Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Cheese

3 Food Events You Should Know About: Cognoscenti Coffee tasting + Royal/T; Carmela Ice Cream at DomaineLA; Library Alehouse's SourFest


Coffee time: Royal/T, Culver City's Japanese pop-art gallery and maid cafe, hosts a Cognoscenti Coffee tasting, along with food pairings from cheesemonger Sebastian Robin Craig of the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills and Jessica Koslow of Sqirl. Cognoscenti Coffee founder Yeekai Lim will be pouring Four Barrel coffee. There will be artisanal cheeses, homemade pickles, seasonal jams and specialty breads and baked goods. A three-course menu includes: Lacinato kale salad with Sqirl’s preserved Meyer lemons, Santa Rosa plum dressing, and Lou Rey raw sheep Basque cheese, paired with chilled Ethiopia Welena Suke Quto coffee; a European cheese plate with Sqirl’s homemade pickles and Proof’s Concord grape focaccia, paired with hot Kenya Murang’a Theri and chilled Costa Rica La Concha Typica. Aug. 3, 4 to 8 p.m. Tasting sessions start every half-hour. Poetry reading starts at 7 p.m. in the back space. Tickets are $18 per person, available at http://coffeexfood.eventbrite.com or call Royal/T. 8910 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 559-6300, www.royal-t.org. 

Have your wine with your ice cream: Local ice cream maker Carmela Ice Cream unveils new wine-based sorbets at wine shop DomainLA in West Hollywood. Carmela founder and flavor developer Jessica Mortarotti collaborated with sommelier Heather Willens to create two summer wine sorbets, based on Raventos i Blanc Sparkling Cava and Caluna Malbec blend (Willens' own brand). Sorbets and wines available for tasting. Sunday, July 24, 2 to 5 p.m. Advance tickets are $6 (through the Domain547 website) or $8 at the door. 6801 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 932-0280, www.domaine547.com. 

SourFest kick-off: Library Alehouse celebrates all beers sour, starting July 25 with a visit from Orange County's Bruery. Featured beers: the Wanderer (City Beer collaboration); Marrón Acidifié (Cigar City collaboration); Pharaoh; Hottenroth Berliner Weisse; and Saison de Lente. A cheese pairing from Bruery Provisions cheesemonger Kendra Birdwell and Cicerone Thomas Kelley also will be available. Throughout SourFest, which runs until Aug. 4, Library Alehouse will dedicate 10 of its 29 taps to beers that bring the sour, rotating through 30 sour beers. See a SourFest draft list after the jump. 2911 Main St., Santa Monica, (310) 314-4855, www.libraryalehouse.com.


Best sophisticated summer dessert ever?

Sniffing out snail roe -- in Las Vegas

Tim Burton's cocktail

-- Betty Hallock 

Photo: Cognoscenti Coffee at Proof Bakery. Credit: Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

Continue reading »

California cheese legend Ig Vella dies


Ignazio "Ig" Vella, the grand old man of California's cheesemakers, has died. Vella was artisanal before the word became a cliche. His father introduced the dairy's Dry Jack before World War II, looking for a domestic alternative to Parmesan when Italian cheeses weren't available. More than 80 years later, California's artisanal dairy scene has exploded, but there still isn't a better cheese made in the state.


Picnic time

Hot poppa

Jambon beurre

--Russ Parsons

Photo: Ignazio Vella sits in his storage room in 2004. Credit: Jonathan Sprague

Pack or pick up a picnic this summer

Joans Whether you’re heading to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl (or the Ford or the Greek…), a star-gazing party at the Griffith Observatory or out to one of Southern California’s many beaches, summer promises warmer, longer-lasting days and is reason enough to pack a picnic to enjoy the season-to-be-spent-outdoors.

And if you’re too busy to pack your own, there are plenty of local eateries happy to do it for you -- for a price, of course:

The Larder at Tavern: The shop offers many worldly (or locally, ahem) themed picnic boxes including “The Matador,” “The Brentwood,” “The All-American” and “The Young Frenchman.” The All-American picnic box comes with fried chicken with buttermilk dressing, an avocado, cilantro and lime corn salad, a watermelon salad with tomato, mint and feta, a baguette, a lemon shortbread bar for dessert and a Chardonnay wine pairing. Picnics are $28 per box. 11648 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood, (310) 806-6466, tavernla.com.

