recipes from a feeder / photographic food diary / reviews / pie

Monday, 30 January 2012

The Village Idiot - 7383 Melrose, Los Angeles

Being at a loose end in LA in NYE is not The One. So when Charlie Conrad invited us to spend NYE with him at his pub The Village Idiot, LA's answer to the gastro pub, we jumped at the chance. Then we saw the invite and we jumped a bit more.

I say LA's answer to a gastro pub as this is a concept that until recently didn't really reach LA shores. The Village Idiot pride themselves on being the kind of place you can drop in, grab a pint of Stella and munch down on some great food all in an environment with the atmosphere of a local pub. You won't see any poncy Frenchy food names on the menu, instead you're more likely to find LA's answer to a full English or banging Sunday roast.

The room was complete with  mullets, Desperately Seeking Susan styled ladies and of course, the obligatory balloon drop.

Cabbage, baby beets, grapefruit, pistachio and mustard vinaigrette combined in a little salad was the perfect accompaniment to plethora of plates that were about to arrive at the table.

grilled octopus, celery, satsuma, pickled Fresno chillies and octopus vinaigrette 

The quintessentially British 'Tea sandwich', made with liver pate, house made bacon, quince and red onion was a real meaty joy. They butcher their own pork out the back thus resulting in fresh home cut bacon and piggy belly.

My Ma used to trick me into eating Brussels sprouts at Christmas time by re-branding them as some sort of miniature cabbage. I challenge anyone who doesn't like Brussels sprouts to not wolf this down in a second. The sprouts were slightly caramelised around the edges, this combined with the smoky bacon (house made) lardons was a welcome change.

Probably my favourite dish of the evening. Crispy pork belly with spicy apple and jicama salad. Jicama is a crispy, sweet root vegatable resembling a turnip, real popular in Mexican cuisine. 

The chorizo stuffed devils on horseback came a very close second as my favourite dish, obviously they got munched down too quickly to take a photo.

Massive huge thank you to Charlie and all the fantastic staff for their hospitality and for creating a truly perfect NYE. 

The Village Idiot
7383 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

The Ferry Building - San Francisco

If I had all the money in the world, I'd probably go here to shop every day. 

The Ferry Building, an indoor market celebrating fresh farmers produce and specialist local artisan producers, resulting in what can only be described as the ultimate foodie dream. 

The Cowgirl Creamery is heaven for a cheese lover like me. Since 1997, The Cowgirl Creamery have built quite a circle of awarding winning cheese making pals, bringing the very best in cheesesto people like me.

Every other shop is as specialist as the last, this is a perfect place to buy those hard to find ingredients, like dried black trumpets.

Well worth a visit.

San Francisco's most well known farmers' market is also held there on Saturdays from 8 am to 2 pm, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am - 2pm 

Friday, 27 January 2012

Tartine Bakery - Guerrero Street, San Francisco

Tartine take bread seriously, but in a laid back kind of way, of course. I was recommended the Tartine Bakery for breakfast, in fact I was told there was no point eating breakfast anywhere else in San Fran. You can't ignore a recommendation like that now can you?

Now cue the queue. Any great eatery worth their weight in twitter followers has an equally sizeable queue to match, that's just how it rolls these days. Not one to let a queue get in the way of my breakfast I stood 45 minutes and thought long and hard about what to order.

Tartine , famous for their bread making methods which result in a brilliant loaf that lasts for the best part of a week. All the bread sells out almost instantly as the bakery opens each morning. The closest I got to trying the infamous bread was the base of my turkey croque monsieur. Even then I could see what all the fuss was about, a light and airy bread with a crispy crust.
A morning bun, brioche bread and butter pudding with seasonal fruits, a turkey croque monsieur, fresh orange juice and a bowl of coffee later I was ready to take on a day in San Fran. 

I wouldn't recommend going to San Francisco without trying this place at least once, even for a quick slice of lunchtime quiche or their newly opened restaurant, Bar Tartine, in The Mission district. 

600 Guerrero Street San Francisco, CA 94110 

Breakfast in America

#BLAK is my motto (breakfast like a king, obviously). A good or bad breakfast can determine your mood for the day, and food moods are the worst.

I'm not suggesting that every morning you indulge in waffles, maple syrup, crispy bacon and fruit loops, such a breakfast is only appropriate when dining at an American hotel breakfast buffet.

Props to whoever invented the waffle iron, I heard it was the Dutch.


Dennys, a roadside diner famous for always being open, kind of like a US version of Little Chef I guess, but less grey and sad.

The Grand Slamwich – a sandwich version of their famous Grand Slam breakfast introduced in 1977, consisting of double scrambled egg with sausage pieces, crispy bacon, shaved ham, American cheese, potato bread grilled with maple spiced spread served with cheesy American style hash brown. Jeez.

Craving a classsic American coffee and doughnut breakfast I headed to Winchells, previously owned by fellow American chain Denny's.  

Winchells, has the doughnut scene on lock down making over 70 different types of doughnuts.


A 'mini' apple fritter

Chocolate dougnut filled with custard.

Breakfast in LA can literally be anything you fancy. Try these links below I found whilst searching for the ultimate breakfast if you're in need of breakfast inspiration. 


The Gastrobus - Los Feliz Farmers Market, Los Angeles

A bright yellow truck at the back of a tiny farmers market in Los Feliz was the chosen destination for our Sunday brunch on a sunny LA morning. Thank goodness for twitter, otherwise I would probably of never of heard of Organic Sundays by The Gastro Bus. 

