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Nominations Thread: Cookbook of the Month December 2014

Down South by Chef Donald Link. I've bookmarked more recipes therein than any of my 700+ cookbooks. Those I've made have all been spectacular, to put it mildly. 'Nuff said!

Nov 10, 2014
degustateur in Home Cooking

Nominations Thread: Cookbook of the Month July 2014

Hi Gio,

I think you may be thinking of:

Martha Lou's Kitchen
1068 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC
(843) 577-9583

Good news if you are: it's still there.


Jun 08, 2014
degustateur in Home Cooking

Best ingredient guide cookbook?

1. How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table by Russ Parsons

2. Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food: A Grocer's Guide to Shopping, Cooking & Creating Community Through Food by Sam Mongannam and Dabney Gough

Mar 07, 2014
degustateur in Home Cooking

Boudin Freezing Question

It may be too late for this batch, but you should always hang your boudin links vertically for about 1.5 hours immediately after stuffing them. This allows the boudin to dry and set within the casing. The rice will absorb addtional mosture from the broth added to the mix. You can actually see the links fill out ("bloom"), resulting in a more aesthetically pleasing link, one that will better absorb any heat source when reheating and present better when served. This step is essential if you plan to smoke your links. They need to be as dry as possible before going into the smoker to enable optimal smoke penetration.

After hanging, I like to first chill then vacuum seal boudin, 2-3 links per package, prior to refrigeration, freezing or reheating/consumption. If you vacuum seal hot boudin, the filling will flow out any untied ends.

Mar 04, 2014
degustateur in Home Cooking

Best Technique cookbook

1. Cooking School by America's Test Kitchen
2. The Elements of Cooking by Michael Ruhlman
3. An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler
4. Ratio by Michael Ruhlman
5. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Mar 02, 2014
degustateur in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought recently, or are you lusting after? February 2014 edition! [Through February 28, 2014]

It's been quite some time since I've chimed in, however, I feel both compelled and inspired this morning. I just received Donald Link's Down South: Bourbon, Pork, Gulf Shrimp & Second Helpings of Everything Else. I'm poignantly akin to single-malt scotch vs. bourbon yet totally down home with everything else Link is passionate about. 

When I get a new cookbook, I usually page through and bookmark the recipes I want to tackle first. I spent two hours enjoying Down South, a great read, without a single bookmark. Not because I didn't find any recipes inspiring, rather, because I want to gang tackle all of them. A rarity.

Everything I've tried from Chef Link's first book, Real Cajun: Rustic Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana, has been exemplary. So much so that I pre-ordered Down South upon first sight last year. If hard pressed, I'd expect the following to be my first verses, in no particular order, from his new tome:

• Catfish Court Bouillon ("coo-be-yon")
• Lamb Shoulder Stew with Lemon and Olives
• Pork Belly and Smoked Sausage Cassoulet
• Braised and Crispy Goat with Yogurt Sauce, Cucumbers and Mint
• Pork Rillons
• Fried Country Terrine
• Hunter's Style Braised Duck
• Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder with Kumquats and Chiles

For the record, I also recently acquired:

• Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal (this woman speaks straight from her heart into mine)
• Andy Richter's Pok Pok (can't wait to delve into this one!)
• Richard Olney's The French Menu Cookbook (40-years old, yet still very much in vogue)

Feb 26, 2014
degustateur in Home Cooking

It's Boudin Time!

'Tis the season ...

When it comes to boudin, I prefer traditional, old school renditions, prepared as faithfully as possible to the original, early Cajun boudin. I am not a fan of new wave boudin creations such as crawfish, alligator, chicken, beef, etc. That said, two commercial establishments stand out as having some of the best boudin I've eaten in a lifetime.

The Babineaux brothers, Larry and Rodney, make some exceptional boudin at:

Babineaux’s Slaughter House & Meat Market
1019 Babineaux Road
Breaux Bridge, LA 70517
(337) 332-1961

Babineaux’s boudin is made from fresh-slaughtered hogs. They are an FDA approved slaughterhouse and butcher hogs purchased for slaughter. Each batch that I have bought came from a single hog. So, Babineaux's boudin is essentially homemade. They make both regular white boudin and red (blood). Babineaux's boudin has a distinctive taste in comparison to boudin made from processed (boxed) pork and will vary some depending upon the age, sex and diet of the particular donor hog. It is truly an artisanal product.

Another exceptional boudin is made by Joel Stelly at:

Stelly’s Supermarket
8611 Highway 71
Lebeau, LA 71345
(337) 623-3434

Although not a slaughterhouse, Stelly's makes wonderfully delicious boudin. Their recipe is rustic and robust and remains steadfastly rooted in the old way. One bite is like a backwards trip in a Cajun time machine. To say that Stelly’s boudin is excellent would be an understatement. It's made with love.

