The Glutster To Appear On The United Tastes Of America Tonight! (The Cooking Channel: 6:30 PM PST)

Jeffrey Saad & The Glutster!

So, the segment where I was featured in a while back for United Tastes Of America will finally be aired tonight! Well, 2 hours from now to be exact. The show will be aired on the new Cooking Channel at 6:30 PM (9:30 PM for you East Coasters) and 10:30 PM (1:30 for you East Coasters).

The episode will be entirely about TACOS! New school, fusion school and of course…old school. So tune and check out the classic L.A restaurant where show host, Jeffrey Saad, and I gorged on taco’s de Huitlacoche (corn fungus) and smoky, thick Salsa de Gusanito (agave worm salsa).

All late notice I know but I was barely informed of this yesterday and have been one busy vato since yesterday. Don’t triiip though, here are the complete list of show times for now.

* March 01, 2011 9:30 PM
* March 01, 2011 1:30 AM
* March 06, 2011 11:00 PM
* March 06, 2011 3:00 AM

(All times Eastern)

And of course…I will follow post up the video as soon as its up!

If you tune in, let me know what you guys though ehh? Seriously…be honest!

Letters To The Glutster: Ex-Employee of Taix Restaurant Speaks Up Against Owner (Follow up to My ROC “Behind The Kitchen Door Post”)

I received this email two days ago in response of my recent coverage on the progress of the WAGES Act – H.R 631. I recently covered the ROC-LA AM Summit At Taix Restaurant which praised the noble efforts of restaurant owners who went the extra mile to take care of their employees works of. Michael Taix, the 4th generation owner of the family restaurant was one of those men.

But an ex-employee says otherwise.

Glutster,
I was forwarded your piece entitled behind the kitchen door and had to laugh. As a 15 year veteran of the service industry and a 31/2 year employee of Taix restaurant I can tell you that you were all duped. Mike Taix is one of the worst offenders when it comes to the subject or your summit. The only employees of Taix that don’t hate Mike Taix are the ones that just merely dislike him, no one from upper management to the lowliest dishwasher have one ounce of respect for the man. The “white haired and jolly” servers you spoke of are not a product of the Mike Taix’s era, they are from Raymond Taix’s era, unlike Mike, his father Raymond was a respected man that offered Holiday parties, paid vacations and general respect according to all that served under him. Mike Taix is an entitled, disrespectful, cheapskate opportunist that shaves off hours on paychecks, requires employees to log in breaks that they do not take and are not paid for, buys the cheapest of products and passes it off the good stuff at a premium price. The general attitude at Taix is that you are lucky to have a job and if you have a problem you can leave…which is what I did just this week.

Cheers,

Angry Ex Employee

I strive to cover both sides of a story and must take every account seriously, feel free to comment.

Thank you for reading.

Korean Clay Roasted Stuffed Golden Duck Has Arrived to Los Angeles: Dha Rae Oak (Koreatown)


Dha Rae Oak
Behold: Roasted for 4 Hours in Clay Pot And Stuffed With Nuts, Purple Rice, Spices and Herbs

The best preparation of duck I have ever had in my life might be at the newly revamped Dha Rae Oak in Koreatown. It is stuffed with things like chewy Ogokbap (Five-Grain/beans “purple” Rice), whole meaty walnuts, chopped chestnuts, nutty pumpkin seeds, cooked sweet potatoes, Chinese herbs, dried fruit and probably crack. It just might make you forget Thanksgiving even existed.

Korean “Quack” has been hot lately thanks to Jonathan Gold’s recent word-candy writeup of the grilled duck specialist Sun Ha Jang not too far away. In it, he mentions this particular style duck actually ” [at] Il San Duck, you got the famous clay pot duck, stuffed with rice and ginseng.” Well…now thanks to owner Gil Rae Kim…it is back in L.A and it is here to stay.


450 degrees for 4 hours
korean clay pots used for duck
adobe oven

The classical fowl here is wrapped in cheesecloth, roasted for 4 glorious hours within a vertical clay pot inside a 450 degree specialized Korean ceramic oven Gil imported to the U.S himself. “The ovens can’t be found anywhere but South Korea, Malaysia and now….here.” he proudly says in Korean.

