Thursday, July 24, 2014

  • TAPS Fish House and Brewery
  • Victor Novak
For the last 15 years, Victor Novak has been one of Southern California's best brewers, quietly making award-winning European-style lagers and classic craft styles at an otherwise little-known upscale brewpub called TAPS Fish House, which has two locations, one in Brea and one in Corona. And now, the industry veteran will be leaving one of the oldest brewing operations in the region for one of the newest: Golden Road Brewing announced last night that Novak will be joining the Los Angeles-based operation as its Head Brewer. 

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McConnell's ice cream - COURTESY: MCCONNELL'S
  • courtesy: McConnell's
  • McConnell's ice cream
July is national ice cream month, so OBVIOUSLY you've been out eating ice cream all month because not to do so would be unpatriotic or something. No? You don't give a crap about national blah blah month? Oh. OK. Neither do we, really. But we do really like ice cream. 

Thankfully, the next few (insanely hot) days give us a chance to see out July and start up August with ice cream-smeared faces. Many special ice cream happenings are taking place around L.A.: pop-ups, events, special offers and even a brand spanking new ice cream shop, as McConnell's in Grand Central Market officially, finally, opens on Monday. See below for six ways to celebrate the sticky, sweet heat of summer.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

steak frites at Petit Trois - LUCY LEAN
  • Lucy Lean
  • steak frites at Petit Trois
Petit Trois, the long-awaited space next door to Trois Mec, will open tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. Owned and operated by the Trois Mec team — Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo — Petit Trois aims to offer Bar a la Carte, described as the traditional French bar experience. 

"I want Petit Trois to feel like every neighbor bar in France," Lefebvre says. "I miss the life around food in France. Our hope is to create a true bar a la carte feeling — come into the bar to get a cocktail and a plate of food. Petit Trois just makes me happy, it is simple, the life I miss in France."  

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Father's Office burger - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Father's Office burger
Tonight on the Esquire Network, Best Bars in America explores the country's best bar food, which naturally brings them to a couple of usual suspects right here in Los Angeles. 

Best Bars in America launched earlier this summer, hosted by comedians Jay Larson and Sean Patton. Each episode sees the pair tackling a new city — or a new theme — focusing on the finest watering holes of the various, relevant regions. 

Their hour-long profile of the best pub grub in America begins, of course, with Sang Yoon's legendary Father's Office. Although a trip to the Santa Monica original would have been preferable, they elect to hit up Father's Office "2.0" in Culver City, most likely because a production crew would find it difficult to squeeze into the classic gastropub on Montana avenue. 

While there, they meet up with Yoon, who explains the unlikely inspiration behind his famous burger: French onion soup. Cue Larson and Patton ribbing the chef, of course, about his infamous no-substitution policy. 

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A pair of Proof sandwiches in their wrappers - BEN MESIROW
  • Ben Mesirow
  • A pair of Proof sandwiches in their wrappers
If Tacos Villa Corona were open reasonable hours, this list probably wouldn’t exist — what point would there be in seeking out other cheap and hearty lunch options in a neighborhood already blessed with such spectacular burritos? But thanks to their abbreviated schedule, we have found ourselves on an island, stranded and starving in the middle of Atwater in the early afternoon, far more times than we care to recall. But though it may seem initially like no backup lunch could possibly suffice, Atwater is home to a wealth of great sandwich options — the perfect way to recover from a burrito letdown.

The sandwich shops in Atwater are eclectic but accessible, interesting but not necessarily challenging, and exciting while staying family-friendly, much like the neighborhood itself. There is house-baked bread and slow-roasted pork, garlic and vinegar and meat carved to order. There are sandwiches so big you may not be able to get your mouth around them.

We’ve composed a guide to get you straight to your perfect spot. Below you will find, listed alphabetically, five of our favorite places to get a sandwich in Atwater Village.

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click image Some of the recalled peaches that were sold at Trader Joes - WAWONA PACKING CO.
  • Wawona Packing Co.
  • Some of the recalled peaches that were sold at Trader Joes
Updated, July 23, 8:55 a.m.: The recall of stone fruit has expanded to include fruit from Ralphs and Food 4 Less, Wawona Packing Co. said in an updated statement. The recalled fruit includes peaches (white and yellow), nectarines (white and yellow), plums and pluots. Wawowa says that the recalled products were shipped directly to retailers and wholesalers who resell the products, and "we do not know the locations of the companies that purchased the products from our direct customers." That's reassuring. If this recall looks anything like previous ones, expect it to expand again, so take all reasonable precautions.

