Birthday at Bestia, Dinners at Chez Emily, The Hart and the Hunter & The Coconut Club

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When you look at these pictures, you’re not going to believe me when I tell you I’ve been on a bit of a health and fitness kick lately. That’s right: five days a week at the gym, salads, chicken breasts, the works. My strategy, though, is to reward myself on weekends and birthdays and at dinner parties–haha, I know you’re rolling your eyes–which is how I can justify what you’re about to see. Because last week I turned 35 and Craig surprised me with dinner at a restaurant I’ve been dying to try ever since I first heard about it: Bestia in downtown L.A.

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An Imaginative Feast By Food Prodigy Andy Windak (Mac ‘n’ Cheese Stuffed Ravioli! Coq au Vin Chilaquiles!) & A Roasted Feast By Cookbook Hero Molly Stevens

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I don’t follow sports, but I know that there are these people called scouts who go around to minor league events and look for future stars to recruit to the majors. Well, I never considered myself much of a chef scout, but that all changed on Sunday when food blogger Andy Windak–of the food blog The Wind Attack–invited us over for dinner. I was wary of this 25 year-old who talked a big game the first few times that I met him (he said something about marinated yucca blossoms) but what I didn’t realize was that he was the real deal: a self-taught, self-motivated prodigy who works wonders in the kitchen.

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Tavern, Wurstk├╝che & Gastronomico

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If you’re writing your doctoral thesis on The Amateur Gourmet, you’ve probably discovered, at this point, the methodology behind my madness. Or, if you haven’t, it works like this: in a given week I take a bunch of pictures. Some of the pictures I take on my iPhone, the others I take with my fancy camera. On Monday morning, I process all of the pictures and put them up on Flickr and then I sort through them: which ones are good enough for the blog? Which would do better in my newsletter? It’s not always based on the quality of the pictures–sometimes, even if the pictures are bad, I know something will make a great blog post; inversely, sometimes even if the pictures are great, there’s just not enough there there to blog about. Usually, restaurant pictures are relegated to my newsletter; but sometimes if a restaurant experience is notable enough, I save it for the blog. And thus this is a post about three restaurant meals that I consider blog-worthy.

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