Friday, November 2, 2007

The Fried Chicken Report (LA)

And now my little chickadees, what you've all been waiting for...the outrageous, crispy, crunchy and sometimes spicy

Fried Chicken Report
(also known as the not-too-thorough list of my top fried chicken spots in Los Angeles, because a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do)

But wait! Before we dive into the Los Angeles chicken scene, you should know about my earliest treks into fried chicken land, started when I was a wee girl back in the N.J. then taken over the river to the big city (and Harlem and Raleigh/Durham)...

Early Life

1. Honey Bee Chicken in Somerville, NJ on the Somerville Circle (think they are now closed) was the favorite of my family. Honey was put into the batter for a touch of sweetness, and it was really good, probably my sister's favorite to this day.
2. Roy Rogers Fried Chicken - Sadly this chain is in a few locations back East. Too bad too, because this chicken is super awesome. Since we can't get it out here I think it's only fair to provide a copycat recipe for y'all to try at your leisure.

Adulthood East Coast
1. Sylvia's of Harlem, famous for their Sunday Gospel Brunch with an order of fried chicken and grits. (Best to arrive before the busses.)
2. Mama Dip's in Raleigh/Durham has to be one of the best ever. If you are in this area, RUN DO NOT WALK.
3. Jacques Imo in New Orleans still reigns as my ultimate favorite today, even tho I've only been to the NYC location (I've got a date with them in December, don't even think about talking me out of it!) Note: Subsequent to this post, NYC location now closed :(.

Los Angeles
Ok it was a bit of a challenge to find the best fried chicken in Tinseltown, probably due to all those skinny people suppressing the demand. That is why this Report has been so delayed. And because I didn't want to gain too much weight. So without further ado, here is the list, in order of my least favorite to the best:

8. The Prince - Written up in food blogs and given a big OK by my chiropractor Dr. Lee, Prince is a dark, atmospheric Ktown bar that serves standard cocktails and Korean snack food. Tried 2 times, the 1st = cut-up whole fried chicken and the 2nd = deep fried spicy chicken, both with a big fat ruling of "eh". Sorry Dr. Lee. And to everyone else, you can totally skip this one.
7. Pollo Campero - An important part of the Guatemalan culture and located right on Olympic Blvd. and Union, I blissfully skipped to Pollo Campero and ate the chicken and really wanted to love it but it was just ok.
6. Dinah's Fried Chicken - On San Fernando Rd. in Glendale, this place is a favorite of many and reminded me of the Honey Bee a little, however it's lower on this list simply because I'm a fan of the crunchy 3-D style of bird skin and Dinah's boasts a thin, shellacked sweeter skin. Great biscuits though Dinah!
5. Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits - Call me Jersey white trash but there's something about this chicken, especially the spicy fried variety, that is pretty awesome. When I couldn't find places good enough for this list, I ended up resorting to Popeye's.
4. Pioneer Chicken - Neil took me to the Pioneer on Sunset, and there isn't a lot to write because perhaps I was a little distracted by the company? ;) Ok though when I did try the chicken it was fairly tasty, with a point on for good slaw and two off for stale biscuits.
3. Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles - Also tried 2 times (the Hollywood location is better) and the 1st time not so good because the chicken sat in the car on top of a waffle for 30 minutes before I sunk my teeth into it. Alas, on the 2nd try, eating chicken with red beans and rice, cornbread and hot sauce at the restaurant, I was in Roscoe heaven.
2. Zeke's Smokehouse - This down-to-earth BBQ place by the La Brea Target should be on people's radar more than it is. The discovery here is surprisingly awesome fried chicken. Does it matter that it's boneless? You know at one time I thought it did but it does not matter, it's awesome chicken, and n.b. the sides and atmosphere also rock. Note: Subsequent to this post, La Brea location closed and the only location in Montrose changed the chicken recipe not for the better.
1. Louisiana Fried Chicken - Zeke's had the #1 spot for a long time but I couldn't shake that guilt about the #1 chicken needing to be on the bone. Then just last week the Lousiana Fried Chicken on Adams crossed my car Kenny's path and lo and behold... No they don't have any good sides and you may take your life into your hands if you arrive on this doorstep late at night. What's important is the fried chicken, which is hot, moist, and flavorful with a hint of spice. It really is that good, in fact great, and that's why it's my #1.

Note: The findings of this report are final, until other fried chicken places are discovered and taste-tested. Challenge me if you dare!

Other area spots I didn't get to that are worthy of checking out
Honey's Kettle - The place for fried chicken & pancakes in Culver City
The Ivy - Heard they serve fab fried chicken with a side of paparazzi
Stonehill Tavern - Popular west coast chef Michael Mina's ritzy spot in Orange County features an apparently wonderful whole-fried organic chicken for two

And with that dear readers, I lay down the greasy gauntlet to take the higher path of cholesterol-resistance. The real reason being, of course, to save some of my arteries for Germany.

:) Marly

Friday, October 19, 2007

All Hallow’s Chocolate

There are two schools of competing thought regarding why I love chocolate...

The first is that my adoration for all-things-Hershey was inborn. As a toddler my favorite word was “candy,” which I proclaimed repeatedly in a certain supermarket aisle probably before I could walk. Favorite game, Candyland; favorite movie, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (featuring favorite song, Sammy Davis Jr.’s “Candyman”) and in my humble opinion, Halloween was a much better holiday than a silly old birthday.

You may or may not know the second school of thought, which started in the middle of the night during my 5th year. As the story goes, I woke up asphyxiating and was checked into an oxygen tank because that moment was when I officially inherited my mother’s asthma. I didn’t really mind the hospital stay, because it sorta reminded me of Halloween. You know, I was wearing a costume, and a mask, and one day my mom snuck a Snickers bar into the tank and on another day my dad snuck a Milky Way into the tank. It was heaven! A nice nurse even provided a special treat one day, a thick slice of triple chocolate layer cake that was so good I wondered why I didn’t stay at the hospital more often.

Idiot. On the day I was due to check out, a cranky old doctor gave the test results to my parents and he concluded that I had asthma, plus allergies: to dust, to mold, to trees, to milk, and to chocolate. Wait what did he say? Allergic to chocolate?? Noooooooooooo!!!” I silently screamed in my shy five-year-old head.

This diagnosis was taken quite seriously by mom, as I was stunned to learn that my after-school Oreos, Yodels, M&M's (my candy initials), Nestle's Quik and Halloween-candied Octobers would be no more. (Well, I was allowed to Trick-or-Treat, but then the chocolate was put away and doled out in teensy portions on special occasions.) So you can probably understand why some believe this sad revelation caused my passion for chocolate to magnify in festering intensity through the years, with dreams of becoming Charlie Bucket teasing me even more!

