sort of open

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the reviews are trickling in:

“What the fuck i am at your gate i have a reservation and you are not even open.”

—a guy calling on the phone last night

“The indiscriminate use of cumin and urfa biber in the sea bass mock panzanella is both disconcerting and subtly brilliant.”

—elysian cook

“Devour the lamb carpaccio—there is something utterly predictable and yet deliciously uncanny about the combination of lemon verbena syrup, lebneh, roasted radishes, and raw lamb tenderloin; the whole dish will leave you feeling like you just ate the whole dish.”

—candidate for graduate degree in yelp writing

“the owner is a dick”

—the owner

“found the service wanting, the prices excessive, but rather than directly communicating with anyone during my experience, I left with all my bitterness intact and took to an un-face-to-face public forum to air my complaints, which as you can see do not even mention the food.”

—diner who had a bad experience in the experience economy

“not enough star power, they will never make it in this town”

—someone's twitter feed (11 followers)

“This reviewer has been back several times because the job gives me money to burn. My last time in, the kitchen had a little fun at my expense and served me a dish of crispy burnt dollar bills, toasted almonds, and tangerine supremes, jokingly (or not?) called "kale salad." It was actually the best kale salad i have ever had in a city rank with them.”

—well-known food blogger at timeonmyhands.com

“The whole approach at elysian is self-inflated yet oddly and genuinely modest. The food is vaguely levantine and pseudo-californian, each plate a little identity crisis that screams, “omfg we don't have our concept figured out" but nonetheless grabs hold of your taste buds and gives them a good throttling. Don't leave without trying the poached compressed zucchini with anchovy, garlic, chile de arbol, and charred romaine—it is the essence of what they do best in the elysian kitchen, playing with poetic essences like lazy summer, brisk earthy ocean, and scorched field, with a bracing dash of global-warming inspired heat. This is essential eating in LA right now and I recommend you jump on this trendwagon before it crashes into something called tomorrow.”

—award-winning food writer who many people over-invest in

frozen yogurt for Homs

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the days wind down early we are saving daylight for some other time in some vaguely possible future that we hope will come to pass such as next summer though you never know if we will be able to hold out that long it is no mean feat to get through to tomorrow at this point the flesh is older and still willing but the spirit is deathly weak battered by unbearable contradictions or just simply things seeming on the one hand so fine and dandy there is a tiny pea in the world growing into a little girl her brain and limbs are joyfully exploding with new everything and there is her mom and me swell with joy too running and screaming around the house with her until bedtime and on the other hand so totally fucked up its ludicrous to think you can shut out all the shit going on and just do your thing you know just grow up in bliss and purity that is idiotic there is no way around it no escape route only a straight shot to the edge of the flat earth to the brink of irrational thinking also known as “the way we think now” i didnt use to think like this i used to be very together and rational and capable of sufficient repression to function day to day but now its all over and i am all over the map i am a picture of disregulation let me give you an example i drive on any number of streets and see billboards for among other things american apparel apparently they make clothes though it is hard to tell because the humans in the pictures are wearing very little they are almost across the board flexing forward at the hip and rearing their buttocks which is pleasant enough i suppose i have no bone to pick here or an argument for prudism to make and no i dont think hey this is exploitation or hey this is some dime grind capitalist porn show or hey i find this patently offensive yes it is all of these things but no my turn of thought is this that the company is misnamed it should be called take me from behind apparel or fuck me up the ass apparel that would be more direct and cutting edge well maybe it would take the unspoken libidinal fun out of the advertising equation and that would be bad for business at the very least it would be unsemiotic plus if i were patriotic i would say it would be kind of unamerican to replace american with fuck me up the ass that might be verging on pro china lingo and this stuff is not made in china like almost everything else this scanty apparel is a homegrown sweatshopped bill of goods so why rain on their parade should i not be pleased that an all american company is still able to excel at something as important and complex as getting people to imagine sexy quivering buttholes under leather tights despite shutdowns and cultural venality and unrestrained settlement building or whatever is going on for real in their world should i not celebrate the savvy with which a garment maker induces people to buy things not so fast how can i jump on that bandwagon when i am really not so sure it works it is not working on me i hardly ever buy clothes and these ads don't make me want to run out to get fitted with some tanktops or speedo briefs all they do is make me want to stroke it in the car on riverside drive which would only put me in the same menacing oblivious drivers seat as the millions of texting jerkoffs barreling down the road everywhere no i wont push things to that precipitous point i am not that far gone or close to the brink the conditions that deteriorate thought and deregulate behavior have not gotten that bad actually i am gripping the wheel and nothing else just trying to get to pinkberry i am out on a frozen yogurt errand well hold on now even that simple statement is quite possibly worse for its banality than an ass-filled billboard it is a sad measure of the life of the mind i am in i am not alone in it it is a group effort it takes a village to be able to be out on a frozen yogurt errand but when the counterperson wants to know how are we swirling i say i cant answer you i am swirling too fast i am dizzy with your bright lights and glistening surfaces and ginned-up food service candy shop good looks though somehow still cogent enough to understand if i am not pleased with the icy result i am taking to go they will swirl me a new one that is what the little sign says at the cash register “if you are not satisfied we will swirl you a new one” ok go ahead swirl me a new one i do not like this result because once i am home everything goes downhill despite the unutterable tastiness of the product how could things be good when there are no more behinds in my face and there is just this picture in my inbox from Cornish Street in the city of Homs November 6 2013 i hope the Syrian regime had the decency to spare the pinkberry that just opened up there right next to the take me from behind american apparel factory seconds outlet the glib thought on taking in this view is “apocpalypse now” but i dont believe like that at all i dont buy that there will be any such thing as the end of days or that if there is this is it all this is is “the way we live now” all this is is how are we swirling

