Friday, March 13, 2009

Catching Up With Oishii Eats At Golden State Café

Damn you, flu, for making me miss Jeni of Oishii Eats' and Dylan of Eat, Drink & Be Merry's wedding celebration! Of all the weekends that my husband's and my immune systems decide to get freaky, it just had to be that weekend. Damn you to pieces.

Having been busy with growing a human being and with a crazy job that had me driving to and from the West 626 and Anaheim every day, it had been almost a year since I last saw the match-made-in-food-blogging-heaven. I was really looking forward to seeing the two of them because they're just such a fun couple who appreciate each other, their family and friends, and their endeavors with a commitment and enthusiasm that is unparalleled. But the other reason I was looking forward to seeing them has a slightly selfish reason to it.

Basically, Jeni and Dylan represent an aspect of my life that I've been itching to reconnect with.

2006 was the year my life took a major beating when my Dad passed away. But it was also a year of great change for me not only in dealing with my own pain of losing my Dad but also in helping my family cope, getting married and starting a new job. I went on quite an emotional and physical roller coaster ride that year, but I managed...largely in part by blogging. Because it gave me an outlet with which to mentally escape--even if for just a few minutes each day--my food blog saved my sanity.

2006 was also the year that was, in my mind, the Golden Age of So-Cal Food Blogging. Not because the food blogs at that time were any better than the ones that have sprung up since then--that's not what I'm saying. It was, rather, a time when there weren't as many of us around, and a time when food blogs were just starting to get noticed by the general public. It was still a novelty for restaurants to see diners pull out their cameras and take photos of what would in a few minutes be digested. I met Jeni and Dylan at a food blogger meetup at Musha Torrance in 2006, coincidentally, on the same night that they met each other. It was awesome to finally have a face to associate with some of their earlier posts that I remember reading: Jeni tag-teaming on a post with her ALL-CAPS slinging mom about the Wat Thai Temple, and Dylan teaching his neighbor how to cook a date-worthy meal. As the months went by and my own posting began to fizzle out and eventually grind to a screeching halt because of increasing work and family commitments, I watched Jeni and Dylan grow, both as a couple and as bloggers. I watched their blogs evolve into the noteworthy sites that they are today with accounts of their tasty travels, beautiful photographs, and educational information that any food lover would appreciate.

They have both told me at one time or another that I was an inspiration to them to start blogging, but now that I am writing again, I am looking to them for mine. We've all come a long way since 2006--alot of the bloggers from that golden year now have husbands, wives, children, more children, new jobs, new homes, you name it. I'm hoping that 2009, despite all the crap that's going on with the economy today, will be a renaissance of all things good from 2006, foodblogosphere-wise: The Rebirth of Slick, The Rebirth of Cool. I, myself, having started to write again, have already seen how it's helped me cope with all the recent changes in my life.

"Hey, let's hook up soon," I wrote in an email to Jeni recently, "It's been too long...I miss you, and I need some inspiration!"

So that's how we ended up at the newly opened Golden State Cafe one late Friday afternoon. The husbands were still at work, but that was fine 'cause that way we got to rant away about all the things that they do and do not do that bug the crap out of us. (Sorry, Isaac and Dylan...we still love you though.)

In a neighborhood that's already an eclectic mix of everything from Jewish delis to art galleries to turntable shops, Golden State Cafe joins the club by showcasing what owners Jason Bernstein and James Starr believe to be some of the best food and drink that our golden state has to offer. In this small but airy industrial space you can get dogs from Let's Be Frank, gelato from Scoops, beer from Craftsman Brewery, and root beer on tap from Virgil's, amongst a slew of other locally sourced goodies.

