Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Umbrella Cabinet Detail - MELROSE UMBRELLA COMPANY
  • Melrose Umbrella Company
  • Umbrella Cabinet Detail
In life, some things are sheer contrivance and others are full of such serendipity that they almost seem contrived in their coincidence. Such is the story behind Melrose Umbrella Co. — which opened in February in the former Foundry space on Melrose — a locale where Prohibition, wet weather and family history all collide in a very odd, very circuitous tale. So pull up a chair and pour yourself a drink and keep reading. 

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Elysian dining room. - JESSICA RITZ
  • Jessica Ritz
  • Elysian dining room.
Is it a restaurant? Is it an event space? Is it a home for cutting edge cultural programming? These are the questions that arise when the multipurpose venue known as Elysian in Frogtown comes up in conversation. The answer is: all of the above, and then some.

Any attempt to describe Elysian in Twitter-friendly brevity would be futile, as well as selling this place short. But fans of unconventional restaurant experiences can see for themselves this Monday, July 14, when co-owner David Thorne cooks his first public dinner in Elysian's new beautiful, slick kitchen, designed in collaboration with local Frogtown firm RAC Design Build. Thorne's menu will include a choice of local sea bass with poached cucumber, daikon, snap peas, purple barley and opal basil; or duck breast with plum, radish, blackened escarole, black rice, walnut and pickled ginger. Dessert will be an apricot tart served with rosewater cream and pistachio.

"The kind of ethos we've developed in terms of how people come and sit [is], we're not pressuring anyone to get out, we're not trying to flip the tables," Thorne explains. "The idea is to allow a different kind of atmosphere, where as a diner you're not hustled." Thorne is a mostly self-trained cook, save for two months worth of professional courses he took in New York City followed by restaurant kitchen line work.

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1356 Allison Ave., home of the new Kush Sake Bar - B. RODELL
  • B. Rodell
  • 1356 Allison Ave., home of the new Kush Sake Bar
The space formerly occupied by Cortez in Echo Park has a new tenant: Kush Sake Bar, an izakaya-type establishment serving yakitori, Japanese small plates and sake. 

The tiny Allison Ave space has been empty since Cortez's owners (who also own Cookbook about a mile away) sold the spot back in April. Kush opened quietly at the end of June. The restaurant shares ownership with Silver Lake Ramen

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Table setting at Post & Beam - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Table setting at Post & Beam
DineL.A. Restaurant Week
DineL.A.'s restaurant week, a recurring event, is back for another week, or rather weeks. Organized by the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board and presented in partnership with American Express, DineL.A. showcases more than 300 restaurants, who create prix fixe lunch and dinner menus. There are no tickets or passes but reservations are strongly encouraged. Participating restaurants include A.O.C., Akasha, Ammo, Border Grill, Chinois on Main, Drago Centro, Jar, Josie, K-Zo, Littlefork, Loteria Grill,  Lukshon, Post & Beam, Rao's, Rivera, Scarpetta, the Bazaar — and many, many more. It's a great way to explore the city's restaurants and check out new places without blowing your dining-out budget.
WHAT: DineL.A. Restaurant Week
WHEN: Monday, July 14, through Friday, July 27
WHERE: 300 or so L.A. restaurants.
COST: Prix fixe lunch menus are $15, $20 and $25; dinner menus are $25, $35 and $45.

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Khao soi at Night+Market. - JAMES GORDON
  • James Gordon
  • Khao soi at Night+Market.
If America’s Thai food trend is heading toward the model set by Pok Pok, Andy Ricker’s famous Portland-based project, then the trend is heading northward, away from the familiar Bangkok street food that most Americans have grown accustomed to  – the likes of massaman curry, pad Thai and tom yum soup – and toward wacky Northern Thai street food: pork blood soup, herbal jackfruit salads, pork belly curries, chili dips and hand-crafted sausage.

In its entirety, Northern Thailand's cuisine is full of challenging flavors that will assault the casual American's palate. (Pig brains steamed in banana leaf, anyone?) There are plenty of dishes that are less aggressively exotic, though, and maybe none so much as khao soi, a curry noodle soup so unfailingly delicious that it can inspire devotion regardless what part of the world you happen to be from.

Khao soi — a curry-based soup whose main components are noodles, both crunchy and not crunchy, meat, cilantro and coconut milk — is easily Chiang Mai’s most digestible export and most famous dish, but its origins lie elsewhere. Most believe it was inspired by Myanmar’s ohn no khao schwe, while some contend it was initially a product of Chinese Muslim cuisine. Either way, Chiang Mai has adopted it and perfected it into one of finest street dishes in the world. In a 2011 New York Times piece, Andy Ricker described khao soi as “exotic without being weird, and, more important, completely delicious.” There’s probably not a better description. 

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Try tri-tips at Huntington Meats - FARMERS MARKET LOS ANGELES
  • Farmers Market Los Angeles
  • Try tri-tips at Huntington Meats
It was 1934, and when Blanche Magee arrived at a patch of the Gilmore family’s land and served sandwiches to hungry fruit and veg growers at the new “Farmers Market,” she couldn’t have imagined it was going to turn into one of L.A.’s biggest attractions.

