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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New Restaurants

Superba Food + Bread Opens, World Gets Better

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Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 11:32 AM
Superba Food + Bread - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • Superba Food + Bread
Finally, a reason to get stuck in traffic on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice. Because as of Friday, April 11, you can just go to Superba Food + Bread instead, where you'll find a remarkable surfeit of riches jammed into a roughly 5,000-square-foot space that once housed an auto body shop.

Superba Food + Bread is a project from Paul Hibler, who also owns the nearby Superba Snack Bar, as well as Pitfire Pizza and the newish East Borough in Culver City, and it's some project indeed.

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Petrossian's Egg Royale - PETROSSIAN
  • Petrossian
  • Petrossian's Egg Royale
While it's true that for many of us, Easter dining can mean chocolate rabbits and dyed eggs and way too many jelly beans, it's also true that it's an excellent day for making a fine brunch or dinner, maybe pulling out the stops for gravlax, a fruit-covered Pavlova, or even a roasted leg of lamb.

But it can also be a very good day to dine out, as many excellent restaurants will be pulling out all the stops too, and for both brunch and dinner. So if you don't feel like cooking, head over to The Hungry Cat for a lobster and English pea frittata, or to Willie Jane for smoked lamb leg with mustard spatzle. Or get the best of both worlds and order Petrossian's soft scrambled eggs with vodka whipped cream and caviar in dyed egg shells. You can always eat the jelly beans when you get home. Here are 18 local restaurants cooking Easter special meals. 

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Peeps - FLICKR/TERESA BOARDMAN
Easter means that the stores are full of chocolate and candies, but for L.A.'s 200,000 plus Brits it's a time of agonizing choices and wistful remembrances.

Whether it is too much or too little sugar/milk/high fructose corn syrup or just because it wasn't made in a mock-Tudor English countryside factory (and instead on license by Hershey's), Brits have never warmed to American-made chocolate - and the feeling is often mutual.

There are taste crossovers (100 Grand tastes Toffee Crisp/Picnic; Mounds tastes like Bounty and Whoppers taste like Maltesers), but it can be confusing too: 3 Musketeers tastes a lot like the U.K. Milky Way, though the U.S. Milky Way tastes like a U.K. Mars - which is not the same as the U.S. Mars. Confused yet?

In Blighty, Easter is a stomach-distending smorgasbord of hollow chocolate eggs, all of them seemingly as big as a rugby ball, filled with treats, and wrapped in elaborate, large and environmentally-unsound boxes.

Here in America? Welcome to the wonderful world of Peeps.

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Ernesto Uchimura - COURTESY PLAN CHECK KITCHEN + BAR
  • Courtesy Plan Check Kitchen + Bar
  • Ernesto Uchimura
Tools of the Trade is a series in which we ask chefs, bartenders and other food folks which tools they simply can't live without. Today we talk to Ernesto Uchimura, chef at Plan Check Kitchen + Bar.

Ernesto Uchimura is known in L.A. as a master of creative comfort food. At Plan Check Kitchen + Bar, where Uchimura is chef, he serves twists on American comfort classics, such as smokey fried chicken and pastrami with kimchee mustard. Despite his penchant for mash-ups, Uchimura is an old school chef, as demonstrated by his tool kit. No circulators or liquid nitrogen here. Check out his must-have tools.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chocolate

5 Fancy Alternatives To Waxy, Bad Easter Chocolate

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Wed, Apr 16, 2014 at 11:41 AM
Compartes Edible Gourmet Easter Basket, oval - COMPARTES.COM
  • compartes.com
  • Compartes Edible Gourmet Easter Basket, oval
Even as a child, I knew Easter chocolate sucked. Those foil-wrapped eggs and bunnies were so pretty and compelling, peeking out from their hiding places or on the end of the bed in an Easter basket, but once unwrapped the chocolate was strange, waxy, tasteless. There's not much sadder in the world than crappy chocolate.

These days, Easter chocolate is exponentially better, or at least it has the potential to be. Lindt Easter chocolate has become ubiquitous in supermarkets, and even the regular foil-wrapped eggs don't seem to be as bad as they once were. But still, many of us would rather have one gorgeous piece of chocolate than a whole big basket of the lesser stuff. Thankfully, there is plenty of high end Easter chocolate around to save you from the doldrums of the barely passable eggs and Peeps and bunnies out there. Here are five great alternatives to supermarket chocolate for your Easter needs. 

