Tuesday, March 20, 2007

These Are a Few of My Favorite Foods (Part 1)

A few years ago, when the great state of Texas published the "last meals" of its death-row inmates, I developed a morbid fascination with the final selections. And, being Texas, there were plenty of menus to peruse.

Alas, the site was discontinued, but my obsession with last meals continues. (The info. lives on at http://www.deadmaneating.com/dmearch.html)

In the last two weeks, I've consumed more than my share of "last meals" before my intense chemo protocol begins. My friend Melanie, a nurse in the hematology department at the City of Hope, warns that I may develop an aversion to eating. Food will no longer be a pursuit and a pleasure.

My last meals have included tender filet mignon and succulent lobster at JJ's Steak House in Pasadena. Pizza with crust as thin and crisp as a cracker at La Maschera. Oolong marinated see bass with ginger soy at PF Changs.

But my favorite foods remind me of why I love Los Angeles: It's teeming with inexpensive but extraordinary ethnic foods that just aren't available in Ravenswood, West Virginia. Last weekend, I had one of my all-time favorites, Vietnamese spring rolls at the Golden Deli Restaurant in San Gabriel.

Jonathan Gold, the food critic for the LA Weekly, first immortalized this popular treat more than a dozen years ago in his LA Times "Counter Intelligence" column. Since then, hardly a year goes by when he doesn't mention the spring rolls.

The New York Times even waxed euphoric about these crispy creations:

For the uninitited, Vietnamese spring rolls come with a plate of crispy romaine lettuce, sliced cucumbers, fresh mint and bean sprouts. Wrap the roll in the lettuce, throw in the assorted veggies and dip in a fish sauce. The result is a heavenly blend of flavors and textures that's impossible to beat.

My Vietnamese manicurist believes that the Golden Deli is not the best and observes that "A lot of Caucasians eat there." But, truth be told, I can't imagine a better spring roll.

Cap it off with a cup of French-pressed coffee, and I could die a happy woman.

(If I have time, I'll share a few more of my favorite foods in pre-treatment blog posts. Please share yours with me too.)


Karen C said...

Chocolate Frangelico Cheesecake from the Carlson Bed and Breakfast. It will be yours the next time you visit there.

Tara said...

If I had a choice of last meals, I would probably fly to Latvia to have Armenian style Latvianized shashlik at Lidos which is an awesome cultural peek into the life of Latvians. It's this thatched roof, open fire barbeque place with the most interesting mix of local foods. Can't get that in Ravenswood, either, or in the US for that matter!! (:
And milk chocolate is a close second~for a meal!!

Susan Carrier said...

These are the fastest responses yet. Now I know which of my friends REALLY like food!

Keep 'em comin'.

Paula Johnson said...

Not necessarily in order:
1. Roasted veggie nachos/The Taco Spot
2. 3-egg burrito/Tops
3. Afternoon tea/The Raymond Restaurant
4. Any dessert/Emma's bakery
5. Mushroom risotto/Cafe Mundial
6. My homemade mac & cheese (Magnolia's is good as well.)

I could go on, but that's all that comes to mind right now! (Do I need to mention I haven't had dinner yet?)

Susan Carrier said...

(I'm posting this for Flo, who keeps trying without success to post a comment.)

Re favorite foods:
A few that come to mind are:
-Pappardelle with sausage at Louise's
-Salad with goat cheese, cranberries and walnuts, with a balsamic vinaigrette at French Quarter in West Hollywood
-Tuna salad sandwich at Big Tomy's, corner Pico & Sawtelle
-Lettuce wraps at Fu's Palace (Pico near Robertson)
-Jambalaya or Gumbo at the New Orleans stand at Farmer's Market
-Lemon cake from Beverlywood Bakery (around the corner from my house)
-Deluxe pizza from Ameci on Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica
-Chocolate cookies from Torrance Bakery in Torrance (that Rena brought to the IWOSC booth at the LA Times Festival of Books last year)

Now...if you do an installment on Memorable Meals, I have a few for that, but I'll leave it for another time.

Emily M. said...

Oh man this is fun!
A few of my favorites that make my yummy list in no particular order:
1. Tomato Artichoke Soup with homemade bread- Rembrandt's Chattanooga
2. Brunch- Ansley Inn, Atlanta (tomato gravy and biscuits, cheesy grits, who could resist?)
3. Orange Peel Beef- P.F. Chang's
4. Chicken Salad Sandwich- Cheesecake Factory (it has to be the buttery grilled bread)
5. Panang Curry from Sweet Basil, Chattanooga
6. Dark Chocolate "S" Cookie with a cup of house coffee- Rembrandt's Chattanooga
7. Crispy Tacos- Taco Time (thanks to my hubby)
The only thing stopping my list is a crying baby :) Let me come back to this!

Susan Carrier said...

Yum, yum. On my next visit to Atlanta, I want to go to the Ansley Inn for brunch. Tomato gravy, biscuits and cheesy grits sound irresistible!

One of Paula's favorites spots is also one of mine - The Taco Spot in Eagle Rock. But I prefer the shrimp tacos.

You can read more about The Taco Spot on Paula's blog:


Is it time for lunch yet? I'm starving!

cgfryling said...

I would choose chocolate souffle from George's on the Cove in La Jolla. Coming in at a very close second would be lobster rolls from Barnacle Billy's ( on yet another cove ) in Ogunquit Maine. Yes there's a theme here of me and great eating on ocean fronts on either coast. Carla

Amy Whitehead said...

Sushi Den in Denver would be my choice, no question! They fly their fish in fresh from Japan every day. I would have the dynamite appetizer, jalapeno yellowtail sashimi, copper river salmon sushi (provided it was in season, it is divine) and a shrimp tempura roll. I would toast it with a split of champagne. Sushi Den is a must if you are ever in Denver...

Karen said...

Ten years ago, when I couldn't eat (for those who don't know, I went two months without eating food because I couldn't swallow -- all my nourishment came from a tube), I dreamed (both awake and asleep) about thick, marbled, rare steaks, baked potatoes heaped with sour cream, lemonade and ... most frequently ... cinnamon buns. I used to look at pictures of cinnamon buns the way some men pore over porn. So if I had one last meal, this is what it would be: steak, potatoes, lemonade and one or two (or maybe three?) cinnamon buns!

Ardis said...

This is my first blogging experience, but with food as a topic, I'm hooked.

grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches from Amy's

stone crab (and their grilled tomatoes and garlic spinach) from Joe's Stone Crab

live shrimp from Renu Nakorn (has it closed? oh, heartbreak!)

Thai organ meat soup - street food - available in Thailand and in versions at Sanam Luang

lobster (I once had to be taken to the emergency room after eating it for lunch and dinner four days straight in Maine)

oysters - I once ate 57 at a contest and I was a viewer not a contestant - winner was somewhere in the 300 range - all timed

do martinis count?