As many of you know, since moving to L.A. I’ve been coping with a loss of decent bagels. My coping led me to Everything Bagel Bombs (which were an enjoyable but unrealistic substitute) and to frozen Murray’s bagels, over-toasted in my toaster to compensate for their cross-country staleness.
Commenters in both posts asked if I’d been, yet, to Brooklyn Bagel here in L.A. I hadn’t. I realized I was being unfair to my new home city, criticizing its bagel culture without really exploring it. So off to Brooklyn Bagels I went.
If we were playing a game called “Would That Be Delicious?” and you just started to name things–“chocolate dipped beets” (no), “lemon Parmesan chicken wings” (yes)–I have a feeling, for many, the response to “warm tofu” might be a resounding “blech.”
Warm tofu; may as well say “warm pudding” or “warm Jell-O.” All of those things sound terrible because all of those things are gelatinous; and we don’t like eating warm, gelatinous things, do we? And yet, last week, I returned to Robata Jinya (where I had my first L.A. ramen and loved it) and found myself eating the most alluring, most decadent dish I’ve had in a while–a dish of warm tofu.
Some restaurants are like living museums. Musso and Frank is one of those restaurants: it’s a memorial to and a celebration of Hollywood’s rich cultural history. The Musso & Frank website explains it best: “In the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, the golden years in Hollywood, almost everyone in the entertainment business dined or drank at Musso and Frank. Through the years, waiters served Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Edward G. Robinson, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, Cesar Romero and many more. But the restaurant was also known for it’s clientele of famous writers. The famous back room was home to William Saroyan, John Fante, Scott Fitzgerald, Nathaniel West, William Falkner, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway and many more.”
With Craig’s parents in town (along with more family), we knew Musso and Frank might be just the spot to take them for a taste of Old Hollywood.
Confession: Before Saturday, I’d never been to a food truck.
Predicted reaction: WHAT?! OH MY GOD!? YOU’RE A FOOD WRITER AND YOU’VE NEVER BEEN TO A FOOD TRUCK OH MY GOD I’M TOTALLY NOT GOING TO READ YOU ANYMORE AND I’M BURNING MY COMPUTER RIGHT NOW TO RID IT OF YOUR EMBARRASSING HUMILIATING ATTEMPT AT BEING A DECENT HUMAN BEING.
Two things are making me more of a restaurant adventurer here in L.A. than I was in New York: (1) nicer weather and (2) a car. In New York, on the bitterest, most miserable days of January, I would stick to a very specific loop that involved lunch at Hummus Place, coffee at Joe, and a slushy trek home. Here in L.A., it’s just a matter of unlocking my car door, rolling down the windows, cranking up the Original Cast Recording of “Next To Normal” and hitting the road.
I’m terrible at geography (please don’t ask me to find Iowa on a map) but I’m wonderful at food geography, especially when I know a city really well. In New York, friends would call me on a regular basis with queries like: “I’m going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and need a place for an afternoon snack before going to a 5 PM chamber music concert at The Frick.” (Answer: Cafe Sabarsky.) Here in L.A., though, I’m on shaky ground (earthquakes notwithstanding). I’m new here and when a food geography issue arises, I’m not as quick on my feet. But I’m getting better.
Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking. “Adam,” you’re saying, shaking your head while sipping a vanilla iced latte (why are you drinking that, anyway?), “you’re losing credibility. You just wrote a post below this about some blood-infused noodles and said that the Thai restaurant where you ate them offered the best Thai meal of your life. And now here you are, one post later, and you’re talking about the best sushi of your life. Don’t you think you’re overselling things a bit? If you keep calling things ‘the best of your life’ no one’s going to take you seriously. You’re like the boy who cried ‘best fill-in-the-blank of your life.'”
Last week was such a hectic week searching for an apartment in L.A., I wasn’t able to do my usual business of researching restaurants, plotting dinners and constructing photo essays for you, my hungry readers. (Exception: Loteria & Gjelina.) We did, however, enjoy many random bites that I photographed, dutifully, in the hopes of writing a post like this one you’re about to read. So buckle your seatbelts!