The Uncouth Gourmands’ Ten Commandments

I. Thou shall covet thy neighbor’s food.
II. If at the end of a meal one is not unbuckling belt, one is not done eating.
III. Thou shall not leave a stingy tip.
IV. Thou shall not dabble in veganism.
V. Thou shall not turn thy nose up at eateries with drive-thru’s or that are on wheels.
VI. When ordering, never be afraid to personalize a meal.
VII. When the option arises, always go larger, full-size or super size.
VIII. Thou shall use any means to put food in thy mouth; whether it be a silver spoon, bamboo chopsticks, plastic spork, or one’s own hands. The 3-second rule can be extended for any period of time.
IX. Thou shall not ever use the word uncouth like it is a bad thing.
X. Thou shall remain faithful to the ones that gave you the title of Uncouth Gourmand.


Neighborhood Profile: Party like an Eagle Rock(Star)

Ever since we met Steve and Jeremy, owners of the Eagle Rock Brewery and father/son duo, we’ve eagerly wanted to tour their neighborhood beer headquarters. On their official opening night we got our wish. The proprietors kindly and humbly invited us into their “home” to see where this local brew is born. So after a rough week of three jobs, countless meetings and many weekday nights infused with delirious blogging, we made our way to the Eagle Rock Brewery.

As soon as we walked in we were greeted by name by the staff. We grabbed a pint of their latest, Manifesto, the second of three brews born there. The week before we tried, Solidarity, ERB’s darkest and boldest. The space is exactly how I prefer my spaces, simple and clean. No clutter, no noise. The brewery is an open space with a bar, communal tables, throw pillows and best of all, a glass garage door that facilitates an open view of the brew premises. You can order your beer, sit down and get a full view of how and where your brew is produced.

Shortly after polishing off our first pint, Jeremy came up to us and offered to begin the technical tour of the brewery. I was so excited. We’ve been a fan of these guys’ business for a year now and, well, I’m a beer snob so taking a tour of the place where this locally produced gem is born gave me goosebumps.

Some cool facts on the ERB are:

  • Takes two weeks to produce any one of their three brews.
  • The three are: Manifesto, Solidarity and Revolution.
  • In any two week period 3,200 pints of beer can be born at ERB
  • Father is a first and son is a second generation beer maker
  • They are going to begin bottling soon
  • And lastly, just to show you they REALLY care. Lin, Jeremy’s sister-in-law, designs all the beer labels and merchandise

After our tour we got to talking to Steve and he told us many stories. The place, the people, and the ambiance were all so warm. The pretentiousness that you get with many craftsmen were nonexistent. It was humble and kind in every way. It’s amazing how much the folks at ERB did themselves. From the beer, to the paint on the walls, to the propaganda-looking beer labels. All of it was in-house. You could taste the pride. It felt good to just be there – drinking one of 3,200 pints. Congrats, ERB!

During the tour I was asking a ton of questions and fascinated by the process. Carina, on the other hand, was quietly listening until Steve showed us some dog prints in the cement. It seems they mysteriously appeared. There is no dog that they know of and so they have to imagine that a dog snuck in late at night when the cement was setting. Carina was captivated as if this was a great ghost story or mystery she had to solve. She demanded I take this photo, so here it is.

After my one beer I was done, exhausted, and needing to go home. My need for for sleep was monstrous but Carina and H.C. decided to continue the night and they headed to Larkin’s, which calls itself “a contemporary soul food joint”. I am now going to pass this post on to Carina. —>

I had never been to Larkin’s before, but when H.C. said he liked it I was immediately sold. Upon arrival I noticed a CASH ONLY sign. H.C. and I both did a wallet check and I clocked in with a $20 bill and he had $25. We sat down nervous about having to stay within a set budget but then we spotted a lifesaver, an ATM machine, and we knew we had no limits. You get a lovely cold black eyed pea salad when seated. The menu was large and thoughtful, both of us went back and forth several times with what we wanted. I decided on the meatloaf and chose mashed potatoes and pasta salad as my sides. H.C. initially ordered the catfish and switched to chicken and dumplings when I was in the bathroom. The meatloaf had a great kick to it but it was really dense and much drier than what I wanted. The pasta salad didn’t do much for me either but the garlic mashed potatoes were great and I am not a big mashed potato fan. H.C. loved his chicken and dumplings, which were a special that night.

