Will Owen's Profile

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My Quest to Find LA's Most Expensive Banh Mi

I've had a couple of pretty damn good pork-belly banh mi @ $16 each, but you have to head to Calcareous Vineyards near Paso Robles to get it. They use a caterer … now, I'll be happy to pick one up for you sometime and send it to you freight collect. That ought to bring the tab up a bit.

Apr 17, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area

A highly opinionated old Jewish man is taking us out to Yang Chow (Chinatown)

Having had one of those (sort of) for a father-in-law, whose favorite Chinese place was also Yang Chow (though in Pasadena), I'll second the knee-jerk repetitions of Slippery Shrimp; when he ordered takeout there were always two orders of that. The orange beef is a lot better than it ought to be, as is the sweet-and-sour pork, and the sautéed spinach is some of the best I've had anywhere; my favorite niece (wife's niece actually) ordered that one night and earned her spot right then.

Apr 17, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area

Your "evil food" (super unhealthy) recipe?? :)

I just re-read wasabi9988's original post and follow-up, and realized most of us had missed the part about how there are some of us who CAN'T eat certain things they love anymore. Along those lines, I have to say that the craze for real ramen, with the broth made of pork bones boiled until it gets rich and milky, came at exactly the wrong time for me, because that's a major gout attack in a bowl. So many other things I love, organ meats especially, are off my menu forever except for in very careful moderation. And beer, especially dark, malty beer, is likewise dangerous, though the IPAs I most favor are much less so.

If it's a single dish or recipe I'd better not risk, my old Southern meat'n'three plate-lunch favorite of pork liver with onions and bacon, served in its own thick, rich gravy, would probably have me hobbling out the door.

Apr 17, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking
1

Oysters - Horseradish

I think my two favorite oyster experiences were a visit to New Orleans' Acme Oyster Bar in 1981, and the last stop for a car-journalists' junket to Silicon Valley in 2007, at a wine and oyster place in San Francisco's Ferry Building, on the tab of the Smart division of D-B. Acme was all about fresh-shucked, big and cheap(ish) with mix-your-own ketchup and horseradish, while the SF thing was exquisite examples of several different varieties, with garnishes available if you insisted, but with various wines to try with the different oysters who needs it? I had every intention of writing down my impressions but soon realized I was about ten oysters ahead of my last notes and just having too much fun. I'd happily do them both again; I remember seeing Michael Landon saying he'd promised himself that if he ever made the bigtime he was going to his favorite Chinese restaurant and tell them to bring him eggrolls until he said Stop. I made a similar vow about the Acme …

Apr 17, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

How To Eat An Apple

Yes, but I prefer Johnny's technique.

Apr 16, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

Oysters - Horseradish

Ha! On one trip to France my wife's family went to Normandy, and visited a recommended oyster restaurant. The oysters came, opened but unaccompanied. Papa asked the waiter if they had any lemon. The waiter said, "M'sieur, this is a restaurant, not a fruit stand!" and stalked away.

Apr 16, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

Is the food better when the owner who is the chef cooks your food ?

Frequently, I'll even say MOST frequently, yes. But there's one in Nashville with a chef/owner we truly wanted to love, but the quality of cooking was uneven, and there was always at least one order that was somehow wrong. I should mention that this fellow has several restaurants … Last time we were in Nashville we had some excellent meals and thought we'd give this guy's now re-named place another try. Well, he had designed and developed the menu, but then had hired an excellent young chef to run the kitchen, and our meal that night was our favorite of the trip, even better than the one at Husk.

Apr 16, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

Corned beef hash recipe I can make in the UK

The spices/herb mix that comes either loose in the liquid or in a packet with American uncooked corned beef seems mostly to consist of bay leaf and mustard seed. There is also a strong presence of garlic in the brine.

I have made very good hash with chopped leftover corned beef brisket, parboiled cubed potatoes and sautéed chopped onion, with most of the (necessary) fat being the butter I sautéed the onion in before adding the beef and potato. I'm thinking my sodium level would be a good bit lower than Hormel's, as the potato was the only thing wanting salt.

This is all from memory, as Mrs. O's giving up meat makes buying and cooking even a small corned beef rather silly, so I haven't for a couple of years. But I used to at least twice a year before.

