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Best Things I Ate in Los Angeles in 2014

Written by Jesse Furman, NYC-raised LA-based entrepreneur and professional cook.

2014 was the year of breakfast. From the taco bell breakfast wrap to the fancy egg and cheese being touted across LA, and the influx of artisanal bakeries with fresh coffee. Brunching became a craze, and you can see a lot of my list of best things I ate belonged with eggs or dishes of that morning nature. However, there are many other one bites or mains that have made the cut from some of the most exciting restaurants, kiosks, cafes, and taco stands. Enjoy!

 

CLAM POZOLE AT RUSTIC CANYON

This dish arrives as a curveball on this Santa Monica’s local farm-centric restaurant. Everything you love about pozole verde, but with seafood added and vibrant green broth made with some of the state’s best produce.

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VEAL TARTARE AT BESTIA

Taking a bite into this toast is a revelation.  The house-made sourdough is char-grilled and then slathered in delicate young veal meat and then spread with a traditional sauce made from tuna, giving a whole new name to surf and turf!

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BEEF TENDON CURRY AT NIGHT MARKET

Many restaurants are preparing this underground cut of beef with a deeply rich imagination. But the beef tendon floating in this ridiculous curry broth is stupid good. It is served with ROTI, a deep fried flatbread. Rip a piece off and dunk it in the pool of deliciousness. Game over.

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CHARCOAL POTATOES AT INK

Known for its whim and wizardry, ink’s kitchen of food magicians concoct a riff on a loaded baked potato. In this variation, they roast baby potatoes and roll it in green onion ash, making the potatoes look like little pieces of charcoal, which are served with a whipped sour cream and a spray bottle the size of a Binaca filled with tangy vinegar to spritz on the tasty spuds.

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FRENCH TOAST AT SYCAMORE KITCHEN

Not just the best French toast in 2014, but the best French toast I have ever eaten.  This breakfast dish was handed down by the heavens. Thick-cut house made brioche, the inside soft and custardy and the out bruléed with sugar ‘till it is crispy and caramelized. It’s topped with a sweet apple slaw and a hefty dollop of fresh whipped cream.

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SCRAMBLED EGGS AND MUSHROOM TOAST AT REPUBLIQUE

Beautifully scrambled farm fresh eggs, topped with sliced ham, sautéed wild mushrooms, and a red wine sauce drizzled all over the top.  The earthiness, the saltiness, the umami flavor – it’s phenomenal. Read my interview with Republique’s own Walter Manzke here.

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PORK BELLY CHICHARRON AT BAR AMA

When you can make a chicharron arrive to your table warm and crisp on the outside and pure oozy fatty on the inside, it’s almost like you’re eating a whole stick of bone marrow. This savory bar comes jutting out of a pool of thin salsa verde. You have to order this indulgent bite.

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BBQ SPARE RIBS AT BLUDSOS

Peppery, smokey, slightly sweet, this Hollywood Annex to the Compton Pit Master slow cooks pork ribs in a smoker and never sells day olds. Come in and order a whole rack and a side of pickles. Done.

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WELSH RAREBIT AT THE PIKEY

This dish should be #1 just based on simplicity and reward. It’s a piece of toast with gravy made with Guinness and cheese that is charred on top!

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TURKEY LEG AT ANIMAL

If you love the novelty of chomping on one of these bad boys at Medieval Times or at the Los Angeles County Fair, then you will obsess about this fried turkey leg, served in a sweet glaze with a white BBQ sauce. It’s refined barbaric.

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BUTTER TOFFEE COOKIE AT COFFEE COMMISSARY

Naomi Shim is a genius with sugar, and when she gets inspired she plays with brown and dark sugars in amazing ways. Her toffee cookie is crunchy and caramelizes at the bottom. So every bite reminds you of a soft buttery cookie simultaneously with crisp toffee candy. You can check out her recipe for puff pastry and my interview with her here on TheHundreds.com.

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PASTRAMI SANDWICH AT WEXLER’S DELI

This crew at the Grand Central Market has matched the quality found at Jewish delis that hold legacies for decades – and if they haven’t matched it, then they have surpassed it with the pastrami sandwich. Their smoked fish that is sliced paper thin and topped with fresh onion is also delicious.

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FRENCH FRIES AT SALT’S CURE

Crispy and Rustic. These are just the best fucking fries.

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FOCACCIA DE LENGURIA AT CHI SPACCA

This is a Italian bread, but not thick and fluffy. This focaccia is oily, thin, crispy, with a layer of fresh white cheese cooked inside the dough that is tossed fresh and cooked to order in a wood burning oven.