what a pickle

to strike or not to strike no matter which camp you fall in there are hypocrites stoking the fires i include myself in their number after all this evening i idly perused the crate and barrel catalogue before tossing it of course darling into the recycling i had to confirm through flippant inspection that it was filled with generally useless shit i then turned to sweeping and something called swiffering the floors of our little modernist marvel of an apartment i might claim to care about dead babies somewhere in this world but i will always choose cleaning over reading or writing my representatives especially if the reading list includes the latest reports from the front lines which by the way are not inside the beltway but in aleppo hama homs deir'ezour maalula etc yes hypocrites like me at every turn all the way from Moscow to Washington to all over the place the worst might be and my dear sweet one year old daughter you have to start watching out for them now even at your tender age the ones who are out beating their antiwar drums as though this were some other century really come on those signs are strikingly familiar they look letter for letter like the ones you used for iraq 2 and gulf 1 before that and before that somewhere else those were the days my friend we thought they'd never end they did but one would think they hadn't based on these simpleton placards i know the list can go on and on of fucked up us interventions but you can't just cross out the last failed nation state you wrote on a piece of cardboard taped to a stick and pencil the next one in it doesn't work that way plus you are going to run out of space at some point and just have to leave the slogan saying syria even though we will have moved on to pakistan finally its not and never so simple no war in on with against syria you say well the meaning of such imperatives is quite unclear there is already a war in syria in case you hadn't noticed what are you shouting about as you march side by side with assad supporters in times square or whatever classic rock of a location for antiwar protest you have fallen back on once again its not that i disagree with something of the sentiment i am generally against a military intervention but shit man i am confused here and the fact that your slogans sound so unconfused confuses me even more because it seems dishonest not to acknowledge that you are confused for instance in the spirit of full disclosure there is part of me that wants the us flyboys to bomb the daylights out of syrian regime installations i can very easily and happily picture the presidential palace on its hill west of damascus and its residents if they have not by now wisely opted for safer digs going up in a ball of flames very unseemly i understand but that is my idle fantasy and i will cop to it yes send in the top guns despite international law and despite the can of worms that might get opened i have thought about this for some time now its not out of repugnance that some arbitrarily imaginary red line has been breached i don't distinguish between chemical weapons and a knife across the throat this is what gets my goat the protesters are coming out of the woodwork only now only now that the man in chief is talking about a measured response to chemical weapons use baby none of you went marching when assads forces slaughtered people in banyas or bombshelled every fucking city on their map it's only now the us is threatening to interject that you take to your times squares so it seems like a petty nationalist isolationist move cloaked in humanist antiwar antiimperialist rhetoric or in dumb arguments that the syrians have to sort it out for themselves as though a history or two of us foreign policy has contributed nothing to this whole picture or even dumber wishes that everyone involved needs to just sit down and talk you know take a little prayerful timeout what planet should they do that on oh i don't know what to do either but i refuse to moronify the situation with such nonsense with a distant hey hey ho ho drumbeat with the disengaged restraint born of unspeakable resignation that this is the hell we all live in or at least in some nimby proximity to better someone elses hell and well hell god hell i had to jettison that concept as soon as i saw a baby in tiny red pants wet in death god bless youtube by which i mean while dying while going up in odorless smoke while spitting out white foam and blood with his last little breath his last pee came out of him jesus christ love and peace are not going turn this around i wish it weren't so i wish everything were coming up roses that god would decide to stop with all of this constant testing of mankind would just make everybody be good and loving and nonlethal to one another if something called god were ever here it has long quit the scene it has tuned out the newsfeed and decided to let the humans sort it out for themselves it's not gods business is it that there are some terrible people out there trafficking in death god is not the policeman of the world now is it after all there are alot of fires to be put out why should god focus on this particular conflagration and it's not gods business is it that you are kidding yourself if you think you can talk sense to the murderous and suddenly they will sit down at a historic negotiating table that is a ludicrous thought god would have a good laugh at that one if god were like a person or something and at this point only a twit would bank on the coming of a day of final judgement when all the killers and the killers of killers are weighed on a divine unerring scale and cast up or down that is an idle fantasy too god jesus fuck it is hot here in los angeles so far from aleppo so what if you can't stand the heat or you are sweating from swiffering go to ghouta who needs hell or another antiwar demo or another us intervention when there is already all this scorching earth

