Cilantro: A Clean Crisp Herb or a Soapy Flavor?

Photo Courtesy of Stadum Girl on Flickr

“Do you have the cilantro gene?” I first heard that question asked last Sunday on the Beef Roll Crawl. One of the crawlers didn’t have any of the beef rolls because cilantro was the main filling and she simply could not eat it. I thought the question was a silly one because I know cilantro to be a strong taste, so people either love it or hate it, but what the heck did that have to do with a gene? Perhaps I understand this about cilantro so much because I have been told my entire life that I have a strong personality and I am used to people either loving or hating me. It’s strong, the eater picks a team, and then game over; there’s no need for genetics in this equation.

I am someone that has been on Team Cilantro since the age of 9 on. I was born and raised in Santa Cruz (where I am typing this post now) and there has always been an abundance of organic produce around in my own kitchen and in my community. I was always on the fruity side and grew up olallieberry and yellow plum picking, my attraction to vegetables took a little longer to develop. My favorite vegetable was, something that was actually a flower, the artichoke. Why would I eat a salad when there was such a fibrous, fun to eat and dip, plant that I got to clean and get to the heart of? However, when I was 9 there was an organic cafe for college students that opened up near  UCSC on the Westside of Santa Cruz, that had a Chinese Chicken Salad that I fell in love with, it was the first salad I ever loved. It wasn’t the standard one that you may see at Americanized Chinese restaurants. This one had fresh grilled chicken, rice vinegar (my favorite), and fresh and crisp veggies. The first couple times I had this my mom asked for no cilantro for me, because the flavor was too strong. This is when I started to come to terms with obsession with food. I have never lived on the Westside of Santa Cruz and yet I would demand that my mom drive me there just for this salad. One time we called it in, picked it up, and when we opened up the bag I saw that my salad was covered in cilantro. Upon opening up the environmentally friendly salad box the aroma hit me first. I knew that my current favorite salad was not in it’s usually dressed form. I thought about picking it off but I left it on and that is when my love affair with cilantro began. It had the cleanest taste I have ever eaten and after that my life with food was greatly enhanced. My Jewish grandma was an avid cook that especially loved Asian and Indian food. I grew up thinking that Yan Can Cook was on every grandma’s bookshelf and never knew that most grandmothers stuck to meat and potatoes. My grandma was one of the most thoughtful people and never imposed her tastes on everyone else. Always on her table was her fat-free margarine and real butter; the choice was yours (at the time I always chose margarine because I thought it made her happy and because it was easier for me to spread on the fresh baked bread). My favorite dish that she made was always Indian chicken, she set up bowls and bowls with toppings so she wasn’t imposing and that the decision was my own. The spread on the table reminds me now of banchan that you will see at KBBQ places. In the beginning, I just threw on shredded coconut and golden raisins (Like Grace Adler, I still LOVE raisins in everything) and after my positive experience with cilantro that became the first topping I threw on. I can’t imagine my food life without cilantro as it enhances fish (ceviche), soup (pho), sandwiches (banh mi), tacos and curries beautifully and adds that extra element into the flavor profile. What if this herb, that I have come to love for it’s fresh and clean taste, tasted too clean (in a bad way) to many people? Apparently there is a huge portion of the population that think that cilantro tastes like soap and just can’t eat it. This is the so-called cilantro gene. After inquiring about this strange term and doing some online research, I am shocked.

Here is what I have learned:

*There are a ton of I Hate Cilantro websites, groups, and followers

*Dr. Wysocki, a behavioral neuroscientist, looked into the idea of the gene by interviewing twins at the Twins Day Festival. Here is what the WSJ reported:

More than 80% of the identical twins gave ratings similar to their siblings, while only 42% of the fraternal twins did — suggesting cilantro hatred may be a genetic trait. But Dr. Wysocki cautions that he hasn’t yet analyzed enough fraternal twins to draw a firm conclusion.”

Dr. Wysocki contends dislike of cilantro stems from its odor, not its taste. His hypothesis is that those who don’t like it are unable to detect chemicals in the leaf that are pleasing to those who like the herb.

