Eater's resident whiskey expert flew out to Los Angeles recently expecting to drink her way through the whiskey scene and discovered (as a quick Google search probably could have done) that it is really, really sad. Not just sad, but straight up nonexistent. She visited Greenbar in downtown, which mostly makes vodkas and brandies anyway, and delved deep into all the ancient (and stupid) liquor laws that prevent distilleries from operating in L.A. as they do in most other modern cities. It's as much an explanation as it is a call to action. Will the real L.A. whiskey distillers please stand up?
L.A. took another blow to its ego this week with Munchies' scathing takedown of the bacon-wrapped hot dog, which in case you didn't know (sorry, everyone knows), didn't originate in L.A. Yes, our precious official hot dog of L.A. — like nearly everything else in this city — is a bastardized transplant. It's a riff on the Sonoran Dog, which originated in Hermosillo, Mexico, where a bacon-wrapped hot dog gets shoved inside a pepper and loaded on a bolillo bun with approximately 1,000 extra calories of delicious toppings. We definitely ate two of these in one sitting when we were in Sonora recently, and appreciate the merits of both versions. The simpler L.A. version has its place for fourth-meal snacking, and the Sonoran Dog is a masterpiece of Mexican ingenuity. No need to hate on L.A. just because it's not EXACTLY THE SAME as the version that inspired it. This is L.A. Todo se vale. Calmate.
An interesting future-of-food piece from NPR arrived this week, citing a recent study that discovered 90 percent of people in the United States could be fed with food produced within 100 miles of them. The problem, however, is that local food is still a niche market. Why? California is name-dropped a few times as an example of a place that is already embracing and moving toward this trend (aka a necessary reality), but it sparked a good debate in the comments about costs, logistics and, mainly, the food preferences of selfish diners (ourselves included) who crave import products and fish from oceans far away. Eating local is nothing new (ummm, how did our caveman ancestors do it?), but it'll take a lot of undoing to get us back to a time before Big Ag and industrialization monopolized our food sources.
Remember those Sweetheart/Solo cups with the teal chalk scribble and a thinner purple scribble embedded in it? The design is called "Jazz" and it surfaced sometime in the late '80s only to become a bizarre cult classic again in the last few years. In a beautifully presented feature story for the Springfield News-Leader, one Missouri reporter gets to the bottom of a mystery the Internet (read: Reddit) has been dying to know — who designed the famous Jazz cups? Through a couple of leads, he managed to track down Gina Ekiss, who held onto a bunch of the sales materials from her design. The photos of her holding up plates and cups emblazoned with the now-iconic teal and purple design are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
Clarissa Wei, beloved documenter of L.A.'s Chinese food culture (and L.A. Weekly contributor), is embarking on an awesome-sounding two-year backpacking journey through the 34 Chinese provinces and has launched an IndieGoGo campaign to fund the first part of the adventure. Her plan is to trek through each province and talk to locals about their favorite regional recipes, which she will document on her blog, eventually turning it into a bootstrap cookbook unlike any published before.
In L.A. openings and closings: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams reopens in Los Feliz after a second listeria scare, Sonoritas Prime Tacos brings much-needed Mexican meat to Sawtelle and Jessica Koslow says she'll be opening her take-out venture (called Sqirl Away) in August, next door to Sqirl on Virgil.
Tweets o' The Week
Saturday, June 27: L.A. Pizza Society Shindig #4
L.A. Pizza Society holds its next shindig at Prufrock, where attendees can mingle with fellow pie hounds, get a hands-on demonstration from the house pizzaiolo and then proceed to grub out on nearly one of everything off the menu. The food is unlimited and the prices are usually around $20.
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Sunday, June 28: Epic Taco Crawl
Spend your Sunday doing an epic taco tour of Los Angeles and Orange County with tour guides Bill Esparza, Gustavo Arellano and Lesley Téllez, who will whisk you around to a half-dozen of their favorite spots and have you back to Mariachi Plaza by dinnertime. Attendees to this ultra-exclusive event also receive a signed copy of Téllez's new book, Eat Mexico: Recipes From Mexico City's Streets, Markets and Fondas.
Sunday, June 28: Tavern's Low-Country Boil
Inspired by chef de cuisine Amy Deaderick's childhood in South Carolina, the low-country boil is a one-pot celebration of seafood bounty and local food culture, featuring crawfish, crab legs, andouille sausage, potatoes and sweet corn all served on newspaper at the center of the table. Get your hands dirty with this Southern summer tradition.