Christmas 2013

Dining date: 12/25/13

Like Thanksgiving, Christmas has been one of the largest feasts of the year every single year. For some time now, my family has done Christmas just like Thanksgiving – lunch at my mom’s side and dinner at my dad’s. Double the gluttony.

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Lunch, at my aunt’s is a potluck, with a relatively large group of family and friends.

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Thanksgiving 2013

Dining date: 11/28/13

The Thanksgiving post has become a sort of tradition on my blog – this is the fifth annual post. As has been the case over the last few years, Thanksgiving is a tale of two meals. Lunch is a casual buffet-style affair at my aunt & uncle’s (mom’s side) while dinner is a sitdown meal at my grandmother’s (dad’s side).

pork ribs

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Lobster Roll

Dining date: 9/1/13

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A lobster roll is one of my favorite things to eat at casual seafood places. Lately, I feel like it’s been popping up more and more in local Los Angeles restaurants becoming fairly hip. Renditions from Hinoki & The Bird and Son of a Gun have received national attention, while we have trucks/restaurants (Lobsta Truck & Cousins Maine) dedicated to the sandwich. We even have our own lobster roll event called the Lobster Roll Rumble. It’s such a simple thing – really, at its simplest, all you need is lobster, butter or mayo, and bread. Perhaps that’s why it’s spreading so quickly from menu to menu.

Being primarily made up of a rather expensive ingredient, a lobster roll is frequently the most expensive item on a menu. Easily reaching into the mid-$20s and, sometimes, low-$30s (I’m looking at you Water Grill!) I often think twice about ordering something so common that is not likely to fill me up. Appearing easy to make at home, I’ve often thought about making my own for much cheaper…and finally did.

I have a pretty good idea of what my ideal lobster roll is. A warm, buttery and toasted bun is key. Of course, perfectly cooked lobster lightly covered in butter (I’m not a cold mayo lobster roll kind of guy). And, I like little to no filler – just the lobster for me. To me, the keys to success were finding split-top hot dog buns (a relative rarity here) and perfectly cooking the lobster. No one likes overcooked, rubbery lobster.

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Uni Risotto

Dining date: 8/1/13

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I’ve chronicled a number of risotto dishes on this blog, but I’ve been meaning to prepare a sea urchin (uni) risotto for a while. I was recently inspired by a meal at Mexicali Taco & Co., in which an uni-diving friend brought pounds of fresh urchin to top off our tacos. With some of the residual uni and its juices, I went home to finally prepare this risotto.

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Truffle Risotto

Dining date: 6/28/13

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Risotto is one of the rich, luxurious dishes associated with fine dining. The single most expensive dish I’ve ever eaten was a risotto, but it’s also something I’ve found to be fairly easy to make at home without costing a lot. I’ve definitely made my share of risotto dishes at home (my favorite thus far probably being this lobster risotto), and figured I’d make a truffled version (a classic pairing) when recently purchasing a fresh truffle.

This was my first time buying a fresh truffle, stumbling upon a black summer truffle at my local Japanese market. Unfortunately I couldn’t tell where it was from, but it looked/smelled as good as expected and the price was right…so I figured I’d buy it and give it a try.

Inspired by The French Laundry’s white truffle risotto, I sought out to duplicate Keller’s version at home, substituting my summer truffles for the white ones used in his recipe.

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Sous Vide Steak

Dining date: 4/13/13

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While the most profound sous vide application may best represented in long-duration braises of the tougher cuts, breaking down connective tissues while keeping meat a medium-rare temperature, its applications for “simpler” cooking can be just as rewarding. For example, a steak can be prepared very well either on the stove top or seared and finished In the oven/broiler, but I often like to prepare one sous vide. There are a few reasons why.

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