That chubby guy, from the thing. Yeah. I'm the one who used to work in the frozen pizza factory, remember?

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Favorite foods: Everything from asparagus to a rare ribeye to a chili-cheeseburger. I have far more of a weakness for salty and savory than for sweet. Bring me a steak and a baked potato, and skip the dessert.
  • Last bite on earth: I plan to never have a last bite, as I have no intention of dying.

Bacon and Avocado Take Your In-N-Out Animal-Style Double Double to the Next Level

I am deeply conflicted. On one hand, bacon and avocado on burgers are wonderful. But the Double Double is so perfect on its own.

I think my natural laziness will win out. It seems like a bit of a pain to dress up a burger that will be *just fine* without it. But I'm glad to know you did this and that it was awesome!

The Best Korean Food in LA's Koreatown

How could you overlook Toad House!?!?!? The answer, of course, is that it's hardly the best place for Korean BBQ. But it *does* have the best name and an awesome sign, at least, when the sign hasn't been defaced with graffiti.

The Friday Night Meatball Recipe That Changed My Life

@bobbob Yes, just think about those massive Friday Night Meatball riches she'll soon be raking in. She'll be able to use shredded hundred dollar bills instead of bread crumbs in her recipe! All guests will be provided with complimentary monocles and top hats! Meatballs? More like MeatBILLIONS, right?

Seriously, though, chill out.

Cast Iron Cooking: The Easy Pull-Apart Pepperoni Garlic Knots That Will Forever Change How You Entertain

Next weekend I'm putting together a subway pub crawl that's going to end at my house, where we will drunkenly watch Sharknado 2. I tell you this not because you care, but because I have just discovered what I will be serving as snacks. It's freaking perfect - make it the day before and let it rest in the fridge, then chuck some cheese on top and bake. Even after a significant number of cocktails, I'm pretty sure I can still manage that, and how much better will it be than a bag of chips and a sad tub of sour cream with french onion soup powder mixed in?

Also I will call it "Shark Bread," and I'm assuming everyone will be too drunk to notice that it has nothing to do with sharks.

Is it Really Necessary to Add Garlic After the Onions When Sautéing?

Interesting, but... I dunno. I don't mind waiting until the onions are mostly done and then chucking in the garlic until it's fragrant. It's not particularly onerous to have to do them separately. In terms of the cost/benefit ratio, it's a lot easier to spend that 30 seconds to cook the garlic at the end, rather than having to worry about controlling all the variables and having a significant risk of ruining not just the garlic, but whatever else is in the pan. I certainly wouldn't want to have to throw out the whole batch and start over.

The Food Lab Turbo: How to Make Lighter Tuna Noodle Casserole With Just One Pan (and No Knives!)

Even if I never make this recipe, it was worth the read to learn about the trick of forking a lemon. I mean, we have a juice reamer thingie, but I don't want to drag that thing out if all I need is a tablespoon. Do you stick it just once, or a few times? Do the seeds stay in? I love this idea and I want to know more!

Cheese 101: Why Imported Italian Mozzarella Isn't Always Better

I know I'm a bit late to this party, but the DiStefano mozzarella (which we discovered at, naturally, Mozza) is one of the finest cheeses I have ever eaten in my life. It is amazing.

How Spam Won Over America's Restaurants

I would've said "yuck" not very long ago, until I had some seared Spam. What a difference searing it makes! It's delicious. Also surprisingly awesome: Spam sliders from Jollibee. They're rich and greasy, so the small size is an asset. You wouldn't want to eat more than one or two.

5 Delicious Cheeses You Should Throw on the Grill

@lapbplayr I'm pretty surprised Cotija holds together will enough to be grilled. We get it all the time to crumble into tacos. Maybe you're getting a different brand? I think the last time I bought it was just at my local store, which is a Pavilions. (I'm in Southern California too, though, so there may be a Mexican market where I could find better cotija.)

How to Make Pillowy (and Pretty) Angel Biscuits

It's the Brangelina of biscuits! The TomKat of rolls! I want to kill myself now! Instead I'll probably just make these, because they sound pretty darn good.

8 Must-Visit Restaurants in Rome

I sure could've used this list when I was in Rome, in 2001. Of course, I'm sure not all these places existed then. In any case, we had a surprisingly difficult time finding anywhere decent where locals went. Almost every restaurant had the same sign, too, indicating that it was an "authentic" Roman restaurant, which seemed like a guarantee that it wouldn't be. I wish I could remember what it was that those signs said. Only once did we manage to stumble onto an actual neighborhood place, which was quite delicious.

Anyway, I figure I have to go back, because I've eaten Italian food in Tokyo. So now I have to eat Japanese food in Rome.