Both Babineaux's and Stelly's follow age-old traditions and incorporate various parts of the hog in their boudin, not just the butt or shoulder as most current day makers’ recipes do. This results in a very complex, deep, rich porky umami unfamiliar to many people. Theirs is real, old school boudin as it was meant to be. Just the way I like it.

To say which boudin is the best would be virtually meaningless since Cajun wars have probably been fueled over who makes the best boudin. Both of the above boudiniers warrant a try at your earliest opportunity. Worth the drive from NOLA. Call ahead first.

After reading and listening to his oral history on The Southern Boudin Trail and seeing his product pictured on The Boudin Link, John Saucier’s boudin is at the top of my wish list to try. His persona and approach exude Cajun tradition in the best possible way. If any of you have tried some please chime in.

Saucier’s Sausage Kitchen
2064 Saucier Rd.
Mamou, LA 70554
(337) 457-2699

Here’s a link to an article showcasing boudin by both Mr. Saucier and the Babineaux brothers:

Jan 07, 2012
degustateur in New Orleans

Looking for delicious chili to takeout...westside thru downtown please

Hey 1900Therese!

You might consider Chili John’s. It’s the real deal, for sure. Perhaps the best Midwestern style (finely ground beef ) chili in the country, imho. They also serve a chicken and a vegetarian version made with bulgur wheat. All are offered in varying degrees of hotness. Get it straight, with beans or over spaghetti, with oyster crackers (“Chili” John Isaac invented them), onions and cheese. Love the hot tamales made with their original beef chili. Try a slice of cold, delicious pineapple cream pie to complete your meal and cool yourself down, especially if you opted for the hot chili. You may want a whole pie (or two) for your party.

You can buy a “chili kit” that includes the fixings (chili, beans) to take home and make your own. I like to add some dark brew and a few secret ingredients to mine to rock it up a notch and let it cook down low and slow in the crock pot for a couple of hours. It’s even better than CJ’s! The kit is very reasonably priced, about $30 IIRC. The chili itself is concentrated and, when added to the beans, goes a long way. I prefer mine with a minimal amount of beans (usually straight), however.

Chili John's originated in Green Bay Wisconsin in 1900 and opened a second location in Burbank in 1945. It is the oldest restaurant in Burbank. Gee, they’ve been around for over a century, so they must be doing something right. Hey, if they ever did close shop, I’ve got dibs on that ultra cool neon clock behind the counter.

Chili John’s
2018 W. Burbank Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91506
(818) 846-3611
Open Tues–Fri 11–7, Sat 11-4
Cash only (Wisconsin location


Chili John's
2018 W Burbank Blvd, Burbank, CA 91506

Oct 03, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

El Cabrito – Hey, Kid! Get Your Goat On!

El Cabrito (The Baby Goat). The name says it all. You’ll know you’re at the right place when you drive up at the former Taco Bell and see the patio full of patrons and the parking lot overflowing with cars and (mostly) trucks. Then, for affirmation, you walk inside and see a large colorful sign touting the house specialty: Half Chivo (Baby Goat) $250 – 35 persons, Whole Chivo $425 – 70 persons. Ahh, Goat Heaven! I opted for two pounds at $18.50/lb.

You can specify your choice of cut(s) - wonderful! I requested cabeza and costillas, chopped into chunks, some larger, most smaller, but not shredded or pulverized. I knew that I had scored when I later found a whole baby tongue in the mix. The meat came with all the trimmings: a lively salsa, an awesome dark burnt sienna-colored chili oil/paste, onions, cilantro, radishes, limes and a large cup of consommé. Tortillas were extra, however, the gracious owner afforded me a delectable bonus – a femur bone with meat and cartilage still attached at both ends. Firme!

The birria was perfectly cooked - tender, juicy and, clearly, of very high quality. No doubt, this animal was as well bred as it was prepared. Notably, the serving was devoid of the oft-found stray bone fragments that can be so annoying, and potentially damaging, when noshing away on goat with reckless, wanton abandon. The flavor was distinct and vibrant, yet not overtly gamey. Truly superb. Compliments to the chef!

The consommé was sublime. The savory results of an extended and deliberate cooking process were evident in each dip and every sip. Layered, complex, not oily and only mildly spiced to preserve the exquisite natural umami. It was enjoyably drinkable as a hot beverage.

Fellow Hounds, the past month has indeed been one of bests for degustateur. Instead of declaring El Cabrito’s the best goat I’ve ever had, I urge all of you serious Goat Hounds to venture down to Santa Ana, visit El Cabrito and voice your own respected opinions in reply. All that I ask is for you to, if you are able, tell me where I can find better birria de chivo in SoCal.

