Showing posts with label seafood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seafood. Show all posts

Eat Drink Style Happy Mother's Day Dinner - Mom, the Eternal Ass Kicker

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner

Ever since I started walking, my mom was there to make sure I didn't get into trouble. She passed on mannerisms that her mom had pass, as well as providing the natural love, care and attention a mother burdens herself with. But we as children don't usually respond the way they want. That's why there is something called 'ass kicking'. It comes in many forms. Sometimes it makes you cry, sometimes it makes you angry and sometimes, it outright HURTS. My mom's method of shaping me into a proper gentleman... a feather duster. Not just any kind, but one made in Hong Kong. It looks soft, fluffy and purely for cleaning right? WRONG. You switch the ends of it and you've got the Chinese Ass-Kicker. Two things for the price of one – now that's a deal in any Chinese person's eyes.

I remember one time when I was 5. My sister and I were out in the front having productive fun, like throwing rocks over at the neighbor's yard. You kids nowadays have cooler things to play with like all-too-real video games and internet. Back then, we only had rocks and Garbage Pail Kids - take your pick. An hour later, after my sister and I had grown tired of chucking rocks into the neighbor's pool. I hear the most ear-deafening scream of my name.

"DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN
NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!"

The second I heard that, I knew very well where my ass was destined. My sister and I quickly scoured the living room of our tiny house and took refuge in a nightstand behind the couch. I looked over at my sister, who looked liked a deer in headlights. The door opened and it slammed. I could hear her footsteps in the living room and could hear her running around the house. Every time the footsteps got louder, my sister and I ducked our heads into our knees, shaking. FUCK. We were so fucked. And all of a sudden, I see my mom's face at the end of the nightstand. NO GOOD. She told us to get out and we sat there like still wildlife. MAN, we were so fucked. I eventually walked out and I can still remember the look on her face. NOT HAPPY. I admitted to throwing the rocks at the neighbor's yard because I was bored and didn't have those all-too-real video games and internet. Next thing I know, she's equipped with Mr. Feather Duster. And I looked over at my little sister who was really feeling bad for me. She looked so sad. I slowly turned around and closed my eyes. THE END.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner

Before you call any social workers, you'd be glad to know that after this one incident, I didn't get into any trouble until I was off on my own. No more visits to Mr. Feather Duster. My sister and I got our ass whooped as little kids, but we now understand the importance of it as adults. She meant well, as did my dad, who instead of using the feather duster, preferred his right foot. And we thank them both for keeping us in line.

So here we are on Mother's Day 20-plus years later. I'm married now to a woman I love dearly and on the path to starting my own family. Mom will become a grandma one day and will be there to see our children. But one thing is still on her agenda... kicking my ass. Not the feather duster way... but with health, work, saving money, buying a house, blah blah blah. It never ends. But its what a mother does. I have to say that my mom and dad are the biggest influences in my interest for cooking and nothing makes them happier than providing them with soul food. This year was different though... it was our first time doing a dual Mother's Day dinner for my mom and Jeni's mom.

We decided to do seafood as the dinner theme. Making me eat seafood as a kid was the bane of my mother's existence. I was food poisoned at an early age by some Chinese-style black clams and it traumatized for nearly 20 years. TWENTY YEARS without SEAFOOD. My sister used to shake her head and say, "you don't know what you're missing," while devouring something delicious like Chiu-Chow style garlic fried crab. Jeni and I got up early and headed to our favorite farmer's market in Hollywood. We had been so busy during the week that we didn't have time to plan the menu. But that's where farmer's markets come in handy. With some spontaneity and creativity, you can make a fine meal with the purveyed goods. Not to mention the freshness of the food.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner White Shitake Mushrooms

Some young shitake mushrooms. An earthiness that goes well with seafood.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner English Peas

Sweet, crunchy English peas - good enough to be eaten raw with a little salt and spice.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Fruit Bowl

Jeni made a delicious fruit bowl with the farmer's market fruit with wine and simple syrup.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Manila Clams

