Tuesday, February 28, 2012

“Carpe Diem” at Tasting Kitchen

I already knew that I loved Tasting Kitchen when the Cute Gardener told me he would be taking us there this past weekend. It was the first restaurant I went to with some visiting friends when I moved to Venice Beach and it made an immediate impression on me. At that time I had drooled over a cod filet on pea puree and a golden beet salad with diced chunks of the tubers.

Known for many impressive things, what I recalled the most was the super attentive wait staff, the artisan cocktails that took ten minutes to make with care, the big block shaped and slow melting ice cubes, and the way each course of a meal was brought out and explained by a different server.

Earlier that day, we had been at an engagement party for two people who had crafted their own cocktails after consulting with the mixologists at the Tasting Kitchen bar over a recent dinner. So we started with a drink each. He had a Noisy Beau with Bulleit bourbon, chartreuse, and mead and I had my favorite barrel aged Negroni (how come all the drinks I like are on the gentlemen’s menus?).

This time we decided to take the plunge into the $80 a person, five course tasting menu, served family style to share. I rarely trust a restaurant that much to take that culinary dive and my man's trust was riding on my opinion that the restaurant was stellar. A little nerve-wracking but what the hell, you only live once.

We scored the best table in the dining room, farthest away from the front door, which by the end of the night always swooshes in people by the droves who come for the bar or wait patiently on the long wall adjacent flowerbed full of wine corks for a table to open up. With a nice little curtain between us and the bar, we felt like we were in our own little space which made it more romantic in the already dimly lit albeit constantly conversation and glass clinking filled place.

The food parade ensued.

Our amuse bouche came in tiny little tea party cups full of sweet parsnip cream soup topped with a dollop of crème fraiche. Funky touches like mismatched plates added to the charm.

Our first course was an entrée sized barbecued octopus on cranberry and lima beans, smoky with hints of celery…

…paired with a divine milky burrata dressed simply in olive oil and cracked peppercorns side by side with the most luscious pile of tangy leeks dotted with spicy minced radish.

Next came a frisee and red cabbage salad with Berkshire pig lardons and a pile of parmesan snow.

One of my highlights was this savory pasta dish with fennel sausage, squash blossoms and shaved Pecorino.

Main course entrée number one was a perfectly cooked piece of halibut with a creamy texture in a rich beurre blanc sauce…

...and number two, a scrumptious pork plate with sous vide tender loin slices and a spare rib with al dente parsnips.

Just when we thought we couldn’t stomach another bite, we were delivered a dessert of tiny olive oil cakes, nutty pistachio ice cream and a deliciously eggy bread pudding with caramel sauce and blood orange slices.

My body went into shock at about that point which is why I didn’t have the energy to raise my hand again to take another photo of the chocolates that were brought with the fantastic dessert wines at the end.

The poor Cute Gardener left the place feeling as if he had just completed a Man vs. Food challenge considering I only ate about a quarter from each plate.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Decadent Dinner Hunting in Beverly Hills

What better place to shop for an impromptu romantic and decadent, no cooking required meal than the center of high-end luxury and world class shopping that is Beverly Hills, California? Recently, the Cute Gardener and I were looking to amass a vibrant feast of cheese, sweets, wine and meat for an in home dinner on a Saturday night where we could pretend we were living the high life while catching up on three week’s worth of recorded episodes of 30 Rock.

Our first stop was the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills; a small country store-reminiscent boutique overflowing with varieties of cheese and wooden shelves bursting with condiments, olives, charcuterie, wines and all the accoutrements for an orgasmic feast of fromage. The friendly staff was ever-willing to hand over generous samples, peeled, sliced or scooped from whatever cheeses we were looking to purchase, which in this case included a stinky, ashen blue, a triple cream and a hard goat’s milk that would crumble well. We were given a spot on tasting of the three varieties desired and ended up buying a portion each of a rich, a buttery and a sweet.

Sated from this tasting that delivered perfect results on the first try per our desires, we were confident enough to ask the gentleman helping us to throw together a nice mix of olives from the brine scented barrels that lined the back wall.  We also bought a safe Beaujolais Nouveau that was on the counter and eight divine paper – thin slices of Jamon Iberico: the most expensive damn ham on the planet from free range pigs that roam the oak forests between Spain and Portugal eating only acorns which has a significant effect on the flavor. 

