Plug Your Mouth at Tacos Tu Madre

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There’s no shortage of tacos in Los Angeles, except for maybe in Little Armenia, but who am I kidding? There are tacos there too. Tacos are everywhere in Los Angeles. I mean er’rywhere. Yes, tacos and L.A. go together like pizza and New York, chowder and Boston, Outback and Orange County — classic combinations that won’t be going away anytime soon.

The humble taco has seen its stock rise in recent years. Purveyors such as Guisado’s and Kogi and Petty Cash have reminded Angelenos that tacos can be about so much more than ground meat, crappy cheese, and some generic toppings (although, when done right, that can still be so good). Throwing their hat into the elevated taco game is Tacos Tu Madre, a funky little taqueria that serves up flavors both traditional and “fancy.” At a recent media-comped meal, I was able to enjoy some of the concoctions on offer, and I’m happy to report that the taco renaissance continues to blossom. Pics of the fun stuff after the jump…

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Maangchi Madness!

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If there’s any cuisine I’m totally obsessed with, it’s probably Korean. On any given night I’m pestering my friends to grab some grub in Koreatown — or K-Town (not to be confused with my hometown of Katonah, NY, also known as K-Town amongst the local ruffians). Whether it’s BBQ or tofu or grilled clams or hot pot or raw crabs or fatty bossam or refreshing hwe dup bap, I want it all, and I generally want it every meal.

This does not happen.

I do have some enablers — my friend Sly is almost always good for a trip to our favorite K-Town eateries (Soowon Galbi, A-Won, or even Hodori) — but mostly, I spend a lot of time pining. Luckily, Amazon.com has direct access to my brain and happily suggested I “treat myself to a little something,” and in this case, it was a cookbook by Korean cook cum Youtube star Maangchi. The collection of recipes certainly looked interesting… and the reviews were stellar… and I hadn’t purchased a Korean cookbook in years… and… well, you know where this is headed.

After some hemming and hawing, I bought the book, visited the Korean grocer, and soon found myself knee-deep in Korean madness. Pics of what I made and some thoughts on the final product after the jump…

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Advanced Studies in Creamistry

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Fans of this blog may remember my ice cream phase from 2011. This was a gloriously unhealthy period kicked off by the purchase of an ice cream maker and the cookbook The Perfect Scoop. Readers at the time told me that an ice cream maker would just sit on my shelf and collect dust, but they were wrong. It was put to major use for six months and THEN relegated to the shelf to collect dust. i stopped because I was being way too unhealthy, but oh, the memories from that time are vivid and wondrous. I learned so much over those months. For instance, did you know that ice cream is quite possibly the worst thing you could ever put into your body? Of course you did. Watching the cups of cream, then sugar, then egg yolks go into the batter is nothing short of a shameful experience, but you know, it’s what needs to be done. But I digress.

Back to the learning part. As a one-time ice cream expert, I learned about the freezing process. Sugar content, for instance, is a key component. Too much sugar, and the ice cream will melt almost instantaneously. Too little, and it will be hard and crystalline. (Don’t quote me on that: I could possibly have the sugar situation reversed). Oh, and freezing that ice cream? It’s a whole process. First you have to freeze a special cylinder for at least 24 hours; then you have to chill the ice cream batter overnight, and then, only then can the ice cream churning begin. The point is that making ice cream is a long, unhealthy process (but oh so delicious).

This is where Creamistry, a new Beverly Hills ice cream shop, comes into play. Gone are the vats of batter, quietly chilling in the fridge. Instead, Creamistry offers customizable ice creams from scratch, made in seconds via liquid nitrogen. But is it actually any good? Keep reading to find out…

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Destroyed by ‘LA Times THE TASTE’ – In The Best Possible Way

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Welp, it’s Friday, and I’ve finally emerged from a six day food coma that would make Rip Van Winkle look like an insomniac. Sure, I’ve been technically “awake” and “interacting” with people, but I think we can all agree that food coma is sometimes a state of mind — one often brought on by a never ending stream of culinary indulgences. It took days for me to no longer carry the guilt and lethargy that came from my recent pig-out at this year’s Los Angeles Times THE TASTE (one of the most awkwardly titled food festivals on the books). I dropped by this food extravaganza over Labor Day weekend and put my media comped pass to good use.

After the jump, see some pics of the bites, nibbles, and general decadence that I partook in.

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The Taste Is Coming! The Taste Is Coming!

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Every year The Los Angeles Times hosts the glorious food festival known as Los Angeles Times The Taste, and for the past three summers in a row, I’ve been ever so fortunate to snag an invitation to the newspaper’s test kitchen where massively influential food bloggers — nay, WRITERS — get to preview some of the bites at the upcoming event. For the organizers, it’s a great way to get word out. For the writers, it’s a perfect chance to stuff our faces like a bunch of malnourished baboons. We all win!

