Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Food and Booze Pairing: Chego One Year Special!

Pairings Continued: Chego!

Congratulations Chego, you've made it one year!!!!!

So while many people know of Kogi, the first and still clearly the best, of the Korean fusion taco trucks, less people know that chef Roy Choi has a pair of sit down restaurants. Well, that was likely the case until the Beard awards this year when A Frame was nominated for best new West coast restaurant. Before A Frame, and it's fancy cocktails and curated beer, came that tiny place called Chego. 

Chego took the Kogi Korean fusion experience to a whole new level, and for those in the know (and had the good sense to catch the irony in the elaborate statement about the large number of assorted ways NOT to bring booze to their restaurant) you could finally have that beer you've always wanted while downing your kimchi quesadilla in the parking lot. I mean, this is Korean food, which has been described to me as an entire food culture based around two types of food: food to eat while you drink and food to help you recover from a hangover. 

Roy's palate is balls-to-the-wall favor. More than any other chef I've ever food from, his recipes are like going to see Sleep or Orange Goblin. Massive, loud, fun. Even the music is bass-heavy old school hip hop. But instead of clouds of pot smoke, those are clouds of the most fragrant scents of Korean BBQ. 

At Chego, even the roasted asparagus has like 15 different things on it, including blueberry-habenro sauce, cheese, nuts, and god knows what else. Sour-cream chicken and tofu chicharones bowl with sauces and bitter greens and… and… and… The food is at a real-world PG-13 spice level. Hot for people that don't like spice. (For reference, Jitlada is Uncensored NC-17, and mild Japanese curry is G in Callie and I's proprietary rating system).

So your beverage needs, well, whatever the Korean word for cojones is. But, it can't be too alcoholic or you'll muck with the spicing. Too mouth-filling otherwise you'll OD on flavor. No Napa Cabs (I'd make an exception for the Steak in the Heart sandwich, which would rock with a big juicy Napa cab), no dank Imperial Stouts. 

Okay, you need a beverage with some funky boldness, but the refinement not to brag.

I would nominate as a first choice a sparkling full red wine from Italy or Australia. Either a good Labrusco or Syrah. Rich, off-dry, with those palette-cleansing bubbles. Bold and full and totally decadently unexpected, this wine with Roy's food would get you to at least second base with your date as long as they halfway liked food. These are the best BBQ wines in the world. 

Of course, a nice full off-dry or even semi-sweet Riesling would go well here. As would it's near neighbor, Viogner, as long as it was of the more smokey, dried fruit and honey persuasion. These are both wines that know how to love food, but still be fun themselves. (Wines like Sauv Blanc are too herbal and vegetal to play nice with the food - though to be fair, a Sauv Blanc might be nice with stuff like the Sour Cream Hen House bowl, just not with much else). 

Of course what is korean food without soju? Well, less of a hangover, that's for sure. But in the spirit of fusion, why not bring a bottle of good Japanese shochu (thanks for the correction Nicole :) and drink it neat on ice? Preferably a richer kind, made with sweet potatoes or some such. The reason these low ABV asian spirits go well is that they serve to highlight the flavor of the food, to clean away between each bite so you are constantly re-experiencing the flavors of the food. 

This is rare asian fusion food that would also pair well with red wine! What you're looking for will be a medium bodied wine a little on the ripe and sunny side (no Bordeaux!) Things like Zinfandel, or Syrah/Grenache blends  are perfect compliments to the food. As are many unorthodox blends from Santa Barbara and the Central Coast. 

Malbecs and even a warm-blooded tempranillo would be happy to rock out along side this food. Many of the fine Portuguese wines making their way to market now would be great too,! Or for that matter, even a glass of the funky white port from Prager Port Works in Napa! Ohhhhhh… Now I must go eat one of their weekly specials! 

PS: The only rule Chego has is that you have to bring your own glasses, openers, etc to drink booze. They don't mind if you're open about it, but bring everything you'll need. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bunnies & Bows

Hi! I'm going to be shooting event photos for a friend's art opening & party May 7th. It might not seem very metal, but I'm sure those bunnies are just about to put on corpse paint and commit some petty crimes ;) Drop by!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Food and Booze Pairing: Starry Kitchen!

Now with balls! (Sorry, I couldn't help it - there's something infectious about their constant balls jokes.)

Anyone who has spent time out and about the Los Angeles food scene knows that I love BYOB and low-corkage-fee restaurants. If I'm out at Red Medicine, Animal or Lazy Ox, all places with genuinely weird, curated and perfected wine lists that are reasonably priced and match the food, I'm always up to chat with the wine manager and order something fun. Like that massive, earthy Croatian red at Lazy Ox. Oh how I dream of thee!

