Sunday, November 28, 2004


I'm finally coming out of a food coma after three consecutive days of mass consumption. Thanksgiving day was the traditional American fare (a little too conventional, frankly) prepared by my Mom. It was an overload of starches, sugars and salt. I much preferred and enjoyed the Vietnamese country meal she cooked Friday (fried fish in tomato sauce, grilled steak salad, sweet & sour fish/pineapple soup, caramelized chicken, pickled veggies, rice). In between meals were snacks of fresh guava (homegrown), silky tofu with ginger syrup, pies with fresh cream, and tasteless sponge cakes (Mom picked it up at some local Asian bakery; they looked pretty but tasted like a sponge). Another highlight meal was Saturday brunch of dim sum bites and wide rice noodles served with tofu, Vietnamese Pate, herbs, nuoc mam.

Amongst the usual table discussion of politics and life, we talked about food. Dad said in another life he would've been a chef. Of course, his favorite ingredient is beef and he's not fond of the Asian spices, so our taste is quite different. His palate favors Western (mostly American), a bit heavy on the starch and protein, while I prefer fresh vegetables, fruit, poultry, herbs, tropical spices.

These beautiful tropical guavas came from my parents backyard. Great as a snack, I'm hoping to come up with a new recipe featuring the fruit. Guava is pungent with a sweet musky smell. This specific genus is big, round or ovoid, yellowish green skinned, white on the inside. The outer fruit is sweetly tart, crisp while the inner core is a sweet creamy pulp threaded with crunchy seeds.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Gregg Bennett's Birthday @ Malo

For Gregg's birthday, I took him to Malo in Los Feliz/Silver Lake. Malo is Stephen Arroyo's (Cobras & Matadors, Cobra Lily, recently closed Hillmont) idea of a fresh Mexican restaurant on Sunset Blvd. Great times started with mojitoes, horchatas, and the intent of Patron Cadillac Margaritas (Patron tequilla, Grand Marnier, triple sec). To whet our savory buds, we munched on crispy, chewy warm chips with burnt habanero & creme fraiche (very spicy cooled by the creme fraiche). Next were eggplant and potato taquitos, topped with guacomole and sourcream. For the main course we had barbequed carnitas and a side of bananas sauteed in garlic, topped with sourcream and green onions. We finished with flan for dessert.

Monday, November 22, 2004

679 N. Berendo Property

Location: Off Melrose, few blocks west of Vermont. North of K-town, near LA City College, Los Feliz Adjacent

Store Front


Main Floor: 1500sq ft

Top Floor: 600sq ft

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Vikki's Bday (Malibu Seafood, Buddha's Belly)

I kidnapped Vikki for the day, so my brother can surprise us at dinner. I gave Vikki the choice of the Westside (the Getty) or Eastside (MoCA) and she decided West. First stop, bobas from Volcano for our long ride to Malibu Seafood, the best fish 'n chips joint in the county. I didn't realize Vikki wasn't willing to break her healthy habits and was unable to convince her to share fish 'n chips with me. Instead, she got the grilled swordfish, rice pilaf and salad. No stopping me, I got clam strips 'n chips (with plenty of malt vinegar and ketchup) and New England clam chowder (vs. Boston which is red and tomato, not cream based).

Afterwards, we went to the Getty and did some shopping before meeting James, my brother, and Gregg Bennett, for dinner at Buddha's Belly. Of course we get there, and neither one of them is there to "surprise" us. I make an excuse to "go to the restroom" and called both. Gregg was right around the corner and James was lost (as usual). While waiting for James's arrival (Vikki still had no idea) and our table, lychee fusion cocktails kept us festive.

Finally, we were seated out on the heated patio, surrounded by bamboo trees. We shared the ahi tuna eggrolls, eggplant in miso sauce, spicy calamari salad, ahi tuna burger with sweet potato fries, and peanut noodles with chicken and shrimp. For dessert we shared pumpkin gelato in a mini pumpkin and sesame buns. For an encore, Gregg brought back a lemon rasberry cake from Sweet Lady Jane which we shared delightfully while watching new Beastie Boys videos/concert footage I assembled on a DVD for James.

