Posts for November 27, 2012

Santa Monica's Babalu Washing Old Look Right Out Of Its Hair


Santa Monica's 25-year-old Babalu Bakery will undergo aesthetic upgrades this winter to veer from its South Pacific vibe to a more Western Pacific look of seaside-friendly blue and whites. As the owner of this institution, as well as nearby Cafe Montana, Eddie Silkaitis has seen dramatic changes hit Montana Avenue in the last two-and-a-half decades and as a former art director and set designer on films like Ghostbusters and Back to School, plans to oversee the facelift himself. The new look is intended to compliment a new interior and a rejiggered menu that veers lighter, but retains customers favorites like the jerk chicken (which currently shares space with an eclectic mash including bucatini, Szechuan stir-fry, kebab with tzatziki, and crab enchiladas). Expect kale, quinoa, and burgers to proliferate, as Babalu remains open through the coming tide of change.

Jeremy Fox Launching "Old Souls" Dinner Series at Square One


Rising from the ashes of Barnyard's original blueprint, Helen Springut and Helena Brown are trademarking the name "this is not a pop-up" for a "culinary incubator" they intend to use to help chefs keep cooking between restaurants. The logical first batter to the plate is Jeremy Fox, the chef previously scheduled to open Barnyard in Venice before a situation with the owners found him peace-ing out with Brown and Springut close to his side. Starting next week, Fox will take over Hollywood brunch spot Square One for two separate strings of four-night dinners called "Old Soul." From December 6 through 9 and again on December 13 to 16, Fox will prepare a $50 four-course meal that changes weekly, with a sample menu currently showing dishes like black roux gumbo and chipped beef tongue, as well as the promise of a vegetarian option included for the meat-free. Reservations can be made at 323-451-1767 or over email, while Fox plans to continue the series after the new year. In the meantime, Barnyard's opening has apparently hit delays.

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing Bottles Its First Beer

Tovarish Imperial Russian Espresso StoutPhoto: Beachwood Brewing

Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, Long Beach's hub for great craft ale that sprouted from Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, is set to release its first bottled beer on December 14. Named after a Soviet term for "comrade," Tovarish Russian Imperial Espresso stout will be available in limited supply in 22 oz. bottles available at both Beachwood and on the retail market (a distribution list is forthcoming, stay tuned) and will be followed by more brews from Beachwood owner Gabriel Gordon and brewmaster Julian Shrago in the months to come. The dark, rich Tovarish is finished with blackstrap molasses and a blend of coffee designed by Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa, coming in at a whopping 11.2% ABV. and sold for $20 a bottle.

Vaguely Vulgar Restaurant Name Has Chattanooga in a Tizzy

Say it three times fast.

The guys who own Aretha Frankenstein and Crust Pizza in Chattanooga are making patties from grass-fed beef, bringing in some "extraordinary" buns from Atlanta, getting liquid nitrogen to cool their milkshakes, and even installing a very large recliner in their new restaurant, called Sofa King Juicy Burger. Say that fast enough, though, and you'll realize it's a restaurant name only a 9-year-old would love. In Chattanooga, some citizens are upset by the thought of increased expletive uttering because of the still-under-construction restaurant, with one newscaster even asking, "How will this go over with locals and those looking to put down roots?" One town resident says he will stop at nothing to make sure the restaurant does not open, but no one takes him seriously because his name is Noah Vale. [HuffPo]

Cube Offering Deep Discounts at Holiday Sale, December 2


This Sunday, December 2, Cube Cafe and Marketplace is holding an inaugural holiday super-sale at its La Brea space, offering 70% off of all housewares, including porcelain plate-ware, Danish steel flat-ware, kitchen-ready textiles, Esther Coombs tea sets, and cheese platters. In addition, 40% will be taken off of all food products, including Rancho Gordo beans, Rustichella d'Abruzzo pasta, 25-year-aged balsamic, and we're crossing our fingers that 4505 chicharrones will be in stock. More immediately gratifying, Cube's pastry chef Jun Tan will prepare free treats including cream cheese puffs, Tcho chocolate brownies, apple cakes, and pumpkin muffins, while mimosas will be sold at $5 a pop. 10:00 A.M. -2:00 P.M. at 615 N. La Brea Ave.

Curtis Stone Shining His Baby Blues on The Grove, December 8

Top Chef Masters' hunka hunka Aussie love, Curtis Stone, is appearing at The Grove on December 8. Having landed his own L.A. pad in 2011 and later divulging hopes for his own local restaurant, Stone is giving back to the city next month with a dedicated can drive for Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Stone will meet and take photos with the first 200 fans who come to Cost Plus World Market, each bearing five cans of donated food. As Stone's scheduled appearance comes just six days before Tyler Florence arrives in Beverly Hills, we finally stand to learn a valuable lesson of exactly just how much handsome L.A. can take in one week.