Gilrae Kim of Dha Rae Oak
Gil Rae Kim: Owner pf Dha Rae Oak And Fellow Duck Devotee

Gil is passionate about tender quack, he bellows out to everyone on the table in the most jolly of elder Korean enthusiasm about the health qualities of duck. “It is goooood for you, gives you stamina!” he says. He’s been wanting to bring this Ilsan style, highly prized duck preparation back to L.A for a while now and has been hitting the duck hard for the last few months.

He is actually the uncle of Neil Kwon, owner of the Korean-German Pub Biergarten in Koreatown . He invited me to be one of the first to taste it this last Thursday.

And what can I say other than wow. To describe it solely as “tender” would be an understatement. The taste will probably shock you, one word….LEAN. Gil says that 4 hours of cooking it allows a lot of the duck fat–that would otherwise stay within–drain to the bottom of the pot, leaving you with just flavorful, lean meat and skin that tastes of pure duck mostly with faint characters of aromatic herbs and sweet dried fruit.

But the best part is the stuffing, abundant and soaking up all the illustrious duck fat, I mean flavor. The purple rice is sticky and glistening with the stuff, clinging to the duck skin like some sort of inside out savory mochi. The creamy sweet potatoes and al dente mung beans, black beans, peanuts probably do the best job of of holding in them juices, creating an instant gourmet starch filler just by sitting inside the creature as it cooks. Not to take those nuts and seeds for granted, they will add crunchy texture and therefore crown this dish seemingly unfathomable.

Banchan on the day of my visit included meaty sauteed Shitake Mushrooms, sesame flavored Japchae noodles and a pungent onion salad doused in a soy-mustard dressing. And of course that ubiquitous korean bbq coarse salt and pepper mixture. The house kimchi is a little young but it makes up for it with the generous layer of chili paste on each napa leaf. But I digress…


Korean Duck Skewers Grilled then broiled
Duck Skewers: On Self Rotating, Propane + Korean Charcoal Hybrid Grill That Gil Rae Brought Himself From Korea

In a Transformer like fashion, our tables were turned into a makeshift hybrid grill that was somehow both gas and charcoal powered. The uniform blue flames embered through metal catwalks filled with smoky Korean Charcoal. In between them, their were self-rotating metal skewers each impaling some more of yup…you guessed it–fresh, chopped duck. This became more of communal celebration of the universal fact that one must wait for good food.

The inevitable annoying flare up will almost burn off your flourishing peach fuzz but it will also let you know when your duck is done and that most of the fat has drained to the bottom. They will now be ready for phase II of cooking, stainless steel flat tops that sits beside the catwalks, ready to sear the rotisserie duck to a crispy-skin heaven if you have the patience for it. Don’t forget to throw in the sliced garlic in leftover duck fat, you have already come this far.

Dha Rae Oak is now open but the clay roasted duck will not be available until Monday February 28th. Gil Rae is adamant about your experience always being consistent and the best, therefore you will have to CALL IN YOUR ORDER AT LEAST 4 HOURS IN ADVANCE. He warns that not all his staff speaks fluent English so be prepared to learn basic Korean to partake in this. The bird is easily enough for three people, maybe four (each one is 5 lbs, but once fat drains…) and it will cost you around $60 for an order, complete with Banchan of course.

In the mean time, the skewers are already available in the restaurant. They come three to an order for $22.99 and you must at least order two of them.

By the end of the night you will have duck fat all over your face, hair, clothes, pants and your pores will reek of garlic but that is a small price to pay for the best duck of your life.

Clay Roasted Duck Will Be Available Starting Monday, February 29th
$60 For One Whole Duck (3-4 people)
YOU MUST CALL AT LEAST 4 HOURS IN ADVANCE TO ORDER IT

Dha Rae Oak
1106 Western Ave.
Los Angeles CA. 90006

(323) 733-2474


Arriba El Tequila Festival Happening Tomorrow at A Mi Hacienda Vieja (Featuring 15+ Tequilas; Pico Rivera; PURO PINCHE PARI)

For Immediate PURO PINCHE PARI Release:


TEQUILA FLYER

I will be there assisting el Tequilero homie Chuy Tovar at the Real De Mexico Tequila booth. So, you all know what that means! Yup, we will be hand muddling spicy, agave sweetened Real Mexican’s made with fresh Cilantro and fresh squeezed lime all night long!