Steven Flynn's Birthday @ Mix

Steven Flynn's 50th Birthday @ Mix (Crescent Heights/Santa Monica) - Patio seating for 25 people, great atmosphere, perfect lighting (Outdoor lanterns + candles, reflected by white walls)

1. Butter glazed rosemary rolls with green olive/pesto tapenade
2. Pumpkin Soup - pureed, strained pumpkin with a dollop of crème fraîche (Red wine: unidentified, dry, not too oaky, full finish)
3. Chicories and bosc pear salad with a nibble of battered fried cheese (goat?)
4. Halibut (a bit overcooked) built vertically over pureed potatoes with a red wine reduction sauce of haricot vert (green beans), lobster mushroom, wild tomato
5. Chocolate soufflé with side of créme anglaise (Coffee with real cream, Port - Dow's Colheita Reserve Single Year Tawny, 1982)

Seating arrangement: Three long tables, seating about 8 each

Great friends: Steven & Tim, Rob & Jen Wilkinson, Blair & Jen Green, Dan & Michelle, Michelle Hagen (sans partner Lynn), Reid & Ian

Dinner Conversation: foodies, films, life, Steven turning 50 (shock!), recovering Catholics, Steven becoming a reverend of the Universal Church to perform Carlotta's wedding, superstar lesbian moms, buying real estate in L.A. (impossible), Ecuador trip (Blair & Jen), second careers, gossip (Roya offending Julie), work: academy campaigns for Focus (Motorcycle Diaries & Eternal Sunshine).

It was an honor to celebrate with Steven and Tim, as they looked perpetually young, armed with great stories and a grand spirit one can only aspire to.

Steve driving the golf cart very fast around the studio backlot.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Exploring Spring (The Restaurant)

It's official, I'm looking for real estate. I had breakfast with Aya & Marco this morning at Eat Well in Silverlake. Amongst the many things we chatted about (i.e., their wedding of the century, law school, art school, Brooke & Tyler, Thanksgiving, Portland), we talked about this restaurant I hope to open in 2005. I'm not getting any younger nor is there anything I love more than eating (okay, maybe watching movies, reading the New Yorker and sardonic fiction, surfing the net, and all the usual).

I shared with them the two pieces of real estate on the docket that piques my interest. One is in Venice (on A/K), the other in L.A. (Los Feliz adjacent on Melrose, west of Vermont). I outlined my plan and discussed the menus. Being the fellow foodies they are, they questioned the menu and concept. Marco put it best, "Wow, you've been thinking about this for a long time." Indeed, it's true. For this first venture (hopefully there will be many until I get sick and resume writing fiction and directing films), I'm dreaming of a place that will satiate both my desire to entertain loved ones, feed foodies as well as make money. What I envision in an ideal world is a loft (ala Clark Lewis in Portland) acting as a casual lunch time café (serving healthy Asian rolls, gourmet rice bowls, "wacky" Asian beverages), catering business, and underground restaurant to foodies (gourmet food/wine pairings to an exclusive group).

I got in the car and was fully inspired. Well, the rumblings have been going on for months if not years. But today felt different as I spoke about it aloud to Aya & Marco. I was excited, I had a vision. I was obsessed. So, sitting atop the world with it as my oyster, the inspirations came, one after another. One inspiration was an epiphany: the name, the nucleus, the essence. Let me back up. For about five years, I've had this "roll shop" idea and was going to call it "Sisters" after my sisters. There would be different specials, named for the preference of Susie and Kimme (and even James eventhough he's a brother). However, I got in the car, listened to Morning Becomes Eclectic, breathed in warm Southern Cali air, drove past the building on Melrose/Vermont and I thought of Spring. Spring: the season, the harvest, a time of renewal, a fresh start, a mechanical instrument that bounces, a coil or wire that remains it shape after being compressed or extended, a flexibility, a motion, a leap, resilience, a stream of water from the earth, nascency of hope and growth. And, the Spring roll which is perfect in its own right. Could a more perfect word or name exist for all the literal and figurative thoughts in my mind?


Here starts this blog, documenting the process of opening this restaurant as well as inspirations and emotions that accompany it. I'm sure there will be a lot of trials and errors. Be patient. Be forgiving. Put on your sunscreen and hop aboard.