11 1/2 Things You Can Do With a Wooden Spoon (Besides Stirring)

Sometimes when making pasta, I use the spoon end to stir the sauce, then turn it over and use the handle to give the pasta a stir. It's probably silly of me to do - I mean, the sauce is going to end up on the pasta anyway, it's not going to hurt if a little comes off the spoon into the pasta water - but I do it anyway. Because heaven forbid I should wash *two* spoons. :)

Family Coming to LA? Take Them to These Restaurants

Let's not get to hating on El Cholo. It's not the most adventurous Mexican place in the world, but they're pretty good at what they do. Admittedly, it's not where I'd take out-of-towners, but as a reliably good place for dinner when we don't feel like cooking, it's great.

My parents and in-laws have enjoyed trips to Off Vine, Mozza, and Loteria (the one in Hollywood, though I wouldn't hesitate to take anybody to the one in the Farmer's Market, especially for breakfast). And there's always old standbys like Patina and Water Grill.

How to Make Quick and Easy Drop Biscuits

@Bill Woods: That's funny, I always get 11 and a bit too! Maybe we're both making them ever so slightly too big.

How to Make Quick and Easy Drop Biscuits

@BGEPizza: It makes anywhere between 8 to 20 biscuits - so unless you eat the entire batch by yourself in one sitting, it's not *that* bad. I think, honestly, you're going to have a hard time finding a decent low sodium biscuit recipe at all. They're almost all likely going to have at least a bit of salt and baking powder. This one only calls for one teaspoon of kosher salt, which is not exactly going nuts.

How to Make Quick and Easy Drop Biscuits

@badseed1980 and @Marissa Sertich Velie: For years I've been using a Cook's Illustrated recipe for quick drop biscuits that uses buttermilk. It's got a clever technique: You melt the butter and mix cold buttermilk into it, which gives you the tiny little chunks of butter. Then you mix all that into the dry ingredients. I wonder if the same method would work with regular milk?

Also, if you want something that looks more like a regular round biscuit, for forming you can use a 1/4-cup measuring cup sprayed with non-stick spray.

Manner Matters: Dealing With the Drunkety-Drunk

Or, just make friends with melancholy, brooding types of drunks. As long as they don't cross the line into "uncontrollable sobbing" you're golden! ;)

The Best Food to Order at Panda Express

@semirose: I feel like every time someone orders orange chicken with bacon bits the server needs to nod sagely and say "bold move"

This is an excellent, excellent idea. Even better would be if they then said "Let's see if it pays off for you."

The Best Food to Order at Panda Express

I occasionally ate at one of the original Panda Inn restaurants in Glendale. I had no absolutely no idea it was related to Panda Express, because the food is significantly different. Huh! You learn something every day.

Kenji's NYC Bucket List: What I'll Miss Most

Welcome to California! I mean, when you actually make the move.

The Food Lab: The Hard Truth About Boiled Eggs

This is really good, Kenji. I will definitely try cold eggs into hot water next time. But the hard-boiled egg I want to know about is the one on my son's dinner at Tokyo Disneyland:

How did Disney do this sorcery? I've seen a few hare-brained ideas on the internet, but I'll only trust you, Kenji.

Spam Breakfast Burger Debuts at Burger King Japan

There was a time when I would've scoffed at the idea of a Spam cheeseburger. That time was before I tried Spam sliders from Jollibee. They're really quite good. My only concern is that it was also very rich, and one slider was enough - the BK version might be a bit much.

Damon Gambuto's 14 Most Memorable Burgers in Los Angeles and Beyond

We will definitely miss you and your reviews! They were always entertaining and informative, even the one or two I disagreed with. If you get a chance before you go, do try the pork adobo burger at Oinkster's new location in Hollywood.

Manner Matters: How To Dine Out With Kids

@SinoSoul beat me to it. A lot of this just depends on the kid! We've taken our son out to eat since he was much younger, and almost never had a problem. He's almost always very well behaved - the worst we've ever had to deal with was some fidgetiness that bordered on being a little disruptive.

I'd like to say that it's due to our genius parenting, but in fact he's just generally good like that. Not that he never misbehaves - he does plenty of bad things - but acting up in restaurants isn't one of them. If he was a different kid, we might have to eat out a lot less.

What's Your Favorite Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago?

Whenever I'm visiting Chicago, a trip to Malnati's is a must. Occasionally my in-laws send us frozen ones too. I'm no expert, having only tried a couple other places, but so far nothing tops Lou.

Can freezing a meatloaf make it better?

We make meatloaf about once a month or so. We usually use the Cook's Illustrated method (yes, the one with the gelatin, and I beg of you not to yell at me about authenticity) with a few minor modifications (details upon request but I don't think they're too terribly important in terms of this question.) However as with many recipes it makes far too much for our little family to eat in one night, so we usually take the finished mix and form it into two loaves - one to bake for that night's dinner, one to freeze and bake for another night.