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SNICKERDOODLE ICE CREAM AT SALT & STRAW

This ice cream company from Portland makes the best tasting, most flavor-forward ice cream. The snickerdoodle cookie has that great cinnamon flavor and cookie taste.

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COOKIES & CREAM CONCRETE AT TOP ROUND

Delicious custard made the Dairy Queen. Topped with a thin wafer cookie, whipped cream, and optional birthday sprinkles – game, set, and match!

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CORN TAMALE AT MELROSE PLACE FARMER’S MARKET

If Joel Rubichon, master chef with Michelin Star restaurants, is notorious for making mashed potatoes with equal parts butter and potato, then this tamale guy should be recognized for what seems to be equal parts masa and lard. Just so soft and flavorful. You might ask yourself if this is the best tamale you’ve ever eaten.

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GRILLED QUAIL EGG AT KOKEKOKKO

It’s a light poached little egg on a Japanese skewer cooked in a little charcoal flame and the yolk is perfectly cooked medium. Mind changing. Check out my write-up of my trip to KokeKokko, its exclusivity, and my first taste of raw chicken here.

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AL PASTOR EMPANADA AT EL TORO TACO TRUCK

Make fresh masa tortilla and fill it with spit-roasted pork, pineapple, and cheese then fry. These emapañadas are the size of your hand and they stretch and ooze like a Mexican hot pocket insanity.

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SALSA ROJA AT EL TAURINO

This salsa is thick, not watered down, and it tastes of the earth with guaijllos, and then it rings your spice meter with habaneros. I am not quite sure, but it’s pasty and more tasty than another salsa I ever had.

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Written by The Hundreds’ Jesse Furman, NYC-raised LA-based entrepreneur and professional cook.

Categories
Recipes

Slow Roasted Tomato and Olive Focaccia

How gorgeous is that photo above? Don’t you just wanna pick up that piece of bread and dip it in the olive oil? I DO!

This guest-post thingamajig rocks! Look at all the deliciousness I have posted in the past couple of weeks, and the amazing bloggers I have come to know so far – I am truly blown away.

My guest post today comes from The brilliant Kitchenarian. If you have not met her, yet, you are in for a wonderful journey.

Lorie, apart from her talents in the kitchen, she is one of the loveliest people I have ever come across. Her soothing voice speaks to you through her blog, and her caring nature can be felt as soon as you meet…errrr…read her.

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I am so excited to be over here at Diethood today. I have known Kate for quite a while and consider her one of my dearest foodie friends. I love to pop over to her blog often to see what delicious treats she has made. Earlier in the summer, Kate made some delicious Oatmeal Raisin Muffins over at my blog while I was away on vacation. I am so thrilled she has invited me here today to share a recipe with you while she is taking a little bit of time away.

When Kate asked me to guest post on her blog, I knew almost right away what I was going to make. Both Kate and I made slow roasted tomatoes a few weeks ago for French Fridays with Dorie and she commented that she made them often in her house. When I made that dish, I thought to myself how they would be the perfect topping for focaccia.

Focaccia is such a great bread to make. I think it is pretty much no fail. It can be made thick or thin, crunchy on top or not, but it is almost always soft in the center. I like mine baked to a nice golden brown with coarse salt and other savory ingredients sprinkled on top. I love to serve it with a nice olive oil for dipping. This is a great recipe adapted from one I discovered at foodnetwork.com that is easy to make and delicious with whatever you choose to put on top. I don’t include measurements for the toppings, because you can add whatever amounts you like. Some people like a few ingredients scattered on top, and some like it piled high.

Slow Roasted Tomato and Olive Focaccia

You will need:

  • 2 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Cornmeal, for dusting

Toppings for this recipe:

  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Slow roasted tomatoes (or sundried tomatoes)
  • Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

Optional Toppings:

  • Carmelized onions
  • Minced garlic
  • Shredded Parmesan
  • Fresh Herbs

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Proof the yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer by combining it with the sugar and warm water. Stir to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until foam appears.
  • Using a dough hook attachment, turn the mixer on low and slowly add the flour to the bowl.
  • Dissolve salt in 2 tablespoons of water and add it to the bowl.
  • Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil.
  • When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium.
  • Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.
  • Turn the dough onto a work surface and fold over itself a few times.
  • Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil.
  • Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  • Grease a jelly roll pan with olive oil and sprinkle with corn meal.
  • Once the dough is doubled and domed, turn it out onto the counter.
  • Roll and stretch the dough out to an oblong shape about 1/2-inch thick.
  • Place dough on the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  • Uncover the dough and dimple with your fingertips.
  • Brush the surface with more olive oil and then add your toppings.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned on top.

Enjoy!