Monday, May 25, 2015
That's a lot of pressure to put on a frozen dessert, so let's assess this new and luxurious product that one chef said could convert Americans from ice cream to gelato.
What/who: Nancy's Fancy comes from Nancy Silverton, co-owner of Mozza, founder of La Brea Bakery and Beard award-winning pastry chef. They're made at the L.A. Creamery facility in Chatsworth.To me, gelato only tastes different from ice cream when you're eating it in Italy or at least housemade at a gelato specialty shop. So to my taste, these packaged pints are on the same playing field as other upscale ice creams found around L.A.
Flavors considered in reverse order of preference:
1) Butterscotch budino with salted caramel swirl: Mozza is known for its uber-rich butterscotch budino dessert; this version adds a salted caramel swirl. The layer upon layer of deeply caramelized flavor is wonderful but best in small doses; a little too sweet overall. B
2) Frutti di bosco: Berries with Greek yogurt have a bright, deep berry flavor. Almost too intense, but perfect paired with something blander. A-
3) Coconut stracciatella: This gelato surprisingly has no dairy, just luscious coconut cream with finely ground chocolate shavings. It's way creamier than the typical sorbet or soy ice cream, with a fairly strong salty component that I personally found addictive playing off the bittersweet chocolate. A
4) Roasted banana with bourbon & pecan praline: It's easy to tell how good this is going to taste from the name alone. The banana flavor is subtle, but combined with the bourbon undercurrent and crunchy sweet praline bits, it's the winning entry so far. A+
Price: $10.99 a pint. Yep, it's a lot, but it's also the same as Jeni's and in line with places like Salt & Straw and Carmela. If you're a quality over quantity ice cream person, as I am, it could be worth the splurge. There's probably no gelato that will actually get Americans to stop eating cheap, low-quality ice cream, but this could definitely change your bringing-dessert-to-a-friend's-house-game.
I'm looking forward to trying some other flavors in the works like Chunky peanut butter with salted peanuts and Stumptown spiced coffee with cocoa nibs.
Available at: Gelson's Markets
( I was provided this ice cream to try but I would have definitely tried it on my own as well.)
at 3:27 PM
Saturday, May 09, 2015
|The interior is brighter and more open than before.|
In this month's Los Feliz Ledger, EatingLA paid a return visit to Carousel, which has recently redecorated.
Why to go: After more than 30 years, a recent facelift and a beer and wine license is the perfect reason to revisit Carousel in East Hollywood, which still turns out some of the city's best Middle Eastern cooking.
The look: Carousel retained its 1980s mini-mall ambiance for decades, while the more lavishly decorated
location on Brand Boulevard in Glendale seemed to get all the attention from the Tcholakian family. Now Carousel's original restaurant on Hollywood Blvd near Normandie is more inviting, with an opened-up layout, black and white photos and carved wood accents replacing the hotel-room art and frosted glass dividers. Bright canvas awnings shield the sidewalk tables from the parking lot, and some even bring their doggies to dine al fresco.
|Carousel is now serving beer and wine|
The food: After trying "modern" Mediterranean dishes elsewhere like kale tabbouli, you might find
yourself dreaming of Carousel's perfectly-balanced fattouch salad or its bracingly tart, herb-flecked cabbage salad that's the perfect foil to the richness of charred lamb kebabs or creamy hummus. The homestyle Lebanese dishes at Carousel define the flavors that others experiment with, but sometimes the original is still the best.
|Vegetarian sampler is the perfect way to try everything|
Entree kebabs and samplers are a good value for plenty of food, but make sure to explore the more unusual corners of the appetizer menu. Tabbouli comes in regular and a "red" variety with sauteed tomatoes and onions, while hummus gains another dimension with toppings of ground beef or Armenian soujouk sausage. Carousel was where I first tried muhammara, the fruity, lightly- spiced dip made of red peppers, walnuts and pomegranate, and it's hard to find a better version. I had already tried fattoush salad before I ever went to Carousel, growing fond of the combination of crunchy pita slices, cucumbers, tomatoes and purslane. But as soon as I tasted Carousel's bright citrus-sumac vinaigrette, I could tell a new standard had been set for the signature salad.