If you follow H.C. aka LAOCFoodie on Twitter then you know that he has a therapeutic ritual everyday, eating a piece of chocolate. Knowing this about the guy, I was certain that dessert would be ordered. My sweet tooth normally falls in the fruity realm so I suggested we get the berry cobbler. It was excellent.  I was not thrilled with my ordering choices but this place has an extensive menu and I fully intend to delve deeper into it again. The dishes I liked, I really liked. The funny moment came at the end with the bill where there was some confusion since H.C. switched his order. It took two tries to resolve but no harm, no foul. I was in New Orleans for the first time in February and just fell in love with the people, food, and city. This place was a fresh and unique taste on that and the building itself reminded me of all  the restaurants in Portland where you feel as though you were dining in someone’s house. I guess that’s the best way to describe Larkin’s; it’s cozy and feels like home. There was another uncouth moment where a waiter ran up to our table and blew out what was left of a completely melted down candle. Larkin, the chef in the back, smelled smoke and was trying to figure out where it was coming from. Yup, it was our table and we didn’t even notice.

H.C. and I didn’t drink at dinner because we were on a cash budget, which we stayed $7 under with tax and tip. Not bad. Anyway, afterward we thought we deserved a drink that could be paid for with a card. I recommended my neighborhood favorite, The Chalet, which has since become The Black Boar. It is basically the same owners and bartenders but they have a new name, slightly different decor, a fooseball table and darts, and they added more alcohol. Not bad improvements. We had a lovely drink and I remembered that Josie and I were both there for a drink last NYE. We always say that we LOVE Highland Park and we do but Eagle Rock also has a ton of great things to offer. Just remember to party like an Eagle Rock(Star)!

A Very Untraditional Trip Home for the Holidays

It wasn’t easy getting home this holiday season. I was in my first car accident and felt the need to take my car straight to the auto body shop and then realized I was carless to make my trip to Santa Cruz. Thanks to everyone’s best friend, Facebook, I found out that two jr. high and high school friends that currently reside in LA were heading home for the holidays. They were kind enough to give me a ride and we reminisced on old memories on the way home. We listened to a song called “Too Close” by Next and I told them that when the song came on at junior high dances I remembered living the lyrics of, “Step back you’re dancing kinda close, I feel a little poke coming through on you.” It was so poetic to have so many shared experiences with a group of people you never see. We arrived late on Christmas Eve. It was just enough time for my 8 year old brother and I to make cookies for Santa and leave out carrots and celery for the reindeer. He then asked, “Does Santa like organic nonfat milk? ‘Cause that’s all we have.” I started laughing and he responded the best way possible, “Are you gonna tweet me?” Of course, I did.

Good thing my brother, Cody, and I did so much work for Santa. He was granted an electric Razor on Christmas morning. He doesn’t yet need the electric razor for facial hair so his razor is in the scooter realm. Since we are Jewish we also attended Temple Beth El on Christmas Day for a Fiddler on the Roof singalong and a chinese food lunch. It was a great deal of fun but my 90 year old grandfather who was born to kvetch was annoyed that they only served him water…what, no Diet Coke?!?!

The day after Christmas was relaxing and wonderful. My mom always complains that she eats too much when I visits and gains a minimum of 2 pounds. I am proud of this fact and love for her to indulge in my gluttonous lifestyle. This day was so no exception. My mom said she felt sick from eating too much, I was unimpressed. My little brother, on the other hand, polished off a 1/2 rack of ribs from Bruno’s BBQ by himself, that I was impressed by.

It was on this day that my mom shocked me by saying that she wanted to get a tattoo the next day. She has never had one and doesn’t seem like “the type” whatever that means. A sad anniversary is coming up for my family and I absolutely felt her need to mark this event. There was a name I always grew up hearing and it was Frank Fumano, who gave my grandpa his tattoo and who was my mom’s big first crush. Reading my mom’s book of poetry that she wrote when she was my age was chilling and her poem about Frank was always the most poignant for me. My mom once heard that Frank died and when she learned that he was alive and well and working in her hometown of San Mateo excited her beyond belief. She didn’t know what to do, and as the mother of an Uncouth Gourmand, she ended up sending a fruit basket to his office-the tattoo parlor. She knew that if she was going to get a tattoo only Frank could do it. Since I already have one, 2 orange elephants in the shape of a heart with the word for a good sigh written in Japanese (although hot tea has to be in your mouth to say it correctly), I was there for support and to monitor. The name of the tattoo salon is Al’s Rock of Ages and it is run by Al who has a ton of funny jokes and stuff to look at in his shop. By the way, if you have to go to the bathroom it is free to pee but a penny for a poo. Obviously, the highlight for me was being able to meet Frank and to help my mom get exactly what she wanted. Well, Frank was really the artist but I like to think that I helped.

