Friday, July 30, 2010

The Lucky Camera Strap Recipient Is...

Congratulations to Feminist Gold Digger (who is always entertaining but not always safe to read at work)! You will be the proud owner of a new camera strap very soon!

Thank you to everyone who commented and tweeted!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Camera Strap Giveaway in Honor of Phototasting!

Do you like to take photos of what you eat? Do you wish your photos looked better? Do you wonder how people take photos in dark restaurants without using flash?

Wonder no more.
A second session of Phototasting, a unique food sampling and restaurant photography workshop, will take place at Cube Café and Marketplace this Saturday, July 31, 2-5 p.m.

Yes, Cube! I loooooooooove Cube! See?
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Sample Cube’s seasonal Italian cuisine while learning restaurant and food photography tips from Rants and Craves and The Kitchy Kitchen. Bring your DSLR or point-and-shoot!

The event costs only $50, which is a steal for both instruction and some superb nibbles.
Read accounts by some satisfied customers from the the first Phototasting session:
Space is limited. Phototasting sold out last time, so get your tickets now!

Be sure to follow Phototasting on Twitter for updates and information on future sessions!

Now that you've read this far, you might be wondering, "Hey! Where's the giveaway?"

Well, here it is.
Up for grabs is The Black 'n' Tan, a lovely 35" camera strap by Phat Straps! This is no ordinary camera strap. It's long enough for you to sling your camera cross-body, and it features a really convenient quick-release system that allows you to switch out different straps with ease.

I recently bought four of these straps, and I'm going to give The Black 'n' Tan to one lucky reader because I think these straps and Phototasting are both awesome!

How do you enter this giveaway? Two ways!
  1. Leave a comment with your e-mail address if I don't already know it.
  2. Tweet the following: Improve your food pics @Phototasting this Saturday 7/31 @cube_LA! Get tix now to eat and shoot!
After tweeting, leave a second comment with the permalink to your tweet as evidence.

Comment + tweet = two chances to win The Black 'n' Tan! Yes, double your chances just by tweeting!

This giveaway closes at the end of this Thursday, July 29. Get your comments and tweets in before midnight! I will announce the camera strap winner on Friday, July 30.

Good luck!

There Is No Time to Blog...

...when you're busy doing things that are totally blogworthy.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Lotta Helado at Rosa Mexicano

Through August 1, you can chill out at Rosa Mexicano's Festival de Helados!
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The Festival features 10 new flavors. I was lucky enough to sample nine of them last night at a comped media tasting.

Along with the helados, we had various snacks and toppings, including fruit, caramel corn, sweet peanuts, and strawberry crisps.
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Some of the ingredients in the helados were also on the table for us to admire -- a big block of sugar, Mexican chocolate, and cajeta (goat's milk caramel).

Along with the helados, we were given beer.
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For several of the helados, we made our own beer floats. Neat!

Here is my ugly guide to all the helados.
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I scream, you scream, we all scream for helados!

One thing I learned last night -- it's hard to photograph ice cream in the dark.
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My favorites were the sea-salted cajeta (so rich and goat milky), sweet corn and caramel popcorn (I'm a sucker for anything with corn in it), and blueberry crema (tasted like cheesecake). I thought the Mexican cookies 'n' cream and a dark beer yielded the best beer float.

The only flavor that didn't win me over was the pomegranate mint chocolate chip and Mexican fudge swirl -- waaaaay too much going on in that scoop. This was a rather polarizing ice cream. People loved it or hated it. Or maybe only I hated it. Ha!

The helados were truly top-notch -- Rosa Mexicano recipes executed by the fabulous Fosselman's and the magnificent Milk.

Special thanks to Vanessa and Chef England for being such wonderful hosts.

If you love ice cream, you should check out this event before it melts away!

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Favorite Soft-Shell Crab Salad

I'm not one to get the same thing over and over at a restaurant, but, once in awhile, I find something worth repeating. See, e.g., Langer's #10.

On Sunday, I had one of my few usuals -- the soft-shell crab salad ($8.49) at Yashima (11301 W. Olympic Blvd., Ste. 210, Los Angeles). I've been repeating it for many years now.
Nothing else at this restaurant is really worth your time.

But this salad, dear readers, is so good that Mr. Monkey and I each get our own, so we don't have to share.

And, if you're a long-time reader, you know just how exceptional that is.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Itza Winner

There are two reasons to go to Mercado La Paloma near USC. One is Mo-Chica. The other is the ever fabulous Chichen Itza with its Yucatecan cuisine. That's southeast Mexican food if you're scratching your head.
Order your food at the counter, and it will be brought to your table. Like Mo-Chica, Chichen Itza has a no-frills ambiance but incredible food -- exactly what Papa Monkey wanted. He, Brother Monkey, Mr. Monkey, and I had such a good time sharing everything.

Jamaica and horchata.
Simple, sweet, and cold. No surprises here.

Taco de salpicon de venado -- baked leg of venison shredded and tossed with sour orange juice, cilantro, and diced radish ($3.75 per taco).
Very good. The accompaniments enhanced the venison without overpowering it.

Taco de chicharrón ($2.25 per taco).
Ohmygodthebestthingever. EVER. It's a taco made of fried pork rinds, people. Don't die without eating this taco first. Seriously. You will have lived in vain.

Pan de cazon -- four layers of soft corn tortillas moistened in black bean dip with sauteed shredded shark inside and topped with tomato sauce ($7.99).
So tender and packed with flavor! Excellent fish dish!

