Squid Ink | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Monday, December 22, 2014

  • Flickr/Paul Sableman
The U.S. Labor Department has secured more than $145,000 in wages and damages for almost six dozen Southern California El Pollo Loco employees who did not receive overtime pay they were owed.

Sixty-nine workers employed at four franchise El Pollo Loco restaurants around Los Angeles will recover $72,613 in back wages and an equal amount in damages, according to a government press release. Many employees worked as many as 60 to 70 hours per week, six or seven consecutive days, but did not receive overtime pay.

The restaurants are located in Hacienda Heights, Torrance, La Mirada and Westwood. A franchisee headquartered in Hacienda Heights owns all four. 

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1994 Cune Imperial Gran Reserva - 1998 Bodegas Riojanas Monte Real Gran Reserva - 2009 Lorinon Reserva - MATT MILLER
  • Matt Miller
  • 1994 Cune Imperial Gran Reserva1998 Bodegas Riojanas Monte Real Gran Reserva2009 Lorinon Reserva
Old wines make great gifts. They’re a piece of history in their own right, giving drinkers the opportunity to taste a summer that happened ten, 20 or even 50 years ago. Unlike many affordable wines — which are pre-aged through micro-oxygenation and meant to be drunk within a year of release — the wine locked inside a truly aged bottle has had the chance to settle into itself and mature and evolve into flavors and textures that have to be experienced in order to understand.

The problem is that old, aged wines are extremely expensive, often starting at $100 for a bottle with a decade of cellaring behind it. So, how do you buy a special bottle of wine for someone that’s ready to drink, but wont bust your holiday budget? The answer, this holiday season, is in Rioja, Spain.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

Food & Events

5 Extravagant Blow-Out New Year's Eve Events

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Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 11:10 AM
Cocktails at the Varnish - PHOTO BY ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Photo by Anne Fishbein
  • Cocktails at the Varnish
Yesterday we gave you 10 great options for a New Year's Eve for under $60. That's cheap, people! But for some of us, NYE is the one night of the year we don't want cheap. We want to blow it out, spend the year-end bonus (do those even exist anymore??), put on our fanciest outfits and hobnob with the big shots.

Here are five ideas for a super extravagant L.A. New Year's Eve, dinner included.

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It's happened to all of us. Trapped on an a long flight (it's the holidays after all), you've already watched the film and your iPad is inconveniently in the overhead compartment. Your seat-mate is asleep and there isn't anything to look at outside the window. After a glass or two of $4 wine to while away the time, you reach in to the seat pocket and pull out one of the the 20 million SkyMall catalogs that are printed every year. And then you start giggling. 

Ah, SkyMall. For almost 25 years, the glossy magazine has been the comforting last resort for mid-air entertainment and an excellent source of unusual (okay, ridiculous) gifts. Once you have it in hand (and a slight buzz on, we assume), the next step is to get started on your holiday shopping. 

It's easy to make fun of some things they sell, but they also have a collection of off-beat kitchen tools and food-centric doo-dads that we think are sort of terrific, if not totally kitschy. We've surveyed through SkyMall's extensive foodie offerings (and there are a lot!) and rounded up the five things we can only hope someone will put under our tree. 

There's something silly, and something serious for everyone on your list. You don't even need to be on a plane to get your hands on these, since SkyMall takes orders online. Happy flying and happy shopping!

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Not Your Madre's Eggnog - GRACIAS MADRE
  • Gracias Madre
  • Not Your Madre's Eggnog
During the holidays, there are some obvious go-to drinks for the season — hot toddys, spiced cider and, of course, boozy eggnog.

Los Angeles bartenders have created both traditional and unexpected twists on the classic for their menus this year, using everything from Cognac to cream liqueur to mezcal (yes, you heard that right). Below are three local standouts that will help put a little ho-ho-ho into your holidays (or just put some alcohol in your nog).

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Zuppa di pesce for Feast of the Seven Fishes - STREGA WATERFRONT
  • Strega Waterfront
  • Zuppa di pesce for Feast of the Seven Fishes
Increasingly, going out to dinner on Christmas Eve is becoming a family tradition. And well aware of the growing demand, many of the city’s most beloved establishments are keeping doors open on this once shut-down evening, leaving those fireplaces burning and eggnog flowing on December 24.