house-made yelps

(the name elysian has been removed to protect the brand identity and integrity of elysian)

took the wife to _____ for our anniversary. have to say i was expecting super high standards based on everything i read and heard about this place. big disappointment. she had the tasting menu and while she oohed and ahhed over a few of the items, the duck confit with rhubarb orbs in particular, overall it was pretty mediocre. i opted for the pork ribs, after a starter of squid ink pasta with blackened lettuce. The dishes were decent enough, but nothing that knocked my socks off. I wanted my socks knocked off. I wanted my wifes socks knocked off too because it was our anniversary and I was frankly a little randy and ready for some sloppy mildly wine-drunk sex (it’s been a while, to be honest with you) after our dinner out, and I know from experience that that scenario is not going to be in the cards if the food is not over the top good you know jaw droppingly good and she leaves the place all drooling if you know what i mean. thanks alot____ for making it another right-handed evening for me and old robert wood johnson.

well we finally went to ____ the other night--i have been bugging my girlfriend for over a year about it--and it was ahhhhhhhhhmaaaaaaazzzzzing! I  know alot about food now from all the shows and blogs and everything plus I cook alot at home I might even be one of those dreaded foodies! and i have to say everything we ate was perfectly seasoned and the balance of acid and fat and bitter and umami and everything was right on the money. kudos to the chef and staff and the service was exquisite. its a pricey night out that is true but if you are the kind of douche-chump-snob who drops $500 on a dinner this is the place to do it because it is worth every penny even though it is only $42 they could charge $500 and i would pay it because it is soooooooooo goooooooood!  if i could give this place ten stars thats what i would do but i can only give it five here on yelp, what is up with that yelp, i should be able to give as many stars as dollars i spent on my incredible meal, and like i said even that would not be enough!!

_____. four stars, wtf? hold the phone michelin! this place sucks and is really terrible i dont care what all these other reviews say, they are just plain wrong and are buying in to some hipster hype about where to eat in dtla west titticaca santa silverlake los feliza monica. i mean really, they say they are all local and hand crafted and all that, if that's true then so is dennys and so is iHop. they need to learn how to cook. where is gordon ramsay when you need him? even rachel ray could do better than this kitchen crew and she is about the pinnacle of the worst, at least in the kitchen, i mean you have to give her props for her marketing genius. seriously. never going back and i recommend you never go at all either take my word for it my word the word of a total stranger who claims to know something about food and whose attitude is venal and inconsiderate and unforgiving and just contributes to the demise of civility, decency and humility in the world you cant think for yourself anyway you are an idiot and a sheep that is why you are reading my buttheaded review even though we both know the old saying about what opinions are like if you had a shred of balls left you would not read this shit you would just go out and try a new place and form your own opinion and not feel any compulsion to write about it as if your opinion-asshole matters so much that the throngs are itching to slurp it up or as if there were not other things going on in the world that deserve at least a sliver of the attention you are devoting to this yelp nonsense

summer line-up

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we are hard at it in the elysian kitchen working with trending ingredients and un-tested techniques to develop new dishes that approach post-edibility in the race toward the future of the food we eat now:

