Obviously, Wendy’s Word has been on a long hiatus. Perhaps a permanent hiatus although I’m not promising. If you’ve missed reading Wendy’s Word, here’s a shameless plug for my new blog, Good Enough Life Coach. I’d love for you to check it out!
Wendy’s Word Meets Open Culture September 6, 2011
Two great blogs together — Wendy’s Word and Open Culture. Will there be enough air in the room? Uh, yes. Wendy’s Word doesn’t require much air, and Open Culture, well let’s just say that Dan Colman, of the great Open Culture blog, is modest and doesn’t take up the air he deserves.
I jest about the two great blogs thing. But I really did spend part of a day with Dan Colman, and he is genuinely nice, talented, capable, indefatigable, and extremely modest. All of which gives me a good excuse to introduce you to his blog.
Open Culture is an incredibly informative blog. Every day, there’s at least one posting of a video clip or link on a vast array of subjects, including classic film, philosophy, art, science, and much more. For example, there was recently a 1970’s clip of the Velvet Underground singing Sweet Jane along with a current one of Lou Reed singing it with Metallica. There was also a clip about a graphic novel about Richard Feynman’s life. Such is the diversity of Open Culture.
But Open Culture’s raison d’etre is to provide readers with easy access to free educational content on the internet. There is an exhaustive (or should I say exhausting) list of free educational resources available on the web. Everything from college courses to foreign language podcasts to classic movies and literature available as free mp3’s. Classes or lectures are available from every school you never got accepted into for college — like Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Oxford, Columbia. Best of all, they’re free, and no pressure to get a good grade! Just the great lectures without the stress of schoolwork, finals, or tuition. Check out today’s posting.
I guarantee you will love Open Culture. One of my friends frequently forwards me postings he loves, and I have to remind him that I’m the one who introduced him to Open Culture in the first place!!
Noodles – Part 2 – Japanese April 10, 2011
Continuing my Asian noodle adventure from my last post, I’ve had some wonderful ramen in a few places.
My youngest daughter recently did a history project on Japan and one enterprising mother took a group of girls to Little Tokyo after school. I met them for dinner at Daikokuya in Little Tokyo. We each ordered a bowl of ramen and an order of gyoza to share. Plus, the other mom and I ordered sake – hey, she had just spent an afternoon with a group of adolescent girls and I was coming from a long day at work!
The gyoza were like none I’ve ever seen. Long, almost like crepes, and steamed. I’m not quite sure what was inside. At first, we thought they had brought us the wrong thing. They were good, but I don’t think I’d order them again. The ramen, however, was wonderful. Delicious broth, with pork, egg, and Japanese veggies.
And then there’s Ramen Jinya. Ramen Jinya is in the same mini-mall as the Marshall’s that I frequent (a little too frequently), so it was only a matter of time before I tried it. Terrific! It has become my daughter’s and my standard Saturday lunch place. The ramen is as good as the ramen at Daikokuya in Little Tokyo, if not better. There are several types of broth and all the ones I’ve tried so far have been fantastic – flavorful and cloudy without being overwhelming. The pork chashu is so tender, it melts in your mouth. There are also greens, pickled something or other, and standout noodles. My daughter and I always share a ramen and an order of roll sushi, and if they come at the same time, the waiter tells us to eat the soup right away so the noodles don’t get soggy. I love that they instruct us how to eat so we get the most out of the food. When I met Jonathan Gold a few weeks ago (this exciting event was chronicled in a recent blog entry) and he learned I lived in Studio City, he asked if I had been to Ramen Jinya. Or rather, he said, “you’ve been to Ramen Jinya, I’m sure…” to which I could happily say, “of course!” Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos (of the ramen, nor do I have any of Jonathan Gold) because I’m too busy eating and sharing a lovely experience with my daughter to take pictures. All right, I keep forgetting. But trust me, the ramen is fantastic.
Perhaps my favorite thing about LA is the ability to find all kinds of ethnic food in authentic settings. My Asian noodle experiences are a good example.
