Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Technology

Paris by sweets: Follow that app

PainUh oh. David Lebovitz has just come out with an iPhone app. Guess what it is: “Paris Pastry.”

Does anyone really need a guide to 300 pastry, chocolate, ice cream and candy shops in Paris?


Lebovitz is the former Chez Panisse pastry chef and author ("Ready for Dessert," "The Sweet Life in Paris" and "The Perfect Scoop") who lives in Paris, writes a popular blog subtitled "Living the Sweet Life in Paris," and in his spare time does “delicious research around Paris, scoping out the best bakeries, chocolate shops, and confectioners in the sweetest city in the world.” He’s also a contributor to the fab Paris website Paris by Mouth.

I know some people are going to grouse that the app costs more than 99 cents, as in $4.99, but I consider it a bargain to have the curated results of all that research on your iPhone as you walk around Paris. Don’t have an iPhone? "Paris Pastry" will be released as an ebook in December.

But an app is ever so much more handy. Search by district or by category (Hot Map
chocolate? Candy? Ice cream?) View a map and make strides for everything close by. Lebovitz also lists his top 25 pastry and chocolate addresses in Paris.

Each entry has address, phone, website, hours, closest Metro stop, and link to a map. Plus, you can work up an appetite viewing photos of each shop’s specialties, helpful when the display cases are jammed with dozens upon dozens of sweets and you don’t know where to start.

He’ll be updating the app as he finds new places he’d like to include. Plus, you can follow along on Facebook or Twitter for the latest news. 


Paris Pastry, available at the iTunes App Store, $4.99.


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Alex Loves Lemonade benefit cookout

Tar & Roses aims for December opening

-- S. Irene Virbila


Photos: Screen shots from Paris Pastry app by David Lebovitz

Need to find an In-N-Out burger fast? Get the official iPhone app

IMG_3316 Sitting in front of Santa Barbara deli Metropoulos Fine Foods Merchant, where we’d made a pit stop for pasta, beans, olives and such on our way up to Big Sur, the question of In-N-Out burger was raised.

He wanted one.

"It’s only 11 o'clock," she said. "Too early for a burger."

He insisted that it was their only chance. Santa Barbara is the last In-N-Out stop on the 101 before we turn off for Big Sur. 

"I'm not so sure," she said, pulling out her iPhone. She found the In-N-Out site, but didn't have a ZIP code to plug in to find a location. 

Aha! In-N-Out has a free iPhone app: the In-N-Out Burger locator app, which uses Google maps to plot locations.

She downloads it, opens the app, which spots where the car is sitting right away and shows several locations north of Santa Barbara — Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande and Atascadero among them. The app reveals how far away each location is, how long it should take to get there, and shows both the address and a detailed map. Nifty.

In the old days (not so long ago), I used to call an 800 number and someone would give directions to the nearest In-N-Out. While I appreciated the courtesy and attention, this is better because you can anticipate what's ahead on your route.

In the end, we tried Arroyo Grande, but the place was mobbed and so drove on to Atascadero. This one's a winner: great workers, really crispy fries (ordered that way) and a burger with good texture, toasted bun and not too much sauce. 

The app does have one little problem: locations that I know have drive-thru windows are listed as not having any. Does there even exist one without?

And in case you're wondering, no, the app does not include a guide to the "secret" menu. 


To valet or not to valet 

Check out brunch at Playa 

The Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival is coming

-- S. Irene Virbila Twitter.com/sirenevirbila

Photos: Screen shot of the In-N-Out app in action. Credit: In-N-Out

Eat Florence, an app

Florence1 A friend heading to Florence next week just asked me for some suggestions re where to eat. I could give him a couple of the usual suspects. But for more up-to-date info, I checked in with two blogs from food writers living in Italy:  Faith Willinger and Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome.  Emiko Davies in Tuscany is a good source of information, too.

It turns out Minchilli, who writes for Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Travel & Leisure, etc., has a new mobile app called Eat Florence, joining her Eat Rome app. Though Minchilli now divides her time between Rome and Umbria, she’s lived in Florence in the past and frequently visits. 

The new app is certainly not slick, but may be just the ticket for anybody visiting Florence: a selection of beloved places to eat and drink from someone who’s plugged into the food scene there. Basically, it's the same list of favorite places Minchilli's been passing out to friends forever — turned into an app. 

What makes it genius is that you can search by category (coffee, enoteche, food stores, gelato, Florence2 markets, restaurants, street food), name, neighborhood, cost and distance. Hmm, everything seems to be about 9,951 kilometers from me at the moment. Each entry is marked on a Google map for easy reference. The comments about each establishment are personal and pointed.

This is just the first version of Eat Florence. Minchilli plans to add more places and categories -- and hopefully better photos. 

