Posts for March 9, 2012

Jessica Biel Flashes Engangement Ring at Tavern; Brangelina Goes to The Golden Arches

Biel reveals her ring

Being a celebrity can't be a cinch. This week Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie endured all kinds of static just for doing what any responsible parent to a super-sized clan of kiddies should: Taking them all to McDonald's, where the brood was ambushed while navigating the drive-thru. Over in Brentwood, Justin Timberlake proved once and for all that he's "Bringing Exy Back," as he was captured with Jessica Biel, who was rocking an impressively sized glacier while strolled out of Suzanne Goin's Tavern. Elsewhere, Christina Milian and her kid totally took our table at Giggles 'n Hugs, Jennie Garth ate some chicken tacos, and Omar Epps enjoyed a little bromance over wine and beer at Tres. Take a look!

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Playa Plans to Grow Its Own

At a launch event for $300-a-bottle Milagro Unico Tequila last night, John Sedlar spilled the frijoles that he is installing a rooftop garden on top of Playa this afternoon, in case you're wondering why there's a crane doing some heavy lifting in front of his Beverly Blvd. restaurant. Sedlar and his chef de cuisine, Kevin Luzande, are heading to Florida next week to train their green thumbs in preparation of growing their own. The chef says, "it's going to be really fun," and jokes that he may try to raise his own agave al tejado in time.

Jet-Setting California-Based Wine Dealer Charged With Selling Fake Wine

Prominent high-end wine collector and dealer Rudy Kurniawan was arrested in Los Angeles Thursday on charges that he tried to pass off $1.3 million in fancy bottles that were actually counterfeit. Kurniawan, 35, who pulled in tens of millions a year in the wine trade, led a lavish lifestyle and was being investigated, as the Times reports, by an "elite squad" of the FBI that deals in art thefts and other such crimes.

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Gold Reviews Border Grill's City Night in L.A. Times; Virbila Falls In Love With Puck's "Genius"

A new day has dawned for The L.A. Times' food coverage, but it might be hard to tell since Jonathan Gold's first review finds him offering more of the same gusto for his old pals, Mary Sue and Susan, and Virbila is gushing over Wolfgang Puck. Wow, all that hoopla just to land back in the eighties...Anywhoo, Gold reviews the "City Night" celebration the Too Hot Tamales sprang on Downtown's Border Grill last week. What does the story say? Not plunking down the scratch to breach the paper's new paywall, we really have no clue. But we're going to play Carmac and imagine a fairly loving nod to the two chefs' past and present abilities to encapsulate how L.A. eats in a single bite. Or something like that. Verified subscribers can have a look today; the rest of us, tomorrow, when you nick one from the neighbors. [LAT]

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Hoffman and Voltaggio Neck-and-Neck for "People's Best New Chef"

The chance to vote for Food & Wine's "People's Best New Chef" officially ends this Sunday. Currently it appears L.A.'s ink. chef, Michael Voltaggio, is in a neck-and-neck race for Cali's crown with Perry Hoffman, the chef at Napa's Etoile. Both are holding down 23% of the vote, last we checked. To help endow your half of Cali with 365 days of bragging rights, cast your vote before this Sunday. [F&W]

KCET and Six Taste Collaborate on Malaysian Feast, Tomorrow Night at Starry Kitchen

Food tour company Six Taste and KCET are teaming up tomorrow night to present a Malaysian feast at Starry Kitchen. The Malaysian Culture and Cuisine Night won't include any ganja (just yet) or dancers, but will focus on eats that are both authentic and Malaysian-inspired like a Malay chicken curry and coconut pineapple chicken, along with coconut rice, a salad of chopped cabbage, mint, fried shallots and fish sauce, and the salted plum lychee panna cotta the Trans served at last Sunday's Gold Standard event. The previously $50 ticket was just discounted to $25 for the 6:00 P.M. event and can be purchased online.

What You Missed at Planned Parenthood L.A.'s 33rd Food Fare

Planned Parenthood L.A.'s Food Fare, the city's oldest running food event, was another smashing success last night, drawing chefs and owners, imbibers and eaters, warriors of women's health rights, and yes, protestors shouldering offensive photos, to the Santa Monica Convention Center for the event's 33rd year. Maison Giraud chef Alain Giraud was by far the biggest cut-up of the day, dancing with kitchen utensils and baguettes while charming a packed crowd, thick with talent, from "chef of the year" Suzanne Goin to Food & Wine "best chef people's choice" nominee Bryant Ng and Tripel owners, Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts. Veev continued its tasting event ubiquity with cocktails served in shakable mason jars, while Salt's Cure provided chicken liver pudding and Drago Centro scooped garganelli with fennel pollen from a monumental wheel of parmesan. Take a look at all of last night's highlights in our slide show look back at PPLA's 33rd Food Fare.

Can We Live Without Sherry’s Star System?

Say goodbye to the stars

It's no huge secret that the star system used by L.A. Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila has been controversial and confusing at times. Over the last few years, she's handed Fabio Viviani a giant goose-egg and awarded The Bazaar full general status, not too long after snatching three stars from a molecular Ludo Lefebvre at Bastide. A mother lode of restaurants that have recently captivated Los Angeles, including .ink, Mezze, Sotto, Picca, and Son of a Gun, have been left to tread water in her preferred two and two-and-a-half star solar system, while Wolfgang Puck, Jordan Kahn, and the denizens of Chez Jay have all slammed her reasoning using words other chefs reserve for private conversations. Now the artist formerly known as The Food Section announces it will do away with the regularly baffling ratings. Is this what Virbila's critics have been waiting for?

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Jamie Oliver Calls Reporter a Bitch, Blames Booze

Oops: When an Australian reporter asked Jamie Oliver if he'd recently put on some pounds, the Naked Chef reportedly replied, "Are you from a tabloid? Thank you for noticing, you bitch." Not the nicest thing to say, mate! Oliver says a late night of drinking is to blame: "I went out last night and had a few drinks after a very long day, [and] my brain did not quite understand that question." You know what else drinking causes? Weight gain. [Fox News, NYDN]

Miso Not Just For Soup Anymore; Are Pollutants Making Us Fat?

• Mark Bittman urges us not to limit miso to soup; thanks to its incredible umami qualities, it makes a great seasoning, butter, or mayo, he writes. [NYT]

• Following that car crashing into its doors, Pizza Buona is getting back on its feet. [The Eastsider]

• Here's something scary: It may not just be calories making us fat, but rather all of the weird organic pollutants we consume via our food and water systems. [Atlantic]

• Actress Emily Blunt apparently makes a mean British beef roast and has a touch with Italian cooking. [USA Today]

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Making Sense of the Whole Marilyn Hagerty Olive Garden Review Fiasco

Restaurant reviewer Marilyn Hagerty.

Following in the footsteps of Internet sensations like Eduard Khil, LOLCatz, and the "Keep Calm and Carry On" sign, the latest novelty snatched from nowhere to achieve sudden fame on Facebook, Twitter, and whatever else the kids are using these days is an 84-year-old freelance writer named Marilyn Hagerty. The story of her Olive Garden review and the way in which Internet sentiment toward it shifted over the course of a single workday offers a fascinating picture of the way social media can spread something rapidly, and just as rapidly carry the herd mentality first in one direction, then in another. First, there was just the review. Unintentionally funny reviews of mediocre restaurants happen every day online, we're sure, but there was something just pitch-perfect about the way this one — from the Grand Forks (North Dakota) Herald — sang the praises of the essence of middle-American food kitsch with a practiced, straight-faced professionalism.

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