Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Absinthe

First Impression: Black Hogg

HoggWe are in Silver Lake, a part of town where you will soon be able to travel from bar to bar by skimboarding on a shallow lake of artisanal ale. And we are at Black Hogg, the newest of the gastropubs, although as yet you will have to settle for ginger beer and Mexican Coke. Black Hogg's owner and chef, Eric Park, is a veteran of New York's Spotted Pig, ground zero for the gastropub thing, as well as for the current fixation with pork in all of its various and glorious manifestations. And so we are in the middle of a pig explosion here, table littered with pork belly tacos, longaniza hash, and a wonderful, sweet-fleshed chop from a Duroc-breed pig, rubbed with salt and pepper, draped over a berm of Cuban-style black beans and rice. (Cafe Tropical, the oldest Cuban coffeehouse in this part of town, is only a few yards away.)

Are there accommodations for customers not quite down with the idea of bacon lardons battered and fried like popcorn shrimp? Sure: There are slices of toasted baguette smeared with fresh uni and herbs, platters of Bluepoint oysters with pickle juice mignonette, and thick slices of brioche stuffed with sauteed wild mushrooms. Park reinterprets the famous St. John (and Spotted Pig) marrowbone by serving the split, roasted bone with sharply dressed cilantro instead of flat parsley and tortillas instead of toast –- it's different enough to become another dish entirely, a dish that tastes like Silver Lake instead of the London abattoir district. And if the idea of driving a mile down the road to Salina's churro truck seems too arduous, the hot churros served with a little cup of walnut-oil ganache will more than suffice. Eric Park understands L.A.

2852 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 953-2820, blackhogg.com

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Photo credit: Jonathan Gold/Los Angeles Times

5 Questions for Danny Elmaleh

Dan Danny Elmaleh is the executive chef of both Cleo and Mercato di Vetro.  After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1995, Elmaleh worked at many restaurants around the world, including Jean Moulin in Japan and Ristorante Giannino in Milan. In 2001, he moved to Los Angeles, where he cooked at Josiah Citrin's Mélisse and Lemon Moon.  Eight years later, Elmaleh began his partnership with SBE Entertainment Group.  He is now executive chef for all its restaurants.

What’s coming up next on your menu? I am always thinking about new, seasonally influenced items for the menus. Specific to Vetro, I’m focused on an egg dish. I’ve been playing around with a spicy tripe soup with egg, or because mushrooms are in season, possibly a spin on English mushroom toast with egg.

Latest ingredient obsession? Salt is something that’s always fascinated me. Not just from a flavor profile, but also from a moisture extraction perspective. There’s such a delicate balance in the way that salt influences the flavors and textures of other ingredients. Our Hen of Woods dish at Vetro is a great example of how executing the right balance of salt before, during and after it’s cooked is vital in creating the perfect flavor.

What’s your favorite breakfast? There’s a delicious Tunisian breakfast that my father used to make for me. It calls for pat-brik filled with sautéed tuna and mushrooms, and melted cheese and eggs. The pat-brik is like a spring roll paper and you fold it over the ingredients and brown until crispy. If done just right, the cheese is melted and yolks are runny. Hands down my favorite.

The one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without, other than your knives? My hands –- that’s the No. 1 tool in being a chef for touch, feel and the art of manipulating ingredients with precision. Next to the hands, I’m always looking for a spoon, which I use for almost everything, including tasting, measuring, plating and mixing.

What chef has most influenced you? My dad. He opened the first Moroccan restaurant in Japan, and I grew up working with him in the kitchen. Having that experience at a young age was a major influence on me and has served me very well throughout my career. Today, he owns Simon’s Café in the Valley.

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twitter.com/ LeahRodrigues24

Photo credit: SBE

Next Door Lounge set to open in Hollywood

Nextdoor

Next Door Lounge's doors are expected to open Wednesday in Hollywood. The speakeasy-inspired space is the brainchild of the same team that created the Corner, which is located just next door to the new Highland Avenue eatery.

Owner Ferris Wehbe wanted 1920s Hollywood for his latest venture and he got it with its oversized leather couches, antiqued cocktail tables and silent black-and-white films.

Edison Downtown barman Joseph Brooke, winner of NBC's "On the Rocks: The Search of America's Top Bartender," will be picking up the reins at Next Door Lounge as head barman. Classic 1920s cocktails to be served at Next Door include the French 75, George Burns and Ward 8, along with more than a few modern cocktails like the Volstead & Vice, made with Illegal Mezcal Joven, Pernod absinthe, cucumber water, agave nectar and lime juice.

