Small Bites: 2009 -- Year of the Pickle?, shopping 'Australia'-style, the real Zagat of O.C.
You, as deli food: "I was sitting at a Chinese restaurant one Sunday night, looking at the Chinese zodiac place mat in front of me. And I thought to myself –- being the good rabbi's son that I am -– 'Jews love Chinese food. Why isn't there a Jewish zodiac?' " says Seth Front, creator of the Jewish zodiac, based around deli food. Designed by L.A. artist Michael Doret, it's available on a laminated place mat and also comes on T-shirts and onesies. If you were born in, say, 1975, you'd be "Schmear" and here are your personality traits: "You blend well with others but often spread yourself too thin. A smooth operator, you could use some spicing up now and then. Compatible with Bagel and Lox. Avoid Pastrami -- wouldn't be kosher." The disclaimer at the bottom of the place mat: "The Jewish zodiac is fictional and intended for entertainment purposes only. Don't take it or yourself too seriously." See www.jewzo.com. For an, um, interesting Jewish-food-related calendar, see www.jamiecalendar.com.
Australia fever: "Australia" may not have been the opening-weekend box-office smash that 20th Century Fox had hoped for, but if you're still craving Down Under Shiraz, spices such as ground pepperberry or specialty items such as burnt fig jam from Australian chef and author Maggie Beer, there's a website that carries said goodies. It's the online shop from Australian chef Luke Mangan and partners; Mangan supposedly uses all of these ingredients at his San Francisco restaurant South. Mangan also is planning to open an L.A. restaurant, South on Sunset, next year. www.thesouthshop.com
The latest Zagat guide: Zagat has published its 2009 Orange County restaurant guide, and it's, well, small, but filled with a lot of useful information. The average cost of a meal in Orange County is $36.96, more than the $34.38 average in Los Angeles and the $35.78 average in San Diego. The three most popular O.C. restaurants are: Napa Rose, Marche Moderne and Five Crowns. The latest "ritzy ventures" include Charlie Palmer's at South Coast Plaza, Tim and Liza Goodell's A Restaurant, and Manhattan Supper Club. Coming soon to the O.C., from L.A.: branches of Comme Ça, Crustacean and 25 Degrees. And on the way from Las Vegas is Canaletto. "Zagat 2009 Orange County Restaurants," $5.95.
-- Betty Hallock
Photo: the Jewish zodiac. Credit: Jewzo. Photo: Nicole Kidman in 'Australia.' Credit: Associated Press photo/James Fisher/20th Century Fox.