Joan’s on Third: The picnic box at Joan’s is filled with a bounty of items from their picnic menu, available only during the summer months; entrees include the chicken Milanese, grilled maple rosemary chicken breast and poached salmon, salads, cheese and salami plates, desserts such as the rustic apple pie and mini lemon bundt cake. There are wine suggestions to go with it. 8350 West 3rd St., L.A., (323) 655-2285, joansonthird.com.

Porta Via: The Italian eatery packs a picnic box for Pasadena Symphony and POPS goers. Traditional picnic boxes are $16 per person and contain an orzo pasta salad with feta and spinach, one of their signature sandwiches, like the Fra Mani artisan salami and fresh mozzarella with balsamic reduction on a baguette, and a house-made cookie. 1 W. California Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 793-9000, portaviafoods.com.

Street Bento Susan Feniger’s Street: For a different take on a picnic, there's Street’s Bento Box. Filled with dishes from around the world, the box includes a tasting of a Thai eggplant salad, a Japanese potato salad, an Egyptian macaroni kushary with lentil and rice, heirloom tomatoes with coarse salt and black garlic aioli, one entrée like the Syrian lamb meatballs or the Tunisian chicken skewers and a sweet such as bourbon chocolate cherry cookies. The Bento boxes are $25 per box. 742 N. Highland Ave., L.A., (323) 203-0500, eatatstreet.com.  

Clementine: This neighborhood bakery-café offers a Hollywood Bowl picnic (not exclusively for those going to the venue but you get the idea), available at the end of this week. Buy a picnic-in-a-box or build your own with items from their early summer menu. For a night outing, bring in a thermos and they’ll fill 'er up with hot chocolate or chai. 1751 Ensley Ave., L.A., (310) 552-1080, clementineonline.com.

Olive & Thyme: The recently opened Toluca Lake cafe offers old-fashioned wire picnic baskets filled with salads, sandwiches, charcuterie, cheese, wine and desserts. 4013 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake, (818) 557-1560, oliveandthyme.com.

Julienne: “Le Pique-Nique” menu at Julienne boasts a long list of savory and sweet picnic eats. A few worthy mentions are the Southwest chicken tenders with a spicy apricot sauce and the petite terrine with crackers, a platter of assorted spreads, cheese, dried fruit and nuts to share and nibble on in between sips of one of the gourmet market's chilled summer wines. 2649 Mission St., San Marino, (626) 441-2299, juliennetogo.com.

Know of any other L.A. eateries making picnics-to-go this summer? Comment on this post and let us know!


5 Food Events You Should Know About

Battle of the Burgers: Top 20 entries

Wine of the Week: 2009 Cantine Lunae Bosoni Colli di Luni Vermentino

--Caitlin Keller

Top photo: Joan's on Third picnic. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Bottom photo: Susan Feniger's Street bento box. Credit: Lesley Balla

5 Food Events You Should Know About: Salute! beer festival; A.O.C wine tastings; Lambrusco Day at Cube; garden workshop; L.A. Street Food Fest

Salute! Salute! beer and food festival: Ojai Beverage Co. hosts the 2nd annual Salute! More than 100 beers from local and national craft breweries will be paired with food from regional restaurants, benefiting local community organizations including the American Cancer Society. Featured craft breweries include Lagunitas Brewing Co. from Petaluma and North Coast Brewing Co. from Fort Bragg. There's a VIP tasting on Friday  with a connoisseurs beer reception followed by a four-course dinner. An unlimited beer and food-tasting session takes place Saturday. Tickets start at $43.30 (including tax) and are available online at salutebeerfestival.com655 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai, (805) 646-1700.

Destination wine: Every Monday night, A.O.C. hosts "Flights & Bites" offering wine tastings accompanied by small plates from different regions around the world. Two flights of wine are paired with cuisine from the region. Upcoming wine capital destinations include Santa Ynez's Dragonette Cellars on Monday and Languedoc-Roussillon on June 27. 8022 W. Third St., L.A., 323-653-6359, aocwinebar.com.

Perfect pair: Cube Café celebrates a wine favored among its staff and patrons by participating in International Lambrusco Day. On June 21, the restaurant will be offering special discounts on the Medici Ermete Lambrusco "Concerto" and the Rinaldini Lambrusco "Vecchio Moro" throughout the day, whether by the glass, half-bottle or bottle, along with recommended food pairings such as pizza Napoletana and spicy fried chicken. 615 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 939-1148 x1, eatatcube.com.  

