Monday, March 31, 2014

weekend grub

I tested my lifelong assertion that I am not allergic to poison oak by falling in a patch of it at Big Sur. Just bit it off the trail. I was happy that all the German hikers seemed to have missed that, or they just weren't concerned with helping me. Not to slander the Germans, who I'm sure are very polite. I scratched myself up and fell right on top of the plants. I was very surprised that it took about 4 days to start showing up. Question: once you get the oil on you how do you spread it? I have it mostly on my leg, but also on my neck and I don't think any touched my neck. But I didn't start scratching until 4 days  later. It doesn't seem to be spreading any more. Also, weirdly part of my leg where it's worst went numb for a day. I didn't read about that symptom online but am not paranoid enough to think it was anything other than poison oak. And now that I'm "sensitized" to it what does that mean?

I was lucky enough to be invited by Amber Stott to moderate a Q and A session for a short documentary film about sea urchins with the director and star. I think it went really well, especially because I know how it is to feel trapped at a film Q & A. Although the film was only 18 minutes long so that doesn't really apply. The director, Alex Finden is very talented (and looked about 22) and the star was a real character. He's 70 and has been diving for sea urchin for 50 years. I would link to it but you need a vimeo sign in from him because he's taking it around to film festivals. I got to try Billy Ngo's famous uni panna cotta (made famous by BAR in his awesome review) and I have to say it was too rich for me. I can't imagine eating a bigger portion. Uni walks the line between beautiful and gross for me, if that makes sense, and I prefer just one bit of perfectly firm nigiri. Even by the second huge bit of nigiri I feel like I'm not sure I want more. The first bit can be absolutely perfect though.
I learned a lot about sea urchin. I learned that it starts out really soft but then they firm it up with alum phosphate. They can live about 30 years but become mature at I think he said 2 or 3 (might have been six or 7). The Italians prefer it right out of the shell. In San Diego you can eat it that way at the farmer's market or just right on the dock. The stuff from SD is considered some of the finest in the world because they feed on 5 kinds of kelp (according to the diver) and there is definitely a terroir based on what they eat and probably the salinity, etc., just like oysters. The fisherman bagged on the nor cal stuff of course but the director said he tried it for the first time at Kru on Friday and thought it was fine. Such a fun time!
It reminded LM and I of the article in Lucky Peach about the Korean female shellfish divers and how they are aging out with no young people to take their place. Coincidentally the NYTimes wrote an article about them the same day. Wow, did they go to complete paywall? I haven't looked at it much lately but you used to get 20 free articles, so I can't link it.
Am I alone in never getting through a Lucky Peach. I love the idea of it but I kind of find it a chore to read. Some of that is jealousy, I admit.
More pics after the jump!

 Went to Yang's after the movie and you really must go. This is the sour cabbage, pork belly, and tofu soup.
 Really good soup dumplings, which are hard to find!
 Both these apps were so interesting. On the left is raw shredded potato with spicy oil!! Right is a delicious pickled cucumber and they slice it in a pretty way. Those pieces are all connected in the middle and scalloped on the outside.
I swear the beef roll was even better this time. And the table over had the Chinese chive-stuffed pancake, which I still want to try. They also had a dish of green "Chinese herbs" (according to the very nice owner), which she said she brought from home for these regulars. She had run out, though. I thought she might just be saying that because she thought we wouldn't like them, so I guess I will have to go more often and earn her trust. Since EC and WB will be moving here from LA soon I'm sure we will be g oing there. I bet they are going to miss that San Gabriel food.

Then on to Vampire Penguin! It was insanely crowded, especially with big groups of teenagers. They had run out of the ice flavors I wanted (including mango so LM couldn't try the Mexican candy flavor) so I tried milk tea, which is really good.
It tastes like jasmine tea. I got mocha and coconut jelly on top. Especially liked the mocha.

On Cesar Chaves day I got to go to Bud's Buffet. I figured I had to go somewhere that I can never access cuz I'm in Davis on weekdays and sadly June's is closed on Friday. I am going to have to take a day off just to go to June's. I think I finally found my perfect Bud's sandwich: pastrami with peperoncinis. I think I have gone for French dip in the past, and I prefer the one at Hof Brau.

Good weekend grub!


undercover caterer said...

Ok, I need to go to Yangs and Vampire Penguin soon. It definitely takes me more than one or two sittings to read all of Lucky Peach. And sometimes I can't finish an article. Man, I do appreciate their attempts at humor--so many food mags take themselves way too seriously.

Liv Moe said...

I can't finish an issue of Lucky Peach. One of the recent issues had a really mediocre piece of fiction in it that seemed to have nothing to do with food and made me wonder what it was doing in the magazine. Overall I feel like the content is inconsistent. Is it supposed to be a food and lit mag or food mag? Who can say? Either way, hitting some dingers over the past couple years it's been around makes me feel okay about selectively reading each issue.

Liv Moe said...

Actually, I don't mean to sound so dissy. Overall I really like Lucky Peach. In contrast to the stuff I think is so so is stuff that is outstanding so it's more than a fair trade.