*Julia Child refused to eat cilantro (CNN Interview)

*Cilantro haters seem to never get the “fantastically savory” smell that the cilantro lovers smell (NPR)

*This is totally my own observance, and may have to do with my group of friends, but I find that a lot of the cilantro haters are either Japanese or Filipino.

It seems as though the love or hatred of cilantro goes way beyond a simple taste preference. There is passion in this issue. Perhaps only one other herb stirs up more controversy than this, but there is no need to go there. So are you a cilantro lover or hater? If it’s a hatred that many people share, should restaurants be more mindful of this?

Nothing Morose about Montrose

Since mid-October Montrose has played home to the UG global headquarters and it has been a joy for us exploring this foothill neighborhood. Where Ocean View and Honolulu meet is not a beach front view, but it is just as charming. It is another land of candy shops, ice cream, sewing and pet stores. You feel like you have been dropped into Main St. of any town in America. When Josie was here full-time we had regular walking strolls to the delicious frozen yogurt place down the street called Fro-Yo Life. We would walk in and say “Fro-yo life” in our most gangsta voices and scare children while playing games of Connect Four that they let you borrow. Josie would get her enoromous peanut butter fro-yo with a ton of chocolate, granola, and cookie dough toppings and I’d get a small fruity fro-yo with mochi, rainbow sprinkles, and yogurt chips.

Our other Montrose favorite is the New Moon, which despite causing Josie the shrimp incident has fully redeemed itself. They have the greatest staff and owners and a Chinese Chicken Salad that makes the UGs swoon. We are counting the days until their lounge opens. They have also provided us one of the funniest dining moments when they showcased their new system to clearly mark food that Josie cannot eat.

Since Josie has returned back to her full-time job, aka the one that actually pays her, I have had to discover some places on my own. One of my favorites became Gourmet A Go Go, which is where I would get an artichoke with balsamic and some brisket on a regular basis. Through Twitter I learned that a new restaurant called Fork was opening in Montrose. I went on the first day lunch was served and immediately realized that the space was far too familiar and was the former home of Gail Connell’s Gourmet A Go Go.

Sitting down at the counter, I spotted Gail and she said the restaurant is a new concept with her and another chef, Michael Ruiz. As it says on the Fork site: “The goal is to share a common space to keep costs down while offering a new dining option to the area”. This is a clever concept and something  that has worked brilliantly for our friend, Chef Ludo. Like Chef Ludo, Michael Ruiz is  a good looking chef with tattoos, a large French influence, and a lot of creative dishes. I wish I would have come in for dinner to explore that side of the menu, but alas after a breakfast of gummy worms and chocolate covered pomegranates my lunch had to be simple and vegetable heavy. I ordered the tomato, mozarella, basil, and olive tapanade panini. It was good and I was glad to learn that the bread was from another local favorite of ours Berolina Bakery.

Again, my panini was good but Chef Michael Ruiz was the chef and owner of Bistro Verdu and Ingredients and I want to come back in for dinner and to completely stick my fork in to this restaurant and their working class bistro menu concept. As far as the dinner menu goes we want to try the pumpkin ravioli, duck confit salad, and the short ribs.

Anyway, Montrose is a great little neighborhood and we are proud to have our business blossom in such a yummy and kind town!

Weekend of Food Events

Uncouth Gourmands at Los Angeles Magazine Food event

This weekend was filled with delicious food, wine, and fun. Saturday, after the night on the party bus, I woke up hungover and starving. Thankfully, I had received news that there was going to be a small food event practically in my backyard. I finally got out of bed in the early afternoon and headed to South Lake Avenue in Pasadena for their first annual Taste of South Lake. It wasn’t exactly that high-end but it was free and had the exact type of food I was looking for: free tacos from Rubios, mac and cheese from Magnolia (my favorite mac in Pas), and a $1 burger from The Counter. I asked the guy at The Counter when they would be finally opening their doors and he told me they have been open for three weeks. I was flabbergasted and said, “What?!?! I am a neighbor and a food blogger, how the hell did that happen so quickly?” He laughed and replied, “Don’t you follow us on Twitter?” I am the ultimate Twit but must have somehow overlooked that major fact. My $1 mini burger got me very excited and I look forward to going soon, anyone interested?

