Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Sustainability & the Environment

Prepared-food vendors named for some Santa Monica Farmers Markets

Prepared foods

Every year, one third of Farmers Market vendor contracts expire in order to make room for new and old vendors alike to apply, or reapply, through a competitive bid process for a three-year contract at the Santa Monica Farmers Markets.

The contracts were up for renewal on three of the Santa Monica Farmers Markets while the big Wednesday Downtown Market contracts were not. Farmers Market coordinator Jodi Low oversees the annual prepared food selection process and has announced that this year's selection is complete.

Drum roll, please:

Main Street Market's returning prepared food vendors are Bean & Thyme, Ca'D'Oro Bakery, Kafe K and Finn McCools, with newcomers Secret Gold Fish Baking Co. and Sweet Rose Creamery added to the list.

Pico Market welcomes Caffe Luxxe to its Virginia Avenue Park neighborhood and Valerie Confections returns to the Saturday Downtown Market.

For more information on the Santa Monica Farmers Markets, go to www.smgov.net/portals/farmersmarket/.

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--Caitlin Keller

Photo: Prepared foods at the Main Street Farmers Market. Credit: David Karp / Los Angeles Times

Martha's Vineyard and the humble home chicken coop

Eggs
In July I filed a number of posts from the East Coast, where my band was touring for a few weeks. There was one post I kept meaning to write but didn't (until now). I want to tell you about the chickens a friend's mother, Lesley Eaton, kept on Martha's Vineyard in a coop beside her beautiful country home.

She sells them by the dozen at a small cafe and restaurant called the Scottish Bakehouse under the moniker Eaton Eggs. Get it? She doesn't make money off of them, really, since the eggs retail for $7 to $10 a dozen, and she only gathers about a dozen a day.

But that's not the point for Eaton. The eggs -- gathering them, selling them and consuming them -- are about the community of food, especially the kind you bring about yourself, whether by growing it or raising chickens to lay it.  

Since it is an island, reachable only by boat, Martha's Vineyard has an extremely self-sustained ecosystem. Those who live there pay to dispose of their trash by weight and grow much of what they eat "on island," as they call it. Everything else is simply "off island."

When we stayed with Eaton and her daughter Lizzy Kent, they put us up in a yurt on the property that was only a few yards from the coop, and just a bit farther, down a well-worn dirt path, from the main house. The chickens, about 30 or so of them, were a rowdy bunch to be sure, clucking and scratching at all hours, but I loved the sound.

There was one unfortunate instance, however, when Eaton let the chickens out in the morning to peck for worms and Lizzy's dog went a bit Norman Bates, snatching one startled bird up by its bottom and shaking it until it lay still in the dirt. We city girls screamed and prepared to put the beleaguered thing out of its misery with a shovel. Fortunately Eaton arrived and swept it up in her arms, murmuring "poor bird," at which point it let out a grateful squawk and ran off.

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4 Food Events You Should Know About: Good Food Festival Film Series; Crepe Night at La Cachette; Eat Real Festival; Farmer's Dinner at Patina

Farmersdinner

Harry's Berries at Patina: On Wednesday, Patina will host an exclusive five-course vegetarian Farmer’s Dinner. The dinner will showcase seasonal produce from Harry's Berries, a 40-acre family-owned farm in Oxnard. Executive chef Tony Esnault will use summer ingredients in dishes to be served at the event,  including a chilled yellow tomato soup, stuffed zucchini blossoms, a seasonal glazed vegetable mosaic, poached duck egg, wild mushrooms and a dessert created with Harry's Berries strawberries. 141 S. Grand Ave., L.A., (213) 972-3331, patinarestaurant.com.

Food on film: On July 13, the Santa Monica Farmer's Market and Slow Food Los Angeles present the next installment of the Good Food Festival Film Series. At Santa Monica's Aero Theatre, two screenings will focus on food waste prevention. Director Jeremy Seifert's "Dive!," an American documentary, looks at the issue at home, where more than 250 million pounds of food goes to waste every day, while French New Wave pioneer Agnès Varda's "The Gleaners & I" focuses on the tradition of gleaning used for centuries in France, following both rural and urban scavengers. For tickets, go to fandango.com. 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 260-1528, americancinemathequecalendar.com.

Crepes galore: Crepe night at La Cachette Bistro is every Wednesday. Prepared by crepe master Pierre-Lo, the menu changes from week to week but promises a selection of sweet and savory offerings. Get a classic Nutella and banana or go for the ham and cheese. 1733 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 434-9509, lacachettebistro.com.

