Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Food Writing

International foodie spring flings

Paris cookbook fairIf you're thinking about traveling this spring -- and not by car -- here are a few international destinations to consider:

The world's largest cookbook fair will take place in Paris in the spring. "Ooh la la" is right. The Paris Cookbook Fair happens March 7 to 11 with the first three days set aside for professionals to gather, with the final two days opened to the public. The fair brings together cookbook devotees for book presentations, cooking demonstrations, cheese and wine tastings, food exhibitions and of course cookbook purchasing. For more information, check out www.cookbookfair.com. Chocolate bar

The Mast Brothers, Rick and Michael, are heading to Belize to connect with their cacao suppliers and celebrate chocolate during their first annual Chocolate Week in April, from the 14th to 21st. The two brothers own and operate Mast Brothers Chocolate in Brooklyn where their handcrafted bars of chocolate are individually, not to mention beautifully, wrapped and sold at their tasting room, on their website and at online stores such as Dean & Deluca. The brothers are inviting chocolate lovers to join them on their voyage to Belize to visit their farmers, eat, drink and partake in other adventures while abroad. For more information, email chocolateweek@mastbrothers.com.

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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

Food Events: Homebrewing demo; sweets from the Regency era; 'Fast Food Nation' lecture

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Homebrew demo: This Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., learn how to make your own beer at Eagle Rock Brewery. Spruce up your brewing skills and acquire new techniques and recipes as co-owner and brewer Steve Raub demonstrates homebrewing with his very own Full Moon Bock. The cost is $10 per person and includes lunch and a pint of one of Eagle Rock Brewery's house beers. 3056 Roswell St., L.A., (323) 257-7866, eaglerockbrewery.com.

Bride-cake and apple tarts: On Nov. 12, author and Jane Austen expert Kirstin Olsen will lead a discussion on cakes and pies in the Regency era at the Los Angeles Public Library. Presented by the Culinary Historians of Southern California, Olsen will address sweet and savory pies, in addition to the "bride-cake" mentioned in "Emma," with recipes for dishes from the 1800s provided. The event begins at 10:30 a.m. and admission is free. 630 W. 5th St., L.A., (213) 228-7000, lapl.org

Fast foodFast food, revisited: "Fast Food Nation" author Eric Schlosser visits L.A. on Nov. 17 to lecture on "Fast Food Nation Revisited: The Link Between Food Justice, Worker Justice, and Immigrant Justice" at Occidental College. The event is free and open to the public but an advance registration is requested. The lecture starts at 6 p.m. 1600 Campus Rd., L.A., (323) 259-2500, oxy.edu.

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--Caitlin Keller

Photo, top: Craft beer at Eagle Rock Brewery. Credit: Krista Simmons / Los Angeles Times

Photo, lower: Props for restaurant chain Mickey's Burgers in "Fast Food Nation." Credit: Matt Lankes / Recorded Picture Company

Restaurant nudity in San Francisco on its way out

San Francisco

Public nudity is legal in San Francisco, but restaurants are looking to alter the dress code, or lack thereof, by requiring the unattired to cover up before sitting down to eat, reports Abby Sewell for The Times' L.A. Now blog.

The Board of Supervisors' Public Safety Committee on Thursday approved a proposed ordinance on new public nudity etiquette rules, introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. It next will be considered by the full board. 

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Photo: Naturist George Davis in the Castro district of San Francisco, where he resides. San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener recently introduced a city ordinance that would regulate nudity. Credit: Kimihiro Hoshino / AFP / Getty Images

'Bought, Borrowed & Stolen': 20 years of Allegra McEvedy's secrets

Allegra McEvedy Book CoverAllegra McEvedy has been cooking professionally for more than 20 years, working her way through a batch of restaurants in London, most notably the River Café and the Cow, in addition to stints at American eateries Rubicon (now closed) and Jardinière in San Francisco, and New York's Tribeca Grill. The Cordon Bleu alumnus was chef-in-residence at the Guardian for three years, has had a column in the Evening Standard and a seasonal food slot on Robert Elms' show for BBC London.