The Counter Pasadena

It was a nice relaxing time and I watched Chef Jamie make a pumpkin holiday risotto. The whole audience got yummy samples. I am very interested in hearing her radio show on KFWB after learning that an exercise guy was going to come on and teach a pumpkin workout. I think this is a genius plan for keeping in shape over the holidays, you just grab an appropriate sized pumpkin and lift it for a workout…brilliant!

Chef Jamie

On Sunday, both Josie and I headed separately to a much larger, expensive, and classier event in Malibu. It was the Los Angeles Magazine Food Event. It was very far away but so beautiful. As I was driving deep in to the Santa Monica Mountains and pulling on to the Malibu Family Wines property I saw a beautiful landscape, horses, and zebras. It was such an OMG moment. Josie and I arrived within 2 minutes of one another despite coming from completely opposite directions at different times. As soon as we were walking in we were honked at by the lovely Jo of My Last Bite, or as Josie and I refer to her, “Our Chef Groupie Idol”.

Malibu

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Enough about the gorgeous ambiance, let’s talk food. Josie’s favorites of the day were the risotto balls from Little Dom’s and the butternut squash fritter. She literally sent me up to get her some after she already had two plates. She also instructed that I only bring her back a plate with two balls on it.

risotto balls

squash fritter

My favorites were the spicy tuna in a tempura cone by Hampton’s in the Four Seasons and the crab cakes from Parker’s Lighthouse.

spicy tuna cone

crab cakes

One of the desserts I really enjoyed was the black sesame tangerine terrine from Wilshire Restaurant. I mostly just enjoyed that the chef serving had to utter the tongue twister and watching them slice up the dessert.

tangerine terrine

Here were some other delectable bites we consumed:

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It was a beautiful day, a super classy event for our uncouth selves, and a lot of fun. Towards the end of the event and a couple of glasses of wine in we parked ourselves in princess seating at the Karma Lounge for a Top Chef Panel hosted by Lesley Bargar Suter, the dine editor at Los Angeles Magazine. We listened to Betty Fraser, Chris “CJ “Jacobsen and Fabio Viviani talk about their toughest judge. No surprise to us, the honor went to the Uncouth Gourmands wet dream…Anthony Bourdain. *Swoon*

Josie and Carina Malibu Event

We Loved the Taste!

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We have been very poor Uncouth Gourmands lately and sadly had to miss Pasadena Restaurant Week, but there was one event that we were not willing to miss…Taste of the Nation LA. It featured the best (high end) restaurants in LA, the best chefs in LA, and best of all it helped to end childhood hunger. The ticket price was too steep for us but we had an alternative, we could volunteer! As soon as our blogger idol, Eating LA, posted that volunteers were needed we jumped all over that. We had great, but always uncouth emails with the volunteer organizer Paul. He hooked us up with the book table area. We were thrilled; we love cookbooks, authors, chefs and combined is perfection. We grabbed our Starbucks and Noah’s Bagels (FYI-Josie wants you all to know that she thinks paying $3 for a bagel is atrocious) and were ready to take on hunger, ironically, by eating and helping to get cookbooks sold. Our new friend SinoSoul said it best on his Twitter, “Oxymoron: stuff your face @ Taste of the Nation so children can be fed. yet it’s hard not to have a blast…” We got our wristbands, shirts, and nametags and we helped to set up the cookbooks. Josie does design for a living and created a beautiful display that I helped implement. Our old friend (in our imagination) Jonathan Gold, aka the food god genius that’s “just not that into us”, was moved from our area to the LA Weekly booth. However, we were still going to be in the presence of amazing chefs and authors. Here is that famous shot of J. Gold uninterested in the Uncouth Gourmands to refresh your memory.

