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    Venice, CA (Los Angeles)
  1. I've always felt as safe in Mexico City as I did in San Francisco, but New York does not have one of the lowest crime rates and is one of the safest cities in the U.S., unlike Atlanta, New Orlean, or Detroit, if I remember statistics correctly. I did take the subway on a regular basis, but it did have some scary moments, especially when guys would drop a bag of broken glass in the aisle, throw themselves on top of the glass, pick it back up and then demand money for their performance. One of them got right in my face and was quite intimidating, but I refuse to encourage such behavior by giving them money. I found several restaurants in Condesa that I liked, but most meals were prepared by servants at my friends' houses.
  2. You didn't say what day of the week, but Röckenwagner's serves breakfast on Sundays. For something even fancier brunch, try Jer Ne at Ritz Carleton in MDR, although I'm not sure if they are still serving that. They have a different chef since I was last there.
  3. I don't know how C&O Trattoria made the list - I thought the food there was below average. Maybe he gave it extra points for atmosphere. I much prefer Alejo's or Italy's Little Kitchen in Westchester. I still miss Chianti Cucina, which used to be on Melrose.
  4. Hummus and Lavash (for today) Guacamole (tomorrow) Sushi (today) Bean dip and tortilla chips Kimchee (just by itself) Low salt dry roasted peanuts Quesadillas (made with tomato sauce, Mozz, and mushrooms) I can't cook right now because my kitchen is being painted, and so I have to have snacks instead. I stocked up on smoked turkey, Black Forest ham, and sharp Provolone cheese.
  5. I agree that New Orleans is a good country to visit for seafood. You can get somewhat similar food in Vera Cruz, Mexico, which is the best place for jumbo Gulf shrimp. There is plenty of other seafood as well, and the cooking traditions are similar to NO. Vera Cruz also has a large Mardi Gras celebration, streetcars, and coffee similar to NO. I visited a small village, Puerto Arista, Chiapas in 1979 with some friends from Mexico City, and my friend José helped some of the fisherman, and they gave him a huge fish, which we took to someone house to be cooked. The woman who lived there had a table and chairs in her yard, and so it was a makeshift restaurant, but she cooked the fish for us for a minimal price. I can't remember what the other restaurants were like - the Mescal was very cheap, although it tasted like gasoline. The hotel at that time cost $1.60 a night but was a bit primitive. It probably costs five times that much now, however.
  6. Peanuts are Pea Nuts, or at least that's the way I've always understood it. In culinary terms, peanuts are nuts, in horticultural terms, peanuts are legumes. In Jamaica all beans are called peas, or in some Caribbean country. Vanilla beans are not legumes either and are no more beans than coffee beans are. One person suggested that only peas are eaten green with their hulls, but green beans are eaten just the same. Are chickpeas peas or are they garbanzo beans? I guess the tendril definition is the most accurate one, at least horticulturally, but that makes little difference in culinary terms, which are less scientific.
  7. I don't think you are going to find great Chinese food on the West Side. There is a neighborhood Szechwan restaurant on Washington at Abbot Kinney in MDR/Venice, but it is only adequate, although very inexpensive. I go there often because I can walk there, but it's not comparable to what you can get in Monterey Park. It's also difficult to find Vietnamese food on the West Side. If all you want is scallion pancakes, those should be very easy for you to make yourself. I tend to make Chinese food myself rather than bother to go to a restaurant for it. It's really one of the easiest cuisines to make. I also make dim sum but admit that it is more labor intensive.
  8. There's another Oaxacan restaurant even closer to Marina Del Rey, El Saśon Oaxaqueño, 12131 Washington Place (Grandview), Mar Vista. It's in a little minimall and is very inexpensive but popular with the local Oaxacans. Excellent clayudas. Also in Mar Vista, Valle de Oaxaca, 3809 Grandview Blvd. (Venice Blvd) - great, and very inexpensive, huarache and molotes. I've been to Oaxaca many times (mostly in the late 1970s and early 80s) and never cared for the food there because I don't like most molés (especially the sweet ones), but when I went back a couple of years ago, I found a much better selection of restaurants there - and the prices were much higher. I prefer Yucatecan food myself. I do like some of the dishes in Guelaguetza, but I have not yet been to Texate, which is in Santa Monica (not Venice) on Pico at 4th.