closed-loop self-aggrandizing bio-power onion ring with fermented quinoa homebrew batter and hand-mined salt (courtesy Sebastio Salgado); re-appropriated de-essentialzed fragmented "whole" yogurt with bare life mre flakes (dis-agambenated) and ranciered raspberry "coolie"; art fair hot air gougiere (gluten-free, made with 99.9% rennetless washed rind cheese, machine-minced art-market herbs), served on a sousvide wad of always already laundered cash; topologically restaged tamarind pulp (ou) swashed eggplant with historically reenacted state sanctioned aleppo pepper spray foam; genderqueer squash blossom stuffed with unsexed squid sausage and sprouted tongues of fire beans, performative wendy brown butler butter, imaginary cherry tomato; antioedipal duck breast (vacuum sealed), melted red licorice, deracinated black rice, and detourned turnip; neo-liberalized oklahoma ribeye (appropriate accompaniments distributed based on merit only); interstitial puff pastry filled with relational aesthetics shell game pea mush and magical thinking mushrooms, unutterability-infused veal demi-glace; rhizomatic pseudo-burdock brodo over manzanar sticky rice, cognitively mapped carrots, poached contingent salmon belly; radicalized watermelon radish, thermo-nuclear cooling water dashi, occupy-free jicama, late-capitalist kale crumble; uninterpolated sauteed haricot vert with foucault spice rub powder cream; salad of desublimated cucumber stewed in hand-extracted cucumber oil with unfarmed fennel, tequila-fried pheasant tenders--peasant-style; trans-fascist acidophilus-braised pork cheek ragu with amaranth cake; post-feminine fig gently simmered in white gazpacho; smoked oyster with blast-chilled classless society catfish caviar boba crunch (marx-free) and speech act clam broth, order some now it's already gone

kale salad snowden

above is the menu from June 24 at elysian a few diners found it amusing a few found it confusing and whipped out their food apps to find out about this ingredient they had never heard of before some were just wondering who or what snowden is do i really need to explain take a listen to any media outlet yesterday or like last week and it was non-stop snowden ok true no longer the lead what with the doma ruling which papered over the voting rights debacle and now egypt snowden is suddenly already merely the source of a trickle of hyperventilating coverage he had his moment he almost made it as the new kale ubiqitous on the tips of all tongues appearing here there and everywhere on every drop-down pop-up menu the broadcasters might as well have been saying “kale is believed to be in the Moscow airport” “ecuador has agreed to take in kale” “john kerry has asked russia to extradite kale" "kale is a traitor” “kale is a free-speech hero” “how much more does kale know?” ok the analogy wears thin after a point and snowden is not all that delicious anyway it turns out even if he is interesting enough to stay in the limelight for a brief flickering time the difference is that kale is not going away snowden is kale will pad menus from here to forever it will never come off it will follow suit with radicchio tiramisu bacon things that have become staples sacred cows every diner expects to be able to have kale in some form when and wherever they so desire even the molecular gastronauts are making kale into jelly beans and at the wood fired end of things they are throwing entire kale plants roots and all into the embers to offer slow roasted whole kale to the vegan cognoscenti snowden in the end will be very unkale-like he will be a deadended trend a hot flurry of tweets and then not a peep years from now people or at least a subset of them will be just about made of kale if the current salad craze keeps up at its present lunatic pace but snowden will be beyond recall snowden who is that people will ask and every now and then someone post-yoga might pause mid-crunchy kale strawberry super protein chop slaw and wonder whatever happened to that leaker fellow was he strung up by his tongue for his insolence was he locked away in a supermax for his betrayals did he live out his life in exile on some wikipedia-owned desert isle with julian asange kale on the other hand is going to go the distance it will exceed itself as mere food item it is after all becoming deeply woven into the fabric of our daily lives to the degree that it simply goes without mention but let me mention a few examples nonetheless in some homes lacinto kale has replaced charmin the rough texture does a great job plus it coats the rim with essential vegetal oils and the flavor profile is complex johnson and johnson is working on how to get it in and out of a dispenser an intrepid entrepreneur up north in the bay area i mean where else is making survivalist clothes out of kale fiber it is the new hemp they are called kustom kale kommando klothes* a hipster in williamsburg silverlake fixed her bike tire inner tube with kale she found lingering in her soul patch plus some local honey apples next smart phone will ship with a kale-based microchip people are printing money with kale it seems there is nothing kale cant do it can do no wrong it will never blow the whistle by the way it is extremely popular in the commissary at the NSA put that in your kale salad and smoke it

