07
jan

Din Tai Fung dumplings

Din Tai Fung soup dumplings

If you are around Los Angeles and feeling hungry you should drive by Din Tai Fung and get XiaoLongBao – or soup dumplings. They are the best.

Din Tai Fung is know in my family as ‘the dumpling place’. A simple and to the point description. Even if we also often get delicious fried green beans, noodles, marinated cucumber and occasionally a soup, Din Tai Fung will always to us, be known as ‘the dumpling place’.

Simply because that is the best dumplings we have ever had. Din Tai Fung has restaurants in several countries – the Hong Kong restaurant has been awarded with a Michelin Star several times. That is how good the food is. Din Tai Fung specialise in soup dumplings – XiaoLongBao.

Eating xiaolongbao

If you have never had a XiaoLongBao here is an attempt of a description: the dumplings are served in a type of steampot with a lid to keep them warm while you eat. You want to order a bunch of varieties to keep your tastebuds alert and tempted. Your meals come with a dumpling dipping sauce that, if cooked by yourself may contain: soy, vinegar, ginger, chili flakes, sugar and sesame oil. The recipe at Din Tai Fung might contain other ingredients – it is very good! You are presented to a variety of drinks but they also serve hot tea and water with the meals.

The XiaoLongBao is often a pale looking package of dough (go to their website gallery here). At Din Tai Fung it is extremely consistent in looks, size and taste yet all is handmade. They are exquisite little packages of surprises really.
You grab the dumpling with your chopsticks and dip it into the dumpling sauce before putting the entire dumpling in your mouth as you would do with sushi. Do not bite it in 2 because they are soup dumplings, which means that hot soup/stock is inside them. As you bite through the dumpling you will feel the slight resistance from the dough and thereafter the soup will fill your mouth with flavors and warmth.

Here is a google image search for Din Tai Fung dumpling pictures.

The tastes will of course be according to your order and I would suggest that you try a variety like fish, pork, vegetarian to get the best experience. Also order some crispy ‘greens’ to have in between your dumplings to clear the tastebuds – like ginger in sushi – here you could order beans or cucumber. Or just ask the staff what they recommend.

Greens from Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung in Los Angeles

We go to one of their 2 restaurants in Los Angeles and they are both very good. In particular we tend to like the smaller restaurant in Arcadia a little better than the one in Glendale. Simply because while you wait to get a table at Arcadia, you may follow the making of the dumplings through a glass wall from the reception to the kitchen. It is a spectacular sight and I can’t even begin to guess how many dumplings the guys make on an average day. They are working really fast that’s for sure. The restaurant in Glendale is also really great and both restaurants are very child-friendly.

Read Din Tai Fung reviews on Yelp

Make sure you have time

Make sure to go there in time before your hunger takes control of you. There will be a wait to get a table or even to get dumplings to go. That says a lot about the quality and the popularity of course. While you wait you are presented to a menu to make your selections of order. That way the dumplings are ready when you get your seat.

Enjoy your XiaLongBao

05
jul

Gin Gin Mule – sommerens bedste drink

Gin Gin MuleEn lækker og boblende sag, der kæler for din smagssans med både sødt, syrligt, spicy og friskt.

Måske kender du en Moscow Mule, en Gin-Gin og måske også en Mojito. Kan du lide de tre drinks, vil du blive begejstret for denne forfriskende sag. Gin Gin Mule har alt, hvad der kræves i en lækker sommer cocktail.

Water Grill gin Gin Mule

Water Grill i LA

Første gang jeg smagte en Gin Gin Mule, blev jeg taget med storm. Det var på Water Grill i Los Angeles, som i øvrigt også serverer fuldstændig udsøgt ‘sea food’. Efter den gode oplevelse begyndte jeg at bestille Gin Gin Mule på de barer, hoteller og casinoer, jeg besøgte på min tre måneder lange rejse i Californien og op langs vestkysten til Oregon. Men ingen slår hverken kvalitet eller smag på en Gin Gin Mule fra Water Grill i LA. Ikke engang min egen udgave slår den fra Water grill. Jeg måtte forbi igen inden jeg rejste hjem, for at smage den originale Gin Gin Mule. Den var simply the best og går rigtig godt sammen med friske østers. Hvis du kommer forbi LA, så smut forbi Water Grill til en drink i deres udsøgte sea food bar, hvor du kan se kokkene forberede skaldyr og fisk til restaurantens spisende gæster. Der er muslinger, østers med lækkert tilbehør, søpindsvin…. som jeg dog ikke smagte – og meget, meget andet. Water Grill har også restaurant i San Diego og Santa Monica, hvor du kan få samme menu, vinkort og cocktails.

