Will you be entertaining anytime soon? May I suggest this dish as a pasta or main course, it’s a show stopper. A twist on Louisiana’s gumbo, but with fettuccine and pickled okra. The depth and complexity of the gumbo sauce made from a golden brown roux will WOW your guests, as, of course, will generous morsels of fresh Maine lobster. Pickled okra counterbalances with a refreshing zing. Those not too fond of okra will be impressed, there is none of that usual slipperiness.
We LoVe LA & Wolfgang Puck
Roll down the window, put down the top
Crank up the Beach Boys, baby
Don’t let the music stop
We’re gonna ride it till we just can’t ride it no more
From the South Bay to the Valley
From the West Side to the East Side
Everybody’s very happy
‘Cause the sun is shining all the time
Looks like another perfect day, I loVe LA
Spago in West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip
Back in the late 80’s, maybe 1989, my foodie friends and I first dined at Spago. For better or worse, the word “foodie” was coined in the 80’s. We worked, lived, and breathed restaurants – we were chefs (Aldo & Bruce), bartenders (Tamara), waiters (Lauren & Scott) – and I had the restaurant business in my blood – having been a restaurant cook, bookkeeper, manager, hostess, and waiter. At the time most of us were working at a cutting-edge restaurant in Redondo Beach called Chez Mélange. My friends from Aspen, Aldo and Bruce, were in town and we were dying to take them to Spago. Inspirational restaurateur and owner of Chez Mélange, Michael Franks, graciously called over to Spago to secure us a reservation. We felt like we were on the A-list. Upon arrival, Michael had surprised us with a big bottle of Champagne, and we were thrilled when Wolfgang Puck himself brought over a duck sausage pizza to welcome us. (It never occurred to me to take a photograph of the food, my how times have changed!)
Spago Hollywood wasn’t stuffy or traditional. Wolfgang’s then-wife Barbara Lazaroff designed it to be friendly, fun and colorful – where everyone could see and be seen! Were we really “hanging spoons” at Spago? She designed the first exhibition kitchen in the United States for a fine dining establishment, the view of the city from high above Sunset Boulevard took everyone’s breath away. It was so California!
Wolfgang Puck redefined pizza. That they came topped with everything from goat cheese and Black Forest ham to artichokes and exotic mushrooms was totally new back then. Duck sausage pizza was legendary as was his famous pizza of smoked salmon, creme fraiche, chives, red onion and a dollop of caviar.
August 15, 1912 – August 13, 2004
chef, mentor, heroine, author, television icon, inspiration, nonagenarian, friend
“Today we are going to make a delightful dinner, Caesar Salad and Salmon en Papillote. Of course, cooking en papillote does not have to be fancy – it’s a fine method for everyday cooking too.”
uss abraham lincoln cvn-72
nimitz class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier
commissioned november 1989
docked in the port of los angeles
For five days I could see the “island” of the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln from my kitchen window. An aircraft carrier’s “island” is the command center for flight-deck operations, as well as the ship as a whole. The island is about 150 feet tall, but it’s only 20 feet wide at the base, so it won’t take up too much space on the flight deck. The top of the island is outfitted with an array of radar and communications antennas.
She is a jaw-dropping sight – at 1092 ft. (over 3 football fields long), 252 ft. wide, weighing 100,000 tons, she accommodates approximately 70 aircraft. She is powered by two nuclear reactors which enable her to operate continuously 20 years without refueling. Her life span is an estimated 50 years. The USS Abraham Lincoln is the first aircraft carrier to be docked in the Port of Los Angeles in more than 20 years. Her visit here is the inspiration for my dish, featuring NAVY beans…
Summer vacation, ahhhh! We’re trying new restaurants, exploring new sites, visiting old friends, playing lots of basketball, swimming, bicycling on the beach and enjoying the charms of my hometown here in Los Angeles County. My brother, sister-in-law, and nephews are visiting and we are having a blast! Earlier in the week we spent a couple days at Terranea Resort on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
A Hot Dog – preferably Vienna Beef, simmered in water (never boiled) until nice and hot
A Steamed Poppy Seed Bun – warm and soft
Yellow Mustard – not Dijon, not brown
Neon Green Relish – do not be afraid of the color, it’s classic
Diced Onion – sprinkle onion along the length of the dog
Sport Peppers – medium-hot, two peppers are the standard
Fresh Tomato – fit two half-wheels between the bun and the dog, skin-side out
Kosher Pickle Spear – crunchy and mild, not too thick, about the same length as the dog
A Dash of Celery Salt – without this final condiment, it would not be a Chicago Hot Dog!
Ordered like this: “I’ll have a Chicago Dog with the works.”
Wrapped up in a sheet of waxed paper. Eaten while standing at a counter. With fries.
By the way, any Chicagoan over 18 will tell you that putting ketchup on a Chicago hot dog is completely unacceptable. Save the ketchup for the fries. This fine specimen pictured above with their popular hand-cut fries is from Man-Jo-Vin’s on Damen near Belmont.