But beyond just serving the normal dinner menus, some restaurants are using the holiday as an opportunity to embrace their culinary heritage. For Italian and seafood restaurants, it’s the Feast of The Seven Fishes. For others, it's making tamales en masse or preparing gooseneck pie. No matter where in the world you plan to take your tastebuds this Christmas Eve, there are tons of options and it's guaranteed to be delicious. Get out of the house this Christmas Eve and take a culinary journey through the Christian world — all without ever leaving L.A.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dak kalguksu at Hangari Balsarik Kalgooksoo - PHOTO BY CHRISTINE CHIAO
  • Photo by Christine Chiao
  • Dak kalguksu at Hangari Balsarik Kalgooksoo

During this cold and flu season, remember Hangari Bajirak Kalgooksoo, a compact noodle shop near the crook of the strip mall on Sixth Street and Alexandria. For while there’s deli-style chicken noodle soup with its limp egg noodles, mushy carrots and too-dry chicken breast, you can — and really, you should — upgrade with a bowl of dak kalguksu, or chicken knife-cut noodles.

Hangari Bajirak Kalgooksoo crafts a dak kalguksu that’s singularly Korean and yet soothingly familiar in flavor. Chicken (noodle) soup as a metonym for foods that heal your ills has deep pancultural roots, after all, appearing in at least 30 culinary traditions around the world, from Colombia to China, always simmered in aromatics and sometimes paired with a starch or three. 

The broth here is no consommé, as made by the French or Hungarians. It’s semi-translucent, almost milky to the eye, and slightly viscous, thickened by noodles and crosswise slices of russet potato. Garlic and onion are among the ingredients that build the base of the soup. They also comprise the trimmings, a few whole bulbs of garlic and white onion slices, all sweet from a spell on the stove.

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  • Flickr/ginnerobot
Picture this: it's New Year's Eve and of course you want to go out and partake in all the food-and-booze-filled gluttony that comes with sending off the prior 364 days, but you'd prefer not to spend hundreds of dollars to dine on haute cuisine and ring in 2015 clinking your glasses while wearing a black tie. What do you do?

In L.A. – where most of the city's fine dining establishments are hosting pricey prix fixe meals and nightclubs are overcharging for the opportunity to grind around in a sweaty, drunken haze – New Year's Eve deals that won't break the bank are a rarity. That's why we've scoured the streets to find you a list of restaurants and bars that believe a good time can be had, sometimes even before the ball drops, for under $60.

Here are your affordable spots to drink and dine this New Year's Eve, in order of lowest priced to highest:

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  • Photo by Anne Fishbein
  • Maude

There's not much in the life of a restaurant critic about which it's OK to complain. Waaah, I have to eat so much! Boo, I never get to eat at home. I know — it's a sweet gig and I should be grateful for it. And I am.

But one thing I do find frustrating is that once I'm done writing about a place, even if it has become a favorite, I rarely have time in my dining schedule to go back. Once a year or so, I check in with most restaurants we've covered in the past, but the idea of a favorite place, where I could become a true regular, is out of reach. I simply have too much else to eat.

This is always made most clear when I sort through the year's openings to decide the top 10 best new restaurants. It reminds me of the places I truly loved throughout the year, the places that — were I a civilian eater rather than a professional — would have become cherished parts of my dining routine.

Instead, I'll have to make do with yearly visits, and the hope that these lists are helpful in another way. If I can't be a regular, perhaps you can.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

  • Rose Park Roasters

Patrons of Roasted Nōtz, the Long Beach community coffeehouse that dedicated itself to serving the beans of local roasters and hosted BYOV (bring your own vinyl) Sundays, noticed this past Sunday that the windows were suddenly papered up and doors were closed.

There is, however, a caffeinated lining to the tale: Were you to just step a little closer to the brown wrapping paper that prevented you from peeking inside, you would have seen the small but well-known logo of Long Beach coffee roasting company Rose Park Roasters. That’s right: The coffee company that was founded upon the beans-by-bike delivery idea is opening its first brick-and-mortar coffee shop. Opening as in today.

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