When Jeni and I got married, we were living out of a shoebox-sized apartment in Silver Lake. As we took the step into growing together as husband and wife, so did our need for more space – personal and physical. Obviously, we enjoying eating food but we were limited in space. Our dining room was nothing more than a metal prep table from my catering days, with cheap Ikea stools laced around. It was definitely functional, but didn’t feel as comforting as a standard dining set. We still had our dinner parties but one thing we were missing was the freedom to dine outside, which we enjoy doing. The outdoor area of our complex was simple with a few tables and grills, but our landlord made it feel like a prison yard. The kind you see with prisoners in individual cages, guarded by security patrol. The warden/landlord required a $50 deposit for something as simple as a hamburger/hot dog BBQ and you weren’t allowed to play music loud or drink beer. Pure fun. Our decision to move to another place couldn’t have come at a perfect time as relations with our landlord went even more downhill. We desperately searched for another place in Silver Lake and by chance, found a listing that not only provided an extra bedroom we could use as an office/studio, but there was an actual backyard. No cages. No warden.
A few days later, we ended up signing a lease and turned our place into a dinner party and cocktail pad. When we wanted to eat outside, we would simply bring our 8-seater dining table. But after a few months of that, the table became slightly weathered and too hefty to carry. Jeni had been eyeing a table set manufactured by a Los Angeles-based design company called Scout Regalia and had showed her love for the table on Twitter. Her tweet resulted in one of her followers purchasing the table and a very happy Scout Regalia. It turned out that we had mutual friends and a few months later, we met Benjamin Luddy and Makoto Mizutani over breakfast. We loved their table and they liked our photography, so we decided to collaborate. They would offer us their first prototype of their revised SR Outdoor Table Set and we’d provide photography for their launch. A deal we could not resist!
Ben and Makoto met each other at SCI-Arc, which is an architecture school located in the artist district of Downtown Los Angeles, just east of Wurstkuche. Ben is from upstate New York and knew he wanted to become an architect since he was in elementary school. Makoto is from Orange County and spent a lot of time in the library reading. Her favorite being the Huntington Beach Library designed by the famous Austrian architect, Richard Neutra, which influenced her understanding and appreciation of space. They formed Scout Regalia in 2006 while they were living in New York. They needed a more open environment and working space so they moved out to Los Angeles and found the perfect Mid-century duplex in Echo Park, which also had a great backyard. Through curiosity and necessity, they moved towards product design and focused on designing things that they wanted and needed, but were not available at the time. During one birthday party, they realized how much they needed an outdoor table and how they enjoyed having company. Seeing that the tables out there were not made as well, they conceived the idea for the SR Outdoor Table Set. Mizutani says that the table would not have happened were it not for the beautiful open backyard they had. I have been in the backyard myself and saw the design possibilities there.
Scout Regalia isn’t your typical design shop though. In addition to solid construction and design, a big component to their approach is sustainability, not as a product itself, but how it is made and how much craftsmanship that goes into it. They pride themselves in working locally, with fabricators in and around Los Angeles. The redwood they use for the table set is American harvested, FSC certified lumber, which in layman terms, means it’s grown and harvested using sustainable methods. Durability is also a key component in SR’s approach, as we all have witnessed the lifespan of an Ikea product. As we were having the table built for us, we would get updated on the progress quite often. That sort of communication is so important in assuring product quality and customer satisfaction. Because the table is handmade and quite large, it took some time to construct it. But it also means that its being carefully constructed. I felt a more humanistic connection to the table than that made by a machine.
On the day it was delivered, Ben pulled up in a U-Haul truck and I helped him bring the pieces of the set in. And it was beautiful. I watched as he carefully balanced the table with wooden shims (due to uneven concrete). To celebrate his week of constructing the table, we opened up some wine and admired the craftmanship. All I could think about was how durable and hefty it felt. No squeaking, no rocking and no need for the Ikea glue and wooden peg system. You could see the love that Ben and Makoto put into their work. Our fatcat seeing that there was now a new place to sleep on, quickly jumped onto the table and laid his furry body down. Cat AND human approved. Here are a few of the photos we provided for Scout Regalia.