Nothing about this holiday trip home was traditional but it was all so much fun. In the words of Fiddler on the Roof, “Tradition. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as a fiddler on the roof!” All I can say is sometimes being a fiddler on the roof is fun and exactly what a holiday season needs!

Christmas Evening: Tis the Day of Giving and Receiving

Tis the night of Christmas

and to tell you the truth

it was quite grand and merry

but I missed my other uncouth

I, Carina, am spending time with my family in Santa Snooze and like good Jews we attended a Fiddler on the Roof singalong and a Chinese food luncheon at the synagogue today. I am sure Josie ate some delicious tamales with her family in San Diego. We hope you are all having a fabulous day and night!

A Group of Young Jews at KBBQ on Christmas Eve Eve Eve

Gentiles will prepare for Christmas by hanging wreaths around the house and on doors, but that’s not exactly how us Jewish people spent Christmas Eve Eve Eve. We went to Korean BBQ at Schlep’s favorite restaurant called Genwa and upon ordering we were greeted by a wreath-like display. It was not made of flowers and leaves but rather of delicious and edible side dishes to tantalize the palate.

Sure the regular Banchan (side dish) standards were there but there were also a ton of interesting additions to the mix and the quantity was unbelievable. I am a notoriously bad counter but I would say upwards of 20 bowls were present. These dishes weren’t just complimentary they were also replenished per your request. All the dishes were gathered around the main attraction, the grill, where the meat of the meal would come in to play.

Schlep did the ordering for the evening, as he was the regular and his friends were in from out of town. He did well in the process as it seems we tried most of the menu and always had a surplus of food and a shortage of table space. He also provided instructions on how to make the perfect “taco” with meat and veggies in the radish skin; we all obliged and were very happy we did so. The two standout dishes for me were the assorted mushrooms and the sizzling bibim-bap. The bibim-bap was the best I have ever had and had those delicious crunchy pieces of rice that are found in a good paella, Persian food, and in the bottom of your rice cooker when not enough water is added.

I liked this place for several different reasons. First, it is the kind of place all levels of KBBQ enthusiasts can go, feel comfortable, and adjust to their settings. You can cook all the meat and veggies yourself or if you seem confused they will walk by and do it for you. You can use the ultra stylish stainless steel chopsticks or you can ask the server to bring a pair of break-apart wooden chopsticks if you don’t like the workout for your fingers that Grossman kvetched about. Sure, I have a personal preference for traveling further east down Wilshire for my Korean food but that doesn’t mean that food is any better….remember that less than mediocre dinner with all of the bloggers at Jun Won? If you are just beginning to dip your feet into Korean food, as a couple at the table was doing, Genwa offers a great clean place to test the waters. At the end of night of we looked at the carnage of what was once a full table and were amazed by our work. Some wanted to exercise immediately afterward (not I), others needed a smoke, and we all needed a rest. Even if you aren’t celebrating Christmas, this time of year is stressful and a rest before the New Year is necessary. It is the Uncouth Gourmands’ belief that a good overindulgent meal is the perfect ingredient to ease these trying times.

Tasty Awards: Simply Scrumptious

We know the Taste TV people from their fantastic Chocolate Salon events in Pasadena. So when we heard that there was going to be the first annual Tasty Awards honoring the best in food and fashion on television, in film, and online we knew we had to be a part of it. We were fortunate enough to be part of the select Tastemaker Awards Panel and will be attending the ceremony on January 14th in San Francisco. Have no fear, uncouthies:  you, too, can vote and attend. Click on their website and vote in the People’s Choice categories section from now until January 5th and you can purchase VIP tickets to the historic award show here. We, the Uncouth Gourmand Girls, are so looking forward to the event. Here is a list of attendees thus far:

Hosted by food and travel television star Zane Lamprey of “Three Sheets” fame (FLN), the show features a star-studded lineup of food and fashion TV celebrities, including Tyler Florence (Food Network), Joanne Weir (PBS), G. Garvin (TV One), Tanya Holland (Food Network), Leslie Sbrocco (PBS), Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library TV), Marcy Smothers (Radio), Novella Carpenter (Author), Anita Chu (Author), Dominique Crenn (Food Network – Next Iron Chef), Brian Solis (New Media Guru), Marissa Churchill (Bravo, Top Chef), and more.