Kebbeh, or steak tartare, is one of the most popular traditional dishes, but if you prefer beef to be cooked, try Beef Kofta, fried torpedos of ground beef and pine nuts that start the meal off just right. You'll want to assemble various deliciously garlicky concoctions using pita bread and meats as a base, so make sure appetizers include several spreads like smooth eggplant mutabbal or moussaka and creamy lebneh (yogurt cheese).
Save room for baklava and Armenian coffee after dinner, and or try something different like the fragrant rosewater and Lebanese cheese desserts.
To drink: Lebanese and Armenian beer and wine work well with herb and onion-laden dishes, or try
housemade lemonade, bright green tarragon soda pop or traditional yogurt tun drink.
Must-tries: Muhammara dip, fattoush salad, eggplant moussaka, chicken lula kebab, lamb kebab
Good to know: Middle Eastern restaurants easily kids, vegetarians and gluten-free diners. Carousel's catering also feeds many of the Eastside's parties and celebrations. The menu at the Glendale location may be slightly larger, but Hollywood location is convenient with its parking lot, and it's easier to carry on a conversation without the live entertainment featured in Glendale some nights.
Carousel, 5112 Hollywood Blvd., 323-660-8060
at 10:52 AM
Sunday, April 26, 2015
|Reko Ethopian filtered coffee gets the day started alertly|
The stretch of Silver Lake between Sunset Junction and Broome St. on Rowena is lacking some good coffee action. Say Cheese is serviceable but other than that, might as well just get a free sample at Trader Joe's. So it was exciting to see Go Get 'Em Tiger, the serious coffee outpost from Larchmont from Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski (this year's U.S. champion barista), open a coffee pop-up.
|Coffees available include the unusual turmeric/ginger/almond/macadamia cappucino|
Go Get 'Em Tiger
2630 Hyperion Ave.
Open 7 am to 2 pm or so, until August or so
at 9:20 AM
Thursday, April 16, 2015
The Atwater Village Festival is back Sunday, April 26, for its third year, sponsored by craft beer destination Link 'n Hops. L.A. breweries Angel City and Golden Road, along with Valencia's Wolf Creek, will be joined by Boulevard Brewing, Belching Beaver (famous for their peanut butter milk stout), Bravery Brewing and more. This year's festival will also feature the event's first cider booth from Sonoma Cider Company.
Wine tasting, gourmet sausages, food trucks and music are also on tap.
Want to win tickets to the festival? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your idea for the perfect beer float pairing with a brewery featured at the festival. Tell us which beer you would pair with which ice cream flavor in an email with your full name as it appears on your driver's license and we'll pick the best combo to win two free tickets.
The festival runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and tickets, available on the website, are $35.
at 9:23 AM
Saturday, April 04, 2015
What if one of the best Thai restaurants in Los Angeles opened in Hollywood, but hardly anyone realized it?
Lacha Somtum has been quietly rolling along for about a year now, while trendier Thai restaurants in Silver Lake and Chinatown get all the attention.
The restaurant attracted a small flurry of write-ups, mostly for its specialty in more than a dozen types of somtum, the tangy, spicy Northern Thai papaya salad. But the Thai Town restaurant, which is typically deserted around 7 p.m. (presumably it gets busier later on), is far more than just a papaya salad gimmick spot with plenty of other dishes that put twists on traditional Isaan cuisine.
|Papaya salad with black crab, Thai eggplant|
But first, the papaya salad: Green papayas aren’t sweet like their orange relatives. Shredded with tart lime juice dressing, the salads are a refreshing – although still spicy — counterpart to hot soups and curries. The usual preparation combines crushed peanuts, fresh chilies, long beans and dried shrimp or fresh crab. Here you can add salted egg, crispy pork, clear noodles, Thai eggplant or ground catfish to the fiery mix. Some don’t even have papaya at all, but instead offer corn, mango or fruit salad instead of the shredded fruit.