  9. The climate in Australia is actually closer to Mexico's than it is to California; i.e. rain in the summer and dry winters and opposed to California dry summers and wet winters. Epazote should be easy to grow in either climate, but I have not noticed much flavor in the epazote that I have bought. It's in all the markets here (L.A.), and so I haven't bothered to grow it, but maybe if I did, I would notice better flavor.
  10. For north African, try Meals by Genet, the best Ethiopean restaurant in the city and very close to WeHo. I like Tommy Tangs for Thai food, and I believe the waiters are in drag on Mondays, although that might still be the case. For Japanese food, try Sawtelle Blvd between Olympic and Santa Monica Blvd - Orris Restaurant is my favorite at that location, but there are several others I like also. Since I live in Venice, I'm really more familiar with restaurants in this area, including Santa Monica and Culver City. I've heard mixed reviews about Ford's Filling Station in CC - it's very crowded at lunch with Sony employees (DB is one of those), but not so in the evening. I like La Dijonaise better than Beacon for restaurants in that neighborhood. Joe's in Venice is worth the trip, IMO, but it's just down the street from me, and so I take it for granted. I go there often for brunch.
  11. Ming Tsai's Szechuan Peppercorn Paste I saw Ming make this on TV a couple of weeks ago, but I forgot what he did with the paste after he made it. I think he put some on salmon and some on chicken. He may have added soy sauce to it. I bought a 1 oz. jar at Penzeys a couple of months ago - I thought the ban had been lifted. There are almost no seeds in the jar from Penzeys, but I remove what I do find. They are not flavorless, but they are gritty.
  12. I'll try Guidi Marcello (with two "L"s) - at least they are in Santa Monica - and let you know what their prices are like. I have not found balsamic vinegar on the web available directly from Modena, but perhaps I am not looking correctly. Please share the site where you order from. I seem to remember finding it a few years ago, but my recent searched have been futile. I speak Italian, and so the site does not have to be in English. I generally shop at Sorrento Market in Culver City for Italian deli items, but they do not allow tasting of balsamic before buying. I've tasted some expensive ones that I didn't especially like, and so I don't think price is the best indicator. BTW, I don't like the new layout of Surfas either - it reminds me of Rite-Aid.
  13. Where are they? There is the French Market Cafe down the street from my house, which is where I normally buy French imports, but that doesn't help with Italian Balsamic vinegar.
  14. I disagree also. I've shopped on line and at other stores, and I have not found the really good Balsamic vinegars for a better price than at Surfas. I have found them for twice the price, however. Please tell me where you can find 8 year old Fondo di Trebbiano Balsamic Vinegar for less than $55 - the price I last saw at Surfas. Also, at Surfas you can sample the vinegar before you buy it, which you certainly cannot do on line. I've also found lobster soup base for the best price at Surfas. You can match the price on line, but then you have to pay shipping, which costs quite a bit more than the sales tax. I have found chocolate that I liked cheaper at TJ's, however.
  15. My first recommendation would be to attend the African Marketplace Festival, which will have food booths from various African/Caribbean restaurants. It will be going on every week-end from now through Labor Day. Here are some pictures I took (some are of me) from the 2003 festival. I'm going again this week-end. For Ethiopean food, try Meals by Genet on Fairfax, and for Izakaya Japanese food, try Mushu in Torrance or Santa Monica - one of my favorite dining experiences. My sister will be visiting from Austin in a couple of weeks, and these are places I would take her. I was in San Antonio about a year ago and had a good experience at Cajun or Creole restaurant on the riverwalk. The Sunset Junction Street Fair will be going on while you are here, but it's not a great place for food, although The Cramps will be performing on Sunday at 9:00 p.m. I've done food crawls in Artesian (Little India), Japantown, Sawtelle (north of Olympic), Abbot Kinney in Venice, Melrose, and Main Street in Santa Monica. It depends on what kind of food you want. I also like Sunset Plaza on Sunset Blvd, which is popular with Euro tourists.
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