Ollie Kickstarter Campaign

 

I met Jessica Banks at a wedding and fell in love.  She is the founder of  RockPaperRobot, a kinetic furniture company (known for it’s levitating Float Table), is Kickstarting their new Ollie Chair, a transformable seat that unfurls with a flourish and retracts with a simple pull of a string.

Every product RockPaperRobot makes is unique and inspiring.  The products are comfortable and RPR thinks about how we live our lives today when it comes to furniture….and yes I was the first investor to get behind this company.

You can get in on the Kickstarter campaign right here.

Little Fatty

Little Fatty, you have to love the name.  This is the second try at making this location into a good restaurant by taking over the place next door.  Before the space was called Status Kuo.  Now they have two rooms under one roof and one of the rooms is essentially a full bar.  Status Kuo was decent food but the vibe and light in there made you feel like you were in a hospital.

The menu looked good so we decided to check out the next iteration of the restaurant, same owner.  The vibe is much better than before.  Good music, lower lights and like before a fantastic length of the wall open kitchen.  The menu just states the dish with  zero explanation of what each dish is so we asked our server.  We had to pull it out of her. She certainly didn’t seem interested in sharing that information nor did she seem interested in giving us utensils to serve the food when it came to our table.  It seemed that either she was totally miserable in her job or we were complete idiots not knowing what each dish is.  Really not good.

We started with the cauliflower.  Spicy and crispy on the outside and just perfectly cooked inside.  This dish was a big winner. General Tso Cauliflower.  We should have just had that.

With this came the braised pork belly.  Nice presentation and cut like butter so really well prepared but the sauce was so heavy and rich that you couldn’t make out what was in it. It was like a glob of brown liquid.  Super fatty too.

Aha Jiang Mian tasted sour with just another brown liquid thrown on top. I love a good noodle but I couldn’t eat it.

Eggplant.  This was the worst of all the dishes if that is possible.  Not cooked through, couldn’t tell exactly what the sauce was and then of course there was raw garlic on everything.  We sent it back.

Kung Pao Chicken was our last attempt.  I asked a few questions about it and our server was definitely not interested in telling me how the dish was prepared.  We went for it anyway.  Overcooked chicken and everything in the bowl tasted the same.  Even the presentation looks like someone just reached into a few separate bowls of pre-made mess and slopped it into the bowl.

I usually stick to the positive when I write about a restaurant but I can’t help myself here.  The experience was just so bad from top to bottom that I had to share.  I love that the owners were trying to fine-tune and go with something else.  That was smart but the service and the food is so unappealing that they should look to that too.

Month 2, Campaign for NILC (National Immigration Law Center)

Fred, Brad, Amy and I have huddled together to choose this months campaign where putting up a $20K match to raise money for NILC.  We plan on continuing to choose a different organization every month over the course of this year.  Although we could keep going with hope that we can keep this hostile administration at bay.  We are choosing organizations that will help and combat the Trump policies that are being set forth.  Our first month we raised over $120K.

The National Immigration Law Centers’s mission is we believe that all people who live in the U.S.—regardless of their race, gender, immigration and/or economic status—should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.  We  believe in that too.

The organization puts money into Impact Litigation where they defend the constitutional rights of all Americans.  They also do Policy Analysis and Advocacy around issues affecting low-income immigration communities.  They also work on Strategic Communications to shape the message around all immigration issues on top of providing legal support and advice to support advocacy work and of course there is more.

As we watch the deportation of immigrants in our country in the most unthoughtful, hateful and terrible way, you can donate here and hopefully make a difference.

Here is how the monthly match works:

  1. Go to our monthly match page and hit the donate button and give whatever you feel like giving (min is $10).
  2. After you complete the donation, TWEET your donation out on the post donation page. That will register it for our match.
  3. If you don’t use Twitter, you can forward your email receipt. The instructions will be on the post donation page. We would vastly prefer you tweet it out if you can.

Crowdrise makes it easy to raise the cash and Twitter creates the awareness.  Please use both.

Hainan Chicken

After last week’s outing to the San Gabriel Valley eating Hainan chicken among other things, I was inspired to make the dish at home.  There are a few steps and I learned along the way but it is pretty simple.  I will most definitely make this again and again.

I made this with 2 chickens because we had a crew of people but here is the recipe for one chicken.

1 whole chicken

4 pieces of peeled ginger that are about 1/4″ thick and mashed down a bit

3 tsp. kosher salt

4 quarts water (I used homemade chicken broth from the local butcher to enhance the flavor mixed with water so about 3/4 broth and 1/4 water).

