Saturday, May 8, 2010

Foodie Five # 11- Natalie S. Hsieh

My girl Natalie was one of my best buds in Washington, DC. We worked together, yes, but she and Ali and I became a very tight trio and had many a smashing time. Nat and I bonded in particular over our mutual love of film. We could talk film all day and frequently did. Girlfriend turned me onto the wondrous anime of Hayao Miyazaki and introduced Amelie to me which became a favorite. Food was always discussed as well and she also turned me onto Five Guys burgers for which I am Most Grateful. One of my fave meals in DC happened when Nat and Ali took me out for a farewell brunch at Filomena's in Georgetown.

Nat took her love of film and ran with it all the way to L.A. She's done loads of work now in film and TV. Yes, that's my little Sweetpea Nat in Crouching Tiger mode above as the Shaolin Nun in the Swordplay Stage Combat show Warrior Showdown. Check them out at

Nat and her main man TJ are avowed Food Network junkies and recently Nat bought the AD HOC cookbook by Thomas Keller and is cooking a recipe a week from it. Natalie's also growing her own veggies and herbs as well. My girl's done quite well for herself.....

1) You and I worked together and of course, were fellow film freaks in Washington, DC. You've actually gone on to LA and have worked in the film and TV biz. Have there been any interesting food experiences on film sets? What's craft services really like?

Hahahah!!! Have I had any "interesting" experiences on food sets...eating on set is pretty standard across the board, particularly on larger films. In the morning you'll have breakfast consisting of bacon, eggs, grits, oatmeal, pancakes, sausage, fresh juices, and fruits. Many shows will also have food trucks that will make pretty much any breakfast item you can think of from wraps to egg sandwiches. For lunch, the food truck will offer a meat, pasta, and vegetarian entree option. Off to the side in the buffet will be cooked vegetables, carbs (rice/bread), salad, fresh fruit and desserts. Craft service is usually a full on mobile pantry. They are responsible for keeping the coolers stacked with drinks. There's usually plenty of candy, chips, nuts, fresh veggies and fruit layed out. Really, anything that is easy to much on. Many good craft service trucks will also serve hot options during colder months such as chili and soup. If the shooting day goes long enough, that's when the good stuff really starts rolling out and it's called 2nd meal. By this time, the producers try to keep everyone happy because they've been working for 12 hours. So this is when the producers call in a specialty pizza truck to come by to serve up gourmet pizza. Or an authentic taco truck that cooks up the meat as you stand there from which you can build your own tacos. Sometimes in the last week of filming, the big actors might spring for a really catered dinner such as a really fancy sushi spread or steak and lobster. One thing is for sure, I have never gone hungry working on a film/television/commercial set.

2) Speaking of DC, we've had some awesome meals together there. Any particular foodness you miss from there?

Oh man, I really miss:
Filomena's in Georgetown-the pasta is made fresh and the atmosphere is so charming
Sequoia down by the waterfront in Georgetown-amazing space and nouveau American cuisine
Firehook bakery in Georgetown-homey, rustic, satisfying breads and pastries
1789 outside Georgetown University-some of the best French/American cuisine I've ever tasted.
Clyde's of Georgetown-I particularly love their roasted figs and sauteed mushrooms
Dean and Deluca by the Georgetown Mall
Harmony Cafe on M Street in Georgetown-really tasty and inexpensive Chinese
Aditi in Georgetown-great space and flavorful Indian
Heritage Indian in Georgetown
Marvelous Market on Wisconsin Ave in Georgetown-has some of THE BEST brownies (try refrigerating them first before you eat :)
XandO (which is now called Cosi)-I love the coffee house/eatery feel and the s'mores, of course
Pho 75 over in Rosslyn-feels like you're sitting in a cafeteria but the service is speedy and the pho is wonderful.
Five Guys - apparently the franchise is booming but still hasn't really reached out West yet.

3) If one were to come visit you out in Cali, where would you take them to get some local flavor?

Some local flavor in Cali...well, there's Malo in Silver Lake. Super yummy Mexican inspired food. Try the chewy chips and roasted habanero cream salsa. A-MA-ZING.