Urban farmer: Located in Mar Vista, Ocean View Farms boasts more than 500 garden plots and flower gardens. On June 26 at 10 a.m. the six-acre West L.A. community garden is offering a free workshop, "From the Ground Up: Seed Starting and Garden Planning," courtesy of master gardener Christy Wilhelmi. 3300 S. Centinela Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 915-1123, oceanviewfarms.net.

Street food at the Rose Bowl: On July 16, the Pasadena Rose Bowl will be taken over by the L.A. Street Food Fest to host the 2 nd annual Summer Tasting Event. More than 80 vendors, including  gourmet food trucks and celebrity chefs, will bring street food to the historic site. Tickets are $25 to $150. Brookside Park, 360 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena, lastreetfoodfest.com.


Urbano Pizza Bar

Battle of the Burgers

Trails Cafe

--Caitlin Keller 

Photo: Salute! Credit: Salutebeerfestival.com

Father's Day dining guide 2011

Every May, moms are showered with Champagne brunches. Once Father's Day rolls around, dads should get to indulge gastronomically too, and we're not talking chocolate-covered strawberries. Sure, golf, a Dodgers game, a hike, even fishing are all nice gestures.... But we're thinking beer, burgers and such.

Susan Feniger's Street: After the eatery ran it as a special on the lunch menu at the request of a regular, the burger’s success landed it a permanent spot on the menu. Made with all-natural Angus beef, Vermont white cheddar, homemade pickles and yuzu kosho sauce, the Brioche Cheeseburger is a burger lover's burger especially when paired with the Ridge Zinfandel, the Godfather cocktail (Jameson Irish whiskey, Maker's Mark and amaretto liqueur) or the Lost Coast Downtown Brown, with aromas of roasted malt and cocoa. 742 N. Highland Ave., L.A., 323-203-0500; eatatstreet.com.

Bouchon Bouchon: Ground in-house by Bouchon's very own butcher, the beef patty is made of chuck, sirloin and brisket. It's served on a brioche bun with aged cheddar from Hudson Valley, New York; butter pickles; bibb lettuce and heirloom tomatoes. Le Burger Bouchon is great paired with the restaurant's specially crafted beers: The Blue Apron by Brooklyn Brewery is a heavier and fuller-bodied Belgian ale while the White Apron by the Russian River Brewing Co. is a lighter, crisp pilsner. 235 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-271-9910; bouchonbistro.com.

Drago: In honor of pops, the Santa Monica flagship is pairing its pints with a five-course pork tasting menu. A menu consisting of head cheese, pig trotter croquettes and pork belly displays snout-to-tail utilization in full effect. Optional beer pairings for the "Festa del Papa" include the Ommegang Abbey Ale and Ayinger Brewery's Celebrator Doppelbock. 2628 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-828-1585; celestinodrago.com.

A-Frame: Chef Roy Choi created the Double Cheeseburger in homage to the Korean-owned burger stands scattered throughout South L.A. Inside its toasted brioche bun, the thin salt-and-peppered patty is topped with white cheddar, tomato confit and pickled red onion. A single splash of Tapatio is what makes this burger a true West Coast staple. Suggested pairings are a Dogfish IPA or a Hitachino Nest beer. 12565 Washington Blvd., L.A., 310-398-7700; aframela.com.

Salt's Cure Salt’s Cure: Free-range and grass-fed, the house blend of Santa Barbara beef is sandwiched in a perfectly toasted poppy seed bun. Wagon Wheel Cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and house-cured bacon from Tamworth pigs get nice and cozy with the 7-ounce patty, making for quite the mouth-watering burger. 7494 Santa Monica Blvd., WeHo, 323-850-7258; saltscure.com.

Son of a Gun: So it's not a burger, but the fried chicken sandwich from Son on a Gun is not to be missed. With a spicy b&b pickle slaw and rooster aioli, chef Vinny Dotolo’s inspiration for the sandwich stems from Bakesale Betty's, Chick-Fil-A and McDonald's. Best paired with Mama's Little Yella Pils, Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale or try the Hopf Helle Weisse. 8370 W. 3rd St., L.A., 323-782-9033; sonofagunrestaurant.com.

