Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Desserts

Culinary workshop on Gothic desserts at the Getty in March

GettyOn March 1 and 2, Getty Center educators Nancy Real and Robin Trento are leading a culinary course that explores the world of Gothic art and cuisine.

The group of 20 participants will tour the exhibition "Gothic Grandeur: Manuscript Illumination, 1200–1350," with their hosts before preparing desserts similar to those found in the medieval courts of Europe.

Real and Trento are incorporating recipes to enrich the historical components of the course and will discuss Gothic history that influenced the time period's desserts, such as the uses of spices and sugar. Panforte di Siena, for example, contains cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper, evidence of the Arab countries' influence on European cuisine because of the use of spices.

After the tour, the class will retreat to the Getty's private dining room, where participants, with the help of their instructors, will prepare desserts representative of the period and countries of origin of the manuscripts featured in the exhibition, such as lavender pudding from England, krapfen from Germany, torta bonissima and panforte di Siena from Italy, marzipan from Spain and pignolat from France.

The workshop is $75 per person.

1200 Getty Center Drive, L.A., (310) 440-7300, www.getty.edu.

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Image: "The Dragon Pursues the Woman Clothed in the Sun Who Receives the Wings of an Eagle," about 1255-1260. Credit: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. Ludwig III 1, fol. 21v

Obsession: Drunken Udder alcohol-infused ice cream

Drunken Udder alcohol-infused ice cream

On Wednesday night I swung by the launch party for the 5th season of DineLA Restaurant Week. And boy was I glad I did, because besides chatting with a slew of my favorite chefs and drinking Scotch creations by Joe Brooke (who was recently crowned L.A.'s Best Bartender in the eponymous competition), I happened upon my new favorite treat: Drunken Udder alcohol-infused ice cream.

First of all, what's not to love about a frozen dessert made with vodka, rum, bourbon and tequila? Not all together, of course. The woman who created the line is a chef named Nicci Piscitelli, and she's really not fooling around when it comes to flavor. The bourbon salted caramel is a creamy dream of a bite, and I would know because I had several.

"I'm like a little fat kid that's obviously an alcoholic," joked Piscitelli after I told her that she had me at "alcohol-infused."

Other flavors include caramelized white chocolate Godiva; rum-roasted banana; vodka vanilla bean; milk chocolate stout; tequila lime sorbet; and saffron candied ginger Soco. That last one really appeals to my inner 18-year-old, although you have to be 21 to eat this ice cream.

You can check it out at the following website: www.drunkenuddericecream.com, and taste it at Boneyard Bistro in Sherman Oaks and the W Hotel in Westwood.


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Photo: Drunken Udder alcohol-infused ice cream. Credit: Jessica Gelt

Stocking Stuffer: Sqirl

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Los Angeles-based company Sqirl makes some pretty tasty preserves -- jams, jellies and marmalades -- for stuffing inside stockings this year. Jam maker Jessica Koslow playfully displays her products for purchase alongside eccentric props and colorful backdrops on the company's website. Made with local produce from family-owned farms no more than 200 miles from her kitchen, Koslow's jams incorporate flavorful fruits -- some of which are on the Ark of Taste.

Among Sqirl's preserves is a strawberry and rose jam, made with McGrath Family Farms Seascape strawberries, Rancho Del Sol Sorrento lemons and Earthtrine Farms rose geranium. Another favorite is the Santa Rosa plums and flowering thyme jam made with plums from Flora Bella Farm, Sorrento lemon juice from Rancho Del Sol and Shear Rock Farm flowering thyme.

Sqirl's preserves range in price from $12 to $14 and can be purchased online or at Proof Bakery in Atwater Village.

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ArtBites explores the history of desserts on Dec. 11

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Explore the history of desserts Sunday in a hand's-on class through ArtBites.

The day starts at LACMA, where participants will explore the museum's collection of Latin American, French, English and Italian paintings and decorative arts. After the museum visit and discussion, the group will meet at Surfas' test kitchen for a hands-on cooking class.

Holiday desserts to be made include büche de Noël, gingerbread baby cakes, a fresh berry galette, a maple-pear upside down cake and chocolate-peppermint bark.

