Ivan Marquez’s Ever Evolving Pastries at Short Cake

Pastry Spread

If you haven’t been to Short Cake at The Original Farmer’s Market for some breakfast pastries and Verve coffee, you’re definitely missing out. I recently visited head baker Ivan Marquez, who has been there for a year now, for a run-down on what’s been going on.

The pastries are almost like a weather vane, revealing what’s seasonal, and what’s available from our local farms – but the most important thing is they’re all always delicious. The bear claw, the danish, the tart, Pan Suisse, crostata, and almost everything else change every single day. Of course, he uses only the best quality ingredients with organic dairy and farmers market produce in all his baking.

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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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Celebrating Bastille Day in L.A. This Weekend

The Patio at Cliff’s Edge

As foodists, we all have a little Francophile in us. Why not celebrate France’s Le Fête Nationale some place around town? Whether it’s to enjoy a couple Kir Royales outdoors under the canopy of the Farmer’s Market, playing Pétanque after having slurped a dozen oysters downtown, a dinner in an intimate French Bistro or out on a gorgeous patio, Bastille Day is a perfect excuse to get out and live it up. (As if you really needed a reason to eat French food, right?)

Check these special celebrations in and around town. Most are on Saturday, but Church & State has delayed their celebration til Sunday just for belated revelers:

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Monsieur Marcel – Mid-City West, Santa Monica (Open 9 AM – 9 PM)

The little restaurant stand inside The Original Farmer’s Market is now also on Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade and ready to serve up cocktails for the holiday. Monsieur Marcel will be serving Kir Royales for $7.99 and Kir Normales for $6.99 each on the holiday. After all, you’ll have every reason to toast Felix Kira, a member of the French resistance, the French Parliament and eventual mayor of Dijon in Burgundy.

Prefer to celebrate with some eats? Start off with a French Onion Soup ($6.75) accompanied by a Frisée Salad with Feta Cheese and Hazelnuts ­($13.75). Other options you’ll want to consider:

Niçoise Salad with Seared Ahi Tuna, Egg, and Lemon ($19.50)
Ham on Fleur de Sel Baguette with Cornichons and Radish ($15.95)
Moules Frites with Steamed Mussels and Fries ($19.25)
Steak Frites, a classic Hanger Steak with Fries ($19.50)
Duck Confit with Lentils and Kale ($27)

Crème Brûlée ($5)
Affogato ($4)
Macarons, Fruit Tarts ($5-6)

Papilles – Hollywood

At Santos Uy and Tim Carey’s no-nonsense, curiously ambitious wine bistro, they’ll be celebrating Bastille Day with a three-course prix fixe menu for a bargain $30. Enjoy $12 carafes of natural French wines to further  Two seatings (6-6:30 & 8-9 PM) are available, as is this menu:

  1. French Onion Soup or Frisée Salad with French Radishes
  2. Moules Frites or Steak Frites
  3. Camembert or Chocolate Mousse

And that shall take care of the all essentials – and then some. Be sure to call to reserve your seating.

Cliff’s Edge – Silver Lake

Celebrate the storming of Bastille with a menu by Ben Bailly on Saturday night while enjoying the patio at Cliff’s Edge – hands-down one of the most beautiful settings in LA. Choose from the following options for a 3-course delight ($45 per person):

  1. Frisee aux Lardons
    poached egg, crispy bacon, bleu cheese, croutons
    or
    Escargot au Gratin
    braised snails, garlic, parsley, mushrooms, tomatoes
  2. Saumon a L’Orseille
    Atlantic salmon, puy lentils salad, sorrel butter
    or
    Onglet a L’Echalote
    Prime hangar steak, shallots sauce, roasted fingerling
  3. Apricot Tart, Vanilla Creme Brulee or Glacee & Sorbet

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Church & State – Downtown LA

11 AM – 3 PM

If you feel like extending your celebrating to daytime Sunday, Downtown LA’s stalwart French bistro, Church & State has got something just your speed.

Chef Jeremy Berlin will be offering assorted French sandwiches. Maître Écailler Christophe Happillon, will be on hand with his famous raw bar serving up not only oysters (!!!), but clams, crab, shrimp and accompaniments for you to enjoy throughout the day.

Sarah Clarke, Church & State’s Sommelier and Beverage Director has a  special menu with a selection of French wines, artisan beers and new summer cocktails for guests to enjoy all afternoon as well. And when in Downtown LA, do as the French do, and play a little Pétanque. It’ll be a perfect way to casually celebrate, as there are “no reservations – just fun.”