Eat Real: In celebration of good food, the Eat Real Festival takes place July 16 and 17 at Helms Bakery in Culver City. Food skills, hands-on DIY demos and eats from popular food trucks and local restaurants are on the agenda at the two-day festival, which highlights local, sustainable ingredients. Activities include a cookbook swap July 17, a kimchi class with Lauryn Chun, an urban bee keeping demo, beer and wine gardens and a homemade goods competition. Entrance is free and all food at the festival costs $5 or less. 8800 Venice Blvd., L.A., eatrealfest.com.

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-- Caitlin Keller

Photo: Patinarestaurant.com

Promoting sustainable seafood through tasty celebration

Seafood_chowder 

The Aquarium of the Pacific is hosting the seventh annual Sustainable Seafood Day and Chowderfest on Saturday. Generally a place where you can admire an array of different fish, the aquarium will become a place where can eat them as well. It's not as bad as it sounds -- quite the opposite, in fact. The public is invited to learn about sustainable seafood, with this year's focus on chowder in Southern California. Local restaurants will provide samples of original versions of the dish, including recipes using arctic char, cod, Dungeness crab and oysters, and then guests will get to vote on their favorite. But that's not all. The aquarium's 50 regular exhibits will be open, along with special ones that provide information from sustainable seafood experts and step-by-step cooking demonstrations. Spend this weekend feeding your brain and your stomach. Just not the fish. Aquarium of the Pacific: 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802; (562) 590-3100. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with chowder served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The 13th annual Savor California is Saturday, March 26. As a tribute to sustainable seafood, sustainable agriculture, and culinary science, the Discovery Ball at the California Science Center will include a cocktail reception tasting extravaganza hosted by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of the Border Grill. Guests will get to enjoy food made by chefs from Mozza, Waterloo & City and Angeli Caffe, among many others. The evening will begin with a 6:00 food and wine tasting on the pier, to be followed by a 7:30 Napa-style dinner, and 10:00 post-dinner cocktails, dancing and lounge action, as well as a private IMAX screening of "Adventures in Wild California." California Science Center: 700 Exposition Park Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90037; (213) 744-2035.

-- Emma Wartzman

Photo: Seafood chowder. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Click here for the recipe from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

Rick Moonen dishes on the X Train menu and his hopes for an L.A. restaurant

Moonen
Rick Moonen, a finalist on “Top Chef Masters” and owner of RM Seafood in Vegas, will be conducting the X Train's food and beverage program. Moonen anticipates the train will have its maiden voyage from L.A. to Vegas on New Years Eve 2011, but he's already brainstorming ideas for the menu.

“We're going to have a sit-down sushi bar car. We want the food to be so good that people get on early. We might do something like a dim sum cart of some sort because it's immediate,” Moonen says. “It won't necessarily be fine dining. I don't think we'll open up with something that fancy.” In Moonen's classic childlike fashion, he wants to name the dining car Chew Chew.

But that's not the only project in the works. Moonen has been scoping space for a future restaurant in Los Angeles, including downtown's Union Station. It's still very much in the ideas stage, but he seems  enthused about bringing his sustainable-seafood-focused concept to L.A.

To read more about Moonen's upcoming endeavors, head to ThisIsBrandX.com.

-- Krista Simmons

Follow me on Twitter @kristasimmons

Photo: MGM Resorts International

Vegans get blogging for Vegan Month of Food

Lentil

For all of October, vegan-minded bloggers are being asked to toil around the clock (only a slight exaggeration) to celebrate a month dedication to vegan fare. Vegan Month of Food was started by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, vegan chef and cookbook author beloved for Veganomicon as well as Vegan Brunch. Moskowitz says her goal is to urge bloggers to write as much as they can this month about vegan fare:

The blog entries can be about anything food related -- your love of tongs, your top secret tofu pressing techniques, the first time your mom cooked vegan for you, vegan options in Timbuktu -- you get the idea. There is no strict guideline for how much you have to write, but we shoot for about 20 times a month, or every weekday.

Confession time: You know we love bacon in the L.A. Times Test Kitchen, and we just ran a front-page Food section story on making your own sausage. But we also enjoy eating (and writing about eating) lower on the food chain, so we're looking forward to seeing what Vegan Month of Food brings.

If you're a vegan, you are probably already a fan of Moskowitz's blog, and website The Post Punk Kitchen (you can click here to read a Q&A that The Times did with Moskowitz this year).

But what else are you reading? What are your favorite vegan-minded websites, and why? Also: Cake Maker to the Stars is rounding up the names of participating bloggers here.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo: Lentil salad with tomatoes, zucchini and arugula. Click here for the recipe. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

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Sustainable seafood lecture at the Aquarium of the Pacific


Crabs

Join Andrew Gruel and Dave Anderson (Gruel is the manager and Anderson is the sustainable seafood officer for the Aquarium of the Pacific's Seafood for the Future program) for an enlightening discussion called "Sustainable seafood: good for your health and good for the planet."

