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Category: Leah Rodrigues

L.A. Craft Beer Crawl is back in August

Third annual L.A. Craft Beer Crawl
The third annual Los Angeles Craft Beer Crawl presented by 213 Nightlife will take place downtown on Saturday, Aug. 18. "Beer Chicks" Hallie Beaune and Christina Perozzi, alongside Cedd Moses, have curated a list of brews that showcase Los Angeles' craft beer scene. Attendees can choose from more than 70 craft beers to sample at seven downtown bars and restaurants (all within walking distance). Participating breweries include Eagle Rock Brewery, Bootlegger's Brewery, Ladyface Ale Companie and more.

Tickets are available online and start at $49 per person ($10 if you are a designated driver). In addition to unlimited tastings, participants can purchase tickets to beer seminars ($15 per person) led by the Beer Chicks and others in the industry.

Food will be available from Cole's French Dip, Casey's Irish Pub and several food trucks, including In-N-Out.

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--Leah Rodrigues

twitter.com/LeahRodrigues24

Photo: Hallie Baune and Christina Perozzi, the "Beer Chicks," at Cole's downtown. Credit: Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

5 Questions for Taylor Boudreaux

TaylorTaylor Boudreaux is the executive chef at Napa Valle Grille in Westwood. Boudreaux helped open several Los Angeles restaurants including Mastro's Steakhouse before being recruited to work as the corporate executive chef of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide. At Napa Valley Grille, Boudreaux emphasizes the importance of locally grown produce and "tries to keep up with Mother Nature and what's in season." 

What's coming up next on your menu? We will be featuring artichokes, fava beans, pea tendrils, asparagus, apricots and cherries. This is the time of year where it gets to be a lot of fun at the markets.

Latest ingredient obsession? Our house-made pasta. I love it. I love the texture, the flavor and how versatile it is. I'm working on a morel pasta dish that I think will be delicious.

What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again? When I can sneak out of the restaurant, I go over to 800 Degrees and get the picante pizza.  

The last cookbook you read -- and what inspired you to pick it up? "The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market Cookbook." My mother gave it to me for Christmas. It's a great jumping off place for me. 

What chef has most influenced you? Charles Schwerd taught me how to run a kitchen. He had the mechanics down. Very methodical and very business-minded. I was then lucky that very late in my career I was hired by Wolfgang Puck to run his casual restaurants. As part of my training with him, I worked at Spago. It was an incredible experience. I learned an incredible amount from his chefs Sherry Yard, Matt Bencivenga and Tetsu Yahagi. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

1100 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 824-3322, www.napavalleygrille.com.

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-- Leah Rodrigues

twitter.com/ LeahRodrigues24

Photo: Taylor Boudreaux. Credit: Napa Valley Grille.

Chef Ben Ford wins Cochon 555 competition

Ben Ford
On Sunday, five Los Angeles chefs -- Chad Colby of Mozza; Ben Ford of Ford's Filling Station; Neal Fraser and Travis Lorton of the Strand House, Grace & BLT; Jason Neroni of Superba Snack Bar; and Micah Wexler of Mezze -- gathered at the House of Blues for a nose-to-tail cook-off using five heritage pig breeds. 

Ford won the Cochon 555 competition with favorites such as  his belly Benedict with a soft poached egg, Fresno chile and bacon hollandaise; a head cheese hero of pig's liver pate, pickled vegetables, charred scallion-lemon aioli and crispy pigs ears; a chile verde taco with smoked pigs ear and micro cilantro;  chilled pork loin with tomato sauce, red onion and sea salt; and pork tartare paired with quail egg, walnut oil and confit shallot.

Other menu highlights included the campagnola banh mi with black garlic and black kimchi from Neroni;  Fraser's roasted loin and rack with fava beans, morel mushrooms and corn veloute; pig tail pasta and house-made charcuterie from Colby (last year's winner); and Wexler's pork leg tagine.

In addition to guests pigging out on pork-centric dishes, wineries including Robert Kacher, Elk Cove Vineyards, K Vintners, Sokol Blosser, Scholium Project,Turley, Mattiasson, Simi and Buty poured tastings throughout the evening. L.A. artisanal butchers Lindy & Grundy also gave a live pig butchering demo.

On June 17, the winning chefs from the 10-city tasting tour will gather in Aspen, Colo., to participate in the grand cochon competition as part of the 30th annual Food & Wine Classic.

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-- Leah Rodrigues

twitter.com/LeahRodrigues24

Photo: Ben Ford Credit: Hugh Galdones Photography

5 Questions for Josh Graves

JoshJosh Graves is pastry chef at Ray's & Stark Bar at LACMA. He's a Southern California native who received his formal culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. He has worked in a number of Los Angeles bakeries and restaurants including Boule, Mani’s and Casa. 

