Category Archives: Essays

Just So You Know, Food Arrives When It’s Ready

September 17, 2014 | By Adam Roberts | 16 Comments

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There’s a new restaurant trend afoot, one that takes the form of a casual, shoulder-shrug of a sentence, usually uttered by a server after he or she takes your order. It’s the sentence in the title of this post: “Just so you know, food arrives when it’s ready.”

It’s a sentence I heard last night at Alimento, a terrific new restaurant in Silverlake where I had some of the best pasta dishes of my life (more on those in a moment). It’s a sentence I heard last week at Republique with my parents, when they were here for Craig’s premiere. It’s a sentence we also heard at Bar Ama, where we went for lunch with both of our families (pictured above) after scoping out our secret wedding venue downtown. It’s a sentence that didn’t really bother me at first or even, really, grab my attention; but now that it’s becoming more and more common, it’s making me wonder: what’s it all about? And who does this really benefit: the restaurant or the diner?

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Food That Makes You Happy, Food That Makes You Healthy, Food That Makes You Hot

August 14, 2014 | By Adam Roberts | 23 Comments

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The original plan was for me to take my shirt off. I know, you’re all drooling on to your keyboards at the thought, but settle down! I needed a goal, something to motivate me to get into shape. This was in February. I rejoined my old L.A. gym, Crunch, which makes absolutely no sense because it’s really far from where I live in Atwater Village; only, I really like that gym and when I was a member, I went regularly. I had friends there. So I rejoined and ever since February, I’ve been going four days a week. That’s almost six months of regular gym-going and if I had to take my shirt off now on my blog, I’d be a lot less freaked out than I would have been six months ago (OK, maybe I’ll show you my biceps).

The question for me, though, was never really a question of exercise. We all know that exercise is good for us; there’s not much to think about. You go, you do it, you look better, you feel better, etc. The harder question was a question of diet: how do I change what I eat to maximize my efforts? If I wanted to see changes (and I did want to see changes) what did I have to do?

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Stick A Fork In It (Or: When Food Blogs Stopped Being Food Blogs)

March 13, 2014 | By Adam Roberts | 93 Comments

Modern food blog convention would dictate that this post should begin with a picture. In fact, it’s a bit of a suicide mission to write a post without one. I went on to Google images (a risky proposition, because you can get sued for using someone else’s image) and then thought against it. The whole picture-at-the-top-of-a-post instinct is a byproduct of the very phenomenon I’m here to decry: the death of food blogs as food blogs and their reemergence as newfangled newspaper food sections and magazines.

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Whatever, Martha

October 22, 2013 | By Adam Roberts | 68 Comments

Last week, Martha Stewart caused something of an uproar in the blogger community when she said, in an interview with Bloomberg TV: “Who are these bloggers? They’re not editors at Vogue magazine…I mean, there are bloggers writing recipes that aren’t tested, that aren’t necessarily very good, or are copies of everything that really good editors have created and done. So bloggers create kind of a popularity, but they are not the experts.”

She’s since backtracked; a wise move considering that her empire includes an entire network of bloggers with MARTHA STEWART plastered prominently on their pages. At first I was offended by her off-the-cuff remarks, now I’m mostly amused. This was a telling, unguarded moment for Martha and one that reflects the vintage, bespoke bubble she’s living in with her dogs in Connecticut.

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No Sweetener For You (Do Coffee Shops Go Too Far?)

October 15, 2013 | By Adam Roberts | 68 Comments

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You can divide coffee shops, these days, into two categories: those pushing the sugar (Starbucks, The Coffee Bean, Dunkin’ Donuts) and those scorning the sweet stuff. Most of us start out in the former camp–I began my coffee-drinking habits with Frappuccinos–and migrate to the latter camp, the independent coffee shop where the beans are of the finest quality and the baristas glare at you if they see you shaking Sweet N’ Low into your iced macchiato. That glare, though, isn’t necessarily encouraged by coffee shop owners: at most of the indy coffee shops I frequent in New York and L.A. (Joe, Gorilla, Commissary, Intelligentsia) sweetener is offered up in a myriad of forms: blue, pink, white little packets and a big bottle of simple syrup to address your iced coffee drink needs. Last week, however, I visited a coffee shop that L.A. Weekly just named Best Coffee Shop 2013–Handsome Coffee–and discovered that sweetener isn’t offered in any of its forms. No pink packets, no blue packets, no sticky syrup bottle. If you want sugar in your coffee, you’ve got to go somewhere else.

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The Art of Eating Artichokes

October 14, 2013 | By Adam Roberts | 23 Comments

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Once upon a time, I Tweeted: “Artichokes: not worth it.”

As with all Tweets like this, it had its share of supporters and detractors. Though I was being tongue-in-cheek, I was also sort of being serious. I hate dealing with artichokes. For my cookbook, the terrific chefs Alex Raij and Eder Montero taught me how to make a gorgeous spring vegetable confit with fava beans and asparagus and lots of green things including the dreaded artichoke. In their kitchen at Txikito, Alex showed me how to cut through the top of the plant, how to trim the stem, how to cut out the choke. When we were done, what looked like a bowling ball suddenly looked like a ping pong paddle. Did it taste good after it was confited? Yes. But was this something I’d really want to do in my own kitchen? Not really. When it comes to artichokes, I’m happy to eat them. But prepping them is the pits.

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Shopping is Cooking

October 8, 2013 | By Adam Roberts | 13 Comments

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When you’re having friends over for dinner at 7:30, and it’s getting on in the day, time grows precious and you have to prioritize. Do you spend it shopping or do you spend it cooking? More often than not, I spend it cooking. My usual cooking routine goes: rush to Gelson’s, gather up overpriced ingredients, hurry home, make the dessert, assemble the entree, get things ready for the appetizer and drink a glass of wine while listening to “The Music Man” just as the guests show up. But last week I changed my dinner party strategy. Instead of spending most of my time in the kitchen, I spent it on the road, gathering up great ingredients to see if it made a difference. And you know what? It totally did. That strategy yielded better results than if I’d spent that same time stirring over a stove. Here’s why.

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Cooking For A Chef

October 2, 2013 | By Adam Roberts | 12 Comments

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At first I wasn’t nervous. Or, at least, I told myself I wasn’t nervous. My friend Barrett Foa, who agreed to come on The Clean Plate Club, told me that his dream food guest would be Suzanne Tracht, the celebrated chef at Jar here in Los Angeles (also, a Top Chef Master). Before I knew it, Chef Tracht agreed to come over and I found myself in a position I’d never been in before: I was going to cook for a chef. I’d never cooked for a chef before. What would I make? How should I serve it? The night before the dinner, I was wide awake in bed, unable to fall asleep.

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