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IMG_1985The cookbook authors were all extremely impressive. We met and helped sell books for Evan Kleinman (whose book was first published 19 years ago and is Executive Chef at Angeli Caffe), Mariel Hemingway (Oscar winner for playing Woody’s teenage girlfriend in Manhattan, healthy living expert, and granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway), Nancy Silverton (of La Brea Bakery and now Osteria Mozza), Michael Mina (world renowned chef who flew in from SF just for the event, we promised him we would visit XIV as soon as we had some dinero), and JoAnn Cianciulli (who will be speaking and cooking at Barnes & Noble in the Grove, just feet away from her inspiration, the Los Angeles Farmer’s Market, on the 24th). I know that for most of you these great chefs need no introduction but this is the uncouth version.

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So all work and no food, didn’t the UGs get to eat? Let me put it this way, the chef at Border Grill walked up to Josie and said, “Everytime I have seen you, you have something different in your mouth and hands”. You better believe we ate. Since this all went to a great cause we will only discuss the great, but in all honesty we didn’t eat anything bad.

IMG_1988Carina is reluctantly Nobu obsessed. She doesn’t want to like it but loves it so much. The lettuce wrapped black cod was incredible. Josie is allergic to seafood so can’t comment.

IMG_1987Josie went crazy for the lambwich from Venice Beach Wines and by crazy I mean she ate more than two. Carina is not a big fan of lamb so shouldn’t judge such meat.

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There were a few dishes that we both went crazy over. We loved the caprese salad with a big slice of a peach on it from Cube Cafe and Marketplace. Another dish we loved was the Reuben sandwich from bld Restaurant. This may be insignificant but I am obsessed with their logo and how it looks like a table and chairs, and stands for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We haven’t seen a logo so cool since the u spork g for Uncouth Gourmands, relax, we kid. By the way, we have important news, I asked the owner if BLD is coming to Pasadena and she said, “There is some talk, how did you hear that?” I told her I read it on a Pasadena blog and she smiled confirming that it is in fact true. We are thrilled, we need some new restaurant blood in Pasadena. We ate a ton but it was so hot we mostly stuck to water and delicious iced lattes from LA Mill Coffee so we can’t really comment on the wine other then saying that there was a ton of wineries and breweries there. One cool drink we experienced was the Nitro Margarita with salt foam from Bazaar.

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As with almost every eating event or experience it comes down to the people you are surrounded by. We are so thrilled that in the 6 months of having our blog we already have so many amazing foodie friends that we get to run into. Today we saw Tony of Sino Soul, Dawson and her Beer of Yelp LA, our friend and Freshman in the Kitchen author Eli, and Octavio of Palate. We even made a new friend, H.C. of the very popular LA and OC Foodie. I think we made some people angry when we took all the attention away from the authors as people came up to us and said, “Are you the Uncouth Gourmands?” Anyway, H.C. is very cool and we are so happy he approved us as guests for Blogger Prom.

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Of course, when the UGs are in attendance at any event uncouthness is bound to ensue. We very much enjoyed the waiter race where some very quick and skilled waiters were doing the spilling, instead of us. Don’t worry we still had our share. At one point, Josie asked me to grab her another lambwich and I said, “No Josie, I just bought you a salad.” We started cracking up because all of the food was free and therefore my excuse sucked. All of the volunteers were kindly given a free pair of flip-flops at the end of the day. A man, concerned and out of breath, ran after Josie. Once he caught up with her, he tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Ma’am you left your shoes on the table”. I was in hysterics, there on the beautiful LA Mill spread was Josie’s flip-flops. Paul, the mathematician and volunteer coordinator, came up to us thinking that we were making fun of the shoes. Nope, just our own stupidity.

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Anyway, it was such a truly great food event and we were so happy to get to be a part of it! I asked Josie in the car after we left, “If we would have paid $150 for the event would it have been worth it?” She said, “Yes, but we wouldn’t have been able to meet so many cool people.” That is true. Hopefully, next year we will be in the financial position to buy tickets but we still would want to volunteer to be part of this amazing event and cause.