The Real Mexican
The Real Mexican: Cilantro, Jalapeño, Lime Juice, Agave

So come by and say hi, the list of Tequilas will cover all 8 regions of Jalisco so you will be able to personally experience the “pepperiness” of the lowlands and the smoothness of the highlands. There will also be some of the “middlelands” stuff as well that combine a little bit of both characteristics.

There will be free house appetizers to get your drunk munchies on while you imbibe Mexico’s ancestral national spirit.

Tickets are available pre-sale for $15 by calling the number on the flier (323) 515-4713 and for $20 the day of at the door.

Salud!

Doors open at 6 PM

Tickets available by calling (323) 515-4713 for $15 Pre-Sale and $20 At The Door
(Presidents Weekend)

A Mi Hacienda Restaurant
9613 Whittier Boulevard,
Pico Rivera,
CA 90660
(562) 699-2500 ?

Eager For The Younger: Russian River Night At The Surly Goat Bar


eager for the younger
Behold: The Power Of Craft Beer

Last night, the line to get into The Surly Goat Bar in West Hollywood stretched nearly to Fairfax Ave. The doors opened at 6 PM, they were hosting 13 exclusive beers from the highly coveted Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa. 13 beers that had never, ever been on tap in L.A before.

Eager masses of beerheads far and wide united outside and “started showing up since 3:30 [PM]!” said bar owner Ryan Sweeney in a frenzied rush as he expedited orders. Everyone was hoping to get just a small 4 oz. taste (max available per person) of River’s highest prized brew, the Triple IPA–cult favorite–know as Pliny The Younger.

    Russian Rivers On Tap

Pliny The Elder
Pliny The Younger
Blind Pig IPA
Russian River IPA
Damnation
Redemption
Rejection
Mortification
Perdition
Consecration
Temptation
Supplication
Sanctification

“I am leaving at 5 PM, whether you are here or not” says an eager as hell Chuy Tovar as I agreed to meet at his loft. “How the hell did they get 13 kegs?!?” said a flustered Neil Kwon, fellow beer enthusiast and owner of Biergarten
in Koreatown. Well, according to Chuy, they actually went up to Nor-Cal and brought all the barrels themselves!

Why was everyone so freaking eager for this beer? Well, I thought I wasn’t going to find out anytime soon. Not even half hour after opening, the doorman decreed the inevitable “We are out of the Younger!” Sweeney had only procured a 5 gallon keg of the stuff, apparently there is something that sells faster than hotcakes.

It didn’t matter. I also heard rumors that they were also bringing their elusive sour beers, which was good enough for me to wait 2 + hours like everyone else was doing. At just past 8:00 PM, we were finally inside.


Get Your Beer Here!
Get Your Beer Here!: Eager Patrons Were Trying Hard To Get Bartenders Attention

When you come to a tasting of this caliber with a dedicated beer connoisseur who’s real job is selling Tequila and an owner of a German-Korean Beer Bar, you bet your ass we were going to do the rounds.


russian river trio
Tasted 12 out of 13 Beers

Favorites included the fruity, full-flavored Temptation, a wild ale brewed in Chardonay barrels. Yes, it actually tasted like a Chardonay, light honeydew notes and all that stuff. Supplication, a wild ale that is brewed in Pinot Noir Barrels. Yes, that one also tasted lightly like a Pinot Noir. Consecration, another wild ale even a little more sour than the rest. And lastly, a crispy and caramel-yMortification, Russian River’s stab at a Belgium Quadrupel.

About 7 beers in…it happened. Owner Ryan Sweeney passed by and poured the homie Chuy a small tasting glass full of some mysterious golden brew from his personal growler. Could it be? YES…it was!


pliny the younger (fucked up contrast but oh well!)
Pliny The Younger: Triple Hopped = Triple Pleasure

The nose on it was simply peerless. Faintly herby, vegetal…damn right hoppy. And within those two meager sips I took, I understood just why people formed. The mouth feel was thick and buttery. It was the smoothest IPA I have ever tasted without being flat. And its taste? Well, I simply don’t know how else to put it other than…KUSH BUTTER! Not hash butter or canna-butter made with only the ends of cheaper quality stress. I’m taking the 5th here but it literally tasted like the many edibles I have had the pleasure of tasting in my younger days.