Manila clams from 99 Ranch Market. Not so Farmer's Marketish, but hey we're not rich.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Filleting Turbot

One of the hardest things for me is thinking of a fish to cook with. There are just way TOO MANY. Check out 99 Ranch and the filipino market, Seafood City, and you'll know what I mean. I wanted something light and remembered a delicious fish I had at Wylie Dufresne's WD-50 in New York. Olive-Oil Poached Turbot with Smoked Bulgur and Coffee-Saffron sauce. The turbot is a goofy-looking flat fish found mainly in the North Atlantic.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Carlsbad Blonde Oysters

I always pay a visit to Rob of the Carlsbad Aquafarm. He's a super nice guy that really enjoys watching people eat oysters. Not in a creepy way. He's just passionate about his seafood. I picked some Carlsbad Blondes because of their delicate cucumber finish. You can find him at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market on Saturdays and at the Hollywood Farmer's Market on Sundays. $10/dozen oysters.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Alaskan King Crab & Haricot Vertes

Alaskan King Crab, Poached Egg & Haricot Vertes Frisee Salad
I mixed the king crab with my favorite, smoked paprika, and the haricot vertes in some creme fraiche, lemon juice and S&P. Served it on top of some frisee with Jeni's citronette vinaigrette with a poached egg. The idea here was to crack the poached egg over the frisee and bring in the crab and green beans. It was very light and fresh.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Poached Egg

ED&B Mother's Day Dinner Manila Clams and Chorizo Sausage & Leeks

Manila Clams with Spanish Chorizo, Leeks & White Wine
You can't go wrong with clams + butter + wine. I sautéd some shallots, spanish chorizo, garlic and leeks and added the clams. Then I poured about a 1/4 bottle of white wine with some chicken stock and dropped in some butter. Cover the pot for a few minutes until you see the clams open up and stir them around, making sure all that delicious juice gets inside the clam shells. Note: I used to do this with Mexican chorizo and I think it tastes better with Spanish chorizo because it's more firm and spicy. Serve this with some toasted bread slices so your guests can sop up all that goodness.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Pan Fried Turbot & Shitake Mushroom, English Pea Spatzle

Pan-Seared Turbot with Shitake Mushrooms, English Peas & Spatzle
I originally wanted to poach this in olive oil and thyme but I didn't have enough olive oil. Instead we pan-fried the fish in a skillet. I had marinated the fish about an hour before in some olive oil, thyme, pimenton (Spanish chili powder) and S&P. The fish took about 5 minutes on one side over medium heat, just long enough for the skin to crisp up. I have to say, I have never had a more milky/moist fish like turbot. It is fabulous and highly used for its delicate flavor/texture and similarity to halibut. In fact, it's BETTER than halibut. Our moms were flipping out on this fish because they had never heard of it. The combination of the delicate fish, earthy shitakes, crunchy peas and buttery spatzle was perfect.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Sauternes Cake & Fruits

Farmer's Market Fruit & Cake with Frozen Balsamic Vinegar Cream & Sauternes Syrup
We found this cake for $1 at 99 Ranch and just topped it off with fresh fruit and cold balsamic vinegar cream. This was an excellent way to finish off the seafood dinner.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner

To my mom, thank you for everything - love you.
And to my Mom #2, I'm glad we're one family now.

Eat Drink Style Mariscos Chente, Los Angeles - A Shrimp Morgue in Mar Vista

Mariscos Chente Camarones Aguachiles

It was a Saturday afternoon and I sat patiently hunched forward with hands crossed on a table with a lazy susan. Jeni was by my side and so was Eddie, Rickmond and Javier. Eddie, also known as the ultimate predator and every animal's/insect's worst nightmare had invited us to a day of adventurous eating. Just before, we had stomached a Filipino duck egg in its nascency – eyes sheathed with very thin veiny skin, claws just firm enough to give you a nice prick in the throat and enough feathers to remind you that you were in fact, consuming a dormant mammal. We had also just finished live spot prawns that jumped out of the pot brought out by the server. About 10 minutes before, they had added a Chinese rice wine and covered the shrimp with a lid, intoxicating them to a lethal state. We picked up the shrimp with our hands the second we their antennaes became limp. We took off their heads, exposing their brain and pulled off its shell. The shrimp was so sweet and fresh, and a few times, I thought I felt the pulse of the once alive shrimp on my tongue. It was exciting and unexpecting.

