This post is a bit of a cheat because it’s really a combination of two posts that already exist on my blog: How To Cook Perfect Fish At Home and The Best Broccoli of Your Life. The only innovation is that I served these two things together on the same plate and instead of using cod, like I did in that Perfect Fish post, I used really good salmon (Scottish salmon, if you must know) and did away with the Parmesan on the broccoli because I don’t like cheese and fish together. Oh and one more thing…
Here’s what I’m starting to get about L.A.: L.A. cherishes its secret hole-in-the-wall dining destinations. People would rather eat at a restaurant that nobody knows about yet than one everyone’s clamoring to get into. In New York, things are more open. For example, the restaurant-of-the-moment in New York right now is Carbone and everyone’s Tweeting and Instagramming and talking to their therapist about going there. In L.A., there are restaurants so exclusive they don’t take reservations and you can’t go to them unless you’re invited (see: Yamakase). I think the L.A. vibe is a product of celebrity culture, one in which well-known people want to remain incognito while enjoying the best life has to offer. As a result, some of L.A.’s best dining experiences are hidden away like little buried treasures waiting for you to find them.
Very rarely does a chef get a 4-star review while a critic is still at the table, but in my case our resident critic (that would be Craig) exclaimed, on biting into the fish you see above, “This is seriously the best fish I’ve ever had in my life. You could charge $40 for this at a restaurant!”
You might think Craig was hyperbolizing, but when I bit in I felt the same way. And it wasn’t like I considered myself a big fish expert by any means; because good fish takes more effort to find than good chicken or good produce, I very rarely make it. This dinner was a total anomaly but because it turned out so terrific, I’m thinking it’ll become a regular weeknight staple for us. Why did it turn out so good? Let’s examine.
As I gear up to go to New York for three months, I’m starting to check things off my L.A. “first year” bucket list. Korean BBQ was pretty high up there, and in my browser where I have a folder called LaFood and subfolders like “Chinese,” “Ramen,” “Sushi,” “Thai,” there’s a folder that says “Korean” and Park’s BBQ is featured prominently in there. So this past Saturday, I gathered up a group, including our new L.A. transplant friends Jim and Jess and we headed to Park’s in Koreatown.
Our friend Emily (who also happens to be Craig’s awesome manager; she’s in the apron on the right) had us over for dinner the other night and she pulled off something I would never be brave enough to attempt at a dinner party: she cooked us fish.
Fish is so tricky and temperamental, I’m nervous just to cook it for myself, let alone a crowd of people. I’ve seared fish in a pan, I’ve broiled fish in the oven. These techniques work fine for one or two, but for four? Five? Six? What do you do? Emily had the perfect solution. And it was such a smart solution, I plan to steal this idea for my own fish dinner parties in the future. Not only that: the results were so good I may use her technique for cooking fish just for Craig and myself. And that technique is…
Tacos have entered my life in a big way. Ever since I moved to L.A. in September, I’ve been eating many, many tacos. Tacos at Loteria, tacos at Malo. In fact, there’s a very good chance that today I’ll be eating tacos for lunch and dinner, no joke. What makes the tacos here so great? Rid your mind of those orange tacos shells that you crunched through at your middle school cafeteria growing up. Here, tacos are served in freshly pressed tortillas; the fillings are often equally as fresh (no ground meat slop) and made piquant with pico de gallo and a splash of hot sauce. On the east side of town, where I live, I’ve discovered two great places for tacos. Let me tell you about them.
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.'”
A funny thing happened when I got back from Barcelona. I received an e-mail that basically said, “Dear Adam: would you like to come to Puerto Rico? We’re having a Wine & Food Festival and will fly you out, put you up and treat you to lots of authentic Puerto Rican food. We just hope you’ll write about it. What do you say?”
Frankly, I didn’t know what to say. What were the ethical implications here? What would my readers think if I took a free trip? Would the benefits of sharing my experience outweigh the cost to my integrity? Do I even have any integrity? What are the responsibilities of a food blogger?
Before I could think myself into a tizzy, the P.R. P.R. person (get that?) happened to mention one other thing that made me toss all ethical concerns aside and say “yes.” What was it?