Monday, November 30, 2009

Review: Zankou Chicken

Tucked away in a dingy strip mall on Sunset boulevard, Zankou Chicken is easy to miss. And even if you did see it, you probably would not choose to go in. The walls are a blaring yellow and the fluorescent lights expose blemishes on the tiled floor. The uninterested women at the counter look a bit like Russian prostitutes, and there are usually some homeless folk hidden in a corner. Despite its grimy location and grim interior, Zankou Chicken has the best chicken in Los Angeles. Order a half chicken plate and you'll find yourself with a five dollar feast of roast chicken, pickled turnips, sliced tomato, tiny peppers, pita, hummus, and Zankou's famous garlic sauce. The chicken is juicy, tender perfection. It tastes as if it was rinsed in icy water from a mountain stream, seasoned with fresh picked herbs, and roasted to charred heaven over a spit by Moses himself. If you're willing to get a little messy, eat it with your hands and discover that the soft, succulent meat falls easily from the bone. The skin is crispy and packed with salty, roasted chicken goodness.

The best way to eat Zankou Chicken is with all the fixings. Ask for extra turnips and garlic sauce. Fuchsia pickled turnips are whimsical on sight and briny and firm on the tongue. they crunch with each satisfying, finger-staining bite. Don't forget the garlic sauce. The plate comes with one tiny pot of the stuff, but trust me you'll want more. It looks innocent enough, but the bright white paste is intensely garlicky. Don't worry, it doesn't overwhelm the chicken (but you might want a mint after dinner). The plate comes with two pitas, which are perfect vehicles to organize your meal. Rip them in half, open them up, spread garlic sauce on the inside, and dump in some chicken, chicken skin, and turnips. Then take the heaping pita and dip it in the hummus. I am usually not a fan of hummus, but Zankou's is smooth and creamy, with a glistening pool of olive oil and a dash of deep red paprika displayed on top of the chick pea mound. When it all comes together, the result is a harmonic chicken symphony. The soft, loudly flavored chicken, the salty, crispy skin, the crunching, sour turnips, the punch of garlic, the calming hummus... it almost makes you forget the strange old apron clad man hovering near your plate as you chew in eyes-closed bliss. But don't mind the low eyed stranger. He's the owner, and he clearly knows what he's doing.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Seasonal Favorites

It's my first real autumn, and I couldn't be more excited. The air is crisp, the leaves are radiant reds oranges and yellows, and I can finally buy FALL CLOTHES. I went shopping yesterday with my mom and sister in Chicago and I got some really great stuff, but even better I ordered LL Bean duck boots and the classic Filson 256 Briefcase online. I cannot wait to wear all this stuff.

what a handsome bag.

I hope they fit!

Toms Aira Cordones. They make me feel like a Ballerina/Professor

Monday, July 13, 2009

no acid... just dreams

jason: what was it?
Emma: i was at a borat screening, but it was the Q&A after with sacha baron cohen and i had missed the movie. he was standing on a platform in a pool, and i was in the adjacent room, which looked just like a classroom
Emma: a woman came over to me with a giant thing of butter
Emma: and i mean
Emma: it was like, the size of a human head maybe
Emma: and it was carved
Emma: partially
Emma: into the shape of
Emma: well
Emma: the front was an asian man
Emma: his head
Emma: a young asian man with glasses and a fade haircut
Emma: and the top of his head
Emma: where the short hair was
Emma: was a pasture
Emma: with sheep on it
Emma: but small sheep with no heads
Emma: sort of like
Emma: the suggestion of sheep
Emma: and the back smoothed out into a field also
Emma: with some animals and a fence
Emma: and then the woman showed me a video of the actual wedding this was being modeled after
Emma: like the farm it was on
Emma: and then said, can you finish this?
Emma: i'll pay you
Emma: she said how much do you want
Emma: and i was about to say 50 dollars
Emma: when she said, look i'm sorry i can only give you 250
Emma: and i was like
Emma: sure okay
jason: hahahahah
jason: emma
jason: were you taking acid?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Farming in Napa

I'm going to be in Sebastopol for the next two weeks on an organic farm/hippie commune. My friend Amy and I are leaving Monday, and we can't wait!

Friday, April 10, 2009


Hidden gem is an overused phrase, but Lou really is hidden. As you can see from the picture, Lou is in a strip mall on the corner of Melrose and Vine, sandwiched between a laundromat and the ambiguously named "discount store," which sells party supplies and cell phone cards.

Lou Himself

I went to Lou with dear old Mum and Dad for their anniversary, even though it's not really their anniversary. Don't ask. I ordered/shared:

Pig candy
Artisanal cheese plank
Roast beet salad with smoked salmon and capers
Fish plate: smoked baccalĂ , albacore confit, smoked trout, wild salmon gravlax

The pig candy was smokey, sugary, and delicious, and I can't wait to try it for myself. As soon as I tasted it I knew I had to ask Lou how to make it. He says they cure and smoke their own pork, then cut it thick and cover it in brown sugar and a little cayenne. The bacon is then placed on a baking sheet with parchment paper, and cooked till it hardens. Here's the trick- when you take the bacon out of the oven, FREEZE IT. Let it cool for a short while and then stick it right in the freezer. That's how it gets that fabulous, crispy, crystallized texture.

I wish I had written down the cheeses, they were excellent, but I didn't get all the names so I'll have to blindly describe them. One cheese, my favorite, was a creamy (I think) goat's milk cheese from the Cowgirl Creamery in California. It tasted like Mill Valley. The cheese was very soft and had so many levels of flavor. First it tasted like a barrel, a sort of old wood flavor on top of the goat. MMmmmMMMmmm. Lou says when he orders the cheese it arrives hard, so he re-wraps it and places it in a cheese fridge to age for two weeks so that it gets soft. The texture and richness were perfect. Way to go Lou!

The salad was small but the perfect size. Perfect red and golden beets- not too hard not too soft. I absolutely hate soft beets. Creamy drizzle of dressing over arugula. The smoked salmon was very salty and had a lot of pepper on it. I am usually not a big fan of pepper but it balanced the salmon well, and I love salt so I won't complain there. Lou says he likes his gravlax salty, they age theirs for ten days, but I'll talk about that when I get to the main course. The capers were not as vinegary as capers that I am used to, and they were very large. However, I think vinegary capers would have been overwhelming with the rest of the salad.

I don't know much about fish so I don't know what was what in my main course. Maybe I do? I will guess. The fish came on a plank with three small tubs with pickled onions (big bite! light pink! wonderful!), creme fraiche, and capers. The albacore and smoked trout each came on toasts soaked in olive oil. It sounds too heavy, but the drenched toast retained its crunch and despite it's drippiness, held the fish well. The baccala was great with a little creme fraiche and it came covered in dill. I loved the gravlax, not as salty as Lou made it out to be but a great bright color with thin slices of onion on it.

We got the guinness cake for dessert, which came with apple slices and whipped cream on top. The spices were delicious, the cake was spongy but still moist, and a very rich dark color with powdered sugar.

When we had finished our dessert Lou came over and gave us a bottle of Creme de cassis dessert wine to make ice cream! We had been talking about making ice cream before and Lou was kind enough to give us the gift of the perfect ice-cream wine. He says it's very sweet and to put it in a pan for a little before mixing it in with a vanilla ice cream to cook off some of the alcohol so it will freeze well. I won't forget. Thank you, Lou!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009