I came to L.A. with the most open of open minds. As New Yorkers twisted up their faces at the news (“L.A.? You’re moving to L.A.?”) I held my head high with secret knowledge. My secret knowledge was mostly food-based. I knew about Jonathan Gold, one of our nation’s greatest food writers, who, in writing for L.A. Weekly and eventually the L.A. Times, had canvassed the city so thoroughly, so meticulously, his writing archives were like living treasure maps that could keep a food-lover like me endlessly occupied. I knew about L.A. farmer’s markets, how the Santa Monica farmer’s market and the Hollywood Farmer’s market would put the Union Square farmer’s market to shame with its year-round, sparkling produce. I knew, like a sports fan evaluating his new home turf, that while my old team had legendary heroes like Daniel Boulud, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Eric Ripert, my new team had its own share of superstars: Nancy Silverton, Jose Andres and Susan Feniger, to name a few; also, up-and-comers Ludo Lefebvre, Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook, and Michael Voltaggio. Plus: L.A.’s Mexican food, Chinese food, Korean food, Thai food, and sushi are the best you can find in the United States. I held all of this secret knowledge aloft in my brain as I boarded the plane from J.F.K. to L.A.X. with my cat under the seat in front of me and a feeling of endless possibility in my chest.
Some exciting news: we’re headed to New York this fall for three months. The reasons are many. There’s my cookbook coming out and Craig has something up his sleeve too.
We’re looking for subletters to take our apartment on or around September 15th through December 15th. It’s a 2-bedroom apartment in Hollywood (near Los Feliz) that’s steps away from lots of great stores and restaurants, walking distance to the Arclight movie theater, and a short drive to Silverlake and West Hollywood. There’s a parking spot (two people can rotate it), a piano, and–most importantly–a kitchen full of all of my cooking equipment and cookbooks which you’re welcome to use…
I hate repeating myself on my blog, so if you’ve been reading for me a while, you know that Joe is my favorite coffee shop in New York. The location on Waverly is where I wrote my first book and most of my second; it’s where I’d meet friends to chat about projects or lives, it’s where I first laid eyes on Craig before we started dating. The place positively glows with good energy and the coffee is always top-notch, some might say (and I’d agree with them) the best in town.
Now Jonathan Rubinstein and his sister Gabrielle have collaborated with food writer Judith Choate on “Joe: The Coffee Book,” a charming collection of essays and pictures and how-tos that demystifies the process of making excellent coffee at home. What follows is a Q&A with Jonathan about the book, the process of writing it, and how he stays relevant in a city swarming with new coffee shops.
Back To Our Favorite N.Y. Haunts (Joe, Joseph Leonard, Bar Centrale, City Bakery, Grand Sichuan & The Burger Joint)
I took a tumble outside of Joe on Waverly, the coffee shop that was a second home to me all those years that I lived in the big city. It was kind of embarrassing: rain was beating down, Craig ran inside the front door, and as I approached the first step, I totally slipped on the wet pavement and crashed down on my knee, slicing my jeans open and tearing the skin. I got myself up as quickly as I could but it was one of those disorienting experiences that made me feel like I was a stranger on my old turf: only a tourist slips on a wet New York City sidewalk.
I’m not one of those “where must I eat when I go back to New York?” kind of people, though I did Tweet a week before our trip something along those lines. The responses were fascinating to me–apparently Acme, which I knew as a fairly mediocre sandwich and sweet potato French fry spot near NYU, has been transformed into a restaurant-of-the-moment. Also: Isa has all the food bloggers buzzing. But, I don’t know, I wasn’t in the mood to be fanatical about new restaurants. I decided that, when it came to food on this trip, we’d wing it.
When you arrive in New York, for your first time or after being away for a while, you want a taste of what makes the city unique. Sure, you could pop into one of those hip bastions of dining where everything’s pickled or ensconced in some kind of obscure animal fat but, really, aren’t they doing that in most food cities these days? What you crave is the sort of thing that doesn’t push the envelope in any way; you want comfort food, New York City style, served gruffly yet with an inscrutable sort of love. What you crave is the 2nd Avenue Deli.
When Craig got his L.A. job offer and I knew that we’d be moving out here, I took great comfort in the fact that Zach Brooks, creator of the legendary N.Y.C. food blog Midtown Lunch, made a similar move a year prior. Which is why, when I thought of starting up my web series “Someone’s In The Kitchen With” again here in L.A. (check out my new L.A. kitchen in the background!) I knew precisely who my first guest should be. Join us as, then, as we chat about Zach’s blog, his childhood, his life in radio, how he thought up the idea of a site that’d tell office workers where to eat a good lunch in midtown Manhattan and how he’s expanded his empire to include downtown New York, Philadelphia and, of course, L.A. Thanks, Zach, for being my first L.A. guest! Your final interview bit about L.A. makes me excited to be living and eating here.
Anthony Bourdain has said that, for his last meal, he’d want the roasted bone marrow with parsley salad that Fergus Henderson serves at his London restaurant, St. John.
It’s fitting then that, for my last meal as a New Yorker, there was that very same dish. Only it wasn’t prepped by Fergus Henderson; it was made by Gabrielle Hamilton at what’s come to be my favorite New York City restaurant, Prune.