And for the kitchen: Executive chef Fidel Mendez fires up the wood-burning oven for some tapas and pizza, among other contemporary bar food items.

The lounge is open five days a week, Tuesdays through Sundays from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

1154 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, (323) 465-5505; www.nextdoorhollywood.com. 

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--Caitlin Keller

Photo: Next Door Lounge. Credit: Carl Larsen

3 Food Events You Should Know About: Grilled cheese at Tender Greens, more cocktails at Michael's, and souffle at Surfas

Souffle1Grilled cheese amidst the greens: For just two more days, in celebration of National Grilled Cheese Month, and to prepare for his participation in the Grilled Cheese Invitational (this Saturday), chef Eric Hulme will be offering a grilled cheese creation at Tender Greens in West Hollywood.

8759 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood; (310) 358-1919; www.tendergreens.com.

Ladies' night: On April 26 from 6 to 10 p.m., restaurateur Michael McCarty and resident mixologist Jason Robey host the third installment of guest mixologist events at Michael's. This event will feature top female L.A. bartenders Jaymee Mandeville of Drago Centro and Cassie Sealing of Red Medicine, both mixing up signature cocktails highlighting Dimmi Liquore di Milano and Hum Botanical Spirit.

1147 3rd St., Santa Monica; (310) 451-0843; www.michaelssantamonica.com.

Let them eat souffle!: On Friday May 6 from 10 a.m. to noon, Surfas in Los Angeles is hosting a cookbook signing of "Rise to the Occasion: A French Food Experience" by Hedda Gioia Dowd, Cherif Brahmi and Celine Chick. In addition, there will be a step-by-step souffle cooking demo.

8777 Washington Blvd; Culver City, CA  90232-2346; (310) 559-4770; www.surfaslosangeles.com.

-- Emma Wartzman

Photo credit: Beatrice De Gea /Los Angeles Times

Vermont Kitchen & Bar's new dinner shows are drawing sold-out crowds

Vermont-Blog

Under new owners Wayne Elias and Chris Diamond, Vermont Kitchen & Bar has transformed over the last year from a restaurant known for its sedate, romantic qualities to a one-stop dining, drinking and entertainment destination. 

There are three distinct areas to pick your poison: Vermont Kitchen, which serves as the main dining room; Rockwell, vt, which has a lovely outdoor area and a club/lounge vibe with DJs on weekends; and Barre, vt, an intimate, cave-like room for drinking and dining.

Music and dance enthusiasts are flocking to Barre, vt, to see a new series of shows called "For The Record," featuring live performances of soundtracks used in the films of different directors. The current show, which runs Thursday through Saturday nights, conjures the sounds of Baz Luhrmann. Previous incarnations have showcased Quentin Tarantino and John Hughes.

During the spirited performances -- many by Broadway-trained actors -- guests sip absinthe cocktails, munch on ribeye steak, mahi mahi, flatbreads and more, while getting an earful of musical candy.

To read the full story in Calendar, click here.

Vermont Kitchen & Bar, 1714 N. Vermont Ave., L.A. (323) 661-6163; www.vermontkitchenandbar.com.

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Sampler Platter: Agura sushi soft-opens, absinthe in Rome, Halloween cupcakes

It looks innocuous, but the Diavaolo, a chocolate milkshake with 80-proof absinthe, packs a big punch. It's served at Latte Piu, one of two

A cupcake so cute it's scary, a Roman milk bar and a new sushi restaurant on La Cienega lead our food news roundup.
-- Teetotalers may be more depressed than drinkers. Time
-- Absinthe in a chocolate shake? Welcome to Latte Piu, a milk bar in Rome that’s patterned after "Clockwork Orange's" Korova. Los Angeles Times
-- Agura sushi on La Cienega soft-opens. Blackburn + Sweetzer
-- Figs, cupcakes, Guy Fieri and seven more things David Chang and Anthony Bourdain hate. Grub Street LA
-- San Diego Meat Co. recalls 925 pounds of beef products due to E. coli threat. Los Angeles Times
-- Red Mango has a new seasonal flavor: pumpkin spice.
-- Most adorable Halloween cupcake ever? We Love You So
-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: It looks innocuous, but the Diavaolo, a chocolate milkshake with 80-proof absinthe, packs a big punch. It's served at Latte Piu, a milk bar in Rome. Credit: Baxter Holmes / For The Times
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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.