In celebration of our new table and gratitude towards Scout Regalia’s generosity, we decided to break it in by naturallyhaving a family-style dinner party. But my challenge here was not to use any meat. Luckily, Ben and Makoto are pescatarians and I truly enjoy cooking seafood. Recipes to follow.
Pulpo A La Gallega – Galician-style Octopus with Potatoes and Smoked Paprika
When we were in Spain, this was about the one thing I ate daily. I got so tired of the Iberico ham and bread-based tapas, so this is my all-time favorite Spanish dish. It was created by sailors from the Northern part of Spain, known as Galicia, who couldn’t sell the eight-legged freaks to fish markets. This dish is also known as pulpo a la feria which means “octopus of the fairs/festivals” and is traditionally served on top of boiled potatoes, with a heavy showering of smoked paprika and drizzling of the best Spanish olive oil. But the key to this dish is dipping the whole octopus in boiling hot water three times before dunking the whole thing in. This does two important things (a) tenderizing the octopus and (b) making sure the tentacles curl up for presentation and ease of cutting. I got a 3-lb octopus from McCall’s and the same purveyor also sells to places like Osteria Mozza. I learned this recipe from a Basque seafood salesman, picking up bits of Spanish here-and-there haha.
Good olive oil
Salt & pepper
(1) Wash the octopus and make sure all the seaweed/algae/sediments are cleaned out of the tentacles. Using kitchen shears, cut out the teeth and eyes.
(2) Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and toss in 4-5 pinches of kosher/sea salt. Using tongs, dip the whole octopus in the pot 3-4 times, or until the tentacles have curled up nicely. Lower the heat to medium-high, not high.
(3) Prick a few holes into the potatoes and throw it in the pot. The holes allow the octopus flavor to seep into the potatoes. Boil the octopus for 1 hour approximately.
(4) After one hour, cut one of the tentacles and cut off a piece from the larger side and test the doneness. It should be in between gummy and rubbery. You want a little bit of softness to it. Once it is done, remove the octopus from the pot and place in a tub of ice water to stop the cooking process. Once it is cool, cut off all the tentacles, dry them and place in a Ziplock bag with a little bit of olive oil to keep it moist. Refrigerate if you are eating it the next day, otherwise just leave it on the counter for up to 4 hours.
(5) Upon service, let the octopus come to room temperature if it was placed in the fridge and cut slivers of tentacles and place them over sliced potatoes. Generously sprinkle smoked paprika, add olive oil and sea salt (Maldon) to taste. A little lemon juice wakes everything up as well. Enjoy.
Skillet Shrimp and Baby Squid with Yuzu Edamame Puree
I always cook shrimp because it is tasty and the perfect “conversation” food and I like it when people interact with their food.. You talk, peel, eat – repeat over and over again.
16-20 Shrimp deveined and peeled, leaving tail on (about 3-4 shrimp per person)
Terroni’s Special Chili Oil (only available in Los Angeles, but any hot sauce will do)
(1) After deveining the shrimp (with tail on), throw them into a Ziplock bag and marinate them with a heavy sprinkle of smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne and 3-4 sprigs of rosemary (pulled off branch). I love the chili oil from Terroni and put it on anything Italian-ish. And it works perfectly on these shrimp.
(2) For the baby squid, remove the tentacles and clean out the “gummy” texture inside the body. Slice the baby squid into rings and dry them off. Marinate them the same way you as the shrimp. It’s best to refrigerate overnight.
(3) For the edamame puree, I recommend using a VitaPrep if you have one. A food processor won’t puree very well, so try a blender for Plan B. Add 2-3 handfuls of shelled edamame and have a cup of water ready on hand. Start pureeing the edamame adding water to get the beans going. Add salt to taste. The puree should be in between runny and lumpy. When you serve the edamame, you heat it up in a pan with some butter and make sure the consistency is nice. Add 3-4 drops of yuzu juice to give it a nice citric brightness.
(4) Add puree on plate, top with some arugula and serve the skillet-seared shrimp and squid on top. Careful not to overcook the seafood or the Yelpers will give you the 1-star rating!