So tonight I made one of the frozen ones, as my wife was called away at the last minute. I didn't even have time to defrost it, I just quickly made a pierced-foil-on-a-rack-in-a-rimmed-baking-sheet cooking platform and chucked it in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes. A probe showed it was still incredibly cold in the center so I put it back in for another 35, and then the center showed 150 - good enough.

The thing is... it had an *amazing* crust. Not just some browning like you get on most meatloaves, but a serious deep brown crust that took a bit of cutting to get through. And *yes* that crust was extremely delicious.

So after all that, I guess the question is... could it be possible that freezing a meatloaf could make a better meatloaf by giving it more time to brown on the outside before the insides get cooked?

London rioters defeated by kitchen staff

This story just came out today: a couple from Los Angeles were out for a fancy dinner in London recently, when rioters burst into the restaurant and attempted to mug them. Kitchen staff, armed with rolling pins and other "dangerous kitchen items" defended the couple and scared off the rioters.

Have you ever made your own flour tortillas?

Inspired by the recent post about making your own frozen burritos (I can't seem to find the link, but it was in the past few days), I'm considering making a batch of my own.

I also thought this might be a good time to make my own flour tortillas. One of the reasons I haven't before is that I'm not very good at rolling out dough, and so this seems like it'd be a huge pain for something my family probably wouldn't use up fast enough before they went bad. But if I'm making a batch of frozen burritos, spoilage shouldn't be a problem and the effort might be worth it.

So the questions are: Have you made your own? How much of a pain was it? Were they really tastier than store bought? And if you've got a recipe you really like, I'm all ears! (I gather purists say you must use lard, I'm totally okay with that.)

Potato Nails - do they work?

I've heard about people who put nails through the center of a potato they're going to bake. Does this really work? People say it does, but they give different reasons for what it actually accomplishes - does it speed cooking, or does it make the potato more evenly cooked?

I've always gotten quite good results by poking, oiling, and salting my potatoes, then baking them at 350 until they're done. No foil, no nothing, just right on the middle rack. It takes a while, but with a little planning that's not a big deal, and at least I don't have to do anything while they're cooking. As far as I can tell they're quite evenly cooked. If I used nails, would I really notice a difference in either cooking times or the quality of the final product?

Visiting New York

I'm taking my girl to NYC for our 10th anniversary. We're getting in the evening of the 28th, leaving late afternoon of the 2nd.

I should tell you that we've already got dinner plans for New Years Eve (which also just happens to be the day of our wedding anniversary): Restaurant Daniel. It's going to cost a mint, but what the heck, I expect to only have one 10th anniversary, so why not live it up?

Other than that, though, our gustatory options are open, and I'm soliciting suggestions for eats! Note: We've got theater plans for the 29th and 30th, so any dinner suggestions would have to be a place that has either early or late dining.

Also, fancy-pants is welcome, but certainly not necessary. How about a great place to get a slice? Is it worth standing in line at Shake Shack? Etc, etc. My only request is to go easy on the seafood places, since I'm deathly allergic to shellfish and not fond of regular fish.

I'm sure this isn't the first time this question has been asked, but if you don't mind answering again (and tailoring your suggestions for cold weather and my non-fishiness), I'd appreciate it!

Your childhood favorites: Are they still guilty pleasures?

Lately I've been overwhelmed with a desire to get some Strawberry Quik. Yes. The powdered stuff you mix into milk. and yes, I know: Blech.

But I can't shake the feeling that it will taste like my lost childhood, because man I loved that stuff. I can still almost conjure up the taste in my memory now. Still, we grow up and move on, and it must have been 20 years since I had any.

Besides, part of what I loved about it was the ritual. Back then it came in metal cannisters with a big round cap that you had to pry up with a spoon. You'd pour the milk, pop the cap, dip in the spoon, watch the crystals fall to the bottom of the glass, then stir and... drink.

These days they sell it in plastic jugs (yes, I've gone so far as to find it in the store. I know, flirting with disaster.) Not as good. Not at all.

So do you have any childhood favorites that you know are bad or bad for you, but that you can't help indulging from time to time?

A Sandwich a Day: Breakfast Sandwich at Market Café in Los Angeles

Market Café's breakfast sandwich ($6.75) breaks expectations even as it tows on the side of convention. The usual cast is all there, just in upgraded versions with better accessories. Eggs are scrambled in a thin layer, then folded and topped by aged cheddar cheese. A choice of turkey, baked ham, or bacon comes next. There is an ostensibly odd appearance of arugula leaves and sliced tomatoes, but any doubts tamp down upon bite. More