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Costa Rica: Comida Rica

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I just came back from Costa Rica where I took a much needed vacation with my mom and 8 year old brother. For 4 nights and 3 days this was my view. The day before I left Josie and I indulged in My Taco (it is just too easy to make puns with the name of that establishment). I had the camarones rancheros and Josie had the chilaquiles and I was so excited about the vacation I was about to embark on. Josie is a regular at My Taco, in Highland Park, and reminded me that it is owned by the sous-chef of Palate Food + Wine. It was awesome and I can’t wait to go back for the barbacoa (lamb), that Jonathan Gold put as one of his top 10 meals in LA.

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I left the following day for San Jose, Costa Rica and met my mom and brother in Pheonix where we both had to change planes. My brother, Cody, had apparently just met a Lama on the plane but by the time I saw him he screamed, “Hi, my big boobed princess sister. What?!? Mom told me to call you that”. It was around that time that I knew I was going to really miss Josie on this trip as she would fit in just perfectly with my family.

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We were staying at Tabacon Resort which was like 3 hours from the airport near Volcano Arenal. It was a windy trek and my brother ended up getting sick. We got to the hotel late and our awesome driver, Norman, ended up having to carry him in asleep. It was a beautiful place and we ordered too much room service the second we got there. The next day we had a great breakfast and my mom and I both had the tipico breakfast which consisted of two poached eggs with tomato sauce, rice and beans, tortillas, plantains, and a pancake. I, an avid lover of fruit, was introduced to my new favorite fruit passionfruit after Carlos Guapo helped me figure out how to eat it. I also introduced Cody to his new favorite drink the Pina Colada (minus the rum for him) at the pool bar. We were at the 16 mineral pools at the Spa daily and Cody and my mom even got spa treatments. For dinner we dined at Los Tucanes in the hotel and I had the shrimp cannelloni, my mom had the seafood risotto, and Cody had them make their first Hawaiian pizza ever. Thankfully, they have a ton of pineapple on hand.

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The next day we headed for a zip line across the rainforest with Sky Trek. I had no idea what to expect we had hard hats and gear and the workers all began to call my mom “suegra” which means mother-in-law. I laughed all throughout the instructions and two practice zip lines so I was shocked when I was suddenly 500 ft in the air and swinging for a half a mile. It was exhilarating and there were 8 different zip lines. I was ready for the awesome Indonesian Buffet that I had at the Spa restaurant after the adventure.

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The following day we headed on a relaxing float safari. We saw monkeys in the trees above us, Jesus Christ lizards (I am told because they walk on water), cool birds and a ton of other interesting animals. Cody and I were both sad we didn’t see any crocodiles as promised, but apparently the water was too low. After our raft tour we met one of my mom’s friends and her family, who were also staying at our hotel, for dinner. We decided to leave the expensive resort restaurants and have something more authentic. I was waiting for this for my entire trip. All the locals and workers we spoke to were all from Fortuna and they all proclaimed that La Choza was the best restaurant and that is exactly where I wanted to eat. We took a taxi 10 minutes into town and had dinner in one of their many open aired restaurants. I had the chicken soup and camarones con arroz. It was easily my best meal of the trip. Cody had a pina colada and banana split that both come inside a pineapple and nachos. It was so good.

img_1816img_1216img_1219img_1234img_1237img_1238img_1239img_1244This morning I had to sadly depart all the fun in order to make it back for my finance midterm tomorrow. I had the buffet this morning and a bellini that left me slightly dizzy (not smart before a very windy road). I also came face to face again with a pizote. It is this racoon like creature that was outside our hotel room door the first morning. I screamed and refused to leave the room until it was gone. It was comforting to see it again this morning by the pancake station when Cody demanded creme anglaise on his pancakes (he is such a foodie in the making…plus he has what I lack…and every foodie has..a love of bacon). I had to say bye to my family and be driven to the airport again by our favorite driver Norman.

