Jeni’s Ice Creams Opens First West Coast Outpost in Los Feliz

Jeni’s Ice Creams Opening Party

There’s some fantastic ice cream now on Hillhurst Avenue in Los Feliz and it comes by way of Ohio. It’s Jeni’s Ice Creams first West Coast outpost, and Los Angeles is all the better for it. What I love about Jeni’s is that the flavor combinations are quirky and the ingredients are top-notch, and while they glean ingredient inspiration at every new location they open, there’s still that special Midwest touch to everything they do.

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First Taste: Neal Fraser’s Redbird at The Vibiana

Maine Lobster, gnocchi sardi, nettles, black trumpets

The long-awaited restaurant from Neal Fraser, Amy Knoll Fraser and Bill Chait is finally here, and all of Los Angeles is the better for it. With a cocktail program focused on the classics by Julian Cox and a wine list curated by Diane Pandolfini, Redbird will stand to be one of the most exciting openings of 2015 – something everyone can confidently say even while it’s still January.

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The 2nd Annual Sriracha Festival Returns to Great Success

Sriracha Marinated Chimichurri Steak Taco – Komodo

It was a thankfully mild Sunday in Chinatown, and Grand Central Plaza was filled with red tents under which chefs, cooks, brewers, bartenders and vendors doled out Sriracha-themed exclusives to enthusiasts of the celebrated, local Rooster sauce. Whether the food and drink were evocative of or complementary to the red jalapeno chili sauce, there was no shortage of flavor to be found on that block between Broadway and Hill.

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Lakers, Clippers and Kings Pre-gaming and Viewing at The Mixing Room, J.W. Marriott at L.A. LIVE

Burgers & Beers Deal ($18)

With hockey and basketball seasons upon us, you’ll want to go somewhere to pre-game a live match or simply watch the game on the big screen. Fortunately, the posh space in the lobby level of L.A. Live‘s J.W. Marriott known as The Mixing Room is offering up a few deals whenever an L.A. home team is in the rink or on the court.

In a sort of home team-spirited happy hour for those attending the game (and not), they’re offering a Street Food series, with one $8 featured menu item to run one to two hours before each home game. During this time, you can also get a 16-oz beer for $8, a flight of three beers for $12 and a street food item plus 16-oz beer combo for $15. For an idea of what street food item they’re serving when, peep this schedule. Think Korean Style Tacos, Cuban Sandwiches and Salvadorian Pupusas. Yes, folks, street food is now at a hotel.

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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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Revisiting Baco Mercat for the Breakfast Baco and Banana Cream Pie Rice Pudding

Breakfast Bäco

Anticipation of Josef Centeno’s upcoming Bar Amá reached fever pitch recently as a result of Bon Appetit naming Bäco Mercat one of America’s 10 Best New Restaurants (Michael Voltaggio’s Ink also received a nomination in this category – bravo for Los Angeles). But nothing prepared me for the day on which my cravings  actually led me to leave the 49ers-Packers game on my TV during free DirecTV NFL preview week. I wanted eggs. I wanted a Bloody Mary. I also wanted a Bäco.

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This Week: Open House at Valerie Confections

Petit Fours

If there ever was a good time to visit Valerie Confections, this week would be it. Valerie Gordon and Stan Weightman are hosting a week-long open house starting today with different selections being featured each of the five days. Peep below to see which sweets suit your fancy, then go visit the shop! Do note the varying shop hours.

  • Monday, October 31st
    Debut and Sampling of SUPER-CHOC-O-FOOD

Valerie has teamed up with Commune Design to create SUPER-CHOC-O-FOOD, which combines stunning packaging enveloping an over-sized darkened chocolate bar filled with a hint of caramel but loaded with dried pears, apricots, golden raisins, macadamia nuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds and peanuts.

  • Tuesday, November 1st
    Hot Chocolate and Cookie Assortment

Cookie flavors include Gingersnap, Oatmeal Raisin, Matcha White Chocolate Macadamia and the crowd-pleasing milk chocolate and almond filled Durango. Wash it down with some hot chocolate for the perfect combination.

  • Wednesday, November 2nd
    Chocolate Dipped Fruits and Mendiant Assortment

Locally sourced, organic dried figs, pears and oranges are hand-dipped in either bittersweet or darkened milk chocolate. Spices, cocoa nibs, teas, organic nuts, unique salts and dried and dehydrated fruit are blended atop disks of chocolate.

  • Thursday, November 3rd
    Preserves with Cheese and Charcuterie Pairings

I love Valerie Confections’ preserves, and apparently so does Los Angeles Magazine, which named them “Best in LA.” They’re hand-made using locally sourced fruit. Flavors include White Fuji Apple & Vanilla Bean, Blenheim Apricot, Plum Ketchup and Mango Jam. Enjoy them paired with a wide array of fine cheeses and charcuterie at this open house.