Happy Bastille Day, wherever you’ll be! See you around town.

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Monsieur Marcel
The Original Farmer’s Market
6333 W 3rd St #150
Los Angeles, CA
323.939.7792

1260 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA
310.587.1166

Papilles
6221 Franklin Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323.871.2026

Cliff’s Edge
3626 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323.666.6116

Church and State Bistro
1850 Industrial Street
Los Angeles, CA 90021
213.405.1434

Food Trend Watch: For the Love For Finger Limes

Photo credit to dtpearson1975 on Flickr

Los Angeles loves the Australian finger lime. I’m no expert on the little doodads but I do know a curious fruit with spritely packages when I see one – especially when the cylinders pop up in multiple places across different applications. And I do know how to Google. Citrus australasica, yes, came to the States from Australia over 100 years ago, yet “only in the last six years have disease-tested, legal budwood became available to nurseries for propagating the trees” (LA Times’ Market Watch). They’ve reached my palate only recently – but in a small span of time.

Almost-invisible finger limes on crudo at Cube

The source of inspiration in our local kitchens goes undisputed. In an age where a commonplace gastronomic trend is to make little spheres of everything, these round, dense bursts of flavor are naturally occurring and sold by James Shanley at the Santa Monica farmer’s market. Laura Avery recently talked to him on KCRW’s Market Report and David Karp gives the skinny on the fruit with the “gherkin” exterior in LA Times’ Market Watch.

Personally, it started out with a dinner at Cube on La Brea. The picture doesn’t capture one of my proudest photography moments but what was memorable were the little citrus caviar scattered across the delicate crudo. It was the perfect way to highlight and accent the fresh flavors of the fish.

Valerie Confections' Pomelo Finger Lime Marmalade

Next, came the amuse bouche by Matt Biancaniello at The Roosevelt Hotel’s Library Bar. For the record: If it were anyone’s cocktails that would warrant an amuse, it would certainly be Matt’s. He cut the 2-inch cylindrical fruit in half, injected a bit of cachaça into the vessel and instructed me to squirt it and the little roundlings into my mouth. The sweet-tart combo beautifully awakened my senses and it was extraordinary to experience what an onomatopoeia like “pew pew pew” (in the non-lolcat sense) might literally taste like: Lazrs.

Finally, during my most recent trip to the Sunday Hollywood Farmer’s Market, I stopped by one of my favorite booths – Valerie Confections. The label on one of their preserves caught my eye – a Pomelo & Finger Lime Marmalade. At this point, it was none other than a sign, so I had to pick it up (and it’s already almost gone.)  The sour twists of the pomelo and finger limes brought out more of the peel in the delicious marmalade. Tiny lime finger slices were imbued in the light orange preserves – and with the help of crackers and goat cheese, the marmalade was a delicious way to snack at work.

I have my eye on these marvelous citrons. I can’t wait for more kitchens and bars to creatively incorporate them into more recipes. Oh – and as far as “food trend” – it may have to wait until next year since we’re already past season, which ended in December. Regardless, restauranteurs, artisans and mixologists have a new fruit with which to experiment.

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Mentioned in this post:

Cube
615 N. La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.939.1148

The Library Bar at The Roosevel Hotel
7000 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323.466.7000

Valerie Confections
3360 W. 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90004
213.739.8149

First Monthly Food Rendezvous at SPARC in Venice Tomorrow

SPARC, Venice | Photo credit to yovenice on Flickr (YoVenice.com)

Looking to shop local this weekend? Check out The Food Redenzvous tomorrow in Venice at the SPARC building (which so happens to currently house art galleries and formerly the Venice division of the LAPD). Though it’s great that more and more farmer’s markets are springing up in each of our individual communities, you’ll be getting something a little different at The Food Rendezvous. They make it possible for small, emerging food artisans to reach their customers despite difficult wait times (sometimes as long as 2-3 years to get a stand) and permit costs the farmer’s markets may incur.

Laurie Dill is a Master Gardener and on the board of the Garden School Foundation and Dominique Leveuf has a juice and beverage line with her partner sourced from local and fairly traded produce. They, as the event’s founders, aim to make Food Rendezvous interactive and inspirational with author talks and cooking demonstrations, a cookbook swap (donate your old one, get one back, keep buying for $5 each), a jam making contest and a food-related movie screening.