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It was a great trip and unfortunately tonight I had to order a Domino’s pizza in North Carolina because everything else is closed. I miss my family. I miss the food. I miss that great country. I miss Tabacon where it seems every night we got a surprise ranging from fruit baskets to flowers to slippers to wine and dessert. Pura Vida, indeed!

Gold Standard Event (Maybe Copper for the UG Ladies)

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Jonathan Gold’s 1st annual Gold Standard Event was today in West Hollywood. Josie and I attended despite feeling completely exhausted from the night before. I attended a Secret U-Haul Show for my friend Tony aka Bread Maker Extraordinaire’s band the Mo-Odds and Josie was at a house party.

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When we talked this morning the conversation went something like this:

Josie: I want to kill myself

Carina: Me too

Josie: What time did you get home last night?

Carina: 6:30 am, you?

Josie: 8:30

Carina: Oh no!

We had plans and the show must go on, so we headed to the Gold Standard event with heavy eyelids and hungry bellies. The traffic in West Hollywood is always bad but this venue was no help to anyone. We waited a good 20 minutes to make a left hand turn and when we saw the line Josie suggested I hop out, get in line and she would valet the car. The line was wrapped around the block and apparently Josie just decided to park my car somewhere right in front until the valet driver said, ” Ma’am you can’t park here ” and then obliged when he realized that she had no idea how to park my car as there are several push buttons. We waited in line, heard many people complain, and then the unthinkable happened-someone had the bonehead idea to move the entire line to the other side of the gate. Anarchy ensued, the woman behind us asked for a refund, and again we waited this time right in front of a headless dead bird that everyone decided to walk over. Definitely not the most appetizing sight.

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When we were finally let through the gates and into Smashbox Studios we were thrilled. We grabbed our cutlery, a wine glass, and a beer. The best thing outside was easily the Jamaican Restaurant, Natraliart. Not only did they give the largest portion but everything on the plate mixed so well and deliciously together. When we walked into one of the four inside rooms Josie said, “Is this a food tasting or Bikram yoga?” It was a question I was unable to answer but it felt like hell; carrying our cutlery and cups in hot heat, with long lines of people, is not what I needed on only a couple hours of sleep. We were both spent but after more wine and beer and samples of great food and awkward turtle and uncouth moments we somehow became energized.

Top 10 Re-energizing Moments

  1. The Buratta caprese salad from Mozza
  2. The salad with beet Gnocchi from Angeli
  3. Beer
  4. White Wine
  5. When walking through a crowd I heard a woman say, “Baby, some girl just hit me with her purse” and me turning to Josie and saying, “I hope you know that was you.”
  6. Me asking Josie where her wine glass is and her pulling it out of her purseimg_05301
  7. Finding a couch to sit at and eat
  8. The green ceviche at La Casita Mexicana
  9. When a guy asked us, “Are you twittering or are you just happy to see me?” He may have also called me pussycat.
  10. Meeting the man of the hour who hand picked the 30 restaurants and the wine and beer for the event, Jonathan Gold. He didn’t seem too impressed by us, but perhaps he was tired from playing host all night. We told him that we were the Uncouth Gourmands and that we were bringing uncouthness to fine dining one meal at a time, he laughed and said that is what he has been doing his whole career. Touche. He does have a Pulitzer Prize and all we have is napkins that we pass out that say, “UncouthGourmands.com: We might write about you.” He is a man that we are in awe of and as Josie so notably pointed out he deserves to have his face on money. Here is picture #2 he still has no interest in us:

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This refreshing moments helped us laugh off all the unthinkable moments that ensued. First, we waited in line for Animal for like 20 minutes and when we got to the front they said, “Sorry that is the last of it, we are out of food”

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Or when they ran out of beer at the Kirin booth

