Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: San Gabriel Valley

Mother Moo makes medlar ice cream

Medlar

Karen Klemens spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday turning 10 pounds of medlars into 1-1/2 gallons of ice cream. Klemens is the owner of Mother Moo Creamery, the 3-month-old ice cream shop in Sierra Madre. And the medlars are from Craig Ruggless of Winnetka Farms, whose medlars also made a cameo appearance last year at the Santa Monica Farmers Market -- a rare fruit that fruit expert David Karp describes as "a legendary historic fruit with the flavor and texture of spicy applesauce." 

"Last year I made medlar jelly," says Klemens, a master preserver who also sells her jams under the label Mothercluck. "That’s when I first got wind that Winnetka Farms had medlars for sale.... And now that I have my shop I really wanted to make medlar ice cream."

The ice cream is made from a puree of simmered medlars ("it was a beautiful pulp," Klemens notes), cream, sugar, eggs and a little vanilla. "The flavor of the medlars tastes a little bit like autumn leaves with hints of cloves and cinnamon.... It’s a really different taste, unusual, not sweet. I am falling in love with it."

Medlar ice cream will be available at Mother Moo on Thursday for $4 a scoop. Other Mother Moo flavors include: rum raisin, salty chocolate, Madagascar vanilla, Sichuan pepper and orange peel, cinnamon coffee, corn flakes and cream, and licorice. All served on house-made waffle cones.

17 Kersting  Court, Sierra Madre, (626) 355-9650, www.mothermoo.com.

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-- Betty Hallock

Photo: David Karp

Chinese market tour with WP24's Sarah Johannes

If you don't regularly shop at any of the big Chinese markets in Monterey Park or thereabouts, join WP24 chef de cuisine Sarah Johannes and visiting Shanghai chef Michael Lu on an L.A. Chinese market tour on Saturday, Sept. 10.

The tour is organized by Six Taste, an organization started two years ago by two recent USC grads to offer weekend walking food tours in Little Tokyo, downtown L.A., Arcadia, San Gabriel, Thai Town and Santa Monica. Check out their website: They have a lot going on. I like the sound of their Delicious Dumpling tour, which takes in Din Tai Fung and other Arcadia hotspots.

The tour starts at 3 p.m. in Monterey Park. After the hour-long tour of the market, everyone goes back to WP24 at the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles downtowSarajn where the two chefs will prepare six tastes based on some of the ingredients found at the market. (You get to take the recipes home.) It's a chance to experience Wolfgang Puck's high-flying Chinese restaurant in a relaxed way, and at the same time take in the wraparound view from the 24th floor of the Ritz-Carlton.

Chinese Market Tour, Saturday, Sept. 10, from 3 to 7 p.m, $88 per person. Sign up at Six Taste’s website at www.sixtaste.com/chinesemarkettour.

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-- S. Irene Virbila

Twitter.com/sirenevirbila

Photo: Sarah Johannes. Credit: Kara Snider.

5 Questions for Roberto Berrelleza

Roberto Chef Roberto Berrelleza is chef-owner of Babita in San Gabriel. Once a manager maitre’d for the Hollywood Brown Derby, Berrelleza had been cooking up basic Mexican food -- tacos, burritos, menudo and posole -- for some time until he answered an internal culinary calling to feed Angelenos cuisine found in eateries around Mexico City. Leaving former staples behind, he added dishes such as chiles en nogada, mixiote (lamb shank) and chile relleno Oaxaqueno to the menu. On a day off away from the kitchen, you might find him in the Santa Ynez wine country.

What’s coming up next on your menu? Zucchini blossoms -- big, bright yellow -- blanched, shocked and made into a sauce with a white wine reduction, capers, onion, tomato and spicy chiltepin [pepper]. It's finished with a Spanish roux and goes over Mexican bass with a bed of huitlacoche en salsa.

Latest ingredient obsession? Prickly pear and gúamuchil [fruit]. I reduce juice from 20 pears down to one cup for a prickly pear crème brulee. As for the gúamuchil, I make it into a sauce that I use for venison or for filet mignon of pork, stuffed with nogada fruit, Wellington style.

What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again? I love the shrimp crab omelette at Alcove Cafe on Hillhurst, and I keep going back, again and again, and still order the same thing. It's good and I can’t resist.

The one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without, other than your knives? If you promise not to laugh, I will tell you -- my ring molds. I use them in salads, guacamole, desserts, ceviche....

What’s your favorite breakfast? A toss-up between huevos rancheros, done the right way, and steak picado, with two eggs over easy on top.

Babita, 1823 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel, (626) 288-7265.

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--Caitlin Keller

Photo: Roberto Berrelleza. Credit: Babita Mexicuisine

Do you know about the secret menu at Little London Cafe?

Nasi 

Going to the Little London Cafe in Alhambra is kind of like going on a quest -- a tasty quest for cuisine native to Kalimantan, a province of Indonesia — the Indonesian bit of Borneo.

It helps if you know about the secret menu, and you don't mind acting the mime to get what you want. The food is worth it: The menu includes nasi campur, above, which consists of barbecued pork, pork sausage, seasoned fried chicken, flavored egg with eight spices, cucumbers, white rice, gravy and Kalimantan chili sauce on the side.