McEvedy's fifth book "Bought, Borrowed & Stolen: Recipes and Knives from a Travelling Chef" comes out this month. The cookbook traces 20 years of recipes, not to mention knives, from food diaries recorded during her travels. The English chef discusses her favorite fall food, her recently released cookbook and the time she spent on the West Coast, with the Los Angeles Times:

Q: What knife, of your collection, is your current favorite or most used?

A: Well, as you probably can tell I have a bit of an emotional attachment to all of my knives, so although it's hard to choose a favorite I am finding myself reaching for a beautiful example of the craft that I bought in New York about five years ago. It's the younger sibling of one I picked up when I was working at Tribeca Grill in '96; both are made by Michael Moses Lishinsky [of Wildfire Cutlery]. All his knives are full tang meaning the metal extends all the way to the base of the handle. And being someone who embraces difference, I love that he uses heat-treated steel, as opposed to the more fashionable stainless. I also like the fact that it's one of only two knives in my 70 strong collection that I can trace back to the maker. My favorite job for this beauty, where it really excels, is smashing cloves of garlic; Mr. Lishinsky may have created the perfect shape of the flat of the blade with this one purpose in mind!

Continue reading »

'Food and the Art of Consumption' exhibition at Cal State Fullerton

Exhibit"Acquired Taste: Food and the Art of Consumption" opens Oct. 29 at Cal State Fullerton's Begovich Gallery.

The exhibition, curated by Alyssa Cordova and Heather Richards of Sixpack Projects, addresses the underlying issues surrounding food and consumption. With a growing awareness of food policy and politics — think Michael Pollan or "Food, Inc." — and a booming interest in the organic, local and slow food movements, the artwork featured in "Acquired Taste" highlights society's relationship with food through installations, sculpture and oil paintings.

Opening reception programming includes a cooking demonstration by chef Jonathan Dye, a participatory mural art project and a lecture by artist-in-residence Gregory Stewart. Also featured will be master preserver Delilah Snell's "Jam Van," a traveling exhibition of her work in a converted vintage Volkswagen van. She is featured regularly on KCRW-FM’s "Good Food" radio program.

The exhibition will be on view through Dec. 8.

Begovich Gallery, Cal State Fullerton, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, (657) 278-7750, acquiredtaste.sixpackprojects.com.

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Credits, from top: Rodrigo Calderon, Ashley Sinohui and Laurel Webster; Rebekah Myers and Timothy Berg

Turntable Kitchen: Pairing food and music

Turntable kitchen logo Food and music combined can meld two art forms into one blissful, head-bobbing, hip-shaking pairing. After dancing around the kitchen of their San Francisco apartment time and time again, Kasey and Matthew Hickey decided to take their love for food and music a step further by launching the website Turntable Kitchen.

The couple hand-picks music to be listened to while cooking and eating suggested recipes. Recent pairings include a sweet corn and raspberry ice cream paired with Canadian singer-songwriter Feist's "Let It Die"; and a blueberry-mint jam paired with the self-titled debut album by Brooklyn-based trio Widowspeak.

Through Turntable Kitchen, the Hickeys hope to introduce more people to the natural connection between food and music. To that end, Matthew picks the music and Kasey chooses the recipes. Most recently, the duo launched the Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box, a monthly subscription in which subscribers receive a hand-assembled box in the mail with a custom-mixed vinyl record featuring favorite and up-and-coming bands; seasonal, themed recipes; dried ingredients; and suggested pairing and tasting notes.

Tkwatermelon saladBelow, the couple share their thoughts on the topic of, you guessed it, food and music:

What restaurants in San Francisco do you find yourself going to again and again -- and what do you order?

Kasey Hickey: Outerlands (any of its soups and a side of bread), NOPA (giant baked beans and a pork chop) and Koo (amazing appetizer called Spoonful of Happiness -- it's to die for, and comes with a shot of sake).

How do you begin when selecting a song?

Matthew Hickey: When I select a pairing, I like to start by thinking about the flavors in the meal. I'll write down a few descriptive terms to help get the process going with words like floral, sweet, rustic, intense, subtle, upbeat, textured, contemporary, etc.  I'll also take into account geographic factors, which can help narrow down my selections. So, for example, if we have a sweet, upbeat and rustic recipe that includes ingredients that are commonly associated with the Pacific Northwest, I'll go through my record collection and rack my brain for a band whose music is also sweet, upbeat, rustic and, ideally, from the Pacific Northwest.