|Kon Kaen-style duck larb|
Besides papaya salad, one of the other mainstays of the Laos-adjacent Isaan region is larb, a salad based on ground meat mixed with chilies, lemongrass and lime juice. Crispy fried larb -- ground pork patties stuffed with cilantro, chilies, rice powder and lime juice -- are a terrific way to start a meal. For something a little less fried, the tangy duck larb is a must and is rounded out by roasted rice powder to create a flavor bomb of staggering proportions that ranks with the year’s best dishes.
|nam kha tood - crispy rice salad|
Crispy rice salad isn’t easy to find on typical menus, so by all means try Nam Kha Tood, where puffed crispy rice throws a wildly flavored party with ginger, chile, peanuts, ground pork and green onion. Silver Lake’s Night + Market’s version might be a bit better balanced, but this version draws no complaints.
Northern Thai isn’t really about noodles, so while the special crab pad thai is solid — if a little too sweet — take this chance to explore other areas of Thai food, like the hot pots bursting with giant prawns and tiny squid in a lemongrass-perfumed broth.
If you’re eating with several people, try yet another deep-fried indulgence: mussel pancakes — a mild and crispy mountain of battered mollusks baked into an egg base, topped with bean sprouts. Eat it right away for maximum enjoyment.
|crispy fried pork larb patties|
Open for lunch until midnight, the restaurant is usually practically empty earlier in the evening, making it a good choice for groups or a spontaneous meal. Delivery is available but many of the deep-fried dishes will work much better eaten on site.
5171 Hollywood Blvd.
Lacha Somtum was reviewed in April's Los Feliz Ledger.
at 12:33 PM
Monday, March 02, 2015
Known for its flavorful Belgian-style beers and wildly artistic labels, Brouwerij West is about to take a huge jump into the public eye when it opens a brewery and tasting room in San Pedro this summer. The four year-old microbrewer, which until now has been contracting space at other breweries, has leased a World War II-era wooden warehouse across from the harbor and next to Crafted L.A. that's sure to become a very in-demand area in the next few years when a few more restaurants and stores move in.
While the brewery and tasting room are expected to open in July, the cafe and bottling line/retail store will open a bit later. Due to seismic issues, it's been scaled down a bit from the original full restaurant from Waterloo & City's Brendan Collins that was originally envisioned. Brewmaster Brian Mercer has ordered a Meura 2001 Micro brewing system with a mash filter that saves time and water. Speaking of conservation, the brewery will be completely solar-powered, making it one of the greenest breweries anywhere.
Architects Oonagh Ryan & Associates are designing the space which will remain very industrial. Mercer promises that the increased capacity will allow "a lot of one-offs, specialty beers, wild beers and fresh fruit beers." Of course Brouwerij will continue its program of commissioning an array of international artists to do graphically-diverse labels that avoid the usual craft beer tropes of monks and abbeys. Unfortunately the stock of my favorite Dog Ate My Homework blackberry saison has been depleted, but we got to taste their terrific black cat-adorned Saison Extra as well as the Tripel and Mor Mor Quad.
Look for some very cool Mark Mothersbaugh-designed bottles to debut after the brewery is up and running -- but no IPA. Mercer thinks there's plenty of bitter brews out there already.
