Stories

Umami and the Italian Nonna

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by Elaine McCardel

pasta.jpgWe all know there are four tastes - salty, sweet, sour and bitter. But researchers have identified a fifth taste and that is umami - the rich, savory taste of some foods. This taste is found naturally in certain foods - very ripe tomatoes, anchovies, parmesan cheese and mushrooms to name a few. It's why fish sauce and soy sauce make fried rice so savory.  

Cooks have known for ages that these foods enhance the taste of savory dishes. It's because these foods naturally contain glutamate. It is why MSG (monosodium glutamate) makes foods taste better. If you like the way adding a chicken or beef bouillion cube (which has MSG in it) enhances the flavor of a sauce or a stew, why not try adding a food that naturally contains glutamate?

It's why Italian cooks often add an anchovy in the beginning when cooking a sauce. Even if you don't like the taste of anchovies, you will never know it is there. It completely dissolves but it adds a depth of flavor you would not have otherwise.  Don't say, "Ew!  I don't like anchovies!"  Take advantage of the glutamate in this food and enhance your cooking - your umami!

L.A.'s New Restaurants Serve Up a Great Year

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by S. Irene Virbila

From The LA Times

laopenings.jpgEach year I keep a running log to track restaurants slated to open each month. When this January rolled around and I started my new list, I fully expected the pace of openings to slow to a trickle.

That hasn't happened. Instead, despite the curdled economy, L.A.'s restaurant scene this year has busted out with new energy and invention. And it continues to inspire the entire country. I can't tell you how many New Yorkers and even, gasp, San Franciscans have told me that Los Angeles is now their favorite eating town. It's about time we got some deserved attention.

Instead of treading the tried and true, L.A.'s restaurateurs and chefs are experimenting with the wild and crazy, with pop-ups, crossovers and new genres. This year's crop of new restaurants includes sandwich shops, noodle joints, izakaya, wine bars, far-flung cuisines, wood-burning-oven specialists, plenty of communal tables and oddball bar concepts. Diverse doesn't begin to describe what's happening now.

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An Afternoon with Don Michele (or The Sicilian Haircut)

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by Michael Tucker

trevi.jpgThe wives were off to the local terme- a natural hot springs spa in the town of Spello – for soaking, facials, massages, etc. This was an excursion for the group known as “Umbrian Girls Go Wild” – a disparate, dissolute organization made up of various wives and non-wives, who get together at odd times during the year to do odd things.

Because the women needed to take a few cars, the eminent Don Michele di Sicilia and myself were left with only one car between us for the day. We offered to shop and cook dinner for our spouses after their soak, and this led to one of the longest afternoons of my life.

Everyone in the town of Trevi knows Don Michele. Everyone. So what would have been a brief stop in the coffee store in Borgo Trevi, became an hour of rumination, gesticulation, exaggeration and flirtation from the eminent Don Michele. I almost forgot to buy coffee.

Turkey reincarnated into the perfect sandwich

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by Betty Hallock

From the LA Times

turkeysandwich.jpgTo call a turkey sandwich the stuff of memories sounds far-fetched (few have waxed Proustian about a turkey club), but that's what it is to Peruvian chef Ricardo Zarate. The chef behind Los Angeles' Mo-Chica and Picca came to know and love the turkey sandwich not in his native Lima but while working at the Millennium hotel in London early on in his culinary career. The object of his craving: roasted turkey with fried sweet potatoes and jalapeno-cilantro aioli between two slices of buttery brioche.

"To be honest," says Zarate, "Peruvians eat turkey only for Christmas. Christmastime it's crazy — you know at dinner we have to have the turkey … marinated with Peruvian spices, garlic, salt, pepper, a little Pisco, soy sauce." Now he's inspired to make it for Thanksgiving — so he can make the sandwich he still remembers.

This week, the leftover-turkey sandwich looms especially large. According to the National Turkey Federation, 91% of Americans eat turkey — about 675 million pounds of it — for Thanksgiving. And much of Thursday's bird will probably end up between a couple of pieces of bread. So, what better time to revisit the turkey sandwich?

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restaurant news

Serendipity 3
New York
by Cathy Pollak

serendipitycoco.jpg Trips to New York City have become scarce over the years.  Maybe non-existent is a better description. 

I don't have family, friends or business in New York.  All past trips have been purely...

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Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, Oh my…
Southern California
by Amy Ephron

Alabama Hills Cafe EntryWe were on our way back from Death Valley where the only thing on the side of the road is an occasional purple flower, a bit of brush, a lone cactus or two… My husband suggested that we take a...

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Adams Avenue Grill - San Diego
Southern California
by Kitty Kaufman

Adams Ave 3The whole Friday night crowd is out in University Heights. Good thing we reserved at Adams Avenue Grill. This is really something: they start at 8 am and serve lunch until 2 and open at 5 for...

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Charlie's, Malibu
Los Angeles
by Jo Stougaard

charlies2.jpgI’m always dragging my friend Laur with me to try out new restaurants. From casual gastropubs up the street like Laurel Tavern, to “modern (molecular) cooking” at The Bazaar across town. She’s...

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