Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Comfort Food

This Just In: Louise's Trattoria on Melrose to become Melgard Public House

1739-public-house Restaurateur Franck Alix, who owns the 3rd Stop bar and co-owns the 1739 Public House in Los Feliz with Jessie Singh,  is taking over the Louise's Trattoria space on Melrose. He plans on calling his new place Melgard Public House (it's located on the corner of Melrose and Gardner), and he hopes to open before the new year. His partner in this venture is Michel D. Keller, former director of operations for Wolfgang Puck catering.

Alix says he intends to stick with the same straight-forward approach that he uses at 1739: There will be a large selection of beers on tap (varying in quality from Pabst Blue Ribbon to Delirium); pizza will be served (most likely gratis during happy hour); the food will be no-nonsense American pub grub (fish and chips, macaroni and cheese, burgers); brunch will be served on weekends and lunch on Fridays; and there'll be enough flat-screen TVs to keep all sorts of sports fans satisfied.

Melgard Public House, 7505 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: The fish and chips at 1739 Public House. Credit: Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times

Green chile blues

Chile

Who knew there were so many expat New Mexicans living in Southern California? Wednesday’s California Cook column on cooking with green chile drew almost 50 e-mails and that was just before lunch. Many of them were sharing memories of the Land of Enchantment, and many were sharing cooking tips, but I have to say that most of them were asking for recommendations for restaurants where they could find good New Mexican food around here.

And for that question, I’m afraid I had no good answer. In fact, this is something that makes me crazy: Why is it that every Southwest Airlines flight between here and Albuquerque is jammed to the rafters, yet there isn’t a single place in Southern California where you can get decent green chile? I know someone’s going to bring up that place in Fullerton and the only thing I can say is: Don’t bother. I’m not sure how you can do such simple food so badly, but you’d have to be really hungry for a sopapilla to go there. And I’m writing as someone who, on more than one occasion over the last 20 years, has been just that desperate.

So here’s a deal for some hungry Southern California cook: Open a good New Mexican restaurant and you can have my green chile enchilada recipe; you can have my calabacitas recipe; you can have my posole and green chile stew. And you can have my business on a regular basis. Just open the danged thing.

And judging from the amount of mail I got Wednesday, I probably won’t be the only customer you get.

-- Russ Parsons

Photo: Green chile enchiladas. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

25 delicious deals

Lobster

There are deals, and then there are delicious deals. But at a time when restaurants' offers of "buy one get one free" and "half-price on Wednesdays" are as commonplace as tuna tartare or beet salad, sometimes it’s tricky to distinguish the two.

This is definitely an eater’s market — but just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s a bargain. If a $5 cocktail isn’t well-crafted, or an appetizer that costs less than a cup of coffee fails to excite your palate, then it’s not a delicious deal.

So, wading through the low-price hype, L.A. Times Food section writers found 25 of the best values around, including $1 specials at a favorite San Gabriel Valley noodle house, a 10-course Indian thali feast, a $14.95 lobster dinner with a million-dollar view, the happiest happy hour and our top spots for all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue. Check it out:

Photo: At the Beachcomber in Malibu, the $14.95 lobster dinner special is too good to pass up, especially since they throw in the million-dollar view for free. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

 

Kiss My Bundt Bakery's Red velvet cake recipe

Our selfless quest for the best red velvet cake led to the acquisition of Kiss My Bundt Bakery's recipe, which has become a favorite with many of our staff. Owner Chrysta Wilson says it's based on a recipe she learned years ago from her aunt, when, as an 8-year-old, she was baking cakes in her Easy Bake Oven.

Her bakery is celebrating its 1-year anniversary, and the recipe (which follows below) will be included in her upcoming cookbook "Kiss My Bundt Cookbook," due out November 2009.

Yup! It's amazing! Almost as amazing as her maple bacon bundt cake. Only wish I'd asked for both recipes....

Continue reading »

Red velvet cake: Duty calls

Redvelvet1

Redvelvet2

Who would’ve thought that calling for beets in a recipe ingredient list would lead to a quest for the best red velvet cake? 

Well, it did just that in The Times test kitchen.

Our solicitation for the best red velvet cake recipe in response to our post on the American Cancer Society’s “New Red Velvet Cake” led to a flood of responses.  An overwhelming majority supported the red velvet bundt cake at Kiss My Bundt Bakery in West Los Angeles.

We contacted owner Chrysta Wilson, who graciously offered to send us the recipe.

We tested the recipe, baked the bundt cake and waited -- an eternity it seemed -- for it to cool just long enough so we could slather on a thick layer of cream cheese frosting and devour it.

The verdict? Amazing! This was a warm, moist cake with a delicate chocolate flavor complemented by the light, not too sweet, tang of rich cream cheese frosting. The cake was practically gone before we could get a decent photo.

But it doesn't end there....

Much as we liked it, there were still some who thought the cake could be done better. Times employees from the Long Beach area swore that Jongewaard's Bake 'n'  Broil version was the best red velvet cake on the market.

