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Friday, October 17, 2014

Tacolicious - ALEX FARNUM
  • Alex Farnum
  • Tacolicious
Admitting Bay Area Mexican food even exists — or is even decent — can be a bitter pill for Angelenos to swallow, but Sara Deseran makes an awesome case for San Francisco with her new cookbook, Tacolicious: Festive Recipes for Tacos, Snacks, Cocktails, and Morereleased Sept. 2 by Ten Speed Press.

Co-owner of the San Francisco restaurants Tacolicious and Chino with her husband, Joe Hargrave, it’s hard to resist Deseran’s way with healthful Mexican fare. While many of the recipes included sound traditional (tomatillo-avocado salsa and Telmo’s taco de lengua), Deseran brings an updated, personal twist to many of the dishes, making them her own.

Some of the best recipes, like roasted-tomato mint salsa, are quite simple and easily prepared at home. Deseran’s addition of rice vinegar and mint tarts up a simple condiment with otherwise familiar ingredients, like cilantro and jalapeno. The book also provides guidance for further pairings of the condiment, like the three-chile bistec adobado and achiote-rubbed grilled chicken.

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El Silencioso with El Silencio Mezcal at Bar Toscana - MADISON PARKER PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Madison Parker Photography
  • El Silencioso with El Silencio Mezcal at Bar Toscana
For quite a long time, New York was where the cocktail action was. Now, though, an ambitious breed of spirits and cocktail-centric entrepreneurs have chosen L.A. — whether by birth or choice — as their home base. Why hang your hat in Los Angeles?  Louis Anderman of Miracle Mile Bitters sums it up well when he says, "Community. It's not just that we have fantastically talented and innovative bartenders working everywhere from local watering holes to four-star restaurants, but there's an incredible love for the craft and community, and a real effort to support one another, and on continuing education."

That sense of community allows everyone from hobbyists to winemakers to neophyte distillers to take the necessary risks with their businesses, made all the easier thanks to a welcoming and appreciative cocktail community. Here's a round-up of some of the city's best and brightest (in alphabetical order, no favorites here).

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On Oct. 15, Whole Foods Market launched a new rating system called "Responsibly Grown" that assesses its fruits, vegetables and flowers based on how their growing practices affect people's health and the environment.

The produce will be labeled “good,” “better,” or “best” to help shoppers make more informed choices, the company says on its website. The new initiative also prohibits “some of the most hazardous neurotoxins still allowed in agriculture,” Whole Foods said.

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LA River - BUNNICULA/FLICKR
One of the great frustrations of California's current drought is that, aside from personal water conservation, it's hard to know what you can do to help the situation. Next month, on Nov. 2, a cocktail party is happening in L.A. that provides a fun way to get involved. 

How Dry is a cocktail party being thrown by A Sustainable Kitchen to celebrate the relaunch of Slow Food L.A. The aim of the party is to create drought awareness, as well as raise some money to help with drought relief. Education participants include the LA River Corp, The Council for Watershed Health, Los Angeles Waterkeeper, and Slow Food Los Angeles.

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"Phat siew" at Sticky Rice 2 at Grand Central Market - T. NGUYEN
  • T. Nguyen
  • "Phat siew" at Sticky Rice 2 at Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market is not only attracting new vendors, it's spinning off sequels to its current ones. Namely, Sticky Rice, the terrific Thai stall found in the middle of the market floor, just opened a second spot right behind its first. Think of this as following the Din Tai Fung model of expansion.

The original Sticky Rice features a small menu of rice-based dishes along with a chalkboard full of rotating specials; here at Sticky Rice 2 — as this second location is so aptly named — rice also shows up, in the form fried rice (shrimp, pineapple). And then there are the noodles.