*best kale-related text ever is here

 

death by chocolate

it is something of a small leap well I mean it's not like someone walked on the moon or anything but it's not nothing either that more americans can say syria now than could some years ago and one or two of them can pinpoint the landmass on a map but at the same time it is terrifying that devastation is what it takes and even then it just barely registers I hear little peeps of news I can’t read very well now it is not that this skill is in remission it's just that the words fall apart under my eyes I need to have someone radio me the news directly and even then it’s hard to take even the little bits leave me speechless and teary unable to swallow I don’t need a steady diet of images to see what's going on the imagination has been made vivid across years of looking at what humans have done to one another besides at the moment I can’t watch tv there is no tv in our home I sometimes see tv at the dentist where someone thought it would be a good idea for the patient to watch cnn while getting drilled or at the pump when filling the car with gas but that’s not real tv that’s pump tv and I don’t think they are streaming footage of bodies sliced up by government forces in beiyda and banyas and though I use it for emotional and logistical reasons I don't believe in the internet because how do you know where to begin with the endless parade of voices I can’t aggregate filter screen or discern so the only news I can handle and really I can’t at all is a box of chocolates brought back from amman jordan by a friend they are made by ghraoui a chocolatier based in damascus still at it in wartime maybe they are doing a brisk business with well-heeled supporters of the regime maybe the rebels or the opposition whoever they are at this point are shelling out for chocolates to keep their morale up I doubt it they don’t have the lirat for that the box is on the table right here bright orange and very cheery at first I thought how nice someone from syria has sent a box of chocolates they are thinking of us what with boston and all that the thought ridiculous but not at all far fetched after all there are syrians sending their condolences to boston on the web it is very nice of them to be thinking of the rest of the world at this particular time in their shitshow present and some people in boston are reaching out in return this is a kind of grace made easier though perhaps too more complicated by an internet how close we can seem to come and yet how far apart we remain we remain facts on the ground in very different places but still it is almost like touching like almost but it would also not be a terrible thing I suppose to cut to the chase to post a picture that says hello syrians the reign of terror and death you are subject to is not like boston in the least but we love you and we are watching you at the gas pump and please don’t worry israel is going to take care of everything sorry we cant lift a finger despite all the prattle about red lines and chemical weapons use as a marker of utter terribleness as though all the other ways one can get done in syria style are incapable of generating a red line no nothing gets the big boys hackles up like chemical weapons use that is beyond the pale if you are sliced up and dumped in a ditch the most obvious and visible of ditches of course if you are made into a sign for others in this age-old manner it is not so utterly terrible that it will bring down the wrath of the apathetic upon your land you have to die a spectacular choked up mess in a cloud of gas to get anyones attention around here then you can be at the very least cause for some concern once we establish the facts because this is something we civilized humans have decided we should not do to each other it is against the law I guess slicing and dicing is not slicing and dicing is chopped liver in this calculus chemical weapons use is caviar is a box of high end chocolates it is the moral equivalent of death by chocolate but all that stupid dessert name means in this instance is that I am eating out of the gift box as I take in some grim news I am working my way through the syrian version of godivas they are medium quality too much hazelnut too much milk not enough bitterness chocolates from syria should be so bitter as to be inedible but I would go on eating them anyway while I try again in spite of my illiteracies to read something about ugliness in the land of ghraoui sweets the news tricking me into thinking the world is so small if there were not oceans between us you could reach out from aleppo smack the box out of my hands and say how could you do such a thing while so much death is being dished out and speechless already from reading about you I would be speechless all over again because you somehow managed to touch me

