food

RECIPE: STICKY ROASTED FIGS by Erin Whitney

I'm sure everyone already knows how to make this, but I decided to experiment with breakfast today. I was inspired by bacon-wrapped blue cheese-stuffed dates and also this article about a sadly non-existent ladyfinger & fig McFlurry

STICKY ROASTED FIGS

You will need:

  • 8-10 figs 
  • honey (I used local citrus honey)
  • brown sugar
  • funky cheese (I used caramelized onion cheddar from Trader Joe's)
  • glass baking pan
  • oven

Instructions:

  • Pre-heat oven to around 400 degrees
  • Wash & halve figs and place in rows in glass baking pan
  • Top 1/3 each with honey, brown sugar, or cheese (or all 3 if you're feeling wild)
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until things start to smell delicious in the kitchen and they're probably done
  • Enjoy alone or over plain Greek yogurt
  • Eat leftover caramel in pan with a spoon!

 

SUNDAY SELECT by Erin Whitney

Y'all. It's been so so so hot here in LA this week. There's some kind of high-pressure weather pattern that's lead to a crazy heat wave and a massive wildfire in the La Tuna Canyon Park, north of LA. Evidently this weather pattern is the same one that caused Hurricane Harvey to sit over Houston and contributed to the flooding. Seeing as we don't have air conditioning in our apartment, we've just been hunkering down and reading the news, drinking cold drinks and a lot of water, and trying to distract ourselves from the anxiety that comes from current events and being a sweat monster. Oh, the fact that it's also Mercury retrograde has played a huge role in the sitting, waiting, and reflecting of the past week.

Here are a few things that have kept me occupied over the last week:

Image courtesy Netflix

Image courtesy Netflix

1. GLOW (the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling on Netflix): My overall opinion of this show is that it's entertaining. We watched it all in a relatively short amount of time and I found myself caring about the characters and the wrestling show they were striving to get off the ground. Some things were progressive (spoiler: there's an abortion plot line), but many things were not: the racist character personas assigned to the wrestlers, the rampant jokey misogyny, the 1980s era politics, etc. Some people think it's a critique of outdated social conventions, but it's hard to know where the critique ends and the winky glorifying of the old comfortable tropes that go with 1980s nostalgia begins.

 

Image courtesy George R.R. Martin

Image courtesy George R.R. Martin

2. Game of Thrones: After I watched the season 7 finale, I decided I ought to finish book 5, A Dance with Dragons. I'd been putting this off since 2011, because I was watching the show, had read the first four books that year, and was playing a L O T of Skyrim. It was like my whole world was a violent medieval fantasy and it was a little much. So anyway, I finished the book finally and was reminded of how well the books are written: how much more intricate the plot lines are, the character development is, etc. One of the things I love to do is compare visual adaptations to their written forms, I find it endlessly entertaining, especially with this series. I'm that person who gets a little tipsy at GoT watching parties and regales people who have only seen the show with bloodlines and historical backstory. Gonna miss that.

 

Image courtesy New Philosopher

Image courtesy New Philosopher

3. More food mags: The last issue of Lucky Peach came out :( It's a selection of best-of articles representing all of the past issues. I also found a British publication called New Philosopher and this issue was about food. There's a lot of graphic design infographics so far and some fussy opinions about food writing, diets, and foodies. It's sort of an antithesis of pubs like Lucky Peach that glorify the backstory and cultural connections of food and make it more about statistics about what's problematic with foodie culture (so far). But I'd be interested to read more issues and see what they're about. I guess I have to find a new food pub also :(((((

Dreamy Photo Styling by Erin Whitney

I hadn’t given much thought to the effects of photo styling until pretty recently. I also hadn’t understood concretely what editorials were – where a brand tries to tell a story with the objects it’s selling. There are stylists for the products and for the props that help create context and lighting that sells a mood. I know that this is the most effective kind of marketing for me: when I can envision something as part of a perfectly curated lifestyle, it gives me comfort and promises to alleviate some of my anxiety. Styling is powerful. Seeing an object isolated on a minimal background gives you an idea of what the object itself looks like, but there aren’t usually other items for scale or to help you imagine how you might use this object. For instance, Need Supply has wonderful editorials, but most of their products use commercial photography and are set against white or greige backgrounds that leave a lot to the imagination.

