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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It seems it was only yesterday when Bogart, the tiny burrito-loving hamster from the YouTube video "Tiny Hamsters Eating Tiny Burritos," won our hearts with his voracious appetite for burritos and his adorable penchant for fine dining. The burrito-loving Internet star is back on the dining scene in a new video, and this time there aren't any white tablecloths, doting chefs or classical music to accompany him.

In "Tiny Hamster vs. Kobayashi," Bogart takes his eating skills to the next level and faces off against — you guessed it — six-time Guinness Record holder and hot dog eating champion Takeru Kobayashi, who once ate 110 hot dogs in 10 minutes at the New York State Fair. 

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Subway's Black Bean sandwich - RYAN RITCHIE
  • Ryan Ritchie
  • Subway's Black Bean sandwich
Nine Subway restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area have recently added one of two vegan patties to their menus, which is good news for herbivores looking for something quick to eat. But before we throw Subway a parade honoring the menu additions, there's one question — are the sandwiches edible?

While not exactly worthy of a Michelin star, the answer is yes. That sound you hear is happy vegans. 

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Eggs

5 Great SoCal Farms For Fresh Eggs

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Tue, Sep 16, 2014 at 9:21 AM
OUT OF THE BOX COLLECTIVE/ LANDRY MAJOR
  • Out of the Box Collective/ Landry Major
Eggs fresh from the farm from happy chickens just taste better than factory-produced, supermarket eggs. The yolks are a darker yellow hue and the texture is creamy and buttery. This, of course, is all contingent on the conditions in which the chickens are raised.

Now there are different types of labels when it comes to eggs that can tell you a little bit about the poultry. Organic, cage-free, free-range, and pastured are just some of many. The label organic means that the chickens are prohibited from being injected from hormones and drugs, although debeaking and force-molting is permitted under this definition.

Free-range, while it prohibits cages, allows hormones and antibiotics to be used and there's no rule for overcrowding. Cage-free means the chickens can spread their wings, but they don’t have access to the outdoors, hormones are allowed, and sick hens are not required to be treated. Pastured-raised chickens are probably your best bet. The term means that the chickens roam on grassy pastures and are supplemented with a diet of bugs, but even this can get disconcerting because there are no formal regulations behind this label.

Yeah, it’s complicated, and yeah, these eggs are more expensive than what you buy in the store. But for many people, its worth the added expense — and it is possible to find egg vendors around town who are committed to raising chickens ethically and happy. Here’s a round-up of five of our favorites.

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Escolar Crudo: eggplant, fennel pollen, mollica at Alimento - PHOTO BY ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Photo by Anne Fishbein
  • Escolar Crudo: eggplant, fennel pollen, mollica at Alimento

When Sotto opened in 2011, it was a big deal for Los Angeles. Restaurateur Bill Chait's project with chefs Steve Samson and Zach Pollack got the kind of attention that only Chait can whip up. The pizza oven was flown in from Naples, along with a third-generation builder of pizza ovens; a wall had to be knocked out to get it into Sotto's home, in the bottom half of a Pico-Robertson duplex. Even The New York Times sent a critic. I didn't live in Los Angeles in 2011, but I damn sure heard about Sotto.

These days, L.A.'s excellent dining scene gets much of the recognition it's due, but just three years ago that kind of national exposure was a rarity. And it catapulted Samson and Pollack — who had worked side by side in a number of well-known L.A. restaurants and opened a lauded Orange County pizzeria together — into the sphere of Very Important Chefs.

Their food at Sotto has remained consistently excellent. But now Pollack has opened a quite different kind of Italian restaurant, across town in Silver Lake.

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Sotto's Steve Sampson - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Sotto's Steve Sampson
Sotto is notoriously devoted to Southern Italian food. But chef Steve Samson has a spot in his heart for Northern Italian food too, and he says his customers are hungry for food from all over Italy. "Many of our loyal regulars are dying for Northern Italian food and wine," Samson says. So the chef is planning occasional Northern Italian nights at the restaurant called Sopra. The first one is this week, on Wednesday, Sept. 17. 

"People seem to be keen on the idea, so we're going to try it out," Samson says. "Not to mention I'm excited to do it as a homage to my family's Northern Italian roots."

