Badmaash LA

I love what’s happening downtown! New restaurants are popping up at a fast rate, revitalizing the area that was once only a business district. A friend of mine recently discovered Badmaash LA, so a group of us tried it out!

The first thing I noticed about Badmaash was the awesome vibe – with a friendly staff and hip, modern decor, I knew this place was going to be a dining experience. My group sat in the lofted second floor of the restaurant. The walls are painted chalkboard and are filled with various Hindi sayings and random drawings. Bollywood film posters adorn the walls, giving the place a modern feel.

Now onto the menu. I’m a huge fan of Indian food so I geeked out over the various dishes that combine Indian flavor with other known dishes – the first thing that caught my eye was the Masala Fries! As the tradition when we go to Indian restaurants, my friends and I split a few dishes. For three people, 5-6 dishes was about right to be full by the end. We ordered the Masala Fries, Butter Chicken Samosas, Papri Chaat, Seekh Kabaab, and Butter Chicken.

The portions are small, but big enough to split and have 3-4 bites per person. My favorite dish was the Seekh Kabaab because of the spice and tenderness of the meat. The Masala Fries were basically fries with Indian Spices, good but not something I would order again.

Overall, I think Badmaash is a great place to hang out with friends, order some Kingfisher beer and have a few bites to eat. The atmosphere and the small plates make it a good place to relax and have fun. However, if you are looking for Indian food with big portions, more variety and a more traditional flavor, check out some other places around LA such as India Sweet House or India’s Flavor in Glendale.
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Quick & Easy Cooking with Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

Last Friday I attended a food event at Traveler’s Bookcase, a precious, whimsical bookstore full of globes and literature about every place you could imagine. Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, author of Quick & Easy Mexican Cooking, talked about her cooking and travel experiences.

Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee writes about food, travel, arts and culture. Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Cecelia was raised in Los Angeles and graduated from UC San Diego. After college, she lived in Mexico where she learned about the regional cooking. She even wrote the Frommer’s Guide to South Korea, during which she visited every single place she wrote about during her seven month adventure. After hearing about her traveling experiences and opportunities, I’m convinced she has one of the coolest jobs ever.

Besides exploring the world, Cecilia also develops simple, easy to follow recipes. During this event, she featured her latest book – Quick and Easy Mexican Cooking. Oftentimes I find recipes that claim to be simple and easy only to discover that they involve 15 ingredients and time I just don’t have. Thankfully, Cecelia’s book doesn’t deceive, the recipes are actually very quick and easy. She even timed herself when cooking the food – if it took her over 30 minutes, then she revised the recipe to fit the time limit.

I walked away from the event with some interesting food facts:

1. To determine the heat level of a chile, simply cut the top portion off, swipe your finger along the inside and touch it to your tongue. The heat level of that quick taste will tell you the heat of the overall chile.

2. Korean and Mexican food are similar in that both are regional and seasonal. The ingredients are based on the spices, vegetables and other ingredients available to the region. Also, both have bold flavors. The main difference is that Korean cooking does not involve baking and the food, because it is eaten with chopsticks, must be bite sized.

3. Casita Mexicana, is indeed the best Mexican food in Los Angeles. Everyone at the event seemed to agree!

After the event, I drank wine and ate several light and subtly sweet Mexican wedding cookies… and to add to the food bliss, the store owners served up a dish from Cecelia’s book – vegetable quesadillas with a cilantro sour cream sauce. The food and good conversations were a wonderful way to end the evening.

I can’t wait to attend more events at Traveler’s Bookcase!

Traveler’s Bookcase | 8375 West Third Street | Los Angeles

Facebook: Travelers-Bookcase

Twitter: @travelersbooks

Cafecito Organico (Silver Lake)

Cafecito Organico has four locations throughout L.A., but I’ve only visited the Hoover St. location. The inside is quite compact, but seating is available outside. The menu is small, which to me is a key ingredient to a good coffee shop. Perfecting the basics is always respectable!

The owners of Cafecito Organico get their coffee from Central America and roast it here in L.A. and focus on forming direct relationships with the producers to “ensure fair and sustainable practices and exceptional quality coffee.”

I ordered a regular coffee and my guest ordered an iced mocha. The mocha, made with dark chocolate, had a robust, full flavor. I appreciated the heavy coffee/subtle chocolate flavor combination. Most mochas tend to be sweet, but Cafecito Organico’s is in between dark and lightly sweet.

The regular coffee was refreshing, not acidic like Intelligentsia and Lamill often taste. The roast was medium and smooth, smooth, smooth. Probably the best coffee I’ve had in L.A.
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