On our way out, a homeless guy on the side of the building was snapping at us in a half tourettes and half concierge of Beverly Hills routine, checking out our shopping bags and giving us the green light that we had shopped in the correct place.

Next stop was Whole Foods for some grapes and pears and then a walk to MadameChocolat, the Cute Gardener’s preferred candy shop. He snapped up a few liquor filled bon bons and some extra dark chocolates while I perused the shelves of perfectly painted candies for a dark and bitter ganache. A Madame Chocolat female employee commandeered the counter with a stiff black river of hair and a dash of Max Factor worthy cinematic red/orange lipstick and a smirk that made me think she had a whip concealed behind her back. Her employees behind her were silent and robotic, as they made chocolate in an assembly line fashion. And the chocolates were all perfect little squares with decorations stamped on top in pretty colors reminiscent of rich-people patterns and lace stencil designs. The whole thing reminded me of Catholic School.

I much preferred the next place we stopped, semi-across the street, called “LetteMacaroons. A tiny store with nothing but a long counter full of perfect little macaroons in every variety you can possibly imagine. There were the trendy flavors like salted caramel, which were all but gone, and then the more normal varieties such as vanilla and lemon. I chose a rose flavored one because I love the taste of the smell of rose and a pistachio one as it is a favorite and then went out of the box for an Earl Grey tea one. The Earl Grey Tea one knocked my socks off and is now on my lips perpetually craved. The Cute Gardener doesn’t understand macaroons, he thinks they are for girls and don’t make any sense as cookies.

Our last stop was at Teuscher’s Chocolates & Café where they serve hot cocoa made on the spot tinged with a hint of cinammon. Shared between us while I picked out a last morsel of truffle chocolate and a hunk of dark chocolate covered marzipan, it warmed the belly for the walk back to the car under the waning sun. The tourettes homeless guy snapped at us again to give his approval of our bags from Teuscher’s.

The feast to come was just as much fun as the hunt had been. An entire presentation on the living room table kicked off the mixing and matching of foods, until an hour later with the bottle depleted, the two eaters (meaning us) became strangely more horizontal on the couch, groans of being full escaping the lips between the commercial breaks.   

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Larry's - Homage to Another Old Man by the Sea

I have a thing for old weathered men teetering on the verge between bum, genius or grandfather. I am even writing one into my novel at the moment who is based on King Neptune and lives under the Santa Monica pier. Since moving to Venice I have grown fond of these characters who fit this bill and never cease to find joy when one of them moves by me on the street raving some unintelligible thing or ends up ducking into a million dollar warehouse in the studio district.

Artist Larry Bell’s smirking neon profile complete with smoking cigar between his lips has been winking down at me from a steel gray building for the past few months whenever I visit Windward Circle. My attention was first called to the place by the folks at Danny’s longtime neighborhood staple bar and nosh pit across the way while I sat talking to a long lost friend from New Orleans one evening who frequents the place. Seems like everyone there was pissed off at the new competition vying for the boardwalk pedestrians and neighborhood barflys, which in Venice Beach are oftentimes-famous people, like ex-Dogtown skaters and artists.

Larry Bell, like Dennis Hopper, Robert Graham and Ed Moses, all stem from the wise old salty studio men annals of Venice Beach where the rugged sea air does wonders to leather up a face, and years of (insert choice of drugs, alcohol or smokes) forever add ingredients to the sea air brine already settling into the smooth and firm lines in a face. These guys are known (or were known in the case of Dennis and Bob) to hang out in the bars, restaurants, and shops dotting Abbott Kinney like Hal’s and also near the Speedway, partaking in French fries and beer just like the regular folk.

So, finding out a little more about Larry’s this past weekend was a pleasant surprise to me as I had been expecting it to be no different than any of the other boardwalk restaurants: full of quick fuel up carbs and generic in diner/deli food type taste; you know the pizza and burger joint to shut the kids up at the tail end of a long day of beach.

But the Cute Gardener actually explained to me that Larry’s, although inspired by the artist himself, was actually the collaborative inspiration of the teams behind Venice’s Hotel Erwin and Culver City’s Waterloo and City Restaurant and it fancied itself an actual grown up gastropub. We walked over to check it out.