In an effort to fend off my innate pear-shaped physique, I tried to show some sort of restraint during this week’s preview, but unfortunately, I tend to get Requiem For A Dream eyeballs around food; so it was basically a lost cause. Check out some pics of me pigging out after the jump…

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Chocolate-Caramel Layer Cake Insanity

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When it comes to eating healthy, I’m not always known for my self-discipline. Sure, I had a month this summer where I stayed away from all carbs, breads, and otherwise joy-inducing foods, but generally, I’m in a constant state of declaring healthy intentions while simultaneously shoving Kit-Kats into my face. This past week was no exception. Things started off in a dark (read: wonderful place) when a visit to the Orange County Fair resulted in sublime consumption of funnel cake, chocolate dipped ice cream cones, and various other diet-adverse items. I swore I would do better for myself, but of course, things rapidly spiraled out of control.

You see, the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated appeared in my mailbox, and in its monochromatic pages was a recipe for Chocolate-Caramel Layer Cake. Suddenly, hearts appeared in my eyes and Tchaikovsky’s love theme from Romeo & Juliet blared all around me. I had to make this. I had to! But I couldn’t, especially not during this week of county fair gut reparations. Besides, why would I just make a CAKE for no reason?

And then fate came calling. Turns out I had plans to attend a game night at the end of the week, and as luck would have it, that game night was now being upgraded to a birthday celebration for my friend Lodric. I was told I was on cake duty, and far be it for me to deny that responsibility. The planets had aligned: I had the perfect excuse to make the chocolate-caramel layer cake.

It was on.

But was it worth it? Keep reading to find out…

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Fighting the “Dead of Winter” with Nancy’s Fancy Gelatti & Sorbetti

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It’s been a year or two since I last dusted off my handy ice cream maker, and every time I gaze at its shiny, white shell (which is admittedly not often), I grow wistful for those heady days when I would pour fatty custards into its spinning innards and find glorious ice creams and gelatos waiting for me thirty minutes later. Damn, I love ice cream.

I mean, I really love ice cream.

Of course, who doesn’t love ice cream? Lactose intolerant people, probably. Or maybe people with six-packs. For most of us though, we all scream for ice cream, which is why I was particularly excited when a large box filled with complimentary Nancy’s Fancy gelato arrived at my doorstep last week. The creation of acclaimed pastry-chef Nancy Silverton, Nancy’s Fancy promises a luxe dessert experience, but does it deliver? And is it worth the $10.99 price tag? Yes, you read that correctly: Nancy’s Fancy retails for $10.99 a pint.

To find out the answers to these pressing issues, I brought two pints — Coconut Stracciatella with Bittersweet Chocolate Strands, Frutti di Bosco – Greek Yogurt and Mixed Berries — to my friend’s house for a group tasting. This was all rather convenient as we were all assembling anyway to play the zombie board game “Dead of Winter.” Zombies + Nancy Silverton = an intriguing night to say the least.

Pictures and revelations after the jump…

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BANTER BLENDER #104: Measles, Bruce Jenner, ‘American Sniper,’ and Bagels

This week on “The Banter Blender,” Angie Thomas (“All the Way”) joins Ben to chat about the usual grab bag of topics: the measles outbreak in CA, Bruce Jenner’s possibly trans journey, the controversy surrounding American Sniper, and, of course, the best bagels in Los Angeles. Come listen!

And remember to like the podcast on Facebook: facebook.com/banterblender

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Holiday Cakes Edition

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means it’s the perfect time to celebrate Christmas. I mean, technically, we should probably wait to throw a holiday party until December, but we all know that the Holiday season officially kicked off on November 1st. At least, that’s when it seems socially acceptable to admit that it began. The truth is that most people were probably humming “Deck the Halls” halfway through Columbus Day.

Well, the not-so-surprise twist is that I’m Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas, but it doesn’t mean I can’t get into the Holiday spirit, especially since it’s a great excuse to bake up cakes and cookies. Conveniently, Baker’s Secret recently sent me some complimentary colored metal bakeware and encouraged me to whip up some holiday recipes. Challenge ACCEPTED.

After the jump, check out pics of my holiday cake party, starring Ina Garten’s mocha icebox cake and a banana cake with cream cheese frosting….

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: International Friendsgiving Edition (Plus, A Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe)

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This may be somewhat shocking, but I’ll just come out with it: last weekend, my friends and I convened for yet another Friendsgiving. This marks the third Friendsgiving I’ve hosted since actual Thanksgiving last year (which, admittedly, was also a Friendsgiving). Have we gone turkey crazy? Not really. This time around the mania was inspired by Corningware. You see, Corningware has this handy dandy new line of colorful products called CW By Corningware, and the company was kind enough to send over some samples (and subsidize the turkey) if I put together a Friendsgiving meal and blogged about it. So here I am: an apartment full of unhealthy leftovers, writing about Friendsgiving again.

To change things up, I decided to throw a twist into the typical Friendsgiving affairs. This would be no ordinary meal. This would be a global affair. Yes, every dish would be an international take on a classic American Thanksgiving staple. OooOOOooh. So very Top Chef of us.

I’m happy to report that my friends all lived up to the challenge, and the resultant meal was beyond delicious. Pics of the dishes as well as a bonus recipe (!!) after the jump!

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