All-Star Chef Lineup at Pier del Sol Special Olympics Fundraiser on October 12, 2014

Santa Monica Pier – Credit: Phil Scoville on Flickr

The Special Olympics’ main fundraiser of the year is coming up in a week and a half, and as with every year, high wattage kitchen star power is showing up with world-class bites for the VIP brunch taking place on the historic and scenic Santa Monica Pier at Pacific Park.

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The Great White Truffle Round-up of Los Angeles

White Truffles at SAAM, The Bazaar

It’s that wonderful time of year when it’s time to indulge in one of the true delicacies of the world. Forget the artificial truffle oil (redundant) of the ’90s – the real thing has a season and the time to enjoy white truffles is now.

Of course, at two to three thousand dollars per pound, it’s quite easy to break the bank while partaking. Fortunately, I’ve got a lot of options in different forms (cocktails! tasting menus! burgers!) and price points that will ensure you’re able to get your fungi fix.

Let’s start out with a cocktail by Matty B, why don’t we?

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Favorite Dish: Tiato’s Breakfast Banh Mi at Sunday Brunch

Breakfast Banh Mi

If you’re looking for something to enjoy during Sunday brunch time, look no further than the Catherine An’s daytime cafe, which is now serving up a breakfast riff on the traditional Vietnamese sandwich. It’ll probably have you wondering why you haven’t had one, sooner.

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Recap in Instagrams: Angeleno Magazine’s Live and Dine LA, 2013

Hinoki & the Bird’s Black Lobster Roll

Summer food events are a dime a dozen, but Angeleno Magazine manages to present a consistently solid line-up year after year at their steady Live and Dine LA event held at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows. This year, there was no award presentation, leaving a core group of favorites to sample their eats in the courtyard surrounding the gorgeous, 130-some-year-old, 80-foot tall Moreton Bay Fig Tree.

Attendees sipped Brugal Summer Hounds, Pavan Sangria Cocktails, Macallan 12 Fine Oak, iced Handsome Coffee brew, Solsticio Wines, 123 Organic Tequila margaritas and more as they savored dishes from some of the most popular restaurants in the city:

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My Top dineLA Restaurant Week Lunch Picks for Summer, 2013: July 15 – 26

RivaBella’s Nidi di Rondine

This summer’s dineLA Restaurant Week commences today and lasts 10 days – over two weekday stretches and one weekend. And since we’ve had a few of these by now, it’s probably time we got smart on maneuvering through the multitude of menus. The trick with dineLA prix fixe is that it may get people through the door, but it may or may not be quite the deal you had in mind. The danger is that you might just be stuck with fewer, albeit recommended, choices for about the same price you’d normally pay.

May I propose lunch? They tend to be better deals than dinner – often true between both offerings of the same restaurant – because there’s more incentive to increase lunch traffic with dinner reservations filling up more readily. So whether you’ve got a 9-5 in the area or are in a certain neighborhood for an audition or client appointment, there’s probably a great dineLA power lunch strategy wherever you end up.

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Wilshire Restaurant: No-Nonsense, Bottomless Sunday Brunch For Your Buck

Crab Benedict

The Wilshire Restaurant (Top Chef star Nyesha Arrington helms the kitchen) has recently launched a pretty spectacular Sunday weekly, and that happens to be a buffet-style brunch that is not to be missed. Since I normally relegate buffets (read: gorge parties) to Vegas, if even that, it’s really easy for me to dismiss these all-you-can eat, self-serve extravaganzas.

However, the Wilshire Restaurant’s Sunday deal has not only the brunch plate essentials, but bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Mary bar – plus a really neat patio ensconced in the cool, Santa Monica air – at the very reasonable price of $35 per person. It runs throughout the daytime for your leisure, so if you are into loitering, you could go from 11 AM until 5 PM if you really wanted to – but that would be pretty tacky.