With cruise ships stopping at the pier right across the street and a large nearby outdoor event space where Cirque de Soleil was recently based, as well as an oceanographic institute, there's plenty of potential customers for Brouwerij West -- so look out for this summer's opening before it becomes a mob scene.
at 6:22 PM
Saturday, February 28, 2015
It's been a while since the Silver Lake area has seen a real barbecue restaurant. For a while in the late 2000s, there was Territory BBQ on Hoover, where you could buy vinyl and hang out on a funky patio, then there was the short-lived BBQ at Atwater Crossing. Other than the very worthy Big Mista's at the Atwater Farmer's Market, that's pretty much been it for the past decade. Charcoal aims to fix that with chef Jeremy Zimmerman and a big 'ol smoker hauled all the way from Arizona. Here's some first impressions:
|Bucket o' bacon and pickles|
Where: 2611 N. Hyperion Ave., 323-300-5500
Why: You've a hankering for some smoky meats with a stiff cocktail or a craft beer and Bludso's is too far to drive.
|toast your own s'mores|
The look: Barbarella Bar and its adjoining restaurant space have always been saddled with an odd-shaped room, but they've made the most of it. Charcoal features a large central table with barstool seats, lots of stacked wood to prove the cue is real and blackboard walls. The sidewalk outside is unfortunately a bit narrow and the street too busy to make the outdoor tables a comfy spot.
|open faced pulled pork was a hit|
Would we return? It's walking distance for me, so definitely. Brunch is coming soon with Southern specialties, and Happy Hour is every day from 4-7 p.m.
(EatingLA was invited to try this restaurant.)
at 11:07 AM
Sunday, February 15, 2015
|The original Idle Hour is now restored to look much the same|
The look: The interior is just like being inside a barrel, with curved wood-covered walls and a tall round roof. Outdoors is another surprise: the Bulldog Cafe from the Petersen Auto Museum, a smaller replica of the one that once stood on West Washington Blvd., has been relocated and can be rented out for parties. The rest of the patio is comfy with a firepit and picnic tables, and dogs will be allowed.
The drinks: There's a selection of draft cocktails (I liked the Maid with tequila, aloe liqueur, mint and lime), a few updated but fairly simple house cocktails and two bottled and carbonated choices, all $12. About 20 taps of California-focused beer include rotating choices like an autumnal Sonoma Bourbon Cider, Ladyface Red Rye and Smog City Porter.
Idle Hour Bar
4824 Vineland Ave.
at 3:49 PM
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Dune is still in its soft opening stage, but so far the small sandwich spot is turning out some unconventional but quite satisfying pita flatbreads in a small Glendale Blvd. space next to Juice and near Viet Noodle. The counter man wasn't very chatty but did say that the food doesn't represent any particular country, just the Middle East, and that the owner is from Poland. Or possibly Colorado. (It's actually Elf owner Scott Zwiezen.)
|organic falafel sandwich at Dune|
3143 Glendale Blvd.
at 9:51 AM
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
After nine months using basically the same footprint as El Conquistador, El Condor owner Dustin Lancaster of Bar Covell and L&E Oyster realized the tiny upstairs bar and secluded back bar weren't creating a very good flow in the Silver Lake modern Mexican bar and restaurant. The feng shui just wasn't working, he explained, so a long L-shaped wooden bar now stretches across the entire downstairs area for maximum margarita-ordering efficiency. The front patio is now glassed-in while the cozy upstairs balcony is strictly for seating.
The menu has been streamlined just a bit -- though some are sad to lose the tortas and main dishes, it seems tacos and tequila (along with quesadillas, chips and enchiladas) are what the people want. There's also a fine selection of mezcals and carefully-crafted Mexican-influenced cocktails that are a world away from El Conquistador's neon green swill. Happy hour is 5-7 pm and 10-12 am.
Blending Courvoisier, Averna, Aperol & Sambuca, @elcondorLA's Hidden Path cocktail is a dark, licoricey mood-piece. pic.twitter.com/yujRJJdGrp
— Matthew Chernov (@MatthewChernov) January 21, 2015
With the boutique Hotel Covell set to open any day upstairs from Bar Covell, Lancaster is a very busy guy. He's also getting very close to opening Augustine, a wine bar in the Covell mold on Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks. After Home State and Mother Dough, the Covell block is filling up fast: The former two-story house next to Bar Covell is already set to feature a Go Get 'Em Tiger Coffee in six months or so; Lancaster is hoping that McConnell's Ice Cream will possibly join the coffee crowd.
at 5:27 PM