What’s coming up next on your menu? I’ve been playing around with a yeasted ice cream.  I’m not sure exactly where it’s going to go, but I’m excited about it.

Latest ingredient obsession? Bergamot. It’s a subspecies of bitter orange and the flavoring in Earl Grey tea. The aroma is intoxicating, I love using this in a tart frozen yogurt.

What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again? I frequent this little hut in Burbank called Yaki’s. They do teriyaki bowls, burgers and my favorite, the Bulldog. The Bulldog is a hot dog wrapped in cheese and wonton skin then deep fried. They serve it with froggy sauce,  which is teriyaki sauce mixed with some other dressing I can’t put my finger on. I usually get a chicken teriyaki bowl with a Bulldog.

The one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without, other than your knives? Bowl scraper. I wish I had a hand that was shaped like a bowl scraper.

What chef has most influenced you? Kris Morningstar has helped me grow immensely.  He has taught me how to make things taste good and given me endless inspiration for flavor combinations. I am very fortunate to have met Kris and to still be working with him.

5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 857-6180, www.raysandstarkbar.com

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--Leah Rodrigues

twitter.com/ LeahRodrigues24

Photo Credit: Lauren Noble

4 Events: Ray's and Stark, Chaya, Golden Road Brewing, Papilles

ChayaBirthday party: On March 5, Ray's and Stark Bar at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is celebrating its first year with a party. Executive chef Kris Morningstar has devised a menu featuring the best dishes of the year, such as chile with chorizo, dates, local goat cheese and almond sauce; squid ink pasta with garlic, chile, mint, opal basil and bottarga; and crispy pork belly with black vinegar sauce.   Sommelier-barsmith Paul Sanguinetti and general manager Martin Riese will DJ throughout the evening and guests will be able to participate in free screen printing on the patio. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 857-6180, www.raysandstarkbar.com.

Good things come in threes: To commemorate Chaya Downtown's third birthday, the restaurant is featuring a three-course prix-fixe menu ($33 per person) and $3 happy hour specials during March.  The menu will consist of roasted heirloom beets with baked cana de cabra cheese, arugula, fennel and balsamic must, grilled Wagyu flank steak and sweet potato frites, with Belgian chocolate fondant with raspberry coulis and mascarpone ice cream for dessert. For happy hour, guests can savor bar bites such as the spicy tuna hand roll, buttermilk-poached chicken skewers with soy glaze and seven spices, and a flat bread of the day with a chef’s choice of marinara, olives, asiago and arugula.  On March 16, the official anniversary date, Chaya Downtown will host a “Flights and Bites” wine tasting with Chateau Ste. Michelle for $33 per person. 525 S. Flower St., Los Angeles, (213) 236-9577, www.thechaya.com.

Beer for benefit: Golden Road Brewing is teaming up with the Whole Planet Foundation to raise money for the organization by hosting a beer festival on March 11.  Attendees will be able to sample the brewery's signature beers, including the Point the Way IPA, Golden Road Hefeweizen, Either Side of the Hill (strong ale) and Get Up Offa That Brown.  Food will be provided by Whole Foods Market and local vendors.  The foundation is dedicated to alleviating poverty in the developing world by providing families with the tools to expand their home businesses.  Tickets for this event are $20 per person and can be purchased online. 5410 W. San Fernando Road, Los Angeles, (213) 373-4677, www.eventbrite.com, www.goldenroad.la.

"Off the Clock" wine tasting: On Sunday, wine aficionado Santos Uy will be highlighting five wines along with a myriad of sweet and savory bites from his new restaurant, Papilles, at local wine shop Domaine LA.  The featured wines will include a 2010 Batic Pinela and 2000 Lopez de Heredia Rosado. The tasting is capped at 25 guests, with tickets ($15 per person) available for purchase online6801 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 932-0280, www.domaine547.com.

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-- Leah Rodrigues

twitter.com/ LeahRodrigues24

Photo: Chaya Downtown. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Happy National Margarita Day!

MargaritaCelebrate National Margarita Day at home or in your favorite Mexican restaurant. 

If you choose the former, the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen has a recipe for a refreshing grapefruit margarita (recipe below) made with freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice, triple sec, and of course, reposado tequila. 

If you're feeling extra festive and choose the latter, Red O Restaurant on Melrose is offering a margarita sampler for $15. 