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Lobster Paella and Other Spanish Wonders at Bar Pintxo

Lobster Paella

As the Los Angeles “chill” continues, it’s only natural to crave the comforting foods in which we take refuge. Luckily, there’s Bar Pinxto, a tapas place that has reinvigorated the Spanish traditions behind the term that was once disgracefully applied to all “small plates.” The place has the most mom and pop feel of anywhere in the tourist hub of Santa Monica, and the reasonable price points, accommodating happy hour specials and prix fixe menu options clinch its status as a neighborhood favorite.

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Talking with Heather Dorak of Pilates Platinum

Heather Dorak of Pilates Platinum

For awhile after I started food writing, there was a point where I had let go of all physical activity. At some point, I felt the repercussions, and decided to give the Pilates studio a few blocks away from my new Hollywood apartment a go. I had an inkling that I’d like Pilates, but I ended up really loving it.

I’ve gone through the distance running, Bikram yoga, Anusara-influenced yoga and spin phases in my child through adult life, but I found Pilates to be just what I needed, because I really need consistent strength training – especially since I’ve had shoulder surgery and am now perpetually conscious of it and my upper body strength. I have also found my prior yoga training really helpful for proper form while I’m on the reformer, and now whenever I’m not even in the studio, I love the extra attention I subconsciously pay to my posture, even while at the desk. In short, I highly recommend Pilates!

But it all wouldn’t have been possible without Heather Dorak, the still-twenty-something entrepreneur extraordinaire who started it all. She is an inspiration, just as working out regularly has also had an influence how it has influenced how I think about food. I asked a Heather a few questions about her lifestyle and her relationship to food:

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My Top dineLA Restaurant Week Picks for Winter, 2013: January 21 – February 1

Braised Beef Cheek, Taleggio Pureed Potatoes, Chanterelles

Happy Martin Luther King Day! Also, what a joyous second inauguration day. In this case, it also means the very first day of dineLA Restaurant Week. If you haven’t, already, you best be making your reservations right now – or better yet, take advantage of your day off and find your prix fixe destination for lunch today.

I’ve done a bit of perusing the incredibly extensive list of restaurants and their offered menus around the city and came up with a few categories that struck me. With 3-course prix fixe as the standard, here are some standout menu offerings the week starting today, Monday, January 21 – Friday, February 1:

Best Opportunity to Try New Chef at Venue

Not new chefs by any definition (in fact, the tenure of this group is impressive especially by L.A. standards) – just new venues.

I associate my first experiences with potted rillettes, headcheese and pates in L.A. with Remi Lauvand, and he’s now at Le Ka, having just opened last September. Downtown workers can get their feet wet on the $25 lunch menu, but interesting dinner menu items include escargot cavatelli, lamb’s tongue and scallops with lentils and chicken skin – some things that may be too good to pass up.

With Vartan Abgaryan now serving at a venue in possession of one of the most enviable patios in Silver Lake, I can’t help but simply displace the delicious plates he was just serving at Public Kitchen & Bar and imagine them enjoyed in outdoor dim lighting surrounded by foliage. Sure, he’s changed up a few things, but I’ve always been a fan of his octopus.

Just a week ago, IDG’s RivaBella just started serving dinner in its brand-new, 8,000 square foot space, basically the antithesis of Angelini Osteria. You’ll have to settle for lunch if you want to do Restaurant Week here, but if Gino Angelini’s pasta (such as a green pappardelle in ragu) is part of the 3-course offering, that will always do.

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Noodle Bowl Fest Rings In Lunar New Year at Viceroy

Tsujita Tsukemen

Noodles are a perfect way to ring in the Lunar New Year. Representative in Asian cultures of long life, noodles are also one of the most comforting foods that I turn to – perfect in our “chilly” Los Angeles February. So when I heard that the first ever Noodle Bowl Fest would be held at The Viceroy, you could color me skeptical about the representations that would be served – until I actually looked at the participants.

They’re the noodle heavyweights of Arcadia, Thai Town and Little Osaka, but also the culinary heavyweights of Highland Park, Manhattan Beach, the food truck movement and Santa Monica. A $45 ticket (bought before January 31st, $55 after) will get you tastings of the following:

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