cookie monster's Profile

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Is it okay to ask guests at a suprise party to pay to attend?

I'm with you, Harters. the fact that this is a surprise party changes my response to the situation. Yes, we can all agree that it's tacky to ask guests (and only some guests at that) to contribute cash towards a party one is hosting at one's home, and yes it's even tackier to spring that condition on guests after they've already rsvp'd. But I have to go on the assumption that the guests of honor don't know this is being done, and might well be mortified if they found out. As you say, all they're going to know is how disappointed they are when a bunch of their friends don't show up to celebrate their birthdays (and even more so if they ask the host "Hey, do you know why Harters isn't here?' and the response is "I'm not sure what happened - s/he rsvp'd yes but then cancelled last minute.") Plus it's $15, not $100. So I would be plenty annoyed at the host, but then I'd suck it up, put on smile, pick up a $10 bottle of wine, and go celebrate my friend's big day.

about 15 hours ago
cookie monster in Not About Food

Your favorite pub or restaurant . Would you mention to the manager that the restrooms are getting a little dirty ?

Absolutely, I would mention it while I was there. Why ever not? More than once I've let a manager know the bathroom is out of paper towels, the trash is overflowing, etc.

Chicken bowls for a crowd

maybe my friends are just gluttons for protein, but if they were serving themselves from a chafing dish I would definitely have to plan on more than 4 ounces of chicken (or beef) per person, especially if we're talking pre-cooked weight.

Jul 01, 2015
cookie monster in Home Cooking

When do you just toss it?

I'm feeling like a guilty food waster as I read all these responses . . . but my perspective is a little different. I am conscious about wasting food, but I'm also conscious of wasted calories and empty carbs. So if I make, say, a beef dish and it's really not good, I'm not likely to try to salvage it by adding cheese, cream, pasta or a pastry crust in order to make it edible. It's not that I never eat those things, but when I do I want a dish that's really really good, not just passable. But that's just me. And overcooked or bland vegetables definitely get repurposed in my kitchen into soups, omelets, etc.

L.A. Dish of the Month, June 2015 -- PIZZA

another vote for the 1905 at South End. if you're not inclined toward sausage, the Vanguard (mushrooms, fontina, fresno chiles [no tomatoes]) is my other favorite. The crust really is outstanding. Last time i was there I watched the woman next to me (it's a very small place with mostly communal seating) start off doing the usual LA thing of leaving her crusts on the plate but then she eventually went back and ate every last bit of them ...

Date spot - west LA?

I may not be qualified to judge since I've only been there twice (once when Kuniko was there and once after she left), but I didn't notice a difference. And my friend who eats there often said she thought the food was as good as ever.

Patio at Wilshire is another good idea. Ditto patio at Gjelina if you're willing to venture to Venice. (I think inside at Gjelina can be cool and cozy and romantic, but it's also very loud.)

Date spot - west LA?

Hinoki and the Bird is indeed a nice date spot if you can get a table on the patio (which is beautiful). Inside can be too loud to carry on a meaningful conversation.

I also like the Little Door in Santa Monica (right at the Brentwood border, so not too far from Century City). I might even describe it as both cool and cozy ... not cheap though.

If you want to branch further west into Santa Monica and Venice, there are many more options.

Offering alternative meals to children - yay or nay

This reminds me of a story . . . about why a friend (mid-40s now) has an extreme aversion to eggs. Not just eating eggs as a dish, but also baked goods that have any hint of "egginess" to them. he grew up as the oldest of a bunch of kids in a family that didn't have a lot of money. One time when he was maybe 12-13 he was tasked with making egg salad for the kids' lunch. he screwed up and didn't boil the eggs long enough, so when he tried to peel them both the yolks and whites were still runny (and of course now cold). His parents were furious about the waste of all those eggs and made him make and eat an egg salad sandwich out of those half-raw eggs. That probably would've turned me off of eggs for life also. Like people have said, different generation in terms of parenting style.

Jun 23, 2015
cookie monster in Not About Food

Offering alternative meals to children - yay or nay

Good point. I was thinking about this as a combination of philosophical objection and very picky eater, i.e. this particular child is also not going to eat the salad, cooked vegetables, etc., that accompany the rest of the family's dinner.

And you're right that one vegetarian can affect the rest of the family in a positive way.

Jun 23, 2015
cookie monster in Not About Food

Offering alternative meals to children - yay or nay

Throwing in an alternative view on alternative meals . . . I'm not a parent, but I am a godparent to eight year old twins who could not be more different in their food preferences, despite sharing DNA and being brought up with the same family meal habits, exposures to new foods, etc.

Twin A is a hearty and fairly adventurous eater. She doesn't like spicy hot foods or certain strong flavors, but her favorite dishes include things like barbecued ribs, lobster, mussels, and roasted cauliflower. She will try almost anything once, and if she doesn't like it, no big deal.

Twin B is a vegetarian with a very limited universe of things that she'll eat. Vegetarian is actually misleading, as she really doesn't like vegetables. Fruitatarian? She was about three when she made the connection between meat and animals and promptly stopped eating beef, chicken, fish. She lives on bread, cereal, fruit, plain pasta, fruit smoothies, cheddar cheese, yogurt, french fries and the occasional raw carrot, cucumber or snap pea. And desserts. And you know what? Her parents do make alternative meals for her, so that she'll get some food in her with some sort of nutritional value (thank goodness for the Barilla protein fortified pasta). Otherwise she might end up subsisting on bread (which does happen in restaurants), which wouldn't particularly bother her. She's one of those people who has to be reminded to eat. Eventually she may expand her food horizons, but for now her parents have decided not to go to battle over it, and I don't blame them.

