Category: eat

Where To Eat In Phoenix + Scottsdale For The Super Bowl

By Krista,



Though Scottsdale, Arizona is often thought of as a resort destination with little more than golf courses and luxury properties, 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 — especially if you’re heading out for the Super Bowl.

Here are some of my favorite eats in the area.

The Best New Restaurant + Bar Openings Around The Globe This January

By Krista,



To kick off the New Year, I launched a new column with Departures Magazine, which covers the absolutely essential F&B news from around the globe. There are a hefty amount of openings and events I covered in the first edition, but a few of the goings-on that I’m most looking forward to checking out are:

The new three-star Michelin chef Guy Savoy’s intimate oyster bar L’Huitrade in Paris, where he’s sourcing bivalves from local fisheries; the opening of chefs Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone of the Parm/Torrisi/Carbone empire new coastal Italian concept Santina on NYC’s High Line; and critically acclaimed Tokyo-based Ivan Ramen finally taking online reservations for up to six people, meaning I can finally bypass the lines at their Clinton Street ramenya.

My to-do list for 2015 is getting bigger by the minute! You can take a peek at the full January’s edition here.

Video: Eating And Exploring Chengdu and Mount Emei in China’s Sichuan Province

By Krista,

You may remember earlier this year, my brother Danny and I had the privilege of doing our first international trip together, where we headed to China to explore some of the country’s distinct regional cooking. We both agreed that the highlight of the entire journey was exploring the Sichuan Province, where I found what have become my favorite markets in the world in small town called Emei.

Emei is most widely known for being the home to Mount Emei, or Emeishan, a massive misty mountain and UNESCO world heritage site that’s a pilgrimage site for Chinese Buddhists. It’s said to be a place of enlightenment, and I think that the street food and markets should be a rite of passage for food lovers too.

In our video above, Danny and I dive into the area’s deep cultural history through its food, and gain a deeper appreciation for the people who prepare it. Mapo tofu, kung pao chicken, street meat, hot pot, dumplings, and piping hot pork noodle soup are just a few of the dishes you’ll see, along with footage of Chengdu’s panda bear sanctuary, Emeishan, and the magnificent people of the Sichuan province.

Take a look, and prepare for your tastebuds to tingle.


Game Meat For Game Day: Beer And Sriracha Bison Chili With Cornbread + Honey Butter

By Krista,

IMG_9631 2


I’m gonna come out and be honest here, folks: I don’t watch college football. I know, I know. I could go and blame it on the fact that the good ol’ Banana Slugs didn’t have a football team, but I’m not the biggest fan of spectator sports in general. Save for basketball, of course, but watching the Lakers right now is downright depressing. Truth be told, I’d much rather play sports than watch them.

But one thing I DO love is cooking for fans on game day. Seeing people fight over the last piece of cornbread is my kind of dogpile.

Which is where this bison chili comes in.

I’ve been totally digging on bison lately. This game meat really is the ultimate protein: it’s lean, it’s delicious, and it’s a heckuva lot cheaper than good cuts of grass fed beef at Whole Foods. If you treat it right, it can be just as delicious as a proper steak.

Seer the flanks, and you’ve got the ultimate kale salad-topper or accompaniment to Vietnamese bun. You can use the chuck for savory braises or a hearty wintertime stew. Buy it ground and swap it in for burger meat, in pasta sauces, or in chili like this one. The possibilities are endless, so long as you follow the golden rule: DO NOT overcook bison, because it is quite lean and can get tough if it’s overdone.

When cooked right, it makes a great chili, which is totally easy to make, and incredibly flavorful when you add in a pint of porter into the mix. (Just make sure you buy an extra pint for the chef.) And just like most stews and chili, it gets better over time so you can make it a day ahead.

I call this chili California-style because it’s unfussy and it’s served using a few of my favorite local brands: Sriracha from LA-based Huy Fong Foods and a smooth porter from Lagunitas in Petaluma. In my humble opinion, chili isn’t chili without some slices of California avocado and a dallop of plain yogurt in place of sour cream. Call me a crunchy Californian, but I dig the healthy zing. Oh, and unlike the Texans, I like beans in my chili. They are a magical fruit and I love them. Maybe you Texans can convert me when I’m in Austin in a few weeks, but for now that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

No matter where your chili comes from, it always goes best with cornbread. Admittedly my favorite recipe is from Paula Deen, but instead of using cornmeal, I use Bob’s Red Mill — the same stuff I use to make polenta and grits. It’s a courser grind, but I’m sort of obsessed with that Southern style of hearty, rustic cornbread. (Did I mention how excited I am to get to Texas so I can eat my weight in BBQ and cornbread?!?) If coarse cornbread isn’t your thing, keep it as is.

Either way, cornbread always better with a heaping dose of honey butter, which is basically just one parts honey two two parts softened butter whipped up in a Cuisinart. The key is, of course, to use great ingredients. I just discovered Anchor dairy from New Zealand and am obsessed with the flavor and the quality of baked goods it’s turning out, plus they are nice to their cows. And happy cows put me in a good mood.

And so does this chili. In fact, you might even say I’m excited for game day. And no, that’s not just the beer talking.


2 strips bacon

1 pound lean ground bison

1 medium onion, diced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 tablespoon Mexican chili powder

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon Sriracha

2 cloves garlic, minced

One large can crushed tomatoes

One can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

One can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

One pint Lagunitas Porter

2 cups chicken stock

Optional: Avocado, yogurt or sour cream, cilantro, cheddar cheese, and lime wedges


Heat bacon in large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove from heat and reserve. Add the bison and cook in the rendered bacon fat until browned, taking care not to break the meat into very small pieces, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bison to a plate using a slotted spoon and set aside.

Keep the pot over medium-high heat and sweat the onions. Add the bell peppers and carrots and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Then add tomato paste, chili powder, coriander, cumin, salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, and garlic. Cook and stir until the spices are fragrant and toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with the juices, and bring to a simmer while scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes.

Return the bison to the pot and add the pinto beans, kidney beans, sriracha, stock and pint of porter beer. Chop up bacon and add that in too. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until thickened, about 45 minutes. Season with salt. Serve with the yogurt, cheese, cilantro, onions, lime and avocados, and of course, some cornbread and honey butter.

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,

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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.