With amaro cocktails being really popular right now – and with good reason – you can count on there being one to three of them on the menu of any semi-serious bar program. But I can’t think of any other bar that even compares to how Julian Cox’s program at Sotto has really advanced the cocktail classification in Los Angeles.
The story of Test Kitchen is something of a legend. Legends, though, are usually long gone – relegated to a time past. And yes, that was the year-long story of the Westside Test Kitchen (which now houses Sotto), but it’s about to be revived come next Tuesday.
The series, brought to you again by Bill Chait, heads downtown to Ori Menashe’s (formerly Angelini Osteria) new digs at Bestia and it runs from October 16 through November 11. Notable chefs hailing from Los Angeles and around the country will rotate, just like the 2010 incarnation. Future menus and projects as well as collaborative exhibition nights will be the focus, much like before.
I remember the anticipation we all felt when the Baja chefs came to Street Food Fest at the Rose Bowl in the summer of 2011. It was just the ingredient needed to take the festival to a new level. Not only would we be having access to some of the best street food in LA at one place, we’d also be experiencing the best of Baja.
Thanks to Reverse Coyote Bill Esparza, there’s been quite a bit of sharing going on across the California-Mexico border. We Angelenos get to reap the benefits at Playa, the playground of Sedlar’s latest experimentation. As he is currently changing the menus here, we’ll get to go straight to the sources of his inspiration thanks to this series.
Cue the installment going on now, starting with Sabina Bandera Gonzales of La Guerrerense, who will be cooking with Chef Sedlar now until tomorrow, Tuesday, September 18th – though the menus for each installment will actually be available all week long. Sabina brings dishes her top seafood stand seasoned with a variety of unique salsas. A la carte menu items are $5-$18 and include:
- Tostada of sea urchin ceviche with clam on top
- Tostada of sea snail ceviche with slices of sea snail on top
- Tostada campechana (tuna fish ceviche with scallops, octopus, shrimp and sea snail on top)
- Campechano cocktail (Cup of shrimp, octopus, scallops and sea snail)
- Codfish ceviche (cooked in olive oil with vegetables, olives, capers)
- Tostada of tuna smoked pate with scallops on top
It took a few tries, but it seems as though the flagship food, cocktails, wine & beer event of our city’s flagship publication may have this Labor Day weekend on lock. So head on over to Paramount Pictures this upcoming 3-day weekend for a celebration of delicious consumptions and libations. Tickets cost $65 per event and come with unlimited bites and swigs. See below for a preview of dishes, cocktails & people you’ll have to look forward to:
Field to Fork: Saturday, 9/1 • 11 am- 3 pm (21+)
Times Food Editor Russ Parsons and Chef Ray Garcia of FIG host this session inspired by fresh, local ingredients in celebration of seasonal dishes. Look forward to cooking demos, a conversation with local farmers and a chef’s challenge. You’ll experience tastes from Cook’s County, Sunny Spot, Picca, Mo-Chica, M.B. Post and Canele, who will be plating their Shelled Bean Salad.
There may be many a nightowl in the circles I run, but I still can’t remember the last time I heard or read about breakfast. Brunch is the meal of leisure over sustenance and a time when friends can order eggs or sandwiches. Brunch makes it okay to drink before noon. And brunch brings purpose to sleeping in on a weekend morning.
Enter Playa Rivera, Chef John Sedlar’s newest venture in the space that was formerly Grace. While dinner service may be pricey for some, Playa’s brunch menu (in lieu of happy hour) is a great foray into Sedlar’s Santa Fe-influenced cuisine. Entrees range from $10-15, with no shortage of the chef’s artistic expression – or cinematic appreciation, for that matter (you may find a scene from Clockwork Orange beneath your Tamal).
But do not start with the entree.Â The don’t-miss at Playa Rivera’s brunch is the blue corn muffins, which areÂ made withÂ organic cornmeal and furnished with almond butter (I could’ve spread that butter on anything). And if you do order a cocktail, be sure you look at Julian Cox’sÂ fullÂ selection before you autopilot that bloody mary or mimosa. The sangria is no ordinary sangria, but a complex cocktail with a hint of sour. It’s so good!
As for the entrees, IÂ have resigned to the fact thatÂ in early-day weekend meals, eggsÂ are king. In a recent episode of “Ladies Who Brunch” at Playa,Â I sorely wished that my Croque
Monsieur Senor was a Senorita. The layers of chorizo and queso in each biteÂ were really good, but when the eggs on three other plates waver at you with their perfectly poached,Â sunny and easy yolks, you can’t help but become envious.
The duck hash was one such example as two round eggs stood against a colorful plate of potatoes, delicious dark meat and arugula. It was as beautiful a display of savory as it was tasty.
For those more Santa Fe-inclined, go with one of the red chile-laden dishes, such as the Huevos Polenta. Once I was finished with my sandwich, I couldn’t help but steal spoonful after spoonful of Maya’s dish. Sedlar’s red chile really is that good, and dare I include “authentic.” (I am no expert, though I did enjoy a blitz in chile education during a weekend trip to Santa Fe with other food bloggers a year ago, in which we were lucky enough to observe Sedlar in his native environmental and culinary elements.)Â Ladled over theÂ top of a bed of polenta, the red chile just makes for a super delicious soup.