Jeni and I, feeling particularly snackish, opted for their burger--made with Harris Ranch beef, and topped with farmhouse cheddar, brown sugar bacon and arugula all on a brioche bun--and their Mild Italian sausage--grilled and topped with a choice of two toppings, which for us were the sauerkraut and garlic aioli. The not-too-heavy portions and flavors were fine for two girlfriends who wanted to chill and do lots of catching up. The inclusive sides that we chose--fries with hazelnut romesco, and a lemony Persian cucumber salad--were perfect for picking at while not only talking about the latest goings-on in our lives, but also snapping away with our DSLR's at our plates of food and the restaurant itself. Having a meal with someone else who understands why it's important to take a few seconds to style your food is inspiration at its best.

Had we gone to the Golden State any later that day, catching up and chilling would have been a little more difficult as I hear the place gets packed at night. But this new café has me interested enough to come back and try some of their other offerings like their salami sandwich or grilled vegetable sandwich as well as to explore some of their beer selections.

I'm so glad that I finally got to catch up with the so very kawaii girl that I first saw giving a thumbs up to some taco truck on Mulholland. And I couldn't be happier that you found true love with the guy whose post about a 12:30 am after-work snack at West LA's New Japan first caught my attention. I have a feeling that 2009 is going to be a good year for our So-Cal food blogosphere. Thanks for the inspiration, you two, and all the best in life and love.

(I think this post had more sap than the Sequoia Forest!)

Golden State Cafe
426 N. Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-8331

The Golden State on Urbanspoon


weezermonkey said...

I enjoy hearing about the "golden age" of food blogging. It's like a history lesson to me, and I get to learn about the beginnings of the L.A. food blogosphere!

Your friendship with Jeni reminds me of the friendships I made online when we were all planning our weddings. :)

One Food Guy said...

Ah the golden age! I was envious of the SoCal food blogger camaraderie back then, and I guess I still am. I could only observe from 3,000 miles away.

mattatouille said...

I totally agree that 2006 was the golden age of food blogging. I remember first reading many of the food blogs in that year. I think now food blogging has really proliferated, so I'm glad you're back in the game!

Oishii Eats said...

I am speechless girl. Thanks for being such a great big sister to me. I've always looked up to you, as a food blogger, wife, and now MAMA.

And I totally agree, 2006 was a great year. For me it was personal. I walked away from a never ending relationship that went no where, I put myself out in a new world called a blog, and I eventually met this guy who appreciated me just as I am. 2006 was an incredible year, but I know we will make 2009 even better. Let's eat + shoot soon!

dealinhoz said...

Pam, I am spattered with sap. All I need is the Cheesy & Sleazy compilation and I'd explode.

Yes, it's true for Pam's readers. I first began writing Eat Drink & Be Merry when I came across a blog called Daily Gluttony. She was smart, funny and I loved the potty mouth – all of this done around the topic of food. But she ignited a passion for food that I never knew I had.

2005-2006 was an interesting year. The even more old school blogs back then were Pam's, Delicious Life's, Kirk of Mmm-Yoso, Jeni's, Tunatoast's, Immaeatchu, Best of LA and Elmomonster. And when I joined it really felt like there were no more than 15 socal blogs altogether. At times I thought to myself, what the hell am I doing? Why am I wasting all this money? But it was because of people like Pam, Jeni, Anne, Kirk, Susan, Kristy, Sarah and Elmo that really supported the cause for finding good food.

I was a bachelor then and trying to find myself. I realized that food revolved around everything we did and that's what kept me so interested in writing. I may not be the first to review a restaurant nor may I like everything I try, but I do try to pass on food knowledge and encourage people to have an open mind when it comes to food.

And with the 2009 year, I can't even begin to name all the food blogs out right now. It's great. The community is definitely larger but the rebirth of Pam again really excites Jeni and I. She is after all a big sister to the both of us.

Welcome back and yes, let's eat soon.

mattatouille said...

two asian food bloggers armed with DSLRs prowling the town. we better watch out! :)

we should have a new school + old school blogger meetup, it'd be awesome.

KirkK said...