Since buying the app yesterday, I've been finding myself in spare moments reading through the entries, looking for the places I already know and what's new and interesting, already planning my next trip to Florence. It’s $2.99 well spent, if only to daydream.

Eat Florence, $2.99, in the iTunes store.


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Thomas Keller in the Test Kitchen

-- S. Irene Virbila


Photos: Screen shots from the Eat Florence app. Credit: Elizabeth Minchilli

Le Sanctuaire hosts summer classes from Ideas in Food

LS Showroom 1Remember Le Sanctuaire, the luxe retail kitchen boutique on Main Street in Santa Monica? Opened in 2003, that's where chefs (and avid cooks) stocked up on spices, knives, imported cookbooks and elegant porcelain. The business moved north to San Francisco a while ago and is now mostly wholesale to chefs and restaurateurs, though individuals can visit the showroom by appointment and order herbs and spices and other high-end ingredients online.

You can check out Le Sanctuaire's classes if you happen to be in San Francisco the weekend of June 25 and 26 and have a burning desire to learn the ins and outs of sous-vide (Saturday 1:30 to 4 p.m.), extruded pasta (Saturday 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) or, ta dum, the Thermomix (Sunday 1:30 to 4 p.m.). The duo behind the blog (and book) Ideas in Food will be offering classes. A two-and-a-half hour class is $125. Fortunately, ogling Le Sanctuaire's exquisite dinnerware and serving pieces is free.

To see if you're interested in the classes, check out the Ideas in Food blog or dip into "Ideas in Food, Great Recipes and Why They Work" by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot. 
Reserve classes by contacting Le Sanctuaire at (415) 986-4216. Individuals can purchase herbs and spices online. For a list of retailers, visit Seesmelltaste.com.
-- S. Irene Virbila
Credit: Le Sanctuaire


Take a Rioja seminar this afternoon on your laptop


In April, the San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards live-streamed the ceremony from London's 12th century Guildhall. And the James Beard Foundation will  also be live-streaming its awards event this year -- from Lincoln Center in New York on Monday, starting at 6 p.m. EST. Quite the bargain,  considering that tickets for the event start at $400.

Now a wine event is getting in on the action. Today, starting at 1:30 p.m. Pacific time, you can take in the Vibrant Rioja Grand Tasting in New York at www.vibrantrioja.com/riojabuzz, virtually, of course. But hey, it's free. The event, open only to the trade and press, includes a Tempranillo seminar and interviews with Rioja winemakers and importers throughout the day. If you can't devote the entire afternoon to boning up on Rioja, you can follow along on Twitter via the hashtag #RiojaBuzz.

Got a question about some aspect of Rioja? Tweet it. The Rioja seminar, moderated by wine consultant Marnie Old and New York wine bar Terroir's owner Paul Grieco, begins at 1:30 p.m. Participants include Marques de Caceres owner Cristina Forner, Bodegas Bilbainas winemaker Diego Pinilla and Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco's  Rafael Vivanco.

-- S. Irene Virbila

Photo: Rioja, Spain, overlooking the vineyards of Laguardia. Credit: Sam Lubell

Tea, the app

Tea1 My frequent houseguest Paul has his own morning ritual. No coffee for him. He passes up the pleasures of stovetop espresso for tea. Tea! And it’s not the Earl Grey or English breakfast stashed in my tea drawer for afternoons when I’m feeling sleepy. He drinks Japanese green tea exclusively, usually ordered directly from Japan.

He even brings his own teapots -- one pot in which to brew the tea, another in which to serve it. I leave him to it. There’s the kettle. There’s the filtered water. Since he knows I enjoy green tea, just not first thing in the morning, he’ll often leave me some of his current favorites as a present. Each comes with a handwritten note telling me how long -- down to the second -- to steep the leaves and at what precise temperature.

So I haul out the thermometer, I measure the water temperature, and adjust with cold or hot water. I brew the tea, watching the second hand on the clock. I know it makes a difference, but it’s such a bother. I don’t have the patience. I lose the notes. I misplace the thermometer.

But I’ve just discovered a tea app for the iPhone that might help me out. Tea expert Photo Thomas Smith was the consultant for Tea, the app, which comes pre-loaded with brewing suggestions for over 200 teas and 12 tea types. The app suggests brewing times, water temperature and how much you’ll need of each tea to brew a cup. It also calculates how many cups you’ll get from each tea purchase and tracks your tea inventory. There’s room for tea tasting or brewing notes. You can also easily adjust the amount of tea leaves, brewing time or temperature to suit your taste.

Watch the video demo at teaapp.com.  