FYI, El Cabrito also offers barbacoa de res (beef) plus al pastor, buches, cabeza, carne asada, carnitas, chorizo and lengua. All are sold by the pound, plate, taco, torta, burrito or quesadilla. Rice and beans are also served. I’ve yet to try any of these other offerings and don’t know if or when I will. For now, whenever this kid goes down to El Cabrito, it will be to get his goat on.

Oh yeah, next time, I’m taking my truck.

El Cabrito
1604 W. 1st Street
Santa Ana, CA 92703
(714) 543-8461

El Cabrito
1604 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

Sep 11, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Ethnic Restaurant Advice for Labor Day Weekend at Disneyland

Hi attran99!

As Das U. said, both Merhaba and Tana serve “that lovely sourdough flatbread” that you (and I) love. It’s called injera (enjera) and is a staple found at all traditional Ethiopian or Eritrean restaurants. Their cuisine is literally built upon its foundation.

Sep 05, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Native American food?

Memphis, in Orange County, makes an excellent Zuni frybread. I cannot attest to its authenticity but can certainly vouch for its savory goodness.

Memphis Café
2920 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 432-7685

Sep 05, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Tacos de Sesos--Revisited

El Rincon Del Sabor, a taco truck parked just outside Northgate Market on the southwest corner of 4th & Mortimer St. in downtown Santa Ana makes up some great tacos de sesos for $1.50. They are there everyday except Tuesday. The best time to go is afternoon through early evening. Due to their delicacy, they buy sesos fresh daily (possibly at Northgate) and don’t usually purchase before Noon. If you go later in the evening, they may have already run out.

Northgate Market
409 E. 4th St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 647-9310

Sep 05, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Stelly's Supermarket in Lebeau, LA - The Best Boudin Ever!

Via the wonders of the Internet, I recently stumbled upon what perhaps is the finest boudin of my entire life. It is the product of Stelly’s Supermarket in Lebeau, LA and exudes a quality and character that epitomizes a true labor of love. Made from fresh pork from select parts of the hog, it possesses a remarkable savory richness and flavor. Joel Stelly, the owner and one of the most gracious gentlemen you will ever know, attributes his product’s singular character to the inclusion of pork skin in the mix. What’s more, these are substantial links, made up of about 60% meat and 40% Louisiana rice. Parsley, bell pepper, onion and a heady, well balanced seasoning blend impart a solid kick to the taste buds that penetrates and heats yet does not overwhelm and desensitize.

A hot link of Stelly’s boudin is an impressive sight, fatter than most and slightly darker in color due to the predominance of meat. The wonderful aroma is redolent of spicy pork. The casing, through which bits of green and flecks of spices can be seen, is of medium thickness and produces a crisp snap to the bite when grilled. Steaming yields a casing that will snap but is best served by sliding the boudin out between your front teeth. The very best of the hog can be seen trapped inside, ready to escape into your waiting mouth. The texture of the filling itself is somewhat dense yet neither dry nor mushy. There is plenty of toothsome chew in the lean and shredded parts complimented by the presence of a few deliciously fatty and crunchy bits. Its got it all goin’ on inside.

Want some? Stop by Stelly’s in Lebeau on Hwy 71, just off Interstate 10, or give Joel Stelly a call. He can arrange to have some shipped right to your door.

Stelly’s Supermarket
8611 Highway 71
Lebeau, LA 71345
(337) 623-3434

8621 Highway 71, Melville, LA 71353

Sep 04, 2010
degustateur in Central South

Ethnic Restaurant Advice for Labor Day Weekend at Disneyland

Hey, cjmacyogi!

How about something enticingly different and somewhat of a dining adventure in and of itself? Try some of SoCal’s finest Ethiopian cuisine at one of two venues virtually equidistant to Disneyland:

Merhaba Restaurant
2801 West Ball Rd.
Anaheim, CA, 92804
(714) 826-8859

Tana Ethiopian Restaurant
2622 W La Palma Ave
Anaheim, CA 92801
(714) 229-1719

Both are similar in food, service and overall ambiance. Both are owned and operated by genuinely amiable Ethiopian women. Each has its cadre of loyal patrons who swear by it over the other. Until you have tried both and determined your preference, you cannot go wrong with either one. Virtually everything is prepared to order, so expect a brief wait. If available, be sure to share a bottle of Tej, traditional Ethiopian honey wine, while you wait.