And now, we were up for the final dish, live lobster... sashimi. All of us looked at each other with confusion and excitement. Eddie saw the server coming through the double doors with a large platter, rubbing his hands together in sheer joy. When the server laid down the platter, we saw not one, but two lobsters. They faced each other on a bed of ice, with antennaes in full motion and making contact with each other. In between the two lobsters, was a small pile of light gray flesh resembling that of red snapper sushi. But then, there was something that caught out attention. The lobsters were moving, but it was only their head that remained. The thorax, abdomen and tail were nowhere to be seen. For a moment, there was an eerie silence. The server even looked at us to get our reaction, almost asking us through ESP, "are you really sure you want this?" We hesitated for a few seconds, and one after the other, we straightened our chopsticks and grabbed a piece of the flesh. I saw the lobster staring at me as I reached my chopsticks into the flesh pile in front of them, even brushing their antennaes. I dipped the lobster sashimi in the provided soy sauce and wasabi, which is not a typical condiment in a Chinese restaurant. I then put the piece of lobster in my mouth and looked at the lobster still alive and kicking. For a second I felt it was a bit wrong, but that quickly changed once my palate approved of the sashimi. My god, it was delicious. Sweet, beautiful texture and reminiscent of sweet shrimp (ama ebi). Once we had finished the sashimi, we cleaned out the heads of the lobsters and by this point, they had fortunately died. I wondered if they could see me eat them alive and I certainly hope they didn't. I felt as though I had walked away with murder and I'll never forget this delightful meal. Note: the lobster is very well dead upon being cut up and Eddie quotes that the remaining nerve or muscle reflexes will still be in effect for a little while.

Almost a year later, I was reminded of that occasion with the live lobsters the second I walked into Mariscos Chente in Mar Vista with my coworkers. With its white walls, green tables, blue-tiled floor, stainless steel metal and open dining area, I was mildly reminded of a morgue – a shrimp morgue to be exact. But I knew this place, much like any other humble Latino-run restaurant, was not about decor or adornments. They had something very delicious in store for us.

Mariscos Chente is run by Sergio Eduardo Penuelas and his wife, Maria. ("Chente" is short for Vicente (Vincent) in Spanish, which is Maria's fathers name – the original chef of MC's dishes.) They come from the Western Mexican states of Sinaloa, and Nayarit respectively – both of which offer an extensive list of seafood dishes. According to Street Gourmet LA's great discussion and review on Mariscos Chente, "it's Nayarit cuisine with a Sinaloan chef." I had eaten ceviche a dozen times, but had never tried Nayarit or Sinaloan-style food. Let's go.

Mariscos Chente Dos Equis Beer

Cubeta de Cerveza (Bucket of Beer)
Eating a Mexican seafood meal without some sort of alcoholic drink is simply immoral. Even more immoral than eating the flesh of a live lobster. The food gods will make sure you spend more time in the purgatory rather than ascending to heaven. Chef Sergio knows that, and that's why he endows you with your very own cubeta de cerveza... 6 beers for $15. Salud!

Mariscos Chente Marlin Tacos

Grilled Marlin Tacos
I watch a lot of Discovery Channel and National Geographic, especially the ocean related stuff. If there's one fish I do want to catch and cook up before I die, it's a marlin. Pretty easy stuff considering it'll only take 4 hours and rip off all the skin from your palms. This is one TOUGH fish and tough fish means tough meat. Right? Wrong. Leave it to Chef Sergio to give you some of the tastiest, smokiest marlin tacos you'll ever have. The meat has a consistency of pork and its super moist. A simple dip into the hot, cucumber-infused green hot sauce and you can relax knowing that Chef Sergio just saved you 4 punishing hours of skin-tearing pain on your palms. Guys will be grateful.

