What Is The Future Of Food?

By Krista,



To mark the relaunch of their site, Eater asked food and beverage industry leaders how they want to change the world through food. As you can imagine, there were some pretty ambitious answers, including my own. 

Personally, I find it really frustrating that fresh food, like the gorgeous Cobb from Tavern pictured above, costs an arm and a leg. I really do hope that there’s a time that everyone has access to fresh, healthful food. And here’s how I think it could happen, as I put it to Eater:

I feel that the future of food is in independence, education, and equity. I would rip out all of the life-sucking lawns and golf courses, then seed bomb the heck out of them, especially the giant patches of useless grass in front of official public buildings. City hall and courthouse facades would be covered with Woolly Pockets. Sidewalks and street medians would be a place for fruit trees and vining veg. All of that food would be grown and maintained by the public – empowered by master gardeners and community educators – providing good, clean, fair produce for everyone. Then I’d covert swimming pools into fully sustainable ecosystems, complete with tilapia ponds and chicken coops. Sayonara, draught. Adios, food deserts. Say hello to the food system of the future!

Sure, some of these ideas might sound a little jovial our outlandish. But then again, if you told me 10 years ago that people would be devouring brussels sprouts with wild abandon or that we’d be growing meat in test tubes, I would have said the same thing.

I also can’t help but feel a tidbit guilty considering how much of an environmental impact all of my galavanting around the world has on the planet. I love exploring ingredients and inspiring people to travel through food, but there’s always a little voice inside of me that wants to scream every time I waslk by a hotel cart full of those baby plastic shampoo bottles, or use disposable cutlery at a street stall that doesn’t recycle. And let’s not even talk about the airplanes. Hooey!

There is, of course, the upside of cultural understanding and exchange, and the fact that tourism can be a good thing for developing countries if it’s done sustainably. But still, it’s something I wrestle with. I guess all I can do is try my best to live as consciously as I can, both when I’m at home and when I’m on the road.

So, little dreamers, how would you change the world through food?

Chinese Dining Etiquette Tips From Shanghai

By Krista,

kate collage3

Photos by Danny Simmons

A big part of being a food writer in a foreign country is understanding the local culinary culture. Having a grasp on local traditions not only helps you blend in (I already stick out enough as a 6 foot tall Viking woman!), but shows your dining companions that you’ve done your homework.

I did a cool piece in collaboration with Kate Spade New York and Quest Magazine about the local culinary traditions in Shanghai for their Fall campaign.

Head on over to the KSNY blog for my tips on dining in Shanghai — and China in general — and stay tuned for more of my tips from my time abroad.

Mattei’s Asian-Inspired Grilled Avocados With Ponzu + Fresh Wasabi

By Krista,

Grilled Avocado_Matteis Tavern_Gary Moss

It’s pretty much sacrilege to be a born-and-raised California girl like me and not be completely obsessed with avocados. I can’t even tell you how many after school snacks were made by spooning that creamy, buttery fruit out of it’s skin straight into my mouth. If I had a lime and some S&P, great. But even plain, a whole avocado has no chance against good ol’ Krista. They really are a wonder fruit, and are fantastic smashed on toast, frozen and tossed into smoothies instead of ice, or made into a healthy, delicious dip or hummus.

I’d been seeing some recipes for grilled avos on Pinterest, but had yet to try them. So when I went up to Santa Inez for my friend Melissa’s 30th birthday celebration and saw them on the menu at Matttei’s, I had to give it a go. (And by “give it a go” I mean politely decline the suggestion that the table share one and order my own. It’s a borderline obsession.)

The avo came with beautiful grill marks and the rich, smokey oak char of Santa Maria-style BBQ that’s so popular in the area. The center was used as a little gravy boat for the house-made ponzu sauce, whose bright citrus flavors were made even more intense by the fresh wasabi that was grated and served on the side.

