Comida Bandidas visit Mo Chica

By Krista,

All too often, I hear women complaining that they don’t have enough girl friends. We all move along after college, get too busy with work, life and boyfriends and seem to lose touch with our close girls. So, I thought it would be fun to get a group of ladies together every month or so to sample some new worldly cuisine, sharing each other’s friendship and a love of exploring the unknown. It’s an open supper club called the Comida Bandidas (Food Bandits), and we are going through the alphabet A-Z (hopefully a few times over).
We started with food from the Andes, and what better place than the already-popular Mo Chica. The Peruvian fare was not at all what I expected. Initially I thought it would just be an extension of the majority of Latin American food, spiked with citrus, cilantro and tomato.
 Pork belly over plantains–made a great carnitas-style taco lunch a few days later!
La Causa: Confit garlic, sun dried tomatoes, avocado mouse and olive aoli (sounds more Italian than Peruvian, no?)

What stuck out to me was the use of really creamy sauces, and subtle heat that’s more similar to Indian curries than Mexican serranos. I was also taken aback by the use LOTS of corn, sun dried tomatoes and nori, an element taken from the strong Japanese and Chinese influence in Peru.

Carapulcra, traditionally made with camel meat but here done with fish/pork
A really hearty wintertime dish; As Melissa said, “That’s substantial!”

Ricardo’s  tasting menu was really unique, and I’d definitely return for a lunch. Dinner, however was a bit odd–El Mercado La Paloma was pretty barren when we were there. And considering it’s ladies’ night, we’ll have to go somewhere with some cocktails.

Corn nuts, which would have been great with a pisco sour 🙂
Maracuya Susprio: Passion fruit mouse with Chantilly creme

Comida Bandidas (and a few strapping bandidos!)

–Krista Simmons

Let’s hear it for New York…

By Krista,

I’ve got a giddy-little-school-girl-crush on New York City.  Last week, we had a three day bi-coastal love affair, and now that I’m back to sucking up smog in LA, I’m craving just one…more…night…

Sure the trash-lined streets and stinky subways were irksome at times, but the late-night last calls (4 a.m. what!) and amazing eateries sure made up for lost ground.

Being my first trip to NYC, I wanted to keep it classic, so we stayed at the stunning New York Palace. Thanks to a hookup from a concierge friend of mine, we were able to stay at a really reasonable rate.  The customer service was impeccable, and the location was ideally central for my partner and I, who were first time visitors. The only minor complaint I had was that one of the concierges improperly informed us of the dress code at wd~50, which was much more casual than they advised us. Dress shirt and jeans would work for a guy, so Aaron’s suit and my stilettos were a bit much.

That was for the best though: I was dressed to impress for my chance meeting with one of my chef-idols, Wylie Dufrense. I  nearly had a heart attack when I saw him running wd~50’s kitchen (Aren’t celeb chefs supposed to be off jet setting, recording TV series or something?). Naturally, I coaxed the manager to let me sneak a peek into the kitchen and take a pic with him. I had too–the tasting menu at wd~50 deserved a handshake.

The man is nothing short of genius: Two of my favorite molecular creations of the night–and of my life for that matter–were the cold fried chicken with tabasco reduction, ricotta mashed potatoes and caviar and the panna cotta, whose dehydrated crushed cranberry casing reminded me of Captain Crunchberries, a cereal I had to sneak at friend’s sleepovers due to my mom’s obsession with sugar-free cerail.

Each course of the tasting menu was a little guilty pleasure that tapped into childhood memories and sensory reflections of meals past. It was an experience that will be kept in the vault of my memory bank for years to come

Wylie’s wacky cuisine was the furthest away from classic we veered though. Some of the other ridiculously delicious NY goodies I sampled included Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin (phenomenal seafood), McSorley’s Old Ale House, Katz’s famous combo pastrami/corned beef reuben, Esse Bagel, Carnegie’s pastrami, and of course the ubiquitous dirty water dog.

Here are some shots of my favorite dishes. If you’re still hungry, check out my Flickr gallery of NY.

Fluke sashimi from Le Bernardin with crispy kimchee and citrus soy
Classic NYC pretzel from street vendor
2 for 1 ale at McSorley’s Old Ale House, established 1854

View from the New York Palace
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which we could see form our hotel window
Two amazing artists’ work at the Met

Wading my way into the blogosphere

By Krista,

I’m shocked it took me this long. Really, for a girl who grew up writing herself to sleep, finding nothing more enticing than a clean sheet of paper and a jelly pen, I should have jumped on the blogging bandwagon a long time ago. That’s not to say I haven’t danced around with the idea. I’ll admit, there’s a certain “come hither” about the blogger culture: the underground community, the up-to-the-minute updates, the thrill of a new reader, the ability to actually track just what people like to read and what they absolutely despise.

So what’s been stopping me? Well, first off I’m a control freak. I’m a journalist by trade, and what I write and shoot is precious to me. The idea of sitting down, pouring out my thoughts and– without having so much as an editor to taking a pass–pressing publish, opening myself up to a flurry of commentary is frightening. There are other reasons too: time, stressing over templates not being perfect, fear that I’d become one of  those pesky kids bringing the newspaper business to it’s grave (By the way, that’s malarky. It’s not bloggers, it’s old white men in leather chairs being too stubborn to change that will cause this ship to sink).

So instead of stressing out about what this all means, I’ve decided to JUST RELISH. To savor, write, shoot and share the things that I love–traveling, eating and exploring–hopefully making the world a brighter place somewhere in between.  If no one reads it, so what? It will be like what I’ve kept since I was 5 years old: a diary. Except this time, there’s no lock and key. This is me. Uncensored, unedited and evolving. Thanks for sharing in the experience.