I contributed a dozen articles to the LA Weekly’s jam-packed “Best of Los Angeles” issue. To me, L.A.’s “best” means cultural foods (Cafe Bolívar’s arepas, Good Girl Dinette’s potpie, Mo-Chica’s peruvian cuisine, Rivera’s tamales, Kokekkoko’s yakitori), unique shopping (Ted Gibson’s framing shop, Eagle Rock Plaza for Filipino goods), killer music (Subsuelo night at Eastside Luv Bar), fun museums (the LA Times Globe Lobby museum, Grammy Museum, Heritage Square) and classical dance (adult ballet classes at The Colburn School). No wonder we love Los Angeles so much.
Nastassia Johnson, blogger behind Let Me Eat Cake, has picked out several items to try at downtown’s Semi Sweet Bakery on a recent afternoon: a croissant flecked with chocolate, an Almond Joy doughnut, and a cookie called “Triple Chip” — chocolate, butterscotch and potato. She wanted a slice of 7-Up Pound Cake, too, but another customer nabbed the last one. Johnson samples baked sweets all over L.A., and shares discoveries on her blog. (And Instagram, too.) She also posts recipes from her own baking experiments — buttermilk spiced doughnut-muffins one day; ginger aprium muffins another. Also cheesecake infused with ube (a purple yam used in Filipino cooking) in a nod to her Filipino heritage….
Not too long ago, many Angelenos had never heard of a “gastropub.” (Some of us confused it with “gastropod” — a snail or slug with one big foot doubling as a stomach.) The word emerged in London in 1991, combining “gastronomy” and “pub” to describe bar fare more sophisticated than the traditional shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, and pickled eggs — whatever might go down well with beer. Chef Casey Lane’s newest restaurant, The Parish in downtown L.A., follows the example of England’s elevated pub grub. It opens Friday, July 27 for dinner…
Towards the end of its 62-year run in West Hollywood, Laurel Hardware was known for its personal service, old-fashioned charm, and loyal community patrons. When it closed in 2008, the city welcomed it into the Pop-Up Art program, and a vacant Laurel Hardware hosted Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre’s “A Gallerina’s Guide to an Exhibitionist” in 2011. Early this July, Laurel Hardware marked another reincarnation — as a restaurant and bar….
“We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares and go downtown … everything’s waiting for you!” When Petula Clark sang this line in 1964 — albeit about New York — who could have known she was she forecasting the future of downtown Los Angeles as a culinary destination? Numerous chefs have claimed downtown spots over the past several years, bringing an array of styles and cuisines….
Last week, we told you about 10 spots for terrific Mexican tamales in L.A., from King Taco to Rivera. What we didn’t say is that the tamale is so versatile that hundreds of varieties exist within Mexico alone, not counting nouveau creations with ingredients like foie gras and truffles. Turn the page for 10 other fascinating facts about tamales….
At L.A.’s Mexican restaurants, the classic combination plate — you know, the No. 5 or the “Macho Combo” or the “Pancho Villa Platter” that serves up a burrito, taco, tamale and chile relleno topped with yellow cheese along with refried beans, rice and flour tortillas — tends to be ridiculed in this epoch of obsession with “authentic” Mexican dishes. So we must choose. Sometimes the tamale plate wins out, especially for those of us who don’t have a Mexican grandmother at home turning out tamales from a family recipe perfected over generations. After all, Mexicans have been making tamales in the Americas since the pre-Columbian era. Perhaps your abuela even makes her own masa. Then there are the tamale fillings: maybe pork stewed in a red chile sauce, or a 100-ingredient mole.