Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: This Just In

District on Sunset to launch oyster bar menu


News for bivalve fans: District on Sunset, where Kevin Napier recently succeeded chef Kris Morningstar in the kitchen, plans to debut an oyster bar menu on Thursday. The oyster bar will be available Tuesday to Sunday, featuring three to four oyster varieties daily with house-made cocktail sauce and horseradish. Also: fried oysters, grilled oysters and fried oyster sandwiches.  

6600 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (32) 962-8200, www.districtonsunset.com.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo credit: Grant Turner/Bloomberg News

Ilan Hall throws a pig on the spit for tonight's Art Walk; and the Nom Nom truck comes out to play

Ilan hall According to former Top Cheffer Ilan Hall's Twitter feed, the Gorbals will be having a pig roast tonight,complete with circus freaks and cotton candy. When we called the restaurant, they said that they weren't making reservations for tonight's Art Walk festivities and that they haven't officially re-opened yet (the shutter was due to permitting issues on the broiler last month). They did say they'd be throwing two piggly wigglys on the spit, though. Here are the d's from Ilan's feed:

@IlanHall Come 2 the Gorbals tonight! Pig roast! Man on stilts! Cotton candy! Portraits! 7pm corner of 5th & spring.

It seems the Downtown Art Walk is turning into a progressive dinner. The Nom Nom banh mi truck will be on 4th and Spring starting at 7 p.m. as well.

-- Krista Simmons

Photo: Ilan Hall with Saveur's James Oseland. Courtesy of NBC UMV

Official details on Hollywood's Mercantile and District emerge


George Abou-Daoud is on quite a winning streak. With the Bowery, Mission Cantina and Delancey under his belt, the N.Y.C. transplant has created some of Hollywood’s most inviting taverns. Now, he's poised to strike again with Mercantile, slated to open at 6600 Sunset Blvd. in early September. And this time he’s bringing along critically acclaimed chef Kris Morningstar (Blue Velvet, A.O.C., Patina) along for the ride.

“It’s equal parts gourmet marketplace, daytime café and nighttime wine bar,” says Abou-Daoud, who describes the space as having an “urban-country, old-world feel with high ceilings, original brick walls, raw wood accents and a carbon steel-topped bar.” There are also glass cases displaying charcuterie, cheese, salads and sandwiches as well as shelves stocked with wine, dried pasta, olives and mustard.

Expect a menu of classics with an “artisanal spin.” For example: a pumpkin-seed butter and preserves sandwich served on country white bread; or a Reuben made with pastrami, Gruyère, house-made sauce and sauerkraut slaw on Russian rye bread.

In addition, Abou-Daoud promises a global selection of wines, with glasses starting at $7.

What about District, the restaurant opening next door to Mercantile? Abou-Daoud and Morningstar are opening that together too, and they say to expect seasonal bistro fare and creative cocktails. We’re especially curious to taste the sea urchin and bay scallop gratin.

-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Abou-Daoud's Delancey and Mission Cantina reside next door to each other, just as Mercantile and District will. Credit: DeeDee DeGelia for Metromix

Desert lobsters, Texas-sized pizza and a golden age for vino


A sampling of stories from across the Los Angeles Times:

-- Bob and Pam Eddy have fought to make a go of it selling live "desert lobsters," or Australian red claw crayfish. But wildlife officials have made the state of Nevada -- yes, Nevada -- even less hospitable to the crustaceans.

--Bewildered by the number of wine choices in the supermarket? (It's about the only downside to living in a golden age for wine, especially California wine.) There are now more than 2,800 wineries in California, reports the Wine Institute.

--Texas isn't exactly known for its pizza. But that's not stopping our man in Houston, who's on a reader-driven, music-inspired road trip.

-- Rene Lynch

Follow us on Twitter @LATimesFood

Wine picks from Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila

Photo credit: Jeff Scheid / Las Vegas Review-Journal

Dining in the dark

Foundation Fighting Blindness has a different take on the fundraiser: Dining in the Dark, Tuesday night at the Beverly Hills Hotel, will be dinner ... completely in the dark. Billed as a "rare and unique sensory awareness experience" the ritzy dinner -- cocktail attire and $300 per-person tix -- aims to help guests understand what it's like to live without sight. Or, as they put it: give guests "a peek into an unfamiliar world."

-- Rene Lynch

The Milky Way is berry good


Now this is the kind of science we like to read about: The Milky Way could taste like raspberries.