Although Bell was a pioneer of the California minimalist movement, and is actually in a Pacific Standard Time show at the moment at Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery, the restaurant was busy and packed. Wooden upscale benches for eating dotted the décor and lots of green frond plants in peripheral planters that separated up the space and a tucked into the interior bar where folks can get sloshed without seeing the diners were just a bit of the ambience. A fireplace with colored tile mosaics sat at one end of the place, I guess for when the ocean air nips a little too much into the openness of the beachside portion of the space.

Virtual light and space painting transforms the sky from day to night outside

We were there for an early Saturday dinner and it was packed. But it was packed with boardwalk types and young guys looking for a tall glass of beer and personal pan pizza and rich local families with kids pretending to look white trash with moms who sport whale tails and jeans. The Cute Gardener and I kept getting stares at our plates because we actually ordered the food the restaurant had popped up to serve. We had a feeling that the lull that came next might be the lull that also clears off the beach near sundown and that the serious foodie types would be the next group to populate the place. Or so we hoped, because the food was downright delicious and deserving of some respect.

With a bottle of red, we hunkered down for some grub.


Huge fried risotto balls were first with belly-warming centers of burgundy beef Bolognese.


This could have easily been considered a lunch entrée for one and the slightly pickled aioli sauce added the perfect tangy notes to the otherwise comforting dish.

A light and fluffy potted chicken liver and foie-gras parfait came coated with a sweet layer of candy like fat, sweet potato jam, house made pickles and thick slabs of toasted brioche.

We missed the specials menu because we had been so entranced with the normal menu. We also took quite a while deciding that our third plate would be a shrimp ragu with lobster tomato sauce. That is of course until our waiter started to relay the specials to us towards the end of our meal and we both, without blinking or missing a beat, answered him back “Cassoulet” at the end of his recitation. We are both pork belly whores and cassoulet’s not a bad thing either for an end of the day, colder climate.

What we actually got was more of a pork and beans because the beans were tiny and sugar, maple spiked tangy, the wetness was lacking and the pork was a humongous slab of belly that dominated the dish underneath a pile of charred leeks. We didn’t care; we are not prone to complain over receiving a massive chunk of pork on our plate.

And as casual as the restaurant seemed, we were very impressed that our waiter kept coming back to fill our wine glasses. And that a waiter patiently manned an oyster bar by the door the entire time we were there, shucking out $3 a pop little gems for whomever happened by that wanted one. I hope these small touches of class alongside the excellent tastes continue to allure true food lovers in because the place has a lot to offer for those who appreciate it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lucille Ball-Worthy Valentine's Day Ravioli

I had the brilliant idea of making homemade butternut squash ravioli for the Cute Gardener on Valentine’s Day. I make a great version of this, tweaked just a bit from my friend Chef Aaron Kiefer of East Meets West Catering’s original recipe, and have had much success cooking this before.

Of course, this time I had one of those inspired and bright notions that comes from the pleasurable thought of doing something nice for someone you’re fond of, which I realize now with keen after-sight wasn’t so bright, to make the dough from scratch and roll it out myself because I didn’t have the typical pasta rolling machine that I am used to using. I semi-blame this inspiration from the latest Anthony Bourdain rerun that I watched, in which he stood around a room full of Italian grandmothers whipping out strands of angel hair, nubs of gnocchi and knots of tortellini as if it were no big thing. My boyfriend later reminded me that these women have probably been doing this for many more years than I have been alive.

Not even one square foot of the mess that REALLY surrounded this innocent looking dough ball.

Even though we planned on cooking dinner together at his house, I made the dough at home first. I didn’t have the typical mechanical dough mixer that I am used to and knew it would be a mess, plus, we both know what a dervish I am in the kitchen compared to the calm, cool and collected precision-maestro he is in his. This was a good idea because all you really have to do is imagine the I Love Lucy episode with Lucy stomping grapes and replace her feet with my hands and the grapes with flour to get an idea of what my pasta dough-making efforts looked like. They tell you to make a mountain of the sifted pile of semolina and all-purpose flour in which you create a nice deep well. Then they tell you to put the eggs and olive oil in there, and slowly with a fork whisk the flour walls into the well little by little as you create a sturdy ball of dough. Yeah, my mountain and well turned more into a river over sand while I stabbed my frantic fork down over and over again as a dam before quickly whisking spot to spot. The dough turned out fine nevertheless.

