Side Dish: Walker-adjacent (April 26, 2010)

I’m not the first to say this but it’s hard being married to a Walker. The scientific term for the condition is “Walker-adjacent” and symptoms include being the subject of secrets in a certain pantry, having plans canceled at the last minute because of the latest family crisis and occasionally going to dinner only to learn about some new Walker sibling.

You’d think the Walkers think food tastes better with tears.

But it’s not all bad. If you’ve met Nora, for example, you know she is one of the most loving mothers out there and being a Walker-adjacent means you have a place to go on every birthday or holiday, no matter how big or small. (Nora even throws what might be the world’s only Arbor Day party. Trees even think it’s over the top.)

But being a Walker-adjacent is sometimes a thing that can only be understood by other Walker-adjacents. So when Kevin wanted some time to apologize to Sarah following a recent spat, Luc invited me to join him for lunch at his favorite restaurant. Or as I see it, we formed an impromptu Walker-adjacent Support Group.

“Come, I will introduce you to the chef…” he said when we entered LA VIDA, a comfortable restaurant on Gower Street in Hollywood.

We were greeted in the kitchen by Chef Joe Panarello who is one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people I’ve met. He and I immediately jumped into “chef-speak” talking about hand-sharpening our knives with Japanese waterstones, cooking for celebrities and how the downturn in the economy has affected the restaurant business.

After about ten minutes we noticed a starving Luc searching the kitchen for scraps of food and Chef Joe offered: “Can I make something for you guys?”

I asked if he would be willing to share some recipes for the blog and he graciously agreed to give us two salad dressing recipes. Salad dressing is one of those things that is so much better to make fresh and these delicious dressings are no exception. Next time you reach for pre-made look at the ingredients on the label: Xantha gum? Caramel coloring? No thank you. I’ll take fresh any day.

The first is a Buttermilk-Thyme dressing, like ranch but lighter and tastier. Chef Joe serves it on a Bibb lettuce salad with dates, dried cherries and sheep’s milk cheese. The second is a Mojito Vinaigrette that Chef Joe serves over diced watermelon, cucumber and avocado. Try both at home, or next time you’re in LA at LA VIDA.

Thanks Chef Joe!! Today you are an honorary “Walker-adjacent!”

BUTTERMILK-THYME DRESSING
You may want to adjust the amounts to fit your needs.

Combine the following:
– 1 liter buttermilk
– 2 oz. fresh thyme
– 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
– 1 oz sugar
– 3 oz white vinegar
– 8 oz oil
– 1 tablespoon black pepper
– Salt to taste

MOJITO VINAIGRETTE
Ingredients
– ½ cup fresh cilantro
– ½ cup fresh mint
– 2 garlic cloves, peeled
– 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
– 1 ½ teaspoons sugar

Process – Combine the cilantro, mint, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and sugar in the work bowl of a food processor – Pulse to a pesto-life consistency

Assembly
– Use immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days
– Mix well before using