Many years later, ie. 12, I was invited to a slumber party at Holly Somesuch’s house down the block when I saw it… a non-parentally guarded giant bowl of plain M&M’s that I ever so coolly placed near my sleeping bag. Yes who needs sleep when you can talk about boys while dipping a rogue hand into that fascinating bottomless bowl all night long… Hospital be damned! By the time I sugar-crashed, rumor has it that half that bowl was gone—the equivalent to about 12 oz.—and the obvious end to that tale is I did not in fact wake up dead.

This life-changing discovery (that the doctor was, how do you say it, WRONG?) was exuberantly shared the next day with mom, who got really mad and said what I did was way too risky to repeat. And so it goes, the nurturing of my habit started secretly out of the house. Sometimes in the house too, in my bedroom closet. Now it does help a covert operation if all ducks are in a row—admittedly I had no garbage etiquette then, resulting in empty chocolate bar wrappers strewn about everywhere in my room for people, and mothers, to see. Which she did. And there was a confrontation, and I was so afraid of choco-retribution that I lied in the heat of that moment, confessing that the chocolate had been devoured by my friends, yes really!, and they gave the wrappers to me because "I now collect chocolate bar wrappers."

Well, believe it or not that went more smoothly than expected. Mom either believed me on that fateful day or she’s a damn good actress! In any event, I don't remember which wrappers she found, but the guilt of lying got to me soon after, so the collecting part started seriously then and I brought home a first wrapper (Twix bar), and a second (Cadbury Easter egg), and a third (Reese’s peanut butter cup Easter egg) just to make things right. After that, it’s all a blur.

Through the years, friends and strangers have sent wrappers for the collection, particularly Stanislav Kramsky in Prague, who in the 1980’s had 60,000 wrappers and sent me some awesome factory-condition ones from the Czech Republic and the USSR. I’d like to eventually visit Prague and stop by his mini chocolate museum, where hopefully he won’t remember me as “that American girl who sent only a pittance of some stupid American wrappers in return for the hundred or so I sent!” (It's not my fault, there were only limited resources available at the time!!)

If you're curious, the way the collection has grown is by picking up lots of chocolate bars when traveling. Friends pick them up too (thank you!), and I also received some from a pen pal during the Gulf War but for the life of me can’t find them (though one can assume they’re probably the ones with the Arabic writing).

These days there are thousands of wrappers in the collection, and two newspaper articles and one radio interview about this habit. And I still love chocolate, more than ever, perhaps due to a gigantic time-space-continuum hiccup in my chocolate consumption past, or simply because I was born to love it.

(Hershey's) Kiss,

Monday, October 1, 2007

Where I've been foodie-ing about

Happpppy October!

A few days ago as I reviewed my calendar, and my waistline, it seemed to be that lately I've been trying new tastes at new-to-me restaurants. Ok so yes Zankou has been visited many times; otherwise, here is the list of places, mostly in order of appearance and each with a link to more information, including what I devoured in the last 10 days that was so darn good:

Barn Burner in Pasadena - A big ole Texas-themed BBQ place that's a real hoot... and it's in a barn! Great big menu, like Texas itself, with lots of smoked meats to try, tempting sides and a pretty unique microbrew selection. Neil ordered the KT Rancher and I had the Stubby Clarksdale. No I don't remember exactly what those entailed -- see the link to view the exact components -- though I do remember the tri-tip and corn bread were quite tasty. Oh and see that photo below, this is probably the only BBQ joint around with a real grill stepping in for a sink in the men's bathroom! Crazy Texans.

BJ's Brewery in Burbank - The Pizookie, their warm chocolate chip cookie in a skillet with vanilla ice cream pretty much rocked my world. The buffalo wings weren't so fantastic, but now that I know how to order them at this establishment (well done and tossed) I will venture to try them again.

Hot Wings on Melrose - However, I can't imagine any wings would be as good as the ones found at Hot Wings. Thanks Tim for the tip and for bringing an LA place that serves east-coast-worthy wings to my attention. They rock! (I ordered them "hot".) BTW they serve Philly cheesesteaks too, and don't listen to the bad review from 7/11 at the Citysearch link, I completely disagree. This place is a definite keeper.

Albano's Brooklyn Pizzeria on Melrose - We ordered the pepperoni which was great but it's actually their "lasagna" pizza that was so original and so good! Basically it's a regular slice of pizza with both a tomato and ricotta base (so a red and white pizza all in one) topped with crumbled meatballs and basil. How good is their pizza? Why I believe it made Neil's top 10, so it's probably worth the $2.75 per slice price.

Zankou Chicken in Burbank - Mark, Lily and I each ordered the 1/4 chicken white, which comes with a succulent roast chicken quarter, hummus, garlic dip, 2 warm pitas and a salad of tomatoes and pickled beets. For $6.95 it really doesn't get better than that. Though try to stick to the Burbank location, it's way cleaner and friendlier than the one on Sunset.

Village Idiot on Melrose - Not the low-down Irish pub one would think, this is more of a gastro-pub right by Albano's and Hot Wings (I see a food crawl in my future). Erin and I ordered the catfish with a side of Brussels sprouts with bacon. The sprouts were halved and roasted, which is the best way. Will go back to try their grilled chicken with warm bread salad and peach shortcake for dessert. A great beer selection too, with my hefeweizen microbrew actually smelling and tasting of bananas. This spot feels cool and New Yorky, and is a winner even if the pints seem a little too small.

Milk on Beverly Blvd. - This place at the corner of Beverly and Poinsettia was recently written up in Gourmet magazine and the photo of the Milkie Way Malt got me revved. This particular shake is made with the shop's homemade vanilla ice cream, malted milk, chocolate chips and a caramel-chocolate swirl. Yum. Yes I said yum. Oh and with tax this baby cost $5.95, meaning it's a once-in-a-blue-moon sort of indulgence in a world where you can get a great shake at fast food places for less.

Food is great, isn't it?
Until we eat again,

Friday, September 21, 2007

French Macaroons S'il Vous Plaît


As you can tell from the last entry, I adore French food. Some favorite items include:

• Poulet frites (crispy roast chicken with so tasty frites) and steak frites
• Real almond croissants (you know, not from Starbucks)
• Pan-seared foie gras (Oh boo, I'm an evil foie gras eater! Well I hardly eat this anyway, just once in a long while)
• Grande salade – A southwestern France specialty in a giant 2-quart salad bowl: salad greens tossed with walnuts, radishes, ham, and small chunks of pancetta tossed with cream dressing, with a molten-yolk fried egg on top, covered with a layer of roasted potato slices on top of the whole thing. Yes it is a salad FEAST!
• Kir Royale – Because it's a part of the very civilized tradition in which restaurant hosts offer waiting guests an apéritif of Champagne mixed with crème de cassis.