Friske råvarer på Water Grille i LA

ELLER du kan jo også kaste dig ud i at lave en Gin Gin Mule selv. Det er absolut ikke svært, men kræver nok et par forsøg før forholdene er helt i top. Jeg har kun oplevet succes med at servere den som frisk drink både her og i USA. På Water Grill bruges Martin Miller’s Gin men jeg har valgt at bruge Tanqueray Gin til denne opskrift.

Gin Gin Mule ingredienser

Her har jeg forsøgt at beskrive hvad der er vigtigt for en god Gin Gin Mule.

Det skal du bruge:
gin
lime
mynte
gingerbeer ( med kulsyre)
is
evt. lidt sukkervand (simple syrup)

Fremgangsmåde

Det vigtigste ved en Gin Gin Mule, er temperaturen. Drinken skal serveres iskold. Sæt gin, limefrugt, mynte, gingerbeer og glas på køl så alt er nedkølet før du går i gang.

Start med at knuse mynten sammen med limesaft. Is, is, is – fyld glasset helt op med knust is. Tilsæt dernæst gin. Du kan med fordel bruge en shaker til at blande det hele sammen (dog ikke gingerbeer med kulsyre for så shaker du al kulsyren ud af den også). Hvis du kan lide din drink til den søde side, tilsætter du lidt sukkervand. Hæld indholdet af shakeren i dit glas og tilsæt gingerbeer til randen af glasset. Smag til undervejs og sjus dig frem til den helt perfekte smag med lime, gingerbeer og sukkervand.

 

Blandingsforhold

lime (1/2 stor eller 1 hel hvis lille)
6-10 mynteblade – knus dem let så saften kommer ud
1/2 gingerbeer (afhængig af glassets størrelse)
4-6 cl gin (f.eks. Tanqueray eller Martin Miller’s)
masser af knust is

Hjemmelavet Gin Gin Mule

Tips

Det kan være svært at finde den rigtige gingerbeer, men det er værd at prøve et par forskellige. Nogle kan købes med en smule alkohol i, andre uden brus og nogle med sødestoffer i stedet for sukker. Jeg kan anbefale kulsyre- og sukkerholdig gingerbeer. Det er ikke så vigtigt om der er alkohol i, men den skal helst have lidt spicy, med spark af ingefær. Nogle af mine favoritter er Old Jamaica Gingerbeer og Naturfrisk Gingerbeer. Sidstnævnte er min favorit, men kan kræve lidt simple syrup (sukkervand) for at få lidt ekstra sødme til drinken.

Læs også her en hurtig anmeldelse af Water Grill seafood og cocktails fra The Minty som også oplevede blandingen af østers og Gin Gin Mule som et absolut hit.

God fornøjelse – skål og god sommer med en iskold Gin Gin Mule.

17
jan

Ice cream sandwich cake

Miette in San Francisco
A drive up the west coast of California introduced me to a treat of an ice cream sandwich I will be longing after when going back home to Denmark. The ice cream will be fairly easy to find because the flavor is a hit worldwide. The sandwich bites will be a little more tricky to find.

The ice cream sandwich cake is made of two chocolate wafer cookies surrounding a wonderful chocolate flake, mint ice cream. The combination is just so good that I have to try to bake my own chocolate wafers at some point.

Carmela Ice Cream

This particular ice cream sandwich cakes were introduced to me by a local Los Angeles food lover and I am so glad she insisted on going to Carmela Ice Cream. There is a variety of flavors in their fridge so you might also find a delicious Salted Caramel chocolate wafer version. The ice cream from Carmela Ice Cream is a delightful and tasty experience in itself – but the wafer sandwich is especially a pleasant experience.

Another great flavor is the chocolate sorbet which I feared was a little bland and perhaps too light. It was not however…. it was exactly the way I prefer it rich, chocolate flavor without the creamy taste and feel.

Carmela Ice Cream has several locations in Los Angeles. They offer classes for the person who likes to learn how to make delicious ice cream or just needs a little inspiration to the usual recipes and some tricks from the pro.

Ice cream sandwich cake

Miette

The sandwiches are available in San Francisco at Miette in the Ferry Market Building. Find other locations at their website.

Order the chocolate wafers from Miette here (box of 4 servings = 8 wafers in total)

There are other flavors to get, such as:
Miette offers classes as well for the person Gingersnappers with crème fraiche but the Chocolate flake mint with chocolate wafer is superb and highly addictive.

Ice cream tip

Speaking of ice cream I heard along the coast, that Rocky Road is supposed to be really good with Balsamic Vinegar sprinkled over it. I will try it tonight and get back with a review.

12
dec

Dairy product detective

Non-homogenized, organic, fat-free milk

Finding the right milk

Dairy products are very different from country to country and it may take a little while to find the perfect product for your taste. To me dairy products such as milk is really a question of habitual taste. Don’t give up on the hunt for the right dairy product.

