antoinette-esque decadence of many bakeries these days, so there aren’t the stacks and piles of cakes and cobblers of, say, Huckleberry in Santa Monica. That said, the restrained set of offerings does hit the right sweet and savory notes—think chocolate chip cookies, cheese and chive biscuits, croissants, tarts and morning buns.
There are piles of sandwiches, however, because that’s the way Proof showcases their daily options. When I was there, there were three plates of as many varieties: prosciutto, bacon and beet. If I had it my way, I would have had the prosciutto, but pregnancy rules make it a no-no, especially since it had been sitting around at room temperature. I played it safe with the beet sandwich, but don’t feel sad for me.
Life can’t be all wet burritos and pie, but you can have a chocolate breakfast smoothie pretty much every day. At least I have ever since my new blender came into my life. It’s nothing special (the blender, I mean, not the smoothie)—just a $40 machine, but it sure does make a mean breakfast smoothie.
Thus far, I’ve experimented with a couple of different concoctions. I’ve done the yogurt-oj-banana thing and the berry-banana-milk shuffle, but the one that I keep coming back to is a powerhouse blend of antioxidants, vitamin C, protein, calcium, Omega 3s, and most importantly…chocolate.
Still, it’s not too sweet, and the granola I layer in gives it an earthy quality that makes you feel like you’re some health nut living in Santa Cruz or Berkeley or whatever ultra-liberal college town you’d like to imagine yourself.
Sound good? Well, here’s what you need for one smoothie:
I’ve had a three prevalent/overwhelming cravings throughout my pregnancy: peanut butter, shredded wheat cereal and wet burritos. Of the food-obsessed trinity, the wet burrito urge is my favorite as it plays right into my blogging schemes, allowing me to “research” various versions around town. My latest and greatest discovery is the adobada burrito at Highland Park’s El Huarache Azteca Restaurante.
El Huarache is one of the most prized restaurants on York Boulevard—it’s always packed, and it’s hard to find many who will deny its superiority. As the name implies, they’re most famous for their huarache, an oblong-shaped slab of fried masa covered with cojita cheese, meat (avocado in this case because we ordered it veggie), crema, lettuce and onions. And, yes, their huaraches are good, but to me, their adobada burrito shines even brighter.
I sift through ‘em all, so you don’t have to. Check out the food finds I loved this week (and last):
- Salty cheese goes better with sweat teas. I learned this and more from a new-to-me article from Cynthia Gold about “Inspired Cheese and Tea Parings” on Culture: The Word on Cheese.
- Joy the Baker has a beautifully balanced cranberry toasted coconut flaxseed oatmeal recipe, plus a smoothie concoction that will get you back on track after all the holiday gorging.
- The Minty has me asking myself why on earth I haven’t been to Michael Voltaggio’s ink.sack. Oh yeah, it’s in West Hollywood, and I’m lazy. Still…the pictures are lovely.
- So, Natalie James of Fashion Intel recently found out she has Jewish roots. Fast forward to some Latkes with Apple Chutney.
- Like marijuana? Well, you’re in luck because a cannabis pop-up restaurant is allegedly coming to town thanks to French chef Laurent Quenioux and Starry Kitchen’s Nguyen Tran. Read all the sorted details on Grub Street.
- It’s a tradition! The Gastronomer lists her “Top 10 Sweets of 2011.” The salted caramel bar from Huckleberry is mentioned, so you know it’s legit.
If you’re a Los Angeles native, eating at Langer’s is your birthright. If you’re a transplant, it’s still your responsibility. Basically, every Angeleno must visit this since-1947 Jewish delicatessen for two reasons—one, it serves up one of the best food experiences this city has to offer and, two, you need ammunition if some New Yorker tries tell you that all LA delis suck.
Tip: If such a dispute does arise, you should mention that consummate Manhattanite Nora Ephron declared: “The hot pastrami sandwich served at Langer’s Delicatessen in downtown Los Angeles is the finest hot pastrami sandwich in the world.” In the The New Yorker.
I’m not superstitious about most things, but I think the first meal of the year is important. What you eat on New Year’s Day should set a precedent for the next 364 days to come—and this year is a leap, so 365.
With this in mind, I was a little skeptical yesterday when we stepped into Eggs n’ Potatoes, a little strip mall cafe in Ojai. We had dreams of brunching out at The Farmer & the Cook, which was suggested by Natalie of Fashion Intel, but they were closed just like most restaurants on our last morning in the tiny town. So, Eggs n’ Potatoes (formerly Eggs n’ Things) it was.
The service was a bit lackadaisical and the decor is all roosters, but the blueberry pancakes? Stellar! My love for whole grain pancakes is well documented, so I was pretty excited when I saw that oat bran batter was an option. And when I forked into the stack and realized that each cake was awash in fresh blueberries, my New Year’s breakfast optimism was revived. Whipped butter and real maple syrup provided even more life blood.