Thursday, March 17, 2011


This little rabbit will stay with us forever
This isn't a review of the restaurant, Animal on Fairfax. The restaurant has been open for quite some time and everything you've already heard about it is true. It's inventive, it's tasty, it's fresh, it's unusual, it's comforting, it forces you to take chances, and with that, it offers many satisfying rewards. Plain and simple -- it's freakin
good. This is more about a reunion and a start to a week that made me realize that food unites, food identifies us, and food creates memories. 

My cousin and his friend were going to be in Los Angeles for a few days and we planned to spend some time together. It was their first time here, so I thought it would be important to make sure their first meal in LA was memorable.  I'm a foodie and so that's always a concern of mine. But as I got closer to the evening of our dinner plan, I got worried that maybe I had over thought this. Maybe options of boar and brains would be just plain odd to them and maybe my excited ramblings about Anthony Bourdain's latest adventure would put them to sleep. Look, I don't always talk about food but when one of you're dining companions is someone you've just met and the other is someone you grew up with, and knew incredibly well as a child, but were getting to know all over again as an adult, you try to find things in common. I try sometimes with food and hope it works out. 

As we met up outside the restaurant, my dining companions seemed a little quiet. I began to ramble off the history of the Fairfax district, the story of Canters Deli, and the exciting new changes that were making the area into a more "hip" neighborhood. Geez, did I sound like a tour guide? We then checked in with our hostess and were given a great table. Our waiters were extremely hospitable and gave us plenty of time to review the night's menu (it's always changing). This particular night consisted of oxtail, marrow, among other unsettlingly adventurous choices. Everyone stared at the list of small plate options. I think we were all a little afraid to go first. But then my cousin looked up and smiled, "This looks great. I'm up for anything."  And while one of our dining companions pleaded that we pass on the marrow, we hit the ground running and took some chances -- Hamachi Tostada, Oxtail Poutine, Rabbit Loin, Pork Belly Sliders and Rock Cod. As the ordering began and the dishes came out -- the ice was broken. We were taking turns cutting into the Hamachi and discussing it's flavor and consistency. We were dipping our fries into the thick, delicious Oxtail gravy and tapping into one of my dining companion's memories of poutine in Canada. And so it continued. Sharing, savoring, and revealing our experiences --whether around the world, in our own backyard, growing up, or things we wanted to try someday. As we cut up the Rabbit Loin we all took a bite and then paused. None of us could deny how amazing it was. And since it was all our first time trying it -- we knew that we would never forget that night from here on out. 

As the rest of the week continued, even amidst the sightseeing and hiking and cruising the Sunset strip, we found ourselves returning to the conversation of food. Sharing recipes, strange Thanksgiving experiences, and even fondly remembering the times that my cousin and I were served Greek home-cooking from our late Yia Yia -- undeniably some of the best food we've ever had and food, sadly, that we will never taste again from her. My cousin even admitted to me that at one time he wanted to be a chef. I had never known this. Perhaps he hasn't told many people. But it was a perfect time to reveal this around the comforts of culinary talk between family and friends. During that week, I got used to this kind of talk. It was nice to be surrounded by it. But as we know, all good things -- even a good meal -- come to an end. In just a few days, cousins were reunited, new friends were made, and all of us, together, had ventured into new edible discoveries. It's now a week later. I look back fondly. The rabbit. The conversation. The reconnecting. The perfect night. The revealing week. 

This is what food memories are made of. 

To create your own food memories visit: Animal Restaurant

1 comment:

  1. Dear Spiky,

    Speaking of establishments on Fairfax, do you frequent "The Dime" often? I think I've seen you there. Continue the good work.