Getting your Phil 1/23/18

It seems like I'm being inundated with Phil Rosenthal recently. Everywhere I turn is Phil Rosenthal. Of course that may heavily depend on where I turn. So, despite his omnipresence in my world, I wouldn't be surprised if someone else had never even heard of Phil Rosenthal.

Phil Rosenthal helped create and produce and write a little show called, "Everybody Loves Raymond." That show did...alright. Phil's a funny guy and partially based "Everybody Loves Raymond" on his life and his parents. After the show's success satiated one hunger for Phil, he moved on to another hunger - his love of food. He hosted a food travel show, originally airing on PBS, called, "I'll Have What Phil's Having." The show was a wild success, at least with me. But obviously it was a little successful with some other people too because it led Netflix to secure him to host a food travel show called, "Somebody Feed Phil." The show's 1st season recently released and Phil has been in the process of promoting it (hence the aforementioned omnipresence).

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5333712/ - I'll have what Phil's having IMDB

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt7752034/ - Somebody Feed Phil IMDB

None of that is my focus though. My focus is on a documentary Phil made that detailed bringing his sitcom, "Everybody Loves Raymond," to Russia. The documentary is called, "Exporting Raymond." Many of the same tools of storytelling Phil utilized in "Exporting Raymond" were also employed later in his food series. And the overall message is also the same: That traveling and expanding your world and meeting other people and learning about other lives is often worthwhile. He maintains that food culture provides a good route to the larger culture. So, his thesis is that wherever you go the people are just that, people. And all people eat. Eating often plays a special role (in a good way) in a person's life and their culture. So a good way to reach people is through their food. 

Any of Phil's outputs: "Exporting Raymond," "I'll Have What Phil's Having," or "Somebody Feed Phil," provide entertaining illustrations of a smiling Phil out of water, or more accurately a smiling Phil in a different pond. But, no matter where you find Phil, or Phil finds Phil, Phil knows the best way to get his bearings always starts in the stomach.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1356763/?ref_=nv_sr_1 - Exporting Raymond IMDB

Some food for thought 1/15/18

I guess this can somehow be connected to food and Taco Tuesday because it features Eddie Huang and Eddie Huang is a restauranteur. So "food" is kinda involved, I guess. But, more directly this involves feeding the mind! Ahha. 

Since this is a place for me to extricate some subjects that I've been ruminating on or concerned with, here is one. This is a podcast known as the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE). Yes, the Fear Factor and News Radio and UFC guy. That guy. But he's also a stand-up and hosts a podcast. He's generally pretty inquisitive and fairly open minded. He hosts a variety of guests and discusses a variety of topics. There's an audio feed but the podcast is shown through video on YouTube too if you want to see it instead, and sometimes it's worth seeing (though not really necessary for this one). I'll discuss helpful tips, like listening or watching on a higher speed, at some later point.

The topic of this particular podcast however, featuring Eddie Huang and an acquaintance from the FCC, Jessica Rosenworcel, is mostly Net Neutrality. It's a good basic primer on the situation and all that surrounds it. In case you would benefit from a primer(as most of us would), here you are:

Turkey Tuesday Thanksgiving week

I like eating, which is a pretty good thing because I do it fairly regularly. Still, I can't claim to be as prolific an eater as the host of the podcast, "House of Carbs," Joe House. Joe House very much seems to enjoy eating (and eating, and eating...). So that's what this podcast is about - where to eat, what to eat, how to eat...the ins and outs of eats discussed in an approachable, fun, and inviting way. 

Joe House lives in Washington DC. I came to know of him (in case you were curious about my personal experience) through his various appearances in my regular listens to Bill Simmons' podcasts. I've been a casual devotee of Simmons' audio for years. Simmons formed a podcast network when he joined HBO after departing ESPN.

After some time, one of the many, many podcasts the Ringer (Simmons' website) produced was, "House of Carbs" - a podcast hosted by the ultimate hungry homie, the sultan of sushi, the king of korean BBQ, the colossus of the cookout.