Bring the water/broth to boil with the salt/ginger.  Put the chicken in, breast side down, and bring the water back to boil with the pot covered.  Then bring the temperature down to simmer, partly cover the pot, and let this hang out for about 20-25 minutes.  Then remove this pot from the heat, cover the pot, and let this stand for about 20 minutes undisturbed.  I actually let it hang out a bit longer.

Then take out the chicken (just to make sure it is thoroughly cooked through you can put in a meat thermometer into the thigh and it should register 180).  Now take out the chicken and put it into a bowl of ice and cold water.  Reserve the broth in the pot.  Let the chicken cool, turning once.  Then take it out and cut into serving pieces.  I just took all the meat off the carcass, sliced it and then put on a platter.

RICE is the side and essential to the whole meal.

Saute 3 shallots in vegetable oil in a heavy saucepan for making rice.  Saute until browned.  Then add 1 1/2 cups rice and saute some more.  Then add in 3 cups of the broth and 1 tbsp. of butter.  Bring to a boil, then down to simmer, cover and let stand about 15 minutes until done.

CHILE sauce is another important element.  You can buy your own favorite sauce or make this one.

6 red Thai chiles or Serrano chiles

1 shallot, chopped

2 tbsp. fresh chopped ginger

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

Put this all in a blender/food-processor and mix.  It is super spicy.

TO SERVE.

Take an English cucumber and shave long ribbons into cold water to set.  Mix together 2 tbsp. soy sauce and 4 tbsp. sesame oil to dribble over the chicken.  Chop fresh cilantro leaves to spread over the top too (optional)

Serve the chicken, the chile sauce, the rice and dig in.

Los Feliz…and a car pick-up

Em had left the car in Los Feliz and took an Uber back to Venice after a night of fun.  It is a pretty brilliant addition to the LA landscape. One of the most beautiful things about NYC is the ability to walk home or take a taxi after drinking.  Now you can do it everywhere.  Transportation disruption is wonderful.

We picked up the car and drove over to Sapp Coffee Shop for lunch.  It is a small Thai restaurant in a strip mall.  The vibe is not something they gave much thought to.  A few pictures of the Rama on the walls but otherwise just seats and chairs.  The food however is fantastic.  We split a few things.  Em went in for the Thai Iced Tea.  Super sweet ice tea cut with condensed milk.

The jade noodles are light, airy and green mixed with pork, crab, crushed peanuts, limes and a spicy sauce.  Just perfect.  Not too heavy and full of many flavors that just explode in your mouth.  The boat noodle soup is supposedly a patron fave but we weren’t up for a soup.

We also had the spicy beef with a large piece of cabbage to cut the spice.  Another winner.  We had an agenda and tacos were coming next.

The Taschen Gallery has an installation for the David Hockney book they just did with him.  It is a super cool exhibit.  Each page of the book is torn out and then put on the wall.

You can also buy the book and the stand.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces…and there are many.

Love the pools.

Love him and his dogs.

Off to tacos.  We shot out to Boyle Heights.  It is still very raw out there just outside of the garment area of downtown.  Tacos are big there.  There was a truck called Marisco 4 Vientos.  I am pretty sure none of us realized it was the wrong truck.  The crowd was huge and the line was long.

Connected to the truck was the restaurant that served the same food but sit down.  I felt as I was walking into Mexico City.  Same vibe, same time warp.

We got a drink.

The ceviche tostado.  Chopped fish underneath shrimp and avocado.  Quite good.

We also went with tacos de camaron which was ok and very old school.  Just a bit mushy and very heavy handed.

We finished up and got back in the car to leave.  As we driving down the road we saw another truck that said Marisco Jalisco.  We all realized it was the truck we wanted to go eat at not the one that we just ate at.  So what else should we do but pull over, park the car and go for round 2.  A much hipper crowd at this place vs the many families at the other place.  We ordered up another taco de camaron.  This was good.  Light, tasty, flavorful and just right.

I had to pick up some dessert for the night ahead and opted for this entrepreneurial woman who parked her wares right next to the truck.  They were pineapple and vanilla cream hand pies and flan.  Not the best but pretty good

Fun day of activities.  Determined to get in all the spots before leaving town.

Refugees

The first time I visited Europe I remember feeling that I could easily live here for the rest of my life.  After all, if there wasn’t WWII, my relatives would have never left.  There are the stories of how our Grandparents got to the US and compared to many others they were insanely lucky to get here and get here very early on.

Awhile ago there was an article in the NY Times about a man in Canada who took it on himself to invest millions of dollars in roughly 150 refugees from Syria and bring them to his hometown.  He helped them assimilate, gave them jobs and changed their lives forever.  This has stayed with me and I think about it when conversations around immigrants and refugees take place. What an incredible humanitarian act.

