I have a running joke with myself about my Japanese friends, that you need an instruction booklet to be friends with them—and the same thinking applies to Japanese cuisine. I suppose one can enjoy Japanese food even without such a manual. For years I lived a life of sushi where I considered eel rolls and yellow tail adventurous choices. And I was happy. But after my friend, Hiroshi, took me to sushi for the first time, my eyes were opened to a new way of sushi being, and my sushi eating self would, could, never be the same. [For a guide to eating sushi the Japanese way, see this article that I wrote for The Los Angeles Times.] That night, Hiroshi and I went to a little dive on Sunset Boulevard, his regular joint, where we sat at the sushi bar for three or four hours while the sushi chef plied us with one gorgeous creation after another—from the unusual (eel made in-house, not cryovacced and sent, MSG and all, from Japan); to the exotic (tiny crabs drowning in a glass of sake one mom ...

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I am on deadline + doing my taxes so no time to go into it right now, but... did Sherry Virbila really describe the shade of an olive as being the color of a felt puppet frog in her review of Pizzeria Ortica in today's L.A. Times? I've long thought she and her old school-style reviews should be put out to pasture—an opinion that was solidified over a year ago when she reviewed Axe, a Venice neighborhood favorite. She gave it a favorable review that sounded like: "Well, I don't get it but I know the young people like it so I will try (or pretend)... But the seats really are too hard!" In case you don't want to read the whole story (the pizzeria does sound appealing, which is good news!), here's the bit from today's L.A. Times: The best place to start is with some antipasti, maybe a beautiful plate of prosciutto di Parma with Kermit-the-Frog-green olives. Or the house-cured blah blah blah... As newspapers struggle to stay afloat, they should think very critically about what they are a ...

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This was printed—PRINTED!—in the one newspaper that may actually survive these times. The Gray Lady. The one and only, the trusted and revered... New York Times. Once a powerful force spreading information formerly known as "news." No Drill Sergeants, ran the header. And things went downhill from there. CupcakeCamp, a gathering of cupcake lovers [OMFG PLEASE SHOOT ME!], will be held April 10 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Happy Ending [GOTTA LOVE THE NAME], 302 Broome Street (Forsyth Street). Similar events have been held in other cities. [ALL I CAN SAY IS: GOD SAVE THIS GREAT NATION.] Admission is free and open to those at least 21 years old. [BECAUSE WHY?... IS THIS PORN?] All cupcakes are donated. [UM... THANK YOU?] Those who would like to contribute some or volunteer [ANOTHER GOOD CAUSE DURING HARD TIMES] for the event must register at cupcakecampnyc@gmail.com. IS THIS FOR REAL? Okay. I will stop yelling. But will somebody. Please. Stop. The madness. ...

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I haven't written here in awhile for a number of reasons, only one of which I will get into now, and that is that in one of my last posts I asked what people might serve to Alice Waters should she come to their house for dinner, which was, looking back, an inauthentic question that has left me mute. It was inauthentic first of all because I know exactly what I would serve to Alice—or at least exactly what types of foods I would serve to Alice, because they are the same types of foods I would serve to anyone coming over for dinner: best quality seasonal simple... etc.  And second, it was a bullshit question because that is the kind of question that, should someone pose it to me, I would have very strong opinions about them having asked it at all. My friend Colman Andrews always says that the worst thing that happens when he is invited to someone's house for dinner is to arrive and see a cookbook out—the host pressing to make something out of his or her range, in his honor. "I always sa ...

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