Jello shots
Jello shots

Jell-O Shots, Beer and the Drought, Carl's Jr. Thickburger: This Week in Food

Fast food restaurants really stepped up their novelty-foodstuff game this week with the announcement of Taco Bell's Quesalupa and Carl's Jr.'s American-as-fuck Thickburger, topped with hot dogs and potato chips. The Quesalupa is like a steamed taco shoved into a buttery bread suitcase and hits the national market after sweeping success in the apparently down-for-whatever test market of Toledo, Ohio.  

Some of the best news we heard all week is confirmation that craft beer is having little to no impact on California's drought. Sure, it takes around five barrels of water to make one barrel of beer, but the entire state's production (which, by volume, is among the highest in the country) only uses the same amount as a 640-acre almond orchard. With over a million acres of almond orchards in the state, the craft beer industry is a paltry consumer. However, the drought may affect beer production in other ways, mainly cost and water sources. 

Food and Wine put up a series of maps that show the birthplaces of 30 popular cocktails. Some are obvious (bet you'll never guess the origin of the Manhattan), while others are more surprising (how the hell did Brussels invent the Black Russian?). L.A. is also where the Moscow Mule and Harvey Wallbanger got their start, so you're welcome, world. 

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NPR Food published a good piece about a thriving chain of supermarkets that are changing the way that groceries are being sold in food deserts. Though the story centers on the Brown's Super Stores in Philly, the tactics and concepts they've been testing there could easily be brought to L.A.'s communities that struggle for access to healthy food options. (Hint: it's not an IndieGoGo-funded fast food restaurant.)

Another NPR story this week talked about how sushi is changing as we overfish, and yet we still can't seem to shake our love of bluefin tuna. The fish was just moved onto the "vulnerable" list, making it in danger of extinction. They even got Jose Andres on the record justifying (then backtracking) on his "Tuna Celebration" dinner, which has since been postponed. 

Regan Hoffmann makes an interesting case for why we should all respect the Jell-O shot, mainly because it wasn't invented by bored teenagers, but by 1800s cocktail god, Jerry Thomas (plus, there's that whole molecular gastronomy element). Hoffmann unearths the interesting history of this gelatinous booze vessel and reminds us that the best part of being young and dumb is the liberty to slurp down enough sugary alcohol to puke it up later. Hey, we all gotta start our drinking careers somewhere, right?

In L.A. restaurant openings, closings and goings-on, Smoke's Poutinery will open in Hollywood June 15, The LA Times has an early look at Ceremony in Studio City, and — gasp! — the Pasadena location of the Melting Pot has closed. There, there, don't cry. 



Saturday, May 16: Vegan Beer and Food Festival 
Now in a larger and improved location, the Rose Bowl, the Vegan Beer Fest gives you unlimited pours of more than 100 beers from 65 breweries, as well as access to purchase meat and dairy-free food from 40 vendors. The beer, of course, is vegan as well. And, the music is, too, we suppose. 

Saturday, May 16: Filigree Suppers' Sunset Seventies
Another one of those immersive dinners we've been seeing lately, this design-focused supper club takes on the hippie era with a themed meal at Moon Canyon's new studios in Echo Park. Drink a Paloma cocktail, eat dates with sea salt and rose water, snapper in herbs de provence and enjoy the wares from local ceramicist Humble Ceramics.

Thursday, May 21: Antinori Wine Pairing Dinner
The Restaurant at Mr. C kicks off its summer wine-pairing dinner series with Antinori, a 700-year-old Italian vineyard whose wines will be aired with braised short rib and other food from executive chef Giuseppe Manco. Antinori will have a rep on site and they'll be giving away bottles, truffle shavers and a trip for two to Napa. 

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