My friend sent me an email about the 60,000 visa holders that has already been heavily vetted by our Government that appear to be in limbo.  Her idea was to get all the people (private citizens) who own planes or have access to them to bring these refugees into our country all on one day.  The already vetted people would just get on the private planes for free and find their lives changed in one fell swoop by coming to America and starting on a new journey.  Of course there has to be more than a plane flight like the guy in Canada did such as helping them find jobs, homes and mentors who could usher them through the challenges of coming to a new land.  It would certainly be a generous gesture and point to embracing diversity as well as providing a helping hand.

British artist Anish Kapoor who recently won the Genesis Prize that includes $1m donated all of it towards the Syrian refugee crisis to expand the efforts of the Jewish community in a global effort to support these people.  The Genesis Prize is known at the “Jewish Nobel” to recognize people who have inspired others with their dedication to the Jewish community.  Like the Canadian, Kapoor is recognizing these refugees and trying to make a difference.  He also just started Hands Off Our Revolution to confront the rise of right-wing populism in the US, Europe and elsewhere through art. Both of these men will be on the right side of history.

Then I read about a documentary called “We Were So Beloved” about the Washington Heights German Jewish community in NYC who escaped or survived the holocaust.  It is Manfred Kirchheimer’s personal documentary.  I have not seen the film but many of these people who survived went on to do great things that made an impact on many when they rebooted their lives in America.  He tells of the immigration laws being changed in 1924 which made the St. Louis ocean liner that had 900 Jewish refugees on it be turned back from Cuba and then the US to return to Germany.  Every single person but one perished on that ship.  I plan on finding this film and watching it.

The one question that Max Frankel asked, who was a childhood friend of Kirchheimer, that we should all be asking ourselves is when you recognize a totalitarian regime or for that matter a leader not doing the humanitarian thing is would you be willing to put your life on the line for decency?

Many people in WWII put their lives on the line to save their Jewish neighbors.  The man in Canada took his own capital to change the lives of others.  As a Canadian he did not have to worry about putting his life on the line. Kapoor is helping fund those in the trenches of helping refugees from Syria.  We helped raised money and awareness by giving money to the ACLU and plan on doing more for other organizations every month.

I am well aware how lucky I am as a white privileged American although Jewish.  My relatives got here.  Not everyone wants to come here but certainly the ones who are living a life of hell in a fascist country do. These people are good hard working people who just want a roof over their heads, food on the table and a safe place to raise their family. Hopefully they will make an impact on the communities around them.  Why should we be turning these people back?  Our nation is a melting pot and we won’t turn that back to something that this administration seems to want or at least his supporters do.  They will all end up on the wrong side of history.  It is painful to watch.  Perhaps I should be looking for those private planes.

Erin Bagwell, Choosing to be Your Own Distributor, Podcast

Erin Bagwell is the director, producer, entrepreneur and visionary behind Dream Girl.  Dream Girl is a film that is about showing other women especially young girls that there are female entrepreneurs out there and that they can be too.  This film has been shown around the globe.  Erin’s approach to the film, the distribution including how she raised the capital is the new model.  The next generation of film makers should be taking note.  We sat down to talk about her endeavor to get this film made.

Art district and Guerrilla Tacos

We went back down to Hauser & Wirth in the arts district because Guerrilla Taco truck is there on Fridays.  An essential LA must try….and then figure out where they are all the time because it is so good.

This area will soon be spreading its wings with more shops and galleries.  Across the street just opened Guerilla Atelier.  There is another one in the area and this is their latest.  They have a mixture of art, books, clothing, accessories and more.  It is really well curated.

We came for tacos and tacos was the key thing here.  We split a few things.  Each one was better than the next.  Roasted sweet potato with almond chile, fried corn, scallions and feta cheese.  Wow.  The little bits of corn with the soft consistency of the potato and a little spice is incredible.

Braised beef short ribs are hiding underneath the fried egg quesadilla with chile morita, oaxacan cheese, market greens and habanero chiles.  Incredible.  Everything is intensely flavorful and perfectly cooked.

Yellowtail poke tostados with raw tomatillos, chiles and uni on top.  Who comes up with this?

We strolled through Hauser & Wirth and although they were closed for an installation it is an amazing space that we continue to return to.  We had dinner there and weren’t so wowed but the space is just great.  In the picnic area they is a chicken coop.  Certainly the most stylish chicken coop I have seen.

Across is the graffiti building sitting inside the museum area.

There was one installation up of Rashid Johnson.  Pretty cool seeing the art in a long bricked hallway.