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click image The cast of House of Food. - MTV
  • MTV
  • The cast of House of Food.
Monday night's episode of House of Food began with an extended scene of the cast getting the royal Hollywood treatment: a double decker bus tour where they continuously got smacked in the face by low hanging trees, also an appropriate metaphor for the reality television industry.

Afterwards, the cast of this food television show got ready to cook! Oh, wait - no. They get ready to get drunk. Everyone to a bar to experience the sensational trifecta of MTV's Los Angeles: shots, burgers and photo booths. So far, we're twelve "woohoos!" in and no cooking on this food show. Luckily, this changes when the cast comes home, raids the refrigerator and serves up a few delicious dishes that are otherwise known as "drunk food." 

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Kevin Ogilby and Diego Benitez high-fiving in the cold room - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Kevin Ogilby and Diego Benitez high-fiving in the cold room
The beer is ready for dry hopping. Diego Benitez unscrews the bar clamps that keep a massive metal lid fastened to the top of one of his brewery's handmade fermenting vessels.

As he pries up the lid's rubber lip, breaking a pressure seal that for the last week has kept the fermenting brew isolated from the air outside, Benitez talks about his years growing up in Mexico City, the son of an Italian and a Spaniard who met there and started a window installation business; how he traveled to Europe to visit his relatives every summer and loved discovering new countries and cultures; how his parents made wine in their closet and how, after he came to the United States in 1999 to attend Caltech, he couldn't help but do the same.

Winemaking soon turned into homebrewing, and last year Benitez turned his hobby into a full-time job, opening Federal Brewing (now called Progress Brewing) with fellow scientist Kevin Ogilby.

The brewery is in the sleepy, industrial enclave of South El Monte, where 85 percent of the 20,000 residents are Latino. 

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Cupcake decorating - DUFF'S CAKEMIX
  • Duff's Cakemix
  • Cupcake decorating
Easter Cupcake Decorating at Duff's Cakemix
On Easter Sunday, decorating instructors at Duff's Cakemix will lead a cupcake decorating event for families and children (ages 4 and up). Participants will receive an Easter decorating kit that includes four cupcakes per person and decorating supplies. Sign up at info@duffscakemix.com.  
WHAT: Decorate Easter cupcakes at Duff's Cakemix 
WHEN: Sunday, April 20, 3-4:30 p.m.
WHERE: Duff's Cakemix, 8302 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles 
COST: $25 

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Patina founder Joachim Splichal, left, with executive chef Charles Olalia - PHOTO COURTESY OF PATINA
  • Photo courtesy of Patina
  • Patina founder Joachim Splichal, left, with executive chef Charles Olalia
A year after being promoted to lead Patina's fine dining kitchen, chef Charles Olalia was asked to confront one of his professional fears. Joachim Splichal, who owns the Walt Disney Concert Hall restaurant, wanted Olalia to spend less time in the kitchen saucing Durham Ranch rabbits and grilling Mediterranean sardines, and more time mingling with patrons in the dining room.

"My worst fear is coming to a table and hearing, 'You just cooked me my worst meal,'" Olalia says. As if sensing how that sounds coming from a veteran of the Michelin two-star Guy Savoy in Las Vegas and the French Laundry in Napa Valley, the affable 30-year-old chuckles. "I always feel like I should be in the kitchen," he explains. "I never feel comfortable being out there."

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English peas - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • English peas
Sometimes it's hard to tell exactly what season it is in Los Angeles, what with our permanently sunny skies and mostly blissful weather. Which is yet another good reason to frequent the many farmers markets we have, since one look at their loaded tables will tell you. Right now many farmers are bringing in fresh peas and fava beans, the boxes and bins filled with small mountains of the green vegetables - more verdant than our hills are right now, and probably for a long time to come.

The current prize among the greenery? English peas. These sweet, plump peas are only in season for a few weeks in the spring, before it gets properly hot, so look for them now, when they're first showing up in the stalls. These are not your mother's idea of peas, but tiny orbs of springtime, brilliant in dishes or just to eat out of hand like candy.

English peas are best when cooked very little, in dishes that showcase their subtle, sweet flavor. You can grill them in their pods like edamame, as Andrew Kirchner does at Tar & Roses in Santa Monica, or make them into a stunning soup thatched with Parmesan crisps, as Thomas Keller has done at The French Laundry (see p. 37, The French Laundry Cookbook), or just eat them raw in salads, say with a handful of lettuces, some smoked salmon and a dill vinaigrette. Or you could try one of these five particularly worthy recipes. 

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