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interior of Lincoln - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • interior of Lincoln
If you, like many of the rest of us, dream of Christine Moore's sea salt caramels, you'll soon have another place to get your fix. And a whole lot more than caramels. Moore and business partner Pam Perkins have spent the last year quietly at work turning a 1920s-era brick building on Lincoln Avenue in northern Pasadena into what will soon be a gorgeous restaurant, serving affordable casual food, sandwiches and pastries, crusty bread, wine and Stumptown coffee.

Called Lincoln, the casual restaurant is going into what was originally a machine shop — but had been sitting abandoned before Moore found it. It's now being turned into a cozy space with open lofty ceilings and exposed brick walls. Outside is not only actual parking but a patio, where Moore and Perkins have planted olive trees, Carolina cherry trees, kumquat trees and bay laurels, and put in raised beds for herbs for the restaurant. Oh, and there's also space for a pingpong table, and Moore's Santa Maria barbecue.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Baking

10 Best Red Velvet Cakes in Los Angeles (VIDEO)

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Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 7:00 AM

How to Make a Crazy, Amazing, Easy Red Velvet Cake by Chef Terri Wahl from Voice Media Group on Vimeo.

Thanks to the resurgence of traditional American cooking and so-called comfort food in the last decade or so, red velvet cakes have grown, and grown a lot, in popularity. It's easy to see why: They're gorgeous, delicious and just a little weird. Considered by many an example of traditional Southern baking, and traced by others to New York's famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the cake is most likely the product of Depression-era cookery and then World War 2, when cocoa was rationed  — and red food coloring wasn't.

Regardless of the particulars of its distinctly American origins, red velvet is not a chocolate cake but a buttermilk cake, with a surprisingly subtle flavor. There's a little cocoa, lots of buttermilk and a gargantuan amount of red food coloring. Which makes many purists cringe but also makes the cake a fabulous showstopper, particularly during the holidays. Halloween, say. The blood-red crumb and even more scarlet cake batter is fun to play with  — and you can always use the rest of the food coloring for fake blood. 

Because of this, and because there are some fantastic iterations of red velvet cake (and cupcakes!) around town, we thought we'd sort them out for you. Here are our 10 favorites. 

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Grapefruit - FLICKR/KITTENFC
A new study from UC Berkeley suggests that drinking grapefruit juice may stem weight gain — at least for those who eat a high-fat diet. 

According to the research, mice fed a high-fat diet gained 18 percent less weight when they drank clarified, no-pulp grapefruit juice compared with a control group of mice that drank water. The grapefruit juice-quaffing mice also showed improved levels of glucose, insulin and a type of fat called triacylglycerol compared with their water-drinking countermice.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

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You might have expected the new Thug Kitchen cookbook release from Rodale Books to be fairly uneventful. A lot of popular cooking blogs lead to cookbook contracts, and online fans provide a pre-established market for the book.

But the popular, irreverent, vegan site ThugKitchen.com was written anonymously, so fans only recently learned the identity of the authors during the lead-up to this month’s book tour. Enter the controversy. It seems that many followers of the site expected the writers to be black — or at least not to be a young white couple from Hollywood.

Thug Kitchen has a clear brand — liberal use of profanity and slang intended to champion healthful eating habits for everyone and “not just people with disposable incomes who speak a certain way.” Typical posts include language like "dope as hell," "slap that shit out of your hand," and "chickpeas are versatile as fuck." And then there’s the title's hot-button word, “thug.” 

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ANGEL CITY BREWING
  • Angel City Brewing
Pint-Sized Beer Festival
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, four Los Angeles breweries — Eagle Rock, Golden Road, Highland Park, Angel City Brewery — have teamed up to support the Keep a Breast Foundation with a locals-only mini beer festival. Flatiron and Truckquito food trucks will be on site with food to pair with all that beer.
WHAT: Pint-Sized Beer Festival
WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 19, 2 to 6:30 p.m. You can sign up for one of two sessions: 2-4 p.m. or 4:30-6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Angel City Brewery, 216 S. Alameda St., Los Angeles; 213-622-1261.
COST: $20 includes a 5-oz. commemorative glass and eight tickets to sample the beer.

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