Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Brilliantshine Opens in Santa Monica

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Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 5:47 PM
Brilliantshine's courtyard - BRILLIANTSHINE
  • Brilliantshine
  • Brilliantshine's courtyard
All summer long, cocktail-loving Westsiders have been eagerly anticipating Brilliantshine, the new spot from prolific mixology masters Julian Cox and Josh Goldman, and it's finally here.

On Tuesday, Aug. 19, the watering hole will officially open its doors in the Santa Monica courtyard behind Tinga, former home of the popular Renee's Courtyard Cafe. Inspired by Cox's international travels, the spot will feature food and drinks inspired by everywhere from London and Tokyo to Peru and Martinique, in what the owners are calling a "rustic, coastal saloon."

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Tomas Martinez, second from left, with his crew at Tacos Tumbras a Tomas - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Tomas Martinez, second from left, with his crew at Tacos Tumbras a Tomas
Remember last week when we got all giddy over the fact that L.A. had more restaurants than any other city on Bon Appétit's list of 50 nominees for the title of Best New Restaurant in America? Well, today the final list of the ten best new restaurants in the nation — according to restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton — came out, and the one Los Angeles spot is Grand Central Market, at number 10. 

This is ironic, of course, because Grand Central Market isn't new at all — in fact, it's almost 100 years old. Knowlton acknowledges this in his blurb on the market, saying "What in the world is a 97-year-old food court doing on this list? Let me explain." He goes on to talk about the current renaissance going on at the market, all the new vendors, making an argument that while the place itself isn't new it gives us a new option for dining in Los Angeles. 

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Charles Joly Measuring at Diageo World Class - DIAGEO WORLD CLASS
  • Diageo world Class
  • Charles Joly Measuring at Diageo World Class
A funny thing happened over the last few weeks on Facebook. Many bartenders changed their profile photo to a common image: that of a debonair-looking man, with piercing eyes, a beard and tattooed arms. His name is Charles Joly and, in the bartending community, he is the current hero at large. This is because he just walked away with the biggest award there is in the bartending world, the Diageo World Class Bartending Competition.

Diageo World Class is held each year in a new city. There are numerous challenges, some sensory —  combining elements of all the senses in a cocktail — and some spontaneous, like the market-fresh cocktail competition. And some were utterly unexpected, like making martinis in St. Pancras Station after a train trip from Scotland to London. Regardless of the assignment, the pressure is high and the pace is maddeningly intense. If this sounds like the Olympics, it kind of is. The Olympics of Cocktail Competitions, at any rate.

Recently we asked Charles Joly about the competition and its various challenges. 

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PigOut festival - COURTESY: PIGOUT
  • courtesy: PigOut
  • PigOut festival
PigOut 3.0 
This is the third edition of this annual pig-centric event, which features chefs, specialty pork, cocktails, a pig-deconstruction demo, a pig farmer Q&A and a knife-skills demo. This year's main attraction will be a 
250-pound Templeton Rye Duroc pig from the Templeton Rye Heritage Pork Project. Among the chefs coming: Amar Santana of Broadway by Amar Santana, Mark McDonald of Old Vine Cafe, Greg Daniels of Haven Gastropub and Eric Samaniego of Little Sparrow. Also, expect cocktail creations by Gabriella Mlynarczyk from ink., Gabrielle Dion of the Mixing Glass, Jason Schiffer of 320 Main, Jarred Dooley of the Playground, and Koire Rogers of ARC. Mike Puglisi of Electric City Butcher is doing the pig demo. For more information, check their website
WHAT: PigOut 3.0
WHEN: Sunday, Aug. 24, 3-7 p.m.
WHERE: The California Scenario (Noguchi Gardens), 611 Anton Blvd. Costa Mesa.
COST: General admission is $75, which includes unlimited food and booze. VIP tickets, at $100, include a Champagne reception with chefs, plus dessert.

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ramen at Tsujita L.A. - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • ramen at Tsujita L.A.
You pick up a few lessons when you pack away bowls and bowls and bowls of noodles — often one right after another — in the name of Asian noodle research. You quickly discover the elasticity, or lack thereof, of your stomach. You learn to bring at least one buddy along on your trips, because seldom do soup noodle leftovers hold up well the next day. And you’ll gather plenty of empirical evidence, as we have, to prove that you really can, in this town, eat your way from Burma to Korea without a passport.