Mariscos Chente Shrimp Ceviche

Ceviche de Camaron
Your standard dish at any Mexican mariscos restaurant. But you'll notice a large portion of cucumbers are mixed in – that's because Nayarit and Sinaloa use it heavily in their cuisine. This ceviche was done very well. Just the right amount of lime and not too sour. The shrimp was well balanced with the cold tomato and cucumber cubes – altogether it was very refreshing. I would get this again and maybe even request an octopus (pulpo) version.

Mariscos Chente Coctel de Camarones y Pulpo

Coctel de Camaron y Pulpo (Shrimp & Octopus Cocktail)
Another standard dish that comes in a glass, rather than a plate. It's almost the same as ceviche only there is ketchup added. In addition to the freshness of the shrimp, octopus and vegetables, there was a nice smokiness in the juice and I can't quite figure out its origin. FYI, this is also the Mexican version of the "hair of the dog" and I believed it as we passed this along to everyone at the table. You will be completely sober after eating/drinking this. I have to say, I am now a huge fan of lime juice that is mixed with seafood, ketchup and veggies. Mmm, Sea Juice anyone?

Mariscos Chente Pulpo Camaron Coctel

Mariscos Chente Camarones Aguachiles

Camarones Aguachiles
And here is the reason why I deem Mariscos Chente as a shrimp morgue and why I am reminded of the "Day of the Living Lobsters". The server brought this out to us and we were immediately attracted to the dish. The shrimps were all facing outwards, staring at each one of us. Their bodies had been butterflied beautifully, and the flesh resembled a cape behind their heads. And they weren't flying anywhere else but into our stomachs. The plating of the butterflied-Shrimp with heads still attached and the combination of gray, green and purple colors immediately hit our brain as true food porn. It was naked. It was sexy. And it was true Mexican seafood. Aguachiles refers to the stellar sauce that Chef Sergio makes – a little lime, chiles and cucumbers are blended together in this harmonious sauce that accents the sweetness of the shrimp. Not quite as sweet as Spot Prawns but still delicious. I love the texture of raw shrimp.

Mariscos Chente Camarones a la Diabla

Camarones a La Diabla
The server set this down and immediately reminded of a massacre. The shrimp, some beheaded, lay on the plate amongst fallen comrades in their own blood pool. It was beautiful. Considered to be the spiciest of Chef Sergio's dishes, this is simply fantastic. Chef Sergio serves up the perfectly sautéed shrimp in a sauce made of two types of chili (Nuevo Mexico and Chili de Arbol), cooked onions and butter. I think I tasted a hint of beer but that could be from my cubeta de cerveza. I have never found a Mexican seafood sauce as spicy, buttery and smoky as this and we made sure to lick that plate clean. We added the rest of the sauce into the shrimp cocktail and jokingly told Sergio to check out our invention: Ceviche a la Diabla. He laughed and then walked away muttering... "pinche chino." Just kidding.

Mariscos Chente Camarones a la Diabla

Another Gratuitous View of Camarones a La Diabla
If Chef Sergio bottled this sauce up, he would make a fortune and shrimp would hate him forever.

Mariscos Chente Camarones a la Pimenta

Camarones a La Pimienta
I think these are in my top 3 of Sergio's shrimp dishes. I am a black pepper freak.

Mariscos Chente Camarones al Mojo

Camarones Checo
All you're going to taste in this is garlic, tons of spice and butter. You will love.

Mariscos Chente Camaron Borracho

Camarones Borachos
These shrimp are deep-fried, and then sautéed with Worcestershire sauce (Salsa de Ingleterra) and tequila. Wasn't my favorite because the shrimp was way overcooked. It was nothing like Japanese deep fried shrimpheads.

