Red O = Outstanding

Everyone loves Mexican food.  Well, not everyone.  I don't.  I don't dislike it, I just don't crave enchiladas and tacos the way the rest of the world seems to.  I prefer my tacos filled with Korean BBQ or something fusion, in fact ... I prefer the unexpected.  Which is why I may be so fond of Red O.

For me, someone who doesn't line up for refried beans, mushy guacamole and melted cheese-covered everything, I much prefer the simplicity and freshness of authentic regional Mexican cuisine ... especially when it's fused with the lightness of California-style cooking.  Fusion = magic in my world.

As well, being a girl who eats jalapeños out of the jar, I am crazy about spicy cocktails, and Red O has one of my favorites: the La Dama, a mix of Karma tequila, serrano chile, mango grenadine, lime juice, a drizzle of  pomegranate liqueur, and a garnish of fresh pomegranate seeds.  Served in their moody lighting and modern, upscale-yet-organic decor, it's a gorgeous way to start the night.

The menu isn't huge either, another plus.  It's full of favorites and twists, made with the best possible ingredients.  My tops are simple: Tropical Tuna Ceviche, with fresh ahi tuna, papaya, mango & citrus-avocado tomatillo, served with fried plantain chips; Pork Belly Sopes, made with Niman Ranch pork belly, black beans, salsa negra, and sesame; and Fresh Corn & Goat Cheese Tamales, which are, I believe, the best tamales I've ever had. The blend of sweet corn, roasted poblano chilies and tangy goat cheese is unexpected, and as with everything else, vibrant.

And for dessert?  The Cajeta sundae, another surprisingly combination of Mexican goat milk caramel with a buttered pecan and bacon streusel.  That's right, bacon streusel.  It's so delicious it's cruel.

So ... beautiful space, good drinks, smart menu, excellent service (and a very attractive staff, I might add).  What's not to love?

'47 Chevy Envy...

When I was a kid, I used to call this a milk truck.  I have no idea why.  As a grown woman, I've since learned it's a classic '47 Chevy Short Bed Stepside, and I want one.  In teal blue.  I have no idea why.

Maybe because it's awesome.

Training Day

I love bringing newbies to the range.  And I love when my training meets the natural raw ability of a good friend, and I am happily surprised by her performance.

This collection of shots was just a warm up using a Glock 19 at 7 yards.  All the shots in red thoracic and head are mine, after having been away from the range for two months.  The remaining shots, including several in the red, are those of a good friend who'd never held a gun in her life.

She started high, in the throat, but within about 7 shots I course corrected and had her on target, directly in the heart.  Days like this are why I truly love this hobby.  :)

Eva. Brunch. GO.

I'm a big fat liar.  In my very last post, I claim to have had the best fried chicken I've ever eaten at Laurel Hardware.  And yep, while Laurel's was amazing, this morning I had its superior ... with a side of Louisiana hot sauce, maple syrup, and brioche French toast (you know how I feel about French toast).  Oh, crap, I'm in trouble.

One of my most memorable dinners in recent years was at Eva Restaurant on Beverly Boulevard in WeHo — a rare occasion when the dollop of truffle foam on top of locally sourced filet was actually delicious, not pretentious.  So it came as no surprise when Eva was recommended to me as a top LA brunch spot, and my friend Sam was eager to try it with me.  Our thoughts?  Um ... we were there for three hours.

We sat at the bar and shared their incredible fried chicken, as well as their poached eggs served with red salmon, heirloom tomatoes and hollandaise, and washed it all down with a seasonal cocktail called the Ginger — a mix of bourbon, ginger, Italian bitters, lemon, and a bunch of other yumminess that made it so good we each ordered a second ... before the food came.

Our bartender, Ali, was fantastic.  Memorable, talented, friendly.  And chef/owner Mark Gold popped out of the kitchen long enough to tell us that he too adores the fried chicken, and thanked us for coming.  It's things like this, in a city crowded with good food, that make you determined to come back.  Well done.

Mimosas, Fried Chicken & Laurel Hardware

If you find yourself hungry in West Hollywood for, oh ... say, some fried chicken and mimosas in a hardware-store-turned-industrial-chic-eatery, head directly to Laurel Hardware on Santa Monica Boulevard.  My friend Kevin and I recently decided to fuel up there before tackling a day of apartment hunting, and after our unexpectedly awesome brunch, we almost never made it back out.

The place is all distressed wood, exposed beams, metal, glass, and eclectic, funky design elements that set a hip yet inviting tone.  We slipped into a booth where our fabulous server sold us immediately on peach mimosas, sold by the carafe.  Brunch and mimosas?  Done and done.  Then he started going on about the fried chicken.  Right.

Now, the entire menu was unique and tempting because of it, but this fried chicken, served with its Jidori fried egg on two homemade biscuits and pancetta gravy just kept coming back to us.  In fact, a recent patron, we were told, actually exclaimed he was offended the chicken was so delicious.  Who says no to that?

An idiot.  Like me.  I ordered an omelette because pancetta gravy after a week of indulgence seemed ... well ... indulgent, but one taste of this dish turned me around.  I have rarely had chicken so moist and juicy, and the pancetta gravy, with the runny egg yolk, all sopped up by the fluffy biscuit, was a culinary symphony.  Finding a home within walking distance of Laurel Hardware is suddenly a new top priority.
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