high concept

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whenever I hear restaurant shop talk I am mildly perplexed by the bandying about of the word concept “what's their concept” “he's working on a concept but no one knows what it is it's very hush hush” “she's putting together a cool concept for a high-heeled soup kitchen in Hollywood" “just heard about so and so's new cuban/russian concept bay of pigs have you been yet” and so on so I am putting some concepts together they have everything to do with who I am as a person and as a cook which is highly conceptual when you think about it and conceptual is a cut above virtual in my book so in advance of the real so avant real it is unreal that a concept might taste good it might get some yelping whelp's seal of approval it might draw some attention for a while before being picked over chewed up and spit out by twitter-brains here are a few I am chewing on myself in my idle get rich quick scheming hours BLUNCH open daytime weekends only serving refined takes on classic dimsum bites the front of house mark of distinction is white male waiters drawn from the 1% dressed in tiny tuxedos huge thick eyeglasses fake top front buck teeth peter sellers style speaking hopelessly mangled english “must have studied old benny hill skits and be able to push a cart around a room” that could fly but a little place called FIN could too the menu focuses on creative use of shark carcasses that have been ripped of their fins and would otherwise rot in the sea the alternate name for this joint is WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU HUMANS YOU ARE A BUNCH OF SAVAGE ASSES a similar theme is given a workout at SOUK with its dim interior of charred stone wood and metal not stark it is appealingly minimal yet rich with the illusion of being rich with centuries of memory and a frequently changing menu based on items formerly found in the Aleppo souk before humans torched it in a quest for freedom power domination democracy or something maybe I need to keep things simple what about PIGS FEET for PINK TOES retro soul food for neohipsters google it or BARNYARD farm-to-table is so pre-nose-to-tail it is hopelessly in need of an update our carefully handcrafted artisinal ambiance retains all the sweat and shit and stink of the farm because it is simply insufficient to think that knowing where your carrot came from or how your pork chop lived will make you any less alienated from the labor involved in getting it from farm to table yeah yeah yeah I ought to rethink this one unless I want to call it COMMIE HIGH HORSE maybe these all seem a little forced downright inedible or with an edge so dull it could hardly be called cutting all I really want to do is baby be friends with you make you some good food in a lovely place that is my concept it might have legs

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talking egg

at breakfast an unjumbo egg is telling me something it has a message to get across it is letting me know that at a date certain it will become a bad egg a salmonella vehicle a pale yolk with a runny watery white that spreads out in the skillet and has no body left to it this egg where did it get these words that’s not egg it’s english those are someone else's words and that someone bless their unclogged heart is steering me clear of potential harm we need all the help we can get because who can tell good eggs from bad anymore in this food chain someone has to put words in the egg's mouth though I suspect the egg is perfectly capable of speaking for itself and would never say enjoy that is a factory talking not an egg I am not going to enjoy this egg according to a bland command I am going to eat it maybe on toast if there is any and with pleasure if there is any of that left when someone has told me to enjoy and given me a deadline to do so I am early to the expiration date party it is only September 6 in the morning and at this hour all messages seem vague I mean what year is this factory talking about what if I were supposed to enjoy the egg by September 15 2011 and I ate it now then I would be in for it then I might be facing a bout of something that could hardly be called enjoyable come on egg can you be a little more specific can you please clarify before I eat you if I could hear you over the din of this cautionary red label what year would it be what kind of world would you want to be living in what would you be trying to tell us in plain egg

long summer shorty

each time I post a plate of something like this summery short rib with blistered haricot, sautéed cucumber and red onion, roasted radish, cherry tomato, bleu d’auvergne, oregano, and reduced beefy jus I feel since old liberal lefty guilty impulses die hard ethically impelled to include a gentle reminder to self and others via a pictoral supplement to this food porn diet or more likely via these thousand words that the burning world is full of painful contradictions that bear repeated pointing out no matter how obvious they may appear to be and so it is this morning that I wonder who is trending underfed up in the skyless cloud there must be pictures to counterweight my ribs who are the internet biafrans of today and if you get that reference you and I can date each other don’t get it mixed up with Bangladesh that was another story they got a concert from the hippiest beatle of all as far as I can recall there was no concert for biafra all biafra got was jello but that was then this is some kind of now in which the current poster children for starvation if they would please turn on location services before sending out instagram photos of themselves starving then we would know where they are lol and behold they might be from Mississippi the odds-on domestic favorite but how on earth could anyone be starving there don’t they have a Costco or a Walmart on every sunny side of the street has the war on poverty not reached the southern front yet no the war on poverty ended ages ago and yielded less than a scorched Iowa corn field in 2012 its been a grim summer people are going to pay for it at the high fructose corn syrup pump I’m going to pay for it every time I pile into my corn-fed hybrid to go source some local baby fuel some non-GMO line-caught downer-cow-free infant formula I have no sign in my rear window but I do in fact have a baby on board in tow here she is

this joyful little shorty is brand new to the world which may be why I am thinking so much about life and death and eating she eats 7 or 8 times a day and poops and pees all over the place in and out baby but no burgers just formula and though she’s not a "huge foodie" she is asking for edible dirt already but she doesn’t really have the stomach for it and I have mixed feelings about it as well I mean I used to think so what if chefs want to put out plates of signature mock-earth and they utilize the latest in culinary science to concoct dirt out of top-notch ingredients