If the Ringer had S.A.T.s, one analogy might read: Babe Ruth is to hitting home runs AS Joe House is to eating. You see, Joe House is not just known for his affinity for food, he's known for his ability to ingest massive quantities of food. For anyone else, the enormous caloric consumption might seem gluttonous. But Joe House is such an endearing persona that I generally find all his involvements entertaining. If you don't want to take my word for it, the proof is in the pudding (or the podcast linked in the image below as it were).

9/19/17 Taco (or whatever you want really if you look here) Tuesday

I live in L.A. I eat food. I'm literate. Check, check, checkmate. 

To call this article a handy resource understates it. It's a vital resource. It's an unbelievable resource. It's possibly the ultimate resource in all of human history (OK, now maybe I'm overstating it, but it's very very useful).

I would already suggest (in fact I have) using Eater.com to everyone (if you care about where to eat and what to eat and such, that is).

 

I do happen to care about those things so I find content like this exceptionally helpful. Of course one can, and should, explore beyond what is mentioned, but often it is necessary and useful to default to some default. And, if you're like me, which I am, this article provides some excellent defaults. So it may benefit you, i.e. me, to internalize this information, or at least some of it. Especially if you also live in L.A., check out this article. If you don't also live in L.A., and never come, but you're still interested in the L.A. food scene, here is the article as well. Or, if you're me..., well I already know about the article, but,... in a meta, multi-layered way, here is the article again me. 

Eat it Raw 6/13/17

Usually if I put something up here on a Tuesday it relates to food. This actually does relate to food but only in so much as Anthony Bourdain relates to food. He relates to food because Chef Anthony Bourdain professionally prepared food for a living, television host Anthony Bourdain now eats some extraordinary public and private meals on his TV shows, and judge Anthony Bourdain occasionally weighs in on food competitions. (And author Anthony Bourdain also writes about the subject too...) But I'm not highlighting any of those particularly food-centric roles. I want to point out his participation in an internet series called, "Raw Craft."

If you've perhaps seen any of his other hosted work "Raw Craft" resembles segments in other shows he's done. In "Raw Craft" he takes one producer of something unique and extraordinary and details the process of making said product. It's usually a process foreign to any viewer, it's often a process foreign to Bourdain himself, and sometimes it's even a process foreign to the industry.

"Raw Craft" selects very unique products - not mass-produced. They're often very expensive too, because of their rarity. Producing something so exclusive, so unusual, requires an extreme input of time. Time for every living person is a limited resource. An unpredictably limited resource to a point. Certainly it's not infinite for anyone. And monetary value is one way to represent such an investment. So each craftsman inputs their particular special focus and effort encompassed by an investment of time into the object of their creation. That investment imbues the object itself with an incredible amount of worth.

The worth is also attributed partially to the fact that the creators make the product itself by hand. It's not automated. It's not the equivalent of a phrase going through multiple translations before reaching you. Copies and reproductions always produce some flaw that may or may not be detrimental to the final use. This product can ensure that the craftsman actually looked at it and felt it. This product is pure. This is not a translation or a replication. This is not a facsimile or a photocopy. This is the craftsman speaking directly to the consumer through the product. It's unadulterated and unobfuscated. This is just a skilled and practiced individual exercising that skill. Producing their raw craft.

Taco Tuesday 4/4/17

Some people are engaging. They just have “it.” “It,” in this case, being the thing that makes a person shine in front of the camera. For me, Mario Batali has “it.” He could make me interested in shoe leather or tree bark. It just so happens that he is also a magnificent cook and business owner. He operates a multitude of restaurants (mostly in New York but also assists with a favorite in LA) and “Eatalys" (food markets). He travels between them, motivated by functionality, on his scooter in his crocs. He was an original American Iron Chef and a longtime fixture on the Food Network. In the mornings his children, while growing up, would receive a menu of breakfast options and get to choose which meal they wanted their renowned chef/father to prepare for them! It’s like the omelet station at a buffet except better and always. Now he can often be seen on the Chew, daily on ABC.

But that’s not my focus. ABC is too pervasive for me. Did you hear about this thing called network TV? Come on. No, I get my occasional Batali fix these days online watching episodes of “Moltissimo,” on Vice Munchies. With varying guests he dives into their backstory’s whilst preparing them a fantastic meal that he generally pairs with a fantastic wine. The viewer gets to eavesdrop on the entire event and we all win. Moltissimo bene.