Included in the sampler are the market margarita (muddled fresh cucumber with honeydew melon, and tequila blanco), la dama margarita (reposado tequila shaken with serrano chile, mango grenadine, lime juice, and pomegranate liqueur), and the Alacaran margarita (Sauza Conmemorativo tequila, Veev Acai spirit, Torres orange liqueur, fresh limonada, and serrano infused syrup). 

Either way, it's an excuse to enjoy a cocktail.  

Red O, 8155 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 655-5009, www.redorestaurant.com.

 

Grapefruit margarita

Total time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4

Wedge of lime
2 teaspoons coarse margarita salt
14 ounces ruby red grapefruit juice, with pulp (about 3 medium grapefruits)
1 ounce lime juice
5 ounces reposado tequila
2 ounces triple sec
4 slices grapefruit or twists

1. Run a lime wedge halfway around the rims of four margarita glasses and dip into salt. Set aside.

2. Combine 7 ounces grapefruit juice, one-half ounce lime juice, 2 1/2 ounces tequila and 1 ounce triple sec in a cocktail shaker. Shake over ice until chilled. Strain into two ice-filled, salt-rimmed margarita glasses.

3. Garnish with a twist or slice of grapefruit. Repeat to make two more cocktails.

Each serving: 174 calories; 1 gram protein; 17 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 0 fat; 0 cholesterol; 2 1/2 mg. sodium. 

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--Leah Rodrigues

twitter.com/ LeahRodrigues24

Photo Credit: Beatrice de Gea / Los Angeles Times

4 Food Events: Winter ColLAb, 'bill-to-tail' feast and more

Tony

Winter ColLAb: L.A. craft-beer trailblazers Ryan Sweeney (Verdugo Bar and the Surly Goat), Brian Lenzo (Blue Palms Brewhouse), Clay Harding (38° Ale House & Grill) and Tony Yanow (Tony's Darts Away and Mohawk Bend) have come together once again to present ColLAboration a pop-up mobile craft beer garden.  The event will be held at the Belasco Theater in downtown L.A. (located near the Metro Blue Line) on Feb. 26.  The beer garden will feature signature winter brews from Bootleggers, Bruery, Dogfish Head , Eagle Rock Brewery, Eel River, Hangar 24, Golden Road Brewing and more.  Pliny the Younger from Russian River (only available on tap) will also be on site.  There are several ticket packages available ranging from $15 to $38, which can be purchased online1050 S. Hill St., Los Angeles, (213) 746-5670, www.collaboration.la/.

Napa Valle Grille:  Executive chef Taylor Boudreaux and Summerland Winery founder Nebilo “Bilo” Zarif have crafted an exclusive five-course wine pairing dinner ($75 per person) to showcase Central Coast wines on Feb. 24.  Diners will sample an '08 Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir paired with crispy duck breast and chanterelles, parsnip puree, mushroom foam and micro basil; and an '09 Santa Ynez Valley Syrah to complement an oven-roasted venison chop with seared foie gras, Parmesan potato cake, creamed Bloomsburg spinach and a truffled Syrah reduction.  Seating is limited, reservations are recommended. 1100 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 824-3322, www.napavalleygrille.com.

Muscovy duck dinner:  On Feb. 23, Locanda del Lago continues its whole-animal dinner series with a five-course meal featuring Muscovy duck sourced from San Joaquin Valley’s Grimaud Farms. For $70 per person, with unlimited house red and white wines (or $54 per person without wine), guests can savor dishes such as housemade duck pâté with Pink Lady apple-mustard compote, duck ravioli with shallot confit reduction, and roasted duck breast with espresso sauce and sautéed Swiss chard.  Reservations are required for this dinner. 231 Arizona Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 451-3525, www.lagosantamonica.com.

Vertical Wine Bistro: In honor of leap year, the wine bar is offering food and drink specials for a mere 29 cents on Feb. 29.  Guests who order a glass of wine can receive a second glass for 29 cents (there are 55 varieties to choose from).  For those diners who have come with an appetite, they can create their own pairing of one cheese and one charcuterie for 29 cents.  The full menu will also be available. 70 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, (626) 795-3999, www.verticalwinebistro.com.

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-- Leah Rodrigues

twitter.com/ LeahRodrigues24

Photo: Meg Gill, president and co-founder of Golden Road Brewing, and Mohawk Bend restaurant and bar owner Tony Yanow. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

How to become Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain & COC chefs
Last night, Anthony Bourdain, star of "No Reservations" and "The Layover," gave a talk at Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center and did a book signing to help raise money for the College of the Canyons culinary program. Throngs of people from all over Los Angeles attended the event, some for entertainment and others for a bit of career advice.