Anyway, I'll stop drooling and continue — the reverse is also true. No one really likes paying $15 for a boring glass of Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon that doesn't really match the food. And lord knows, I want a beer or a glass of wine with my dinner, dammit! (I'll cover the arcana of corkage in a separate article).

So in comes BYOB, one of the glories of restaurants. Many times people won't even know you can bring your own booze to a joint! You'll only know because someone tells you, or you sit down next to someone who opens a bottle of wine. A quick warning - every BYOB restaurant has their own policies. Be respectful if they ask you to be sneaky about it!

My first example will be Starry Kitchen — one of my favorite restaurants in town. With brilliant Vietnamese and other south east asian-inflected dishes that rotate on and off their tiny menu often in a matter of a week or so, I want to drop by just to see what's happening in the kitchen. I mean, they have had Durian Cheesecake recently! Oh so good and stinky!

And as you might expect from a restaurant that started as an illegal back-room kitchen party run by a husband and wife team, you can bring your own booze. Shhhhh! Make sure you keep it in a bag, and that you use opaque cups, that's all they ask.

But what to pair? The food here is very lithe, with a green chile edge and lots of other bright flavors. They don't crutch on fat. They don't over-salt. The dishes often have ethereal notes of flavor that subtly waft around the edges. These are all very difficult to match traditional wines with! A touch of sweetness wouldn't be bad with these dishes either to cut against the spiciness. Beverages without huge flavor of their own so that they don't drown out the clarity and nuance of the food.

You'll thank yourself for thinking outside of the box here. Mirco beers might seem like a good match, but usually they get to high in alcohol by the time they get sweet enough. Even with the uber-trendy Riesling, the low ABV + high acid ones favored around town will fight with the food. The off-dry ones, like a Spatlese, will pair almost perfectly but you have to be really careful that they don't get to bold and rich! (Cleaner wines from Mosel or more refined wines from my favorite, Rheingau, would be the best choice.)

But because of how trendy and easy a Riesling pairing is, let's consider maybe a bottle of nice Moscato d'Asti: 4% ABV, sweet and bubbly! Dogfish Head's Aprihop, a beer I don't even particularly like on it's own, will work magic here. Maybe a cherry natural lambic or a kirken (low ABV Belgian cherry ales). True sours, like the Dutchess, will be terrible with the food because they'll bury the flavor.

If you wanted to figure a way to sneak some cocktails in, you would be rewarded by drinks like a gin fizz, or even a gin-ramos fizz! Ice, citrusy, with some egg white! Blood orange mojito anyone? Any tiki drink made with light rums and fruit juices would be perfect as well, like a Tiger Shark. Pineapple and rum? Perfect with Maylasian Curry Chicken! Or just stick with a classic like a Hemmingway Daquiri.

Starry Kitchen is only open for dinner Thursday and Friday night, so make some time to go on over there with your paper bag and plastic cups!

Up next, Chego food and BYO pairings!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Recipe: CSA Bibimbap

CSA Microgreens + Bibimbap + Tax Day = Bargain-Friendly Experiment!!!

Okay, I know I'm going to catch so much flak from hardcore foodies for even suggesting that this recipe is bibimbap, but honestly I love bibimbap because when I'm rummaging through my produce drawers it amounts to "veggies on rice with egg and chile paste" for me (it literally means "mixed meal," so there!) That is, if I don't have radishes, or any other bit that is supposed to go on it, oh well, it's still tasty with whatever I can put in it.

In honor of spring [and because I forgot to defrost pizza dough last night] I decided to use the heirloom carrots and asparagus to make my own bibimbap. But the real coup using the radish micro greens in place of daikon! 

Heirloom Carrot, Asparagus & Raddish Microgreens Bibimbap
Serves 2

2 fresh eggs (preferably close to room temperature)
1 bunch baby carrots ** (The real kind! You can use halved or quartered big carrots if that's easier). Julienned. 
1/2 lb asparagus spears, hard ends trimmed, cut in to 1/2" pieces.
2 C. radish micro greens, washed and dried well
2 tsp (or more) gochujang (korean chile paste)
2 nice-sized portions of steamed rice
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp sesame oil, divided + more for drizzling.
1 tsp canola oil
Small amount of soy sauce

Optional stuff you can add if you have it: raw bean sprouts, cooked mushrooms, roasted zucchini, raw cucumber, thin sliced cooked beef, cooked shrimp, sauteed tofu, even thinly sliced raw lettuce!

