Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Malibu

Food culture: History's making us hungry at the Norton Simon

Still Life with Cherries, Strawberries and Gooseberries600
"Paintings of food shine out at me with their voluptuous colors and shapes whether I am hungry or not," says Eleanor Congdon. As educator for the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Congdon creates tours of interest for museum guests including a food paintings tour titled “Dinner at the Norton Simon: Food in Paintings” that was featured in June.

Throughout the museum’s galleries are a range of still life and genre paintings depicting food from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The Chardins, Courbets and Manets, among others highlighted in the tour, reveal a subject eternally relatable for its viewers. Whether depicted as necessity or extravagance, with symbolism or none at all, food is visually stimulating enough to provoke its viewer to go beyond the surface and imagine the possibilities of its textures, aromas and tastes.

“Symbolism [in the food paintings] disappears over the centuries and the painting techniques evolve over the course of time just as with other subjects in art," says Congdon. "What does not ever disappear is their lusciousness and the invitation to eat.”

Congdon has kindly re-created the food paintings tour for Los Angeles Times readers, which can be viewed here. Bon Appetit!

411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 449-6840, nortonsimon.org.


Test Kitchen tips: Rolling out pie and cookie dough

The Taste chef panels


--Caitlin Keller

Image: Still Life with Cherries, Strawberries and Gooseberries, 1630, by Louise Moillon
Credit: The Norton Simon Foundation

M.B. Post to open next week; bring on the beach-y cocktails (plus, more openings)

Cocktail.pg M.B. Post, the restaurant from former Water Grill chef David LeFevre, is expected to open Monday in Manhattan Beach. It's just steps away from the water, so where better to enjoy a summer cocktail (ok, it's still spring, but there's no need to get all literal at a bar)?  

The cocktail menu -- created with the help of general manager Jerry Garbus and augmented with LeFevre's nectars, salts and jams -- is a combination of updated classics and beach-y remixes. (Cocktails to go with English pea soup, olive-oil-poached tomato and creme fraiche; or pomegranate couscous with lavender feta, marcona almonds and mint; or spring garlic bacon tart; or Alaskan halibut cheek and chips with Meyer lemon remoulade; or grilled veal short rib with sesame soy glaze and spicy kimchi....) 

The Manhattan Avenue is a sweet-savory version of a Manhattan: rye whiskey, Vya sweet vermouth and sea-salt-caramel-vanilla-bean bitters. It gets strained into a martini glass partially rimmed in bacon dust, garnished with a cherry soaked in a peaty Scotch. 

The Greyhound gets taken a few steps further than the Salty Dog; the Old George (pictured) is Chopin potato vodka and fresh grapefruit juice poured over basil and ice, topped with a raspberry-pink-peppercorn jam and candied grapefruit in a glass partially rimmed with kosher salt. 

Other cocktails on the menu include the Mo-Pho-Jito -- think mojito with the flavors of Southeast Asia -- silver rum, kaffir lime, mint and ginger nectar with a coriander honey gastrique. And what's a cocktail-menu-by-the-beach without a Margarita? M.B. Post's Avila's Heir has serrano pepper and yuzu-infused agave nectar.  

1142 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach; (310) 545-5405; www.eatmbpost.com. 

Also now open: 

The Malibu Inn: More drinks by the beach at the rock-n-roll Malibu Inn, which recently was renovated and this week reopened with a menu from consulting chef Angelo Sosa, a former "Top Chef" contestant. 22969 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu; (310) 456-6060.

The Fat Dog:A new gastropub, the Fat Dog, is open on Fairfax Avenue. It's dog-friendly. 801 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 951-0030; www.thefatdogla.com. 

M Street Kitchen and Stella Rossa Pizza Bar: The restaurant formerly known as La Grande Orange in Santa Monica is suddenly M Street Kitchen, with an adjacent pizzeria called Stella Rossa Pizza Bar. 2000 Main St., Santa Monica; (310) 396-9145; www.mstreetkitchen.com. 


SBE to open Papaya King

Bzzz: In S.F., restaurant-rooftop honey bees

Sweet dreams are made of sushi

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: The Old George cocktail courtesy of M.B. Post

Small Bites: Mako on Beverly Drive closes this weekend. Half-price wine at Savory in Malibu.


Mako moves on: After 11 years, Mako’s lease is up at its Beverly Drive location and chef Mako Tanaka is planning to relocate to Santa Monica. (Mako's last night of service is Saturday.) While that's in process, beginning next month, Mako and his partner Lisa Brady will be found at Robata-Ya, his other restaurant in West L.A. Here he will be putting together a menu that consists of Mako originals and some new Asian specialties. Mako catering will also be available from the Robata-Ya kitchen.

