After I met Bill Chait for the first time about five months ago, at Starbucks in the Original Farmers Market, or what he referred to then as his "office," the first thing I did when I got in the car was call Nancy Silverton. Nancy had introduced us so that Bill and I could potentially work together--doing who knows what, she just thought we should meet. Bill is the man behind Short Order and Short Cake, both of which businesses Nancy is a partner in. "Oh my god! He is, like, the smartest guy I've ever met!" I was blown away listening to him because the way his mind worked was just different than regular people. So conceptual. So broad. I felt like I was at Berkeley again where people engaged in thinking just for the sake of it. I was so blown away in fact that I pitched a story about Bill to an editor at the Los Angeles Times. It's such a great idea, he wrote back, that I already thought of it. And he had a staff writer do the story instead. In the months since that email exchange, Bi ...

Read More

I'm not superstitious, but I do appreciate when certain superstitions give me an excuse to do something I want to do anyway. In Italy, lentils, called lenticchie (pronounced "len-TEA-ki-yay") are traditionally eaten for New Year because they are supposed to bring prosperity to the eater. The reasoning being that the little legumes are vaguely reminiscent of teeny tiny coins so by eating them, you will be showered with money. (Makes perfect sense, if you like lentils.) Which is why, when 2012 rolled around, thinking my friends and I could use a little prosperity ourselves, I invited a few over on a sunny January first, and decided to give the experiment a go. I started with Umbrian Lentils, which grow in and around a town called Castelluccio, in Umbria. Lenticchie di Castelluccio, like the more widely known French Lentils du Puy, are granted IGT (protected geographical indication) status, which means in order to bear the name Castelluccio, they have to be grown in that particular regio ...

Read More

In honor of National Snack Food Day tomorrow, I decided to once again repost my famous guacamole recipe. As many of you know, I was once a guacamole purist, willing to go to insane lengths to grind every last bit of loose gravel from a lava molcajete, which as it turns out is just plain not possible. But last Labor Day, when my friend, the brilliant chef Nancy Silverton asked me to bring enough guac for 40 to contribute to the burger feast at her house, well, let's just say I gave in. Here, you can see, I started with a molcajete, and all the best intentions. But it soon became apparent that my avocados were bigger than my molcajete. And I don't mean that metaphorically. So I resorted to this: one of the most beloved and used gadgets in my kitchen: the Cuisinart Mini Prep, AKA: the Modern Man's Molcajete. I chose this particular color to post here because it is the color of the house we lived in in Tijuana until I was three, where I must have eaten my first ever guacamole in its ...

Read More

My father tossing a Caesar salad at either the Caesar Hotel or Jai Alai. He was a waiter & "ensaladero" at both places before opening his own joint. I just finished reading the story in The New Yorker about the Tijuana restaurateur and pioneer, Javier Placencia, and I couldn't be more proud. Proud of Javier Placencia and what he and his family are doing, proud of Tijuana itself, and proud of the fact that I am from Tijuana. I was born there, at the end of that town's heyday, a period that would fall at the top of page 52 of the story, somewhere between the line that quotes a French epicurean claiming the Caesar salad to be "the greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in fifty years!" and the next line: "Over time, Revolución devolved into a depressing string of curio shops and..." my father's restaurant. El Bodegón de Guillermo, said to have been the most famous in Tijuana during that time, was located just off Tijuana's main drag, Revolución, two blocks up from the ...

Read More
1 2