As April and thus, National Grilled Cheese Month, comes to a close, I have come to realize that: 1) This classic sandwich needs no one to vouch for its deliciousness the rest of the year, and 2) Who has time to keep track of the celebratory day or month of every food in existence, anyway? (Oh right: Thank you, PR pitches.)
After all, the sandwich has had its own Invitational here for years on end, to somewhat sadly conclude this year as we food enthusiasts find other foods and combinations of food to fawn over. But let’s not forget that as there have been multiple storefronts dedicated to cupcakes and only cupcakes, for a very long time, dedicated grilled cheese slingers has also become a thing.
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.
There’s enjoying wine, and there’s enjoying wine with food. And maybe you live or are near Melrose just for the moment, but you probably were looking for something a little less bro-tastic. While pairings have gotten increasingly more attention as of late, it’s hard to come by an expert without the expectation of spending an exorbitant amount as a result of access to that expertise. Thankfully, Colonial Wine Bar brings that luxury to Melrose diners at neighborhood prices.
Chef de Cuisine Ryan Otey, who has all of Patina, Tasting Kitchen and Villetta on his resume, is serving up some rustic dishes in the intimate wine bar. The bar itself lines the wall as your eye is caught by the glass-encased wine cellar in the back. The overall feel of the crown-molding-adorned place is casual with plenty of play available towards getting as serious about the food and wine as needed.
You’ll find familiar dishes such as deviled eggs, bone marrow, flatbreads, burrata and heirloom tomatoes on the menu, but not-to-miss is their lamb – whether as meatballs or a burger. Their mushrom risotto is also solid, appropriately buttressing the definition of “comforting wine bar” as Colonial stands. There are a few beer taps behind the bar, as well, where I pleasantly found Hitachino White Ale on draft.
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 are a few places to eat and drink in town that I might be guilty of having prejudged based upon what I know about their location and reputation. I’m not saying that restaurants that are celebrity favorites couldn’t possibly serve good food. But let’s be honest, we’re afraid of risking bad service at a “hotspot” as non-celebrities. The food’s probably more expensive. And lest we be mistaken for those scenesters who seek validation via famous elbow-rubbing… *shudder*
(Can anyone tell me if The Ivy actually serves good food and provides prompt service in a manner on par with the concluding check? And how is that service – and how famous was your “up-and-coming waiter” – at Gjelina?)
In a former life, Cecconi’s was still Morton’s and the site of Elton John’s post-Oscar party, wherein my college girlfriends and I cruised by just to get a glimpse of some major motion picture star waiting for valet. Internally, I made the location die in relevance along with my n00b Angeleno self.
Full disclosure:Leave it to a media dinner to allow me to reassess.
I don’t valet. I drive a convertible with the top down all the time (now with the weather being warm) that, in what I am sure is a subconscious way of acting out my love-hate-love LA self, I keep so dirty you could write “Wash me” on my rims in brake dust.
But let me describe what a great time I had a Cecconi’s. While I don’t comment on service when it’s a media dinner, I have to say that I immensely enjoyed all the cocktails, which had stronger pours than I expected (don’t be fooled by their often pinkish colors). The food was not ground-breaking but appreciatingly solid in their execution. Gin lovers will appreciate this 14 drink menu and some selections, like the Mexican-influeced Jalisco Sour or Picante Paloma, will surprise you.
The selection on the menu is especially savvy. There’s variety without the dangers of being overwhelming. Clear categories line the all-day one pager from apps to salads and “Carpaccio & Tartare.” “Charcoal Grill” and “Wood Oven” items are the priciest yet half-portions are available for all the salads and almost all the pasta and risotto. In combination with the tasty, Italian-influeced cocktails, it’s all perfect for a day on the patio with the ladies.
Their most popular items, and understandably so, are highlighted as Cicchetti, which are also served in the middle of the day. They effectively supplement or comprise your meal, these Italian “tapas” (the scallops and bone marrow qualify as such).
But don’t gloss over the pasta (I have a hard time doing so, anyway). Their linguine with clams comes flavored with a bit of sea urchin and the rabbit pappardelle is as solid as any in the city – or even better – as there were generous yet complementary chunks of meat in lieu of the usual strings of meat I often see interpersed between the fat noodles. And it was all al dente.
The best part in regards to the pasta is that they’ve just released their Tris di Pasta special on Tuesdays at dinner: Try a sampler of 3 rotating pastas for $18. They’ve also started to feature a different, seasonal pizza with ingredients sourced from the local farmer’s market on Wednesdays.
And back on that celebrity tip: Our table, which was positioned on the beautiful outdoor patio separated from the driveway by foliage as is typical for Melrose place, sat next to another who was celebrating the wrap of a certain dance competition TV show while I spied a certain Elizabeth Taylor impersonator at the bar. So that celebrity factor was certainly still there; it just failed to validate my prejudices.
(All food and drink were hosted.)
Mon – Wed
8 AM – Midnight?
Thur – Sat
8 AM – 1 AM
8 AM – 11 PM
Cecconi’s 8764 Melrose Avenue West Hollywood, CA 90069 310.432.2000
Everyone knows Los Angeles is a wonderful place to eat, with unmatched culinary diversity – and mobility – found anywhere else in the world. Fortunately, there are two food events happening today and tomorrow with focuses on food trucks – O.G. and nouveau – that bring you their goods in a special setting for one night only. If I weren’t out of town, I’d personally attend these two events. Instead, you’ll have to go in my place, represent and see what they’re all about.
One is brought to you by the celebrated return of Street Food Mondays, curated by Bill Esparza (Street Gourmet LA) and Evan Kleiman (owner of Angeli Caffe). Antojitos de mi Abuelita, a food truck representing Mexico City-style antojitos, or masa-based â€œlittle whims,â€ will be serving up “Comida corrida,” or a 3-course meal for only $28.
The other is a collaboration between Cast Iron Gourmet and Frysmith food truck – more on that after the jump.
Dogfish Head, the Delawarean brewery that commands great enthusiasm amongst anyone who loves beer, is trekking to the West Coast this October for what promises to be an epic dinner. This beer dinner, the first with Dogfish Head in Los Angeles,Â will be held at none other than Chef Eric Greenspan’s The Foundry on Melrose. I can only guess that the personalities alone at the helm of this event will provide ample entertainment to pair with your…well, pairings.
On that Sunday afternoon, expect 5 award-winning Dogfish Head ales paired expertly with 5 of The Foundry’s dishes. Guiding you will be Bryant Goulding, Dogfish Head West Coast Sales Manager and Brewery Rep; Gev Kazanchyan, hospitality professor; Randy Clemens, certified beer judge and celebrity chef Eric Greenspan, himself. The $79 price point is all-inclusive and quite a steal for 5 courses with pairings.Â
Space is very limited, so be sure to get your tickets now! I’ll see you there.