Apr 16, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking

Your "evil food" (super unhealthy) recipe?? :)

My favorite sandwich: liverwurst, Swiss cheese, sliced egg layered onto good white bread with plenty of mayonnaise, preferably homemade. A leaf or two of lettuce as a sop to my conscience … I do have one of those maybe once a year. Also, at least once a year if we're having a cold snap (or cool-enough snap - this is SoCal!) I need to make either a choucroute garni, braised sauerkraut with a jumble of meats and sausages baked in, or a cassoulet with lamb shoulder, duck legs and sausages. Then take it to a potluck, since Mrs. O no longer eats meat, and have two helpings!

Apr 15, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking
4

I have an overabundance of boxed crackers, mostly wheat thins and the like

I take this bounty of excess cracker, crumble them as evenly as possible (the Cuisinart is not terribly good here unless you do small batches) and then put them into a pan with one stick of butter (cut up) per quart of crumbs. Stir with a wooden spoon over medium-high heat until butter's evenly distributed and it all smells pretty good. I just put them still hot into a jar with a good seal and refrigerate. The butter helps to keep them fresh enough, but they'll still absorb liquid enough to use in meatloaf. My favorite topping (with grated cheese added) for mac'n'cheese or vegetable gratins, or without cheese as a top-coat breading for fried fish or whatever. Just a bit more butter for crumb crusts, I'm guessing (don't make those much).

Apr 15, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking

Help with reheating rice - no microwave

Yeah, yeah – those are the same guys who want to turn my chicken breasts into balsa wood. I've been eating leftover/reheated or even cold rice for 70+ years without any problems, and for some things I prefer it to fresh. (The cold not so much: my mom thought cold rice with sugar, cinnamon and milk was a real breakfast treat. That spoiled cinnamon for me too.)

Apr 15, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking

Which one of these ricotta cheesecakes looks better

Yeah, the second one had me at "crushed cannoli shells" and held me through the orange zest. Wowza!

Apr 15, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking

Need potluck dish using Parmigiano-Reggiano

My first thought was a Tetrazzini – chicken, turkey, even just mushroom, and you can't have too much parmigiano in that. But pesto is brilliant and won't need to be served hot.

Apr 15, 2014
Will Owen in Home Cooking

Blings, Pings, ETC

I'm not at all sure GE makes them to last as they did in 1986! I know that when our 12-year-old dryer developed a problem in its drum drive, the factory-trained technician basically gave me hell for wanting to repair it instead of keeping such an "old" thing … so I took him up to the kitchen and showed him the 1932 GE refrigerator, the '30-something gas range and my display of similarly ancient but working small appliances. Far from being impressed, he seemed to think he was in a house of insane people, but he replaced the defective part on the dryer and left with as few words as possible.

Apr 15, 2014
Will Owen in Not About Food
1

What is your oldest cookbook?

"European and American Cooking" by Gesine Lemcke, Appleton & Co 1903. Next oldest is an Oscar of the Waldorf cookbook, copyright 1896, 1908 edition. I have quite a few from the 'teens through the '30s, and several later editions of Escoffier's books. The postwar pioneers, James Beard and Julia (of course!) are my most-used ones. One treasure that I don't use so much as admire is Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's "Cross Creek Cookery," a 1942 first edition. The dealer sold it to me cheap because it is "missing its dust jacket"! What he didn't know is that wartime books had printed covers and no jackets to save paper, and the vividly colored buckram cover on mine is in gorgeous condition.

I don't cook much from any cookbook, but I love the old ones – especially Escoffier's – for the good advice and many changes on each single theme.

Apr 15, 2014
Will Owen in Not About Food

Faux pas - eating fish at work?

My one corporate job was in a cavernous open room with a bunch of cubicles cowering in the middle, but the break room was a small space off to one side. The only smell that would escape from there to pervade the huge space beyond was – yes! – microwave popcorn. Shortly after I started working there a bag of that caught fire in the microwave oven, not only stinking up the place with burnt corn and fake butter but burnt wiring and plastic. The new one came with a big sign from On High, and that was the end of the popcorn.