Curried Cauliflower with Crispy Thai Basil and Red Chiles
I first had oven-roasted cauliflower at the Lazy Ox Canteen and ever since then, enjoy serving this at dinner. Roasting cauliflower is probably the best way to get anyone to eat this tough vegetable. I decided to make these with a “Thai” flavor.
Thai basil leaves
Dry red chiles
Salt & pepper
Fish sauce and sugar (optional)
(1) Cut up the cauliflower in digestible pieces and mix them with some olive oil, 2-3 tablespoons of curry powder, tablespoon of cumin and salt to taste. Roast them at 400 degrees for about 20-25 mins. Test out the thickest piece and find your desired texture.
(2) While the cauliflower are roasting in the oven, heat up some oil in a frying pan/pot. Fry the basil leaves for about a minute and set them on a paper towel – they should be somewhat transparent. Do the same with the dry red chiles.
(3) Toast some pine nuts in a pan with no oil, until they are slightly brown. Set them aside.
(4) Mix the fried chiles/basil, pine nuts into the cauliflower. If you want to take this to another level, add a few drops of fish sauce in it and balance with a few dashes of sugar.
Yuzu Kosho & Furikake Sugar Snap Peas
These two ingredients are some of my favorite in Japanese cuisine. Yuzu kosho is a type of relish made with the peel from a yuzu citrus fruit, salt and chiles. If you’ve eaten yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), you’ve probably seen this offered as a condiment and it’s good! Furikake is a dried seaweed-based condiment tha has sesame seeds, dried shrimp and spices. It is mainly shaken on top of rice to add some flavor. I put this stuff on rice, tofu and even udon soup noodles.
Sugar snap peas
Salt & pepper
(1) Heat up a skillet and get it smoking hot, for like 10 minutes. You want to destroy the sugar snap peas and add a nice char to it. Cooking the sugar snap peas makes them even sweeter. Add some oil and add the sugar snap peas, salting as you go.
(2) While it’s cooking, add 2-3 teaspoons of the yuzu kosho and beware of the chile fumes – they can sting the eyes pretty badly. Add a tiny bit of water so you can form a “paste” and also steam the sugar snap peas. And continue to add a few splashes of water if it gets too dry.
(3) When it is almost done, add a nice sprinkling of furikake and serve.
Manila Clams with Soyrizo, English Shelling Peas and Leeks
I never thought I would use the word Soyrizo in a sentence, until I met Ben and Makoto. Normally I would use Spanish chorizo for a smoky taste but my rights have been stripped. Surprisingly, the Soyrizo was packed with a ton of onion, garlic and smoked paprika flavoring. This dish turned out perfectly.
English shelling peas
1-2 sticks of butter
(1) Rinse the clams in cold water, using a brush along the edges of the shell to remove any grit.
(2) Sauté garlic, leeks and lumps of Soyrizo together until the leeks are sweated. Add about a cup of white wine in and let the alcohol cook off. Add enough butter to make a nice velvety “broth”. Add salt to taste and sugar to balance out the wine if it is too tannic. Add English shelling peas.
(3) Once the “broth” is seasoned, it’s time for the clams. Add the clams in and cover with a lid. If your pot isn’t large enough, do them in batches. Once 90% of the clams have opened, you’re good to go. Upon service, show some love to the shelled ones by spooning some of the “broth” over them.
Scout Regalia Strawberry Cake
This cake was simply delicious. I don’t typically eat desserts, but this I couldn’t stop eating.
The dinner party turned out great and the table turned out to be very welcoming for all of our guests. When I come home from work, it is nice to go in the backyard and have a seat. If you’re looking for an outdoor table set, I highly recommend Scout Regalia’s. This was the first time I purchased furniture from designers that hand-built the product and there’s a huge difference in something that is produced in bulk. If you enjoy entertaining, you can read more about the SR Outdoor Table Set here. The white oak is selected by Scout Regalia, but you decide on one of the hundreds of RAL colors. Thank you to Ben and Makoto of Scout Regalia, we couldn’t be more happy about our table set. And thanks for reading.