Try the kitfo (spicy beef tartare), the doro wat (chicken with egg), the hamli (mixed greens) or cabbage and the shiro (pureed chickpeas) for a wonderful dining experience you will not forget. If you go to Tana, do try the quanta fir fir – utterly delicious yet not offered at Merhaba. Both establishments are real gems tucked away in rather dismal looking strip malls. The vibe is like eating in someone’s home. Finish off your meal with an authentic Ethiopian coffee ceremony. It will definitely wake you up after you’ve gorged yourself to the gills. Merhaba is open daily from morning until 9pm whereas Tana is closed on Mondays.

Merhaba remains my overall favorite for its superior injera, the best I’ve had anywhere, as well as for its kitfo, doro wat (I’m a devoted carnivore) and exceptional fresh-roasted coffee. Tana is generally favored for its superb vegetable preparations. Neither serves dessert, as it is traditionally not a part of Ethiopian or Eritrean cuisine.

Sep 04, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

El Sinaloense – Magnificent Menudo, Terrific Tamales, Heavenly Horchata

With all due thanks to streetgourmela, degustateur enjoyed not only the best menudo of his life, but the best tamales too. What’s more? Both came from the same place! That magical place is none other than El Sinaloense Restaurant in Huntington Park, a well-heeled haven for deliciously authentic Sinaloan cuisine that left me all but speechless. I have searched many years for menudo and tamales with the taste and flavor profile of El Sinaloense’s. Now, as the song goes, … “the search is over …”

First, the menudo – a menudo blanco (white menudo) made with multiple cuts of tripe along with tendon, pata and a minimum amount of hominy simmering in a rich, savory broth that was not the least bit oily. Undoubtedly a true labor of love made the old fashioned way and cooked to absolute perfection. Literally, this was menudo of the gods, redolent with the taste of fresh pork and possessing an uncommon depth of flavor entirely worthy of my highest accolades. Likewise, the accompanying grilled buttered bread was a celebration in its own right. As streetgourmetla put it – “a serious menudo”, to say the least.

The tamales – totally unexpected; I went to El Sinaloense expressly for the menudo. Tamales are not even on the menu but I spotted a cache of them in two large, sealed plastic containers behind the busy counter. Being the tamale hound that I am, I couldn’t pass them up. Made of pork, red chile and a sliver each of zucchini and potato, they were otherworldly good, an undeniable work of culinary artisanship. Sublime in every respect. Perfect size and proportion, perfect masa and perfectly moist and tender. Moreover, the wonderful spiciness and flavor were evident throughout, in every bite, including the flaps of masa between the folds of the cornhusk wrapper, the ends of which were tied in little husk ribbon bows. Rustic, artisanal, made with love and pride. Yes indeed, El Sinaloense’s tamales are also serious and the best I’ve ever had. Seriously.

Finally, the horchata – ahh, heavenly … I needn’t say more.

Thank you again, SGLA, for a fantastic lead, one that will be appreciated and followed repeatedly for a long time to come.

‘Nuff said.

El Sinaloense Restaurant
7601 State Street
Huntington Park, CA 90255
(323) 581-1532

El Sinaloense
7601 State St, Huntington Park, CA 90255

where to go in Monrovia for dinner?

How is Devon these days? I have not returned since several consecutive lackluster experiences about four years ago after Pedro, the original chef, departed. Before that, I was a semi-regular since 1998.

Also, what’s the word on Wang’s Place (name/location change)? Chow-worthy?

Aug 30, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

where to go in Monrovia for dinner?

Give Cafe Massilia a try. Located in nostalgic downtown Monrovia, CM is a quaint, charming French bistro owned and operated by two Frenchmen who both hail from Marseille, the oldest city in France. Indeed, they have succeeded in bringing a pleasant taste of French culture and cuisine to the San Gabriel Valley.

I have enjoyed a number of delicious lunches and dinners there and they are now open for breakfast as well. The menu has recently been updated and expanded. Among my favorites are the escargots, goat’s cheese crepes, spinach and brie quiche, rack of lamb and the frog’s legs. Their cassoulet (Wednesday) and bouillabaisse (Friday) specials are superb. Finish your meal with a delightful crème brulee. Small but nice selection of wines by the glass or bottle.

The ambience is warm and inviting as is the attentive service. You can choose to dine inside or true bistro style on one of two outside front tables. Open 7 days, B/L/D.