July 22, 11:39 a.m.: Peaches, nectarines, plums and pluots sold at Costco, Trader Joe's, Sam’s Club and Walmart stores are being recalled for potential listeria contamination.

The fruit was processed by Wawona Packing Co. at its Cutler, Calif. warehouses between June 1 and July 12. The recall is nationwide, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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Blue Bottle Coffee - T. NGUYEN
  • T. Nguyen
  • Blue Bottle Coffee
The blue bottle logo is up, the New Orleans-style iced coffee is on bar, the lovely pastries are in the case: Blue Bottle Coffee is now officially open in Los Angeles. Located in the Arts District in the space formerly known as Handsome Coffee Roasters, this is the Oakland-based coffee roaster's first (of several) L.A. shops; as you may recall, Blue Bottle acquired Handsome earlier this year and since then has been slowly but surely retiring the Handsome brand (indeed, Handsome's website now points you to Blue Bottle).

And while it's very exciting that Blue Bottle is finally pulling shots in L.A., it also feels somewhat bittersweet to see the company in Handsome's space: Handsome, after all, opened its doors just over two years ago.  You get the sense that, like Pushing Daisies and Veronica Mars, its run may have ended just a little too soon, before it really had a chance to bloom. Alas.

The transition from Handsome to Blue Bottle means little in terms of aesthetic — so far, the cafe still looks very much like a shop that once was called Handsome Coffee Roasters — but quite a bit in terms of what you'll find behind the counter.

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Deep-fried Doritos - CHARLIE BOGHOSIAN
  • Charlie Boghosian
  • Deep-fried Doritos
Every year, Charlie Boghosian, aka Chicken Charlie, tries to outdo himself with his deep-fried concoctions sold at California fairs. The man began his arterial onslaught modestly several years ago with deep-fried Twinkies and deep-fried Snickers bars.

Seeking ever greater challenges, he took on deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried cookie dough, deep-fried Spam, deep-fried Pop-Tarts and of course, the Zucchini Weeni. Many thought he had reached the apex of his hot-grease powers in 2011 with deep-fried Kool-Aid.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rijsttafel dinner at Ramayani - JAMES GORDON
  • James Gordon
  • Rijsttafel dinner at Ramayani
If you want it, there are plenty of options to get Indonesian or Malaysian food in L.A. these days. Indo Café, which was widely regarded as the best place to get Indonesian on the Westside, closed a couple of years ago, but there’s still Simpang Asia across the street, which does passable versions of dishes that are downright hard to find not just in L.A. but pretty much anywhere else in the United States.

For Malaysian, the PappaRich Café chain recently opened in K-Town, and Penang in West Covina is still serving the best roti canai in greater Los Angeles. Hong Kong Plaza, also in West Covina, has more Indonesian food crammed into its food court than what’s available in most U.S. cities. There are more than a few Singaporean, Indonesian and Malaysian spots around San Gabriel – there’s even Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine for those who specifically crave the brand of laksa served in Sarawak.

But Ramayani, the longest-standing Indonesian restaurant in L.A., specializes not just in Indonesian food but also rijsttafel, one of the culinary remnants of the colonization of Indonesia. Rijsttafel is the Dutch translation for “rice table,” and it’s an accurate description: a true rijsttafel dinner is essentially a rice-centric feast with as many as 30 or 40 small Indonesian dishes, a sort of Indonesian dim sum.

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Darnbrownies - CHRIS KNIGHT
  • Chris Knight
  • Darnbrownies
A random act of kindness starts like this: a rain of cocoa powder, dark and rich and intensely chocolatey, poured into a big ceramic bowl with sugar and butter, then creamed with vanilla and eggs, then flour and salt (a very simple recipe; use excellent chocolate; don't forget the salt). You stand in your kitchen, wooden spoon in hand, probably eating batter from the bowl. After the brownies come out of the oven — the room clouded with the aroma of chocolate, the surface of the brownies like geology — you let them cool, try not to eat them all — and then give them away.

To whom? Does it matter? Life is good and you're reminding the world, and yourself, that it is. And that it's even better, of course, with chocolate.

This is what Chris Knight, an Iowa-born journalist in Paris, decided to re-enact, repeatedly, this summer, making and bestowing free brownies upon total strangers through his project Darn Brownies. "The goal is to give away brownies for free for no reason at all," says Knight, "and to encourage other people to do the same thing or something similarly ridiculous every now and then."  And this week, he's here in Los Angeles. With brownies. Maybe for you.

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