but now I am changing my tune about this fabrication of terroir because dirt is already edible you can almost live on it just ask any Haitian who was making dirt cakes and eating them after the big earthquake in 2010 when there was a shortage of short ribs and baby formula not to mention potable water so if any old hot iron top celebrity chef wants to make haute dirt maybe he or she needs to take a little trip south and see how it is really done please be sure to ask a Haitian for some pairing recommendations ok ok maybe I need to come down from my high horse and stop shouting insolent misguided condemnations and holier-than-thous in such a delusional self-edifying voice edible dirt has been around for a long time kids have been making it since the dawn of oreos not just fancypants cooks besides I have never been to Haiti and though I have eaten dirt by which I mean had my face smashed into the ground I have never tried to survive on the stuff but should I ever find myself in that position I am going to call on every chef in town who plates soil to see if they can help me out they may politely refuse my calls but I will leave a detailed message nonetheless kind sir due to an unfortunate turn of events and a drastic change in my circumstances I need to eat dirt I need some for my baby too sister can you spare a dime bag or just a little spoonful of your precious crumble and if I don’t hear back I will rummage through your dumpster anyway or the dumpsters of any number of other high end cutting edge bandwagon-jumping eateries where the LA food dirt scene is being defined as we tweet "we are all dirt eaters tonight" we are always all something in twitterland something being jelloless biafrans in search of Mississippi mud in the dumpsters of the rich and famous where we hope to strike gold in a little leftover pile of edible soil and if I am lucky or if I source it properly it will be properly local though I won't snub my nose at any of the stuff that someone had fedexed in from Haiti just in time for dinner service because it is delicious the foie gras of dirts it is the shit

coney island of the facts

early in the day on air a reporter reports from the little Syrian farming village of Tremseh where some people killed a lot of other people in the struggle for democracy I guess that’s what it looks like hey chant it now in whose streets maybe not ours he is done with his report and as though on cue the program host well she really was on cue it's not as though anything she says meatball the bear got evacuated from Glendale this morning what a way to start the day in a headspin hope the bear is ok thanks meatball for helping me stop imagining body parts in the back room of a farmhouse in Syria for helping me keep my priorities straight right now my priority is getting through the day headspin or not well there is no or not it’s just spinning let’s face it but think about how spun out meatballs head must have been I wandered out of the woods into civilization and this is what it looks like these people are fuckin crazy send in the tranquilizer guns call in the airlift but please don’t drop me off in Tremseh

ps

dessert for meatball:

fig, lebneh quenelle, coffee-chile-cardamom-chocolate, pistachios

pick-me-up

I made a trip to Costco today it’s always a risky proposition because they don’t stock anti-depressants in the obscenely bulky amount that one would have to down all in one gulp in order to avoid the sinking feeling that sets in as soon as you set foot in there and I would have needed a second massive dose when I approached the register with two small items in hand all I had was a roll of parchment paper and a piece of cheese I felt so horribly inadequate almost as though I were doing something improper buying so little I did not feel like one of the Joneses at that moment and you know I like to keep up and it gets me down when I fall short I didn’t even have a goddamn cart let alone 40 lbs of breakfast cereal or the largest box of crackers in the history of distorted food production systems I told the cashier no thank you I did not need a box for my items I got out of there in one piece maybe two but in the freeforall parking lot was swamped with a sadness that bulk xanax could not combat even if they sold it and they should because it might be that the act of purchasing itself would do the trick if the fuckin pills didn’t do anything then I went home and worked on this composed salad I will keep working on it until it’s good and then present it to you ladies and gentlemen the post-Costco anti-depressant summer fruit and feta plank