The delectable French macaroon. No, do not confuse this delightful nugget o' love with the hefty coconut Matterhorn-looking things sometimes dipped in chocolate (which are good in their own right but see just talking about them now I'm yawning).

The best and most fun macaroon is the French sort. Here is a definition:

"A small cookie classically made of almond paste or ground almonds (or both) mixed with sugar and egg whites. Almond macaroons can be chewy, crunchy or a combined texture with the outside crisp and the inside chewy. Note: There is also a coconut macaroon, which substitutes coconut for the almonds. Macaroons can be flavored with various ingredients such as chocolate, maraschino cherries or orange peel."

(Now chop off the last two sentences of that definition and we're all set. NO maraschino cherries, no orange peel please! :)

In Paris, the famous spot to pick up macaroons is Ladurée (they do have lovely macaroon animation on their website btw). However when I last visited that city of lights over yonder my feet walked me straight past there and up the street to the confectionery of famed French pastry chef Pierre Hermé. Beyond magnificent pastries, the majority of the counter at PH is dedicated to macaroons of all kinds, lined up in rows bursting with color.

Flavors include but are not limited to the chocolate, strawberry, coffee, pistachio and lemon. Then Hermé went wild and turned out flavors of apricot, rose, olive oil, and the “oh-he’s-a-genius” chocolate passion fruit (in the photo above, it is the yellow with brown specks). Note for yourself: if you haven’t tried the combo of chocolate & passion fruit together, put it on your "to do" list right now.

To buy these babies in LA go to Boule (see link @ right). In NY, their transported version of Fauchon sells them but I heard a rumor that placed closed. And even though the best French bakery in Brooklyn, Almondine, sells a pre-packed box of 5 standard mixed flavors, that hardly compares to peering over a long glass counter at all those bursting colors and deciding, for $2 a pop, in how many macaroon flavors should I invest my money today?

In conclusion, trust me, if you haven't had a French macaroon yet, one is waiting for you as we speak. Well, it's waiting for you at the store, if you go over and buy one. (Actually, one isn't enough, I'd say buy at least two.) And if I ever decide to try out a chocolate macaroon recipe in Ktown, if you're real nice to me I may let you know.

Cravingly yours,

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Steak Frites of My Dreams?


This week my weekly ritual of looking at the NY Times Wednesday Dining section came a day late, as it is Thursday.

Turns out this week's section is a special Restaurant Preview, covering the of-course-bajillion restaurant openings in NY this fall by all the star chefs and wanna-be star chefs, flooding the city's eaters with too many food options once again in an autumnal mass frenzy of new dining establishments in my old town.

I gingerly reviewed the goings on and clicked on another article in there about restaurants in other cities but somehow when my brain saw this photo, I forgot what I read and cursed the fact that I live in Los Angeles for the very first time! Expecting this stupendous and gloriously caramelized steak & frites to be down some sultry back alley back east where I'd be lucky to taste it this December if the mobs clear out enough to give me a seat, I read the caption and was OVERJOYED to read that this photo is of a steak frites in...West Hollywood?? Oh Carnivoric Joy!

David Myers, the chef/owner of LA's Sona--a restaurant quite worthy of my attention but far beyond my humble Liz Claiborne wallet--has thankfully graced WeHo with a new brasserie called Comme Ça, meaning "Like That," meaning it will be affordable, meaning I can have it! We all can!! As soon as it opens.

No, I don't think Comme Ça is open (since there's no phone number yet one would assume not), but believe me, when that time comes, due to the reputation of this chef and the fact that they received national exposure with a photo that could drive vegetarians to repent for a day if not forever, this place will indeed be busy.

So keep an eye out for Comme Ça, and if you are so inclined, read about what's going on in the NY restaurant world, then check out the new places in other US cities too. Who knows, maybe you will find the dish of your dreams just around the corner too.

Comme Ça
8479 Melrose Ave (@ La Cienega)
Los Angeles, CA 90069-5305
(photo by Fran Collin, NY Times)

Until we eat again,

Friday, August 17, 2007

Vietnamese Food a Go-Go

Dear Peeps of this here Fobloog,
I bet you didn't know this, but since moving to LA I've denied myself a great pleasure... the joys of Vietnamese food. No worries, though. I'm happy to say that all changed last Friday, when my friend Joe and I ventured to San Gabriel for some Golden Deli action.

Golden Deli, per, is a great spot to get all kinds of Vietnamese food. Joe wanted to try their Pho (traditional Vietnamese soup) and I wanted to try their Bun Bo Nuong--most people order this cold vermicelli noodle dish with grilled pork (as Bun Thit Nuong), but I got it with grilled beef like I've had it at University Pl. & 13th St. in NYC. Uh huh, that's a picture of my fave dish up there!

People who haven't tried Vietnamese food may assume it's similar to other Asian cuisines, ie. Thai or Korean. The wikipedia listing for Vietnamese food is: "A cuisine known for its common use of fish sauce, soy sauce and hoisin sauce. Recipes use many vegetables, herbs and spices, including lemon grass, lime, and kaffir lime leaves. Throughout all regions the emphasis is always on serving fresh vegetables and/or fresh herbs as side dishes along with dipping sauce."

Anywho, we got there at 8pm and had to wait 15-20 minutes. It was crowded! Once inside we saw the vast menu and stuck to our plans: Joe ordered a beef Pho and I ordered my beef and noodle dish. Each item cost under $5!! So that's why we also ordered the shrimp and pork summer roll appetizer (Goi Cuon) and a Banh Mi, the famous Vietnamese sandwich (French bread with paté, Vietnamese mayo, pork, pickled daikon, carrot, and cucumber slices) because I'd always wanted to try that and especially since here it only cost ...hello $3!

How did everything taste? Well Joe said the Pho was tops, compared to other places, and it came with fresh basil and bean sprouts to mix in. My Bun Bo Nuong rated a T for Tasty, though the beef was cut thinner than I prefer in this dish (I'm telling you the best place for thin cut beef is in a greazy Philly cheesesteak in this person's humble opinion). The pork sandwich and spring rolls were tasty too, and all that plus an iced tea came to $17! Wow no wonder this place is crowded.

One thing I love about Vietnamese food is its simple fresh ingredients and deliciousness. Another thing is the various options for adding heat on the table, so if you don't like spicy food like my Mom it's perfect because everything arrives "spicy" free. These sauces were: hoisin sauce, red chili sauce (a.k.a. sambal olek) and a lovely chili flake-infused brown oil. Mmmmmmmm happy stuff!