Needless to say I’ve been thinking about it all week. Thankfully, the recipe has graciously been given to me by Mattei’s Tavern chef/partner Robbie Wilson. He makes his own ponzu — which is absolutely phenomenal — but if you don’t have time for fermenting it you can easily find a bottle at your local Asian market or at Whole Foods.

These grilled avos really are the ideal item for your grill this Labor Day Weekend. They’re a perfect vegetarian option instead of those ho-hum garden burgers, and taste fantastic when sliced on top of seared steaks, like the bavette I had at Mattei’s.

Here’s how it’s done:

Mattei’s Grilled Avocado With Ponzu and Wasabi 

Ponzu Sauce


1 cup freshly squeezed citrus juice (mix lemon, lime, grapefruit)

1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup sugar

2 Tbsp tamari sauce

3 Tbsp  Mirin, alcohol burned off

Small handful of dried bonito flakes

2 inch square konbu


Grilled Avocados


1 avocado, halved

2 tbsp olive oil



2 tablespoons ponzu

1 teaspoon wasabi



Mix ingredients, set aside, strain after at least 24 hours, then age in cool dark place for 3 months. Use within 1 year.

Preheat your grill or preferably start a charcoal/wood fire, just as you would for cooking steaks. The fire will be ready for cooking when you can only hold your hand a few inches above the fire for a couple of seconds.

Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, exposing the pit. Remove the pit and scoop out the meat with a large spoon by running the spoon under the flesh and along the skin. The back of the spoon should scrape against the skin.

Place the avocado with the crater side up. Brush with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Place the avocado face side DOWN on the grill and cook as you would your favorite steak to mark.

Serve with ponzu sauce by filling up each crater. Garnish with freshly grated Japanese wasabi on the side if you can find it, or a prepared varietal from your local market if the fresh version is not available.

Chef’s Notes: Make sure to procure avocados that are a day or two before ripeness. They should not be too hard or too soft. You are simply grilling the avocados for grill marks, as it only needs to be warmed through, not cooked. 


Raise A Glass To Rhubarb With This End-Of-Summer Sipper

By Krista,


Photo by Michael Kretovics

Some consider Labor Day to be the end of the summer, but here in L.A. it feels like the season is still going strong. Like, really, really strong. Blazing in fact. This weekend I found myself sweltering in my apartment with no sign of reprieve (or central air), so I decided to do what any logical person would do: make myself a cool, refreshing cocktail that sings of the summer and reminds me why we wait so anxiously for this season in the first place.

Perusing my bar cart, my eyes fixed on the gorgeous bottle of Art in the Age Rhubarb that arrived on my doorstep a few weeks ago, but I’d yet to try. (Yes, I can exhibit self-restraint. Sometimes.) I popped the cap, took a whiff, and was immediately enveloped by the tart, welcoming aroma of ripe strawberry rhubarb pie. The tipple itself wasn’t at all as sweet as it smelled. It was really nicely balanced, likely because the distillers build it like a traditional colonial era rhubarb tea, blending cane sugar, beets, lemon, cardamom, pink peppercorns, rhubarb, and more. (You can watch a video on the history of this Pennsylvania-based spirit below.)

Working with those base flavors, I figured Barkeep’s local fennel bitters and the Italian blood orange soda I’d been sipping on earlier would be a natural pairing. I had picked up some fresh mint from the Silverlake market in the morning, and added that for zip and freshness too. To keep things spirits-forward (and to help me forget about my stickiness) I used Silversun’s vibrant Hedge Trimmer gin, which uses watermelon rind and citrus peels in their botanical mix.

The end result was quite a treat. This drink would be the perfect addition to your long weekend festivities too, if pre-batched and placed in a pitcher for friends. So, take this as my gift for the long Labor Day weekend. May your last few days of summer be as lovely and pleasant and cooling as this delightful cocktail. And if you have central air, even better.



2 oz Art in the Age Rhubarb spirits

2 oz Sun Liquor Hedge Trimmer gin

1 oz Trader Joe’s blood orange soda

4 shakes Barkeep Fennel bitters

2 sprigs fresh mint

ice cubes



Slap the mint between your hands a few times, then add to the bottom of a boston shaker. Add about 5 cubes of ice, rhubarb, gin, bitters and blood orange soda. Stir for about 15 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a sprig of mint.