1) Notice that the photo is different than what I'm going to tell you to do. I was playing with making roasted bibimbap. It wasn't better or worse, just different. 

2) Heat 1/2 tsp of sesame oil in a big skillet over high heat. You want this baby hot. 

3) Pre-heat the canola oil in another small skillet over medium-low heat (for the egg).

4) In the wok, quickly cook the asparagus until it is tender but still snappy. 2 minutes or so. Set asparagus aside in a bowl.

5) Add 1/2 tsp sesame to the skillet/wok, let it heat back up a little, and saute the carrot bits for 2-3 minutes, until lightly cooked and still fresh. Set carrots aside.

5.5) Prep/cook any other veggie or ingredient you might need to. Cutting any raw veggie in to small bits. 

6) Fry the egg to your preferred done-ness. I like my egg as runny as I feel comfortable because your going to stir everything together in the end.

7) To assemble: fill the bottom of two bowls with rice. Drizzle a little sesame oil over the rice. Place the half of each veggie around the bowl  — carrots over the rice in 1/3, the asparagus in 1/3, the micro greens in 1/3.put the egg on top of everything, put 1 tsp chile paste (or more!) on top of the egg. Drizzle with a very fey amount of soy sauce (Callie Clarificationa very very slight amount). Sprinkle the sesame seeds over each bowl. 

8) To eat, stir everything together! Enjoy with a mild beer or an off-dry white wine. Or soju — Gom bae!

And I'm finally caught up on the recipes for a bit!

(**As a footnote, I was wondering if anyone else had issues with their carrots? About 50% of mine were amazing and the other 50% had tough, spiky, wooden centers...?)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Recipe: Green Garlic & Ricotta Lasagna Rolls

(No, this isn't me. This is a photo of Callie,
from Callie Cravings, making macaroons.
Do you think that lasagna rolls just come
out of a tube like in the Jetsons? I just figured
it was better than no photo, right? ;)

First off, I apologize for the lack of photo in this and the salad recipes! I just decided to to do this series of posts about my culinary inventions, and these recipes pre-date that decision, so I didn't think to photograph them. Good photos will be forthcoming on the newer recipes soon, including a heirloom carrot and asparagus bibimbap recipe.

Second, I think there is a serious food conspiracy going around. Your average lasagna recipe calls for enough noodles to use most of a box, but there are always 6 giant noodles floating around in your cabinet for ages that the recipe doesn't call for. My favorite way to get rid of these extra noodles are to make lasagna rolls! You can adapt this method for almost anything you have around. As long at you can roll it up inside it will work fine — But oh my, green garlic is one of my favorite springtime treats, combining the flavors and textures of two of my other dreamy kitchen ingredients, garlic and leeks! 

Eron's Green Garlic & Ricotta Lasagna Rolls
Serves 2-3


1 Bunch green garlic, chopped
1/2 lb asparagus chopped in to 1" pieces
1/4 c. white wine
1 tbs olive oil. + more for drizzling
6 lasagna noodles
1 1/2 C ricotta
1/4 c pine nuts
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 salt
1/4 grated parmesan, divided

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and get a big pot of salted water boiling. 

2) Add the noodles and boil until tender, but firm. Strain and put in a bowl of cold water to hold. (You can do step 2 and 3 simultaneously). 

3) Toast the pine nuts over medium heat in a dry skillet until lightly golden. Maybe 3-4 minutes. You're better to under than over cook the pine nuts, so watch them carefully!

4) Add the olive oil to a pan on medium heat and add the green garlic. Saute it for about 4 minutes, until it's just starting to get soft. Add the asparagus. Saute for about another 4 minutes, until the asparagus is tender. Add the white wine and turn the heat up to medium-high. Scrape up the browned bits on the bottom. Once the wine is almost totally reduced, scrape everything in to a medium bowl. 

5) Add the ricotta, toasted pine nuts, nutmeg, thyme, white pepper, salt, and half the parmesan to the bowl with the green garlic and asparagus. Mix it up well. 

6) Now, hopefully your noodles are cool enough to handle, if not, now is a good time to pour yourself a glass of wine and change the album on the stereo. Once your noodles are cooled lay them out on a cutting board or other clean surface. Split the ricotta-green garlic mixture among the six noodles, spreading it out along the length of the noodle. 

7) Roll each noodle up like a jelly roll. Place seam-side down in a lightly oiled baking pan. Sprinkle remaining parmesan on top. Drizzle with olive oil.

8) Bake for about 15 minutes, or until hot through and the top is just starting to get golden. 