Rustic Canyon Wine Bar: Comprising distinct flavors -– sharp cheddar, onion fondue, bread and butter pickles and an herb remoulade -– the Niman Ranch Burger is a complete burger eating affair with hand-cut French fries. The seasonal kitchen recommends pairing the medium-rare patty with Reissdorf Kolsch, a light and refreshing German beer from Cologne, a strongly hopped amber ale like Red Seal Ale from North Coast Brewing Co. or the Orval Trappiste Ale, a longer roasted and therefore very rich Belgian ale (made by monks, no less). 1119 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-393-7050; rusticcanyonwinebar.com.

--Caitlin Keller

Top photo: fried chicken sandwich

Credit: Son of a Gun restaurant

3 (More) Food Events You Should Know About: Outstanding in the Field; Grilled Cheese & Beer Night at Andrew's Cheese Shop; Picnic des Chefs

Farm and table: Touring the nation from coast to coast in a red and white bus, Outstanding in the Field hosts farm-style dinners at picturesque locations including ranches, mountain tops and even sea caves, re-connecting diners to the first-and-foremost sources of their meal. In collaboration with local farmers and chefs, they'll be setting up table in Ojai at Earthtrine Farm on May 11 and on May 12 at Rio Gozo Farm. Tickets are $200, available on the website at www.outstandinginthefield.com.


Grilled cheese! And beer! Skip the standard grilled cheese and head to Santa Monica for a taste of what Andrew's Cheese Shop has to offer. Five diversely structured grilled cheese sandwiches, like the prosciutto, Burrata and sheep's milk ricotta on an olive bread with a homemade basil truffle butter, will be paired with specialty beers of worldly origins. On May 19, attendees will gather in a family-style setting at one of the city's most notable cheese shops to taste a sampling of all the possibilities of a grilled cheese. $45 per person. 728 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, 310-393-3308, www.andrewscheese.com.

Picnic in the park: May 22 is the 31st annual Picnic des Chefs at Vasa Park in Agoura Hills. Angeleno chefs will prepare a lunch inspired by French regional cooking in a picnic-like ambiance. Surrounded by mountains and trees, guests can enjoy an afternoon outdoors while tasting cuisine from various regions of France and wine from more than 30 wineries. $50 per person, available at www.clubculinaire.us. Vasa Park, 2854 Triunfo Canyon Road, Agoura Hills. 

-- Caitlin Keller

Photo: Outstanding in the Field. Photo Credit: Jeremy Fenske

Grilled cheese as far as the eye could see

What a cheesy event. That's a compliment, of course, to the Second Eighth Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational, held Saturday near downtown L.A. (as the name suggests, the contest doesn't take itself too seriously). Thousands were in attendance to enjoy music, culinary showdowns, food trucks, and wash it all down in a beer and wine garden. And then there was the grilled cheese competition, featuring more than 200 sandwiches. I lucked out and was asked to help judge, and award a trophy to my favorite grilled cheese 'wich.

I wish I could have given everyone an award just for the sheer creativity of the variety of fillings. 

Continue reading »

Joebella, a great cup of joe off the 101 in Templeton

Joebella Driving up the 101 to San Francisco? I have  the perfect pit stop. It’s in Templeton, just south of Paso Robles. Exit at Vineyard Drive and head west about two minutes toward the local Trader Joe’s. In the same shopping complex is Joebella Coffee Roasters, an independent coffee shop with its own freshly roasted beans, much of it free trade and/or organic -- and free Wi-Fi. Service is not the swiftest, but baristas pull their espresso on a shiny La Marzocco machine. There are a few tables out front on the sidewalk, more inside, and a big comfy sofa that's tempting for a catnap. The pastries pass muster, too.

And next door is the quite terrific wine shop 15 Degrees C Wineshop & Bar, where you can find the makings of a picnic — Fra’ Mani salumi, well-edited cheeses, baguettes from a local bakery — and a chilled bottle of rosé or white.

On a long drive, finding someplace like Joebella can make all the difference. A few minutes of respite from the road, a good strong cup of joe and you’re all set to go again.