The two will be joined by a panel of experts, including Times Food columnist and editor Russ Parsons and Providence chef Michael Cimarusti, to talk about how to make the correct decisions when it comes to eating from the sea. The talk will revolve around subjects crucial to the future of the planet (and your access to tasty seafood), including the impact of overfishing and the carbon footprint left by the fishing industry. The role of aquaculture in meeting the increasing demand for seafood will also be discussed.

Most importantly, you'll learn about what you can do to shop and eat with sustainability in mind.

Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24. $8. (562) 590-3100, ext. 0. www.aquariumofpacific.org.

--Jessica Gelt

Photo: Crabs are weighed at a wholesale dealer in the main fish market in Beijing. China is the world's largest producer and consumer of fish and seafood. Credit: EPA / Adrian Bradshaw

Sampler Platter: Chrissie Hynde protest scrapped, R.I.P. Sheila Lukins, flavors of Little Saigon and the long-gone Chili Bowl chain

The first Chili Bowl was opened by Art Whizin in 1931 on Crenshaw Boulevard.

Rock star activism, a tour of Westminster's Little Saigon, the death of Sheila Lukins and the story of the Chili Bowl chain lead today's food news roundup.

-- In the U.K., prison food beats hospital food. BBC
-- Lukins, who helped usher in the new American cooking of the 1980s with her Silver Palate food shop and line of books, died Sunday at age 66. New York Times
-- Food Marathon, the Gastronomer, LA & OC Foodie and a few pals run a food marathon: six restaurants spread out over five miles in the SGV.
-- Pretenders rocker Chrissie Hynde, who runs a vegetarian restaurant in her native Akron, Ohio, planned to protest outside a West Hollywood McDonald's today, but the event has been scrapped due to the wildfires. Contact Music
-- New York's storied Café des Artistes to close. New York Times
-- Indiana man claims he invented a microwavable plastic food container, sues two major food packagers. Chicago Tribune
-- Eat Real sustainable food festival draws thousands to Oakland. SF Gate
-- Remembering the long-gone chain of Chili Bowl restaurants, which opened in 1931 and were shaped like (what else?) a chili bowl. Los Angeles Times
-- Eating LA takes chef Robert Danhi's tour of Little Saigon in Westminster.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: The first Chili Bowl was opened by Art Whizin in 1931 on Crenshaw Boulevard. He sold his wife's wedding ring, among other things, to get the business going. (Jim Heimann / July 31)

Taking aim at Alice Waters, Michael Pollan & Co., and rethinking that Diet Coke

Sweeteners

From today's Opinion page:

Keep your self-righteous fingers off my processed food: By demanding we all pay more to fund their agendas in these harsh economic times, foodie snobs and lefty social critics may as well tell us to eat artisanal cake.

And Monday's Health section:

America's sweet tooth is growing. Like many other mammals, we are hooked on sugar because it is packed with energy and our bodies have evolved ways of encouraging us to consume more of it.


Photo: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Are we farmers market failures?

Farmers market jpeg Here in Southern California we love our farmers markets. But do we love them as much as the folks up north in Davis? Or back east in Ithaca, N.Y.? Or in Sunset Valley, Texas, for god's sake? Apparently not. American Farmland Trust is running a national online poll to determine the best farmers market in America and the only Southern California market in the Top 60 is Santa Barbara's. 

Now, there's no arguing that there are great farmers markets all over the country these days. But Ithaca? Given the weather up there, how long can it be open? Two weeks in August?
No, I think the problem is that maybe we've grown just a little complacent. Certainly the Santa Monica and Hollywood markets ought to be on that list. And for that matter, so should Torrance and Pasadena's Victory Park. And I'll bet you can think of a couple more.

Markets in the competition are divided into three size categories, depending on how many vendors attend them. The smallest markets are 30 vendors or smaller and the leading vote-getters so far are something called Smart Markets at Mason, in northern Virginia, and the Collingswood, N.J., farmers market. The Fresno State farmers market is third.

Mid-size markets have between 30 and 55 vendors. Leaders are the Capitol market in Charleston, West Va., the Historic Lewes, Del., Farmers Market, and the Farmers Market at Minnetrista in Muncie, Ind. 

Leading the big-market competition are the Davis market, just outside of Sacramento, Ithaca and Sunset Valley. Where in the world is Sunset Valley? Or, maybe more to the point, where in the world is Santa Monica? There's still time to right this grievous wrong. Vote early and vote often.

-- Russ Parsons

Photo: Alex Weiser at the Santa Monica farmers market. Credit: David Karp / For The Times

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.