The Story of Art in the Age RHUBARB Tea from Art In The Age on Vimeo.

The Dishlist: Best Bites In Beijing

By Krista,

In the spirit of 8 being a lucky number in China, my brother Danny and I compiled this video of the 8 best eats in Beijing. Check out this dizzying array of dumplings, street snacks, scorpions and Chinese wine! (Yes, I did indeed eat scorpions! Is that terrible for a Scorpio to do? I sure hope not.)

Be sure to check back for more videos of my favorite eats throughout China coming soon to my YouTube channel.

Exploring China’s Regional Cuisine With Quest Magazine

By Krista,



It’s a shame that Chinese food has been long associated with lonely nights in and hungover dim sum brunches. The cuisine from one of the world’s most ancient societies is really quite complex, steeped in thousands of years of tradition. In fact, the Chinese are so connected with what they eat that it’s considered medicine.

A tour through China’s three largest cities — Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai — with my younger brother Danny on assignment for Quest Magazine showcased that directly. (And how truly useful his Chinese classes in college truly could be! Seriously, he was a life saver!)

Looking beyond the lazy Susan, I found that the cooking in the world’s most populated country is as varied as the regions themselves. I also realized that he and I could travel together internationally without wanting to rip each other’s heads off. Who knew?

Anywho, Danny and I will be releasing some videos of the awesome food I ate in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, you can read the full story on China’s regional dishes over at Quest Magazine by clicking this link, or by checking out the digital version below.

East Meets Southwest: Kale And Brussels Sprouts Salad With Cilantro Mint Vinaigrette

By Krista,


My Cali-Mexi-India-inspired salad

Angeleno cooking seems to be all about mash-ups these days. It’s hard to turn a corner without seeing some sort of Korean taco or Filipino ube cupcake, upped with awesome local produce and Cali fusion flare. Exhibit A is an awesome little restaurant I discovered last week in Downtown L.A. called Badmaash. (The restaurant has been open for a little over a year now, but I went for my first visit during Dine LA.’s Restaurant Week. Quick slacking, Simmons!)

Badmaash serves both updated and traditional Indian food in an ultra-hip-yet-laid-back modern gastropub setting. There are things like Punjabi pork belly and chicken tikka poutine on offer, but they also do traditional dishes too, like chaat, baingan bharta, and a ridiculously delicious version of saag paneer made with freshly chopped spinach and the fluffiest paneer you’ve ever tasted.

The thing that’s great about Baadmash and other modern Cali fusion spots like A-Frame and Escala is that they also really pay attention to freshness and quality produce. No one is claiming they’re “authentic.” It’s just good, fun food with some international flare.

And to be honest, that’s how I like to cook at home. I travel a lot, and love taking those international influences and bringing them into the kitchen so I tap into those sense memories when I’m not on the road. The quick little salad I whipped up did just that.

The flavors I used are a little bit Indian, a little bit Mexican, and a whole lot of California. (Admittedly I haven’t been to India yet, but it’s at the tip top of my travel bucket list and gosh darn it, I will get there within the next year. Gotta manifest that!)

As a typical California kale nut, I’d usually opt for that as my greens, but I discovered a new addition to TJ’s salad aisle called Cruciferous Crunch, which is made up of kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and green and red cabbage. It’s pretty darn tasty!

This salad is even better if you allow it to sit in the fridge for an hour or so because the acid breaks down the cruciferous veggies making them less fibrous, but you can also eat it right away if you’re feelin’ hangry.

