Posts for April 6, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama Drags Daughters to Drago; Justin Bieber Takes Selena to Benihana

Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama was spotted off-duty from the food police this week, simply spending Saturday in the company of daughters Sasha and Malia over a bite at Enoteca Drago, working her shoulders over some heavy fork-lifting. And speaking of spending cherished moments with loved ones, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez entertained some theatrical teppanyaki at Benihana, then later in the week, were caught having a Subway-catered picnic in the park. Romantic, no less with the teens' official photographer documenting their every awkward nibble. Elsewhere, funny-boy Judah Friedlander tipped his cap to himself at a birthday party held in a random 7-11, Lindsay Lohan fled the pressure over a safe and sane dinner at Cafe Habana, and Jennifer Aniston and dude had a big double-date with Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at Katsuya in Brentwood. To see where else celebs ate, drank, and stared achingly into each others' eyes, read on.

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Even AOC is Hosting a Beer Tasting

In a sure sign that beer now fires every last of our neurons around here, even AOC, known best for perfect a touch pairing wines to small plates, is holding a beer tasting with Deschutes next Wednesday, April 11. Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne's place plans to serve three of Deschutes reserve brews with three of the restaurant's "best cheeses" for $15 from 6:00-9:00 P.M. Reservations for a seat can be nabbed at 323-653-6359 and are also available online.

Your Olive Oil Was Probably Cut With Corn Oil

Sometimes when packages say "100% Pure ___" they only mean 85 percent pure, or something like that, according to a new report commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security and reported on in the April issue of the Journal of Food Science. Food fraud, or the use of adulterants to dilute and cut corners in common food products, is more widespread than most of us know, and the study lists the products that are most commonly, and illegally, adulterated without our knowledge: olive oil, orange juice, milk, honey, coffee, and saffron.

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Waitress Gets to Keep $12,000 Tip That May or May Not Be Drug Money

Simoleons

Waiting tables can feel like a little like playing the lottery; one day a customer bounces on the bill, the next Jay-Z's giving you $50,000 for a tip, right before four customers stomp you for bringing them the wrong plate. So went the shifting fortunes for Minnesota waitress Stacy Knutson this week, who was left a to-go box stuffed with $12,000 in cash by a customer at Fryn' Pan, apparently as a tip. But then Knutson did a silly, if honorable thing, and reported the cash, wadded and wrapped in different denominations, to the police.

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Fresh and Easy Hopes to Siphon Cash From Venice's Whole Foods Budget

We tend to think of Venice in terms of pre-and-post Whole Foods ages, seeing as the organic supermarket first broke the tap on a deluge of yuppies now swarming Rose Ave., flirting and spending, sans abandon, in a former strip mall of ill repute. Yo Venice! reports that Fresh & Easy, last seen choking on its path to become a green grocery giant in the U.S., is overtaking the former Mercedes dealership at Lincoln and Washington. While it probably won't sway horny housewives from those hot Whole Foods' cheesemongers or make boozy boyfriends stray from the beer bar, it could make Lincoln's long corridor a little easier on the eyes, minus one of its many unsightly auto dealerships and repair shops. [Yo Venice]

Calle Tacos Seeks to Clarify What a "Calle" Is

Apparently pronounced "cay-yay" and not "kai-yay"

A new Mexican restaurant named Calle Tacos is announcing its plans to open soon in Hollywood. And while that particular neighborhood rarely gives us much hope of seeing an authentic taqueria hit its streets, it's nonetheless a more worrisome sign when you have to explain this to AngeleƱos in your press release: "Our garage door opens directly onto Hollywood Blvd welcoming every diner- even those who don't know how to pronounce our name- don't worry, you will get it, “Cay- yay”. Calle in Spanish means “street” and that is exactly what we serve- street food." Ay de mi!

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Hannosuke Importing Tokyo's Tendon Tempura Bowls to Mitsuwa

The future home of HannosukePhoto: Tatiana Arbogast

The East continues its march on the Westside, in what must be encouraging news for regulars of Mar Vista's Mitsuwa food court, where Santouka is still the only stand-out (excepting those three days when Tsujita held a test-run). The space previously occupied by Italian-Japanese Bell Pasta, and more recently by lackluster donburi joint Tamaya, is soon to become the first U.S. outpost of tempura specialist Kaneko Hannosuke.

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SEE-LA Scraps CEO and Founder of Hollywood Farmers Market

Sorry guys, you're just not young and "hip" enough

Drop your fuertes and cara caras for a second, because there's some serious drama going down at The Hollywood Farmers Market (again). The L.A. Times follows up on the firing of the market's founder and CEO, Pompea Smith, following 21 years of service. The ouster comes at the hands of SEE-LA, the nonprofit board that operates the market and its various satellite markets, which released a statement that expresses gratitude to Smith, while pressing on with its stated desire for "a change of leadership." This quest for change eventually lead to the 10-to-1 vote, requested by Smith herself, that lead to her getting canned. What might be behind the firing?

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Moo Dae Po Headed for The SGV

Moo Dae Po

Moo Dae Po, Brian Chong's all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue restaurant that clinched the blue ribbon at KTown's inaugural 'cue cook-off with its galbi, is announcing expansion plans to Rowland Heights. The well-organized outfit even has an entire Facebook page set up for the new San Gab side of its business, revealing that "K-Town's most-talked about Korean BBQ is coming your way...We know what a pain it is to have to drive so far in search for some decent KBBQ so we decided to bring the best right to you!"

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America Wins: We Now Drink More Wine Than Anyone Else

For the second straight year, the U.S. beat out Italy and France for the most wine bottles bought, a whopping, headache-inducing grand total of 4 billion bottles, or about one case per person. Now, this doesn't make us the biggest per capita winos in the world, or even the biggest per capita alcohol consumers — those titles go to Luxemburg and the Czech Republic, respectively.

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The Feeding Tube: The Anthony Bourdain Brand

Bourdain.Photo: Sean Mathis/WireImage

As No Reservations gears up to launch its eighth season this Monday, it's become clear that the show's host, Anthony Bourdain, is no longer simply a talking head. He's become as responsible as anyone for shaping the world of food in America, whether it’s ushering in the era of the pork overload or inciting legions of hipsters to wax poetic about street food. He has transcended the role of TV personality to become an opinion leader: He has his own book imprint with Ecco and he writes Treme episodes with David Simon. He's the human Approval Matrix of the food world, a high-low cultural arbiter with a persona that's designed — some would say consciously — to stir the pot.

"I don’t think about the audience." »

Lucky Rice Festival Founder Danielle Chang Mixes Gin and Penicillin, Is ‘Addicted’ to Sichuan Peppercorns

Chang at one of her Soho lunch haunts, Giorgione.Photo: Melissa Hom

This is a busy month for Lucky Rice founder Danielle Chang. The Asian food festival, now in its third year, runs May 1 through 6, with events like a Chiang Mai dinner with Pok Pok's Andy Ricker and the Grand Feast tasting at the Mandarin Oriental. The past week found her running around — to L.A. and Vegas to talk festival expansion — and to walk-throughs and photo shoots here in New York. Yet the mom to two daughters ages 6 and 8 still found time for meals with her family. And though she tells us, "I usually save Sundays for my kids," the day's routine was sidetracked by an epic Chinese feast. Chang was recovering from strep throat, and she informed us that it's okay to mix cocktails and penicillin. "I think it’s a myth that you can’t drink on antibiotics. I got the kind of off-the-record story from my doctor." Good to know! Read about the rest of her drinking and eating in this week's New York Diet.

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