Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Roundup

Trim chefs share their fitness secrets

Tender Greens chef owner Erik Oberholtzer begins his day with a four to six mile run.

Chefs often work grueling hours in the kitchen under extremely stressful conditions, tasting much of the food they cook. It's not easy to stay slim under such circumstances -- but not necessarily for the reasons you might suspect.

True, some chefs are tempted to overindulge at work, but others are so busy feeding other people and so sick of what they serve that they rarely take time to eat full meals during the day. Starving by the end of the shift, they gorge on massive meals late at night and then drop into bed with a bellyful of food.

This isn't exactly a recipe for good health. Several prominent Los Angeles chefs, however, have managed to avoid these professional hazards and get fit while working around food. Six of them share their secrets here.

The Bazaar: It's a four-star experience

If you follow the culinary travels of Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila, you know that four-star reviews are almost unheard of. (Check out this list of our top-rated restaurants of the last five years, and you'll see that her last four-star review came in 2005.)

Well, move over Joel Robuchon. You've got four-star company. Here's how Virbila starts this week's review:

Olives that flood your mouth with flavor. A foie gras lollipop wrapped in cotton candy. The definitive shrimp with garlic. Innocent-looking bites that shoot smoke out of your nostrils.

How to describe the experience at the Bazaar by José Andrés in the new SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills? Fellini-esque, a gastronomical circus, a flirtation with the flavors and soul of Spain?

Los Angeles has never seen anything remotely like this exciting restaurant from Spanish chef José Andrés.

Read more about S. Irene Virbila's four-star experience, and check out more photos of the Bazaar -- as well as its signature dishes -- here.

And the video is must see.

--Rene Lynch

Restaurant Spotting: This week's openings, more to come


Despite an economy whose outlook is increasingly grim, restaurant openings are continuing apace. This week's openings bring you: Fig, the "seasonal" bistro at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica; Toscanova in Century City; and Tonys in West Hollywood.

At Fig, there's an extensive bistro-by-the-beach menu with tarte flambee, steak frites, rillettes, plenty of salads, and what might be an overabundance of references to "locally sourced," "organically grown," "principles of sustainability," "indigenous ingredients," etc. 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 319-3111.

Toscanova is the latest from restaurateur Agostino Sciandri (Ago on Melrose and more recently an outpost in the Greenwich Hotel in New York). It's family-style "northern Italian," located in the Westfield Shopping Center in Century City (near Houston's). 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Century City, (310) 551-0499.

We've said plenty thus far about Tonys West Hollywood, set to open today. It's the casual Italian steakhouse from Tony Riviera of Primo Hospitality Group (Caffe Primo). In these times, it's probably worth noting again that the menu promises nothing over $25. 8570 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 289-1145.

And just on the horizon: Cabbage Patch, from former Rustic Canyon chef Samir Mohajer, is expected to open any second now in Beverly Hills. And in the weeks to come, there will be some majors, such as Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne's Brentwood restaurant Tavern (not to be confused with Westside Tavern, the project from former Whist chef Warren Schwartz, opening around the same time), the Rustic Canyon-adjacent bakery Huckleberry and Susan Feniger's Street. Stay tuned.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo courtesy of Tonys

Caramelized onions, Part 3

Caramelizing onions from Simply Recipes on Vimeo

You really like your caramelized onions.

This Food section story was a hit with readers, quickly ranking as one of the most viewed, most e-mailed and most commented-on stories of the week. Thanks to all who wrote to offer up their tips for putting an end to all those tears while chopping onions.

We also noticed that one question came up again and again: Could you make this process easier by doing it in a slow cooker?

Well, we haven't tried that, so we cannot give a definitive answer. But several readers said they'd had great results by using a slow cooker, over eight to 10 hours. Some readers advised high heat, while others, like Madeline O, advised keeping it low, low, low:

Put the onions in your food processor. Bam! Minced. Put the onions in your SLOW COOKER! (I have a 5 qt Westbend, that adjusts to VERY low. Leave the top off, and stir about every 15 minutes once they start to brown up...

If you try it, please let us know how it turned out.

In the meantime, check out the mesmerizing video we found over at one of our favorite blogs — Elise Bauer's Simply Recipes. And click below for two recipes from Leslie Goldenberg of Woodland Hills, who kindly passed along her favorite ways to use caramelized onions:

— Rene Lynch

Continue reading »

Settle in for some more tea talk

Teatop10teanceteabarm In our ongoing tea talk, for all you naysayers who thought tea wasn’t hot (pun completely intended), check out Sunset Magazine’s tribute to the Top 10 teahouses on the West Coast.

