Category Archives: Chefs

Turmeric Grilled Sea Bass For The Win This Summer

Take a taste of Cassia restaurant's turmeric grilled sea bass -- in the comfort of your own home.

Take a taste of Cassia restaurant’s turmeric grilled sea bass — in the comfort of your own home.

 

There was a time when folks poked fun of the dining scene in Los Angeles.

Not anymore. Now, it’s not only the darling of food fanatics looking for authentic ethnic cuisines and exciting push-the-envelope places, but it’s also the location of choice for chefs around the country looking to open new ventures. That includes: San Francisco’s Tartine Manufactory, San Francisco-Mexico City Chef Gabriela Cámara, New York’s David Chang, New York’s Christina Tosi, and New York-Mexico City’s Enrique Olvera.

“EAT. COOK. L.A.: Recipes from the City of Angels: A Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, captures Los Angeles’ dynamic dining scene with stories and 100 recipes from some of the area’s biggest names. Find everything from the “Egg Slut” by, yes, Eggslut; “Tomato Salad with Crispy Potatoes and Whipped Feta” from Sqirl; “Chanterelle Lasagna with English Peas and Parmesan Pudding” from Lucques; “Chinois Lamb Chops with Cilantro Mint Vinaigrette” from Spago; “Adobo Fried Rice” from Republique; and “Chocolate Sesame Cake” from Kismet.

EatCookLA

The book is by Aleksandra Crapanzano, a screenwriter and food writer based in New York, who is a regular food columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

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AL’s Deli Is A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

Chef-Owner Aaron London at his new AL's Deli during opening week.

Chef-Owner Aaron London at his new AL’s Deli during opening week.

Chef-Owner Aaron London describes his new AL’s Deli in San Francisco as East Coast Jewish deli meets Israeli street food.

It is a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a whole lot of what London likes to eat on his downtime, well, when he has any, that is.

After all, when you also run a Michelin-starred restaurant, AL’s Place, just a few blocks away, which was named Bon Appetit magazine’s top new restaurant in American in 2015, there are few moments to spare.

So it’s lucky for the rest of us that his new fast-casual concept fits the bill when time is short, cash is precious, and you’re craving big flavors in a carefree spot done up in Miami Art Deco hues.

Just follow the pink sign.

Just follow the pink sign.

The bright, sunny interior.

The bright, sunny interior.

If last week’s opening was any indication, he has another hit on his hands. When I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant in only its fifth day of operation, the place was mobbed on a Saturday night, with a few folks lined up to get in the door.

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Sustainable Seafood Watch Food Truck, A Call to Action, and More

The Monterey Bay Aquarium rolls out its new Seafood Watch food truck. (photo courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium)

The Monterey Bay Aquarium rolls out its new Seafood Watch food truck. (photo courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium)

Seafood Watch Food Truck Takes To The Road

“Eat. Drink. Save the Ocean.”

That’s the philosophy behind the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s new Seafood Watch Food Truck.

Like other food trucks, it serves up delicious fare. But it goes beyond that to offer three items that use either vegan ingredients or U.S. West Coast rockfish that garners a “Best Choice” ranking for sustainability in the Seafood Watch Guide.

The aquarium has teamed with San Francisco’s Little Green Cyclo to create the menu. You have your choice of taco ($5), butter lettuce wrap ($5) or banh mi sandwich ($8.75) filled with rockfish cooked with chili lime, tamarind or Cajun seasonings. The taco and lettuce wrap also can be filled with the vegan option of butternut squash with kale and candied walnuts.

A sustainable rockfish taco. (Photo courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium)

A sustainable rockfish taco. (Photo courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium)

The truck will be out and about in the Bay Area through September. Look for it at Presidio Twilight in San Francisco, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 1; at the Shuck Yeah! National Oyster Day event in San Francisco, noon to 5 p.m. Aug. 3; at the Stern Grove Festival in San Francisco, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 4; and at Noise Pop’s 20th Street Block Party in San Francisco, noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 17.

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Dandelion Chocolate’s Bloom Is A Beaut

The makings of an artisan root beer float at Bloom cafe inside Dandelion Chocolate factory in San Francisco.

The makings of an artisan root beer float at Bloom cafe inside Dandelion Chocolate factory in San Francisco.

 

There are ladies who lunch.

And then there are ladies who chocolate.

Count me in the latter category. And from the looks of a recent weekday afternoon at Bloom Chocolate Salon, I am hardly alone.

The spectacular chocolate salon by San Francisco’s Dandelion Chocolate certainly provides plenty of eye candy. Melding industrial with a chic European aesthetic, it is a chocoholic’s Shangri-la come to sweet life.

Established in 2010 by techies Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring co-founded Plaxo, San Francisco’s only bean-to-bar chocolate factory expanded big-time in April — spending five years on construction to turn a 107-year-old mattress and printing factory into a chocolate factory, retail store, and chic dessert salon.

The historic warehouse.

The historic warehouse.

Customers filing in for coffee and pastries.

Customers filing in for coffee and pastries.

Enter the brick building, as I did recently when I was invited in as a guest of the cafe, and on your right is a store with shelves loaded with pottery, books, and Dandelion chocolate bars (with sample cups holding broken bar bits to try).

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Gabriela Cámara’s Fabulous Tinga De Pollo

Chef Gabriela Cámara take on a home-style chicken-onion filling for tacos or enchiladas.

Chef Gabriela Cámara take on a home-style chicken-onion filling for tacos or enchiladas.

 

It may be less than 30 minutes long, but “A Tale of Two Kitchens,” the Netflix documentary about Chef Gabriela Cámara, will stay with you far longer.

Of course, it will make you very, very hungry, too.

The film recounts how Cámara opened her first restaurant Contramar in Mexico City in 1998, just after graduating from college and with no professional restaurant experience, herself. She just wanted to create a beach cafe with food that would make people happy. It was such a smashing success that 17 years later, she came to San Francisco to open her second restaurant, Cala, along with its sidekick, Tacos Cala, to great acclaim.

“A Tale of Two Kitchens” is a look at both restaurants, one in the United States, the other in Mexico, and the culture they share. Cámara doesn’t shy away from talking about the dichotomy that now exists, as Mexican immigrants are being vilified in the United States  yet the popularity of Mexican food in this country has never been higher.

Cámara has notably taken the chance to hire convicts to work at Cala, giving them not only new skills, but a second chance. At Contramar, her staff is so loyal that many have worked for her for more than a decade, and a few are even second-generation, as a son is shown in the film excited to work alongside his father as a server.

My Mexico City Kitchen

She has no intention of slowing down anytime soon, either. She’s currently working on a new restaurant, Onda in Santa Monica, with Chef Jessica Koslow of the wildly popular Sqirl in Los Angeles. And she was recently named a cultural advisor to the Mexican president.

This year, Cámara also debuted her first cookbook, “My Mexico City Kitchen: Recipes and Convictions” (Lorena Jones/Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.

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