Jun 23, 2015
cookie monster in Not About Food

Hinano Cafe - Bang for your Burger Buck

I had my first Hinano burger last week, which is a bit of an embarrassment since I've lived walking distance from the place for 6 years, and have in fact walked or biked past it, I don't know, a couple 100 times? It's not that I'm not a burger lover. More that I'm not much of a dive bar person. But anyways - it was a really good burger. I ordered a single cheeseburger and that was plenty big for me. basic bun, lettuce, tomato but they were all fresh and as they should be. And the meat was well seasoned with great grill flavor. Pickled peppers were a nice touch. I just wish they had french fries. But $6.50 for that burger and a bag of chips, a few doors up from the beach, is hard to beat.

Does anyone else not like chocolate chips?

you're right - it's not true. The ingredients in Nestle's semi-sweet chips, which must be the most commonly used brand: SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE (SUGAR, CHOCOLATE, COCOA BUTTER, MILKFAT, SOY LECITHEIN, NATURAL FLAVORS). CONTAINS: MILK AND SOY INGREDIENTS.

Hershey's chips are similar except they do use artificial flavorings.

Please help me like chicken breast!

If you're that particular about trimming thighs, you'll have the same issue with bscb. I know I do. I lose a significant amount of meat because I'm compelled to trim off all the bits of fat and cartilage and remove the veins. Can't stand getting a bloody vein in my cooked chicken ...

Jun 18, 2015
cookie monster in Home Cooking

Desert Recmomendations for Father's day Brunch (low cal, low sugar)

I agree. None of those purchased dessert options would qualify as low cal / low sugar, unless he only has one bite. In which case a chocolate cake from Susiecakes would also work. The farmers markets have some great berries right now, so I would center my dessert around those.

French speaking restaurant in LA or OC

Le Petit Cafe on Colorado in Santa Monica - food is good if not amazing, and they seem to have a lot of French-speaking staff.

I don't know how to pick for picky eaters! (But need to find a place for dinner for 7 tomorrow!)

Second C&O, Lares, and Don Antonio's. Hillstone in SM could also work, and you'd be right by the Promenade and Pier. I've also had good luck with picky eaters at La Vecchia on Main Street in SM. of course I have no idea if you can get a reservation for 7 people tomorrow at any of these places ...

Grilled cheese sandwich in Santa Monica/Venice

Cafe 50s on Lincoln (I know, not very chowhoundish), Flake on Rose, Sauce on Hampton . . . also GTA on Abbot Kinney usually has a couple melts that are kind of like fancy grilled cheeses.

What trends do you see in the preparation of foods and drinks in restaurants?

Yes it is. On toast! Actually fancy toasts also seem to be a recent trend.

May 30, 2015
cookie monster in General Topics

The Wrath of Grapes

not a frequent wine board poster, but I thought this was an interesting read. I'm hoping people can see it without having to be a NYT subscriber.

May 29, 2015
cookie monster in Wine

late(ish) solo dinner on a Wednesday night

not exactly what you're describing, but I really like dining solo at the Bar Room at the Modern. Serves until 10 during the week I believe.

Chicken Sausages, Any Reccomendations?

I like the Applegate Organics chicken and turkey sausages that are sold at Whole Foods. Not really similar to a pork sausage, but I like the texture and flavors, and unlike a lot of poultry sausages (e.g. Aidells) they don't use pork casings, which kind of defeats the purpose if you're buying poultry sausage became you don't eat pork products.

May 12, 2015
cookie monster in General Topics

S. Mpls Restaurant with Racist Sign?

Yup, many of the young men of various races in my very casual work place would not be allowed into that restaurant. I'm not a fan of the look but I've gotten used to it after years of exposure, so to speak.

Famous Recipes

I love that book! But I don't use it much for rules to live by. (Sorry for the digression)

May 07, 2015
cookie monster in Home Cooking

Famous Recipes

and some of us have learned recently what can happen when one strays from the famous original recipe ;-)

Famous Recipes

wow, tough crowd. I'll add Ina Garten's lemon bars. and second Julia Child's beef bourguignon. And off the back of the box, not from a well known chef - the Hershey's perfectly chocolate cake (although some prefer the black magic cake).

May 06, 2015
cookie monster in Home Cooking

Supermarket music

I love the music at my Whole Foods. Varies from classic rock to alt country to hip hop to standards depending on the day and time. Often find myself singing along, usually but not always quietly.

May 04, 2015
cookie monster in Not About Food

Dinner Party Menu Question

That looks like a lovely spring-y menu. I don't think you need a Greek salad along with the veg-heavy potato salad and the crudite with the hummus, but I might add a simple cooked green vegetable, like sautéed spinach or green beans.

no-bake dessert challenge

Reporting back: I ended up not having much time to fuss with a multipart or unfamiliar recipe, so I went with the browned butter Rice Krispie treats. But (isn't there always a but) I did my shopping at whole foods, and it turns out you can't buy Rice Krispies (or their organic non-gmo equivalent) at whole foods. Only organic puffed brown rice cereal. so I experimented with that, and the end result tasted like slightly sweetened and sticky puffed brown rice cereal. So then I doctored them up with various toppings to accommodate the various likes and dislikes in the group - chocolate, coconut and pecans, peanut butter - and they turned out pretty tasty. But next time I'll go to the conventional grocery store for genuine Rice Krispies.

restaurant on the Westside to have a business dinner?

Go-to's in that vicinity for business dinners where one can actually talk = Josie, Il Moro, Wilshire (patio), Tavern (atrium). My personal favorite food wise is Tavern.

no-bake dessert challenge

Why didn't I think of that? it's only 12-15 people, at a friend's house with a great kitchen, so I could also make cookie dough at home and then bake them when I get there. Oven space shouldn't be a problem.

Apr 29, 2015
cookie monster in Home Cooking