Now this was all well and good, and I do recommend you make a trip to the Golden Deli soon. Note, however, that when you are there, I'll likely be next door trying something else. In the same strip mall is an awesome-looking Chinese seafood spot (with other Asian influences) called Newport Seafood Tan Cang Restaurant.

From what we could see through the window, they apparently serve a close relative to the famous (say it with me now) "Shanghai Chili Crab," AND they make the dish with lobster too! Shiver me crab legs! On the menu it's called New Port Special Crab (and New Port Special Lobster), stir-fried with chopped green onions, various colored chiles and onions. Watching tables dine on these platters of delectable chopped up crustacean blew my food-lovin' mind. No price is listed on the menu for these items, but come on, does it really matter??

See you in San Gabriel soon!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Food Movies

Hello readers! Welcome to this posting about Food Movies, a topic I've been meaning to discuss with you so you never accuse me of not offering you a well-rounded and complete fobloog experience.

In my life, one measure of cinematic greatness is if a movie successfully illustrates a sliver of life you hadn't thought of before. If what I see opens up my heart and mind in a new way, if it touches me emotionally and that feeling lingers after I leave the theater, then I know it's done its job and is a really good movie.

Which leads me to the topic of great food movies. These are a rare breed inspired by the story of a person, a family, or a community. They contain marvelous food scenes, mostly in the foreground. And there aren't too many of them.

On the flip side, there are probably more non-food movies that contain bits of food in the background...with dear old friends cooking together in the kitchen, family BBQ's, children running across a field with fresh baked bread in hand, famous restaurant scenes. The point of these movies isn't food, though as a background item food is woven into the storyline in moments. Blow that up to a whole movie about food, and a mirror is created that illustrates our passion for the importance of food in our lives, reminding us how much it means to us and that we should never take it for granted.

The following list focuses on food movies that communicate the intense joy of food and how it impacts our lives in a poetic way (of course some are more powerful than others). The list is not complete, so if I've left any worthy entries out please let me know. After watching these, don't be surprised if you are inspired to run to the gourmet shop and hit the kitchen.

Food Movies (in alphabetical order):
  • Babette's Feast
  • Big Night
  • Dinner Rush (more of a restaurant behind-the-scenes)
  • Eat Drink Man Woman
  • Like Water for Chocolate
  • Mostly Martha (not sure this belongs?, just remade in US)
  • Ratatouille
  • Tampopo*
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (original version)
*Touted by a friend for years, when I finally saw it I thought "eh," however it's still known as one the big food movies. Sorry, the biggest a-ha to me was discovering that the male lead--The Man in the White Suit--was the Chairman's friend in Memoirs of a Geisha).

This list does not include:
  • Chocolat -- Because to me, this is a movie that pitched itself as a food movie when in fact it was really only a movie movie.
  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle -- 'Nuf said
  • Simply Irresistible -- Made me want to make éclairs again, but just a cheesy 1-star shoulda-been-a-movie-of-the-week (tho props to Patricia Clarkson and Dylan Baker)
  • Tortilla Soup -- Made on the tails of Eat Drink Man Woman with little impact
  • Wild Strawberries -- I don't think this is a food movie! (if it is, someone lemme know)
Until we eat again,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Recchiuti Confession

Well hello. This week's post is simply something I wrote for a monthly contest in April 2006 when I was still a New Yorker, and it won the contest in February 2007. While enjoying a new Snickers Dark bar tonight I just realized, dear readers, that most of you have not read this.

The contest was for Recchiuti Confections in San Francisco, my favorite U.S. chocolate company (see link at right), and the prize was a glorious black box ($40 value, see left). When I never heard from Recchiuti after sending this in, I thought I didn't win and was like, hello? But as it turns out, they were saving my passionate letter for their Valentine's issue (copy-edited way down of course) and I received my black box while at USC and I think I may have shared, oh, 2 pieces. So here it full-length chocolate missive, containing factual events and slightly exaggerated feelings (you'll never know how I truly felt, now will you ;)

My Recchiuti Confession – a true story, by Marly Miller, Brooklyn NY

I wasn’t looking to fall in love with chocolate. The only plan for my two vacation days in San Francisco before heading north was to unwind from the daily grind of New York living.

The Ferry Building’s a foodie mecca, hmm? That’s what the concierge said. Perfect! So I wandered over for a quick visit and you know how it works – when you least expect it, that’s when you meet your soulmate. That’s what happened to me in the Ferry Building that sunny June day. That’s when I met you, Recchiuti. You weren’t your average kind of chocolate shop, you. Reserved and subtle yet mysteriously beckoning, you were like a hip computer geek sequestering your passion, bestowing it only upon those who are worthy of your greatness. In that moment it was clear, I had to know you.

Our first moments together were rather dreamy. You had me at Fleur de Sel caramels. The emotional wave was carried forward with the honeycomb-design topped Sesame Nougat, then you sealed the deal with the Kona Coffee pyramid. I was elated! Even though we’d just met, I took you back to my hotel room where time passed in blissful discovery of your single-origin varietals. We had a beautiful night together, and then you were gone. Seriously, who knew it could be this good between a woman and her chocolate?

The next morning I wondered, how can it be that such a love exists, only so far from home? Figured the feeling would dissipate as I traveled up to the Culinary Institute, Greystone for a week of wine study. It wasn’t easy, though. I thought of you more often than Brix counts, and kept thinking things like, “If only you were here to pair with that great Pinot blend from Sonoma.”

One afternoon on St. Helena’s main drag I walked past a local chocolate store and sniggered in contempt at their confections braggingly displayed in the window. “Ha! So you think you’re a chocolate store!” Oh I did not betray you, my love, I did not yield to the temptation of another; my heart was yours! Okay, I did yield to a chocolate malted at Taylor’s, and a slice of chocolate marshmallow pie at Cindy’s, but please don’t accuse me of cheating! What’s a girl to do until she can get close to you again?! It was a shake and a dessert, not bon bons. No, never bon bons!

Days – ages – later, back in San Fran I couldn’t just skip through to the airport without saying goodbye. Not after learning the week before that no matter how much I loved you – and no matter how much you wanted me to love you – you in fact would not be moving to New York any time soon. So back to the Ferry Building I ran ever so nonchalantly to pick up some airplane sustenance – a hand-picked collection of all your caramels including the rose, burnt and limited edition passion fruit. While paying for my affection I pined, “But Scharffenberger is moving to New York!” You were resolute, “Sorry, there are no plans for us to open a store in New York at this time.” Fine! Fine. Didn’t take it personally. All I know is that’s when I knew I’d been living a lie and was actually one of those girls who chocolate settles. That all changed after I met you.

