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The Amateur Gourmet
A.G. Newsletter #50: Oven Roasted Burgers, Jitlada, Ike Sushi & The Village Coffee Shop

Hey A.G. Fans,

I was really excited about the post that I just posted, a recipe for Oven-Roasted Hamburgers from Molly Stevens's new cookbook "All About Roasting" (click here for the post). I mean, look at this burger:

Doesn't that look dreamy? And I made that in my oven. For someone who's never made burgers at home because it just seems like such a hassle (grease splattering everywhere), this recipe was like a godsend. And if you have a big group to cook for, you can have everyone's burger hot and ready at the same time! So check that out. 

Now then....

Last we spoke, Craig had his appendix out. Since then he's been recovering nicely! So much so, he could withstand the spicy, spicy food at Jitlada, where we went towards the end of last week:

Jitlada, for those not in the know, is one of L.A.'s most celebrated Thai restaurants. The menu is epic--it's almost impossible to know where to begin. I'd been there once before (see here) so I kind of knew what to expect; but still, I needed help so I loaded up Jonathan Gold's article about the place for some tips. One dish that sounded totally intriguing that I didn't try my first time there but that I tried this time around was the crispy catfish salad:

I imagined nuggets of meaty catfish breaded and deep-fried, but that's not what this was. This was shredded catfished deep-fried into a kind of lattice with a texture and a taste unlike anything I've ever experienced before. Crispy but not at all fishy, it was a crunchy, salty counterpart to the sweet/spicy salad of papaya underneath.

I'd remembered, from my first trip to Jitlada, the mussels being extra large and extra tasty. So we ordered those in a green curry:

The taste, at first, threw Craig off. Yes, they were spicy, but they also had a funk about them...something fermented, like cheese, enhancing the sauce. "There's something weird in here," Craig said, making a sour face.

I concurred but then I pointed out that the fermented flavor was what made them interesting and notable; and, as we ate them, the taste grew on us. But the heat from the broth---and this was indeed spicy!---made me glad that we ordered the honey-glazed duck for our entree:

The sweetness of the duck was a good foil for the spicy mussels. As for the duck itself, I can't say it was in any way special; and when the check came, we were a bit surprised by the $25 pricetag (the duck was a special).

That said, we live so close to Jitlada, I know we'll be back many, many times to work our way through the menu. This is just the beginning!

I don't remember if I've mentioned Ike Sushi in a newsletter or not, but it's also just down the street from us and it's becoming a quick favorite. It's certainly not cheap, but for $21 or so you get this:

That's a lovely, fresh array of sushi including tuna and salmon and shrimp.... plus---and this is a key factor---in an article hanging on the wall by the entrance, it says that Ike Sushi is Bette Midler's favorite place to grab sushi in L.A.

Enough said.

Finally, just down the street from us is a street called Beachwood Canyon, and while strolling up it the other day... passing homes such as these:

And manors such as these:

All the way at the top of the hill, just below the Hollywood sign, we found this adorable diner:

Look at the wallpaper, it's so quaint:

Sadly, our super-friendly waitress (Sherry) informed us that the diner was being gutted at the end of November and being replaced with something fancier. That's tragic! This place has so much character. And really good pancakes and bacon:

And Craig enjoyed his hashbrowns so much, he made the bold statement that west coast hashbrowns are better than east coast hashbrowns:

Maybe he needs to write an article about that on the blog.

Well, folks, that's it for this week! 

Until next time....

Your friend,
Adam (The Amateur Gourmet)

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