A bunch of us did enjoy stinking up the breakroom, though – we were mostly computer geeks of one stripe or another, so this kind of undergraduate foolishness sort of comes with the territory. We would have a weekly Sardine Sandwich Day, preferably with onion sliced on the cutting board with the break room's pathetic dime-store knife. I told Mrs. O about that when she asked me to please put no onion in the white-bean salad I made for her lunches, since she didn't want to offend any fellow lunchers, and she just said how glad she never had to work with the likes of us.

Apr 15, 2014
Will Owen in Not About Food

10 best Supermarkets

Trader Joe's was perhaps three or four stores when I was introduced to them on my first visit to SoCal in 1981. We were living in Nashville then. Now we're here in Pasadena, where TJ's began, and there's one in Nashville! Yes, it's now a chain.

A "supermarket" is by definition a store that sells all categories of fresh and packaged foods and some household items under one roof. Service delis are nice, but not a necessary item, nor is an in-store bakery. I do in fact do nearly all of my everyday shopping at a Trader Joe's – I have five within a seven-mile radius – with supplemental shopping at Ralphs, our regional Kroger affiliate, mostly for cleaning items and cat food/litter. Whole Foods gets an occasional visit too, mostly in tomato season.

Apr 15, 2014
Will Owen in Chains

Expensive Lunch at Farmer's Market

No, don't do that, kevin, because when the side dishes are part of a meal deal they're relatively cheap, but as a separate order the fries are $3 and the coleslaw $3.50. Although they're just about worth that …

Apr 11, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area

Deli Cole Slaw Surprise

The one thing I'm most enjoying about Mrs. O's conversion to vegetarianism is that I'm now preparing tuna salad just for me, so I get to use DILL pickle relish instead of the sweet kind she wanted.

Apr 10, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

Expensive Lunch at Farmer's Market

Double doozy: F&C with chips extra, from an "oyster bar" that sells only FRIED oysters …

I think the most useful thing to come out of this is to note that Tusquellas has been revealed as a place whose "cooking" is one step above serving TV dinners. Those battered cod bits, I am very sure, came to them in frozen ready-to-fry form, as I'll bet just about all of their "fresh" seafood does. If the fries and coleslaw hadn't been so good the whole experience would have been miserable.

Apr 10, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area
1

Most memorable dish in Nashville this year (2013)?

I once joked to Mama Rotier that if they and Brown's wanted to put on a Best Burger contest I'd be glad to join the judging panel. Turns out her sense of humor doesn't go that way … or didn't (since I don't know if she's still with us). But whichever one I was eating was my favorite. Have not had either one in several years, but whenever I did I was always happy about it.

Momentary winner, though, was Johnny Potts at the Sutler on 8th, who had resisted having one on his menu (he hated them) for twenty years or more, then gave in ca. 1980-something. It was the best. Then the jerks that bought the building shut him down. That's not why we left Nashville, but it could have been.

Yes, we get even more pleased with the food scene every year we come back, and it just gets better and better. Husk and some others were great last year, but the best and most surprising were that veggie Indian place out West End (which we remember as the site of Way Out West) and Arnold Myint's Blvd or however it's spelled; its previous incarnation, Cha Cha Cha, had been disappointing, but Arnold has learned to design the culinary structure and then turn it over to a good hired chef. Worked beautifully.

Apr 09, 2014
Will Owen in Kentucky & Tennessee

Expensive Lunch at Farmer's Market

Okay, this thread has gotten longer than I'd have thought possible, but there are some choices that we've found to be good and not overpriced, beginning (and perhaps ending) at the Korean rice bowl place facing the court at the Fairfax end. The diner-food place to the left of there is another, and I've gotten a cheap(ish) and filling lunch at the Gumbo Pot. A beer (one's my limit these days) goes nicely with any of this, and there's always something nice on tap. That may be one reason our gang always settles in there and hangs onto a table for two or three hours. My solo sojourn the other day was atypical, and atypically disappointing.

Apr 09, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area

Enough with the schmeer. The 80's are over.

Pooh pooh. Squiggle of sauce under something is fine with me – I agree that it allows me to pick how much of it to use. As for the top squiggles, if I can take delight in top-squiggling Pico Pica over the sour cream atop my chile-relleno omelet (and I do, even when I'm the only audience) then I'm not gonna begrudge anyone else's doing it. Dopey little dots of sauce? Not "outdated," just dumb.