 

The first time I really lost my shit over styling was reading Gather Journal. I saw food styled like models; food depicted, not like something out of a glossy magazine such as Bon Appetite, but something reminiscent of old cookbooks from the 1960s­–1970s meets porn from the same era. I mean, the first issue I read was “The 1970s,” so that could have had something to do with it. But in general, Gather Journal presents food like still-lives by the Dutch Masters: deep dark shadows; saturated jewel tones, part glossy and part softly smudged. The food stylists took already decadent looking menu courses that were artfully plated and poured and surrounded them by colored lighting, props, and many layers of textures. It brought the food to another level and placed it firmly in the gestalt of whatever the particular thesis of the issue was, in this case the dawn of a new kind of decadent, over-the-top pop culture represented by disco, sex, and David Bowie.

 

Madeleine Pope’s Cosmic Twin jewelry line launched a new collection today called “So Real” and it is fantastically minimal with interesting details. My particular favorites are the “Source” cuff and “Linked” bracelet, the “Connection” and “Thing 2” earrings, “Cuff” ring, “Memphis” collar, and “So Real” collar pin. The styling for the look book was incredible and played off the minimal/BDSM hardness of some of the jewelry using soft colorful lighting in yellows and oranges, props such as pink candles and flowers styled with 1980s mannequin heads and hands. The two main models were sisters who mirrored each other; each wore futuristic feminine clothes such as iridescent coats and sweatshirts over pleated turtlenecks in rose and shimmery black and gunmetal. The look book evoked feelings of warmth, light, softness, and excitement through its femininity and mystic futurism. I found myself longing to inhabit that world where people were unapologetically soft, strong, and dreamy at the same time.

Recipe: Mediterranean Bowl by Erin Whitney

I made this super delicious dinner, so I thought I'd share. It's really easy and cheap to make. I think I got most of the ingredients at Trader Joe's.

Mediterranean Bowl

  • Israeli (pearl) couscous
  • Persian cucumbers
  • Bell pepper (I used yellow)
  • Falafel mix (1/2 box)
  • Feta
  • Hummus (I like the Mediterranean hummus from TJ's)
  • Parsley (I like the flat-leaf kind)
  • Olive oil
  • Ground pepper
  • Sea salt

The falafel takes longest, so I started that first. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine 1/2 of the box (1 cup of mix) with 3/4 cups water. Mix and let sit for 30 minutes. Roll into balls (I used a tablespoon as a scooper), place on baking sheet and top with a little olive oil. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

While baking, you can start the couscous. You can follow the package instructions and make on the stovetop, or make in a rice cooker. It takes about 30 minutes.

Wash and chop the produce. Spoon hot couscous into a bowl, then add falafel balls, chopped cucumbers, and peppers. Top with hummus and feta, then sprinkle parsley on top; finish with a couple cracks of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

It's healthy and filling and has a nice variety of savory flavors and textures. Enjoy!

 

Two Cafes in Los Feliz by Erin Whitney

Figaro Bistrot

My partner and I visited Figaro Bistro for happy hour on my birthday, where I got a lemon meringue tart, several tiny dirty gin martinis, and a goblet of rosé. I adore gin martinis, ever since a friend from Seattle introduced me them. I love how chilled they are, how the pure taste of the gin meets the savory olive flavor. I have always loved green olives, sucking the pickled pimento out before eating the fruit. It seems very sensual in a non-sexual way. Drinking martinis makes me feel like I'm at a sophisticated business lunch. We had Ricard, which is a pastis, a French anise-flavored spirit. I like how it's bittersweet and becomes a milky pastel yellow when you add ice; how it tastes opaque until you dilute it with a little water. The rosé was unremarkable except for its size, but there's nothing I like more than a giant glass of cool rosé.

The decor in the lounge is never something I would have chosen, but is very comfortable and very red. I like that there are several zones to suit your mood: the street with its bistro tables and people watching; the lounge; the moody dining room with those wooden chairs and booths. It's all very charming.