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Josef Centeno at Orsa and Winston - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Josef Centeno at Orsa and Winston
Three Josef Centeno restaurants all within walking distance of one another not enough for you? Well lucky you: There will shortly be a fourth restaurant with Centeno's stamp on it, and this one will serve breakfast. 

Pete's Cafe, the downtown diner that's been open on Main St. since 2002, is undergoing a revamp and that revamp will be courtesy of Centeno. Which is convenient for him, seeing as it's right around the corner from his other restaurants, Baco Mercat, Bar Ama and Orsa & Winston

Though initially there was a discussion of a name change, eventually it was decided that the name would stay Pete's. "Pete’s has been here on this corner since 2002, before any downtown revitalization was really underway," Centeno says. "It paved the way for the opening of restaurants like Baco Mercat. So Pete’s will keep the name."

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Boiled Sliced Fish in Hot Sauce, Chengdu Taste, Rosemead - JIM THURMAN
  • Jim Thurman
  • Boiled Sliced Fish in Hot Sauce, Chengdu Taste, Rosemead
When chef Tony Xu opened Chengdu Taste in Alhambra last summer, word of mouth and Xu's innovative use of Weibo, Chinese Twitter, quickly led to notoriously lengthy lines. Waits of more than an hour were common as people queued for the opportunity to sample dishes ranging from Sichuan standards to those not previously seen around these parts.

While Chengdu Taste might not have been the first Chengdu-style restaurant in the SGV, or the first to have rabbit, the quality of the food and effort from the kitchen took the more subtle, slightly less fiery cuisine from the capital city of Sichuan Province to a new level. This commitment put it on many Best Restaurants lists, including our 99 Essentials.

When Xu announced a second location to open in Rosemead, it quickly became the most anticipated opening in the San Gabriel Valley in some time. Originally slated for an April opening, a series of delays —  most notably a lengthy wait on a gas meter installation — pushed the date back further. And further. On Sunday, Aug. 17,  finally, the new location, also called Chengdu Taste, opened for lunch.

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  • Photo courtesy of Flickr/Didriks
  • Bucket of ice
While you were watching pre-season football over the weekend, Thomas Keller was busy in a field, dumping a bucket of ice water over his head. The French Laundry chef participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Those who accept the challenge douse themselves with a bucket of ice water instead of, or (ideally) in addition to, making a donation to an ALS-related charity, then challenge a few other folks to do the same and so on and so on. So far, the viral ice storm has raised millions of dollars in donations.

For those following the chain letter, Atelier Crenn chef and owner Dominique Crenn challenged Keller. Keller's acceptance of said challenge, after the jump.

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In recent months, there's been a lot of excitement around the burgeoning wine scene in Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains. The Malibu Coast has just been approved for its own AVA (American Viticultural Area) by the U.S. government’s Tobacco and Tax Bureau — meaning that the wines coming out of the region are unique enough to deserve their own designation, and can use “Malibu Coast” on their labels.

But the hope that Malibu could become a serious wine region could be squashed by a change in the California Coastal Commission's Land Use Plan for the Santa Monica Mountains. The changes, which were introduced in April by L.A. County Board of Supervisors Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, would ban all new vineyard plantings in the Malibu AVA zone and even require that many existing vineyards be ripped out.

The changes are set to go into effect pending a vote August 26.

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The most depressing Starbucks exterior in America? - ANDY HERMANN
  • Andy Hermann
  • The most depressing Starbucks exterior in America?
OK, so the consensus on the new Highland Park Starbucks is pretty clear: It’s one fugly Starbucks. But is it really the “most depressing Starbucks in America”?

That phrase, which originated with a single tweet by journalist Todd Johnson, has exploded across local and national media over the past week, making the humble concrete hut at 6240 York Blvd. the coffee giant’s biggest PR disaster since they got caught using bugs as food coloring.

KTLA and ABC7 both ran with the “most depressing Starbucks in America” catchphrase, as did Curbed, LAist (which Photoshopped a Sad Keanu into the location’s spartan seating area — well played, LAist!), Grub Street, Business Insider, and Bustle, which upped the ante and declared it to be the most depressing Starbucks in THE WORLD.

But it’s still a Starbucks, so how bad can it be, really? As a proud Highland Park resident, I decided to investigate for myself.

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