Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hey, Friends! Thanks for having me. I hope to regale you this week with food-loving fun!

When was the last time you ate an entire, full-size candy bar? What kind of candy bar was it?
About two/two and a half weeks ago, I got a full-sized Twix bar out of the LA Weekly vending machine. I wanted it to be really good because I was hungry and desperate, but it was thoroughly disappointing. The caramel was not stretchy enough.

What is a food you ate all the time as a kid, but which now disgusts you?
I used to consume Hershey’s Miniatures constantly when I was in high school. I would take handfuls from a glass pumpkin-shaped jar and eat them very systematically: first a Hershey Special Dark, then a Krackel, then a regular Hershey’s, and then a Mr. Goodbar (which were my least favorite). I would repeat this until I became very ill. The habit got to be so bad that my parents started hiding the jar, but I was sneaky and could always find it. Much to my parents’ pleasure, I now have no desire to see any of these candies either in their miniature or full-sized form, let alone eat them.

What is a recent food impulse buy which you regretted? Which you were delighted by?
I definitely regret buying a Costco bulk-sized pack of Kraft Mac `N Cheese in June. I was way too ambitious when I snatched it up, and now it’s sitting in my parents’ newly remodeled kitchen unopened and unwanted. In retrospect, it also makes absolutely no sense that I chose this gargantuan item while shopping with my parents because they always have gobs of good food.

Recent delight came in the form of Choco Leibniz. I bought two boxes for Project Runway at SC’s last week. Those cookies are great and I ate them to excess.

If you had to have one of the FoodFriends design your diet for a week, whom would you select?
MMW. I am always impressed by his well-curated meals.

What are the shows you watch the most on Food Network? What are your thoughts on: Rachael Rae, Alton Brown, Nigella Lawson?
I have only watched the Food Network here and there, but I did meet Nigella Lawson once! I was in Italy the summer before senior year, and an old painting professor took me around the Venice Biennale. The prof is good friends with Charles Saatchi, so during an art-break he introduced me to the advertising mogul and the cooking den-mother. She was very quiet and distracted by the heat.

What food staple would it be most difficult for you remove from your diet?
Noodles! They’re the only thing I feel truly confident preparing, and my first impulse when looking at any lunch or dinner menu.

If I told you that you could only eat one of the following for the rest of your life, but you could always get whatever you chose as fresh and as good as possible, which would you choose? Also, assume that whichever you chose would be seedless: (1) Oranges (2) Clementines (3) Tangerines
May I be so bold as to propose a fourth choice to this esteemed list of citrus fruits? SATSUMAS would be my guys. They have a taste similar to clementines, but wear their skin loosely—for easy peeling—and also rarely bear seeds—for easy nibbling! They also have a slight sweetness not found in clementines.

Also, do you prefer plastic wrap or aluminum foil?
I would go with plastic wrap. I love that I have to maintain focus when ripping it out of its box (for fear that it will curl, stick to itself and become useless), and I also love the idea that after being saran wrapped my food is nice and snug, as though it’s sleeping in the world’s most comfortable blankets.

When and how did you learn to cook?
I would bake cookies and brownies with my mom when I was smaller, but an incident with a carrot and a peeler left me scarred for most of my young life, and away from the kitchen. Thus, I didn’t really learn how to heat a stove until I spent that summer in Italy just before senior year of college (the same one during which I met Nigella Lawson). I was in Milan for an internship at an art magazine and my evening and weekends in the city were filled with boredom and loneliness. I searched through a local ex-pat magazine for things to do, and came across an English-speaking Italian woman who had placed an ad offering cooking lessons. Her name was Roberta, and she was an internet content producer-turned-food stylist. Her concoctions ran the gamut from miniature cakes for a Barbie photo shoot to Italianized sushi. She was a very kind woman with impeccable style. For the rest of the summer, I aspired to be her!

The first time I went to her attic apartment—which was decorated with quotations and books she had fashioned into sculpture—she asked me what I wanted to learn how to make and I said pasta and only pasta! She laughed and told me there was so much more. I only had three lessons with her, but she taught me how to make several different recipes: insalata caprese (that was a short lesson in which she basically taught me how to hold knives), pasta (regular tomato sauce, arrabbiata, carbonara), and risotto (mushroom and milanese). I don’t remember each recipe fully, and I’m still a terrible cook, but it was a good first foray into the culinary world. I also think the reason I’m wary of preparing meat is because Roberta didn’t teach me how.

A quirk of fate leaves you in each of the following cities for long enough to have only one meal. What/where do you eat? Boston, Cambridge, New York, LA.
Boston: I didn’t dine out much in Boston proper during college, so I’ll have to go with Locke-Ober, which I experienced for the first time on the eve of 2006. And I would replicate the meal I had that night, which I know included lobster bisque, and perhaps venison? I can’t remember it in full.

