State Fairs are often an afterthought. A relic of times past when most of us lived in rural areas and guessing the weight of a pumpkin was the best entertainment of the month. They offer variations on the same rides, foods and entertainment that you find at your local Memorial Day Carnival or County Fair and, I mean, how many people even go to those? But the Minnesota State Fair is so far from an afterthought that it seems to be on the minds of Minnesotans for the 50 weeks of the year in which it is not in operation. Plans are made, new foods are devised and longed after; then, just like that, it’s over again. This year, however, the Unvegan paid a visit to see how it would all stack up.
Sometimes you find yourself walking around the streets of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) late at night trying to find a restaurant that tourists wouldn’t go to. What we found was Le La Quan, a place so local that the people who worked in the restaurant barely spoke a word of English and the menu was only available in Vietnamese.
On the way into Taste of the Himalayas in La Jolla, a patron on the way out told us that we had to get the tandoori chicken tikka. There was a strong scent of smoke in the place, which had clearly turned off its smoke detectors a long time ago, and we figured this departing patron must have known what she was talking about.
Throughout my time in Western New York, I saw a great many signs for “Chicken BBQ.” They would often appear on weekends as fundraisers for churches and the like. Eventually I learned they were using Chiavetta’s Marinade and while the chicken itself was ordinary, I found the existence and cultural phenomenon of Chiavetta’s strange enough to turn Chiavetta’s Chicken into a strange meat.
You know that whole “tastes like chicken” thing that was popular back when The Matrix came out? Yeah, I thought it was annoying too. However, when it came to eating guinea fowl (also known as bush chicken), I was eager to put that old adage to the test. My opportunity to dine on this fowl came in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and perhaps the best part of eating guinea fowl for dinner was the fact that I saw flocks of wild guinea fowl wandering the grounds of the restaurant earlier in the day.
A lot of Latin American restaurants feel the need to include Mexican food to draw otherwise unsure customers in. For that reason, I am always excited to find ethnic restaurants sticking to their goods. One such restaurant is Peru Chix, basically a hole-in-the-wall type of place in Gardena. Peru Chix has such Peruvian favorites as Lomo Saltado, but I kinda thought chicken would be the way to go.
For a strange little town south of Los Angeles, Gardena packs a surprisingly diverse amount of food. Contributing to this diversity is a Peruvian place called El Rocoto. Its menu is vast and although neither alpaca or guinea pig are anywhere to be found on it, I had no trouble finding delicious-looking things to eat. But before ordering, the waiter brought us out a nice bread basket with their namesake sauce and another one to eat with the bread. It was an interesting mix, but I definitely enjoyed the sauces.
Allow me to start out by dispelling any possible rumor that I was hungover for my brunch at Snug Harbor. Not only do I have a bizarre immunity to such things, but I wouldn’t want such a thing to bias a review. I should also dispel any rumor that Snug Harbor is anywhere near water or a harbor, as it is not, even though it’s in Santa Monica. I will admit that it is snug and I will further admit that what I ordered was called The Hangover.
As some of you loyal followers of mine may or may not know, I recently took a stroll to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. The trip included a cook who made some pretty impressive camping food, considering porters were carrying everything. Inevitably, some of the food didn’t fit into my unvegan eating habits, but I ate them anyway, because this was not about eating what I wanted, but about survival in a sense. These were things like cucumber soup, zucchini soup and veggie sauce on pasta. No, they didn’t make we want to eat veggies, but they did hammer home the lesson that hunger truly is the best spice.
Over in Palms, a relatively new Thai place called Moo Moo threw its hat into the ring of Westside Thai restaurants. The place has a decidedly authentic flair inside despite the brightly colored lettering on its sign. In this case, I mean authentic in that it has the ambiance of a little corner Mexican restaurant with hastily cobbled seating arrangements.