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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Beaujolais Nouveau by Kermit Lynch & Domaine Andre Colonge Fleurie - MATT MILLER
  • Matt Miller
  • Beaujolais Nouveau by Kermit Lynch & Domaine Andre Colonge Fleurie
It’s Thanksgiving again, which mean's it's time to rush out to grab a bottle of wine to take to dinner. When it comes to pairing a bottle of wine to a Thanksgiving meal, however, there is no easier pairing than Beaujolais nouveau, a wine traditionally released for sale on the third Thursday of November.

But Beaujolais nouveau has gotten a bad rap. It's made from gamay grapes produced in the Beaujolais region of France and it's a vin de primeur, meaning it's released the same year the grapes are harvested. Most self-proclaimed wine snobs will tell you it’s all crap. They’ll tell you Beaujolais nouveau is cheap, it lacks flavor, or it has off-putting aromatics. But these people are telling you that either because they were told that by a low-level sommelier (who, in turn, had probably been told that same information in passing) or because they had a bottle of cheap, low-grade, mass-produced Beaujolais nouveau one year and they didn’t like it, so now, they’re spreading the word.

Frankly, the naysayers are only missing out, because Beaujolais nouveau is as much a wine of the moment as it is a sign of wine to come. 

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Plymouth Rockwürst - DOG HAUS
  • Dog Haus
  • Plymouth Rockwürst

Holiday dining fads come and go, yet the Turducken remains one of the most notorious members of the Thanksgiving culinary scene. And for good reason — the all-American amalgam of turkey, duck and chicken is a crowning achievement in the progression of poultry.

This month, Dog Haus has taken the meaty combination one step further, uniting all of those flavorful fowls on one sweet, Hawaiian-breaded bun. Behold: the Plymouth Rockwürst.

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Muffuletta at Little Jewel - PHOTO BY ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Photo by Anne Fishbein
  • Muffuletta at Little Jewel

Creole and Cajun food never appealed much to me until I ate it in Louisiana, just as Texas-style barbecue never seemed like a necessary part of life until I had brisket at a shack outside Dallas, and just as I never liked green algae in my smoothie until I had it fresh in a San Francisco juice bar. (Mmmmm, slimy.)

Some things don't translate that well across state lines, or they're translated so badly, so much of the time, that you lose the urge to keep trying.

One of the most mistreated of Louisiana's foods is the po' boy, which in the rest of the country could be any old fried shrimp or oyster sandwich on some kind of roll with shredded lettuce and mayo. The bread rarely has the soft/crackle magic of the bread baked in Louisiana specifically for po' boy purposes. The sandwich is rarely "dressed," as it would be in New Orleans, with the correct combination of lettuce, tomato, pickles and Blue Plate mayo, and there are hardly ever options other than fried seafood to choose from.

Fried oysters, bread and mayonnaise is an inherently delicious combination, so the results are seldom as horrifying as, say, the blunt, salty sludge that passes as gumbo in most non-Louisiana establishments. But still: Once you've had the real thing — once you've stood sweating in a line that snakes around a worn room, and chosen from seafood but also sausage and roast beef and turkey breast — it's hard to go back to those sad approximations.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Soon after Death & Co. opened in late December 2007 in New York's East Village, it became — and has remained — one of Manhattan's "it" bars. Not because the place was trendy but because it was home to exquisitely made cocktails and an atmosphere of such welcome that you wanted to stay all night. Today, Death & Co. continues to play a vital role in the New York cocktail scene with one major difference: David Kaplan and Alex Day, also owners of Honeycut in DTLA, now call Los Angeles home. 

October saw the release of the duo's eponymous cocktail book, which not only chronicles the hundreds of cocktails created at the bar but also celebrates the employees who created them and the patrons who drink them. Death & Co. manages to be far more than a cocktail book, though.

It is a testament to a new era in the cocktail kingdom where the creation of drinks and the enjoyment of them has formed a new synthesis of pleasure and conviviality. That said, here are 10 things you, too, might learn from the Death & Co. cocktail book.

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click image A very gluten-y pumpkin spice cake with rum raisin icing - MALCOLM BEDELL/FROMAWAY.COM
  • Malcolm Bedell/FromAway.com
  • A very gluten-y pumpkin spice cake with rum raisin icing
Sales of gluten-free foods have surged 68 percent in the last two years, according to a new study – even though other studies have shown that only 1 percent of the U.S. population actually has celiac disease. Still, more and more Americans are convinced that they are sensitive to gluten, which accounts for much of the upsurge in sales.

