Monday, November 27, 2017


 OK, I admit I mostly ordered it for the name – the Astro Melt, from Astro-Burger, at Kramer Junction, up in the Mojave.  Chicken, avocado, bacon, cheese – all god stuff, but the fact is I didn’t really enjoy it all that much – the chicken, though plentiful was a bit damp and tasteless.  Or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.  I suppose that’s what comes of ordering food simply because you like the name.

It was very nicely presented though.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


I was in the Vallaria supermarket in Palmdale, Ca, where they selling the biggest pieces of pork skin I had even seen.  I bought one: there were bigger pieces for sale but why be greedy?

On the wrapper it said “chicharron delgado en bolsa.”  My knowledge of Spanish edges towards the nonexistent: I knew that chicharron was pig skin, but as for “delgado en bolas” – I suspected this might be some ancient or at least highly specialized way of cooking pig skin.

Now, of course, like all you Spanish speakers, I know that "delgado" simply means thin and “en bolsa” means in a bag – which is accurate enough but somehow it sounded better before I knew what it meant. 

Monday, November 13, 2017


Above (not absolutely in focus) is the Sa-Wooei Special Duck: “double cooked,” crispy, salty, intense, with a not-too-sweet, homemade plum sauce.  
         It would certainly be reason enough to go to the Sa-Wooei Thai restaurant, 10621, San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, California.  But you know, food is never the whole or the only reason why you go to a restaurant.  I was attracted to the Sa-Wooei because it had a fine (if not easily legible) neon sign:

And perhaps even more because it was on stilts.  I don’t believe I’ve ever seen, much less eaten in, a restaurant on stilts before.

And then there was the garnish – a butterfly carved out of a beet.  Edible for sure, but nobody else in the restaurant seemed to be eating theirs.

All good reasons to go to Sa-WooEi, but really, above, all the duck.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


I was reading an old interview with Richard Lester, in the book The Film Director as Superstar, by Joseph Gelmis.  Lester, of course, directed Help and A Hard Day’s Night, and we’ve talked before about Ringo and his sandwich in the first of those movies.

In the Gelmis interview Lester says he once asked John Lennon, who’d just come back from Sweden, whether he’d enjoyed the country.  Lennon said, “It was a plane, a room, a car, and a cheese sandwich.”
          I wonder if it was a good cheese sandwich.  I wonder if it looked like this:

Or this:

Sunday, November 5, 2017


We went to Gwen, on Sunset Boulevard.  "Primal Elegance. World-class butcher meets elegant fine dining” says the website.

 It was very expensive indeed and just about worth it.  The lamb shank was deeply wonderful.

One of Gwen’s unique selling points, or at least design features, is that as you sit at your table you get to see all the hanging meat.

Which reminded me of The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover, though to be fully accurate it would have needed a naked Helen Mirren in there as a kind of living art installation.  

One appealing curiosity of Gwen is that you get to choose which knife you use for your main course - see the pic at the top of this post  - I had the one that's third from the top, or one very like it.  

          And a curiosity which I assume was unique to me on the night: I went into the bathroom – and there was somebody at the sink, wearing a backless top, long braids, with a womanly bearing.  I was perfectly sure I was in the men’s, so I thought oh well, the times are gender fluid and I did my business and went to wash my hands which involved standing next to the backless braided woman and I definitely didn’t stare, but this character turned to me and said, “I’m NOT in the wrong bathroom.”
         And with the lightning wit for which I’m famous, I replied, ”Well that’s all right then.”

Curtis Stone, the celebrity chef/owner was in attendance: Kim Gordon was not.