Sunday, April 11, 2010

Trash Cans and Lazy Ox's: TRASHED Coachella Exhibit & The Lazy Ox Canteen

I didn't know rubbish bins would be the thing to inspire me to start blogging again after a long lazy blog haitis but after checking out Global Inheritance's TRASHED Coachella Exhibit  on Friday night, I felt compelled to write about it.

The one-night only gallery event showcased crafty, custom-designed 65-gallon trash bins before they are put to use tidying up the polo fields of Coachella next week. It's been 4 years since my last Coachella experience and while I'm not up for the exhilarating yet hot/dusty/exhausting 72hr excursion anymore, I did want to get some sort of Coachella fix this year--even if it was just checking out the artsy "official trash bins" of the festival. The online flyer I saw highlighted the featured artists of the couple dozen bins on show--not being well versed in the who's-who of the garbage can art world, I didn't recognize the names but was intrigued enough to make the trek to POVevolve Gallery on Chung King Rd's gallery row in Chinatown.

Ugly Shoe and I were greeted outside of the gallery with a trash can refashioned as R2-D2. Inside, we joined the arty types sipping on free wine and Veev cocktails milling amongst a smattering of colorful bins. Some were more impressive than others; there was a cool splatter graffiti-styled bin, another done up in a 70's Holly Hobby look and a fun, brightly painted bin inviting trash-throwers to "express yourself" with a pile of chalk for passerby's to write their own 'expressions' on the trash can.

My favorite was the psychedelic, Beatles-inspired bin which brought to life the lyrics from "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds", including real tangerine trees, a girl with sparkling sequined kaleidoscope eyes, yellow and green flowers made of cellophane and a river studded with milky glass beads.

While the exhibit was an amusing 20 minute novelty, it was a great excuse to head to the downtown area to kick off a Friday night. Since we were in the area, on a whim we drove to Little Tokyo to have dinner at the Lazy Ox Canteen afterwards. I had heard good reviews and have been wanting to try the restaurant but with no reservations on Friday night, we weren't sure if we'd get the chance. I called to inquire about the wait as we were parking and was greeted by a cheesy but somehow reassuring "Lazy Ox Canteen, how can I make your day better?" While the first-come, first serve bar seats had an hour wait, the friendly hostess said we could have a heat-lamped table outside if we waited 10 minutes.

The menu (sparse on the printed menu, but accompanied by a chalkboard overflowing with daily specials) is a modern mix of French, Mexican, Japanese and Catalan cuisines. We ordered the assorted pickles (crunchy and dill-flecked, they were a great accompaniment to cut through our heavier dishes)  dashi marinated yellowtail with avocado, hash browns and creme fraiche and with the waiter's recommendation, the pig trotter crepinette off the chalkboard specials for appetizers. The chunky-cut yellowtail was delicious the traingle toasts of hash browns added some crunch and texture. I was expecting the trotter appetizer to be a pulled pork filled french crepe but instead, it came as a pig trotter patty served over creamy mashed potatoes. A surprise but still really tasty.

The braised beef paleron entree we ordered was a dark, fork-tender hunk of pot roast sitting on mellow cream of wheat and kumquat slivers. Braised in red wine, the meat was almost caramelized crusty outside and deliciously yielding inside. We finished off our meal with a large ceramic skillet of bubbling, buttery crusty-topped black and blueberry cobbler. Delightfully rich in flavor and fullness, the meal lived up to the hearty and earthy expectations you'd expect from a restaurant with 'crispy pig ears' on their menu and the word "Ox" in their name.


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