Taco Tuesday 5/17/16

Speaking of things that help immerse into an environment, I use EaterLA constantly. It’s a little difficult to see me here I’m so immersed in LA. There’s an Eater particular to LA, but there are also numerous Eaters specific to many individual areas as well as an umbrella, national publication

I find the maps the most useful feature Eater provides. Two specifically, the Heat Map and Eater 38. Heat = Popular at the time (according to them), and 38 = a list of the best restaurants at the time (according to them). The maps show where each location exists within the city as a whole. Great for planning a trip around your usual town or your current town.

Sometimes Eater also publishes other relevant maps on a myriad of topics like, but not limited to, pizza slicescoffeequick serviceburgers… They’re incredibly useful and using them, like yesterday’s Eclectic 24, makes you seem cool. Just another way for you to squeeze into the cultural zeitgeist (At least you'll be able to squeeze into something after using Eater). So once you get hungry from all the head bobbing and toe-tapping you’ll know where to find the best food wherever you are (provided it’s a major metropolitan location that hosts a specific Eater website).

Taco Tuesday 5/10/16

L.A. represents its own unique place, mostly because it’s its own unique place. A culture all it’s own. One way this manifests is in the food. 

Both the larger culture and the food culture developed into things that I really appreciate. So was I drawn to L.A. or did L.A. lure me in? (Well I can’t really say I had much choice in the matter so I wouldn’t say that L.A. lured me in. But I also doubt that the second largest city in the country changed to conform to my unannounced preferences. More than likely a symbiotic evolution occurred that benefited us both.) 

Food and culture usually evolve hand in hand, like two lovers merrily strolling down a boardwalk. L.A.’s developed its own way of dinning just as it’s developed its own personality as a place. The specific dinning culture isn’t one I necessarily knew of until I read this article but it is one I whole heartedly approve of (because I am the definitive mark of excellence in anything. There are James Beard awards, Oscars, Grammys, Tonys… me.) 

While I’ve never been to a fantastical restaurant-ish home prepared meal, I have eaten really good food prepared by others, medium-small house parties are quite common, and I enjoy and appreciate good food and good people. So, I’m capable of mentally combining the elements. Also, the article refers to a “smorgasbord” which, in addition to applying to this website as well as the specific food, applies generally to L.A. 

Maybe I don’t possess enough of the requisite knowledge currency the article points to, but I do possess enough awareness of the place to agree with the changed tune of even “notorious haters” of L.A. in raving that it presents some great dinning options. Great dinning options because the place houses great people (for example: me!) who might choose to make you some of their great food.

Taco Tuesday 5/3/16

So far, at every Passover Seder Dinner I’ve attended, I always win the trivia contest. I'm batting 1,000. ‘The huh?’ those who’ve attended other Seders may wonder. Well, let me try to explain, as much as I can within the extreme limits of my understanding. 

Most Seders don’t have trivia (but the cool ones that I go to do). Apparently usually some elder attendee hides a piece of matzah, the afikoman (?), and then children scour the premises like police detectives trying to solve a murder. With no Jesus bunny to hide multiple colored eggs the “lucky” Jewish youths “get” to hunt for the sole chunk of hidden matzah.

But, with our event devoid of children, we lacked any interested detectives to investigate. And the ample wine made the many adults in attendance indifferent to “winning” a search. I know that given the choice between looking behind picture frames and under chairs or not-doing-that-and-continuing-to-drink-wine, I would have chosen the latter. So our hosts, in their wisdom, replaced the hunt with something more engaging and appropriate for the attendees. 10 questions of trivia. Bars often employ a similar tactic in an attempt to engage patrons. 

Success. I was engaged. And, obviously, I won. In a room full of worldly and intelligent people I was the best one. That’s what the quiz indisputably proved.

Initially I assumed that my only prize, in addition to the ego boost, would be the section of matzah. In my wine tinted perception this was more than adequate. But I happily learned the surprise that the winner received was a box of giant, handmade caramels. I like caramels so that only emphasized the win. The “cherry on top.” Except I don’t really like sundae-type cherries. Maybe, I don’t know, the strawberry on top? I do like strawberries so sure, the strawberry on top.

