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I’ve made it to about three hundred restaurants in four years in LA, and only one of them was vegetarian, so I’m pretty serious about these meat dishes. Pro: they’re all cheap. Con: none of them photograph well. (And in one case, photos aren’t even allowed.) So, pardon my textiness.

Kitfo
Rosalind’s Ethiopian Cuisine, 1044 S Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles 90019

$11

Rosalind’s is one of my favorite Friday date-night restaurants, and my guy and I buy up Groupons for it as often as they come along. Kitfo is hand-chopped beef served nearly raw with butter, chiles, and other northern African spices. It gets sauteed for mere seconds before being delivered to the table with roll-ups of injera, the light, spongy pancake used to pick up food in Ethiopian dining, the sole utensil in this fun and casual culinary culture. We usually order fried appetizers and a lamb stew besides, and the portions are enormous, so we end up with leftovers. In the morning, we scramble eggs with the leftover tartare for breakfast. And the morning after that, I’m craving Rosalind’s all over again. Read the rest of this entry »

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That’s a lie. I’m listing 11, all completely deserving, but 10 just sounds flashier. In no particular order (except the prettiest photo is going at the top)…

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Beef Tongue Schnitzel.

The Beef Tongue Schitzel, $12.00
Bäco Mercat, 408 S Main Street, 90013

Okay. It’s actually a very close call between the tongue schitzel bäco with pickles, harissa, and smoky aioli, and the toron bäco with oxtail, a cheddar hashbrown, and horseradish yogurt sauce. Maybe, in my mind, my dream bäco is breaded and fried beef tongue with a cheddar hashbrown and creamy horseradish sauce. Either way, I’m just happy I live in a world (and especially a city) where chef Josef Centeno has invented these puffy flatbread wraps with forceful meat cuts and innovative sauces and unexpected spices, with the most pleasing textures. He makes a mean mole enchilada at Bar Amá, too.

Turkey Reuben and Waffle Fries, $9.95
Home Los Feliz, 1760 Hillhurst Ave, 90027

Also known as a Georgia Reuben, Home’s turkey reuben comes with Read the rest of this entry »

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I spent Christmas in San Francisco.

It was the first time I would spend a Christmas apart from my family. Whether it was spent at home in Virginia with my two parents and two older siblings or in Massachusetts with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, Christmas was, until this year, a family reunion. My parents worked full-time until I was 16, and my siblings had left for college by then. My extended family was scattered throughout the world, from Colorado to Singapore. Ours was the very image of the family holiday: viewings of “A Christmas Story” and “Christmas Vacation,” my sister and I playing duets of carols on the flute and piano, sledding and igloo-building (yes!), cookie decorating, tree dressing, and arriving too late to church to get seats.

As we got older, our manners changed, but the traditions stayed the same. My siblings would fly in in time for Christmas Eve dinner, and we’d go through a couple of bottles of red wine watching a Christmas classic, then try not to laugh or fall asleep at the midnight mass because we’d had just a bit too much. (My mom is the perennial DD, and she will be going to heaven for putting up with us.) Cookie decorating turned into an all-day cooking competition a la Iron Chef, and the flute and piano duets were interrupted with laughter when we realized how bad we sounded. I love how open and intellectual and adventurous my family is, but in spite of it, it is remarkable how annoyed I get when we’re all together about the most mundane or irrelevant things. If I could just remember one of those things right now…

Admittedly, I can remember one. I do not like being the third, fifth, or seventh member of a group. I make Trivial Pursuit teams uneven and have to hear the debate about whose team should take me (as if I’ll dumb them down or something!), and I can’t contribute to dinnertable conversations about getting a dog with a life partner or insuring jewelry. It’s a product of being four years younger and having what my dad describes as, “A really big personality that men might find… really big.” But it’s okay because, as he says, “I love your mother very much.” This Christmas, my brother would visit with his wife’s family, my sister would stay in Oregon with her boyfriend (on call) then go on to Fiji, and my parents would take care of my extremely ill grandfather in Massachusetts while my grandmother visited an aunt in Texas. I was invited to join each twosome, but each two was too occupied.

Christmas is not about me anyway.

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