Once at his house, we made a gorgeous salad of artisanal greens, tomatoes, filberts, feta cheese, fresh snap peas and homemade garlic balsamic vinaigrette. He contributed some arugula from his windowsill planter and a gorgeous sprig of broccoli flowers that are edible, sweet little yellow things that spruced up the looks of our bowl.

Then part two of the pasta torture arrived as I strived to hand roll out small balls of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness for the raviolis. Not possible. My raviolis were thick and an hour of newly tortured biceps, elbow grease, and an egg’s worth of wash for glue later, we were cooking up the miniature dough bombs in a pot of boiling, salted water.

I will say that my butternut squash filling was an absolute delight, a recipe worthy of sharing.

  • Cut up one large butternut squash into one-inch chunks, place on roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and roast 40 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • Let cool and peel all the squash from the skin. Mash the squash loosely in a large bowl.
  • Heat up a large sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of butter and put in 2 tablespoons of minced shallots.
  • Once shallots are wilted, place in the pureed squash and cook for two minutes to dry out its wetness then mix in 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and mix all together while cooking one more minute.
  • Place on ravioli dough squares or circles in 1-2 tsp. amounts. 
And how can anything really go wrong when the sauce served atop it is a stick of butter cooked down to brown with twelve leaves of fresh sage?

I am going to make this again for my boyfriend when I own a pasta roller as it’s worth a second try. 

He made the dessert with proper machinery, perfect little peanut butter cookies with cacao nibs that went so perfectly with the dessert cocktail of rum and orgeat almond syrup.

Apparently, I am not the only one who strives to be more Italian grandmother-esque in my cooking. Mo Rocca, one of my favorite old cast members from the John Stewart Show, is apparently starting a food travel show on the Cooking Channel soon called My Grandmother’s Ravioli.

Molto interessante!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lazy Sunday Pizza Pie

Lazy Sundays are my favorite days. The sort where you roll out of bed whenever the urge hits and go embark upon the world with no agenda except to find whatever you find.

This past Sunday, by eleven a.m. with newspapers read and coffee gone, we were on the hunt for food and spent a stroll through the streets of Venice and Santa Monica perusing menus posted outside of restaurants that looked intriguing. Madame Chou Chou’s winked at us for the future when we would be looking for a place that served lush duck pate on toast for brunch. Stella Rosso pizzeria looked vast and hearty for a dinner date. Amelia’s was a little too strictly coffee shop for our loll around and eat slowly kind of tastes. We ended up at Pizza Antica in the Santa Monica mall’s rooftop food court because we’ve been on a curious pizza spree of late – hunting out versions of thick and thin and low brow and high brow and any other kind in between. 

Couple things that immediately floated my boat: 
Outdoor seating on the open air roof, hit by the wafts of sea air from the ocean across the street...
Great white wine list at affordable prices...
Good room temperature water in a large glass jug
Nice serving staff 

 Very creative baby vegetable antipasto plate with mozzarella with olive oil, lemon aioli, grilled and caramelized red onions, curried butternut squash, roasted brussel sprouts, roasted red peppers with crimini mushrooms and sliced, buttery fingerling potatoes

And then there's the delicious pizza, served in a personal size which basically is the diameter of a large dinner plate or a large version which is the personal size squared by two. With so many delicious options, we chose to get two personal pizzas and share both. I was impressed by the non-flimsy but still nicely flat crust that was not only flavorful but managed to get that perfect balance between crispy in parts that were meant to be crispy and chewy in others. Plus, generous toppings packed full of flavor. 

Grilled Radicchio, Local Goat Cheese, Pancetta and Pesto PIzza

Spicy Fennel Sausage, Portobello Mushroom and Roasted Onion Pizza

Pizza Antica earned some nice points in my book and is definitely my favorite place for pie so far within walking distance from my home.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rosenthal Roasted Chicken

My friend Arlene lives on a property in the middle of the beautiful desert that consists of a sprawling garden where goats roam for milk, chickens lay eggs, trees produce amazing dates, and greens like swiss chard grow in abundance. Every few months, I am invited to dinner and am always asked what requests I have for food ahead of time as Arlene is an exquisite cook and knows that I crave certain favorites on a rotating basis. My answer is typically her roasted chicken with a big pile of bitter greens.