Favorite cookbook?

Kasey: The Canal House series are always on heavy rotation, "Heart of the Artichoke" by David Tanis, "Good to the Grain" (for baking) and both of Heidi Swanson's books. Even though we're not vegetarians, I love her interesting twists on seasonal cooking and choices of spices and grains.

Recent ingredient-obsessed usage?

Kasey: Marash pepper -- I put it in and on everything these days. I'm obsessed!

Five favorite recipe-song pairings?

Matthew: I have a number of personal favorites, but five recent ones that come to mind are (in no particular order):

1. SBTRKT paired with honey and rose water tapioca
2. The Decemberists paired with spicy, picked green beans
3. Beirut paired with poached halibut and corn salad
4. Crab pasta paired with James Vincent McMorrow
5. The Black Keys paired with the American burger

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Photo: Turntablekitchen.com

Nigel Slater's 'Toast' coming to Nuart Theatre in October

Food writer and cook Nigel Slater's bestselling memoir Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger, an autobiographical account of his childhood told through food -- 1960s British food, that is -- was made into a film by Ruby Films for BBC1 in 2010, starring Helena Bonham-Carter and Freddie Highmore.

Clancy Sigal, who reviewed the book for the Los Angeles Times in 2004, says "I don't know when I laughed so hard at such a poignant story as Nigel Slater's boyhood.... Among its many delights, his memoir is an easily digestible lesson in how to let your stomach heal your hungry heart" (read the full review here).

The film will be showing at the Nuart Theatre for one week, starting on Oct. 7.

Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A., (310) 281-8223, landmarktheatres.com.

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Restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila: A delicious quiz

Browse through "The Slow Food Dictionary to Italian Regional Cooking" and it will take you only a page or two to realize how very limited the repertoire of dishes cooked in L.A.’s Italian restaurants really is.  I thought I knew a lot about Italian regional cuisine, but on every page I find dishes I’ve never encountered, one after the other. 

Italian food dict OK, here’s a short quiz to test your Italian food knowledge (with answers below). What are:

1. castagne d’o prevete (“priest’s chestnuts”)

2. farecchiata

3. kizoa

4. 'ntuppateddi

5. paniscia

Answers: (I would print them upside down if I knew how.)

1. These are oven-roasted chestnuts splashed with grappa and white wine and tightly wrapped in a cloth to let them rest before being skinned and eaten. Campania.

2. A thick porridge made by mixing the flour of wild peas with water. Flavored with garlic and anchovies. Umbria.

3. Small leavened focaccia typical of Castelnuovo Magra, in the province of La Spezia. The surface of the dough is pressed with the fingers to create dimples, which are anointed with oil and filled with pieces of sausage. Liguria.

4. Dialect name for operculate snails ... in Syracuse, cooked a 'mbriaca (drunk), stewed with onion, oil, black pepper, red chili salt and red wine. Sicily.

5. A risotto made by “toasting” rice in butter with onion, lardo and crumbled salame. The mixture is bathed with red wine and, when this has evaporated, progressively supplemented with a soup made with strips of pork rind, beans, coarsely chopped celery, carrot, tomato and Savoy cabbage. Piedmont.

Poking around in this book is dangerous: I got so hungry, I had to raid the refrigerator for a hunk of Parmigiano. Some of the definitions, as in No. 4, are so detailed, you could cook from them. And I just may.

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-- S. Irene Virbila

Follow me on twitter.com/sirenevirbila

Image: "The Slow Food Dictionary to Italian Regional Cooking" (575 pages, $34.95). Credit: Slow Food Editore

Wordless Wednesday: When life gives you an unkind review, mock it

Menu 
Submitted by Bobbi Bowers who writes the food blog Fresh and Foodie. She snapped this picture at Longman & Eagle restaurant in Chicago, and reports that she loved the meal and got a kick out of the restaurant's sense of humor. You can follow her on Twitter @freshandfoodie. Thanks, Bobbi.

If you have a photo you'd like us to consider for Wordless Wednesday, e-mail me at Rene.Lynch@latimes.com

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter.com / renelynch

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.