Maru

Today we went to Maru on our way back from the Los Feliz Library. We walked the two blocks to the space on Hillhurst, a minimalist coffee shop that serves only a few (but delicious) menu items. Maru means "circle" in Japanese. I really like the aesthetic of the cafe: lots of negative space, everything is neutral, the seating is custom built from MDF one one side with high bar stools facing the street on the other. There are a few plants (a large draecena dominating the scene) and some dried flowers. The baristas wear black linen aprons (I really want one!) The pastries are strange and decadent, but I haven't tried one yet. One time I got a pour-over that tasted like chocolate berry. This time I got a "ceremonial cup" of matcha. Both were great. The cold brew my partner got was served in a metal cup and was icy and bitter. The hot drinks are served in cream handmade ceramic vessels (I like it when you'd describe a cup as "vessel"). The walls are lined with them. The experience makes me feel calm and rich. The light is perfect and golden.

Image property @marucoffeela

Savory Oatmeal?!?! by Erin Whitney

I'm pretty sure I discovered a new thing. I've been very into oatmeal for breakfast lately, and I usually eat it sweet: with dried fruit, coconut, chia seeds, spices, and some kind of sweetener like honey. However, I got a wild notion to try something new, something I'd never heard of before (based on doing absolutely no research). Savory. Oatmeal. It makes sense, though, right? Oatmeal is just a grain and I eat savory grains all the time. In my brain, oatmeal has just never been savory; so I decided to try it. Here's the recipe and a weird photo.

 

Disturbing, but surprisingly good

Disturbing, but surprisingly good

Ingredients: 

  • Organic multigrain hot cereal
  • Plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Himalayan pink sea salt
  • Cracked black pepper 
  • Herbes de Provence 
  • Drizzle olive oil

SUNDAY SELECT by Erin Whitney

Keeping Bowie alive, from the past

Keeping Bowie alive, from the past

Sex and the City: I somehow never got into this the first time around (I think I was too occupied with The 'L' Word?). I watched the movie when it came out for the Vivienne Westwood dress. I'm especially loving how much Miranda inadvertently does Bowie all the time. Now I'm following @everyoutfitonsatc on Instagram but I really think there could be a specific Insta dedicated to Miranda's Bowie looks and one for just the background actors. The series is also notable for its weird gender politics and classism, but I can't stop!

Water sports (yeah, yeah): It was my friend Hollie's 31st birthday and we rented a hot tub boat and went tubing at her behest. It was my first time for either of them, but both were perfect reasons to get f-ed up and recline in some water. I drove the hot tub boat with my feet! More info on rentals here (also you can buy one for about $45,000, just saying).

Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma): An anime my partner's little brother got us into about an elite culinary high school in Japan and all the aspiring chefs who are trying to make it. Our protagonist is Sōma Yukihira, a first year student who grew up cooking with his mysterious father at their family shop. Sōma's cooking is so good it gives everyone orgasms. He is super confident and makes a lot of people angry.

Sōma Yukihira on the right

Sōma Yukihira on the right

Food + Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt by Erin Whitney

I read Hot Dog Taste Test, the new graphic novel by Lisa Hanawalt this week. I’m always into her penis-and-animal humor, but this sophomore book focuses on my one true love (ok true love after fashion, books, and horses), food. And actually she talks a lot about horses and also otters, so there’s a lot going on here that I like. I feel like we could actually be best friends, except for the fact that one time I met her at a comics fest in Portland and I was the most awkward human, forever ruining my chances. Later, at a panel during the Q&A session, I asked her what her sign is (Gemini), making me that girl. I also found out about Lucky Peach about a year ago (and her involvement as an illustrator for it) and since then my life has become considerably more food-oriented.

Food is such an interesting thing. An ex and I used to joke about opening a café called “future poop” – that’s all food is after all. But the culture around it is so weird. What is healthy? Who gets to eat that food? What does it say about people who don’t? What about ethics? What about fashion? My partner says I fetishize food, but doesn’t everyone have to eat? I mean, it’s kind of up there on the list of life priorities, as far as things go. I’ve always been fascinated by cultural food-ways and now that has transformed into a desire to delve deeper into the exploration of food and people who love food. Authors like M.F.K. Fisher describe food and meals in humorous and accessible ways. Reading her recipes and writing on how food is both lifestyle choice and ritual, instead of simply about nutrition, has influenced my own response to food. This year I started a garden and have been cooking more (thanks to trying out every food subscription service I know about). My favorite foods are simple, elegant, fresh, delicious, and make my heart and tum feel happy.

Image courtesy Drawn + Quarterly

Image courtesy Drawn + Quarterly