As for the vendors at the first ever event, you can expect Bulgarini Gelato, Josie’s English Kitchen Jams, Joelle Olive Oil, Let’s Be Frank, Morning Glory Confections, Susan Feniger’s Street and more. With more of us conscionably shopping from local artisans, this looks like the start of something beautiful…

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

4 – 10 PM

Advance: $10
At-the-door: $15

Admission includes a fresh tangerine juice spritzer, movie admission, cookbook swap and variety of activities

The Food Rendezvous at
SPARC
685 Venice Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Garden Market Thursdays With A View at Yamashiro

To the Garden Market

Do you have a regular 9-5 that makes you unable to make it to the daytime weekday farmer’s market in the neighborhood? Looking for an outdoor rendezvous with a view that makes it possible to simultaneously support local growers and vendors? Never considered farmer’s markets especially romantic (well – why would you)?

Spring Hill Cheese Company: Generous with samples

The Thursday night Yamashiro Garden Market may be your answer – especially as our “Spring Forward” daylight savings comes up this weekend, thereby making our days longer as the temps get warmer. Last night my girlfriend accompanied me as we visited the second-ever Garden Market on the Yamashiro (“mountain palace” in Japanese) grounds above Franklin Avenue and met up with Lindsay and Julie of LAist. While the Hollywood and Highland traffic may affect your journey there, once you’re on the hill, all traffic will seem miles (ok, at least a mile) away. It’s a quaint space with hands-down the best view you will ever see at a market and the budding weekly gathering seemed to be well on its way to being a go-to Thursday event.

Worried about parking? Valet with Garden Market validation will run you only $2 – plus tip, of course. Not bad – especially by Hollywood standards.

You even have the option to come hungry without expecting to have to shell out major Yamashiro-level dough. The restaurant provides hot food, with your choice of two black cod, korean shortrib or duck tacos which come with chips and salsa (even wasabi guacamole) for $6. Or get 3 tacos for $9. Executive Chef Brock Kleweno served them up himself last night. The black cod tacos were the hands-down favorite in my group – even though I had forgone them since I coincidentally had black cod for lunch. What are the chances? The wasabi guac was another favorite – not exactly sinus-clearing but I always love guac with a little punch.

Korean Shortrib Taco, Duck Taco

Eight words: Bulgarini Goat Cheese Gelato with embedded cocoa nibs. Do also try the Blood Orange for that tart craving. Unfortunately, I had been looking forward to olive oil gelato thanks to a Twitter convo that had been happening over the past few days, but it wasn’t available last night so now I have another reason to return.

I spent the most time at the stand featuring Spring Hill Cheese, whose creamery is located in Petaluma, and walked away with garlic cheese curds ($5). Also in attendance was J&P West Coast Seafood from San Pedro,  the Breadman, Ace Ranch Certified Organic Producer, Klauses Bees’ Raw Honey, Gourmet Blends’ Barrel-Aged Organic Balsamics & Oils and Cobbler Mania amongst other local producers and vendors.

A live jazz band successfully provided a festive atmosphere in spite of the still-growing attendance. I can see only more people venturing uphill for the unique experience and view that is the Garden Market as the days get longer and the temps get warmer. What’s key: Their outdoor event liquor license is on the way. 😉

Thursdays

5 – 9 PM

Valet $2 with validation

Garden Market at Yamashiro
1999 N. Sycamore Avenue
Los Angeles, CA‎ 90068
323.466.5125‎

Garden Market with a view

Valerie Confections at Hollywood Farmer’s Market

Petit Fours
Never mind Saturday nights in Hollywood. Now there’s a good reason to be in Hollywood on Sunday mornings. Valerie Confections are now bringing their treats to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market.
White Fig & Fuji Apple Jam

Think tea cakes in flavors like Meyer Lemon, Tangerine, and Almond. Or Chocolate Truffle Torte mini cakes. Feeling like herbed shortbread? They come in flavors like Rosemary and Lemon & Thyme.

And what is a farmer’s market without jams and preserves? Visit periodically since Valerie’s flavors will vary seasonally; for now, look for Strawberry Vanilla Bean Jam, Limequat & Kumquat Marmalade, Meyer Lemon Marmalade and Black Fig, Pear & Port Jam. Without them, no morning is complete!
And don’t worry - if that hangover is extra punishing on Sunday morning, you can always visit Valerie’s storefront for your sweets fix.