Joebella Coffee Roasters, 1121 Rossi Road, Templeton; (805) 434-2479; www.joebellacoffee.com. Open Monday to Saturday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 15 Degrees C Wineshop & Bar, 1121 Rossi Road, Templeton; (805) 434-1554; www.15degreescwines.com. Open Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday 12 to 5 p.m.

— S. Irene Virbila

Photo: Joebella. Credit:  S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles Times

Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila: Learn your cheeses via this iPhone app

Cheese Love that Genius feature on the iPhone App site.

Because I had previously purchased a wine app, I’m recommending Fromage, a universal app for iPhone, iTouch and iPad. It’s really sort of a pocket encyclopedia of cheese.

Look cheeses up alphabetically, by region, by type of milk or by texture (blue, hard, soft, etc.) for each cheese, and there are some 750 of them from 18 countries, a big update from the original release. If you want to practice your language skills while learning about cheese, it also supports French, Spanish and German.

You also get a photo and the region, type of milk and suggested wine pairing. I initially thought that was it and was ready to give the app a pass, but touch the photo and the screen flips to show a more complete writeup on each cheese. 

The blurb on the Corsican cheese Brin d’Amour, for example, informs me that its rind is covered with rosemary, thyme, coriander seeds and "savory aromatic herbs that are found in the rocky, brambly underbush landscape one finds on the island." (The writing culled from several sources gives just the facts and not much style.)

But -- there’s room for you rate the cheeses, add your own notes regarding each cheese and to send a note to a fellow turophile.  And should you encounter some heretofore unknown fromage, you can also enter your own cheeses into the library, with photo. 

I actually might use this, especially now that they’ve added some 90 cheeses from Spain and 95 from Italy. I know I can’t name 90 cheeses from Spain so it’s time for some learning.

 At $2.99, a bargain for so much basic cheese info in one place. 


--Two stars for Hostaria del Piccolo in Santa Monica

--Wine of the week: 2008 Holus-Bolus Santa Ynez Valley Syrah

--Angel City Brewing opens its downtown location

--S. Irene Virbila

Photo: Screenshot of Fromage app Credit: S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles Times

3 Food Events You Should Know About: the Southwest Regional Barista Competition; Angel City Brewing celebrates grand opening; Tillamook Cheese brings their tour through Southern California

Latte300 Caffeine Fix: The Southwest Regional Barista Competition begins Friday and runs through Sunday. Sponsored by the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, it's free to the public. Six of the most highly skilled baristas will compete in the finals for the title of 2011 South West Regional Barista Champion, with the chance to represent the United States at the World Barista Championship in Bogota, Columbia in June. The Coffee Bean will have a regular coffee bar at the event as well as a "Brewbar," where you can make your own coffee using any method you like. But that's not all. Expect gourmet food trucks, live music and can’t-miss after parties to go along with all the coffee you can handle.

Siren Studios: 6063 West Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028.

Pre-party: After 13 years, Angel City Brewing is about to open their first Downtown Los Angeles brewery, bar and shop on March 17. Across the street from the brewery, owner Michael Bowe is transforming an empty lot into a festive event space that will be filled with lots to do and see in the two weekends leading up to the grand opening. On March 5, 6, and 7, and 11, 12 and 13 (Fridays 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.), all are welcome to try hand-selected microbrews, eat from gourmet food trucks, look at art by local artists, and listen to live music.

216 South Alameda Street, Los Angeles.

Cross country cheese: Tillamook Cheese’s “Loaf Love Tour,” the second annual event that brings cheese all across the country, is returning to Southern California, making stops in Orange County and Los Angeles from March 5 to May 14. Along with cheese samples, coupons and more, The Loaf Love Tour will be offering free admission to the Aquarium of the Pacific on Saturday, March 5 for the first 100 fans who sport the brightest and wildest Tillamook Cheese orange outfit they can. To follow the tour and see where they are at any given time (be it grocery stores, farmers’ markets or special events) tune into Tillamook Cheese on Facebook or follow @TillamookCheese on Twitter.

--Emma Wartzman

File photo: Los Angeles Times


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


Recent Posts
5 Questions for Thi Tran |  August 6, 2012, 8:00 am »
SEE-LA hires new executive director |  July 31, 2012, 9:34 am »
Food FYI: Actors reading Yelp reviews |  July 31, 2012, 9:16 am »
Test Kitchen video tip: Choosing a bread wash |  July 31, 2012, 6:04 am »



About the Bloggers
Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.