Recently, I was lucky enough to secure the recipe from her and try it on my own and it is now my go-to roasted chicken recipe, tasting better, and more finger licking good then any other variety I have had. I thought it only fair that my readers were privy to the moist and delicious recipe as well.


Clean and pat dry a 3-4 pound fryer chicken.
Put it in a roasting pan and massage olive oil generously all over it.
Pour half a bottle of tamari soy sauce over it and cover well.
Pour some white Worcestershire sauce over it as well.
Cut up five cloves of garlic and sprinkle over the chicken and into the pan.
Sprinkle a tablespoon of lemon thyme over the chicken.
Sal and pepper the chicken.
Pour dry vermouth into the roasting pan along with some water to the appropriate level.

Roast in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 1 and ½ to 2 hours until the meat falls from the bone, basting occasionally. 

While the chicken roasts, I washed a pound of peanut fingerlings and tossed them with two tablespoons of olive oil and Parisian herbs. This then went into the toaster oven for 30 minutes. Right before serving I broiled them with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top for some chewy, crispy baby potato delight.

I used a few tablespoons of the leftover chicken juice from the bottom of the pan to sauté some fresh bok choy from the Cute Gardener’s garden for five minutes as the chicken set out of the oven when done.
The meal was paired perfectly with a bottle of 2007 Wild Horse Blaufrankisch from Paso Robles and a Whole Foods two-person sized flourless chocolate cake with crème fraiche spiked with vanilla.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Seduced by Some Oxtail Hash

I admit I was totally seduced twice this past Thursday night, an uncommon thing for discerning ole me.

For one, I was enchanted by the idea of going to the Los Angeles downtown art walk because it promised such a proliferation of galleries in one dense space, that I thought I would be sated with art overload and get a glimpse at what the area offered. I hadn’t been to the Spring or Main Street gallery rows since moving here months ago, and thought it would be a perfect opportunity to get a glimpse. I had been to a few artist lofts on the rooftops of painters who I consider talented in the area so mistakenly thought it might be a thriving hub of close-to-the-bone contemporary work from regional peeps.

For two, I was seduced by a review by food critic Johnathan Gold for the LA Weekly in which he extolled the virtues of the best dishes of 2011. The “El Toron” baco sandwich from downtown’s Baco Mercat was on that list. My boyfriend has warned me extensively not to be charmed by Gold’s never-ending fluffy adjectives and that’s exactly what happened, I fell for his description of the oxtail hash.

This particular sandwich is served at Chef Josef Centeno’s (Lazy Ox) downtown joint where he has created a menu that he would eat at home or make for friends. Baco sandwiches are basically pita bread wrapped around various Spanish-tinged, meat laden concoctions, served alongside pizza type flatbreads and a host of small dishes like wild boar on toast and the traditional English breakfast warped Centeno-style. It’s like perfect, gourmet end-of-the-night bar food.

Only we were there for dinner, after escaping the throngs of low brow, art lovers consuming the street fair-esque aspect of the art walk, where every gallery seemed to be churning out cheap versions of copycat Murikami,  Banksy and Alex Greys. And it was so packed, perhaps because of the day before glowing review at the LATimes.com, that our waitress had to comp us dessert because first, she gave our order to the table next to us, and secondly, she forgot that she hadn’t served us our food a few minutes after that.

But all that being said, my art malaise was happily fed with this Toron sandwich, even though the potato pancake overwhelmed the taste of the actual oxtail meat. A better ratio here would easily flip that opinion around. The cheddar and pickle on this dish mixed super-tangy with the charred edges of the hash. 

Of course, I didn’t get a photo of the sandwich because it was dark and cramped with people heartily devouring plate after plate of fried chicken, massive bowls of soups and a continuous string of more and more meat, and I don’t want to be one of those obnoxious food bloggers who flashes in intimate, low lit settings….but I did manage to get a shot of the bazole soup, which I loved. Thick with pork belly and beef bits, large and chunky with charred ends, floated in this super-Asian chili spiced, version with a fried egg on top that danced between ramen and something bloody and rich that would have put hair on Hemingway’s chest. 