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Food Safety

Tomatoes, Salad Kits Sold at Vons and Costco Recalled

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Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 12:40 PM
Roma tomatoes - FLICKR/ANDERSBKNUDSEN
Taylor Farms of Tracy, Calif. is issuing a recall of some lots of tomatoes and salad kits that contain them because they may be contaminated with salmonella, according to the Associated Press.

The produce company issued the voluntary recall Saturday night, Sept. 13,  for Expo Fresh Roma tomatoes shipped to Costcos in Los Angeles and Hawthorne, as well as to Las Vegas and to Tacoma and Lynwood in Washington. Only tomatoes listed as packed on Sept. 5 or 6 are affected.

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FARLEY ELLIOTT
  • Farley Elliott
The progressive northward expansion of Baja’s culinary influence has already landed on the shores of L.A. This year’s Tacolandia hosted a handful of Baja legends, including La Guerrerense and Tacos Kokopelli, while plenty of L.A. chefs have made their way south to learn and collaborate with luminaries named Javier Plascencia, Juantxo Sanchez and Jorge Vallejo.

There’s something undeniably exciting about the growing availability of Baja cuisine in Los Angeles — the way it’s changing our own perceptions of Mexican food, the way it highlights little-seen ingredients while co-mingling tradition and modern techniques. Maybe you’re one of those in-the-know souls who’ve been driving to the Valle de Guadalupe for years now; for everyone else, now there’s scarcely a need to drive further than Long Beach.

Running on back-to-back nights next week, acclaimed Baja chef Roberto Alcocer of Malva Cocina de Baja California will be hosting a seven-course dinner at a secret space somewhere in Long Beach.

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AMAZON
  • Amazon
News flash — not all vegans love salad.

Actually, that's not true. Vegans love salad. What vegans don't love is the sorry excuses for salads we're often served at restaurants, barbecues, family dinners and work potlucks. You know the type — iceberg lettuce with pre-packaged carrot slices, rubbery cherry tomatoes and some bottle from Ralphs claiming to be dressing.

Luckily, there's help in eradicating shitty salad from home and picnic tables everywhere. Terry Hope Romero's new cookbook, Salad Samurai, includes 100 recipes, ranging from tempeh taco salad bowl to Nicoise bento boxes, that prove that salads are a lot more than what you have to eat before the real meal comes.

A few of Romero's recipes will be highlighted during the 41-year-old's appearance Monday, Sept. 15, at Mohawk Bend as part of the Authors Worth Celebrating Series. These include a hearty salad that is "fun to eat with a steak knife," Romero says,  a "very summer-y recipe featuring delicious summer tomatoes" and others that will " feature things like soba noodles, roasted beets, creamy horseradish dressing and seitan made to taste like bacon."

And, sadly, while Romero says that the event might feature "a chocolate torte or a chocolate kind of thing," there will not be a dessert salad. 

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a Tokyo cat cafe - FLICKR/MSSARAKELLY
The Catfe is indeed coming to Los Angeles. Half a year after announcing a kickstarter to fund America’s California's first cat café, Carlos Wong, the guy behind the venture, is bringing his concept to fruition, albeit a fleeting one.

From Oct. 2-5, Wong will partner with Chinatown BID and Best Friends LA, a no-kill shelter, for 4 days of catty awesomeness. There will be cats for petting (and adopting, but only if you’re over 18). There will be costumed maids. There will be butlers! Also DJs and entertainment, such as the epic band Lolita Dark, may be on hand to amuse the cat lovers who are too busy to fly to Osaka.

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Think of a ketchup factory, and you might conjure up images of a vast concrete universe, maybe Henry Ford, maybe Fritz Lang steampunk if you're lucky. But probably not the actual place in Sierra Madre where Molonay Tubilderborst (yes, that's the name of a ketchup, not a Peter Jackson creature) is made.

Ketchup-maker Nick Coe makes his $7 artisan ketchup in the gorgeous foothills of the San Gabriels, beside an olive grove in a place that looks more like a bed-and-breakfast with a quaint U-pick farm in back. Vintage vehicles sit prettily in an old garage. Old marmalade jars and an even older linograph are part of a little de facto museum in the back of what actually is a factory, albeit a very small, impossibly charming one. 

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