Thursday, May 6, 2010

Feng Mao: Mutton, Cumin, Fire.

Feng Mao had been on my to-try list ever since I read about their mutton kebab in cumin galore on FoodGPS and LA Weekly.

Feng Mao is labeled as a Korean-Chinese cuisine, is located in K-town with Korean signage and menu, but the owner Jing Cu Hwa and her husband are actually from China. They hail from Jilin province in Northern China, which borders Korea and explains the heavy Korean influence (technically it also borders Russia, too).

The full name of the restaurant is Feng Mao Mutton Kebab, so obviously we have to get the mutton kebabs.
The meat is covered with spices, including chili powder and cumin. This is a Northern Chinese dish after all, so you can actually find similar lamb kebabs at various Mongolian style hot pot places, like Happy Sheep, but those don't hold a candle to Feng Mao's tender and succulent mutton skewers. For one thing, mutton > lamb!

Just like any other Korean restaurants, they serve pretty typical banchans here, but it also included a typical Chinese one: boiled peanuts!
We love our boiled peanuts.

We also ordered the beef skewers, and while they're also pretty good, the mutton was much better as they were more tender and had a stronger flavor.

An order of quail will get you a whole butterflied quail.
All the skewers are grill-it-yourself on the charcoal grill they provide on each table (though they'll come by and check to see if you're messing up :P).

There's one more thing to note before you eat your grilled skewers. The heap of cumin-dominated spice on that little plate next to each one of you.
Oh, you know what to do ...

Feng Mao also has a list of cooked dishes, though I didn't try any, along with skewers of mutton kidney and bull penis. Yes, that's right. The adventurous might want those. For me that night, though, although I at first wanted to try the other skewers like beef and quail and enjoyed them, I mainly kept thinking: "man, those mutton kebabs were good. I should've just gotten more mutton kebabs."

Feng Mao
3901 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 935-1099
Feng Mao on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dionicess VI Fundraiser: Do-Gooding with Beer, Sausages, and Fries

On June 27 Gev Kavanchyan works together with Firestone Walker Brewing Company for a fundraising to benefit Real Medicine Foundation which provides medical support to disaster, post-war, and poverty stricken areas.
They will pair five beers with artisanal sausages and fries at Tony's Darts Away in Burbank. Tickets are $35 (all inclusive) per person and all the proceeds will go to the charity. Since there'll be no ticket sale at the door, you must get it online here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Feasting on California Avocado with the Too Hot Tamales

California Hass Avocados are now in season! Plus, it's almost Cinco de Mayo! Did you know that over 80 million pounds of avocados are consumed on Cinco de Mayo? That's a lot of guacamole!

The California Avocado Commission is working with the Too Hot Tamale chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger to create avocado-centric recipes and share them for Cinco de Mayo. They held a media lunch and cooking demo at Ciudad last week and I was lucky to be invited.

Many familiar faces were there, including Food Marathon, who convinced me it's never too early for a mojito ....
So in the email they had mentioned a cooking demo and a guacamole contest, i.e. a "guac-off".

Little did I know the "guac-off" mentioned was for us, not the chefs! They divided us into teams of two though we ended up in a team of three with Food Marathon and Active Foodie.
We were given a few minutes to look over the available ingredients and come up with a guacamole recipe.

Onions, corn, ... pomegranate, fish paste, banana, etc? OK ...

And of course, ripe California avocados!

Many of them made some pretty impressive guacamole. Ravenous Couple even decorated their "Saigon Samba" guac and tied it in nicely to their Vietnamese cooking blog. We didn't really have time to think about that :P
Well, ours ended up being halfway of what Active Foodie had envisioned. We weren't gung-ho enough to get some of the ingredients before the others used it all up. Oh well ...

We put bananas, oranges, tequila , and salt in ours.
Whatever, it tasted good ...

Lindsay from LAist and her team ended up winning the guacamole taste contest. Congratulations!

We did at least win the naming contest and won this Ciudad baseball cap! Mainly thanks for Food Marathon for his Ciudadocado Relish name idea.

Now that we got that out of the way, we let the experts, i.e. Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger do the job. Eating at Border Grill or Ciudad is really nothing like eating the food created personally by these great chefs!

I was excited about our first course, crispy avocado tacos. These quinoa and sesame seed-crusted and deep fried avocado tacos were all the rage at Border Grill Truck.

Crispy California Avocado Tacos (recipe)
Pretty spectacular. The crunchiness of the quinoa and sesame seeds gave way to a deliciously creamy avocado. Add to that all the flavors from the refreshing corn relish. This taco is actually available exclusively at the Border Grill truck, and I highly recommend you get it.

California Avocado, Bacon, and Tomato Salad (recipe)
This simple salad has the delicious avocados as the main attraction, but the finishing touch is from the capers fried in bacon fat.

For our main entree, chefs Milliken and Feniger prepared chilaquiles for us. I haven't had chilaquiles since I last went to Tijuana and had it for breakfast (it's apparently a typical breakfast item)!
They told us that chilaquiles are an easy dish and a good way to finish up leftover salsa (and leftover tortillas too). Basically you simmer down tortillas in salsa until they soften up.

Chicken and California Avocado Skillet Chilaquiles (recipe)

Our first dessert is a simple garnishing of sliced fresh and ripe fruits:
California Avocado and Mango with Yogurt, Honey, and Lime (recipe)
With mangoes and avocados as good as these, you really don't need to do much! The yogurt and honey are such a good accent for the two fruits. Interestingly enough, because of the sprinkled Cayenne pepper, this ended up being the spiciest dish of the day!

To really finish off we had an Avocado Orange Licuado
Since they made this just for the event, the recipe isn't available on the CAC website, but it is basically avocados, orange juice, lemon, agave syrup, and milk blended. Oh and with a little bit of salt. The chefs said that they found salt to bring out that "avocado" flavor, so even though it may sound weird for a sweet drink, they put a bit of salt in it.

The drink is heavy yet refreshing due to the orange zest. It's a great drink for a warm summer day and a great way to end our meal!

I've heard Spring is the best season for avocados (though they're in season and available through Fall), and now that you have all these great avocado recipes on the CAC website, you can rush to get some ripe avocados and contribute to the 80 million pounds that will be eaten in 2 days.

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