Back home in New York I couldn’t stop talking about you so of course all my friends couldn’t wait to meet you! I didn’t know how to spell you so it took awhile to find you on Google. Then I found you! *sigh* It felt a little better knowing that if I truly couldn’t live without you I could just order online. But shame on you, Recchiuti, getting me all crazy with those glimmering images of candy on the web, followed up by those awesome promotional postcards in the mail. Ahh, you were so close yet so far.

Life went on – it was a very vanilla existence – until a phantasmagoric trinity of luck was bestowed upon me that could only have been the result of answered prayers!

1) Inadvertently in Soho one day I found you at the candy counter in Dean & Deluca, my eyes ka-boing-ing upon seeing that very familiar circular disk with a honeycomb pattern on top – the Sesame Nougat! And a Kona Coffee pyramid was right next to it! No, Could It Really Be Recchiuti?? There were only a few bon bons for sale – you tease! – but I don’t believe in pride. That’s right, I bought you and we went to a movie (a chick flick). Our unexpected day together was quite bittersweet (literally). Yes that day renewed my love for you in full (not chocolate-related) bloom. When you were gone I wondered when I would ever see you again.

2) Weeks later a friend announced he was traveling to San Francisco. I grabbed his collar and pleaded, “Oh please you MUST bring me back some Recchiuti Fleur de Sel caramels!! And buy some for yourself, for I will not share!” Yes, I could have ordered online, but I really wanted my friend to meet you too. The following week he returned to New York… with a box of Fleur de Sel caramels with my name on it! Dang life was good!

3) If that wasn’t enough, Christmas was around the corner and some colleagues asked me a very silly question, “Marly, what’s your favorite brand of chocolate?” Like they didn’t already know, come on! I gently reminded them of you, hoping secretly they were not playing a cruel holiday prank and a week later you arrived in full glory! A box of Fleur de Sel caramels, a box of limited-edition chocolates and a S’mores Kit. Indeed it was an amazing day! We ran back to my apartment together and laughed and laughed, as that’s the effect of consuming mass quantities of natural-occurring amphetamines.

The season had evolved into a New York Recchiuti-loving girl’s dream come true! You, in several incarnations, were finally with me in New York, my Recchiuti-sweetened bloodstream giddily flowed as my unrequited choco-passion for you was finally sated. That Christmas was a testament to our ultimate compatibility – there was no turning back now! We were indeed soulmates and would definitely be sharing a very happy chocolate life together forevermore.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fried Chicken Report Teaser 2

Peeps I'm gonna be honest with you... surprisingly, there's a lot of fried chicken in LA. And... it's still bathing suit season.

Yeah this means I can't try all the oodles of fried chicken (F.C.) I want to for the F.C. Report. Instead, you know it, another F.C. Teaser (without a southern accent) while I stretch out my taste-testing over a few months, updating along the way, and ultimately announcing the winner of the L.A.F.C. (also could stand for L.A.FatChick) Report later on.

Now, this week's entry is just as relevant, a sorta long-ish true food story about a man named Austin Leslie, photo above. Here goes...

Our story begins somewhere in the early 90's. I was collecting the cookbooks in the Time Life Foods of the World series. From the late 60's/70's, these were monumental in that they divided the world into food regions for the home cook pretty much for the first time.

One of the cookbooks -- American Cooking: Creole and Acadian -- included a big New Orleans section with a photo of a chef and his staff in a restaurant, Chez Helene. The caption referred to the guy in charge: Austin Leslie. The food looked comforty and delicious, the people warm and gracious. I decided if I ever visit New Orleans I'm going to Chez Helene!

So a coupla years later, in '94, Matthew and I flew down to the Big Easy and hopped in a cab bound for Chez Helene. The cab driver drove to nowhere until finally admitting he'd never heard of it, and then "Oh yeah, that place closed." I mean sure, that cookbook was printed roughly 30 years prior, yet this was still disappointing.

The next day we landed at a flea market after delightful Cafe du Monde chicory coffee and beignets when OMG, there in the piles o' stuff was a tiny Chez Helene cookbook which I rightly snapped up. This made me feel much better, because if I couldn't eat Chef Leslie's food, at least I could make it myself! (note: you guessed it, I have not, but we digress.)

About eight years or so later I read a "$25 and Under" review in The New York Times food section, which claimed that an Upper West Side hole-in-the-wall with a New Orleans-theme called Jacques-Imo served the best fried chicken in New York. Did I run? Did I doubt? Bingo, I doubted... feared it wasn't true, and drooled at the possibility of it being true.

Another year had passed before Matthew and I took a chance and went to Jacques-Imo. Beyond the slumming-it coolness of the free warm corn muffin topped with liquid Parkay, we agreed, it was the best fried chicken in New York. (To date it is still my favorite.) Excited, I went online and perused. Found out the original Jacques-Imo was in New Orleans and NY was a spin-off. The restaurant is known in both spots for its fried chicken, and oh my goodness, this because Jacques-Imo himself hired Austin Leslie as his fry cook.

(Note: Before this hiring, a late 80's TV show called "Frank's Place" was on-air, based on Chef Leslie and his Chez Helene, tho it and its revenue for Chef Leslie sadly did not last long.)

So check it, the recipe for Jacques-Imo's chicken in New York was Chef Leslie's (you can also tell because of the signature touch of persillade and sliced pickles). Meaning after all these years I did get to taste this chef's Chez Helene food, and not only was it beyond my crunch-lovin' dreams but the whole idea of it was soooo satisfying.

Soon after, John T. Edge published his book "Fried Chicken: An American Story." One of the sections features Austin Leslie, and the author mentions that he's tried to personally pry the secret fried chicken recipe out of this wonderful man but in reply the chef would merely hold out his flour-covered hands and say "The secret is in here."

I got in touch with Mr. Edge to say thanks for writing about this person, and he wrote back happy to hear there were other fans out there. So I sent Mr. Edge the fried chicken recipe from my old Chez Helene cookbook in case that was the secret one (and here is a version of his recipe that includes the persillade garnish).

Actually I was pretty thankful to have the chance to share my feelings about Chef Leslie with Mr. Edge, since I'd read in the Times that after Hurricane Katrina, Austin Leslie's health had suffered and as a result, at the age of 71, he passed away. He had recently stopped working at Jacques-Imo, however his fried chicken still lives on. If you're ever in New Orleans (sadly after this posting the New York location closed), go to Jacques-Imo and taste a few pieces of fried chicken Shangri-La -- or try to make it yourself -- as inspired by the late, great Austin Leslie.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Fried Chicken Report Teaser

Helloooo fried chicken fans of LA, or I mean, people who wish they could find fried chicken goodness in LA. The rumored illustrious Fried Chicken Report is coming to a fobloog near you, but not until next week (or the week after). THIS is your Fried Chicken Report Teaser.