The variety of milk and dairy products are big in America where it is quite common to add vitamins and minerals to the milk. Any additions as such are however always printed on the carton or bottle. Being from Europe where legislations ever since the 70s have ruled against added vitamins and minerals to dairy products, I am of course a bit sceptic. Today things are changing however and several products now have added vitamins in Denmark as well.

Selection of dairy products

Cream or milk?

In Denmark we normally get milk to go with our coffee but some of the slightly older generations might prefer cream in their coffee and therefore perhaps also serve that with the coffee when having guests. Others simply like cream a lot better in their coffee but might on a daily basis choose milk over cream of health reasons more than taste.

In America the ‘half and half’ is commonly served with your coffee and often you have to specifically ask for plain milk, to get the taste you are looking for.

Half and half dairy product

I love my coffee to have added a non-fat, organic and non-homogenized milk if possible. If not available I can go with other versions but I do like my milk to taste like milk and honestly a good deal of dairy products do not taste natural at all. I guess the most natural would be warm or at least have a top layer of cream and in that aspect the fat-free would never exist……..

The hunt

After an intense search in the dairy sections of many, many supermarkets I found the brand to match my needs and tastebuds to be non-fat, non-homogenized, organic, grass-milk from Organic Valley. It tastes exactly like non-fat and natural milk or at least like the Danish skim milk called ‘skummetmælk’. My American friends have remarked that it is more or less like drinking water, but there is actually a very fine taste of milk to it.

From out-of-town?

On my request for non-homogenized milk, the guy in the dairy product area said: “You must be from out-of-town because we never have requests like that here. It sounds European!”

Well the guy knows his stuff and he quickly showed me the brand that produce exactly what I was looking for. Whole Foods sell it.

Whole Foods dairy products

What about the newer hipster product called Skyr? I wonder if there might be a match that is somewhat similar?

Almond milk

If you have a soft spot for almond milk smoothies – go to recipes from Almond Breeze – California is the right place to be. The variety of almond milk products is great and at a very good price compared to Denmark. This is of course a state of almond crops and it is possible to find chocolate almond milk, icecream made from almond milk but also other dairy products made from almond milk. Just let the fun begin.

Almond milk products

Good luck on finding your products out there.

08
dec

The Huntington

The Huntington er som et slot

The Huntingtons

Henry E. Huntington and his uncle Collis P. Huntington both shared great visions of growth for the Los Angeles area and they both understood how to make business and how to achieve their goals. They also understood that growth required a way of transportation such as a railroad. Collis, being one of The Big Four who amongst others owned The Central Pacific Railroad and The Southern Pacific Railroad, had already built or bought railroads to link several states to eachother. Collis eventually asked Henry to come to Los Angeles and share the management of the Southern Pacific Railroad with him. After the too early death of Collis, Henry started expanding the electric railways into an inter-urban tram system in LA. Los Angeles got bigger and population numbers grew and the public transportation system got better and better.

Today, however the public transportation system is no longer impressive since the town later turned into a car industry darling, during the American Streetcar Scandal, when many inter-urban railways were closed and transformed into roads, highways and freeways to be filled by buses and cars. Now carbon footprint is what is growing big in LA, sadly.

Huntington Estate

The Huntington estate and what was until the death of Henry E. Huntington, also the home of Henry and his wife Arabella Huntington, is enormous and the detailed interior design is absolutely stunning.

The Huntington Los Angeles

The Huntington estate

The Huntington plant life

Art building at The Huntington

Arabella Huntington, the second wife of Henry Huntington and the widow of Collis Huntington !! – a scandal back in the days – is most likely to have been the decorator of the rooms. According to many of the purchases made by the estate she had a sense for quality and very good taste.

Color methods used at The Huntington

The Huntington art piece

Mirror at The Huntington

As well as the impressive art gallery shows the interest and knowledge of Henry Huntington for art and fine arts. Here is a link to guide you to a closer look at The Huntington Art collections on their website.

Art from The Huntington

Huntington Library

Henry Huntington collected several important books, manuscripts and fine litterature, as well as an impressive collection of art during his lifetime. Today the vast library has some of the finest and most precious books within the collection. There is the life-sized nature Birds of America by John James Audubon, The Gutenberg Bible on vellum and a Shakespeare folio. Here is a link to guide you to a closer look at The Huntington Library at their website.

John James Audubon

The Gutenberg Bible

The Huntington Gardens

The gardens at The Huntington are impressive and you may easily spend an entire day or more if you plan on seeing everything there. The garden spreads out into 120 acres and has more than 12 different gardens within. It offers so many different plants and spectacular speciments, that the garden by itself deserves a full day visit. Here is a link to guide you to a closer look at The Huntington Gardens at their website.

The Huntington cactus garden

The Huntington garden view

You may just enjoy the view of the garden from the breathtaking view of the terrace or with a nice cup of something in the Japanese Garden café which also often offers a delightfull concert. A perfect end to a visit at The Huntington – enjoy!