Cafe Massilia
110 E Lemon Ave
Monrovia, CA 91016
(626) 471-3588

Cafe Massilia
110 east lemon avenue, Monrovia, CA 91016

Aug 30, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Looking for a good tuna melt in San Dimas or Diamond Bar

My apologies, but the address and map link I provided are incorrect. The correct address is:

Sugar Rush Café
3900 Valley Blvd
Walnut, CA 91789
(909) 869-7969

Map Link:

Sugar Rush Cafe
3900 Valley Blvd Ste A, Walnut, CA 91789

Aug 30, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Cajun Boudin – What, Where, How


Via the wonders of the Internet, I recently stumbled upon what perhaps is the finest boudin of my entire life. Hence, this writing. It is the product of Stelly’s Supermarket in Lebeau, LA, a family enterprise that started in the 1920’s and still occupies its same original location. Their boudin recipe is rustic and remains steadfastly rooted in old school tradition. One bite is like a backwards trip in a Cajun time machine. To say that Stelly’s boudin is excellent would be an understatement. To say that it is the best would be virtually meaningless since Cajun wars have probably been fueled over who makes the best boudin.

Let me just say that Stelly’s Cajun boudin exudes a quality and character that epitomizes a true labor of love. Made from fresh pork from select parts of the hog, it possesses a savory richness and uniqueness of flavor heretofore unfound by yours truly. Joel Stelly, the owner and one of the most gracious gentlemen you’ll ever know, attributes his product’s singular character to the inclusion of pork skin in the mix. What’s more, these are substantial links, made up of about 60% meat and 40% Louisiana rice, most likely from Crowley, an area known for its superior rice crops. Parsley, bell pepper, onion and a heady, well-balanced seasoning blend impart a solid kick to the taste buds that penetrates and heats yet does not overwhelm and desensitize.

A hot link of Stelly’s boudin is an impressive sight, notably plumper than most and slightly darker in color due to the predominance of meat and its resultant internal gravy. The aroma is absolutely wonderful, redolent of spicy pork. The casing, through which bits of green and flecks of spices can be seen, is of medium thickness and produces a crisp snap to the bite when grilled. Steaming yields a casing that will snap but is best served by the straw method of boudin extraction, my favorite way. The very best of the hog can be seen trapped inside, ready to escape into your waiting mouth. The texture of the filling itself is somewhat dense and neither dry nor mushy. There is plenty of toothsome chew in the lean and shredded parts complimented by the presence of a few deliciously fatty and crunchy bits. Its got it all goin’ on inside. The flavor is deep, complex and very gratifying. Indeed, the perfect link. Did I say “best”?

Hmmh … time for another one of Stelly’s stellar links …

Yum, Boy (and Girl)! (^_^)

Want some?

Stop by Stelly’s in Lebeau on Hwy 71 just off Interstate 10 or give Joel Stelly a call. He can arrange to have some shipped right to your door.

Stelly’s Supermarket
8611 Highway 71
Lebeau, LA 71345
(337) 623-3434

Aug 30, 2010
degustateur in General Topics

Redondo Beach Pier

Hi, anperkins!

I heartily recommend that you go to the Redondo Beach Pier and enjoy a Dungeness crab feast. Where you go once you get there depends upon how you want it prepared and with what you want to accompany it. Two choices stand apart from the rest.

If you want a traditional American style preparation, go to Quality Seafood. They offer the largest selection and the highest quality in the area, perhaps in all of SoCal. Make your own selections from live seafood tanks filled with well over 50 types of crab, lobsters, oysters, clams, mussels, sea urchin, other mollusks, fish and shrimp. They will prepare them for you while you wait. Their signature method of crab preparation is simple - live, whole and steamed inside a plastic bag. This method retains more of the original crab essence than does boiling. Lay out the supplied newspaper and make a mess on the umbrella-covered stone tables as you bang away at dismembering your crab with one of the provided wooden mallets. Nice selection of on-tap and bottled beers.

Quality Seafood
130 S. International Boardwalk
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 372-6408

If you fancy a Korean style presentation, including boiled (not steamed) crab, rice, panchan, kim chee and maeuntang (spicy seafood soup) along with Korean beers (Hite, OB) and soju, then go to Pacific Fish Center. It is the most popular of the Korean style seafood houses on the pier. Please be aware that you will generally pay more at PFC, or other Korean-owned venues, than at Quality Seafood. In return, you do receive a higher level of attention and service from the wait staff. You do not get to make your own specific selections, however, and the variety of offerings is not as great as at Quality Seafood.

Pacific Fish Center
131 Fisherman’s Wharf
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 374-8420

Quality Seafood
130 International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA

Pacific Fish Center & Restaurant
131 Fishermans Wharf, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

Aug 30, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Looking for a good tuna melt in San Dimas or Diamond Bar

Hey, calabasas_trafalgar!

I think you would be pleased with the Sugar Rush Café. Along with some delicious breakfast and lunch offerings, they serve up a pretty serious tuna melt. The chicken & spinach melt is very good as well.

Try a cafe latte or mocha. They use Inteligentsia coffee and brew a decent cup.