That Seder Dinner was my first. I expect to always at least compete for the caramel prize the trivia winner receives whenever I attend a Seder in the future. I don’t know if my reward was kosher or not. Maybe I’ll inquire further at future events.

Taco Tuesday 4/26/16

Last year my wife and I ate at Guisados, a current LA staple. Things just seemed to work out for us. Parking, although not wonderful, did not constitute the nightmare it potentially can and we ordered just before a line of people that surely would have tested patience. After narrowly escaping an ordering fiasco we ventured outside to sit and enjoy the coming dusk on the early summer day.

Once we stepped onto the patio we immediately confronted color. First and foremost the color. A bright piñata of colors. The color helped establish the entire atmosphere. Then, layer upon layer added to the foundation like a growing onion. The colors based a math equation that summed in a feeling of authenticity for the customer. Sitting outside, in the warm air, a bright mural painted on the brick wall before us depicted male and female Mexicans. The mid-fiesta Mexicans displayed the desired attitude for patrons. 

Between the festive wall and us, a 3 piece band played. The music supplied the very sounds of tradition. To my side, another group at a table sat above an unmoving scruffy brownish grey old dog. It looked like a bigger version of a terrier or something and to my mind didn’t have a name (see ColdWarKids: Mexican Dogs). This mutt added greatly to the ambience simply by doing nothing. Just laying there and being. And “mutt” perfectly describes him. Not his origin. I don’t happen to have a clue as to his pedigree. But when thinking of a “mutt” one conjures up this specific animal. 

Finally, the actually important part of a restaurant, the food. A sample platter of various tacos arrived from the kitchen via the waiter. Now the hint of a Mexican smell that surrounded the patio area rose up strongly from directly in front of us.

The food provided the sense of traveling to a foreign land in the best possible way. Just the right cocktail of the familiar with the unfamiliar. A dash of excitement added a hint of spice that paired it perfectly with the surroundings as if a sommelier made the selection for us.

Truthfully, I don't recall much of the meal. I simply know that it was good and that I would like to eat there again sometime. It was an atmospheric explosion that knocked me over. That I remember. Normally an establishment doesn't attempt to surpass  the quality of the meal with the aura surrounding it. Usually I would agree that the surroundings don't matter much if the main event doesn't live up to billing. Thing is, the surroundings here dazzled so much that I possess an inkling we ate good food, and now I'm more than willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to Guisados. I'm looking forward to eventually SMOR food there.

Taco Tuesday 4/19/16

We recently made, from scratch, ravioli. I don’t mean we purchased fresh ravioli and then boiled them, I mean we mixed and kneaded pasta dough, rolled it out, made a ravioli filling, filled ravioli in a mold, cut them out, and boiled them. It was a lot of work. 

We don’t own a pasta maker of any sort and the significant elbow grease required made me very appreciative of the existence of pasta makers, very appreciative of being able to buy pasta, and very appreciative of the fact that pre-pasta makers and the availability of store-bought pasta, some homemakers made pasta regularly. 

The result tasted alright but I could see the potential that the creation contained. I could see that with repetition our skill could increase substantially. And I believed that our living kitchen-patron-saint, Michael Pollan, would approve of our arduous efforts. The effort required underscored the wisdom of large batch cooking and in turn, if you’re the one doing the cooking, of left-overs.

At the same time, to compliment our creation, we made a ragu-type pasta sauce. This much more common exercise turned out fairly well. While it benefited from owning an immersion blender to break it up a bit, something everyone with any interest in your own cooking creations with limited space should make the room for, it probably would have still tasted at least adequate with out one. I think regardless of whether or not you own an immersion blender, making the sauce utilized many ingredients we would purchase anyway as well as many ingredients that otherwise contribute to a health.

So, not only did our experiment result in a vast amount of tasty food, it also increased our appreciation for the endeavor and probably resulted in a good work out too. Surprise surprise to any other adherent to Michael Pollan’s philosophies, I support the idea of making your own ravioli or other pasta, at least once.