Scientists say they have discovered two of the most complex carbon-rich molecules ever found in interstellar space, including a substance called ethyl formate, the chemical responsible for the flavor of the fruit. Ergo: The Milky Way "could taste of raspberries." The findings were announced during the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom.

-- Rene Lynch

Join us on Twitter @LATimesFood

Photo credit: Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times


Mozzarella makers come to Hawthorne


While the rest of Los Angeles was flocking to the Times building to see the Governator speak, I rushed away in search of another import: fresh mozzarella and ricotta cheese made by Angelo & Franco.

The grand opening of the company's small cheese factory in Hawthorne had a quite a turnout  —possibly due to Hawthorne’s close-knit Italian community (or perhaps it was the free catering by chef Antonio Pisanello and Il Forniao).

Franco Russo, a third-generation artisan cheese maker, is a native of Bagnoli Irpino, a village in Italy's Campania region so renowned for its mozzarella that there are 10 family-owned formaggio "factories" – impressive considering the town’s population of just 3,000. He and Angelo Tartaglia, the company's chief executive, grew up together and decided to take their knowledge to the U.S. 

“At first, I thought the reason why America didn’t have good mozzarella was because of the milk. Then we figured out it was the timing, the process and the tradition,“ Tartaglia says.

The two are hoping that their small-production cheeses — produced using Italian-made machinery and their almost-instinctual knowledge of cheese  — will tap into Angelenos’ increasing demand for fresh mozzarella. Mozza's Nancy Silverton and Santa Monica cheese shop owner Andrew Steiner have sparked local interest on a small scale, but this team is aiming for distribution in Whole Foods, Bristol Farms and Costco.

Upon cutting the red ribbon Thursday that officially opened the Angelo & Franco Factory, one of Hawthorne’s representatives encouraged attendees to join the city’s third annual Italian Festival/Bocce Tournament on June 13 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Memorial Park (3901 W. El Segundo Blvd.; free). Best believe that if there’s fresh cheese, we’ll be there.

-- Krista Simmons

Photo credit: Angelo & Franco

Tax day deals for those tax day blues


Restaurants are offering an edible tax break today. Among them: T.G.I. Friday's and P.F. Chang's. At T.G.I. Friday's, diners earn $5 Bonus Bites cards for purchases (excluding alcohol and taxes) of between $15 and $25 or $10 cards for purchases of more than $25. P.F. Chang's is offering 15% off your food bill. McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants is also offering cheap drinks, a $10.40 menu, and diners can get a $10.40 certificate toward future purchases.

$10.40, get it? 10-40?

-- Rene Lynch

We're all a-Twitter @LATimesFood

George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times

Michelle Obama orders up White House garden (no beets needed)


First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign to encourage healthy eating gets underway in earnest with the groundbreaking for a White House garden. The garden, slated for the South Lawn, will help supply produce for the White House kitchen. There will be dozens of organic vegetables planted, including arugula. But no beets.

Somewhere, Alice Waters is rejoicing.

Chez Panisse founder Waters, who was featured in a "60 Minutes" profile Sunday night on CBS, has been one of the most vocal proponents of an organic vegetable garden on the White House lawn. (Read more about the interview and see the video here.)

Photo: First Lady Michelle Obama with White House head chef Cristeta Comerford, center, and pastry chef William Yosses. Credit: Getty Images

This Just In: Du-par's opens in Oxnard


Du-par's now has an Oxnard location; its grand opening is planned for Friday. Like the Du-par's Farmhouse at the Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles (and sister restaurants in Studio City and Thousand Oaks), it's open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 

The original Farmers Market location was renovated and reopened in 2007 after the Du-par's chain was bought in 2004 by investors led by W.W. "Biff" Naylor (who has breakfast food in his blood -- his father founded the first Tiny's Waffle Shop in Fresno in the '20s).

The Oxnard Du‑par's menu will look familiar: breakfast (including the classic buttermilk hotcakes, the recipe for which is safely locked away in the Du-par's at the Farmers Market) is served around the clock, along with chicken pot pie, steak, burgers, turkey and mashed potatoes, and fruit pies. 

Medardo Hernandez, formerly of Wolfgang Puck's Granita and Spago, is Du-par's executive chef. Biff Naylor's daughter Jennifer Naylor, former executive chef and general manager of Granita, is a consultant to Du-par's.

Du-par's, 2420 E. Vineyard Ave., Oxnard.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo at Du-par's Farmhouse at the Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles by Los Angeles Times


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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.