Mariscos Chente Carnage

Mariscos Chente Pescado Zarandeado

Pescado Zarandeado
And this is probably Sergio's most proud dish – the pescado zarandeado. The verb zarandear means to shake or stir, but it has nothing to do with this dish that requires grilling with a special robato tool. He uses a fish called Snook and after filleting it in half butterfly style, he adds a sauce made of soy sauce, limes and mayonnaise. The fish is then folded back into its original form and sent to grill hell. And this beauty is served upon a turquoise tray – I love it.

Mariscos Chente Pescado Zarandeado

Mariscos Chente Pescado Zarandeado

Mariscos Chente Chef Sergio Eduardo Penuelas

Chef Sergio Eduardo Penuelas
Here is the shrimp mortician himself. Everyday, he probably sacrifices over 3,000 shrimp. He is the nicest guy and I have to say, probably the best Mexican seafood chef I had ever met. My biggest problem with ceviche in general has been the overuse of lime more as a way to mask older seafood, rather than 'cook' the seafood. But Chef Sergio has helped me realize my love for Mexican seafood once again. His sensibility of adding just the right amount of everything is exhibited in every dish we tried.

Compared to your "standard" Mexican restaurant, there is a lot to be learned about Nayarit and Sinaloan cuisine as there are huge differences. We didn't get to try the Nayarit specialty, pescado zarandeado, which is a whole-grilled Snook fish marinated in soy sauce, lime, chipotle and mayo. It's supposed to be the most popular, if not best dish at Mariscos Chente. Nor did we get to try the many variations of sautéed shrimp in various sauces such as pepper and oil, butter, garlic and tequila. The good thing about Mariscos Chente is that the menu is small enough for you to complete in about 4-5 visits and it's comforting knowing that anything you do try will be made by a very talented, warm chef that will have you coming back more than once. Thanks for reading.

Mariscos Chente, Los Angeles

Mariscos Chente Carnage

Mariscos Chente
4532 S. Centinela Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90066
(310) 390-9241

Mariscos Chente reviews on Los Angeles Times, Street Gourmet LA and Exile Kiss.

Eat Drink Style McCall's Meat and Fish Company, Los Feliz - A Tale of Two Butchers

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

It's 6 am and a husband and wife wake up and begin their morning routine. But unlike most people that put on a shirt and tie or a dress, carry a laptop or a messenger bag and head out for their commute, Nathan McCall and Karen Yoo are doing something entirely different than most married couples. Instead they are putting on their chef coats, grabbing their knife bag and walking out together for work. They are on their way to one of Los Angeles's newest culinary-related business, their very own McCall's Meat and Fish Company located right in Los Feliz.

McCall and Yoo both did not intend for this to happen in their lives. Nor did they know that they would ever fall into cooking, and that it would bring them high regard on the Eastside.

Hailing from Fresno, McCall was pressured to find a job right out of high school and found himself at a local restaurant as an expediter. He then had the option of staying with the 'front of the house' or going into the 'back of the house', otherwise known as the kitchen. He took the latter and the next thing he knew, he found himself drawing inspiration from the French Laundry book. He then enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena (CSCA) and eventually worked at Cafe Pinot, Sona and various kitchens throughout Europe.

Yoo was a web designer from UCLA that wanted a way out of the corporate world. In a leap of faith, she enrolled in the pastry program at Le Cordon Bleu with virtually no interest in cooking and soon found herself working at places like Campanile and Sona, as the head pastry chef.

At David Meyer's Sona, they met and later on got married and moved to NYC to work at Daniel Boulud's "Daniel". With plans to open up their own restaurant, they decided instead to take a genius turn in their career path and open a much needed boutique meat and seafood shop in Los Angeles.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

On an early morning, I decided to photograph them both during their morning routine. I knocked on the window of McCall's and was greeted by Nathan and Karen. It was 7:30 am and they were looking extremely sharp in their chef gear. Right off the bat,I knew they were serious and passionate about what they do.