Taco Tuesday 4/12/16

Taco Tuesday 4/12/16

April 12, 2016 in Taco Tuesday

It’s somewhat idealistic to say “I eat only organic food.” Sure, it can be done but sometimes life requires some compromise. Unless you have an inexhaustible source of money and a direct line to Whole Foods and a Farmer’s Market it might even be close to impossible. I agree that the amount of pesticides in most food far exceeds what I would want (none) but that desire clashes with reality. Given the choice, I choose a middle ground. Get organic food when I can but understand that getting organic is not always possible or plausible and as someone who tries to be fairly practical, I have to understand that. Luckily this list exists to help know best where to concentrate and commit. It allows for somewhat safe traveling in spaces where those providing may not share the same concerns I do.

 

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/02/25/2015-dirty-dozen-pesticide-residue

Taco Tuesday 4/5/16

Taco Tuesday 4/5/16

April 5, 2016 in Taco Tuesday

Music didn’t suddenly disappear from existence on Monday. But I kind of did. I was traveling, but fear not! Musical Mondays will return very soon. Probably as soon as next week. In the interim, time continues its forward march. And, to form, today is already Taco Tuesday. Yum. 

Awhile ago, on the FBook, I shared a link to an episode of the “Chef’s Table” on Netflix. The episode centered around the chef, Dan Barber. Dan Barber, to me, is the restauranteur equivalent of Michael Pollan. 

As I established earlier, I really like Michael Pollan. In case you missed it, I recommend watching any or all of “Cooked” on Netflix (A four episode documentary, 1 hr an episode). Even more I recommend reading “Cooked,” the book by the same name goes much more in depth. Mr. Pollan authored a number of other books, including “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” which I think all schools should teach and all earthlings in general should read.

So, if you find Michael Pollan even slightly as interesting, as I do, then I feel like Dan Barber puts some similar thoughts into practice in his restaurants. 

Dan Barber puts a lot of emphasis on the idea of responsibility. Now I hate when the ideas of responsibility and kindness are conflated. Your kind acts are not “responsible” acts, they are nice acts. But, in a way, I guess they are responsible too.

Shoot. I just used a thought about what Dan Barber does to sink my own concept of responsibility. See, it’s easy to extend responsibility only to your immediate actions. In fact, I think you should at the least do that. However, you're a person, I’m a person, we’re all people. So even if we’ve never met, if you believe that your actions have even minor consequences, a “butterfly effect,” then every person alive, or still to live, will receive some effect from what you do. 

In Dan Barber’s terminology, your actions deposit or withdraw from a collective bank. The account does not belong to just you, it belongs to each person alive. Dan Barber believes that crop rotation equals depositing in the bank. People eat lots of wheat. Farm land needs crop rotation in order to replenish minerals and grow wheat. Otherwise the farm suffers significant soil depletion. By creating a demand for the necessary crops for rotation one human encourages a farmer to rotate crops. That rotation equals the best wheat for all people. With a little longer, big picture view, it’s responsible to everyone, including yourself, to rotate crops. So it’s good selfish to be responsible. I suggest being good selfish and learning about Dan Barber.

ice-interviews-dan-barber.jpg

Taco Tuesday 3/29/16

Taco Tuesday 3/29/16

March 29, 2016 in Taco Tuesday

My credo when it comes to eating reflects the influence of Michael Pollan. He’s an author and liver of life, a renaissance man after my own heart. He’s written a number of books that I hold dear (including Omnivore's Dilemma) and currently produces a 4 episode documentary series on Netflix called, “Cooked,” named after his book also titled, oddly enough, “Cooked.” 

Mr. Pollan, probably Michael or Mike to his friends, encourages any person to eat whatever they want. Really. That’s the diet. Anything at all. The only catch to the recipe of abundance is that whatever you do eat, the sky being the limit, make it yourself. From scratch. Suddenly your unadulterated fantasies, untamed by your own skill quickly shrink to a more manageable size constrained significantly by reality. Maybe those brownies or that pie will be a very occasional treat instead of an every night occurrence.

Sure, that probably means less fun overall. But it also means that you’ll gain knowledge and become more skilled and become less dependent and possibly become more resilient and generally just become better. In the end it helps to turn food back into more of what it originally existed as, a means of survival, and less the mindless and meaningless binge it has become.