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Or my personal favorite uncouth/awkward turtle moment when Josie introduced me to her friend from work who introduced me to one of the most famous food bloggers in LA, Lesley Balla. I knew I had met her before but I was hoping she wouldn’t remember the encounter. Just my luck, she had a perfect recollection of the meeting. As soon as I said Uncouth Gourmands she said, “I remember you, we met at Church & State. You were really drunk and we were waiting in line for the bathroom you asked if I was a blogger because of my camera. I told you that I wrote for Eater LA but just stopped and you said that you liked Eating LA better.” I laughed nervously for a while and then told her I was well aware of her new project Tasting Table and was excited for her. When Josie and I are little plastic sporks in the land of silver forks and spoons it is really not a good idea to make any kind of foodemies. I would like to extend an olive branch or a breadstick over to Lesley and offer to buy her a meal, I heard that she is a Pasadena local. Anyway, clearly we’re not uncouth for nothing.

Overall, it was a fun event and more than anything we laughed.

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So the question becomes: what did we do next? Funny you should ask, we ended 3 hours of eating with….get this…dinner. We headed to Little Tokyo and had dinner at Usui Restaurant. We asked to sit in the traditional Japanese sitting area and were then screamed at, in a kind way, for not removing our shoes. How could I forget? The whole reason I wanted to sit there is so I could take off my shoes. Josie had a veggie roll, potato salad, and fried chicken and I had a cucumber salad and beef sukiyaki which was good but doesn’t compare to the sukiyaki I had in Tokyo that my best friend’s mom made.

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UG on the News

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The new issue of Los Angeles Magazine names the best new restaurant in LA and the winner is….

Palate

I have only been once and was quite impressed. I even reviewed it on yelp.

Palate Food + Wine

Category: American (New)
Neighborhood: Glendale

5 star rating

9/21/2008

Palate tantalizes my palate!

I have been wanting to dine here since its opening. I was very excited when I had a food based business meeting of sorts here. It started in the wine bar with a lovely bottle of wine from Santa Cruz (my hometown) and delicious cured meats.

For dinner I had the pork belly and it was amazing. The fennel salad and the pickled onions were big pluses as was the whiskey bread pudding. The wine with dinner was also phenomenal, unfortunately, it was brought by my dinner companion not the restaurant. The butter is handmade and worth every calorie.

After our business meeting ended and I was left alone with my friend and we finished the tables wine and asked for more and more bread with butter the night begun. We asked to meet the chef Octavio. He was truly charming. He had a big Japanese knife tattooed on his arm and when I asked him if he would be attending Savor the Season on Sunday he said he would be working at Meals on Wheels. That is the kind of chef he is thoughtful and creative he also told us about his plan for working with local gardens grown by hoodlums (my word not his). When my friend asked,”Why is everyone that works here French?” he brought out people from the kitchen and said, “Jorge are you French? Juan Carlos are you French?” We were proved wrong but the food was all right (note: not alright).

I will definitely go back and the pork belly will remain my main entree in my belly.

Josie was my dining companion that night and it was truly great. She seconds the pickled onions and she should know, she is practically a regular. Anyway, a big congrats to Octavio on the restaurant’s success. Keep on serving up deliciousness and we will continue to eat it and rave about it.

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What else is in the news?

Josie and I were discussing this story over dinner the other night and knew it was perfect for the Uncouth Gourmands. It seems that the homeless in Milan just got seized caviar for Christmas from the local police. We were in Milan last summer and were practically homeless after all of the money we spent on food. Some good free caviar would have come in handy. We actually spent $500 on lunch one day in Monaco at Alain Ducasse’s Le Louis XV (It is #15 on the Best Restaurants in the World). As true UG’s, we put fine cuisine, midnight doner kabobs, pints and paninis, and Mc Donald’s ketchup (which you have to pay for in EU) over our sleeping arrangements. In a hostel in London, I endured an Aussie masturbating in the bunk below me and Josie had a crazy Italian coked-out chef that slept with a huge knife in his bed in the bunk below her. Is it the same as being homeless? Absolutely not, but I am glad the less fortunate in Milan got to savor great beluga caviar.

Here is a picture of us in Milan with no free beluga caviar, just food that put us in the poor house.

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