Let C. Thi Nguyen be your guide on this culinary quest to discover this week's Find. He can tell you how to navigate the menu, because it's probably not in a language you can read. (Unless you speak Indonesian.)

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Video: 'Welcome to the SGV'

Stop what you are doing and watch this clever video from Andrew Fung and his brother, David, as they  pay homage to San Gabriel Valley eats and Jay-Z.

The pair, from Seattle, found themselves in "the SGV" for six weeks this summer and were blown away by the Asian food options. "If you grew up in the SGV, you might take it for granted..."

The only choice was to memorialize it in song and video.

Among the rap lyrics: "I've been a fan of this place since I got here / You ain't eating good Chinese if you're not here" and the refrain, "Only thing on my mind is where we eat tonight."

Andrew explained more in this e-mail: "Seattle is a nice place, but its variety of Asian food is extremely limited to teriyaki shops, a few sushi places and an aging Chinatown. When we stayed with our cousin in Monterey Park we would be in awe of the great food that Garvey Avenue offered. Then we started hitting places in Alhambra, then Arcadia and soon we had eaten at many highly rated (thanks, Yelp) restaurants in the immediate area. The song doesn't do the SGV complete justice because there are tons of places missing, but it's safe to say I will be coming back very very soon."

You can follow the brothers on Twitter @andrewjfung and @davidbfung, and keep up with their amusing (and often food-filled antics) at their YouTube pages, here's Andrew's, and here's David's and blog, Making it in the Motherland.

 -- Rene Lynch
Twitter.com / renelynch

The Find: Green Zone

Lunch
It's not easy being green in the frenetic, food-obsessed San Gabriel neighborhood where Green Zone put down roots almost four years ago. At first, the modest restaurant's organic offerings generated little enthusiasm from those who preferred to prowl the area's malls and boulevards lusting after obscure regional Chinese dumpling varieties or caustically spiced Hunan stir-fries. "People would stand outside and argue about whether to come in and try us," remembers co-owner and Green Zone creator Jilian Cam.
Today, things are very different for the restaurant. You're lucky if you can snag a seat without a lengthy wait at peak mealtime hours. Read on about Green Zone, which is our Find of the week.

Photo: Katie Mac and her son Kyle Fung, 21-months-old, have lunch at Green Zone, which specializes in fine organic cuisine. Credit: Christina House / For The Times

 

The Find: A garden of neo-Shanghai delights

Wonton
Shanghai's cuisine, whether served at a dive or a white-tablecloth restaurant, often is typecast as an impossibly rich parade of braised meats and overly sweet, heavy sauces. But at 4-month-old Yu Garden, chef Bin Hu focuses on a lighter, more streamlined Shanghainese cooking style. It's the sort of food found in casual, modern eateries that have popped up to serve the Chinese city's outlying urban sprawl — call it Neo-Shanghainese Cafe Cuisine.

From Yu Garden's façade, possibly one of the drabbest storefronts on Valley Boulevard, there's no hint of the buzzing energy within. At busy mealtimes, the small, narrow room throbs with city life: girlfriends gossiping in the upholstered booths, a lone businessman slurping noodles at one of the faux black granite tables; families and shoppers, their puffy plastic bags resting on the stylishly rustic tile floor, perusing the bargain lunch menu. The polished décor, inherited from several predecessors, gives the plain space a bit of urban chic. Read more here:

Photo: The green leaf wonton soup on the menu at Yu Garden Restaurant in San Gabriel. Credit: Axel Koester / For The Times

 

Food fight waged over refrigeration of Asian noodles

Noodles
It's on!

Asian noodle manufacturers are poised for a food fight. They're uniting against a California law that prohibits the pasta from being kept at room temperature, saying it ignores a long-held cultural tradition. Public health officials cite safety. Read more here.

Photo credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Sampler Platter: stinky tofu, vegan desserts, congee & tensions in Mid-City West

 Lai Wan-style congee at Silver & Gold Amazing in Monterey Par

Congee, vegan desserts, surreal McDonald's commercials and gay ice cream lead today's food news roundup.
-- Rancid soy bliss at Mama's in San Gabriel. Sinosoul
-- Who profits from inflated fears about food allergies? Slate
-- Hector Vazquez earns a YouTube following with his cooking show "Hood Chef." New York Daily News
-- Ben & Jerry’s celebrates gay marriage by renaming “Chubby Hubby” ice cream “Hubby Hubby” for September. You can still get Chubby Hubby at shops and stores around the country, but in Vermont you can get special Hubby Hubby sundaes.
-- Sugar Plum Vegan bakery from Sacramento comes to L.A. Quarrygirl
-- Tensions run high at Mid City West Land Use Committee meeting meeting re: four new restaurants: Allora, Eva, Lan, Dusty's. Blackburn + Sweetzer
-- Guest list for the annual White House Ramadan dinner. Los Angeles Times
-- If McDonald's hired Salvador Dali to oversee its advertising, it might look something like this surreal TV spot. YouTube
-- Store brands usually taste as good as national brands. Consumer Reports
-- Jook a.k.a. congee a.k.a. porridge: the next best thing to a hug from a Chinese mama. Rants and Craves

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: Lai Wan-style congee at Silver & Gold Amazing in Monterey Park. Credit: Nancy Pastor / For The Times.

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.