ArtBites was founded by Maite Gomez-Rejón in 2007 to combine the history of art and food. She has worked in the education departments of various museums and also as a private chef, so her resume is perfect for the endeavor. ArtBites hosts classes that tour museum galleries, tracing the historical role of food through art collections, followed by hands-on-cooking classes.

Sunday's four-hour class starts at noon and is $100 per person. The price  includes museum admission, tour, recipes, ingredients and wine.


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Photo: Büche de Noël. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

The Sweet Tooth: Fall treats, L.A.-made

Compartes Chocolatier's spicy Mexican hot chocolate skull popsForget the bagged Halloween candy. Get your sugar fix with these seasonal sweets, all handcrafted in Los Angeles:

Compartes Chocolatier's spicy Mexican hot chocolate skull pops are made from single-origin dark chocolate and infused with spices like cayenne and cinnamon. The pops, hand-painted with gold glitter, cost $5 and can be purchased at the chocolatier's Brentwood location. 912 S. Barrington Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 826-3380, compartes.com.

Pasadena artisan creamery Carmela is making batches of pumpkin spice ice cream, currently on the farmers market-inspired menu. Co-founder Jessica Mortarotti suggests serving the ice cream as a float with a good spicy ginger beer (see below). 2495 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 797-1405, carmelaicecream.com

Pasadena artisan creamery Carmela is making batches of pumpkin spice ice creamI Heart Pies is a Los Angeles-based pie company specializing in sweet and savory pies made with simple, fresh ingredients. In addition to the traditional pumpkin and pecan pies, its fall offerings include playful flavors such as purple forest pie, made with Dutch spice cookies and black currants, and cracker jack pie with a rich, salted caramel mousse, a layer of peanuts and chocolate mousse in a cookie crust. Pie prices are $16 to $25 and can be purchased at the North Hollywood farmers market on Saturdays or online at iheartpies.com.


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Photo credits: Compartes (top) and Jessica Mortarotti (bottom)

Caitlin Williams Freeman and SFMOMA's latest edible art offering

Zurier_Arabella-233x334Caitlin Williams Freeman is the in-house pastry chef at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's rooftop cafe. The former UC Santa Cruz photography student co-founded Miette. Then in 2001, in what she thought would be a temporary stint, she started making pastries for her husband James Freeman's Blue Bottle Coffee locations.

When his company landed a spot on SFMOMA's rooftop, Williams Freeman used the opportunity to channel her love for paintings and photography into her baking. Now the cookies and cakes available -- for visual and literal consumption -- at the coffee bar pay homage to artworks on view in the museum's galleries.

Constantly coming up with new ideas for art-inspired desserts, edible spinoffs have included a Katharina Fritsch ice cream sandwich, with poodle-shaped chocolate cookies sandwiching vanilla ice cream; a fudgsicle-take on Ellsworth Kelly's Stele I (located in the sculpture garden); and a Thiebaud cake inspired by the museum's large collection of Bay Area artist Wayne Thiebaud's paintings.

The latest addition to the menu is a popsicle created in reference to Santa Monica-born artist John Zurier's painting "Arabella," included in the "The More Things Change" exhibition, on view until Nov. 6. The popsicle, made of fresh spearmint ice milk and strawberry, costs $5 and will be available up until the exhibition's closing day.


The next dessert in the works will be ...

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Hotel Erwin's newest addition, Barlo, opens Thursday

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The Hotel Erwin has opened its newest restaurant addition, Barlo, located on the ground floor of the Venice hotel. Barlo offers hotel guests and locals a laid-back setting to sip on refreshing cocktails and munch on reasonably priced eats before or after heading to the beach.

Executive chef Jason Wiggin and food and beverage director Ryan Wingo have created a seasonally changing menu with not comfort food per se but comforting food using organic ingredients. The menu includes plates such as a purple kale salad, shrimp and grits, pork belly buns and beet pickled "deviled" eggs; bar snacks include anchovy puffs, truffle frites and bacon caramel corn; daily changing desserts; house-made ginger ale; and seasonally driven libations including the Porch Swing with Hendricks gin, gooseberry preserves, watermelon juice and lemon and the Disappear with Tito's vodka, Clear Creek pear brandy and house-made sour syrup.

A brunch menu is in the works, and winter-inspired drinks -- Bourbon with apple butter -- are expected to pop up on the cocktail menu come November.