Continue reading »

Should the fat pay more?

Junk-Food 

Our friends on the Health desk, posed the question: Should fat people be taxed more heavily? (Pun intended).

In all seriousness though, in the big ongoing healthcare reform debate, the growing costs of caring for patients with obesity-related diseases has become an issue, um, on the table. (Another pun intended).

So, we ask you, the foodies: Should the fat pay more for their poor food choices?

To read the full article: Tough love for fat people: Tax their food to pay for healthcare

-- Lori Kozlowski

 Photo credit: Tim Boyle / Getty Images

 

Sandwiches gone global: Finding ethnic L.A. between two pieces of bread

Sandwiches-gallery-thumb

As soon as you place your order at Pita Pocketsin Northridge, a cook slaps a soft round of dough onto the wall of a blazing tandoor-like oven. After a few moments, a bubbly disk of laffa, catacombed with air pockets and rich with yeasty char, is ready to be filled. Next a counterman slathers the chewy flatbread with lemony hummus, then loads it with grilled vegetables or juicy marinated kebabs.

The hefty hand-held feast -- just one culture's take on the sandwich -- doesn't quite fit the dictionary's narrow definition: "food between slices of bread," but in L.A.'s sandwich universe this stuffed laffa has lots of delicious company.

Take pav bhaji, the Mumbai street vendor's answer to burgers. The rich vegetable curry, mounded onto slider-style buns, draws droves of homesick expats to Little India's snack shops. Mexico's mighty pambazo, a chile-sauce-drenched roll heaped with chorizo and potato filling, then drizzled with crema, is finding its way onto more and more menus. And gua bao, a steamed round of flatbread folded over great slabs of juicy roasted pork -- the Chinese equivalent of a towering pastrami on rye -- was rarely found outside Taiwanese dives and Chinese bakeries until its recent appearance at Take a Bao in Century City, where the fillings run to spicy Thai peanut chicken and pomegranate glazed steak.

To read the full story, filled with delicious details and a gorgeous gallery, click here.

-- Linda Burum

Photo credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

This week's recipes from the L.A. Times test kitchen

Hungry 

All recipes that appear in the L.A. Times' weekly Food section are tested and perfected in our test kitchen before they're deemed fit to print. (That means you don't have to worry about a trial run before serving one of our recipes to company.) Rest assured, it should work the first time out of the gate.

Here's a look at this week's recipes:

AM Punch

Bacon-bundled BBQ shrimp

H-o-t hot boneless buffalo wings

The Kaya Toast at Susan Feniger's Street

The Lily Dew

Philly cheesesteak lettuce cups

Red velvet insanity cupcakes

The Pickled Pig

-- Rene Lynch

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Photo: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

 

Deep dish versus thin(ner) crust: Pizza battle at the new N.Y. & C. pizzeria

Pizza_1

The four guys behind South in Santa Monica are getting ready to strike again with another Westside spot. This time, instead of paying homage to comforts of Southern culture with mint juleps served in Mason jars, they’re embracing the pizza cultures of both New York and Chicago in the former Toi space at 1120 Wilshire Blvd. “We took the space and split it in the middle,” says co-owner Adam Milstein. The right side looks like New York, with tabletops covered and varnished with New York Times pages dating back 40 years. The left side captures the spirit of Chicago, complete with photos of the Sears Tower and Wrigley Field. They’re calling it N.Y. & C.

The pizzeria, which will stay open until 3:30 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, goes beyond a clever design scheme and a cute name. Milstein says his partners went all over New York to research pizzerias – some went further and even got jobs in kitchens for some hands-on learning. For the inside track on Chicago-style deep dish, Milstein hit up his grandfather’s best friend, owner of Wapaghetti's in Illinois. “He sent me ingredients and secret family recipes,” says Milstein.

The results? The New York menu will offer thin(ner) crust pizzas such as the “Central Park” made with sausage, pepperoni, meatballs and extra cheese and the “Empire State,” which is similar to a Margherita with mozzarella, marinara and fresh basil. The Chicago options include the meaty deep dish “Windy City” topped with sausage, pepperoni, sliced beef, mushroom and extra cheese. And to wash it down: about 45 kinds of beer, 14 of them bottled.

N.Y. & C. is targeted to open at the end of July or early August and will also offer delivery.

-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Brian VanderBrug / Los Angeles Times

The secret menus of parties of one

Rice-pudding 

When the dinner bell rings and there’s no one but you to hear it, is it cause for celebrating with a steak and a glass of wine? Or for whining your way through a bowl of cereal standing at the counter?

The answer is yes, as cookbook author Deborah Madison discovers in her latest book, "What We Eat When We Eat Alone," illustrated with funny, sweet drawings by her husband, Patrick McFarlin, and based on interviews with neighbors, cooks, family and friends about their habits when no one else is in the kitchen. There's also recipes for Exotic rice pudding on demand (seen above), Green panini with roasted peppers and Gruyere cheese and Fried potatoes with yogurt sauce. Read more here.

Photo credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.