Mako, 225 S. Beverly Drive, Los Angeles, (310) 481-1418, www.makorestaurant.com; Robata-Ya,      2004 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 288-8338, www.robatayala.com

Wine deal: As of this week, chef Paul Shoemaker's Savory Restaurant in Malibu is turning every Tuesday night into Wine Lovers Night. All bottles will be sold for half price from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

29169 Heathercliff Road, Malibu; (310) 589-8997; www.savorymalibu.com.

-- Emma Wartzman

Photo: Robata-Ya. Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu/Los Angeles Times


Celebrated gelato shop Grom to open in Malibu in January

Grom, the well-loved Italian gelato chain, which arrived in New York City in 2007, has plans to open a Malibu location in January. David Greenwald at Brand X got the scoop on the shop's West Coast expansion plans from Grom USA manager Stefano Ciravegna. Here's an interesting tidbit from the post (click the link above for the full story):

“The major issue that someone has when they come to Los Angeles is the lack of a real center, where people walk,” Ciravegna said. “Like in New York or a street in Europe. When we came to Los Angeles, we were looking for the street traffic and we couldn't find it -- it took us a while to. Then we discovered Malibu and it had a really good sense of a neighborhood, more than other parts of Los Angeles.”

Should the Malibu Grom do well, the chain may move into the rest of the Southland -- to Santa Monica, Ciravegna suggests, or down to San Diego. Because of the company’s emphasis on artisanal quality and ingredients from across the world, expansion will be a slow-churning process.

--Jessica Gelt

Photo: One of Grom's New York locations. Credit: Grom via Brand X

After a makeover, Gladstone's Malibu is ready for its close-up

Gladstone's Malibu, the iconic 33-year-old seafood restaurant that lays claim to 700 feet of prime beachfront real estate where the river of traffic on Sunset Boulevard flows into the estuary of the Pacific Coast Highway, had been having a bad decade, or two.

If it was going to weather the twin storms of recession and the wrath of Yelp, it was going to need an extreme restaurant makeover. But the fact that it would be saved by Sam Nazarian -- one of Hollywood's most glittering night-life players -- made for a particularly interesting rebirth.

Despite being one of the busiest restaurants in Southern California (it serves about 6,500 to 7,000 meals per week during the summer), Gladstone's had gained a reputation for crummy food and spotty service (the L.A. Times gave it zero stars in a 2008 review). Wads of tourist money supported it, but the community -- well-to-do elites living in Malibu, Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica -- treated the place like kryptonite.

"It's kind of like a really good villain. You enjoyed disliking it," says 27-year-old Kent Hutchison, who remembers going to Gladstone's to fool around with his friends and drink beer but never to eat the food.

The owner, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan, wasn't keen on that reputation, so he says he sold 34-year-old Nazarian and his luxury hospitality group SBE a 20% stake in the business, with the goal of sexing up the restaurant and once again making it a destination for locals.

To read the rest of Jessica Gelt's story and look at a photo gallery of the new restaurant and food, click here.

Photo: The seafood risotto at Gladstone's is flanked by a strawberry mojito. Credit: Christina House / For The Times  

Cafe Habana in Malibu; Design Cafe at Pacific Design Center; Raya at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

The Pacific Design Center's Design Cafe has reopened with a Mitteleuropa-meets-California-cuisine menu by Food + Lab, the brainchild of Esther and Nino Linsmayer. Open for breakfast and lunch, the Design Cafe kiosk offers morning items such as house-made granola parfait with European-style yogurt; house-made muesli with berries; and a smoked salmon sandwich with creme fraiche and sliced cucumber. For lunch, there are signature Food + Lab sandwiches such as chicken wiener schnitzel with lingonberry chutney, Austrian meatloaf and organic salads. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood (located at Melrose Avenue Plaza), (310) 657-0343, www.pacificdesigncenter.com.

Restaurateur Sean Meenan's New York transplant Cafe Habana is set to open this week in Malibu. The solar-powered West Coast outpost will serve the Cuban sandwiches and grilled Mexican-style corn on which the Manhattan original and its Brooklyn outpost have built their popularity. Residents of the 'Bu, including Cafe Habana co-owner Rande Gerber, are sure to flock to it. Also, full bar. Malibu Lumber Yard, 3939 Cross Creek Road, Malibu, (310) 317-0300, www.cafehabana.com.

Raya is open at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, featuring "pan-Latin coastal cuisine" -- sustainable seafood, local produce and Latin flavors -- from chef Richard Sandoval (his other restaurants include Maya in New York and Dubai and Tamayo in Denver). Chef de cuisine Greg Howe helms the kitchen. On the menu: appetizers such as coconut shrimp ceviche and hamachi tiradito and entrees including chile ancho-pistachio-crusted tuna and chipotle-miso glazed black cod. Dulce de leche pudding, lemongrass panna cotta and Mexican chocolate tart are among the dessert choices. One Ritz Carlton Drive, Dana Point, (949) 240-2000, www.ritzcarlton.com/lagunaniguel.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Design Cafe at Pacific Design Center. Credit: Design Cafe.

Beachcomber taps Michael Jordan, wine guru formerly of Napa Rose, as president

Jordan Michael Jordan, formerly global manager of wine sales and standards at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts and general manager of Napa Rose restaurant at Disneyland in Anaheim, has been named president at the Beachcomber, overseeing the Beachcomber Crystal Cove and Malibu Pier.

