Food festivals come and go, but the multi-event Los Angeles Food & Wine always produces many noteworthy moments across a diverse set of mediums. From lunches combining famous visiting chefs with hometown culinary stars and cooking demonstrations to Lexus grand tastings and informative seminars, the extravaganza is a great way to see how the Los Angeles culinary scene somehow fits in with the rest of the world’s.
Here are some highlights from the daytime events I attended:
There’s something incredibly freeing, even liberating about a Western restaurant that sets up shop in a strip mall in Koreatown. While you’d find a stellar sushi restaurant – and Korean BBQ joint, for that matter – in many a plaza in Metropolitan L.A., you wouldn’t hardly ever find a modern American restaurant in one.
But Saint Martha, named after the patron saint of cooks and servants and sister of Mary and Lazarus, demonstrates that this is where Los Angeles is, today. That smart, exciting food isn’t indicated by how hard it is to get a reservation, nor how hard a battle with L.A. sprawl is fought. The vibe was comfortably casual and inexclusive; I took the subway from my Spanish Revival apartment near East Hollywood.
Let me take this first post in almost one month to deliver some pertinent upcoming event news. It’s now summer and thus, event season, here in sunny Southern California. Now that I’ve somewhat psychologically recovered from a huge picture-data dump from spilling a homemade cocktail all over my non-backed-up laptop, I’m finally ready to move into this crazy part of the year.
So here’s a rebirth of sorts; it’s an intentional start to the summer by tallying up the essential food events continuing into the fall (L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade is in September). One focuses on cocktails. One focuses on tacos. One focuses on ribs. Three are on the same day; thus, yes – I do wish that these were spread out, more. But practically all of them feature world-class chefs. So without further adieu, here’s where you need to be this summer:
There’s something comforting, even relieving, about a 10-seat Kaiseki experience in Tokyo with an especially irreverent presence behind each course, each with unparalleled attention to detail. But that is Jimbocho Den, the brainchild of mid-30’s, owner-chef Zaiyu Hasagawa, whose wry sense of humor delightfully pervades every refined dish.
We were closing out an epic week of snowboarding and skiing some serious powder in Niseko, Japan, when on our last night we visited Rakuichi, the 12-seat kaiseki restaurant at the foot of Annupuri resort. During lunchtime, I hear Tatsuru and Midori Rai have quite a queue as they keep service strictly to soba. While absolutely every plate was pristinely and passionately prepared, soba was definitely the centerpiece of our multi-course dinner.
There are a couple new happy hours at some pretty fancy spots in Mid-City West and West Hollywood launching today. With weather in Los Angeles warming up as much as it has recently, it doesn’t get much better than these refreshing libations and succulent bites on the terrace or patio to begin your night.
As April and thus, National Grilled Cheese Month, comes to a close, I have come to realize that: 1) This classic sandwich needs no one to vouch for its deliciousness the rest of the year, and 2) Who has time to keep track of the celebratory day or month of every food in existence, anyway? (Oh right: Thank you, PR pitches.)
After all, the sandwich has had its own Invitational here for years on end, to somewhat sadly conclude this year as we food enthusiasts find other foods and combinations of food to fawn over. But let’s not forget that as there have been multiple storefronts dedicated to cupcakes and only cupcakes, for a very long time, dedicated grilled cheese slingers has also become a thing.
The long-awaited Hollywood location of Andre Guerrero’s The Oinkster has finally opened. On the east side of Vine, sitting north of Melrose Avenue, the new 3,000-square foot space seats more than 100 people in its open design concept by Design, Bitches and includes two-tops all the way to communal seating – as well as an open air, dog-friendly patio with heat lamps.
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.
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.