FMLA

For The Young And Hungry Soul

4 year old ramble I discovered in the cobwebs.

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I’m currently working in two very different restaurants.  One is a dirty sports bar that slangs oversized drinks to very young kids, and the other is a foodie mecca so cutting edge that it isn’t even open yet.  One elicits a certain level of disrespect from beer drinking, football loving frat boys and the ladies drunk enough to stick around while the other generates excitement as well as desperation from the kind of folks who pride themselves on being “in the know.”   

 The other day at said sports bar, these two worlds collided.  

I was minding my business, doing my usual waitress shtick, getting bits and pieces of the tableside conversation between bringing them round after round of well vodka greyhounds.  Comments like, “Have you been to x restaurant downtown, well, you have got to try the bla bla martini.  It is just TO DIE.”  And, I’m not kidding, “I was at Macy’s the other day, and I don’t mean to be rude but, I know, I know I make more money than every other family there.”  Then, they got into a very heated debate over which one of them had the most expensive mattress. 

 All the while, these men were calling me “sweety”, and treating me with a noticeable amount of disregard.   All good.  I’ve been working in restaurants a long time, and have learned to ignore the standard douchebaggery of these kinds of people.  As far as I care, I’m there to bring the drinks, get my cash and leave.

 As I was bringing them the check I sarcastically suggested they come see me at super new, hip restaurant and the particularly pretentious ones lit up like Christmas trees.  Not only had they heard of this restaurant, they went on to mention the chefs by name, and then felt the need to let me know about every encounter they’ve ever had with popular chefs in Los Angeles.  Stories about the last night at SONA with David Myers and nights they stumbled into Lucques when Suzanne Goin was on the line.  Suddenly, eager for my approval the men were begging me not to forget their names.  They wanted to know they’d have no problem scoring a table and having a better environment in which to compare mattresses I’m sure.

 The moral of the story is, whether we’re bringing you twelve-dollar pitchers of bud light, or a twenty-five dollar glass of boutique whiskey—be polite.  Bring your manners and your class, and tip your waitress. 

Cat Stevens

—Where Do The Children Play?

HOLY GNUDI

Going to Osteria Mozza, for me, is like going to church.  The high ceilings, the marble countertops and the scrupulous display of wine make me feel like I should put on my Sunday best and curtsy my way to the table.  Last Tuesday, we put on our nicer clothes and went in prepared to wait for the coveted two-top I had reserved weeks in advance.

Napkins on laps and forks in hand, we ordered figs wrapped in pancetta and velvety burrata with caviar and egg.  The chef was gracious enough to send us grilled octopus with potatoes and an order of (heavenly) ricotta gnudi to go with our corzetti stampati.

The pasta at Mozza is transcendent.  Every glistening piece is handmade by a small team of early morning cooks; so consistently you would think it comes out of a secret Mario Batali vending machine in the back.  Eating Mozza pasta is like being able to take a bite out of the Mona Lisa: it’s elegant, familiar and layered in mystery and myth.

Considering the thought, care and craft that go into every dish plated in that restaurant makes me want to reconsider my entire existence. Really.  If Mozza can take a simple thing like pasta and turn it into what it is, then I have some serious reevaluating to do.  Existential pasta eating aside, it’s always inspiring to be around quality craftsmanship in any form.    

Winter has finally found us here in southern California, and brought with it a handful of new beginnings: a new job, a new chapter in a new house and, consequently, a new neighborhood—Little Ethiopia to be exact. Moving from the stylish, but sterile intersection of 3rd and Sweetzer to the colorful corners of Pico and Fairfax has been like diving headfirst into a wormhole and coming out into an epicenter of culture and soul. From the Jewish delis down the road, to the Indian spice market around the corner, to the nightly taco stand that manifests in the parking lot each night and disappears as mysteriously, I can’t help but feel like I’ve hit the jackpot.

Torn between the parking lot al pastor and the corner burger stand, (that appropriately serves everything from teriyaki chicken to pancakes and bacon), I opted for L.A. BURGER to be my first meal in the new neighborhood. There was something about the blue paint, the barstools and the giant neon sign that I just couldn’t resist. I figured a cheeseburger and a side of chili fries would be a healthy place to start, but the gentleman there convinced me to go with the “ABC burger” instead; explaining that with avocado, bacon, cheese and mayonnaise it was the better choice. I heeded his words, grabbed a seat with a view of the kitchen and ordered a coke in a cup that was bigger than my head. (For real.)

There’s nothing like a thin patty thrown on a well-worn griddle, stuck in-between store-bought buns with iceberg lettuce and a healthy slather of mayonnaise and secret sauce; add avocado, bacon and cheese to that equation, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good burger for $4.45.

I’m a fan of any place that serves pancakes and burgers in the five-dollar range, not to mention the fact that it’s a cool hang. I’m looking forward to going back for a “California Omelette” and a pancake breakfast combo.

Things I love: used books, the 5pm cappuccino, getting into clean sheets after a hot shower and the last minute dinner date at Son Of A Gun

All About The Bread is our favorite place to go for a quick bite on a Sunday afternoon.  The sandwiches boast the best of Bay Cities without the wait.