First Taste: Pine & Crane Tailors Taiwanese Dishes to Silver Lake

Pine & Crane Storefront in Sunset Triangle Plaza

As a 2nd generation Taiwanese American, I often wondered during childhood how different my life would’ve been if, like many of their classmates in Southern Taiwan, my parents had settled in Arcadia, California instead of New Berlin, Wisconsin. My only access to Taiwanese (adamantly never Chinese) food was through my Mom’s cooking.

As the 4th of 4 kids, though, my parents were financially able to travel by the time I rolled around, and I luckily traveled to California and Taiwan often to keep somewhat in contact with my roots. As my palate matured and diversified over the years, it was also groomed for the innate craving for noodles, broth and spice I continually have today.

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Avalon of Catalina Island, CA: Highlights of a Weekend Trip

View from Casino Ballroom Balcony

Before this year, I had been to Santa Catalina Island but once for a short day trip that hardly did the 22 x 8 mile island justice. It’s easy to dismiss, with just one incorporated city named Avalon – but the trick to a successful trip here is navigating the proper spots to hit up, and when.

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First Taste: Superba Food + Bread in Venice Opens Tomorrow

Seared Arctic Char, Snap Peas, Rhubarb, Mint

Tomorrow, Superba Food + Bread opens along Lincoln Boulevard, a little further inland than its counterpart, Superba Snack Bar.

It’s a beautiful space with an open feel and just enough green, canary yellow and white throughout to accentuate its abundance of natural daylight and high ceilings. Whereas the Snack Bar employed delicious pastas, Paul Hibler’s Food + Bread will showcase a vast repertoire of…well, bread. Delicious, gluten-full bread.

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First Taste: Faith & Flower in Downtown Los Angeles Opens Today

Sturgeon with pickled mustard, brussels, polenta

I had the privilege of attending one of the first nights of service at Faith & Flower during a night of Friends & Family. There was a backing up of reservations that occurred at the middle of the night and they ran out of a few things, like Milk Punch and Stuffed Quail, but that’s what a test night like last is meant for. Besides, we got a chance to get really acquainted with a good third of the stellar cocktail menu by Michael Lay.

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Piedmontese Beef the Star at Star King BBQ

Tomahawk Piedmontese Steak

Known as one of the only restaurants in Los Angeles that serves Piedmontese beef, Star King BBQ is an unlikely destination for the genetically advantageous, double-muscled, super lean meat. But the truth is that you’ll never find this Italian breed at any other Korean BBQ, and at less than a handful of other restaurants, such as in a burger at Stefan Richter’s L.A. Farm.

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Tokyo, Japan: Mind-blowing Sushi at Sushisho Masa

Chef Masakatsu Oka

I think I am ruined. I have had sushi in Japan and it was phenomenal. It was the best sushi I have ever had; nay, it was the best meal I have had in my entire life. It surpassed my wildest dreams, if they knew at which point to even begin.

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The Anti-Prix-Fixe Valentine’s Day Roundup

Carnival Cabaret at Big Bar

Single or not, you won’t find me exactly chomping at the bit to try any sort of prix fixe menu on, of all nights, Valentine’s Day, only the busiest dining night out all year. A night of fighting the crowds of twosomes to order up one of the multitude of prix fixe menus during a potentially service-distastrous evening is not something I can recommend to you in good conscience, so why pretend? Anniversaries and birthdays are as great as the dates they land on are unique to each couple or person, so when a calendar designates that one particular day is the day everyone is to express one’s affection to his/her significant other, I can’t help but get a little bit apprehensive.

Here are a few fun alternatives to Valentine’s Day that take that icky obligatory feeling out of your profession of love…

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First Moments at Curtis Stone’s Maude

Chicken Terrine, Pain Perdu, Dijon Mustard Ice Cream

A reservation at the tasting menu-only Maude will present you with 9 courses, with the first course actually being a series of precious but oh-so-delicious bites. Expect to be here from 3 – 3.5 hours. Naturally, you’ll have a conversation with the server about your allergies and preferences, to tailor your meal to you. Here are my foremost thoughts on my experience:

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John Besh Wows at The Strand House in Culinary Master Series

Oyster Stew with black garlic, Meyer lemon, petit herbs

Last month, I got a chance to partake in one night of the excellent Culinary Masters series going on at The Strand House in Manhattan Beach. The chef of the night was John Besh in the wake of the release of the Louisiana native and home cooking champion’s latest cookbook, “Cooking From the Heart,” and the celebratory 6-course dinner, expertly paired with Bwise Vineyard Wines, was nothing short of fantastic.

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By Request: Puerto Nuevo-style Lobster Night at Coni’Seafood

Lobster Night

You might be acquainted with Coni’Seafood, and maybe even Chef Sergio Penuelas’ former affiliation with Mariscos Chente. You probably have had their pescado zarandeado (grilled snook), and most certainly their raw preparations such as the Shrimp aguachiles. If you were ever aware of the need for one, it has become your go-to spot for Sinaloan specialties – right in Inglewood.

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