Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Sports

Dodger dogs in the dog house as ballpark fare turns healthful

Dodger-dogsI never thought I'd see the day that Dodger Stadium started serving Greek salads and yogurt parfaits. What's next, sustainable farmers' market dinners? OK, probably not, but Sunday's paper ran an interesting story on the ways that the stadium is trying to class up its act and help its fans stay on their respective health kicks, rather than falling face-first into a 1,000-calorie plate of nachos by the second inning.

It's good news for sure, but it makes me just a touch sad. Going to Dodger Stadium meant that I had no choice but to eat poorly. And to be truthful, I kind of liked having a fail-proof excuse for why I spent my evening gorging on mega cups of crummy beer, fistfuls of peanuts and day-glo cheese. (A girl needs her vices.) Now that a low-fat turkey wrap will be part of my game-time menu options, I'll never be able to shake the fearsome anxiety of opting to order something less, well, sensible.

When big box movie theaters start offering air-popped corn with brewer's yeast alongside their gut-busting buckets of buttered sin, I'm taking my ball and going home.

--Jessica Gelt

Super Bowl Small Bites: Hungry Cat, Talesai, Rush Street

Superbowl_2 

$10 takeout: Talesai is offering a $10 takeout menu for Super Bowl Sunday. Orders taken between now and 10 p.m. Saturday will be ready for pickup after noon on Sunday. Among the menu options: "box of wings" (fried chicken with noom salsa), spring rolls, larb, green papaya salad, satay, pad thai, chicken curry, wok-fried eggplant with jalapenos and basil, cashew chicken and grapow (as in "ka-pow!"). 9043 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 275-9724, www.talesai.com

Tailgate menu: For Super Bowl XLIII, it's the first annual Hungry Cat Super Bowl party, which starts at 11 a.m. Sunday. The special tailgate menu features snacks and seasonal cocktails. Beer specials too. You'll look like the cat that ate the Cardinal. 1535 N. Vine, (323) 462-2155, www.thehungrycat.com

Half-price burgers: Rush Street hosts a Super Bowl party with game day drink specials and special menu items including half-price burgers, sliders and Chicago dogs. The game will be playing on all eight HDTVs on two floors. The big question is whether the Miller girls will show up. Sunday night comedy hour is still on, 8 p.m. in the upstairs lounge. But if the Cardinals beat the Steelers, who's laughing? 9546 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 837-9546, www.rushstreetculvercity.com

— Betty Hallock

Photo: Pittsburgh Steelers. Credit: David Richard/Associated Press

Tracking the Bocuse d'Or: Norwegian wins, American places 6th

Geirwin_3 At the Bocuse d'Or culinary competition in Lyon, France, Norway's Geir Skeie won the golden trophy, besting Sweden's Jonas Lundgren (silver) and France's Philippe Mille (bronze). American Timothy Hollingsworth, a sous chef at the French Laundry, took sixth place, to the disappointment of supporters and fans (including Bocuse d'Or founder Paul Bocuse) who had expected him to make podium.

"It was a different environment, but we were really well prepared," Hollingsworth says. Still, "when I look at the platters, I see a lot of faults. There's always room for improvement."

Skeie, a chef at the Restaurant Midtaasen in Sandefjord, Norway, had reason to celebrate. "This has been my dream for 15 years," he says, "since I was 13 years old. You can hardly imagine how I feel. It has been my best day ever."

Over the two-day contest, chefs from 24 countries competed for the golden Bocuse d’Or trophy (made in the likeness of Paul Bocuse) and 20,000 euros (about $26,000). Each had five hours and 35 minutes to prepare two elaborate platters, in front of an audience of screaming fans wielding cowbells, pompoms, clackers and horns.

There was hilarity. Two emcees -- one English-speaking and one French-speaking -- narrated the event, to humorous effect. When Hollingsworth presented his beef platter, the French emcee chanted, "U-S-A, you-don't-say, U-S-A, you-don't-say."

And there were glitches. France's Mille presented his seafood platter late, which cost him precious points. According to the New York Times, some contestants were surprised that the prawns had been frozen. 

"I think that there are always complications," Hollingsworth says. "We were dealing with different ovens and different equipment, but we adapted to them. The shrimp were a lot smaller than I was expecting,  so one of the garnishes [side dishes] we had to change at the last minute -- the shrimp and avocado tart."

Now, Hollingsworth says he's looking forward to getting back to the French Laundry kitchen. "The past six months of my life has been a blur, and it's going to take a while to digest what has happened."

-- Betty Hallock

Photo of Geir Skeie by Paal-Andre Schwital

Tracking the Bocuse d'Or: Meet France's Philippe Mille

MilleWednesday is Day 2 of the Bocuse d'Or culinary competition in Lyon, France, when favorites France, Norway, Denmark, Japan and the U.S. are scheduled to compete.

France and Norway traditionally have been the heavy hitters. But when recently asked who he thought were this year's favorites, Paul Bocuse, founder of the Bocuse d'Or, named France, Japan and the U.S. The U.S., however, has never placed better than sixth, and the only time an Asian chef made "podium" (or won at least bronze) was in 1989.