My friend Joe B., and are you sitting down, confessed that years ago he had the pleasure of visiting the Kentucky Fried Chicken factory... in Kentucky! In my imagination it's only a mystical palace where urban legend says they grow chicken parts electronically without brains, not a bona fide stop on the Kentucky chicken trail. So this was very exciting.

Joe has been kind enough to let me conduct this fooblog's first man-on-the-street interview, even though at the time Joe was NOT on the street but in a car. Here we go... (p.s. I am the interviewer)

Interviewer - Joe, you've gotta tell us, how did you decide to make this momentous trip to the birthplace of KFC.

Joe - Well Marly seriously there was nothing else to do in Kentucky after the Derby and I gave up Bourbon in grad school.

Interviewer - Ah, gotcha. Hey can we talk in a southern accent now? For authenticity, as if you're still in Kentucky??

Joe - Yeah sure.

Interviewer - So when yooo went to visit KFC, what was the price to get in? Is it as muCH as Dis-knee-land?

Joe - It's free y'all, and at the end there they handed out some BOGO* cyu-pons. (*BOGO = retail term for "buy one get one free", ie. buy one drumstick get one free)

Interviewer - All right! Now I've visited the Ben & Jerry's factory up there in Yankee territory in Vermin, I mean, Vermont, and at the end of the factory toe-er they gave out tiny little cups o' ahs cream. Well were there any fried chickin samples handed out at the KFC? Popkern chickin 'n stuff? Boy do I love that crap.

Joe - No as I said beforah, just them there BOGO cyu-pons. But the chickin isn't my fave-rit so the cyu-pons EXpired.

Interviewer - Well Jiminy Cricket. So during the toe-er, did you meet the Cuh-nul?

Joe - (pause) What did you say? Did you mean the Colonel? (why did I agree to do this?)

Interviewer - Speak in the accent please!

Joe - (sigh) The Cuh-nul's dead y'all.

Interviewer - Aw shucks. Well that's a darn shame. Let's tawk 'bout them 11 herbs & spices, is that a lie that'll make Roy Rogers roll over in his guh-rave or ta-rue fact?

Joe - Sure so you think they just hand that information out for free...

Interviewer - Oh come on now, don't hold out ... I think the 11 herbs & spices must have some crehck'd peppa in theyer, some pap-rick-a, must'ed pow-der maybe...

Joe - Okay this interview's over.

Interviewer - Bye! Thank you! Take some sweet tea for the road?

(And scene...)

Stay tuned for the real Fried Chicken Report, without any unnecessary stalling, soon to appear in this very place.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Food Poetry in Two Styles

Hello… so we’re going to take it down a little this week, with some food poetry. Specifically, two pieces of different origin and style.

The first piece was on display at the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia. I saw it there in June 2001 with Pina (this unaltered photo was taken there).

Love this poem, written by a present-day Asian Canadian poet who describes the migration of tea from China to Scotland way back when. It caught my eye because not long before the trip I’d worked for Lipton and was still a bit tea-focused, though even without Sir Thomas whispering in my ear, it still struck me as lovely and an important story to tell.

A Recipe for Tea
by Jim Wong-Chu ©

a modest pot
enough for
small cups

insert tea

green or fermented
or in a

(the first ships came to trade)
the area was fukien
the traders were scottish

the water
boiled separately

brought it back
bastardized it
made it mud
drowned in heavy cream
two, three teaspoons
of colonial sugar
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

The second piece is one that I wrote as an ode to Dan (see May 10 on Planet Marly), my de facto buffalo wing partner in crime. This poem is way different in style from the one by Mr. Wong-Chu, though it's similar in that it also points to a food ritual.

To clarify the phrase “two singles, medium, extra crispy”: "single" is an order of 10 wings at our fave Atomic Wings. In the early days, when our trust was thin-skinned, Dan and I would each order a single, rather than one double, so there’d be a guaranteed balance of wing distribution. "Medium" is the heat level we preferred (heats @ Atomic are: for the sane -- mild, medium, hot; for the insane -- abusive, nuclear, suicidal), and "extra crispy," well that’s the best way to eat 'em... fried just a little bit longer so the skin is crispy, not fatty. And Duff's, La Nova and Anchor are some of "the" wing spots in Buffalo, NY.

The Buffalo Wing Poem
by Marly Miller © 2/22/96
(read in an exhibitionist Beatnik style)

Two singles, medium, extra crispy.

Their coupling, it was Fated.
The word "diet"? Oh puh-LEASE.
The antithesis to "day job"
Is some fat in arteries!

Kindred pals oft take the subway
To the only truth they know:
Tastebuds only quench from flames
From our beloved Buffalo.

Two singles, medium, extra crispy.

Primal visions we imagine
Take the place of beaus or dates:
Orange fingers, orange faces,
Orange napkins, orange plates.

If "one" is if by land,
Well then "two" is if by wings.
How about new honey-mustard
Or barbeque flavorings?

Two singles, medium, extra crispy.

Not a capon, nor some pheasants;
A mere chicken is our kingdom.
We'll be happy being peasants
As we revel in our wingdom!

Go La Nova, or go Duff's, dear.
Too there's Anchor and Atomic.
Followed by some Ben & Jerry's?
Lesser souls would surely vomit.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Fobloog Gripe List (2007)

Below is the conversation that preceded this posting:

Marly -- Hmm, what should I write about this week, maybe it's time to hit that Korean fried chicken place finally...
Diet -- Rubbish! You will not go there and that is final!
Marly -- Don't you take a hint, we're through!
Diet -- I'm the boss of this house, no new food experiences until you lose 2 more pounds and I don't mean British Sterling.
Marly -- Listen you can't control me Diet, I'm gonna squash you...
Diet -- Not if I squash you first (evil wringing of imaginary hands)

And so I, the Diet, voiced liltingly by Jon Lovitz, win blog-posting rites this week. My goal is to talk about food not in an "oh it's so delicious I must have some la la la" way but in a critical, gripe-filled negative way.

A list of food gripes--and my favorite picture that hangs on the wall in my office--in the style of magazine superlative lists (ie. Top Science Fiction films of all time) though here not in any particular order. Readers then send emails to the magazine saying "Yah how could you not mention X on that list you idiot!!!" Well feel free to do the same here, readers, though without the name calling please because even though I am a Diet and make you feel very guilty sometimes, you must know I've only got your best interests at heart.