Sugar Rush Café
900 Valley Blvd
Walnut, CA 91789
(909) 869-7969

The area is somewhat industrio-desolate; here’s a map link:

Aug 29, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Sweetbreads; Where to Buy and Who has the Best?

Hello Again, mucho gordo!

I favor McCall’s for their exceptional quality (organic grain-fed, IIRC) and competent service. As relatively new kids on the block, they are extremely dedicated and conscientious. Their small operation is a passionate labor of love. What’s more, Nathan and Karen, both of who are schooled and seasoned chefs, are a really sweet young couple. One may indeed pay a bit more here, but cost is no object to me in this regard when all factors are considered. After all, you did request the best. Call them, talk with them and place your order. You won't be disappointed.

Take a look at this excellent write-up and clip from

Aug 23, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Sweetbreads; Where to Buy and Who has the Best?

Hey, mucho gordo!

Excellent sweetbreads can be acquired at any of the following sources. My current preference is McCall’s followed by Harvey’s Guss. Given their delicacy and sometimes limited availability, always call before you visit.

McCall's Meat & Fish Company
2117 Hillhurst Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 667-0674

Harvey Guss Meat Company
949 S Ogden Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 937-4622

Huntington Meats
6333 W 3rd St
Stall # 350
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 938-5383

Marconda’s Meat Market
6333 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90001
(323) 938-5131

El Gaucho Meat Market
2715 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
(310) 297-2617

El Gaucho Meat Market #2
847 S State College Blvd
Anaheim, CA 92806
(714) 776-6400

Manhattan Meats
1111 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 372-5406

Marconda’s Meat Market
6333 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90001
(323) 938-5131

Tito’s Market
9814 Garvey Ave
El Monte, CA 91735
(626) 579-1893
... be sure to try their delicious empanadas get some of their incredible bacon. Might as well grab a milanesa or choripan sandwich while you're at it. Same goes for the El Gaucho's above.

Bon Appetit!

Aug 23, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

CUT - is it worth it?

For me, dining at CUT is more about the overall experience than merely the singular piece of meat en plate. I have relished a number of magnificent meals at CUT and it remains one of my premier LA dining venues. It is also one of my favorite spots to dine alone and to reflect. The ambience and service are second to none and the food has left me without a single complaint that I didn’t create for myself. What, you say! Well …

I once ordered CUT’s Japanese Wagyu Rib-Eye and found it cloying after just several bites. I forced myself to finish it. Although a prime specimen it was entirely too rich in fat content for my palate, particularly given its larger size. I was left to consider it a $200 novelty dish, one that I would not likely reorder in the same size or cut. “Too much of a good thing” … best enjoyed in small quantities (as per Ipse, shabu shabu, sukiyaki, or robata style), leaving one wanting for more, not wishing for less. Those first bites, however, were truly sublime.

I’ve yet to enjoy the full range of steaks at either CUT or Mastro’s and I’ve only dined at Mastro’s Orange County locations a few times in toto. Mastro’s Bone-in Kansas City Strip was exceptional as was its New York Strip, essentially the same cut but without the bone. Both were superbly prepared, but each a bit shy of the forward flavor that I so appreciate in the best examples. The creative starters such as the bone marrow flan, the superb side dishes such as their mac ‘n cheese and the exemplary service render the total experience of dining at CUT a cut above, inviting rather than just welcoming my return. Did I mention their chocolate soufflé?

A brief word about Kobe versus Wagyu beef. Kobe beef comes from the Wagyu cow. All Kobe beef is Wagyu beef, but not all Wagyu is Kobe. The fundamental difference is that true Kobe beef must come from the Kobe prefecture in Japan. Kobe beef is also bred in accord with strictly designated standards. Interestingly, a significant amount of Kobe beef comes from cattle raised in locales other than Japan, including the U.S. and shipped to Kobe, Japan for finishing and, thereby, enabling the Kobe appellation designation. It is true that, at present, CUT is not featuring any “real” Japanese Kobe beef on their menu. As with all beef, there are various grades of Kobe and Wagyu beef. The assigned grade applies to the entire carcass, not just to specific cuts from one part or another. The grade, i.e. quality, of Wagyu beef offered by CUT is, imho, at least as high as that of most of the genuine Kobe beef, when available, offered for sale in the U.S. market. Trust me.

Is CUT worth it?

You betcha!

Aug 22, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Long Beach and vicinity, must be open for Sunday lunch

Hi, MaryT!

I’ll cast my vote for The Original Fish Company in Los Alamitos. A loved one recently acquainted me with it and I’ve only been but once. I enjoyed it thoroughly and left quite satisfied, vowing to return soon.

