Sinfully Local

For those of you who don’t already know, you are going to find out soon enough that I have a serious weakness for mac and cheese. Baked, fried, creamy, dense – whatever way it’s being served, I’m probably going to love it. But even I was not prepared for the mac and cheese I discovered at Local in Silverlake (East LA). My roommate and I had been here several times before, always for brunch. They are known for wholesome, healthy food that makes you feel good – smoothies, fresh juices, plentiful vegan options, a glorious organic salad bar. And that’s what I was prepared to eat… until I saw that bowl teeming with yellow, starchy, crusted goodness. My eyes widened and then immediately closed in exasperated defeat as I knew that the words that would escape my mouth when asked what I would like to order would be “mac and cheese”. Like being possessed in a bad sci-fi movie. Welcome to my life. What makes it so alluring, you ask? They fry it on their griddle…yes, you heard me right. They prepare the mac and then spread it out on the flat top. That’s where all that crusty browning you see in the picture comes from. Needless to say, I was blown away. The creamy texture against the salty, amazing brown crunchiness is sublime. And at only $7 for a bowl that you could easily split with someone (it is incredibly rich stuff) I would say it is well worth the 12,000 calories (rough estimation) and the inevitable days of self-loathing that will follow.

Now I will not go so far as to say you should go to Local just for the mac and cheese. Many of their brunch creations are fantastic… but you’ve been warned.

2943 W Sunset Blvd

Peeps S’mores

Before ----------------- After

Ever wonder what to do with all those horrid, crusty, pastel leftovers from Easter? Look no further. I personally hate Peeps, as do many of my friends. But, if you use your kitchen torch to make s’mores out of them, it’s a whole new ball game. The sugar coating caramelizes and forms a crisp exterior housing warm, gooey marshmallow. And who can say no to toasted marshmallow?

I microwaved the whole thing for about 10 seconds to give it a head start. Then I roasted it with my torch, and topped it with another graham. Best s’more ever! If you don’t have a torch, stash it under your broiler for a minute or two. Or, for more fun, skewer the Peep with a chopstick and roast it over your stovetop (this requires a gas stove, of course). Instant campfire! But be careful… you want a campfire, not a house fire.

Dessert Oatmeal

So the other day I was milling around my kitchen looking for a late night sweet. I generally don’t keep dessert items like ice cream and cookies in my house simply because I will eat them… all of them. So really I was search for something sweet that wouldn’t make me hate myself, which of course had me stumped… until I noticed the old fashioned oats sitting on top of my fridge. It occurred to me that if oatmeal is often prepared as a sweet and hearty breakfast, why can’t it also be a dessert? Hell, everyone loves oatmeal cookies. So, with the help of some ingredients I had laying around my kitchen, Dessert Oatmeal was born. Cooked in almond milk and maple syrup and finished with almond butter, chocolate chips, and nuts, this hearty on-the-fly dessert will satisfy your late night cravings with minimal guilt.

Dessert Oatmeal (Recipe PDF)

The Journey: Then and Now

July 2009 (265 lbs) -------------------- April 2012 (218 lbs)

So I should start off by saying that though this is not a weight-loss blog, and though I am not any sort of qualified health professional, managing my weight through living a balanced lifestyle is very much a part of who I am. Yes, I love to indulge, I love to host, I love to come up with new creations… but not all the time. I originally named this post “before and after”, but the truth is that when it comes to managing one’s weight, it is never like breaking the ribbon when you cross the finish line. Rather, it is a journey that never truly finishes. For me, it started on January 5th, 2010. I literally woke up and decided it was time to make a change. I cleaned out my fridge, started exercising, I cut meat and dairy out of my diet, and three months later I was down 35 pounds.

Now don’t misunderstand, there is more to this. A lot more. This was a very long time coming. I was always a big kid with an insatiable appetite and not an ounce of self control. I could polish off an entire case of double-stuf oreos in one sitting. I was drinking at least one can of non-diet soda a day and nearly 2 gallons of 2% milk every week. I had terrible digestive problems, asthma, low energy. I was, for all intensive purposes, suffocating myself with food and drowning myself in dairy. God bless my mother, who never stopped trying to get me under control – only have three cookies, only one helping of dinner, have an apple for a snack. But, when push came to shove, it was all up to me. Like any addict would tell you, I had to want to change. And for whatever reason, it wasn’t until that day in January that it really clicked for me.

Because there is far too much to tell in one entry, I’ll be devoting a series that will detail my journey thus far: what worked, what didn’t, what I learned, all leading up to where I am and what I’m fighting right now. I will of course be posting the recipes I’ve devised to help me along the way (I’ll be giving them their own category to the right). And, because I’m the starving artist, you know they will be affordable, flavorful, and classy.

Stay tuned and stay inspired!

Boo! It’s Philly in SoCal

So when you hear that an Asian family has opened a restaurant on the east side of LA, you know that they’re clearly going to be serving hot, authentic, mouthwatering … cheesesteaks… ? Believe me I was just as surprised as you. But let me tell you, this is the real deal. This is far and away the best sub I’ve had since the one trip I’ve made to Philadelphia. And it makes sense since the Ahn family moved to SoCal from Philly in 1985. According to them, all their ingredients are authentic, particularly the buns they have shipped in from Philly. They even serve Tasty Cakes, which are sweet, processed, packaged, saturated fat-filled cakes, native to Philadelphia, that put Hostess and Drake’s to shame. Devilish treat. For $9.95 I got a full sized (i.e. gigantic) mushroom steak with onions and extra cheese. Heaven. Yes, I know, the real authentic Philly way is with cheese whiz, but as you can see from my photo, I’m a white American kind of guy. And you know what? I don’t feel bad about it at all. It’s the Starving Artist way. I recommend getting the bun toasted as it gets a bit soggy otherwise. For those of you who love hoagies, they make those those too. Hell, they even have veggie subs so you don’t feel bad about dragging your vegetarian friends here. Seriously, If you are any kind of sandwich lover, you should absolutely stop by, chat with the fam, and have the best cheesesteak you will ever encounter outside of Philly.

Boo’s Philly Cheesesteaks & Hoagies
4501 Fountain Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90029