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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Favorite Moments of Los Angeles Food & Wine 2014

RivaBella’s Chef Luigi Fineo shaving black truffles over Sweet Corn Agnolotti with Parmesan – Lexus Grand Tasting #LAFW14

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:

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Saint Martha: An Unexpected Dining Destination in Koreatown

Pecan wood smoked brisket with hoisin, tiny lettuce & root vegetables

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.

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Kitchensurfing Cooks Chef-Driven, Chef-Prepared Meals In Your Home

Chef Ryan Rondeno Plating Dinner

With how often I do dining reviews, I tend to eat out a lot. So much that I will sometimes go for weeks without even visiting the grocery store and my cooking skills eventually become so rusty, I can’t help but wonder just how much I’d embarrass myself when it came time to entertain in my own home, again. (Okay, but seriously, I still have the basics down. I promise.)

And then there’s Kitchensurfing. First launched in New York, the Los Angeles incarnation launched just yesterday. I was provided several, succulent tastes at one Southern media dinner held in Venice last month, just so I could envision how it might play out were I to host something similar at my own place. Continue reading

Eating Your Way Through the 5th Annual Taste of Italy on October 12, 2013

Taste of Italy

The food events haven’t stopped, but The Taste of Italy looks to not only present a stellar line-up of food but an authentically Italian atmosphere. Just as a fundraiser for the Italian American Museum, slated to open in early 2014, should be. Luckily, I also have a special discount code for my readers to share that will score you $5 off, so stay tuned til after the jump.

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Celebrating Peruvian Independence Day at Mo-Chica

Paiche

The Los Angeles restaurant world is always evolving, and at ever furious speeds. There’s a new restaurant every week, it seems, and while we can’t help but look up for a moment when something new comes around the corner, it’s important to remember the good ones that are worth going back to.

It’s always a great time to revisit Mo-Chica, the Downtown L.A. incarnation of which just turned 1 a month ago. And over the weekend, Peruvian Independence Day was the occasion to do just that. From the Deysi Alvarez’s glorious cocktails to Ricardo Zarate’s bold-flavored dishes featuring top-notch seafood framed by exotic ingredients like rocoto, choclo and quinoa, it was a welcome reminder that despite all that, this is an accessible, delicious destination without the fuss near the Historic Core.

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Allumette Pushes the Envelope in Echo Park

Short Rib cooked in Pho, Xiu Mai, Scallion Pancake, Herbs

I first visited the space owned by Bill Didonna and Charles Kelly when it was Allston Yacht Club. Since then, the space had taken a 180 degree turn away from its incarnation as a casual, neighborhood spot. Though there’s no warmth lacking from the feel that emanated throughout Allston’s dining room, it has evolved to the kind of environment that encourages diners’ curiosity for new things.

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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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Five Upcoming Food & Drink Events You Won’t Want to Miss

LudoBites 4.0 Greatest Hits: White Asparagus Veloute, Mozzarella Mousse, Candied Olives, Fennel, Salmon Roe

Now would be a great time to finally and formally introduce you to my “Upcoming Events” column over on the right (–>). It’s but a few months old, but a great way to short-handedly let you know about the best things that are coming up as far as goings on in Los Angeles. It also means less pre-event write-ups, since you can get the skinny right in that column. (You’re welcome.)

For now, though, I’ve anticipated a slew of food events in our beloved city – especially while everyone’s trying to get everything wrapped up before the holidays. I believe the following, however, warrant special attention. Be sure to make your reservations & buy your tickets. Here they are, in order of date:

1. Now: LudoBites 10.0 Reservation Window Now Open (until 10:59 AM Thursday, November 29, 2012)

Right now we’re in the middle of a 24-hour window that first opened at 11 AM PST. So until 10:59 AM tomorrow (Thursday, November 29), you’ll get to enter the lottery for a reservation on one of 14 days (weekdays, December 4-21) of LudoBites 10.0 at Gram & Papa’s in Downtown LA. No guarantees that any of you will actually GET a reservation, but all we can do is try, try, try, right? (No seriously – don’t submit that form twice. It will make Krissy very mad. Just once, guys.) Protip: To increase your chances of getting a reservation, be sure to be as available as possible, since you have to fill out your available days and time slots. Or maybe that was obvious.

And if you don’t know what LudoBites is, by now, I’m afraid I can’t help you…or can I?

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The Great Los Angeles Walk Hits Melrose on Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Great LA Walk: Washington Blvd (2009)

Mark your calendars, walkers, runners, bikers and proud Angelenos. You won’t want to miss the Great LA Walk this Saturday. It’s a 17-mile walk from Downtown LA to the Pacific Ocean. It’s a way to say, “People DO walk in LA.” It’s a day-long appreciation of this city, whether you’re stopping for lunch, walking through one of countless urban enclaves, learning little-known facts about a historical landmark or stopping in to see a shop you’ve never even heard of before. Let’s be honest: It’s also bragging rights.

And this year, it’s a way to really get to know Melrose Avenue.

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