TOFC specializes in fresh, and I emphasize fresh, mesquite-broiled seafood. A couple of steaks, surfs & turfs and pastas are offered as well. They purchase their seafood direct off the fishermen’s boats, caught fresh daily. Their selection is fairly extensive. I started with a perfectly shucked 4-oyster sampler followed by their superb white clam chowder and finished up with a splendidly rendered Chilean sea bass with garden vegetables. Even the sourdough was a cut above the norm. I eyed a couple of the desserts; they looked delightfully inviting but I was already stuffed.

They offer inside or patio dining, a nice list of wines by the bottle or glass and a perfect atmosphere for two friends to reconnect. Food and service were both outstanding. Next time, I’m going for the bouillabaisse or the cioppino.

Bon Appetit!

The Original Fish Company
11061 Los Alamitos Blvd
Los Alamitos, CA 90720
(562) 594-4553

Aug 21, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Jury duty in Inglewood

A few recommendations, in proximity (closest first) order:

Don’t be a jerk but feel free to eat some at the Front Page Jamaican Grille (^_^). The jerk chicken, pork and goat are excellent and served with rice, beans, fried plantains and a vegetable. I really love their Jamaican meat patties, and always get a few to go – fresh made and full of flavor, not grease. Wash your meal down with a cool, crisp ginger beer or a nice, fruity sorrel. The owners are very nice folks and deliver their warm service with pride. Less than 5 minutes away.

Front Page Jamaican Grille
1117 W. Manchester Blvd
Inglewood, CA 90301
(310) 216-9521

Check out The Serving Spoon, a stellar breakfast/lunch-only spot located in an Inglewood strip mall. Virtually everything on the menu is about best in its class. Among the standouts are the fried chicken, catfish, pork chops, buttery grits, house-made spicy beef sausage, waffles and pancakes. Perfectly cooked eggs and omelets. Great selection of juices. Daily specials. Serious eats, seriously delicious. Small, casual venue with a large following of loyal patrons. Less than 5 minutes away.

The Serving Spoon
1403 Centinela Ave
Inglewood, CA 90302
(310) 412-3927

If you have a penchant for soul food, try Bertha’s Soul Food Cafe. Located on Century Blvd about three miles southeast of Inglewood, Bertha’s serves up outstanding fried chicken, oxtails, ham hocks, short ribs, catfish, snapper, collard greens, black-eyed peas, yams, etc. They also make a delicious peach cobbler and a scrumptious sock-it-to-me cake among other delightful desserts. Yeah, they have red velvet cake too. Fast, efficient service. About 10 minutes away.

Bertha’s Soul Food Café
1714 W. Century Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90047
(323) 777-3373

Aug 19, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Donut Anpan?

Yo, A5 KOBE!

I know that your tastes are very discerning. I’ve found Yamazaki’s anpan to be quite good, however, some of the best I’ve had were at:

Cream Pan
602 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 665-8239

Absolutely delicious. Made fresh daily. Timing is key; just made is best. Direct comparisons are thus rendered difficult.

Cream Pan
602 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780

Aug 19, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Lobster Pie/Newberg

The Blue Plate Oysterette served up a delicious lobster pie as a special late last year. Decadently rich and creamy with a more than fair share of lobster and a wonderfully light and flakey crust. Not sure if it is currently offered, however.

Blue Plate Oysterette
1355 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 576-3474

Michael Mina’s XIV has a very respectable looking traditional Maine lobster pot pie on the menu. Although I went without a taste, it was certainly enjoyed by my dining companion. I vowed to return for a personal sampling but have yet to do so.

8117 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 656-1414

If you can survive without the crust accompanying a traditional lobster pie or newberg, both the Dal Rae and Melisse offer exceptional versions of lobster thermidor. Please don’t ask me to pick one over the other; it’s too close to call. I’ve enjoyed DR’s rendition several times versus only once at Melisse. I’d settle for either (right now) in a heartbeat. Yum!

Dal Rae
9023 Washington Blvd
Pico Rivera, CA 90660
(562) 949-2444

1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Neighborhood: Santa Monica
(310) 395-0881

If you ever find yourself at Pala Casino in North San Diego County, the Chef at the Oak Room will, upon request, whip you up an extraordinary lobster pie in a puff pastry shell that will literally knock your socks (or stockings) off. Indeed, I go to Pala for two primary reasons, neither of which is a gamble:

1. Lunch at Mis Cuates Taco Shop across the street and
2. Dinner at the Oak Room

Aug 19, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Water Grill- what to order?

The Chef’s Tasting Menu is virtually synonymous with the Water Grill. Go for it with as many courses as you can accommodate. The minimum five course selection is about $90 per person, food only. At WG, the tasting menu is not an after thought; it is a premise, well thought out to showcase the chef’s abilities and offerings.