If you’re feeling like a tamale, you can enjoy that same redÂ chileÂ atop the Tamal – that of which are topped by some beautiful, sunny-side up eggs. Yes, you get the Clockwork Orange mural, as well. (In the latest series of dish art at Playa, expect a controversial radioactive theme – an homage to the chef’s native New Mexico.)
But just like the muffins, you best not miss dessert. The Sundae comes with a blue corn chocolate chip on a jar with goat’s milk ice cream, cocoanibs, hazelnuts as well as hazelnut syrup. If the blue corn muffins were mind-blowing, the dessert rendition is really the icing on the blue corn cake.
With just one experience under my belt,Â Playa Rivera brunch is in the ranks of being one of my favorite brunches in town. It won’t break the bank and isn’t one of your standard issue pancake-waffle breakfasts over mimosas. Not that those are necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a good idea to change the pace – and the cuisine – when the results come out this good.
We’ve been notified about this weekend for months, folks. And here it is: The 405 Freeway, on the stretch between the 10 and 101, will be closed Friday night (on-ramps begin closing at 7 PM, lanes at 10 PM) through Monday morning at 5 AM. What does that mean? Stay home if you can! Or find some alternative route (it’s hit the fan: even JetBlue is offering $4 flights from Long Beach to Burbank).
Or, you can make the most of it and, like me, Metro it on over to the other side of the 405. Pasadena, that is. I plan on taking the Red Line to the Gold Line since L.A. Street Food Fest will be providing shuttles from Memorial Park Station on the Gold Line to the Rose Bowl every 30 minutes. Plan on making it a Staycation? LASFF has also secured a special rate at the nearby Courtyard Marriott.
There are plenty of reasons to trek it on over to the Rose Bowl. Try these bites:
- Chef Christian Page / Tioneâ€™s Quality Meats
Sonoma Lamb Shoulder w/ Mediterranean Salsa
- Chef Dan Moody / Relate
Banana Bread Pudding a la Pecan Pie
- Chef Ricardo Zarate / Mo-Chica + Picca
Assorted Causas & Anticucho
- Chef Javier Plascencia / Mision 19
Grilled Oysters w/ Chicharron Short Rib,
Serrano Chili, Ponzu Butter, Lemongrass Foam
- Starry Kitchen
- Mariscos de Jalisco
Tacos Dorado de Camaron
- Sabina Bandera
- Naan Stop
- Antojitos Carmen
Alambre Taco + Mini Pambaso + Mini Squash Blossom Quesadilla
- Ramen JINYA + Robata JINYA
Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen
- Luxe Lounge Mixologist
And if that’s not enough, head on over to Bill of Street Gourmet LA’s post on the LASFF, whereby he details the vendors he brought up from Mexico to specially attend this event with their delicious bites. Also try on the entire vendor list for size if you really want to know who’s going to be there. This event has surely moved on from a representation of the nouveau food truck oversaturation we’ve seen in these parts. Get ready for some O.G. tastes!
If you want to live it up and try on the Luxe Lounge for size, mixologist Julian Cox and his specialty cocktails would be the perfect reason to push you over the edge. It’s $15 more and now, only the afternoon tickets are available so be sure to jump on it ASAP. But wait, I’ve got a link for $10 off (courtesy of the famed Test Kitchen) tickets. Just look below.
And in case you were worried about the lack of culinary (and political) star power at the event, never fear: Michael Voltaggio, Mayor Villaraigosa, Jonathan Gold, Lesley Bargar Suter, Walter Manzke and Marcela Velladoid will be on-hand to judge the bites at the fest. It’ll be exciting to see just who wins in their respective categories.
So, I will see you there – with multiple bites in-hand. Don’t forget: It’s presale only and there are only a few hours left to buy so don’t sleep on this one.
This may not be Kentucky, but if there existsÂ a people who are experts at pretending we’re something or some place we’re not, it’s us, Los Angeles. Celebrate your bets vicariously at the bar with a Mint JulepÂ tomorrow (and today, if you prefer to celebrate early). There are plenty of spots around town to get a good version of the spearmint muddled cocktail.
Dominickâ€™s (West Hollywood)
Dominick’s always brings a solid pour to the bar. Enjoy your Mint Julep surrounded byÂ the ’50′s era decor with tiled floors, dark woodÂ and deep booths. Or, since the wind has died down, sit outside on their pleasant patio while basking in the sunshine.
Open at 6 PM
8715 Beverly Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
Thirsty Crow (Silver Lake)
I’ll take any reason to revisit the brand new, 1930′s-themedÂ bourbon far from 1933 Group. In fact, I’ve already had their Mint Julep made with Maker’s Mark, and it was pretty fantastic. Don’t forget to playÂ a song for a nickel on their 1936 jukebox.Â
Open at 5 PM
The Thirsty Crow
2939 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026-2127
Elements Kitchen (Pasadena)
Enjoy the recently-revamped space with its modern decor while you sip your Bourbon and mint. As one of the most exciting places to eat or drink in Pasadena, Elements’ Mint Julep comes from a cocktail program designed by Michel Dozois of Neve Ice. What more could you ask for?