  • Friday November 4th
    Mint Petits Fours and the debut of the Valerie Confections Tea Assortment

Specially blended by American Tea Room for Valerie Confections, the new line of premium loose leaf teas are inspired by and meant to complement the line of preserves and treats. Signature flavors include Black & Blue, Moroccan Mint, Blushing Berry, Toasted Fig, Sweet Sencha and Blood Orange & Black tea. Each Mint Petits Fours are a modern take on the classic confection, with three layers of dense chocolate cake and two layers of rich white chocolate mint ganache, all covered in bittersweet chocolate and topped with an organic candied mint leaf

  • Saturday, November 5th
    Seasonal Sweet and Savory Pies from the Market

Seasonal sweet and savory pies are available in full size or hand-sized versions with flavors like Apple & Salted Caramel and Cinderella Pumpkin, Padron Pepper Potato & Fontina and Kabocha Squash & Blue Cheese. All of the pastries are sealed with a buttery, flakey crust.

With holiday season coming up (or is it already here?) – this is a great opportunity to survey really thoughtful gift ideas for your loved ones.

See you at Valerie!

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Monday – Tuesday: 10 AM – 6 PM
Wednesday – Friday: 10 AM – 6:30 PM
Saturday: 11 AM – 6 PM
Sunday: CLOSED

Valerie Confections
3360 W. First Street
Los Angeles, CA 90004
213.739.8149

Venga! Debuts Lunch & Sweets on Canon

Quiche

Correction (10/10/11): Venga! is now closed and will re-open at a future date as a Mediterranean Restaurant with an Israeli focus.

There is a new cafe, patisserie and gelateria all rolled up into one on Canon Drive in Beverly Hills. No, it’s not Bouchon, but from one lunch experience, I ended up very surprisingly pleased with the results.

Canelé

You will appreciate the small, concentrated menu once you step inside the nondescript shop. Although it’s hard to tell exactly what they do since the dessert cases face sideways, it seemed like the neighborhood had at least mildly become acquainted with Venga! just two weeks into their opening on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Owner Shahriar Besharat and Pastry Chef Kriss Harvey (who has studied under the tutelage of Pastry Chefs all over the world as well as with Master in Gelato Giuseppe Scaringnella and in the Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna; Joel Robuchon Las Vegas is on his resume) have cultivated a brightly-lit cafe with a minimalist look and menu – but the strength rests in these few items.

Macarons

For instance, the slow cooked chicken sandwich is prepared in a vacuum and packs punch with slices of jalapeno and carrot. It’s tender thanks to its preparation, but it’s also got great flavor. The Croque Monsieur (or Madame, should you choose to add a sunny-side up egg for $1, as we did) is delicious. Too often have I had a Madame with bread that was too thick and overwhelming. At Venga! the layers were harmonious in thickness as well as taste – not too rich, and just enough. The quiche with spinach, shiitake mushrooms was also tasty. The crust was golden and delicious. I almost wanted another slice. The tomato salad with whipped cheese and basil is also a beautiful rendition (perfect for before the end of summer) – especially with the heirloom varieties that are used.

Pastries at Venga!

But you mustn’t leave before you have dessert. This would be a grave omission. There are plenty of gelato varieties to choose from, but my favorite was the Almond with Caramelized Almond flavor. The Passion Fruit Sorbet was also super potent and a perfect flavor for a hot day.

The macarons are also delicious, and a tad denser than others that I’ve had. I can’t argue with more flavor in my macarons, however, and there are plenty of flavors to go around. I love the dustings on the outside of some of them, which add quite delicious details. Salted Caramel and Coconut are now my go-to.

A must-try is the Canelé, which is done quite expertly with the outside coated with a crispy beeswax. The inside was a soft, tender, almost-custard texture – just how a perfect Canelé should be. As you peruse the brightly-lit pastry cases, you’ll definitely have a hard time resisting all of the beautifully presented pastries in all their colorful glory. I’m due for a return visit to try some more.

Alas, I’ve learned that they have free wifi! This could be a dangerously indulgent destination (yet productive?) for me in the near future. Blog or eat? Lunch, dinner or dessert? Now, I won’t have to choose.

All food and drink were hosted.

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Sun – Mon

10 AM – 6 PM

Tue – Sat

10 AM – 10 PM

Menu
Beverages & Desserts Menu

Free wifi

Venga!
452 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310.205.9400

@vengabh

Class 302: Where Ice Is Turned To Shaved Snow

Green Tea Shaved Snow With Mochi and Red Bean

With Southern California “June Gloom” wearing off now thanks to July, it has me craving cold dessert. Cold as ice – or, cold as snow in this case.