“I don't think it's mass hysteria at all,” says Los Angeles-based gastroenterologist Lourdes Bahamonde, pointing to several factors that might account for increased gluten sensitivity. For one, increased ingestion of highly processed foods, including those containing high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils, may damage the sensitive balance of bacteria in the gut (the microbiome), she says.

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Launui Burger at Pono Burger - PONO BURGER
  • Pono Burger
  • Launui Burger at Pono Burger

Returning home for Thanksgiving is not feasible or even desirable for everyone. Luckily, for abstainers, there are a myriad of restaurants to eat in or take-out a traditional holiday feast. For those hoping to get their turkey fix down the gullet without the massive meal intake, however, consider the far more casual (but no less delicious) turkey burger.

Turkey burgers are usually what you order when you’re trying to avoid something: fat, red meat, flavor. But what if the turkey burger was actually good in and of itself?

The five burgers below serve up enough juiciness, flavor and originality to qualify as reputable, delicious ways to feed that pre- or post-Thanksgiving cravings. Some even come with Thanksgiving-centric add-ons like cranberry, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes. So dig in and have a very happy Thanksgiving — without all the fuss and expense of a ten-course meal.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

  • Mrs. Fish
As above, so below. Mrs. Fish – a new downtown L.A. hangout from the same team that runs rooftop restaurant and bar Perch – is opening Saturday the newly remodeled basement of the same Pershing Square-adjacent building, with a vibe and food program that can potentially further change the way people eat, drink and party in the new downtown.

Instead of walking into the historic building's lobby as you would to catch the elevator to French-bistro-inspired Perch, entering the futuristic Mrs. Fish requires you to go through two nondescript doors further down the block and then down a tunnel-like concrete staircase, before entering a 6,800-square-foot, multi-tiered interior space anchored by a stage for live music.

Its bricolage interior blends classy nostalgia with hip, rock 'n' roll nightclub (think: a motorcycle in a glass-enclosed case, pre-distressed wrought-iron banisters, a 5,500-gallon suspended fish tank wrapped around the exposed concrete pillars), and its food and drink options show equal imagination.

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Drink at Brilliantshine, one of the bars to make it onto PUNCH's list of L.A.'s best cocktail bars. - ANNE FISHBIEN
  • Anne Fishbien
  • Drink at Brilliantshine, one of the bars to make it onto PUNCH's list of L.A.'s best cocktail bars.
This week's must-read food stories from around the web:

The tiny hamster is back! Occasional L.A. Weekly contributor Farley Elliott has created yet another tiny hamster video, this time showing the joys of hamster Thanksgiving

Nestle is creating a drink that claims to be exercise in a bottle.  

The L.A. Times shares the sad news that JiRaffe in Santa Monica will close after Valentine's Day

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Native Wellington and Pies from Native Foods
  • Native Wellington and Pies from Native Foods
Sorry to be all vegan activist-y, but if you eat turkey on Thanksgiving, you're an asshole. Seriously, why would anyone want to participate in what some estimate to be the slaughter of approximately 45 million birds when there are so many delicious alternatives that didn't used to be alive? Besides, it's not like turkeys ever did anything to us. If anything, turkeys have enhanced our lives as the inspiration behind those drawings children make when they outline their hands in pencil. And don't act like you don't enjoy those drawings because we've all seen enough refrigerator art in our lifetimes to know you do.

Luckily, if you live in the greater Los Angeles area, you don't have to eat turkey as an array of restaurants are serving vegan meals that will both fool your dad into thinking he's eating "real" pumpkin pie and make you lose a beltloop. Some are open Thanksgiving, some are hosting events earlier and others are selling prepared meals, but whatever you choose, you'll sleep well that night partially because you ate too much and partially because you'll know you made the right decision trading dead bird for lentil loaf. 

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  • Monterey Park Night Market
  • Boba
Since earlier this year, the Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce has been hosting a slew of night markets at Barnes Park, in what was touted at the time as the Southland's first long-term, city-sponsored event of its kind. It's called the Monterey Park Night Market (or MPK Night Market) and tonight (Friday!) will be their last soiree of the season.

Festivities will run from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., and vendors will be serving up items like fried squid, rice balls, skewers, takoyaki, potato swirls, buns, tacos, and falafels. Notable food trucks include Seoul Sausage and Middle Feast from the Food Networks' The Great Food Truck Race. 

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