The '80s are over, my sweet asterisk. The '40s aren't over yet! When I die, maybe …

Apr 09, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

Raw Garlic - How Do People Do It?

I know that I've never had any raw onion served to me there, either in Puglia, where mom and I were visiting, or in the seaside (La Spezia) or Tuscany, and believe me I got every insalata mista I could lay hands on. Lots of fennel, but no oniony things of any kind. The method of killing the bite I described was presented, it seemed to me, as the common way of making raw onions edible amongst the Cypriots … and I know the ancient Greek comedies would parody barbarians (i.e. any non-Greek) as ignorant louts who ate raw onions and garlic.

Apr 09, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics

Deli Cole Slaw Surprise

As the only "un-natural" ingredient I put into my coleslaw is whatever the Best Foods mayonnaise and the bottled pickle relish contain, I would take issue with anyone deliberately adding any artificial sweetener without advertising it AND without offering an alternative. The corn syrup in the sweet relish is pushing it, as far as I'm concerned, but Mrs. O has to have that relish in there, so there it is. She used to want a teaspoon or so of sugar in there too, but I gradually weaned her from that …

Apr 08, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics
1

Raw Garlic - How Do People Do It?

Tessa Kiros has a Cypriot salad in one of her cookbooks that uses raw red onion. She says to salt the sliced onion and set it in a bowl of cold water for half an hour or so, and darned if it doesn't work. Onion flavor but no bite, and no waking up the next morning with it either.

I think Mediterranean folks have an aversion to raw onion and garlic. When my sister lived in southern Italy and Mom and I went for a visit, some neighbors invited us to lunch one day. My mom reciprocated by making a "typical American" warm-weather meal of fried chicken and potato salad. They adored the chicken, but refused the salad after a bite (politely) because they couldn't abide the raw onion in it. Too bad Mom didn't know the salt-and-cold-water trick.

Apr 08, 2014
Will Owen in General Topics
2

Online Menus...How often should they be updated?

I think the correct QUESTION would be "How frequently would you update your restaurant's menu?" because how often they should be updated is (as we see here) a matter of opinion. I would prefer to update mine to reflect every change, but then I'd have the in-house and online menus both in PDF format, and send one to the printer and one to the website. However, it's not uncommon for me to see an essentially unchanged menu for months or years posted, with a line underneath saying that it's representative only and subject to change, please call for today's offerings.

Apr 08, 2014
Will Owen in Food Media & News

HELP: Need Rendered Duck Fat STAT

I was there yesterday and noticed that Marconda's Puritan Poultry has 1.75 lb containers of it for $14, which works out to $8/lb. Nicole wants $12.50/lb for hers. I love Nicole and her store, and the $4.50/lb I'd save would probably be what the gas for the trip to 3rd and Fairfax and back would cost me … but the next time I'm down there it's on my list!

Apr 08, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area
1

Bartender Cracking/Breaking Ice in Palm

Back when I was a too young for anything stronger than Dr. Pepper, there was a device being marketed to facilitate exactly this operation. It was a bar spoon with a somewhat longer-than-usual handle made from spring steel, and the makers claimed that it would shatter a palmed cube with one blow. I still see them at yard sales, and should probably get one.

Apr 08, 2014
Will Owen in Not About Food
1

Chicken Pot Pies?

The old standby is Moffett's Pie Shop in Arcadia. I've had theirs at the counter and it's good; I think Henry Moffett's (same family, but they fell out) in Bellflower was better, but that got bulldozed several years ago. The people eating there trend even older than I am, but there's a line out the door most days for frozen pies to go. $3 each for chicken, $3.75 for all white meat. I told'em I'd pay that for all dark … They have beef pies too for $3.30 each, and special pricing for multi-packs and combo packs. These are ready to bake. You can get a full chicken-pie dinner there w/ soup or salad, potatoes and gravy, veg, bread & butter and dessert for $10.15. Other entrées, burgers etcetera as well. Google it and get their website. I haven't had any for a year or three, but I thought it was pretty good, just a lot more than I want to eat for lunch nowadays.

Apr 08, 2014
Will Owen in Los Angeles Area