Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Shopping

The Great Dinnerware Exchange at Heath Ceramics

Home_plate_evite2_7.23.12For the month of August, Heath Los Angeles is offering an irresistible deal: Bring in your tired old dinnerware and get 25% off on the equivalent piece of Heathware. So if you’ve had your eye on a cobalt blue cereal bowl ($28) or a cardoon soup bowl from the Chez Panisse collection ($37), now is the time.

Here’s the way it works: Bring in 10 of your lightly used dinner plates and receive 25% off 10 new Heath dinner plates. Bring in eight mugs and get 25% off eight new Heath mugs, and so on.

What happens to your old plates and bowls? They’re donated to the Skid Row Housing Trust, which develops, manages and operates homes for the homeless of Los Angeles. A formerly homeless person and/or family will be set up with what they need for their kitchen.

Heath Los Angeles Studio & Showroom, 7525 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, California
(323) 965-0800; www.heathceramics.com.


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-- S. Irene Virbila

Image: Courtesy of Heath Ceramics


Pastry basics: the wooden dough scraper

Dough scrapersSummer’s coming. 

Time to get your pie-making supplies together. Pie tins? Check. Leaf lard? Check. Pastry flour? Check. 

And maybe one of these hand-carved wooden dough scrapers. Always a sucker for a beautiful tool, I’m ready to replace my plastic dough scraper with a wood version, the more grain the better. One or more would make a lovely gift for your favorite baker.

Wooden dough scraper (no two alike), $9 each from Canvas, a New York shop with an online presence.


Found at last: a vintage citrus juicer

First Impression: Beachwood Cafe

The Mark Zuckerberg wedding menu

-- S. Irene Virbila

Photos: Wooden dough scraper. Courtesy of Canvas, New York City


Food FYI: L.A. adopts ban on plastic bags

"The Bag Monster" outside L.A. City Hall on Wednesday

Los Angeles became the largest city in the nation to approve a ban on plastic bags at supermarkets. Thanks, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, et al. [Los Angeles Times]


Oh, Eater LA and its commenters. Restaurant critic Besha Rodell on the bungled attempts to ferret her identity. [LA Weekly]


The latest Burger King menu addition in Hong Kong is a black truffle burger -- part of its premium series for “a taste of royal delicacy,” the company says. [Wall Street Journal]


Tetou proves to be the seafood hot spot for celebrities at the Cannes Film Festival. [Just Jared] 


In addition to the mysterious deaths of several hundred dolphins in Peru, pelicans are starving -- unable to reach anchovies that have retreated to greater ocean depths to avoid warmer surface waters. [Scientific American]


How to eat a pizza. [The Guardian]


Food writer Jeffrey Steingarten tries the Master Cleanse. [Vogue]


The Mark Zuckerberg wedding menu

Taco Tuesday: Taco de carnitas

First Impression: End of Communism at Rivera

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: The Bag Monster, also known as James Alamillo for Heal the Bay, outside L.A. City Hall on Wednesday. Photo credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

Found at last: a vintage citrus juicer

Silex JUICITEver since my faithful little Krug citrus juicer bit the dust, I’ve been juicing oranges by hand on one of those old-fashioned glass models you sit over a bowl. Or else, with a metal Mexican hand-held job, a slightly larger version of the lime squeezer.

Why? Because I haven’t been able to find a small compact electric juicer that works. I don’t like to keep small appliances out on the counter, so I want something that can be stowed away in a drawer. And I don’t want some big pig of a machine, however efficient. 

I finally thought I’d found a compact electric model, ordered it online and returned it after making two glasses of juice. It had a design defect: The hole that the juice ran through kept getting clogged with pulp.

For larger juicing jobs, I’ve been borrowing a neighbor’s vintage Proctor Silex JUICIT J101W. This was last made in the '70s, I believe. The design is a bit lumpen, but it works beautifully.

Funny, when I was just in New York, my friend Mary complained how juicers these days don’t have a powerful enough motor: When you press the orange down on the reamer, the motor strains and sometimes stops. She got up on a step-stool to pull out her vintage juicer: the very same Proctor Silex model, 125 watts as opposed to 30 to 80 watts for some of the newer juicers.

OK, so I set up a search on eBay. The Proctor-Silex JUICIT does show up, but for weeks the ones I saw seemed too pricey or too worn. Finally, I bid on one in excellent condition and won the auction for $31, plus $10 shipping, which seems fair. It’s heavy duty. The body is metal, the reamer porcelain, and this juicer just rips through the oranges, giving out a steady stream with just the right amount of pulp.

Mornings are just that bit happier now.