The last Bocuse d'Or winner was French chef Fabrice Desvignes, who was accused by competitors from Germany and Denmark of bringing in precooked ingredients, which is against the rules. (Contest officials determined that containers arriving late to Desvignes' kitchen cubicle were filled with only silverware and foie gras, both copacetic.)

This year's French candidate is 34-year-old Philippe Mille, a chef at Michelin three-star restaurant Le Meurice in Paris. If Mille wins, it might be redemption for his boss and mentor, Le Meurice's Yannick Alléno. In 1999, Alléno was the first French chef in the history of the competition to come in second, taking home silver when Norway snagged gold.   

Still, France has won two of the last three competitions. "This isn't a blind tasting," said Nick Versteeg, who produces documentaries about the Bocuse d'Or and other culinary competitions. "Tell me that the judges aren't influenced when France presents [its platters] and the whole stadium goes crazy." (The Bocuse d'Or isn't a staid affair; ever since Mexico's candidate showed up with a mariachi band in 1997, foghorns, cowbells, cheering and yelling from the stands have been the norm.)

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Tracking the Bocuse d'Or: On meeting Paul Bocuse

BocusecropI never imagined that I would meet Paul Bocuse, the Paul Bocuse, who as a founder of nouvelle cuisine is regarded as one of the best chefs of the 20th century. Though he is now 82 years old (as Maury Rubin of City Bakery put it recently, "so much butter and cream in that man"), he is hale and hearty and no less revered. And the last thing I thought I'd ever do was make him angry. 

Earlier this month, I observed French Laundry sous chef Timothy Hollingsworth train for the Bocuse d'Or culinary competition, which starts Tuesday in Lyon, France, and was founded by Bocuse in 1987. (Read more here.) Paul Bocuse (pictured in center) was in attendance too, along with his son, chef Jerome Bocuse (right), and chef-restaurateur Daniel Boulud (left).

At the end of the 5 1/2-hour training session, in which Hollingsworth prepared two elaborate platters of four beef dishes and four seafood dishes (just as he will at the competition in Lyon), everyone gathered around the food to taste it. Paul Bocuse, who doesn't speak English, nudged me to try the bacon-wrapped beef, which was so tender you could cut it with a fork. I was trying to be very polite and had gently placed my fork on the beef to take a small bite when Paul Bocuse snatched it from my hand.

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Tracking the Bocuse d'Or: Meet Norway's Geir Skeie

Geirskeie1The Bocuse d'Or, the international culinary competition that takes place every two years in Lyon, France, begins Tuesday. At this point, all of the chefs are gathered in Lyon and are getting ready to compete over the next two days -- 12 on Tuesday and 12 on Wednesday. Representing the U.S. is Timothy Hollingsworth from the French Laundry, who has been in Lyon since Jan. 16. He's been doing full practice runs there to get acclimated (as in getting used to using French butter and cream).

Hollingsworth faces stiff competition; among his top rivals will be Norway's Geir Skeie (pictured right). If there were a prize for best chef wearing scuba gear while holding a cod and a giant fork, guess who'd win.

Skeie's a chef at a restaurant in Sandefjord, Norway, called Midtaasen, whose chef-owner -- Odd Ivar Solvold -- won bronze at the Bocuse d'Or in '97.  Although France won in every year it competed until 1999, Norway's been giving the French a run for their cuisine.

The Norwegians, who are coming up in the culinary world and train hard for the competition, go all out. Skeie has a Bocuse d'Or semi-trailer decorated with a picture of himself holding a 20-pound cod.... Read on to find out about his trailer (and his platters):

Can you tell me about your trailer?

It has a kitchen in the back so that we are able to make the preparations for the competition and also train in it when we are in Lyon. Then we do not have to move our stuff into a restaurant kitchen and then take it out into a truck and go to the competition. It is all in all very practical for me, so I can concentrate on the food and not the logistics in Lyon.

Have you been working at the restaurant or have you had time off for training?

I worked full time until Dec. 1. Then I took two months off to train. So from September to December, I  both worked full time and trained.

Where have you been training?

I have made a replica of the kitchen in Lyon in the garage of the place I am working (Midtaasen). It is a double garage, fully isolated, which used to house Anders Jahres' (a midcentury shipping magnate, friend of Aristotle Onassis) Rolls-Royces. On the top of the garage lives my commis (assistant), Adrian.

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Soccer-shirt Sundays at the new Michelangelo in Silver Lake

Michelangelook2 Happily for Silver Lake, the much-loved neighborhood Italian restaurant Michelangelo has finally reopened in its new Rowena Avenue location. Happily for me, the hunky, alpha-male Italian waiters that have always made Michelangelo an attractive destination now wear blue soccer jerseys and jeans on Sunday nights. It's a small detail, but it brings an added sexiness and a weird authenticity to a place that already felt a lot like a low-key, street-side restaurant in Rome.