One Saturday, I had to take my daughter to a volunteer event in Koreatown. If I had to wake up early on a Saturday and drive to Koreatown, then you better believe I was going to plan a food excursion to make up for it. I scoured the blogosphere and found three good options for Korean noodles. I’m sure there are many more – in fact I know there are, because I’ve been to other places but don’t remember their names or precisely where they are located. So the blogosphere it was. I called the three top candidates to make sure they were still open and they answered in Korean. Either they did not understand my questions (Are you open for lunch today? Where are you located?) or I couldn’t understand their answers, but I hung up the phone from all three with no idea what they said. I took that as a good sign.
We ended up at Olympic Noodle. To say that it was a nondescript storefront would be to play up its curb appeal. As we walked in, we were greeted by a friendly Korean woman who seated us. We were the only non-Asians in the place. We ordered dumplings and soup. There were pots of kimchi and pickled vegetables on the table. While we waited for our food, a Korean woman at the table next to us took some of the kimchi and vegetables from our jar and put it on a plate and encouraged us to try it. I guess she figured we needed teaching. I was delighted to be taken in hand. The kimchi and pickles were delicious. Then our food came. The dumplings were divine. I love dumplings so I often order them, but I have high standards for dumplings. These were crispy on the outside and filled with flavorful and juicy meat and veggies. Although we promised to bring our leftovers home for my younger daughter, we made a pact to tell no one about the dumplings since there most certainly would be no leftovers. The soup was good. Steaming, with hand-cut noodles and chicken. The portions are huge – we shared one bowl and we couldn’t finish it.
When we were paying the bill, the woman at the table next to us who had helped us with the kimchi asked the waitress to ask us if we liked the dumplings. Yes we did! We left Olympic Noodle with full stomachs, leftover soup, and a feeling that we were super-cool to have discovered this authentic hole-in-the-wall with terrific food.
Bistro Jeanty October 11, 2010
There’s a lot of pressure when deciding where to eat dinner in Napa. There are so many restaurants and well-known chefs to choose from. Chowhound and Yelp weren’t as much help as you’d think, because beyond the standard recommendation to go to one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, there’s not much consensus on where else to go. I actually tried to make a reservation at Keller’s Bouchon, but no luck. In the end, my brother-in-law made us a reservation at Bistro Jeanty, a cute French place that he and my sister stumbled onto and enjoyed.
What luck! Bistro Jeanty was wonderful. I was skeptical, because I thought bistro food might be too heavy after a day of wine tasting. But as soon as I walked in the door, I was happy. The restaurant looked so French, from the posters on the wall to the Peugeot pepper grinder and the ceramic mustard jar on the table. Also, walking in gave us a respite from the Thomas Keller “scene,” where people were mobbed around Bouchon and Bouchon bakery.
My sister told me that Bistro Jeanty is known for their tomato soup, so I had to try it. Although there was also a first course of beef marrow that I would have loved to order, but my dinner companions were not as enthusiastic about sharing that one. The soup came en croute, with flaky pastry covering the bowl and flavorful tomato soup inside. The soup was hot and tomato-y and herb-y. It was creamy but not overly so, allowing the tomato flavor to come through.
For the main course, I had boeuf bourguignon, which was the special that night. It was perfect. Large chunks of tender beef and big pieces of vegetable in a wine sauce that was strongly flavored without being cloying. Thank goodness for the bread that allowed me to get every drop of sauce.
The guys had entrecote frites, which is rib-eye steak with fries. The meat was so delicious that it was a shame to dip it in the béarnaise sauce. But then the béarnaise sauce was also good, so we ended up dipping the fries in it. The fries were thin and crisp and were served in a tall cone.
Unfortunately for us, we did not order dessert, for which my brother-in-law still hasn’t forgiven us. My cousin had been eying something at the Bouchon bakery next door. But by the time we were done with dinner, the Bouchon bakery was closed. Lesson learned. If the food at Jeanty is terrific, the desserts probably are too.
Forget Thomas Keller. Next time I go to Napa, I’m going back to Bistro Jeanty. But this time, I’m ordering dessert.