When I first walked in here, I was immediately reminded of a painting done by one of my favorite painters, Mark Ryden. A strange man that has a penchant for painting meat and sausages with famous figures. But if you like to cook as much as I do, McCall's will give you the feeling of being in a candy store again.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

And from a design perspective, you know that Yoo hasn't lost her touch. They both have done a great job of making you forget that you are in a butcher shop, but rather in a "meat boutique". I've been to many butcher shops and the common denominator is that white ceramic tile in morgues and the chemical smell used to abate the smell of meat and blood. Possibly old meat. And I think a lot of people are intimidated by butcher shops because of the smell and sound of large buzzing bone saws. But at McCall's, all the 'dirty work' is done before you've even stepped in the store.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

One thing chefs pride themselves on is cleanliness and presentation. Working in a restaurant, you're either cooking, cleaning or getting your ass kicked by the head chef verbally. Sometimes all at the same time. Because it is so true that good food comes out of a clean kitchen. I watched Yoo put out these beautifully manicured lamb racks. Was it bizarre to crave some nicely seared lamb ribs this early in the morning?

It's now 8 am, and they've got three hours to make everything look shiny and new before the first customer swings that door open. With Blackalicious blasting through their speakers, and on another occasion Bone Thugs n' Harmony, they both grab their knives and do a quick run-through on the sharpening steel. I grab my camera, step back and watch the two butchers go to town.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

There's nothing more beautiful to me than watching a fish being filleted. McCall grabs a black cod by the deep eye sockets and checks out both sides of the fish to make sure it looks good. He then lays the fish gently down on the cutting board. McCall is completely focused, more so than Daniel-san from Karate Kid doing his Crane Kick. With a few swift moves, the black cod is halved and without a head.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

He tells me that the Black Cod is really an ugly fish, but tastes so good. I add that the Chilean Seabass (aka Patagonian Toothfish) is even uglier and that actually doesn't belong to the bass family. It was a clever marketing plan to sell the fish that is tied for first in the annual ugly pageant with the evil Angler fish. Warning: you are about to see the true meaning of ugly. Speaking of the Angler fish, I'm surprised it is still a surviving species based on its looks.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

McCall is finished with five Black Cods in a matter of twenty minutes, with nice fillets placed on a tray like freshly baked goods. He immediately brings out a container of sanitizing solution and cleans up the mess from the Black Cod. I told you good chefs pride themselves on cleanliness. He pulls out a tray of sashimi-grade Salmon that he had already cut up. But he goes through them once more to make sure that everything is cut neatly. He then cuts me off a piece of the belly (toro) - so good.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

I've always wanted to buy a block of Salmon and go to town on it with nothing else but soy sauce - eating it like a sandwich. But that would be a very expensive sandwich ha.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

My mom traumatized me with the canned Sardines she used to eat over rice. I remember the sound of the lid being popped open and right then, terror would ensue. That stench would send my sister and I running for the hills. But when you've eaten fresh Sardines, maybe lightly battered and fried with an aioli, it's a different thing. Yoo assures that they are anything but fishy because she herself cannot stand fishy fish.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

I move over towards Yoo's prep table and in front of her, lay one of the most beautiful racks of pork. Kurobuta to be exact. In Japanese it literally means "black pig", but you may know it more by its Western term, "Berkshire" pork due to its provenance in Britain. Because of its particular farm feed and shortness in muscle fibers, you are rewarded with meat that is extremely juicy and heavily marbled. Basically it's the 'kobe beef' of the pig world. I feel really bad for these black pigs.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

With a small paring knife, she takes off the main lid of fat on the outside of the rib rack. She goes in between each rib and cuts out a block of fat which I immediately asked if it will be used in hopes of getting some freebies. Those are simply flavor bombs and you may have seen some Korean BBQ places grease up the grill with some pig fat.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

And finally, you've got your final product. Look at the marbling and Yoo's craftsmanship.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