Enter our Battle of the Burgers

First Impression: Beachwood Cafe

Open this weekend: Garagiste Festival satellite tasting room

-- S. Irene Virbila


Photos: My new/old Silex JUICIT. Credit: S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles Times

New salt and pepper mill from design icon Richard Sapper for Alessi

SaltyRichard Sapper, the designer of Artemide’s Tizio lamp and so many other iconic designs, including the beloved 9090 stovetop espresso maker, has something new for the Italian housewares firm Alessi. Here comes the Tonga electric salt, pepper and spice mill.  

I’m not much for gadgets, but this looks like something I’d actually use. Slightly tilted, it also happens to be handsome enough to use at the table. The housing is thermoplastic resin. Inside, Sapper has made sure the ceramic grindstones turn effortlessly — and quietly.

The mill is 2½ inches in diameter and 9 inches tall, available in black or white for $120 from the Alessi online store and in a week or two from Alessi at Diva, 313 N. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 276-7096. 


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-- S. Irene Virbila


Photos: Tonga salt, pepper and spice mill. Credit: Alessi

Olé! Spain Delishop is open in Santa Ana

Olé! Spain Delishop
When a friend in Orange County alerted me that Olé! Spain Delishop had opened in Santa Ana, I made a note to check it out next time I was nearby. Over the weekend, I had the chance to visit the spare, simple cafe and shop.

Shelves are lined with hard-to-find products imported from Spain — nyora peppers (essential for an authentic romanesco sauce), olives, anchovies, olive oils, vinegars, saffron, paprika, paella rice, beans, nougat, cookies and more. There’s a case of imported cheeses carefully marked, Spanish soft drinks, bottled sangría and at the very back of the space, a refrigerated case stuffed with all sorts of Spanish charcuterie, most from La Espagnola Meats in Harbor City. You can pick up jamon serrano, butifarra, Vic sausage, Pamplona chorizo and many more examples of Spain's extensive sausage and chorizo repertoire.

A board lists bocatas (Spanish-style sandwiches) — and they’re terrific. Made on a perfect crusty loaf, “La Española” features jamon serrano, dry-cured sausage, Manchego cheese and velvety piquillo peppers, while the "Catalana" loads on Vic sausage, Pamplona chorizo and butifarra sausage. All of the five sandwiches on offer come with olives and capers. 

Owners Sarah and Javier Bañuelos also have a few tapas and make a traditional tortilla, the Spanish omelet laced with potato, to order. 

All in all, a fine spot for a quick lunch or to pick up Spanish ingredients for a recipe. 

Olé! Spain Delishop, 136 W. MacArthur Blvd. (at Main Street), Santa Ana; (714) 966-1087; www.olespaindelishop.com. Open Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.


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46 Vilmorin vegetable prints in glorious color

In Redondo Beach: the cooking of the Venetian lagoon

-- S. Irene Virbila

Photos: Scanned menu. Courtesy Olé! Spain Delishop.

To market, to market: Shopping bags at Lost & Found

Bag1 (1 of 1)Ever on the lookout for market bags, I found two new ones at the kitchen store that’s part of Lost & Found in Hollywood. If you’ve never checked out this sweet little complex of five side-by-side stores, now’s the time. The Green Kitchen is filled with covetable items for the home and kitchen. But don’t think fancy juicers or complicated gadgets. Owner Jamie Rosenthal prefers to stock up on linen tea towels, handwoven table runners and thick linen napkins from Eastern Europe. She’s got handsome cutting boards, olive wood mortar and pestles, terracotta bowls and glass “keeping jars” for dry goods. 

She also has an unusual array of baskets and bags for the farmers market or grocery store. The new cotton bags printed with the image of leeks or scallions are light enough to fold up in your purse and have at the ready whenever you need them. The leek bag is long and skinny, Bag2 (1 of 1) just perfect for celery, rhubarb, cardoons or leeks. Admittedly, it’s kind of specialized just because of its shape.

The mother of all market bags is this one in an African-inspired fabric, big enough to carry an entire week’s  groceries. Very tall people need only apply, though. When I picked up this beauty, I couldn’t carry it, even empty, without dragging the bottom on the floor. Maybe stilts?

Leek bag, $35. African print bag, $195. Available at Lost & Found, 6320 Yucca St. (at Vine), Hollywood; (323) 856-0717; lostandfoundshop.com/


Is your coffee Handsome?

It's Taco Tuesday at Arturo's

Dear Mr. Gold: Dinner without a face

-- S. Irene Virbila


Photos: Market bags from Lost & Found. Credit: S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles Times.