Magee gambled on good food staying the course though, and this July 15, that same Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax - and known as the Original Farmers Market since 1992 - celebrates its 80th anniversary, and events include its 6th annual Taste of Farmers Market, which runs from 5-9 p.m.

One of the best deals in town (tickets are $35 in advance, $40 on the night), it’s an easy way to walk round the culinary world as over 50 of the market’s vendors and grocers offer samples, snacks and even snifters of their fine fare from France, Spain, Korea, Brazil, China, Greece, Asia and the USA. 

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

  • Besha Rodell
  • Le Sal
Abbot Kinney in Venice certainly has plenty of restaurants. But nearby residents will tell you that tasty, affordable food is hard to come by. Even if you want to shell out the dough, many places are practically impossible to get into. A casual, last minute night out is tougher than you might think. 

This summer, a pop-up at 3 Square Cafe called Le Sal gives Abbot Kinney diners an option for affordable, casual dining. Run by Cesar Bermudez Cifuentes, Le Sal is an ode to the summer tapas experience in Barcelona, where Cifuentes grew up. 

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Shrimp taco at Colonia Taco Lounge - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Shrimp taco at Colonia Taco Lounge
We’re blessed, living in L.A., at least as far as tacos go. You can be struck by a hankering at most anywhere in the city at most anytime of the day or night, and be able to find more than one supremely satisfying taco truck or joint within a mile radius. The ten on this list are the ten that you’ll remember as long as you live here and will crave when you’re away—  the tacos that are worth the drive from wherever you are. Because why not? It's always taco weather.

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the Cofax chorizo breakfast burrito - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • the Cofax chorizo breakfast burrito
Even if you're not a morning person, there are two things that you can probably agree on: excellent coffee and breakfast burritos, perhaps the greatest morning combination since, well, coffee and whatever else you got. But, for reasons that maybe somebody should quiz Howard Schultz about, these two things are a surprisingly unusual combination. 

, the newish Fairfax Ave. coffee shop (see: Sandy Koufax) from the folks behind Golden State, aims to solve this problem, at least locally. Open for about a month, Cofax is a small, bright and very cheerful coffeehouse a few doors up the street from Golden State itself, across the street from Animal and roughly diagonal from Canter's. Just so you know where you're going in your hungry, decaffeinated state.

They've been pulling shots of Stumptown espresso on their royal blue La Marzocco for weeks now, but as of this past July 4th holiday weekend, they're now also making breakfast burritos.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Churro Borough ice cream sandwiches - CHURRO BORROUGH/FACEBOOK
  • Churro Borrough/Facebook
  • Churro Borough ice cream sandwiches
Update, 2 p.m., July 7: Due to popular demand, Churro Borough's Summer Pop-Up will move to Sunday, July 13, from 2-5 p.m. at Mexicali Taco & Co. in downtown L.A.  Mexicali will not be serving their menu during Churro Borough's pop-up, as the taqueria is usually closed on Sundays. Due to the insane demand, this next Sunday's pop-up will be done by reservation, through an Eventbrite link. Each admission ticket gets 2 sandwiches per customer (limit 2 admission tickets). Cash only. What will happen the following Sunday, July 20, is still being determined. 

10:00 a.m., July 7: Cronuts, ramen burgers — and now churro ice cream sandwiches. This year has been a year of long lines and unique food mash-ups. Last Wednesday’s debut of Churro Borough’s Summer Pop-Up Series was so successful, it left practically all of their customers empty-handed — and hungry. If you're early, you're on time; if you're on time, you're late. Let that be your motto if you try and visit the Churro Borough pop-up this summer.

The pop-up, which will run every Wednesday from 7-10 p.m. at Ramekin in Los Feliz until late August, serves Churro Borough’s signature churro ice cream sandwiches, in which the sandwiches are disks of fried churros. The lines wrapped around the block, as passers-by stopped to photograph the crowd and ask what the line was for. People were so determined to get their desserts that when staff came out to announce they were going to sell out, the line just got longer. 

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  • The Tasting Menu Trend
    In Los Angeles especially, but increasingly across the country, restaurants are either switching to tasting menus, putting a greater focus on a tasting-menu option (while offering à la carte items as well), or opening as tasting-menu operations from day one. The format that used to be the calling card of only the fanciest of restaurants is becoming ubiquitous, even at places where the waiter calls you “dude” and there isn’t a white tablecloth in sight.
  • Milo's Kitchen: A Treat Truck for Dogs
    Milo's Kitchen, a part of California-based Big Heart Pet Brands, is taking its homestyle dog treats on the road this summer with the "Treat Truck." The dogified food truck is making stops all over the country, ending up in New York early September. The truck stopped at Redondo Beach Dog Park Friday morning entertaining the pups with treats, a photo-booth and play zone. Milo's Kitchen Treat Truck offered samples of the line's six flavors, all with chicken or beef as the first ingredient, and all made in the U.S.A. with no artificial colors or preservatives. All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • Smoke.oil.salt's Spanish Cuisine
    Smoke.oil.salt chef (and Valencia native) Perfecto Rocher is valiantly trying to bring the experience of Spain, specifically Catalonia, to the brick space (under a tattoo parlor) on Melrose that used to be Evan Kleiman’s Angeli Caffe.