Every Sunday

8 AM – 1 PM

Hollywood Farmer’s Market
Ivar and Selma
(Valerie’s stand will be on Cosmo Street)

Storefront:
Valerie Confections
3360 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90004
213.739.8149

MasterChef Casting Call: Revised Date, Judges Revealed

Imagine Gordon Ramsay with the demeanor of a young lamb

Credit to Babble.com

If you remember the casting call back in December, then you may have been waiting for this. As Squid Ink at LA Weekly reported today, the casting call for MasterChef, Gordon Ramsay’s new cooking show, will be at Sur la Table at Farmer’s Market this Sunday, January 31 from 10 AM – 4 PM [revised from January 30]. The U.K. and Australian import will be on America’s shores via FOX and Sunday, certain Los Angeles know-it-alls will be there to judge just who is amateurish enough to represent our city.

Joan Cianciulli, Neal Fraser, Lucy Lean
Matt Molina (credit LATimes)

Judges will be JoAnn Cianciulli (L.A.’s Original Farmers Market Cookbook, MasterChef supervising producer), Neal Fraser (Grace, BLD), Lucy Lean (editor of Edible Los Angeles) and now Matt Molina (Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza).

You must be 18 years of age and not a professional chef in a professional kitchen. Read below to see what exactly you’ll be expected to do:

“All casting call applicants MUST bring one prepared dish to be served at room temperature. You will be able to plate your dish at the given casting location. You will be responsible to bring any utensils or other materials you may need.”

So. Who will be at 3rd and Fairfax with their creations on Sunday?

MasterChef Casting Website

Sunday, January 31, 2010

10 AM – 4 PM

Sur la Table
6333 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA‎ 90036
323.954.9190‎

mastercheflosangeles [at] yahoo [dot] com

Kicking off October: Beer, Wine, Music & Museums

Everybody probably knows even better than we do how we don’t really have a “fall” here in L.A. Seeing how September was frickin’ hot, and the temperatures have cooled down (before they warmed up again yesterday), I can say with confidence that fall, as Angelenos know it, is finally here. If weather won’t do it, incentive for increased beer consumption will – be it German beer, domestic, local or any other. 😉

If you’re not sure what to do, look no further. I’ll be in Orange County for a night, trying the South Coast Plaza restaurants on for size, then welcoming 28-year-old conducting prodigy to LA at the Hollywood Bowl for ¡Bienvenido Dudamel! (with David Hidalgo, Flea and Herbie Hancock “opening,” to boot). Sunday, I’ll be cruising to the Pasadena Wine Festival. So if you didn’t get a stab at the free Dudamel tickets, don’t fret – there’s still plenty to do.

Saturday, October 3

Autumn Fest

The bars at Farmers Market and Monsieur Marcel have put together their own fall celebration. Saturday, you can sample more than 50 different beers from around the world – paired with the most delicious imported and artisanal cheeses from Monsieur Marcel. JoAnn Cianciulli will also be there to be sign copies of her new book, L.A.’s Original Farmer’s Market Cookbook.

Tickets are $20 in advance at Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market or $25 at the door.

1 – 5 PM

Farmers Market Upper Deck
3rd & Fairfax – 6333 W. 3rd Street
323.939.7792

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There’s No Reading In This Library

Because all the studying necessary for a good time has been taken care of by the man behind the bar.

This much is true: If you’ve ever had a basil tree garnish in your Bloody Mary, it’s highly doubtful you’d ever want to go back to a celery stalk. Ever. Because who wouldn’t choose a fragrant drink, if one had the choice? I took that as one sure sign of the establishment’s passion for fresh ingredients and the value placed on using them. Matt Biancaniello – the resident mixologist of The Library Bar inside the Roosevelt Hotel – is no stranger to that concept for starters and what’s more, he revealed to us that he goes to the Farmer’s Market 5 times a week! Now that’s fresh.

I had the privilege of joining Caroline on Crack and Neil of Food Marathon for a hosted tasting. We had everything from the mojito to bourbon cocktails and even – yes – the bloody mary as above. And I could really taste the freshness in each drink and all the attention to detail in Matt’s passion for mixology. It was great to sense the energy with which he described his own creative processes in concocting each drink. This is a good thing – since it IS The Roosevelt and the cost of a drink at this gem will set you back $15 each.

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