Special Achievement Awards have been announced for Anthony Bourdain, Martin Yan, Paul Prudhomme, YouTube, Alton Brown, Jacque Pepin, Meryl Streep, Giada De Laurentiis, and Tim Gunn, among others.

Forget the Academy Awards, we would so much rather be at an award show where Anthony Bourdain, Top Chef, Project Runway, Cake Boss and Guy Fieri lead the awards finalists. Plus, I am sure the gourmet wine, food, and chocolate after party will be tastier than any other award show!

Meeting Big & Mrs. Mista: Masters of BBQ and Twitter

We have long ago crowned Big Mista and his Mrs., Mrs. Mista, our favorite couple on Twitter (a Twouple?).  Their flirting and arguing tweets are our favorite, trust me these are people you want to virtually “follow”. However, Big Mistas name doesn’t end there, it has BBQ at the end. He is a BBQ wizard and yet we have never tried his meat. Feel free to use the euphemism, god knows we do. Tweets have been going back about me wanting his brisket and his wife became our fan on Facebook by saying, “Seeing as how my husband flirts with you so often, how can I help but be a fan. Smooches.” This dynamic duo does the farmer’s market circuit and catering. They have invited Josie and I several time to come out to the Sunday Atwater Village Farmer’s Market to sample their meat, but two things have stood in my way. First, I normally am exhausted on Sundays from a long Saturday. Second, I have a lot of memories at the Atwater Farmer’s Market. It was the place that my ex-boyfriend and I would always go after Scrabble Club, I was much more of  a homebody than. It brought back a lot of memories for me similar to Josie at the Yucatan place in Highland Park. When you have lived and loved and lost in Los Angeles everything is  a reminder of something.

I was feeling sick on Saturday so I did nothing all day but read, sleep, and order food. Or as I tweeted: “Clearly I must be perverse. My comfort when sick is reading Erica Jong books, watching Adrian Lyne movies, & slurpin SIZZLING rice soup.” By the way, 9 1/2 Weeks has the hottest food and sex scene evah! I had no qualms about staying after LAOCFoodie told me that CarolineOnCrack and FauxLAHipster live by the motto: Weekends are for Amateurs! I couldn’t agree more. Anyway, I awoke on Sunday in a great mood, feeling healthy and with a hankering for some BBQ. I headed to the Farmer’s Market to see my favorite couple on the internet. As soon as I parked I saw my friend and fellow blogger, Eat Sip Chew, with a rosemary plant and a big smile on her face. The first booth I saw was Big Mista’s Barbecue, they knew who I was right away and an instant real life friendship was formed. They were hilarious and clearly it was Mrs. Mista that runs it all. She demanded the boys give me some of everything to try. I, as a Jew, have a special place for brisket and the brisket chili was amazing, as was the brisket itself. However, when it came to ordering I went with a tri tip sandwich.

Mrs. Mista was not satisfied with my order and told me I need a perfect pulled pork sandwich, which comes on a white bun and has coleslaw inside. She also looked at a red velvet cupcake and then back at me and said, “You need one of these too”. The Mrs. got her way, I am quite certain she always does. She wasn’t just this helpful with me, she was this way with everyone! When a guy came by to order a sandwich she told the hubby to give him a fat piece of meat requiring him to cut a brand new piece of meat. She laughed at the prospect of giving him extra work. I loved it and the customer was so satisfied with his newly cut fatty sandwich. Mrs. Mista is looking out for ya! The sandwich and cupcake she recommended (not so subtly) were beauties and I liked her choices so much I saved the tri tip for Josie. Although there is no photo of this sandwich as Josie devoured it within seconds when she came over later.

They were fabulous, the couple and the food, and made my return to the Atwater Village Farmer’s Market that much sweeter. I also heard some nice music and had the best ginger snap cookies of my life courtesy of Darren The Chef. It was a great afternoon and was exactly what my recovering body and heart needed.

Although, it goes without saying that my best part of the day was meeting the first couple of BBQ and Twitter. Here is their version of our encounter. If you need meat and/or a laugh get to know Big & Mrs. Mista, I am so glad I did!