I’m not sure I’m ready to add tea geek to my list of obsessions. Also, I can’t help asking myself if Helen Gustafson, the late great tea fanatic who put together Chez Panisse’s tea program once upon a time, would approve of a tea app. Probably not. But for tea geeks in the making, it’s a help.

Tea from Samuel Iglesias is available in the App Store on iTunes, $2.99.

-- S. Irene Virbila

Screen shot of tea app

Homaru Cantu and Ben Roche bring 'miracle berries' to TED


A menu that becomes a meal. Packing material that turns into snack food. A tiny tablet on the tongue that turns a sour lemon slice into sweet lemonade, sans refined sugar. This is what food futurists Homaro Cantu and Ben Roche brought to the table for TED and TEDActive conference-goers. Executive chef at Moto restaurant in Chicago, Cantu's mission has been to pioneer food-making techniques, at least partly in order to reduce carbon footprint and consumptive practices.  

Conference attendees got to experience all this firsthand -- and first taste bud -- when the maverick gastronomers presented the audience with their latest projects, which included a BBQ sauce made of hay and crab apples, sushi made from watermelon, and burgers made of beets and barley. Then, in a very "Oprah"-like moment, TED-sters were asked to reach under their seats and procure a tiny box that contained four flavor elements: a salty-spicy piece of what looked like packing foam, sour-savory edible paper, a piece of lemon, and a small "miracle berry" tablet -- the "miracle" here being that after sucking on the tablet, the formerly sour lemon tasted incredibly sweet. Tongue-tripping, indeed. 

Take a look at an earlier TEDx presentation by Cantu and Roche here

-- Ramie Becker

Photo: Homaru Cantu. Credit: www.motorestaurant.com


Here's 11 of our favorite food apps: What are we missing?


Take an early look at what's coming in Thursday's Food section -- L.A. Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila dishes on her favorite IPhone apps -- and then tell us what apps we might have overlooked. Share your favorite apps in the comments section below. 

When I first got my  iPhone, I was thrilled to discover Convertbot, which made it fun and easy to convert ingredient quantities or temperatures from my British cookbooks. That app, it turned out, was just a taste of the onslaught of food and wine apps to come -- so many, you'd have to be a full-time app tester to try them all out. (Unfortunately, I have another job.)


But I do try a lot. Here are apps for the iPhone that I've found most useful. Several are also available on the Android platform.

--S. Irene Virbila


--S. Irene Virbila's favorite wines

--S. Irene Virbila's favorite restaurants

--S. Irene Virbila's favorite places for brunch


Photo credit: Richard Derk / Los Angeles Times

BlogHer co-founder forecasts the future


The next two weekends are going to be a blizzard of hashtags.

This coming weekend, there's BlogHer Food. Held over two days in San Francisco, the sold-out conference features some of the most influential names in the food world, including Dorie Greenspan and Michael Ruhlman. A week later, the food focus widens and swings to Las Vegas, for BlogWorld. (I'll be at both events, and I'll be a panelist at BlogWorld, so please stop and say hi!)

The two food-focused events come at a provocative time: Blogging now shares the stage with micro-blogging, old media's aggressive gambit to make up for lost time, and the Rise of Aggregation a la Eatocracy and HuffPost Food. More important, what does this all mean for food blogging (because, let's face it, all we really care about is food blogging)?

We asked BlogHer co-founder Elisa Camahort Page to tell us what the landscape looks like from her vantage point. She forecast these six trends, and what follows are the highlights of our conversation. Long story short: Far from being "over," blogging is just getting started, she said, adding that food bloggers have more opportunities than every before to find a way to turn clicks into bucks.

Continue reading »

Follow Friday madness: LA restaurants, food trucks and chefs on Twitter, version 3

Potatochampion We periodically update our roster of Los Angeles bars, restaurants, chefs and food on Twitter. Now you can follow them with the click of a button, because we recently migrated these lists to Twitter.

The biggest growth has been in our food trucks list, which had barely a dozen trucks six months ago and now has 58 meals-on-wheels.

Recent additions include: Asian Soul Food Kitchen (a fusion of Japanese cuisines and African American soul food); Little Spoon Desserts; the Sweets Truck; Mandoline Grill (traditional and vegan-friendly Vietnamese food); Komodo (fusion burritos); Fressers (hot pastrami and other deli sandwiches); Grill 'Em All (upscale burgers); Umami (upscale burgers); Vesuvio LA (Italian food) and more.

Sadly, we still lack a poutine truck like Potato Champion in Portland.

--Los Angeles restaurants and bars on Twitter
--Los Angeles food trucks on Twitter
--Los Angeles chefs on Twitter

We update the lists constantly, so let us know what we've missed.

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: The Potato Champion food truck in Portland, Ore. Credit: Kathy M.Y. Pyon / Los Angeles Times


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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.