The Planet Marly Fobloog Gripe List (2007)

1. I wish restaurant check holders had a change-holding area for people who like to give exact change. Instead, the server picks up the check holder and whisks it away and the change flies everywhere.

2. Personally, I think an omelet should be made with 2 eggs. Every sit-down breakfast place I know of makes gigantic armadillo-sized omelets with 3 or 4 eggs. Why, why?

3. While on the topic of breakfast, why isn't the default bacon preparation crispy? Is there any reason I have to ask for this every single time? As if I'm a difficult patron because I don't like eating warm raw fat.

4. How is the FDA protecting us by giving manufacturers of processed foods permission to list the ingredient "sugar" in countless ways.

5. At Gelson's when I buy chicken the chicken guy thinks he's being helpful by handing me a different pack of chicken than the one in my basket, and then he says "Take this one, it's fresher." To which I can only say "Hey thanks for letting me know you sell unfresh chicken!"

6. Why do a majority of frozen entrees add in red bell pepper where red bell pepper has no business being? It's only added for color! All those innocent frozen flavorless peppers, used for that one ridiculous thing.

7. Health warnings on Diet Coke cans are written in a secret language -- "PHENYLKETONURICS: CONTAINS PHENYLALANINE." Does ANYone (ok who hasn't done a thesis paper on nutrasweet) know what that means? Why can't they say what it means??

8. Did you know that even though Brummel & Brown margarine's claim of "made with real yogurt" is true, it's only dehydrated yogurt powder in there? No yogurt taste or benefit whatsoever. To which I say...congratulations B&B on fooling people on at least two continents.

9. Do American candy bar companies really think all it takes to increase candy bar sales is to create sorta-new versions of their popular candy bars by adding yawn-quality caramel to it? Get a clue.

10. I've been waiting for a Food Court to have an option of healthier foods that actually taste good, don't cost a fortune and aren't 80% iceberg lettuce. Yes I have found such a place in Santa Clarita, but that doesn't help me much when I'm at every other mall or airport Food Court on the planet.

Ok that's it! If anything's missed, please let us know.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Planet Marly Goes on a Diet

Oh readers, you've been so patient with me. How long have I been promising to post my years-in the-making Fried Chicken Report. I know you're waiting for this, and I am soooo sorry.

Truth is, while reminiscing about crispy skin I've also self-elected myself to review all of Ben & Jerry's new flavors (Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream, Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler, Cinnamon Buns, revamped S'more, although not yet getting around to Banana Split or Crème Brulee)...and THAT is when I realized, while in the changing room at the bathing suit store, that taste testing ice cream and fried chicken is not conducive to wearing a bathing suit!! (Who's saying "duh" out there, I will find you!)

So for this issue of Planet Marly Food Blog I cannot really talk about food, says my short-term yet cruel diet. When even an innocent Spudnut donut got rejected this morning, well then that's when you know my dedication is on fire.

While we're on the subject of trimming, are you with me when I say there are too many words in the phrase "food blog." How 'bout I call this a fooblog instead? a fobloog? a floog? Has this been done before? I'd like to call it a floog, but according to the urban dictionary "floog" means a whiny little British girl, and this food blog is in no way a whiny little British girl. Rather, it is a detour (today only), on the topic of
movies. Oh yeah I am psyched.

First up, a basic refresher on movie etiquette:
NO talking, cell phones, texting, long-term whispering or snack bag crinkling. But this isn't news, you already know this.

And here's the summer flicks I've seen so far, rated on a 1 to 4 M&M scale:

Disturbia = mmm

Knocked Up = mm 1/2

Mr. Brooks = mm 1/2

Paris j'Taime = mmmm

Spiderman 3 = mm 1/2

Surf's up = mmm

Alas thinking about movies just leads me to think more about movie popcorn. And due to this diet it's true I gave up my ritual of the buttered 'corn fix Sunday at the AMC. Popcorn is now all I can think about, pop pop, crunch crunch, wafting butter smell wafting butter smell. Ok ok you've made your point, maybe I am weak and can't post to this fobloog without mentioning food. Let's just run with it... Here is a short list of items I like to add to my popcorn:

1. butter
1a. butter and Louisiana hot sauce

1b. butter and shredded Cheddar cheese and pecans and black pepper

2. butter-flavored oil

2a. butter-flavored oil and plain M&Ms

3. sour cream and chive flavor

4. white cheddar flavor

5. truffle oil and sea salt

And you wonder why I'm on a diet??

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I Heart Seattle

So I am begrudgingly back from Seattle, the city that I feel still serves the best food in the land.

To commemorate the impetus behind the visit I purchased this artisan's plate of "the salmon." Ah yes, copper river salmon, you were mine. *sigh*

And it was cold, and cloudy, and one day rainy, and just to tease me on my departure day it was bright and sunny...but no matter; it was great to be back!

Instead of going back to old haunts per usual, this creature-of-habit tried some new stuff, and rediscovered some old. While all this news now appears on the City List at right, there are still a few more bits to share about why I Heart Seattle:

1) Visiting Queen Anne -- a tiny neighborhood on a hill overlooking Elliott Bay near Seattle Center that is filled with greenery and charm.

2) Discovering Black Bottle -- a newish wine bar/small plates restaurant that has the coolest industrial Brooklyn decor and vibe.

3) Trying Dry Soda -- lemongrass was good but lavender was the best! What a great thing to use as a cocktail mixer if it hasn't already been discovered.

4) Remembering why I love the restaurants of Tom Douglas -- one bite into a mushroom appetizer speaks volumes on Pacific Northwest Cuisine and why it rocks my world.

5) Sitting in an oasis of a coffee shop -- with 20 clean armchairs each with a street view, where the music is soothing, people of all ages have enough room to each get a seat, and the coffee is perfect.

6) Witnessing restaurant originality again -- the restaurants of Seattle have more creativity than restaurants in other great cities, yet you don't pay the same high price for it. To experience this level of freshness in New York in these days of the super chef, you would pay 3-4 times as much. Here it's just how restaurants are.

7) Delighting over a new kind of condiment table-setting at Steelhead Diner -- sure they had ketchup at this "diner that isn't really a diner," and Crystal hot sauce. Add to this a bottle of pepper vinegar. But the coolest was, while eating a fantastic salad with pine nut vinaigrette, what appeared to be salt & pepper shakers. One contained a house-made Cajun seasoning, and the other contained... smoked sea salt? This is expensive! So to have all that on every table, such a unique and generous selection, made me smile.