The 2008 Michelin Star establishment, under Executive Chef David LeFevre, is arguably LA’s finest seafood restaurant. David is at the top of his game and consistently seeks to wow his guests and tantalize their taste buds with his innovative, yet very fundamental approach to food preparation and presentation. Food and service are exceptional, as would be expected.

I truly enjoy WG's art deco ambience and suggest that you seek to reserve Booth #1 to maximize your anniversary dining experience. It affords seclusion yet affords a great view of the expansive kitchen and its impressive working dynamics.

Happy Anniversary!

Water Grill
544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

Aug 18, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area

Problems at OC Sushi Shibucho – Questionable Fish quality


Your post piques my concern and challenges me to comprehend its foundation. I have enjoyed sushi at Sushi Shibucho in Costa Mesa regularly since the week it opened, about nine years ago. In over 300 visits and over $40K spent there, I have not detected any pattern or trend of deterioration whatsoever in the quality of fish served by either Shibutani-san or his son, Naga-san (aka Glen). The consistency is amazingly comforting.

You seem to imply that the fish itself served by the two Itamae are different. If so, I do not agree with your conjecture. Likewise, I find it incongruous that Naga-san would serve lesser quality fish than would Shibutani-san. However, it would not surprise me if the more choice cuts were selected for omakase service at the sushi bar. Hence, the higher price paid for omakase versus a la carte or take-out orders of the same quantity. Likewise, I would not be put off if their crème de la crème selections, notably their finest o-toro, were reserved for their most highly respected, well-heeled patrons, those who they can rest assured are able to fully appreciate the often very fine differences in texture and flavor. Although uncertain, I would like to consider myself among this elite group. If true, these practices are certainly not exclusive to Shibucho. At sushi bars worldwide, probably more so than at any other type of restaurant, there are indeed rights of passage whereby patrons must first earn the Itamae’s respect and trust before the more privileged or exotic offerings are availed to them.

Perhaps your commentary is based upon your perception of the overall freshness of the fish in Shibucho’s inventory. In that case, let me say that the “freshest”, i.e. just caught, fish generally does not yet taste its best to a sushi connoisseur. Under the most skilled Itamae, different fish may undergo various preparatory processes before being showcased and sliced for sashimi or sushi. Some may be cured in rice, salt or both; others, like halibut (hirame), may be wrapped and preserved in seaweed for a period of time. Still others, such as albacore (shiro maguro), require longer refrigeration and aging before optimal flavor is achieved. These methods impart delicate nuances into the fish that the more neophyte patron may associate with being taint or not fresh. The very appearance of the fish is also affected. Shibutani-san is, without question, a true grand master of fish preparation. He does wondrous things with his fish prior to showcasing. The fish served by Naga-san is the exact same fish, prepared in exactly the same manner as that served by Shibutani-san.

So, where do the differences lie? There are a number of distinguishing factors. One, the type and sharpness of the knife (hocho) used for slicing is an important factor. A razor-sharp knife exerts fewer traumas on a cut edge, thus influencing texture and taste. Two, the method (size, thickness, angle, direction) of slicing fish greatly influences its perceived texture and flavor. Three, the way each piece is handmade (amount of rice, degree of compression, shaping) contributes greatly to the final product. In addition, the time elapsed between when the fish is cut and when it is eaten is a factor. In Japanese tradition, to ensure optimal enjoyment, sushi should be consumed within five seconds of its being served to the patron. A master Itamae knows just how to exert maximum flavor potential from each piece of fish before it reaches your mouth.

Shibutani-san’s knife-work and hand skills are second to none - skilled, exacting and precise. Naga-san’s skills, although decades less practiced than his father’s, equal or exceed, imho, that of most Itamae in SoCal. It is in these dimensions alone that I grant any real difference between father and son at Sushi Shibucho. Is this difference dramatic? Not today, in my opinion. As Naga-san progresses in age and experience, these differences meld and assimilate infinitely. I recall an occasion less than two years ago, when I first clearly observed in Naga-san the virtual mimicry of his father’s demeanor and hand motions when preparing nigiri. It was literally uncanny, like watching two Itamae who were mirror images of each other, albeit one, much younger. I mentioned this to him at the time. Not only did he blush, but he seemed genuinely honored, proudly reassured if you will. He thanked me humbly and quietly proceeded with his craft.

Could I tell the difference today between Shibutani-san’s and Naga-san’s sushi in a blind test?


Is said difference deal-breaking?


In all due respect, Naga-san is the legal owner of Sushi Shibucho in Costa Mesa. His father, Shibutani-san, and mother both work for him. To each of them I extend my respect, praise and thanks.

Sushi Shibucho
590 W 19th St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Aug 13, 2010
degustateur in Los Angeles Area