Bar Service 4 PM – 12 AM
37 S. El Molino Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
They may serve food under the “Modern Latin” column, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the official Kentucky Derby cocktailÂ from a menu designed by Julian T. Cox. The bar in the subtly-lit, elegant restaurant isÂ the site of one of the premier drinking spots in Downtown L.A.
Open for dinner at 5:30 PM
Late night until 1 AM (Food 12 AM)
1050 S. Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Copa d’OroÂ (Santa Monica)
Whatever the cocktail and whatever the occasion, it’ll turn out top notch at Copa d’Oro. Special order up a traditional version or pick one of Vincenzo Marianella’s gin variations (the Freezing Jess includes elderflower and a touch of absinthe).
Open at 5:30 PM
Santa Monica, CA 90401-2311
Have a great weekend with your mint-muddled cocktails!
There is something about a mint julep.
It is nectar imbibed in a dream,
As fresh as the bud of the tulip,
As cool as the bed of the stream.
There is something about a mint julep,
A fragrance beloved by the lucky.
And perhaps it’s the tint
Of the frost and the mint,
But I think it was born in Kentucky.
Excerpt from: A Drink With Something In It
You may be familiar with my previous Hatchi mentions, with each rendition featuring a high profile chef from around Los Angeles. The series at Breadbar has upped the ante for May, however, and will now be featuring the best mixologists on a monthly basis for, again, one night only as “Hatchi Mix” debuts on Thursday, May 6th.
The menu will feature cocktails priced at $8 each, made by the featured mixologist of the night. Kicking off the series is Devon Espinoza from Abbot Kinney’s Tasting Kitchen, who offers his â€œVive le Cocktailâ€ concept featuring pre-Prohibition libations – like the Sazerac, which is arguably America’s first cocktail, dating back to pre-Civil War New Orleans.Â Also on the menu: The Martinez (gin, vermouth, maraschino liqueur), by the legendary bartender Jerry Thomas in San Franciscoâ€™s Occidental Hotel during the late 1800s; the Manhattan, called the father of the Martinez and the grandmother of the Martini; and The Last Word, a Prohibition-era drink with gin, lime juice, Chartreuse and often with maraschino liqueur.
With a menu like that, it’ll be hard to pass this Hatchi Mix up. But keep on the lookout for future guest mixologists, like Joel Black of the CaÃ±a Rum Bar at The Doheny, highlighting Rum cocktails on June 3, andÂ Julian Cox of Rivera, with a focus on Tequilas on July 1. (Mmm…I hope that includes the Barbacoa.)
Thursday, May 6th, 2010
6 PM – 2 AM
$8 per cocktail
BreadBar Century City
10250 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90067
There may or may not be enough places to eat or drink in the block on 6th Street in Downtown Los Angeles. The problem: Where is the bar in all of Los Angeles specializing in tequila at which the drink menu isn’t automatically reduced to a range of flavored margaritas? Las Perlas – which only last Tuesday has joined the neighborhood of Must Bar, Nickel Diner, The Association Bar, The Varnish and Cole’s – is the answer to all your tequila and mezcal needs. The gag-inducing reputation tequila ill-earned with you during college thanks to all those discounted bottles of Jose Cuervo is light years away.
In this latest Cedd Moses (Seven Grand) venture, the space is comfortable and the atmosphere is casual yet festive. But the most important part – the elaborate drinks are made with utmost precision and the drink menu, written in marker on construction paper, is small but has something for everyone. The green backlit bar is impressive while the colorful plastic covering the tables retains that cantina feel. Pop in a few quarters in the personally-approved, brand new jukebox for the perfect, smokyÂ mezcal-sipping soundtrack. Or play a round of pool on a table as brand new as the bar itself (I’m 2 for 2).
Though I’m unsure how often the drink menu changes (I’m inclined to think hand-written infers somewhat regularly?) – the first installment seems to show Julian T. Cox (Rivera) and Raul Yrastorza (El Carmen) have in mind all the corners of your palate. My Jalisco was made of El Jimador Anejo Tequila, Carpano Antica Vermouth, orange bitters, Liquor 43 – complete with a brandy cherry at the bottom of my coupÃ© glass. It brought me back to my most favorite cocktail I consumed my last trip to New York at Mayahuel. It was delicious and complex – appropriately complimenting the anejo-aged tequila – and contrasted the sweet 400 Rabbits (Antiguo Reposado tequila, blackberries and port wine floated with pinot) that Fiona ordered. Certainly, the cocktail I will order on my second visit will be the Pablano Escobar (Sombra Mescal, muddled poblano chiles, pineapple) – a drink I witnessed being made for my neighbor at the bar and which seemed the most complicated recipe including the most garnishes. A spicy cocktail? I’m in – again and again.
107 E. Sixth Street
Los Angeles, CA