8) Copper River Sockeye Salmon -- and we've come full circle to the reason behind this visit. It turns out that I'm not a huge fan of the king variety; the sockeye is the kind I find transcendental, sooo deeply orange/pink in color (like a salmon-colored shirt, that color salmon), and so rich with flavor you can't imagine.

Til next time Seattle!

Monday, May 21, 2007

New - Marly's City Must Lists

Ok fellow food explorers, it's time to introduce the list I've been compiling for ages, my tried-and-true city favorites, each item sampled personally at least one time -- ok probably more like two, three or ten times! (*blush*)

If you've known me awhile you may have heard some of this before, though this is just the beginning. The list is going to be BIG, it's going to grow baby, and new things will be added as my beloved food adventures continue onward.

You'll notice, unlike other reviews or lists, that this one is short & sweet (& salty too! lol). Expositional verbiage has been left out so you can get right to the need-to-know: where to go and why. Do you have time to read through pages of text to get to the pearl? I didn't think so. Do I have time to provide links for every pearl you find? I knew you'd understand that I don't :).

So on the right side of this blog, click on the link at City Lists. There you will find a short list of cities in alphabetical order. Each city lists up to five categories:
1. Eats (sit-down places)
2. Drinks (sometimes including food)
3. Markets & Shops (farmer's, gourmet & unique)
4. Hotels
5. Other

The destinations on each list feature the places I like to breathe in while visiting a particular place (like the photo above, Dahlia Lounge in Seattle). This is followed by a neighborhood, if relevant, and then the nugget -- the item you should order to achieve some level of nirvana. See if you don't order what I recommend I won't be held responsible for your "just OK" experience. Got it? And this doesn't mean the item I include is the only great thing on the menu; no it probably means I never tried anything else because I liked this thing soooo much.

Planet Marly reader, let me be the first to humbly say these lists are by no means complete. Some listings may seem redundant or even the opposite of trendy, but don't you fret -- this is an ongoing project, viewable from the blog's righthand column. So don't forget to check back for updates or when you're about to take a trip! Have faith that if it's on the list it means it's damn good, and here's hoping you'll agree.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Chocolate with a dash of vanilla irony

At left is the chocolate stash now in my house. The next time you see me I will be several chocolate pounds heavier and quite happy about it.

There are some people who choose the flavor of chocolate over vanilla every time. Ironically, most of the chocolate we eat in desserts or candy contains vanilla, as an additive used to bring out the flavor of chocolate. One exception is a French chocolate bar named Chocolat Bonnat, and it's a fantastic discovery once you taste a 75% dark chocolate bar without vanilla and realize the influence vanilla has had on your chocolate taste buds all these years. (Btw I can't seem to find this for sale online now, so if in San Fran visit Cocoa Bella in the Westfield San Fran Center on Market & 4th.)

That is one of the great chocolate & vanilla ironies. The other is that people assume I prefer all-chocolate desserts when in fact lately I prefer chocolate in its unadulterated form, as pure chocolate candy, not whipped into a cloying mega-triple-fudge-whatever-it-is- with-fudge-and-chips-on-top. There is no particular reason for this revised palate preference, it just is, which is why I'm giving you the news now so you don't call me a choco-Benedict Arnold at some dessert time in our future. (Or perhaps the future is the next paragraph...)

In any event! This is why on Saturday night at the lovely SF restaurant Coi--their bar is a long plank of wood with stools facing a wall; there is no liquor or bartender there--when given a choice of a deep chocolate parfait with lime or a warm vanilla cake with strawberries for dessert, I chose the latter. The warm and buttery vanilla-flecked cake was really wonderful, a reverse molten chocolate cake. More restaurants should serve this, it's still considered rare and reminds you of how good a vanilla dessert can be.

And while we're talking about chocolate, if any LA-ers would like to take a stab at my Chocword Puzzle (a crossword puzzle about chocolate), just give a holler!

Next up: The Fried Chicken Report

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Where I've been, where I'm going 5/10/07

Where I've been:
A few weeks ago Dan K from NYC came to town and we went to Soot Bull Jeep, the best Korean BBQ place I know of. Since I am known for ordering redundancies, we had the steak and the spicy pork (3rd time). Dan of course went back to New York singing a new song that went something like this... "When I need a spicy kick, Ktown Q to my ribs does stick. It's good to try new spicy things; sometimes even I tire of buffalo wings."

Then last Friday Sussy took me for my first visit to Cobras & Matadors, Hollywood Blvd. location. It so happens I haven't had the big food O in a long time, and this place did it. Can't live without items: almond & cabrales-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates in a port reduction, cheese plate, churros. Can live without: the socca, which I'd hoped would be like the famous chickpea pancakes of Nice (only seen photos) but these were thick and covered in a curry-spiced honey. Why, why?

Where I'm going:
San Francisco! Back to the Ferry Building with Pina for Recchiuti's fleur-de-sel caramels (Mr. R himself just replied to my email inquiry and sadly they will be making passion fruit caramels no more), then venturing into Berkeley for the first time to gain foodie glory by simply walking past the apparent birthplace of California cuisine, Chez Panisse.

Seattle! It's copper river salmon season mid-May to mid-June, and I'll be there right in the middle. Trying all new places this time...already have a dinner rez at the tried-and-true Cascadia (will I try their Douglas Fir cocktail? Think I must), and on my list as almost definites are Restaurant Zoe, Tom Douglas's new pizza spot Serious Pie, and Flying Fish. Not to mention I'll be hopping on a stool at the fabulously retro Cyclops Bar for another swig of the best mojito in the continental United States.

It's time to visit Planet Marly

Too many years ago when I worked at my 1st New York City ad agency (in the creative dept. making ads for Transformers), it became clear that this Jersey girl wasn't ready yet for the big city. So after six months of scripts and storyboards at a frighteningly low salary, I headed back to the home state, but not without the idea to start a greeting card company called Planet Marly. The name of the "company" made sense to everyone, especially colleagues and old friends who'd often said in the past "What planet are you on, Marly?" :)

Well the company never happened. I'll admit I was distracted by other things in Princeton...ok by a guy named Chuck who made buffalo wings. I never met Chuck, but I sure consumed a lot of buffalo wings. Yes I can still see the orange stains on my fingers, which really did prevent me from making greeting cards (yes yes that's only one reason why the card company never happened, you got me!)

Since then life's taken me straight to the path of foodie--not to be confused with a food snob as some folks describe it. Specifically my interests relate to what to eat and where, and in sharing that knowledge, because you never want to say you visited a place for a day and missed out on an incredible food opportunity!

With that, I introduce my blog, in the hopes that this time when I am distracted by the proverbial buffalo wing, you can read about it here on my planet.


(ps: this is me en route to dinner in Paris)