Hi Pam - Oh man......I found this so touching in many ways. I'd never really thought about it, but you're right.... 2006 was our Golden Year. I still remember with fondness meeting all of you. I've watched with great joy seeing how everyone, and everything, has progressed. I even shot Ron an email recently....just to see how things are. For me, Dylan and Jeni represent the best of the world of food blogging..... I'm still amazed at how things turned out....

Anonymous said...

Hi Pam,

I totally agree with you about 2006 being the golden age of So Cal food blogs! I found your blog around late 2005 and I've followed your food endeavors ever since. You are definitely who motivated me to start my own food blog (although I'm quite embarrassed by the lack of quality on mine ... haha)and I'm sure others were inspired by you too! I'm so glad that you're back in full swing, and I look forward to reading more of rants and craves!


Christine D. said...

Ah, the "Golden Age." I've been reading your blog since 2005 too, as well as some of the ones that Dylan mentioned in his comment. I miss the intimate atmosphere back then, but that's not to say that it's still not an enjoyable one!

Glad to see you back (with a growing family too)!

Daily Gluttony said...


Ah yes, wedding planning! Were you on the knot?


That's great that you can tell how tight we are all the way from the other coast! :)


I'm glad to be back too--I felt like I was missing something! And I'd be all for an old school/new school blogger meetup. (Imagine all the DSLR's there!) Musha anyone?


You'd better be looking up to me as a mama b/c my baby boy needs some more friends. *hint, hint* haha Big Sis loves ya! Here's to 2009!


I'm gonna call you "Sai Lo", OK? haha. Thanks for all the kind words...your comments were pretty sappy too. haha


We had a great time at dinner w/ you that night! We should meet up again soon (and next time be sure to bring the Missus!) Speaking of Ron, I haven't talked to the dude in awhile, how is he?


First of all, I've seen your blog--it's great! Secondly, why should you ever be embarrased about the quality of your blog? It's your own, it comes from your heart and that's all that matters. Thanks for being one of my readers and keep writing!


Thanks! It's amazing to see how far all of us old school bloggers have come since then...and thanks for having been a faithful reader!

Passionate Eater said...

I'm a little late in the commenting here, but I just wanted to thank you for your inspiration from 2005 and beyond, and helping me to appreciate Los Angeles vicariously through you (and the rest of the So Cal gang). I agree that Kirk, Dylan, Elmo, Jeni and you were a generous and welcoming food blogging community with great personalities. Now that you're back, the circle is complete again!

elmomonster said...

What a great post! Brings tears to my eyes. Gettin' all nostalgic for the old days of the original food blog gangstas!

Specifically, I remember coming in Monday morning and looking forward to what Daily Gluttony had to say about her weekend...good times!

Right Way to Eat said...

Wow, two female bloggers with Digital SLR in a cafe that served an every day burger and dogs? That is friggin' major turn on! LOL

2006 is a time where people were just starting to read for reviews or blog posts. I know. I was looking for places to go back then and some of you above my comment were the ones that helped me out.

BTW ED&BM, when is the noodle prostitution will be back. I missed that blog!

Food Marathon said...

Daily Gluttony is why I started food blogging.

e d b m said...

PepsiMonster, I've thought about putting the high heels, pink lipstick and worn-out panty hose back on. Look for the whore on my regular site.

Pam, great eating w/ you again and meeting Mini-You.

H. C. said...

Oh goodness, you "old schoolers" are def. my inspiration (at end of Golden Year crux) - I've enjoyed reading your old blog, Delicious Life, Colleen Cuisine and OMG Food, EDNBM and Oishii for months before I decided to start my own.

Now I'm also nostalgic for the circa mid-90s message-thread structure of Chowhounds! Yelp can SO suck it...

glutster said...


Well you know my story:

Yet, another inspiree :)

daily gluttony 2006 = teenage glutster (derived from Gluttony of course) mid 2006


You won't believe this Seattle SEO LHI said...

Want to grow up and be able to travel & photograph the world like you guys. Keep up the good work guys.

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