In other Michelangelo news: There is no beer or wine yet, but you can BYOB; there is a large front patio, and the place is packed on weekend nights.

2742 Rowena Ave., (323) 660-4843.

--Jessica Gelt

Monday night pasta

Garganelli2_5Over the weekend, my older daughter presented me with an annotated list of the types of pasta she currently will and won't eat. With visual aids.  On the yes column: penne, ziti, fusilli.  No: spaghetti, fettucini, lasagna. Since I was rolling out sheets of pasta on my old Atlas machine at the time (which makes the three she doesn't like, but not of course the three she does), this was somewhat disconcerting. (For the record, Isabel ate the ravioli that I gave her.)

So last night I made garganelli, to dry for any future pasta crises -- and just because I'd never done it before. It required that I cut up sheets of pasta into 1 1/2-inch squares, roll them around a pencil and press them into a gnocchi board (right, with garganelli). Time consuming, yes, but fun in a meditative kind of way and a cool way to use an under-utilized kitchen tool (the board, not the pencil). It's a calming activity too, handy if you're watching Monday Night Football or, say, a political debate. And with Tom Brady out for the season and moose-hunting suddenly an acceptable qualification for the vice presidency, occupational therapy is going to be critical in the coming weeks.

Gnocchi board, about $6 at Surfas in Culver City, Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica and various sources online. 

-- Amy Scattergood

(Photo of garganelli pasta and board by Amy Scattergood)

Olympic fever specials

OlympicsUnless you're Mia Farrow, it's highly likely that you've caught some Michael Phelps -- I mean, Olympic -- fever. So have some restaurants around town:

West at Hotel Angeleno is offering opening ceremony dishes for $8.88 such as "chicken javelin throws" (chicken skewers). The obsession with the number 8 continues: Boa Steakhouse is offering a four-course "Infinite Deal" menu (steaks and sides such as Caesar salad, garlic whipped potatoes and mac-n-cheese), for $88.08 per couple. The deal is available for 88 days.

Vinoteque is kicking off its Olympic-tied events with a special $8 menu during the opening ceremony, aired on its jumbo flat screen TVs. Other events include Sunday's "Dream Team" brunch in honor of the U.S. men's basketball team.

Darren's in Manhattan Beach is offering an Olympic menu with dishes that represent countries participating in the Games -- Spanish charcuterie and Manchego cheese (Spain); spicy ahi tartare over sweet rice cake (Japan); pan-seared frog legs (China); marinated shrimp and queso fresco (Peru)....  During happy hour (5 to 6:30 p.m. weekdays), these dishes are half-price. And unlike at the opening ceremony procession, there are no diplomatic problems about which country follows which.

West at Hotel Angeleno, 170 N. Church Lane, West Los Angeles, (310) 476-6411. Boa Steakhouse, 8462 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 650-8383. Vinoteque, 4437 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, (310) 482-3490. Darren's, 1141 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, (310) 802-1973.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo credit: Roslan Rahman / Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Fishing for bouillabaisse

Fishing On Tuesday, my 10-year-old son, Wylie, and I went fishing. Amy Scattergood tipped us off about the boat -- the New Del Mar -- and we boarded midday out of Marina del Rey. First we caught lots of mackerel -- which the fishermen wanted as bait for bass and barracuda, but looks more like dinner to friends of Russ Parsons.

Farther out, the crew filleted some of the mackerel and cut it up for bait (it's a fish-eat-fish world out there). Before long, one of the fishermen pulled up a sculpin -- a.k.a. scorpionfish. Bouillabaisse fish! I remembered a February 2004 story Daniel Young wrote for the Food section about the famous seafood stew from Marseilles. Bouillabaisse is notoriously difficult to approximate outside of the Mediterranean because it depends on a fish called rascasse to yield the deep, rich broth. But Southern California, he wrote, is home to the ideal substitute -- a cousin of rascasse called sculpin. "Are you guys eating fish tonight?" asked the fisherman, and gleefully I said yes. We wound up catching two sand bass, and the fishermen gifted us two more sculpin.

Goodbouilla That night, we grilled one mackerel and one bass (fantastic dinner, with grilled corn), then with the idea of a bouillabaisse dinner for Wednesday night, I made a bouillabaisse broth, using Young's recipe (which you'll find by clicking below on the "Read more 'Fishing for bouillabaisse' link). Since I only had three sculpin and the bones of the grilled bass, I halved the recipe. Yesterday I had to buy more fish to supplement the stew, so I picked up a couple of pounds of red snapper fillets, along with a dozen mussels. It all came together surprisingly quickly -- just about a half-hour to make the stew, rouille and croutons. My husband, Thierry, just back from New York, didn't mind waiting -- we had a glass of Ricard while it finished cooking.

It was all so wonderful (my favorite part is the crouton spread with rouille soaked in the broth) I can't wait to go fishing again. And this time, I'm going for the sculpin.

Marina del Rey Sportfishing, Dock 52, Fiji Way, Marina del Rey; (310) 822-3625.

-- Leslie Brenner

Photos by Leslie Brenner

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.