I also really liked the sweet and sour, homemade soda selection. For three bucks a piece you can try from over ten varieties that include Black Mint, Meyer Lemon and Persimmon to name a few.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dispelling the Money Myth at the Farmer's Market

I've written about the positive aspects of supporting your local farmer's markets before. My reasons run the gamut from supporting local growers to getting food fresh and not stocked with longevity-enhancing preservatives and all the other ethical rigamarole. Many people typically agree with me on that end but every now and again I get someone who tells me that farmer's markets and organic foods are so expensive as an excuse to why they are still slave to their Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Don't get me wrong, I too can't live without my weekly visit to Whole Foods but buying food from farmer's markets and organic farms is simply not as expensive anymore as it once was a decade ago when the concepts were flushed into the mainstream scene and prices were in ratio to the very low demand. Nowadays, it's definitely worth a trip to stock up on items you can't readily find elsewhere that are going to cost you a lot less than you would expect.

Here let me prove it. This morning's bounty included:

Radish and Mung Bean Sprouts that will last over a month's worth of salads = $4
Would be hard pressed to find these in the grocery store.
Bought from a man who also delivered up a $1.50 wheat grass shot, a good fifty cents less than a store bought cup and much tastier and fresh.

Mammoth brownie/cake cookies from my friend Sonia, the Gluten Free Goddess, which came with a huge hug = $6.
These cookies are so big and so moist and taste so unlike any preservative laden thing you'll find in a store bakery. Even though Whole Foods is currently stocking them on their shelves for potential inclusion. They will no doubt cost more there.
This is the equivalent of four desserts in my home.

Savory homemade BBQ tofu and tangy, spicy daikon from the Korean stand = $10.
I would pay $7-10 for each of these in a store and wouldn't have the privilege of trying three other samples of delicious food on toothpicks while browsing this particular table. Yum. As a snack these will last me a week.

Two big bags of artisanal lettuces for salad fresh from the farm with no chemicals = $10
I would pay $7 bucks for one bag in the store with a little less bulk. 
This will last me for six personal salads.

Hearty bags of filberts and pepitas for salad = $8.
I would pay close to that for one of these in the store, and don't have an easy time finding filberts in general. 
This will cover a month of salads.

Feta cheese with herbs, four big falafels and two luscious homemade eggplant turnovers from the Greek guys = 10.
That's four lunches and enough cheese for four meals.
I would spend at least $15 for this batch of food elsewhere.

2 bags of cute little peanut fingerling potatoes = $5.
I don't normally even see these in a store. 
One bag will be served in a roasted chicken meal for the Cute Gardener this weekend. 
The other bag will last me the course of two or three other meals.

PLUS: Morning walk to the market in the Venice Beach sunshine and surprise encounters with two good friends = priceless vitamins for the soul. 

Excuse me while I go turn on Al Green's "Love and Happiness" and dance around the kitchen for a while.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Salmon Belly Noodle Stir Fry For Two

One of the greatest joys of being a foodie is cooking for other people. This past Christmas I spent five hours in the kitchen crafting a five dish meal for close friends and family and although it was highly laborious and required much strategy and coordination, I got the utmost reward from seeing the smiles on the faces of my guests as they enjoyed my special stuffing and buttery turkey and all the accoutrements. I am used to being on the cooking end and have always dreamed of one day finding a partner to share my love of cooking. The idea of spending time in the kitchen with someone who loves food as much as I do and whipping up dishes together has been high on my wish list.

So when I met the Cute Gardener this past year, I was thrilled to know that he loved to cook. And not only did he love to cook, he grew his own fruits and vegetables as well. Learning the idiosyncrasies of each other’s palates, trying adventurous meals out at restaurants and long conversations about food ensued. Of course, inevitably we had to cook for each other as the pocketbooks started to bulge under the weight of our constant meals out and the fun of trying each other’s food began. Not the fancy special occasion foods but the every day at home dinner meals that occur on regular old weekdays and nights in.

This past weekend, I was treated to a beautiful stir-fry made from simple, fresh ingredients with some exotic dashes thrown in.  

Udon noodles, salmon belly to marinate, onion and oyster sauce

 Fresh bok choy from the garden

 Slightly sweet and lovely pea sprouts

 Exotic asian mushrooms

Stir fried with chicken broth into a mellow and belly filling one plate meal 

 Simple gin martini spiked with the juice of a fresh lime

The best part was realizing that our simple everyday meals are really different, doubling the potential for us to enjoy and share different types of food together, trading off the cooking duties or deciding to collaborate and create new things conjured from our individual and very different taste buds and combined to create entirely new things. The opportunities abound.