Here’s how it’s done:


*serves 4 as a side, 2 as a meal

3 cups shredded greens (I used TJ’s Cruciferous Crunch mix)

1 can organic black beans

1 cup crumbled cotija cheese (you can use feta if cotija isn’t available)

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 avocado, cut into cubes

2 tbsp mint cilantro chutney (I used Mirch Masala)

4 tbsp olive oil

1 lemon, juiced



Whisk together lemon juice, chutney, and olive oil in a small mixing bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, add in greens, beans, cheese, and tomatoes. Pour in dressing and toss, then add avocado. Toss making sure not to bruise the poor avo, then serve.

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Recipe: Real Deal, Sichuan-Style Kung Pao Chicken

By Krista,


I just got back from my first trip to China with my brother/videographer Danny Simmons, and I can’t wait to share some videos from the cooking classes I took, along with the story on regional Chinese cooking I’m writing for Quest Magazine.

While we put those how-to videos together, I thought I’d tide you over with a recipe for kung pao chicken.

I learned to make this traditional Sichuan dish at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine, along with another local staple, mapo tofu. The kung pao we made couldn’t have been more different than its sad takeout stepsister in the States. The bright, ginger-studded version we made was much less goopy, with a delightful crunch from fresh peanuts and fried chills.

Here’s a recipe for how it’s done.


2 boneless chicken breasts, with or without skin (about 2/3 pound total)

3 cloves of garlic and an equivalent amount of fresh ginger

5 scallions, white parts only

2 tablespoons peanut oil

a generous handful of dried red chiles (at least 10), preferably Sichuanese

1 teaspoon whole Sichuan pepper

2/3 cup roasted unsalted peanuts


For the marinade:

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine or medium-dry sherry

1 1/2 teaspoons potato flour or 2 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon water

For the sauce:

3 teaspoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon potato flour or 1 1/8 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

3 teaspoons Chinkiang or black Chinese vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon chicken stock or water


1. Cut the chicken as evenly as possible into 1/2-inch strips and then cut these into small cubes. Place in a small bowl and mix in the marinade ingredients.

2. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and ginger, and chop the scallions into chunks as long as their diameter (to match the chicken cubes). Snip the chiles in half or into 2-inch sections. Wearing rubber gloves, discard as many seeds as possible.

3. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl — if you dip your finger in, you can taste the sweet-sour base of the gong bao flavor.

4. Season the wok, then add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat over a high flame. When the oil is hot but not yet smoking, add the chiles and Sichuan pepper and stir-fry briefly until they are crisp and the oil is spicy and fragrant. Take care not to burn the spices (you can remove the wok from the heat if necessary to prevent overheating).

5. Quickly add the chicken and fry over a high flame, stirring constantly. As soon as the chicken cubes have separated, add the ginger, garlic, and scallions and continue to stir-fry for a few minutes until they are fragrant and the meat is cooked through (test one of the larger pieces to make sure).

6. Give the sauce a stir and add it to the wok, continuing to stir and toss. As soon as the sauce has become thick and shiny, add the peanuts, stir them in, and serve.

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Exploring Australia’s Wild Side

By Krista,


South and Western Australia are two of the country’s lesser trodden states, where isolation and nature afford not only stunning vistas and incredible sea life, but also some of the most bountiful food and wine the world has to offer. I went to check in on my favorite destination for Quest Magazine, it ended up being the cover story for their recent print issue.

From stargazing to wine tasting and foraging wild foods, it was an incredible adventure.

You can read the full cover story here.

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Scottsdale, AZ: A Food-Filled City That’s Not Just For Snowbirds

By Krista,


Scottsdale, Arizona is often thought of as a resort destination with little more than golf courses and luxury properties, but there’s a strong undercurrent of creativity in this Sonoran desert city that’s fueling a diverse food scene. The same energy that brought Frank Lloyd Wright and Paolo Soleri is inspiring a vibrant cadre of chefs, artisans, and purveyors to use the bounty of the region to make some seriously good eats.

And the weather is perfect for a visit this time of year. I’m still daydreaming of the smell of orange blossoms in the warm desert breeze — and the fantastic food from restaurants like Virtu and F &B.

Here are my top 10 spots for desert dining in and around Scottsdale on Gothamist Getaways.

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