A few posts ago I mentioned that a chef lives upstairs from me. From now on, I will call him Chef.
Well, on the day after the firemen broke down his door, Chef mentioned that every Wednesday he goes to the Farmer’s Market in Santa Monica and that I was welcome to join him. So last night, hoping to start the new year off on the right foot, I texted him and asked if I could tag along.
I love my friends in L.A. But I really miss my friend Allen. When we go out, we are such devotees at the altar of good food that we sound like fanatics. We’ll go from talking about a new restaurant to what so-and-so is doing with beef livers to reveries on what kind of drinks we’ll make at our next get-together. Sure, we talk about relationships. Sure, we talk about our friends and lovers and ex-lovers and ex-colleagues and taxes and money. But somehow, the conversation is always laced with food.
Hanging out with Chef today was like hanging out with Allen. It was awesome. One big Ode to Food. We talked about L.A. restaurants versus New York restaurants. We talked about our favorite foods; where to get the best Thai; where to get the best banh mi; the nuances of French-style charcuterie and something Chef invented for an amuse bouche once called “edible soil.” At the farmers’ market, he showed me who had the best tomatoes, who had the best kale, and where to buy my salad greens. He chatted with everyone, doing that special handshake that all guys know and that I always manage to make look like a game of patty-cake.
I bought fennel, mint, cilantro, nettles, baby spinach and kale, three parsnips and a “Bacon” avocado. I recently learned that this variety is so rich and fatty that it is too fragile to transport, making it a rare find at grocery stores. I meant to buy fresh ginger but forgot. When when got back home, Chef came downstairs, knocked on my door and handed me a massive chunk that was left over from the film shoot he was doing the day he burned the strawberry guava sauce.
“You know,” he said, “tonight I’m going to go to that place I mentioned, where they have the best banh mi. Do you wanna come?”