9) Serve and probably add salt, because I am a classic under-salter. Man, chardonnay smoked sea salt would kill on top of this dish. Drink with an odd Italian white wine that you picked up from Wine Expo or a lithe bodied Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recipe: Tuscan Kale, Caramelized Onions & Cauliflower Pizza

Tuscan Kale, Caramelized Onion and Cauliflower Pizza

Continuing my adventures through the bounty of my CSA this week, despite being bloated on glorious birria at the moment, I was feeling a bit down last night and decided to cheer myself up by trying to make some epic pizza. I used this overnight fermented dough I made the night before, ultra-amazing Italian Kale, and really great cauliflower as the base of this spring dinner pizza. Bonus points for eating it outdoors.   

1.5 C Cauliflower (about 1/3 of a head) sliced into 1/3" slices (as best as possible)
1 Bunch Tuscan Kale, chopped in to about 1" pieces, stems discarded
4-5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/2 C chicken stock, veggie broth or filtered water
1/4 C pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet for a couple minutes
1 tbs honey
1/2 onion, sliced thinly 
Salt and pepper
Olive Oil
Flour for dusting
1 tbs chopped fresh herbs, optional
1/4 C shaved parmesan

1) Make 1 Portion of pizza Dough from this recipe, or use your favorite recipe.

2) Preheat oven and pizza stone to about 500 degrees (hotter if your oven allows).

3) Caramelize the onions: In a skillet heat about 2 tsp olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions, a pinch of salt, some fresh ground pepper. Saute for a couple minutes. Add the honey, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are wondrously brown and caramelized, about 15-20 minutes.

4) While you're caramelizing, braise the greens: Add about 2 tsp olive oil to a pot with a lid, heat on medium heat until hot. Toss in the garlic slices and cook stirring for about 1 minute, until they smell pleasant. Add the chopped kale, a touch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir everything up for a couple minutes. Add the stock/broth/water. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Uncover, turn up the heat to medium-high and boil off the liquid. Dry is good in this case, since you don't want the greens to be soggy or the crust will get soggy too!

5) While you're caramelizing, braising and preheating, add about 1 tbs olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the slices of cauliflower. Let sit on each side for a couple minutes to brown. Very lightly salt and pepper the slices. Turn the heat down to medium low and cook each side for another 5 minutes or so, until the veggies have a nice bite but are tender. (I had a tiny bit of trouble getting the right texture, so I added a few tbs of water, threw a lid on it for like 5 minutes at the end and viola, perfect). 

6) Flour the back of a baking sheet and shape your dough onto it. I can't toss to save my life, but I work the dough very slowly and repeatedly outward so that it doesn't shrink back in. Note: use less flour than you think. The only major mistake I made was that there was too much flour on the baking sheet. 

7) Spread the greens & garlic on the dough. Lay the slices of cauliflower across the greens. Scoop the onions onto and spread across the cauliflower. Sprinkle on the pine nuts. Dust with the herbs. Toss the parmesan across the top. Drizzle the whole thing with a little bit of olive oil. One hint here is that you want to use less toppings than you think. Sparse is good, so the crust will crisp up nicely. 

8) Bake on a middle rack until the edge crust is well browned and rest of the crust turns crispy. If the top is cooking too fast, move the oven rack down for the next attempt. Making good pizza crust is a complete bastard - something I've been fighting since I started cooking. Try and try again! (This step took about 12-14 minutes in my oven at 500 until the bottom crust started to firm up - but watch very closely from about minute 5 onward. Don't open the door - it lowers the temperature a LOT when you do that.)

9) I would enjoy this with a fresh French or Belgian Saison ale, a glass of prosecco, or even a glass of un-oaked chardonnay.   

I'll probably get around the the green garlic lasagna rolls next! But this turned out so well I figured I'd have to share!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Recipe: Micro Greens, Eggs and Fried Bread Salad

Hello! So this is the first in what will hopefully be a long series of my own invented recipes based on the produce I get from my CSA, Silverlake Farms. I've never been part of a CSA (which is where you sign up to get a bunch of produce, called a "share," directly from a farmer in weekly or bi-weekly installments) before but I was very jealous of the beautiful array of produce my friends would get. Also I thought it would be a great challenge as a chef to try to make up my own recipes...  and by "great," I mean a bit frightening. 

I've been burning myself and wowing my friends for a very long time, but other than my patented bachelor chow I've spent very little time developing my own ideas in the kitchen. With the first two weeks of produce, my primary challenge is trying to create recipes that are very subtle mediums for the fresh, delicate flavors this time rainy of year. Using, bread, egg, ricotta, pasta, tofu and other mostly neutral bases with hints of spices is my task. Here's my first success, which highlights on of the signature items of this CSA, their mirco greens!