The Gastro Bus, headed and fronted by husband and wife duo Medina and Lana was inspired by the rise of gastro pubs in Los Angeles of late. Medina sets up shop every Sunday morning at the Farmer's Market. Arriving early, he buys a range of organic vegetables from the market traders and improvises dishes right there and then.

The market is located in car park right beside the infamous House of Pies, I regret to this day not picking up a piece of sweet potato pie to take away with us afterwards, but that would have been greedy right?

Spicy chicken chilaquile with corriander, finely sliced courgette batons and a fried egg. A true Mexican comfort food breakfast dish. The tortilla chips could have been crisper, but you couldn't fault the flavours this dish combines. 

Being a sucker for bread and cheese the cranberry and ginger jam with farmers cheese and toasted focaccia had to get got.

All washed down with Armenian iced coffee, a real strong coffee, so finely ground it's almost a powder. Always served black. Makes for a productive day.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Summit - Valencia, Mission District, San Francisco

New favorite coffee shop, The Summit, in San Francisco. London could do with a place like this.

The Summit SF 780 Valencia San Francisco @ 19th

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Taqueria el Buen Sabor – Valencia, Mission – San Francisco

Despite the rise in Mexican restaurants and take outs in London of late, I left it until recently to try a burrito for this first time. Wandering around the Mission in San Fran working up an appetite is real easy. There is so much to browse through, a crazy amount of vintage shops and a heap of furniture shops and then a load more vintage furniture shops. They all kind of blended into one shop by the end of the day.  The best vintage shop find has to be Buffalo Exchange. Aswell as the abundance of vintage, I also stumbled upon what is now my new favorite book shop, Dog Eared Books, and my new favorite shop full stop, Paxton Gate.

Not short of recommendations for dinner whilst in San Fran. Everyone and their mother were recommending Bar Tartine, a girl on the bus suggested we try Range, the Mission's Michelin star hot spot, and then their was always Mexican..

Being in the spot for Mexican food got me thinking it was about time to try my first burrito (i'm not going to count the Taco Bell stop on the freeway as my first Taco, doesn't seem right). I can't remember what it was that made Taqueria El Buen Sabor stand out in an area full of taquerias, but i'm sure glad it did. El Buen Sabor seems to be the place where the locals come for real cheap, real tasty, burritos. Service was real quick and friendly, the server didn't even get irritated with us when we were being slow and British.

Living up to it's name is the Super Burrito with chicken, rice, refried beans, cheese, guacamole, lettuce and tomato did not disappoint. The chicken was crispy and full of flavour and it was packed pretty full, almost too full to get your mouth around.

A sucker for anything with the word 'super' in the title, the Super Nachos with BBQ pork then arrived. The ratio of toppings to nachos was the most generous i've ever seen anywhere. These made my home nachos look puny.  Secondly, I was impressed by the big chunks of perfectly ripe avocado, a real rarity in London

Time to up the nacho game.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Grilled Cheese Truck

After a trip to The Grilled Cheese Truck you'll find yourself asking, what was life before bacon aioli?

I first heard about The Grilled Cheese Truck through LATimes Food twitter. It was a close call between this here truck and the institution that is In and Out burger when contemplating what I would bring back to London if I could (despite rumors, In and Out Burger have not confirmed any plans to expand into the UK just yet)

Driving 25 miles from Silverlake to Redondo Beach through the famous LA rush hour traffic may seem a bit crazy, especially if you compare it to driving from London to Welling Garden City for what is essentially a cheese toastie. 

Arriving at The Gasser Lounge, a blacked out dive bar on Aviation Blvd where The Grilled Cheese Truck was set up for the evening, greeted with a queue to rival MEATliquor on a Friday night. The queue is perfect time to study the menu and decide wisely.


The Wednesday chicken and waffle special had sold out, instead I turn to the Pepperbelly melt made up of spicy habanero jack cheese, homemade chilli, crunchy fritos, fire roasted salsa and cilantro lime sour cream on a jalapeno and cheddar bread. This melt was just the right balance of real cheesy-ness and intense burning spice. The fritos (American version of Wotsits)crunch stood up well to the cheesy chilli moistness.

We also ordered their signature melt, The Fully Loaded Cheesy mac and Rib with house smoked BBQ pork + caramelized onions and  cheddar. This was just as buff as it sounds.

The half sack of tater tats, which are like homemade deep fried potato croquettes sprinkled with sea salt, went perfectly with the crispy bacon aioli and the sweet and sour homemade pickles were the ultimate additions to the cheesy melts.
Each melt was packaged up nicely in one these foil pouches, good for keeping half to eat the next morning when your eyes are bigger than your belly.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Tom's Burgers - Silverlake, Los Angeles

I was particularly drawn to this run down looking diner, drawn enough to make a quick cheeseburger pit stop. I often roll with the assumption that the dingier looking the place, the yummier the munch. This assumption of course often lead to disappointment, but not in the case of Tom's Burgers. 

It was just as shabby inside as it was out, the customer toilet was out the back behind some pretty scary black bars but I of course I instantly fell for their hand written signs and dated interior.

I wasn't disappointed with Tom's Burgers grub, nor was I bowled over either. They had a pretty impressive selection of burgers. I kept it simple with a cheeseburger, burrito and rice meal with salad, onion rings and a root beer. Small and simple. 

The burger was packed full of fresh salad and a rather thin patty. The thin patty was a bit of a nuisance, but made up with the pretty near perfect onion rings which ended up sandwiched in the burger like some sort of BK Whopper special. 


All in all a pretty nostalgic experience of an old roadside diner with some standard burger grub and service that could maybe force a smile. 

2861 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026