Resin domes with bunny ears hide cheese or butter or whatever

66974.A1E242FCThe Frenchwoman who ran the bed-and-breakfast where we were staying in the Dordogne gave us a few addresses. One was for a ferme auberge (farm restaurant) where she’d arranged for me to watch the proprietor make her famous tourtière aux pruneaux (prune tart sprinkled with Armagnac).

And so one night my husband and I set out from Sarlat to the deep countryside following her directions. We drove on and on, hardly anyone on the road, through forest, through tiny villages. Just when we thought we were completely lost, we saw a sign for the ferme auberge

I pointed the car up a tiny dirt road, headlights on high as it was so dark. Curve after curve and then one more: Suddenly, there it was, lights blazing like Las Vegas. There was just one other table that night, but a guest book with all sorts of illustrious names.

I remember we ate very well -- paté laced with foie gras, soup, duck. For such a rustic setting, what astonished me was the fact that everything was served beneath silver domes, the kind you might see at  two- or three-star restaurants.

In fact, it turns out, the proprietor’s son worked at a two-star restaurant and had bought them for his mother. They were aspirational, to say the least. I remembered that whole strange skewed evening when I saw the latest arrival at my favorite online design shop, unicahome.com.

These resin “lapin” or rabbit domes  from designer Tina Frey would have been more 66974.E1A96210 appropriate at a ferme auberge. Quirky and irreverent, they’re meant to conceal a cheese plate, a slab of butter or whatever. I love that they’re elevated on a pedestal. The rabbit ears are fun too, because they conjure the idea of a magician’s rabbit in a hat. What’s underneath? It could be cookies, big fluffy meringues, a cache of Pixie mandarins -- or a complete surprise. 

Lapin dome on pedestal stand, white or grey, $176 small; $290 large. Lapin covered dish with spreader, $150; large $270. Available from unicahome.com.


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Get your red hot James Beard Award nominees right here

 -- S. Irene Virbila

Photos: Tina Frey's resin lapin domes. Credit: Unicahome.


Covetable: Painted antique wooden spoons

The monthly sale at Milk Farm Road, a collaborative online artists shop from artist and stylist Heather Chontos, is on. Among the goods are painted antique wooden spoonsThe monthly sale at Milk Farm Road, a collaborative online artists shop from artist and stylist Heather Chontos, starts today and runs until 6 p.m. EDT Friday.

These wooden spoons caught my eye. Each is unique and old, with painted handles. They're food-safe, but should be hand-washed, not run through the dishwasher. They're $30 each and available in pink, black, white and navy. 

Also, check out the wooden cheese knives carved in the shape of whales from Tim McDowell for Phoebe Hill. They're $50 each.


Make your own bagels

Dario Cecchini plans visit to Valentino

What the foie gras? Man meets jelly doughnut at Umamicatessen

-- S. Irene Virbila


Photo: Painted antique wooden spoons. Credit: Milk Farm Road 

Covetable: Cheese boards made from reclaimed floorboards

Brooklyn_to_west_reclaimed_cutting_boardsGrace Bonney's long-running blog Design Sponge alerted me to these wonderfully quirky cheese boards from Brooklyn wood artist Ariele Alasko. A sculptor trained at Pratt Institute of Art and Design, Alasko makes her cheese boards from salvaged floorboards at her Brooklyn studio. I love the way she allows each piece of old wood to express itself in the board’s shape and the way she uses the wood’s grain.  

“Everything I build is made of 100% recycled and salvaged Salvaged_reclaimed_hand_made_bread_boards materials,” she explains. “Most everything is found, meaning that materials are not always plentiful and everything is one-of-a-kind. Sometimes it takes a month before I come across more usable material, but hey, that's what keeps this interesting!”

Go to her virtual shop to see all the cheese boards she’s brought into the world.

Each comes with a tag advising buyers on how to care for their floorboard cheese boards:

— Don’t get me too wet

— You can oil me with walnut oil or butchers-block wax (but I will get slightly darker in color)

— Eat lots of cheese on me!

View her shop here, where cheese boards run $55 to $90. Or contact her at aalasko@yahoo.com to discuss the possibilities.

Also, if you find yourself in Pacific Grove sometime, check out the restaurant interior she built for Il Vecchio, her family's traditional Italian restaurant. The menu of mostly Roman dishes looks promising. And they're using her cheese boards, if you want to get a closer look.

I wish I knew how to wield a hammer and saw the way Alasko does.


Pop-up dining in Venice

Test Kitchen tips: Flambé

Food events: Beerathon, Westside Connections and LACMA wine tastings

 -- S. Irene Virbila

Photos: floorboard cheeseboards. Credit: Ariele Alasko, Brooklyn to West



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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.