Always good to get a small dish from Salt and Straw before leaving the area.  I love how all the new ice cream shops give you metal spoons for tastes and describe the ice cream for you in details.

We went over to Koreatown to check out a few galleries.  Our first stop was Commonwealth and Council.  There are two galleries set inside this building.  A old building with long hallways.

The artist is Danielle Dean.  Her work was a mixture of videos, sculptures and drawings.  Very raw.

The other gallery is the Visitor Welcome Center.   The work is from Iris Yirei Hu.

We stopped by a few others but nothing else was open.

There is a definite edge happening here.  LA is having a moment.  There is a lot of creativity from the art to the food.  There are neighborhood pockets that are each unique but are blossoming in their own way that creates a real individual vibe.  The more we explore the more you see it.  LA is definitely a cool spot right now.

A day in the San Gabriel Valley

Last year at this time we went with Ben Leventhal, the founder of Resy among many other things, down to the San Gabriel Valley for a full on day of eating.  This year our friend Jeff, aka Chef Jeff who is the founder of Love Yoga among many other things, joined in on the fun.  We hit the wall after 6 stops but the conversation continues throughout the day and not only did we find ourselves well-fed but we definitely left with a lot of food for thought…no pun intended.

Our first stop this year was at Delicious Food Corner.  They are one of the few places that open early and serve a Hong Kong style Chinese breakfast.  Before we go on this journey I do the research on what is the thing to eat at each stop so we pace ourselves.  Here we had two things.  Pineapple buns that are soft yet crispy on top with a pineapple tasting sugary sweetness with a tab of butter stuffed inside that melts the second they serve the dish.  It is pretty damn good.

The other is congee which is similar to porridge but savory.  You can order congee with chicken, fish or meat.  We went with the meatballs that are tiny and flavorful.  It was the good start to the day.

Second stop was Elite Restaurant.  This was a return from last year and we would all go back again.  Elite is elite.  We had three things.  These shrimp dumplings are perfect.  Poached flavorful shrimps wrapped in a translucent covering and steamed served with mustard and chili oil.

The other is the pork shumai.  Dense flavorful and juicy at the same time.  These are amazing.

Last was the crispy shrimp noodle dumpling.  Crispy noodles wrapped around shrimp that are deep fried and then lightly wrapped in a dumpling dough.  They come out whole and then the server takes a pair of scissors and cuts them into pieces and poured a vinegar soy mixture over the plate.  Wow wow wow.

Sam Woo BBQ was next.  This is a place we would definitely not return to.  We got a BBQ duck.  It is served cold and it was very greasy.  Tastes good but just not up to par.

Next stop was Mian.  This place is incredible.  It is a little more upscale than the other places we have been.  Perhaps the next generation of spots in the area.  The thing to get here is probably anything but we went with the popular dish of Chengdu zhajiangmian.  A bowl of spicy thin spaghetti noodles topped with ground pork, scallions and a fried egg. The chili sauce in this just packs the right punch.

On the side they serve a cup of cold murky bean broth that is to be sipped with the noodles.  Think of the right pairing of wine with a dish.  This really works.

The placemat is definitely a next generation.  They explain the concept with the first thing at the top which is take a picture.  Gotta love that.  In the parking lot we started talking to a guy who noted that we were on a food journey.  He had been doing it for years.  Gave us some great input which confirmed we were hitting the high notes.

Our next stop was Din Tai Fung Dumpling House #2.  There was a slight line so we got our ticket and went across the parking lot to the J.J. Bakery.  The bakery is filled with savory and sweet pastries.  Nothing is more than a few dollars.  We tasted a few things but nothing to rave about.

Our number came up and we sat down.  Great service and a nice spot.  You know you are somewhere legit when the kitchen looks like this.  They closed the original one and opened up this chic new one in the summer of 2016.
The soup dumplings is the key here.  We had the pork crab soup dumplings.  So good.

We also had the pork soup dumplings.

Our server recommended the spicy wontons.  Also incredibly good.  Everything was excellent.

Our last stop was Savoy Restaurant.  Not a fancy place but a fashionable high end Asian crowd.  Its a funky place.  They serve pizza and pasta dishes including the “house” speciality Hainan chicken.  The presentation is not great but the taste is delicious.  Poached chicken served along side simple rice made with chicken broth and butter.  I am definitely going to try and make this at home.

On the way back to the west side we hit up Amoeba.  One of the most incredible records stores I have ever been to.  It gives you this sense of stepping back in time but also this feeling of glee that people are still buying albums.

At the front there is a bucket to give to the ACLU.

And in the back there was a mixture of t-shirts.  This one describes the place.

What an awesome day.  Already thinking about next year…