Mango Shaved Snow With Mochi

I had heard about the “upgrade” to traditional Taiwanese shaved ice from Danny, Cathy and a few others, in that the condensed milk is actually folded into the ice for some serious creamy-sweet-cold integration. Whereas the plastic tops sealing cups of milk tea at boba shops were probably the last technology in Taiwanese desserts I was aware of, this one seems to be an actual revolution of dessert itself.

I can get behind that.

Pudding Shaved Snow With Syrup

When I saw that the snow actually came out in sheets, each dish was a massive landscape and sweet firestorm to behold. No more crunchy ice or uneven distribution of condensed milk from bite to bite. Just good ol’, cold, sweet, soft and creamy (yet airy?) goodness. You can get varieties with caramel pudding on the bottom and syrup on top, another with strawberries and mango. My personal favorites, though, were the mango-flavored snow with mangos and mochi (for some potent mango goodness) and the green tea-flavored snow with red bean and mochi topping (expressly for your matcha tooth).

On the weekend, you’ll be waiting quite awhile for a table at Class 302 (which is Taiwanese school code for 3rd grade, 2nd class) as they also serve food, but snow is hands-down the thing to get here. You’ll want some as we head deeper into the summer. Just remember: It’s even hotter in San Gabriel Valley, so bring friends to share flavors.

More Taiwanese discoveries to come at later dates… A girl’s gotta reconnect with her blood-native cuisine, right?

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Mon – Sun

11 AM – 12 AM

Class 302
1015 S. Nogales St.
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
626.965.5809

Greenleaf Chopshop Rolls Out Discounts on 3rd Anniversary

Zorra the Great Salad

As much as I am skeptical of some food trends – for instance, I don’t get the mindless love for cupcakes while I totally relate to the on-going bacon craze - there are some upshots that I can get behind. For instance, this fast-casual-and-healthy thing: I actually hope that it’s a pattern that turns out to be longer lasting than a fad. After all, we can only hope it’s an indication that we as an audience are becoming more aware of eating in a healthful way – nothing but good can become of it, right? And when it’s presented in ways that taste delicious, it’s proof that healthful doesn’t have to be boring.

Anti-Oxidant Orchard Salad

I was recently introduced to Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, which is currently in Beverly Hills and Century City and serving clientele from boutiques, law offices, accounting & consulting firms alike on the east-of-Westside. They also serve wine and beer, which come complete with pairing suggestions. Talk about a delicious lunch or take-home salad. The head chef is from the Patina family, so you know they’re not kidding around when they call this chopshop “gourmet.”

The good news is, they’ve stuck around for 3 years and to celebrate their anniversary, they’re rolling out some discounts starting now through this Saturday, June 4th. You get 10% off on your 1st visit, while working your way up in 5%-off increments to 30% off your in-store meal on their 5th visit (no more than 2 visits per day for discounts). And, on Saturday, you can also look forward to 30% off all meals at the Beverly Hills location. And about that beer and wine - imbibers can also enjoy 50% off beer and wine selections all-week-long, including an organic Alma Rosa Chardonnay (regularly $8/32), Talbot Kali Hart Pinot Noir ($9/34), and Lost Coast Great White Ale ($3.50).

Lemongrass Chicken

Got a couple buddies? Bring two “green” newcomers to dine in a “3Some” (kinky) and if you each purchase a salad or entrée, you’ll receive your choice of a complimentary bottle of housemade salad dressing or handcrafted dessert for the table. Options include Owner & “Commander in Leaf” Jonathan Rollo’s signature Citrus Basil Vinaigrette, Corporate Chef Kristi Ritchey’s “Grandma Nancy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies,” and “Carrots Are Good for You” Carrot Cake.

My personal favorite is the Greek-esque “Zorra the Great” salad, which has a good amount of kick thanks to the peppercorns in the dressing. If you’re looking for something naturally sweet, try “The Antioxidant Orchard.” Feeling like a refreshing salad topped with coconut and other tropical flavors? Try the “Lemongrass Chicken” – probably my second-most favorite. 

So if you’re near Beverly Hills or Century City, enjoy a salad, panini, sandwich and/or soup with a glass of beer or wine for lunch this week. Greenleaf’s menu is not only health-conscious but creatively and utterly delicious. Enjoy!

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Order online

Mon – Fri

11 AM – 6 PM

Sat

11 AM – 4 PM

Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
9671 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
310.246.0756

Mon – Fri

10:30 AM – 6 PM

1888 Century Park East
Los Angeles, CA 90067
424.239.8700