Tomato Pie in Los Feliz is some of the freshest pizza I've ever tasted.

Neptune's Net up in Malibu is this amazing seafood bar that is frequented by passersby and plenty of bikers. Half of counter serves steamed seafood. The other half is fried. The food scene in Culver City is fantastic, with a lot of organic/green restaurants taking a stand and flourishing. Tender Greens is definitely one to try.

The sushi scene is huge here and Katsuya in Studio City seems to be an industry staple. For a romantic sushi outing, try Yamashiro in Hollywood. The restaurant looks like a Japanese palace and sits atop a hill overlooking all of Hollywood. And head to Little Tokyo if you want some authentic ramen. Daikokuya is my favourite.

Further east in Arcadia and Alhambra there is plenty of Asian food.
Ocean Star Seafood in Monterey Park (also great dim sum)
King Hua in Alhambra (also great dim sum)
Mei Long Village in San Gabriel
Little Fat Sheep in Monterey Park (Mongolian hot pot)
Lake Spring Shanghai Restaurant in Montery Park - you have to try the pork hock

Din Tai Fung dumpling house in Arcadia - this yummy chain started in Taiwan and has restaurants in London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo as well.
Golden Deli in San Gabriel (the best Vietnamese fried spring rolls I've ever had - Keanu Reeves star sighting happened here)

Cube in Hollywood is a scrumptious cheese gallery/restaurant/gourmet market.

4) Are there any recipes, dishes or food traditions in your family that you continue to enjoy?

Dishes and food diet has changed considerably since I met my boyfriend. He's extremely health conscious and doesn't like foods with oil/butter/cream in them (goodbye French cooking). He's also a super taster and very sensitive to salt (goodbye soy sauce) Luckily, he cooks for the both of us and I am learning. The challenge now is to adapt recipes so that he is able to eat them as well. However, whenever I'm home with my family for holidays, our dinners will include
sauteed veggies in oyster sauce
maybe some steamed crab dipped in garlic/ginger/soy sauce
beef and bitter melon in a black bean sauce
savory sticky rice with dried shrimp, soy sauce and shiitake mushroom
whole trout cooked in the oven with cooking wine, cooking oil, sugar and soy sauce with julienned green onions as a garnish
thinly sliced lotus root sauteed in sugar and soy sauce
whole chicken that has been salted over night, then boiled, cooled, chopped, julienned ginger and green onions thrown on top, then boiling oil poured over

5) What is your ultimate comfort food?

My ultimate comfort, this is tough. I have so many! The sauteed lotus root and chopped whole chicken with some steamed white rice always makes me happy. They are concoctions out of my dad's brain. I believe one of the house cooks back in China used to make these dishes for my dad when he was growing up. I adore my mom's homemade dumplings. She fills them with mixture of pork, shiitake mushrooms, green onions, cooking wine and soy sauce. I'm not exactly sure where Mom learned how to make dumplings. I can only assume from her parents in Taiwan. My godfather's homemade noodle soups and fish dumplings are also fantasticaly Chinese rustic. He makes the noodles and dumpling skins by hand and the soups are always very clean in taste (no sauces added, just vegetables and maybe a little chicken stock). Godfather is from around Beijing. Velveeta kraft shells and cheese made with my brother always makes me happy. Genoa deli in my hometown of Rigefield, CT has some SUPER yummy, creamy, shells and cheese that is not of the kraft variety. A nice loaf of crusty bread I can tear into with my hands and some fresh grapes/apples, nuts, and dried fruit also make a wonderfully simple yet comforting meal. And don't forget the chocolate. So French, I know....

I am SALIVATING.....thanks, Nat!!


Kristy said...

Greg, for our bucket list we must go to Cali...DIM SUM, DIM SUM,DIM SUM!!! And then crash Nat's holiday party at her parents' home cause those sauteed lotus roots sound like they are to DIE for!! Salivating? Heck, I've just strapped on the official drool bucket and now I'm absolutely depressed that the only thing left in my fridge is half a carton of cottage cheese, a couple of pieces of turkey breast and some sugar free Snack Pack pudding. But it IS chocolate pudding. Does that count at "French?" LOL. Thanks for another GREAT foodie five!

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