I follow McCall back to this walk-in fridge and he shows me yet another tasty addition: live spot prawns. He opens up a Styrofoam box with about 30-40 live spot prawns from Santa Barbara, sitting calmly. The second he grabs one, it's splash city. Yes, they are fresh! When you've got a smaller pool of shrimp, it's much easier to tell which ones may be weak and on the verge of death. At 99 Ranch, it's hard to distinguish that.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

He puts the shrimp back and then smiles as he points to his blocks of dry-aged Angus beef, like a man showing off his hunting trophies.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

We walk back out and Yoo is on to her next thing: cutting up the house-made sausages. They offer two flavors, pork-fennel and garlic-paprika and both are very nice.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

For poultry, they offer already-trussed whole chickens from KenDor farms of Van Nuys, which is named after the owners, Ken and Doreen. Why is it better? If you were free to roam, ate feed mixed with grasses, seeds, grains, vegetables and olive oil, you would be very happy. I asked Yoo if the chicken would be tastier if it was fed bacon.

Yoo: "Okay that sounds delicious and wrong at the same time."

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

I look back and McCall is now working on a huge block of sashimi-grade tuna. Yes, I retouched the image but I did not add any red to make the fish look better – it was naturally rich in color and quality.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

Yoo working on skirt steak with precision. This cut of meat can be fairly thin and easily "butchered". Mmm.

McCall's Meat & Seafood Company, Los Feliz

What I like about McCall's is the access to the same types of beef you would find at any fine dining establishment. You can get flat iron cuts, tasty short ribs, hangar and kobe beef by request. For me, the opening of McCall's is further proof that the culinary industry will never be out of trend because it is a breeding ground for the most passionate and creative people out there, who make it an exciting and dynamic career. While most people believe that becoming a chef is the only career out of culinary school, this proves to be a successful deviation from the norm. I think what McCall and Yoo have done is more than offer a resource for good food, but they've also inspired people to return to cooking.

McCall tells me that his business plan is about providing only the best ingredients as any fine-dining establishment would, only in an uncooked form. You walk into McCall's, pick your protein, throw down some white table cloth, candles and Cheesy & Sleazy, and your minutes away from your meal. It's not that you couldn't get the same thing at Whole Foods, which does sell good meat as well, but I prefer the opinions of two chefs that have worked at reputable restaurants. It is what they would serve at their own restaurant. On top of that, you don't need to look up any recipes online, instead you can simply ask either McCall or Yoo what to do with that kurobuta pork you have in your hands. The pricing is on the same level as Whole Foods, but if you care about what you put in your body and respect the hard work and detail put into their business, as I have seen, then you'll understand.

I have to add that when asked what their favorite restaurants are. They replied, "We have no time. Sometimes it's Rick's Burgers over in Silver Lake. People are shocked that we have all this good food in front of us, yet we have NO time to even cook it at home." I thought chefs didn't eat fast food!

McCall's Meat and Fish Company

On another occasion, I couldn't help myself and ran home with two Kurobuta pork chops. I stared at it like I was receiving my first $100 bill. I asked McCall if I needed to brine this and he just looked at me. "Why? It's already the juiciest pork out there." Okay sorry Chef!

McCall's Meat and Fish Company

Are you like me when it comes to Salmon? I only like it raw versus cooked. When it's cooked it takes on this new flavor and taste that isn't very appealing to me. If I had to cook it, I think poaching would make it most edible for me. But man, McCall was kind enough to give me the belly section only (toro). Jeni isn't into Salmon sashimi and she devoured this.

McCalls Meat and Fish Company

Skillet-Seared Kurobuta Pork Chop with Roasted/Curried/Creme Fraiche Cauliflower and Sauteed Garlic Kale
McCall was right, it was so tender. When it comes to high quality meat, you don't need anything more than Kosher salt and fresh black pepper. I cooked it to medium as I like it slightly pink. With better quality meat, you run a smaller chance of acquiring trichinosis, so go ahead and make it a little juicier.

Thanks for reading and say hi to Nathan and Karen.

McCall's Meat and Fish company
2117 Hillhurst Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90027
(323) 667-0674
www.mccallsmeatandfish.com