Micro Greens, Eggs and Fried Bread Salad

For the Salad:
2 Thick Slices Good Bread, Cubed
2 Eggs
1 C. Peas, Fresh (or Frozen)
2-3 C. Micro Greens (Pea Shoots, etc.)
2 tbs goat cheese
2 tsp olive oil

For the Dressing:
1 Clove Garlic Minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp shallot Minced
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp sherry, rice or red wine vinegar
2 tsp chopped fresh herbs like thyme or dill
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil.

1. Hard boil the eggs, which if I've found works best as such: Put eggs in a saucepan with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp vinegar and cover the eggs with water by an inch or two. Bring to a boil. Turn off the burner and place a lid on top. Let sit 11 minutes. Put eggs in fridge to cool. Even if you're peeling them under running water and your neighbors are thinking of calling the cops because you are cursing because the eggs won't peel, I've found that the water in L.A. can be the culprit! Try using water from your Britta filter and it should work fine.

2. Start the bread frying. Heat up a pan with the olive oil on medium. Toss the bread in the pan and mix in with the oil. Cook the bread, tossing and shaking occasionally until all sides of the bread are crunchy and golden, about 10-15 minutes. You're not a TV chef, so it's cool to let the bread sit for a minute or two between tossings.

2.5. If you're using frozen peas, boil them in a small saucepan with water just enough to heat them through. Like, maybe one minute? You can do this with fresh peas too, or use them raw. Strain and set aside to cool. 

3. While the bread fries make the dressing by whisking together the everything but the oil. Taste and adjust for your preferred salt and pepper. Then, adding the one drop at a time, whisk in the olive oil. Now, that's at least how the dude from El Bulli says to do it. I can't figure out how to get one drop at the time out of a measure or a bottle, so just as little as you can at a time is fine. Whisk until well emulsified (it should look sticky and glossy). 

4. Peel the hard boiled eggs, remembering to check on the bread. Once the bread is pleasantly crunchy on the outside done, just dump the bread in a large bowl.

5. Chop up the peeled hard boiled eggs and the goat cheese (you can put goat cheese in the fridge for 15 minutes in advance to get it firmer to crumble easier). 

6. Throw the cheese and the egg, along with the micro greens, the cooled peas and the fried bread in a big bowl. Sprinkle as little or as much of the dressing on as you'd like. I'd try to dress it a bit on the low end so that you don't cover up the flavor of the micro greens. Toss everything and enjoy with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, or other herbal, dry, spring white wine. 

Up next, Green Garlic & Ricotta Rolled Lasagna! 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Game of Thrones Food Truck Photos

Hello everyone — While you're waiting for me to unveil my secret new project, I got a chance to stop by the Game of Thrones food truck, and another chance to eat there when it parked down the street from my loft! Callie is a huge fan of the novels and it was fun to see Tom Colicchio's take on the food of that fantasy world. The seafood stew in WeHo was okay, but the duck skewers in downtown were epicly good. If you're an aspiring cook like myself, they even posted a recipe for the lemon cakes they are serving (which were really wonderful). Now if they were just able to serve nice rustic wine with the food...

As always, click the photo for the full version, and if you like these shots, drop by my website, http://www.eronrauch.com to see more portfolios of my work!


Hiya there everyone! Just wanted to give you a heads up that my absence has been for a good reason - I'm working on a new secret project that I'll be debuting over the next month. It should be something interesting that combines sculpture and home furnishings...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Question Whose Answer I Am Unsure Of

So I'm digging through the recent notebook I finished and here's a page that got me thinking:

"Maybe in all of my many mires of doubt, the one question that continually peeks it's head below the grinding dark clouds is 'Do I need to like other [visual] art to be a great artist? Particularly, do I need to like my contemporaries [in visual art] to be a great artist?" I feel deeply torn, in that I highly value the intellectual rigor, research and formal tightness of the works swirling around me in Los Angeles. I value their philosophically rooted approach and sense of wit. Yet when I go out to a gallery, even with good work by a well-advanced artist, they don't really move me the same way that Daido Moriyama, Kim Stanley Robinson, China Meiville or late-60's Miles Davis does [or even the way that bands like Svart Crown or authors like John Crowley have been rocking my world.] I feel like balancing my relationshp with the work immediately adjacent to me, both in input and output is very tough for me because I really fear just re-making old ideas from the past that feel good, like M. John Harrison often lambasted 'modern' anthologies for doing during the '70's, but nor do I want to deny how forms, ideas, works and emotional resonance from other times, medias and modes might help to form a foundation for my new work."