Barlo at Hotel Erwin, 1697 Pacific Ave., Venice, (424) 214-1063, barlovenice.com.

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-- Caitlin Keller

Photos: From top, Barlo at Hotel Erwin and shrimp and grits. Credit: Caitlin Keller / Los Angeles Times

Speculoos slowly spreading through L.A.

Speculoos NEW Some say Speculoos is the new Nutella. It looks like peanut butter but tastes like the gingerbread, cinnamon-flavored cookie it's made from, known as biscoff. (You may know the flavor from those cookies handed out on Delta airlines.) The popular Belgian cookie via paste is making its way over the Atlantic and now it's coming to food trucks, slowly but surely.

If you've been fortunate enough to have stumbled upon the spread while abroad, chances are you've returned home with a new sugary obsession to share. Lotus Bakeries introduced Speculoos to the U.S. market this year; but even so, most Americans don't know about it yet. A gradually increasing number of food trucks are looking to change this. Wafels & Dinges in New York sells its own version (called Spekuloos) and offers the spread as one of many waffle toppings, as does L.A.'s Waffles de Liege.

In the height of the food truck boom, will Speculoos ever really catch on, on the street food scene? George Wu of Waffles de Liege believes it will. "If the popularity of Liege waffles grows," says Wu, "more people will get a chance to try Speculoos, and as a result, more people will talk about it and experiment with it on different food; and before long, it'll be a kitchen staple like Nutella."

Fingers crossed, Waffles de Liege's use of the cookie-made-spread will cause a domino effect of sorts among other Southern California food trucks and thus the spread of scrumptious Speculoos.

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Photo credit: Elsie Fang Photography

From the recipe archive: Marino's ricotta cheesecake


Hal just sent me a Culinary SOS requesting a cheesecake recipe. Looked easy enough until I realized he wanted a recipe that does not include cream cheese. With most cheesecake recipes, it seems cream cheese is the number one ingredient.

But no worries! We ran a story on cheesecake just a few years ago that includes a number of wonderful variations on this favorite dessert. One of them, the ricotta cheesecake from Marino's in Los Angeles, was a memorable hit. And it's cream cheese-free.

Enjoy, Hal! You can find the recipe by clicking on this link.

Check here for more Culinary SOS recipes. If you have a favorite restaurant recipe you'd like to request, feel free to email me at [email protected]. I'll do my best to track it down!


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Photo: Marino's ricotta cheesecake. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times


Keeping cool in L.A.: Today is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day

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Whether part of the food truck scene or as a creamery's menu staple, ice cream sandwiches are a frozen treat geniusly invented to get the best of both worlds -- cookies and ice cream -- in the realm of sweets. Angelenos can get their fix from local producers with flavors, from classic to wacky, to satisfy a spectrum of cravings during summer's warm months. Or, as it so happens, on National Ice Cream Sandwich Day.

Beachy Cream: Made in small batches with local and organic ingredients, Beachy Cream’s ice cream sandwiches are made with a spin on names and flavors sure to fit the SoCal scene: Key Lime Cowabunga, Strawberry Surfer Girl, Surfin' Safari Chocolate Chip and Ginger Wipe Out. These tasty treats can be found on the streets of Malibu, at select stores and online. Beachycream.com

Father's Office: A recent addition to the menu, ice cream sandwiches are now offered at the Culver City location. Creations include the hazelnut and foie gras ice cream on oatmeal cookies and the buttermilk ice cream and raspberry sorbet on lemon shortbread. 3229 Helms Ave., L.A., (310) 736-2224, fathersoffice.com

MILK: The brightly colored sandwiches are made of fresh macarons and ice cream flavors such as grasshopper (mint chip), Thai tea, rocky road, coffee toffee and red velvet. 7290 Beverly Blvd., L.A., (323) 939-6455, themilkshop.com

Sweet Rose Creamery: Located in the Brentwood Country Mart, the shop bakes its cookies on site daily, and ice cream flavors change regularly in accordance with what's in season at the farmers market. Classics include fresh mint with homemade chocolate chip and salted caramel while August's ice cream flavors include melon, summer corn, peaches 'n' cream and watermelon granita, among others. 225 26th St., Ste. 51, Santa Monica, (310) 260-2663, sweetrosecreamery.com.

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.