It’s no secret that Bourdain has what most people would consider to be a dream job -- he travels around the world eating and drinking with his friends while making “self-indulgent” television. Even he says, “You’ve got to be kidding me -- I have the best job in the world.” Bourdain says he is planning to “milk this celebrity chef thing” for as long as he can because “he doesn’t want to go back.” With that in mind, Bourdain prepared a lecture that outlines the qualities a person must possess to have his job or to work with him and his crew.

1. Find an emotion that fuels you: From his early television-making days, Bourdain inherited a sense of anger and rage about food. According to him, “I already believed food was important…I had an ingrained sense of right and wrong from 28 years in the kitchen…and it offends me when [Olive Garden] ruins a simple thing like a bowl of ... pasta.” Bourdain uses his passionate opinions about food as a motivator to make good television.

2. Be willing to endure public humiliation: As an early disclaimer, every crew member on "No Reservations" must understand that if anything funny, violent, embarrassing, or tragic happens to you while shooting, the camera will automatically focus on you. Bourdain explains that he is not immune to this rule as he shares a clip of himself in Uzbekistan receiving a massage from another man that is excruciatingly painful.

3. A fair amount of physical risk is involved: When traveling to different countries and participating in cultural activities, one should note that these can be dangerous and potentially fatal for the crew and guests. Bourdain cringes as he relives a scene when he tumbles down a sand dune while riding an ATV in New Zealand. You must take these accidents in stride and understand that they are all a part of the experience.

4. Pre-production is incredibly important: To run a travel show successfully, it is essential that all the episode details have been fully researched. In other words, Bourdain says “know what happens before it happens.” There have been a couple of instances on the show where the crew has traveled for several hours to visit a particular place of interest, such as a smoked fish factory or artisanal hammock weaver, only to find that the circumstances have changed and their time has been wasted.

5. Be prepared to take one for the team: Bourdain has been confronted with a number of foods that he didn't find appealing but happily ate anyway.  He suggests following the "grandma rule," which means you "have good manners and eat what's put on your plate." And he added, "People are proud of their food and are telling you something about themselves with their food." Often the people Bourdain meets in his shows don't have a lot of resources but still offer him the best they have.

Bourdain describes himself as a “lucky cook who gets to tell stories.” He believes that after 28 grueling years in the kitchen, he got a lucky break, saying all the important decisions in his life "have come when there are no other options.” He has not fooled himself into believing that there was a formula to his success.  Although he provides these guidelines sincerely, his best advice to young professionals is to "travel and eat a lot, as many places as you can, as widely as you can, it's just that simple."

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--Leah Rodrigues

twitter.com/ LeahRodrigues24

Photo: Anthony Bourdain, front. Photo credit: College of the Canyons/Jesse Muñoz

 

Blue Cow opens in downtown Monday

Blue Cow

Blue Cow opens its doors Monday in downtown Los Angeles. The restaurant is a partnership between Mario Del Pero and Ellen Chen of Mendocino Farms, which pays homage to the sandwich. They envision the shop to be a good neighborhood restaurant: "We are doing creative sandwiches for people who appreciate that," Del Pero said. The restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and cocktails.

Blue Cow patio

Chef Joshua Smith, together with corporate executive chef Judy Han and the owners, have devised a  menu with dishes that they classify as "new American." Diners will find the classic chicken sandwich reinterpreted as the Spanish chicken tartine with piquillo peppers, romesco and aged Manchego cheese. The tandoori turkey club is the next generation of the turkey club made with Indian spiced char-grilled turkey breast, housemade naan and candied jalapenos. Other menu highlights include the roots and berries salad with shaved beets, roasted carrots, cranberries and wheatberries; housemade sausages (turkey and lamb) in a buttermilk roll; and ploughman's platter made with a selection of sausages, deviled eggs, pimento cheese toast and more.

Blue Cow menu items

In addition to an extensive menu, Blue Cow has a full service bar featuring specialty cocktails, housemade sodas, and a "hopefully intriguing beer list." The cocktails have quirky names like "Jack and Coke's cousin on his dad's side" consisting of housemade winter cola and Old Forrester whiskey or the "gin and tonic experiment" made with orange, cucumber, black peppercorn and red pepper. The bar also has a praline-infused "old-fashioned" on tap.

350 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 621-2249, www.bluecowkitchen.com.

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--Leah Rodrigues

twitter.com/LeahRodrigues24

Photo credit: Leah Rodrigues

Valentine's Day dining guide

Heart 600

Whether you celebrate Valentine's Day the weekend before or the day of--with your significant other or your best friends--L.A. restaurants are paying homage to love with prix-fixe menus and aphrodisiac foods and spirits to enhance the experience. See our list on the next page.

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.