Shortly after sipping this, the bar play list started bumping The Buzzcocks – “Ever Fallen In Love (With Some You Shouldn’t)”.

…It was one one of the happiest moments in my life I have experienced thus far.


the surly fucken goat
The Surly Goat: Indeed

Check out Russian River Brewery Website:

http://www.russianriverbrewing.com

The Surly Goat
7929 Santa Monica
West Hollywood
CA 90046

323.650.GOAT

Behind The Kitchen Door: A Surprising Look At The Working Conditions Of Restaurant Workers (WAGES Act – H.R 631; ROC-LA AM Summit At Taix Restaurant)

packed house
Restaurant Workers Work Damn Hard: And They Are Human Beings Too

A summit to improve the wages and working conditions of Restaurant workers nationwide was held in L.A’s oldest French Restaurant (Taix in Echo Park opened in 1927) yesterday at 8:30 AM. Summits were also held in Miami and Washington DC. Attendees included industry individuals from all levels and state officials in support of the WAGES Act – H.R 631. Recently introduced by Rep. Donna Edwards, it would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers from $2.13 to $3.75 per hour if passed through legislation…the first time it is raised in twenty years.

The summits were organized by the Restaurant Opportunity Center United. In the L.A Chapter, speakers included Michael Taix, the 4th generation owner of the family restaurant. “Well, it takes a lot of commitment and work”, he admits when talking about the success of the restaurant through the ages and recent hard times. And its true, most of the servers who were refilling the bountiful breakfast buffet–that included carved fruit, bottomless coffee and Mexican style (bready= Cuernos) Croissants–were white haired and jolly.

The report was incidentally released yesterday. Valentines Day is the highest grossing day for Restaurants nationwide and it is not unusual for employees at both the front and back of the house to work well beyond regular business hours. “Behind The Kitchen Door: Inequality And Opportunity in Los Angeles, the Nation’s Largest Restaurant Industry” unravels the many imperfections of our highly regarded food industry including how Restaurant workers in L.A are forced to work while sick, undergo racial discrimination and experience unsafe working conditions on a daily basis.

Panelist on deck included the personal accounts of people like Nora Garcia, a single mom who has been a loyal waitress at 6740 Bar in City of Whittier for six years now. She tells of her stories when she would force herself to work through long, high-energy shifts while being ill. Back of the house experiences were touched upon as well, like that of Luis Hernandez. Hernandez revealed how promotion was simply not an option for him because of his skin color, making half as much as his front of the house–white co-workers. Why else would he not been promoted? After all, he has been working in the industry for over 20 years now, running the gamut of positions from dishwasher, bus boy, line cook, you name it.

Jamie Dolkas, an equal rights activist was there to shed light into the extra unfair circumstances for women in the industry as well. Revealing startling such statistics as “1 Million women being found to be paid less than their men co-workers.”

And then there was the inspirational account of Jason Michaud, the owner and chef of the successful LOCAL Restaurant in Silver Lake. He recounts a story of how he paid for the airplane ticket for one of his workers who’s father deceased in another state, continuing his pay even when he was out on leave. He admits to dedicating at least two shifts a month filling in for his workers duties in order to make paid sick days a reality. He also facilitates the process of his unlearned employees to understand and articulate themselves in English, paying for their classes. Although, he confusingly revealed that “only about two of ten employees” have actually took him up for it.

Here are some more statistics gathered in the report:

-89.8% of employers do not provide health insurance
-89.4% of employees do not get paid sick days
-58.3% of employees have worked when sick
-80.2% of employees do not receive regular raises
-75.4% of employees have never received a promotion
-44.1% of employees have experienced overtime wage violations (ex: worked more than 8 hours in a day without being paid time-and-a-half)
-29.3% of employees have done something that put their own safety at risk
-27.8% of employees have done something due to time pressure that might have harmed the health and safety of customers
-42.9% of employees were burned while on the job
-42.4% of employees were cut while on the job

As an almost daily consumer of this industry and food writer, I find something has to be done to improve this. Through out my years of doing this, I have met many cooks and servers who see their co-workers more than their significant others. Its hard to believe this kind of stuff has been going in our beloved places of food reverie and good times for so long, but it is…and something needs to be done to improve this.