Jordan, who left Disney in September, has a Master Sommelier diploma with the International Court of Master Sommeliers as well as a certified Wine Educator diploma from the Society of Wine Educators — one of only 15 people in the world to hold both.

Jordan also has started his own winery, Word Vineyards, where he plans to produce a limited amount of artisan wines, a few of which will be available at the Beachcomber. Jordan is expected to expand the wine and beverage program at the Beachcomber restaurants and will offer comprehensive wine study courses for all staff members, including a two-day test administered by the Court of Master Sommeliers.

At Malibu Pier, 23000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, (310) 456-9800; at Crystal Cove, 15 Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, (949) 376-6900; www.thebeachcombercafe.com.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo credit: Beachcomber

Small Bites: Jin in Japan; did someone say hot toddy?


Big in Japan: If you're trolling the depachika (food floors) of Japan's department stores next month, you may come across chocolates from Venice-based Jin Patisserie. From Feb. 3 to 14, three locations will carry Jin pastry chef Kristy Choo's chocolates:  Mitsukoshi in Nihonbashi Ginza in Tokyo, and Daimaru in Osaka. The chocolate flavors include: 1842 (tea flavor), roasted black sesame, café rum, Earl Grey, green tea, mango basil, mango kalamansi, sea salt caramel banache, vanilla and yuzu. Choo, a Singapore native, says in a statement, “I am very honored to have our chocolates sold in Japan. Many of the details in my creations are influenced by the Japanese culture.” Two- , four- , six- and nine-piece boxes will be available. Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi 1-4-1, Nihonbashi Muromachi Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 03-3241-3311; Mitsukoshi Ginza, 4-1-16, Ginza Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 03-3562-1111; Daimaru Shinsaibashi, 1-7-1, Shinsaibashi Suji, Chuo-ku Osaka-shi, Osaka, 06-6271-1231. In Los Angeles: 1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 399-8801, and the lobby of the InterContinental Los Angeles Century City, 2151 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles; www.jinpatisserie.com.

Hot toddies at the beach: The Beachcomber Cafe & Bar at Malibu Pier has introduced a lineup of $5 hot toddies, available Monday to Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., through the end of March. There's hot buttered rum (dark rum, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg); hot almond chocolate (hot chocolate, butterscotch schnapps, Amaretto almond liqueur and whipped cream); traditional hot toddy (whiskey, honey, lemon juice, hot water); cinnamon toast (Captain Morgan spiced rum, hot apple cider, sugar and cinnamon). The restaurant also provides blankets and outdoor heaters. Its "Martini Time" menu includes five appetizers and five cocktails for $5, starting at 5 p.m. (when the martini flag is raised). 23000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, (310) 456-9800, www.thebeachcombercafe.com.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Kristy Choo at Jin Patisserie in Venice. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

'Top Chef' Michael Voltaggio gives Conan O'Brien a gold grill

L.A.'s superstar "Top Chef" Michael Voltaggio made an appearance on the "Tonight Show" last night and built a dish called "The Yogurt Shop," basically a souped-up version of a dirt cup. In the hilarious segment, Conan O'Brien smears some of the "fool's gold" pralines all over his teeth and lips, creating a shiny gold grill that would put Lil Wayne to shame.

Voltaggio really got the crowd going when he busted out the liquid nitrogen, showing TV land that he’s just as much of a personality as he is a chef.

-- Krista Simmons

Video via EatMeDaily

Cafe Habana: Why Malibu?

Habana The 'Bu seems an unlikely spot for a new branch of Cafe Habana -- a New York-based mini-chain of hip Cuban cafes located in Manhattan's Nolita and Brooklyn's Fort Greene. But the way partner and bar impresario Rande Gerber (Whiskey Blue, Stone Rose) sees it, he and his family -- including wife Cindy Crawford -- needed a place to eat besides Giorgio Baldi.

"I live in Malibu and have always wanted to open a restaurant here in the neighborhood for my friends and family," says Gerber. "Something casual, family-friendly, a place you can go on a date, or with the kids at 6 o'clock, or for a late-night meal.

"I think there are a few good restaurants in Malibu, very few. You can have a great Italian meal, there are a few places for sushi, but no place you'd really want to go more than once a week."

So Gerber approached Cafe Habana owner Sean Meenan, who says he jumped at the opportunity. "Rande had been to the restaurant and dug it, and he found the space," Meenan says. "There had been a few other offers, I'd been thinking about the Country Mart in Brentwood. I wasn't in the right mindset. But I'm so excited to be opening up in Malibu."  The Malibu Cafe Habana, at the Malibu Lumber Yard shopping center, is set to open "at the very beginning of the year," he says.

Meenan has a place in Venice and calls the drive from Venice to Malibu "one of the best drives in the whole world, especially for a New York guy; it's like 'Wow, this is God's country.' " Expect a Venice Cafe Habana to follow.   

-- Betty Hallock

Photo credit: Cafe Habana


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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.