sharpening the knives

knives were on the to do list I took them to Pasadena farmers market dramatic against the cloudy mountains at 8 in the morning why would anybody live down here when there is such an up there in those clouds our village is not in the mountains it is in the valley it is not agricultural it is urban and its people somewhat unskilled we don’t know how to split wood a few of us and sadly I don’t count myself among this number though I know I got it in me far fetched as that may sound considering I grew up on a country club know how to grow blueberries or butcher a pig everything is delivered on a platter silver or styro it don’t matter our village is not in the mountains nor near Hama nor surrounded by ghosts or rebel forces who have all sharpened their knives too the shit is going to come at that village in the clouds from all sides best of luck telling the good from the bad the oppression from the democracy the coin doesn’t even have two faces it has a single face so don’t bother to flip it no matter how it lands it‘s going to come up throat-cutters the man at the market did a top notch job with the sharpening I cut myself already almost not really just flayed a little sliver of fingertip skin back when I was wiping the blade it was careless oversight quite frankly nothing to write al-Qubair about dear body part let me tell you I know exactly how you feel a letter wouldn’t get through at this particular juncture anyway all I am trying to do is make a little dinner with a very sharp knife and there are terrible pictures flitting before me in thought having read the reports and listened to some handwringing on national public radio who are we kidding well ourselves what the fuck are we doing well we are trying to go about our business and make dinner why and I can’t imagine it is only me that is struggling with this conundrum has it become so difficult to go on as if nothing was going on as though the face of the world were not boiling over to just portion the fish as if it will turn up endlessly beneath the knives to throw up our hands as if we all belonged to the UN to hold back tears when I think of the old city of Damascus the shops shuttered and everyone in there and in al-Qubair and in the whole world well at least a few people waiting for something else terrible to happen avid readers of blog I wish I had better news for you but I won’t

what no food pictures

another night-in supper almost finished, all the bowls of springy risotto with a pea leaf tarragon spring onion garnish and the duck leg braise that one had its own nod to spring and to labor intensive product with a fava bean salsa verde those dishes are washed and dried and stacked and the salad plates they're all cleaned up too sorry there are no pictures of anything take my word for it the salad had shaved fennel and slivers of meyer lemon and bright green castelveltrano olives and anchovy vinaigrette and the dessert almond pound cake and harry's strawberries and runny whip all over it all gone all that's left to do is the laundry and eat the one leftover pint of seascapes not necessarily in that order

roast, from memory

a partial menu from Monday's "night in" dinner, with special guest Molly Stevens, she was in LA working her new book, "All About Roasting," though not every dish as you can see had a roasted element that would have been overkill dessert for instance was a simple pear tart with walnut frangiapane and the salad nothing roasted except for some meyer lemons which went pureéd into the vinaigrette, the whole thing was a blast and sort of from the past, Molly and I met long ago in Reagan's 80s when we both lived on a post-hippie vegetable farm in central Vermont before she began a long tour of cooking-related training and work and finally landed in LA almost 30 years later and it was great to have her in the kitchen for this dinner, she has expansive food knowledge and skill and enthusiasm and the roasting book is super-solid and action-packed thankfully it does not fall into the trap of some food writing that coaxes us all down memory lane with stories of grandma roasting a hunk of something on Sunday nights or uncle jimmy's delicious roasted chicken that someone ate as a kid every fourth of july and has been trying to recreate ever since she started cooking or that unforgettable spit-cooked lamb I ate with some bedouins in a windswept tent so many years ago what a crazy night all that's all well and good and food can certainly take us to those places but not everything has to be a trigger-happy memory-inducing madeleine now does it well what about these other pictures from the evening then

oozy sunday

sunday late breakfast, it's what was for dinner, last night, a few nights ago, odds and ends from the reaches of the reach-in: sweat some shallot, chile de arbol, add roasted kubocha and roasted carrots, get them hot, season, add dandelion greens and slivers of pink lady apple at the end as the omelet also finishes up, gets rolled out of the pan, lubed with butter, sprinkled with fleur de sel, and draped with the hot salad, a little tight-foamed capuccino appeared along the way and the omelet is oozy, "baveuse," because that's the way
we like it

post-valentine breakfast

if we were open in the early morning, you might be sitting here, on a sofa,
on a pillow, or at a table

with a bowl of something like this (harisa chick peas, slow-cooked onions, roasted kubocha squash, soft eggs, parsley, mint), and hot pitas if I knew how to make them (substitute toasted baguette, with lebneh, olive oil, zatar),

and a little plate of olives, and a pot of arabic coffee

thinking about what is going on in the old city of Damascus, or better or worse yet the old city of Homs though that is fast becoming unthinkable and I don't mean to put thoughts in your head anyway when all you want is a little breakfast

citrus with everything

when all sorts of combinations of fish and citrus are in vogue and season and on menus I am enough of a follower to jump on the bandwagon with big shrimps poached in fish stock that had a dollop of harisa added to it and once the shrimps were poached it got reduced to be part of a vinaigrette with minced shallots, meyer lemon juice, toasted ground cumin, sherry vinegar, and olive oil that coated a little watercress, some blood orange supremes, little slivers of meyer lemon, and watermelon radishes, and douche did you put salt in that yes the fleur kind and plenty of it