Cochinita pibil -- pork marinated with achiote, sour orange juice, and spices baked in a banana leaf and topped with pickled red onions ($8.29).
Fanfuckingtastic. One of the best versions I've ever had. Meaty, juicy, tangy, everything you could ever want in cochinita pibil.

Accompanying beans and rice.
Pleasant background noise for the superstar mains.

Bistec de venado ($22.00).
The only slightly disappointing dish we got. It was a chalkboard special of the day, so we were intrigued and ordered it. Not as tasty as the venison taco but certainly not bad at all. It's just that everything else was deserving of such excessive praise!

Do you like it hot? I'll give you hot.
So hot that even Papa Monkey thought it was hot, and he could eat the sun.

Papaya de almibar -- papaya slices cooked in sugar syrup ($2.19).
Sad to say, Chichen Itza isn't really the place you want to get dessert. I didn't like these sticky fruit sticks at all, but the rest of my family thought they were ok.

Caballeros pobres -- bread soaked in raisin syrup ($2.19).
Another thumbs down from me for this. It was like gulab jamun gone wrong with thick slices of white bread. Almost sickeningly sweet. Definitely get dessert elsewhere.

Still, Chichen Itza is a must-visit eatery. I can't wait to sample more of the savory menu. It will be hard to restrain ourselves from ordering everything next time.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Langer's Love Lives On

I've been to Langer's too many times to count since my first mind-boggling bite in 2000, but it occurred to me this weekend that I'd never brought my real camera there.
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The deli at 7th and Alvarado has been dishing out its world-famous pastrami longer than my mother has been alive. The decor retains a mid-century feel.

Everybody raves about #19. I'm not everybody. I always get #10 (proof here, here, and here). I hate #19. The cole slaw ruins the sandwich -- makes it too big and gets it soggy.
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But #10 is a masterpiece.

On this day, I ordered my masterpiece straight off the menu, so I could enjoy the fresh rye bread -- wonderfully soft yet hefty enough to support a mountain of meat.
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Beautiful, no?

More often than not, however, I get the #10 grilled with Russian dressing on the side, which is what Mr. Monkey did for this lunch. Yes, grilled!
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If you've never had a Langer's sandwich grilled, go remedy this travesty immediately.

The golden sandwich glistens. Spread your own dressing, so the bread keeps its crunch.
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This photo says it all. MELTED CHEESE! No grill! No melt!

If you need even more cheese, nosh on some chili cheese fries.
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The cheese is freshly shredded and melts into the best gooey mess very quickly.

Treat yourself to a root beer float.
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Pretend you're at soda shop. You won't have to pretend hard.

Don't leave without a slice of apple pie with hot brandy sauce a la mode.
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Hot. Cold. Flaky. Creamy. Sweet. It's got it all.

Langer's in a word? Classic.

Monday, July 12, 2010

All-Star Sunday 2010

Mr. Monkey has tickets to all of the 2010 All-Star festivities.
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I accompanied him on Sunday. He went to the Home Run Derby Monday night and will be going to the All-Star Game Tuesday night with his buddy Mr. Denver.

Of course, I was excited about the Culinary All-Star Competition.
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My fave guy was Chef Richard Montini because, when we asked him to be a pirate, he actually shouted, "ARRRRR!" Can you see his enthusiasm above?

Some of the contenders...

Colorado Rockies: Chicken burrito, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole.
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New York Mets: Twisted sausage and pepper sandwich, spicy chipotle mayonnaise.
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Atlanta Braves: Smoked BBQ pulled pork, jalapeño corn muffin, caramelized onions, cabbage slaw.
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Pittsburgh Pirates: Pastrami sandwich, tomatoes, vodka slaw dressing.
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Philadelphia Phillies: Summer hot dog, pickled red onions, salsa, chipotles mayonnaise, cucumbers.
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Boston Red Sox: Lobster roll on grilled bun.
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Anaheim Angels: Halo Dog with bacon, jack cheese, charro beans, Anaheim peppers.
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Toronto Blue Jays: Canadian whiskey-smoked BBQ ribs.
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Kansas City Royals: Kansas City Stack -- seasoned rib-eye, cheese, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, onion rings, BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, pickle.
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Baltimore Orioles: Crab Dog -- hot dog topped with creamed crab, shredded cheese, cherry pepper slices.
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Oakland Athletics: Jalapeño jack sausage atop mac 'n' cheese with green ketchup.
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Oh, yeah, there was sort of a game, too.
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Retired players and celebrities comprised the teams. Various mascots roamed around

Jennie Finch
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She not only pitched, but she hit a home run -- the first ever by a woman at this event!

Bo Jackson
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Bo still knows baseball. He knocked it out of the park.

Andy Richter
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Lots of people chanted, "Team Coco!"

Jon Hamm and James Denton
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Handsome Mad Man and Desperate Househusband on second base.

Mario Lopez
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Did A.C. Slater letter in baseball? Go, Bayside!

Marisa Miller
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All male eyes were on this supermodel and Victoria's Secret hottie.

MC Hammer
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This former A's bat boy was 2 Legit 2 Quit when he hit a home run. U can't touch this!

A little homage to our friend Mr. Cruiser's brother -- he plays Alcide on True Blood.
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Mr. Cruiser's brother is better at playing a werewolf on TV than he is at softball. But, really, there's no shame when the guy at first base is Mike Piazza.

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Fun outing! Jealous that Mr. Monkey is experiencing the real All-Star events, too!
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