On a chilly LA night- well, chilly in comparison to Guangzhou- I gathered with a group of friends at the Venice home of one very good friend who is one very good cook. I ate lots of cheese, prosciutto, and all kinds of salads- the kinds that make me happy and proud to be from California. It was the perfect vegetable-heavy respite to several days of dining out. Conversation topics ranged from a black diamond engagement ring to stories of revenge on a bike, but even that was in good humor.

I like it here in China, and I’m definitely looking forward to the adventures both in this city and throughout Asia in our short nine months left in Guangzhou. But no matter what happens here, it’s the little yummy things- like this potato and green bean salad, or the fresh figs and buratta cheese next to it- that make me miss home.

Where is home? Right now, it’s a little bit all over. Home is where my loved ones are, home is where my best friends are, home is where I can understand everyone, home is my mom’s kitchen. And without fail, home is definitely where good food is, too.

Red Medicine

In LA I had dinner on my third night in town, after which I declared, “best meal of 2011”.

Hyperbolic statements like that, particularly about food, often get discredited after the haze of Manhattans and clucking of girly gossip wear off the next morning.

But I’m standing by this one.

Throughout my time in the states, I indulged in as many soup & sandwich combos, salads, cheese, and cold cuts as I got my hands on. When asked what I wanted to eat, my only opinion was “no Chinese food” and even broader but not explicitly stated, “no Asian-ish foods”.

I had heard of Red Medicine through various dining section sources, who were all touting the new restaurant as part of a group of young, game-changing chefs in LA’s traditionally lagging restaurant scene.

So as the four of us sat down at a table with tin tea cans and chopsticks as a centerpiece, then handed a meny very obviously influenced by Vietnam, one of my friends laughed apologetically at the presence of Chinese Lion Peppers, Rice Porridge, and Crispy Spring Rolls on the menu. Now, if we had been at Panda Express I would have thrown my drink in her face (partly for laughing but mostly for bringing me to Panda Express in the first place). But here at Red Medicine, as I read each ingredient on the menu, I knew I would have no regrets.

Rather than drone on about what I ate, here is photographic evidence that can, hopefully, speak for itself:

GREEN PAPAYA / pickled roots, crispy taro, tree nuts, nuoc cham

BRUSSELS SPROUTS / caramelized shallots, fish sauce, vermouth

OCEAN TROUT / cured with sugar cane, grapefruit, trout roe, burnt chili

ARTICHOKES / “en barigoule”, green apple, green mango, green tea, tofu skin

HEIRLOOM RICE PORRIDGE / egg yolk, hazelnuts, ginseng, echire butter

BITTER CHOCOLATE / kecap manis, oats, parsnip, brown butter, soy milk sorbet

RHUBARB / mahlab cremeux, hibiscus, gentian, aromatic willow

There’s still three full months left of the year, but I’m doubtful I’ll have another meal quite like this one.

Red Medicine

8400 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Open until 2 am

LA Sun

The sun in California is different than the sun on the East Coast, which is a completely different beast out here in China. It’s something that I can’t describe.

I love this picture, even though it’s out of focus, overexposed, and isn’t the best framing of subjects. But it clearly depicts the warm California sun.


Plastic Change

I went to LA right after Mexico City, and was nostalgic both towards the places that had been there since I was in college, and the places that had sprouted up since I left LA- if one can be nostalgic at something that didn’t exist?

So many things were different, but among the most shocking- parking meters that accepted credit cards.

Really, mind blowing.