For more information on how you can help this National movement, visit www.rocunited.com.

Check out L.A Weekly’s coverage of the extensive report here

Eating Backyard Barbacoa On The Madeleine Brand Show (KPCC)

So…I was featured on the awesomely informative Madeleine Brand Show (KPCC) yesterday talking about some backyard barbacoa spot that was run by the aunt of a girl I used to date.

It was pretty awesome and despite my nervousness, I think the segment came out ok. Here is the link in case you didn’t get to listen to it live yesterday.

Listen to it here

As a consolation prize, I will also re-post the post that started it all…enjoy!


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I was ecstatic, the secret restaurant concept is one that makes any foodie swoon with giddiness. And there it was…

From the Puebla provinces of Mexico, Tia Flor slaughters one sheep, and one sheep only every single Saturday.


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She breaks the night, dwelling into twilight hours of Sunday, tossing and turning the smoldering Maguey cactus leaves that moisten and infuse the fresh mutton chunks that it encapsulates within. The ash temperature can turn to toughening hell in a sleep-derived blink of an eye.

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I will say what is to be said, that is: foolhardy consistence. Then again, hell’s oven really has no way of being controlled, thus, the concept of consistence–in this case–is quite contrary. This is not the best I’ve had in my life–that would be this guy in the corroding streets of East D.F (Ahuizontla, Nacaulpan), he makes a three hour trek from ______ every Sunday morning. But just as his tender game runs out by the strike of noon…so does hers.


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My first taste of the stuff was actually at my house, take-out, personal delivery right after–no meeting parents for me, thank you very much! At first taste…smoke, in it’s most subtle of way’s I’ve EVER experienced it before, unlike any of the restaurant stuff I’ve had around here before. The flesh itself actually had flavor, my mind was running lucid imagining how her Consomé, the broth that leaks of the lamb as it roasts, would be like.

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My foodie apparition was correct, spiked with creamy Garbanzo’s, it was utterly unami in every savory sense of it, along with that subtle smokiness…


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She also griddles up some’!


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Quesadilla’s here are stuffed with the Mexican Exotics Canon: First, the notorious jet oil-black stuff known as Huitlacoche that is the epitome of the “earthy” flavor characteristic. Second, Flor de Calabasa (Squash Blossom’s) that are marinated. And last, the strikingly aromatic herb that Aztec’s knew as “Skunk Plant” aka Epazote.

Mention “con todo” and your fresh-made tortillas raptures will be truly glutted. Hongos, mushrooms that are snipped up into tiny little rectangles and of course, Chicharron (fried pig skin), that is fried to jagged crispness and also cut into confetti-sized pieces. You will be surprised to see how much those aforementioned sized items adds immensely to overall awesomeness.


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Consistence in this category is fail-safe, hence, these are the best Quesadillas I have ever had the pleasure of.

With this, a description of her Salsa supplements is almost mandatory.


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Behold:
Tangy Tomatillo Green,
Tomato–not chile–based Red (don’t let tomato fool, packs a punch)
Cured Red Onion and Habanero Relish…fucken fire.

I was also introduced to a Jaliscan Neveria (Ice Cream) street vendor that makes some of the smoothest water/cream-based, natural Tamarindo nieve I have ever tasted.

Doña Evangelica also sticks to old world ways, from house-to-back-of-truck vending, the making of these Nieves takes several day’s. Ice Cream making is a full arm workout, churning and churning for two hours, or however long it takes for the rock-salt and ice solution to do it’s thing on five gallon steel tubs filled with base. She starts on Tuesday and goes on making the stuff until showtime: Friday, Saturday and Sunday.


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Doused with a strong Chamoy sauce she actually makes from scratch, it’s originally made from apricots for a Mexican Sundae sort of thing, on a Sunday afternoon. This usually follows a trip out to that ghetto Barbacoreria, and it’s like also like an esoteric godsend after all that spicy, heavy food.

Mmmmmm…occult debauchery.


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And they also do a Tequila Nieve for special occasion.

“Ohh…sure! I’ll be happy to meet your parents…”

Garcias Mexican Ice Cream:
cell: (323) 271-9437
(323) 309-6313
On corner of Potrero Grande St. and Rush St. (Citizens Business Bank parking lot)

Secret Barbacoa
shhh…it’s a secret!