Locally, it names Le Palais de Thes in Beverly Hills at No. 5. Le Palais serves over 250 teas from around the world and boasts a selection of cast iron Japanese teapots.

Now do you think there is something in the air?

--Lori Kozlowski

Photo: At Téance in Berkeley, owner Minnie Yu pours a whole-leaf white tea from China.

Credit: Jen Siska

Eight great three-hour dates on a $25 budget

MalibuseafoodOur Business section shows you how to wine and dine your sweetie -- and still stick to your budget. Business editor Sallie Hofmeister tells you what's on the menu:

"My partner, David, and I had missed celebrating the New Year with a couple of our friends, so we made plans to meet them at the Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market and Patio Cafe a few Sundays later to satisfy our craving for raw oysters and champagne.

"I packed a little cooler with a couple of bottles of Blason de Bourgogne's Cremant de Bourgogne, a delicious French sparkling wine sold at Trader Joe's for $9.99. I dug out a box of cheap champagne flutes and tucked an oyster knife into my pocket. Off we went at about 2 in the afternoon, giving us enough time to enjoy the day and take in the sunset."

Read the full story on cheap dates here:

Photo: Nate Bressler / For The Times

The perfect cup of tea


In our ongoing conversation about the world’s second-most-consumed beverage—tea—we noticed a lot of discussion over how to make the perfect cup of tea.

Opinions vary greatly, but this is for sure: people are passionate about their brew. George Orwell, who gave the world "1984" and "Animal Farm," also gave us an instructional essay called “A Nice Cup of Tea.”

In his short work, he laid the foundation for his ideal version of the drink. Here are Orwell’s 11 Golden Rules:

1) One should use Indian or Ceylon tea. Not tea from China.

2) Tea should be made in a teapot.

Continue reading »

2006 Selvapiana Chianti Rufina

Wineth"The 2006 is bright and juicy, redolent of black cherries, sweet spices and earth."

That's Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila on her pick for wine of the week, the 2006 Selvapiana Chianti Rufina, which she says is a deal at about $20 a bottle. Read more, and find additional wine recommendations, here.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

The year in L.A. bars: 2008 openings

Ecco If you're like me, you're a creature of bar habit. When you feel like going out for a drink, you go to the same place. You probably even sit on the same stool and order the same drink (I'm not telling you mine -- it's too boring).

If you want to shake things up a bit (I know I do), you might be interested in this very cool photo gallery by The Guide's bars-and-clubs impresario, Charlie Amter. The man is a bloodhound when it comes to sniffing out new places to drink, and he's put together a roundup of the most exciting bar openings of 2008 -- just in time to help you shed the tedium of your predictable last-year ways.

--Jessica Gelt

This just in: Le Cirque, a dismal Dungeness harvest and Drago Centro


A few headlines from today's Times:

-- The view from the new Drago Centro is fine. An expanse of floor-to-ceiling windows looks across Flower Street to the Central Library building and the adjacent garden. At dinner recently, Celestino Drago was at the bar, pouring Prosecco for friends and generally showing off the crown jewel in his Italian restaurant portfolio. The silver-haired, Sicilian-born chef is usually found at one of his Westside restaurants -- Drago in Santa Monica or Il Pastaio and Enoteca Drago in Beverly Hills. But with this chic Italian newcomer, he's moving into the downtown L.A. scene. Read more from Times Restaurant Critic S. Irene Virbila here.

-- The charmingly bumptious "Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven," which premieres tonight on HBO, is an Italian American family comedy in the form of a documentary about a restaurant -- not your typical checked-tablecloth, candle-in-the-wine-bottle pasta and pizza place, either, but a formidable (and French-leaning) institution among the Manhattan upper crust for more than three decades. Director Andrew Rossi follows founder Sirio Maccioni, his wife Egidiana and their three sons -- Mario, Marco and Mauro -- as they close the second Le Cirque and open the third. Read more from Times Television critic Robert Lloyd.

And finally ...

-- An unusually weak Dungeness crab harvest is compounding the financial woes of West Coast fishermen who were already struggling with depressed consumer demand and the unprecedented collapse of the Pacific chinook salmon fishery. Read more here.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times


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