Cambridge: Darwin’s Limited on Mt. Auburn for a Longfellow Sandwich. I would also get my sandwich to go and make a quick trip to Toscanini’s, where I’d order a vanilla Micro Sundae with rainbow jimmies and chocolate syrup.

New York: I am usually poor and hungry when visiting New York, so I don’t have a favorite. Zen Palate comes to mind, though. I have had the fortune of having very good meals there which probably consisted of Stir-fried rice noodle with vegetables.

LA: I will break this down by meal.
For breakfast: Amandine Patisserie in Brentwood for the most delicious chocolate croissants this side of the Atlantic!
For brunch: Campanile for the hot chocolate and their eggs benedict.
For lunch: Taiko for cold tanuki soba, pumpkin tempura and a spicy tuna roll; or Angeli Caffe for slow food champion and "Good Food" hostess Evan Kleiman’s suppli and spaghetti aglio e olio.
For dinner: Ortolan, chef’s menu; or the Monterey Park restaurant my parents and I have been going to for years, Lake Spring Shanghai. At Lake Spring, I would order Shuh-Zuh-Tow (which mean’s “Lion’s Head”, but which is just big pork meatballs and cabbage in soupy brown sauce), Vegetable Chow Mein, and their shrimp with candied walnuts.

Name a fruit, meat, soda, and candy you despise.
Fruit: Mangos. (When I was last tested, I was allergic!)
Meat: I’m not such a fan of chicken. At most Asian restaurants, I will order tofu over chicken any day. And at European/Western-styled establishments, I will go for beef or pork.
Soda: Like fellow O-dog Owen, I never took a shining to soda. But if Orangina or San Aranciata count, then I finally have!
Candy: Black licorice. Puke city!

I have a teleporter, and can send you anywhere in the world for dinner. Where will you go, what will you have?
The Fat Duck. It was rated the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine in 2005! No doubt I would choose their Tasting Menu, but I would tell them I am allergic to mangos, and they would substitute with something equally enticing. I would bite the bullet and eat their bacon and eggs ice cream.

Name a food that evokes a strong memory of a particular time and place in your life.
My mom used to go on lots of business trips, so she would freeze a bunch of dumplings filled with spinach, shitake mushroom and clear-noodles for my dad to fry for dinner. I ate these most every weeknight from middle school until the end of high school. I’m still not sick of them!

What is your relationship to caffeine?
I used to only drink tea lattes, which proved to be a ridiculous strain on my wallet. But I’ve taken a liking to coffee recently, thanks to sugar and milk.

What is the best burger you've ever had?
In-N-Out’s Animal Style burger. However, I hope to get a table at Father's Office one day and order one of theirs, along with their mini-shopping cart full of sweet potato fries.

I have a food replicator from Star Trek Next Generation, what do you order and how do you order it?
The perfect mushroom risotto, with a liberal sprinkling of parmesan on top.

Are there any foods that would receive an f- grade from you?

Chicken feet, tripe, cow’s tongue, termites, octopus, fake cherry flavor.

Along the lines of "Salt," "Cod," and "History of the World In Six Glasses," what foodstuff would you most like to read a book about?
I would like to learn more about the history of cookbook illustrations. I would also be interested in reading about the history of the wok.

Is there any food you are embarrassed about how much you like it?
Not a food, but a beverage: I love Fiji water. I buy it to celebrate or console myself, as though this overpriced water were a fine wine.

Also, not a food, but a condiment: I keep Arby’s special sauce in my car just in case I forget to get it from the window teller, or in the event that I might need a good-tasting spread.

What was your favorite meal in the Harvard dining halls?

Even though I typically don’t like chicken, I would eagerly await the broccoli chicken. I also discovered mixing cereals thanks to HUDS, although it’s a technique that I have rarely used in the real world.

What are your favorite beers? What are your favorite wines? What are your favorite liquors?
What are your favorite cocktails? Do you feel that you have a signature drink? If a FoodFriend ever had to order a drink for you while you were in the restroom, what drink should they order?
Favorite beer: Corona, Red Stripe. Favorite wine: Reisling. Favorite liquors: I have recently become a fan of Campari; Lillet was a fantastic birthday present from Dustin and Mareda; and soju in all its flavors gets my thumbs up (hat tip, Danny). Favorite cocktail: The Crimson Cosmo at Luna Park. No signature drink, unfortunately. But if I’ve stepped into the loo, please be so kind as to order me a white wine.

Last question: What is your favorite food?

Not Lo Mein, but CHOW MEIN!!!!!!!!!


Blogger doogs said...

Though I suspect this is not the case, I'd like to believe that you just happened to find a full-size Twix bar, preferably unwrapped, inside a vending machine containing LA Weeklies, and immediately ate it.

Where can I find SATSUMAS?

11:16 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I have been known to pull Garbage Costanzas every now and again...

As for satsumas, they've been known to make appearances at Costco. But when they're in season in March and April, but apparently, in Texas you can get them year-round!

3:44 PM  

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