Wolfgang Puck Reprising His Greatest Role For 90210

Does this mean smoked-salmon pizza is coming to The Peach Pit?

Demonstrating an expansive range of characters, Wolfgang Puck has past played a chef on The Smurfs and appeared as himself on numerous shows like Who's The Boss, The Simpsons, and Frasier. Today, HuffPo learns that the Spago star is now poised to take on what could conceivably be his greatest role since appearing on Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Serving us a double-dose of nineties nostalgia, Puck will reprise his oft-staged role as Puck on 90210, the remake of the teen drama on CW. The episode will find our favorite Austrian chef judging a food truck contest organized by one of the characters. Unfortunately, it all comes about two decades too late for that torrid love affair with alpha-bitch Brenda you've dreamed about since you first donned parachute pants. But at least it's not too late in T.V Land for a food truck contest to still be a major draw.

'90210' Taps Wolfgang Puck For Guest Spot And More Casting News [HuffPo]

Joe Blow: Patent Office Denies Dunkin’ Donuts’ ‘Best Coffee’ Claim

America might run on Dunkin', but that doesn't necessarily mean their coffee's any good. Boston-based coffee empire Dunkin' Donuts' petitioned to trademark the phrase "best coffee in America," but the U.S. Patent Office rejected the claim, saying it's "merely laudatory and descriptive," not patent-worthy (perhaps the office's staff prefers Starbucks?). The Dunkin-deprived folks at the Los Angeles Times also note that "insiders" can order the coffee with flavor shots, but those in New England realize that the proper way to order a DD coffee is "regulah," with sugar and cream. [LAT]

Sprinkles Ice Cream Stretching to Newport

SprinklesPhoto: Sprinkles Ice Cream

If it's in vogue in L.A., then Newport must have it, an attitude we've come to expect from the Veruca Salt vicinage. Following the recent arrival of Mozza and news that the Orange County beach retreat will get its own Red O, O.C. Register now reports that Sprinkles Ice Cream is expanding to the Corona del Mar Plaza this spring. This second outpost of Candace and Charles Nelson's ice cream shop will take over Gelato Paradiso with its daily-churned, Straus Family Creamery scoops on red velvet waffle cones, along with its supply of cupcake sundae and ice cream sandwiches book-ending the cold stuff with cupcake tops.

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Hostage Taken at South Central Subway

Early Monday morning, the 24-hour Subway on Central Avenue, south of Manchester, was robbed by two men with an assault rifle. Topping the strike with blind fear, the assailants forced a customer into her vehicle for transport to their getaway car, which was parked "a few miles away." Fortunately, the woman was released unharmed, avoiding any scenarios like these, though the suspects are still on the loose. [ABC]

Twinkies Takeover? Tastykake Maker Is Top Contender to Bid for Hostess

Gone, but not for much longer.

That didn't take long: It's only been about a week since Hostess shut down its three dozen bakeries and put its nearly 20,000 employees on the unemployment line after mediation talks fizzled out, and a potential buyer for the brand has already emerged. The Wall Street Journal says that Flower Foods, the Georgia-based baker that last year snatched up Philadelphia’s Tasty Baking Company — makers of Tastykakes — is a top contender to make a strong bid for at least some of Hostess's assets.

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Coco Laurent Sashays Into Downtown

Beef tartare at Coco LaurentPhoto: Bryson K. Igarta

A burnished new French restaurant called Coco Laurent opened its doors to Downtown's Grand Avenue on Monday, on the corner of swinging Seventh Street across from Bottega Louie. According to Brigham Yen, the concept comes from Vincent Terzian, one-time owner of the neighborhood's Crocker Club**, with chef Guillaume Jouvet preparing standards like steak frites, salmon beurre blanc, beef tartare, French onion soup, nineteen dollar hamburgers, nicoise with ahi, beef bourgogne, and ile flottante in a somewhat austere space of imported chandeliers, leather chairs, floral mouldings, and a hotel vibe that accommodates 300 guests inside and on an outdoor patio.

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FDA Shuts Down Trader Joe’s–Associated Peanut Butter Plant

Back in September Trader Joe’s voluntarily pulled its Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter from store shelves over concerns that it had sickened dozens with salmonella. Yesterday the FDA, wielding new power granted to it from last year’s food safety law, moved to shut down the New Mexico facility where the offending peanut butter was made. (The plant also made peanut butter for companies like Whole Foods and Target.) Identifying the peanut butter and other nut products processed there as a "reasonable probability" of causing serious health problems or death, the agency suspended the manufacturer Sunland Inc.’s registration. The AP says that under old rules, the FDA would have had to take Sunland to court to block it from producing or distributing food. Now the onus is on the company to prove that its facilities are clean and safe before it can resume operations. Considering FDA officials discovered dirty equipment, improper handling of ingredients, and trailers full of peanuts outside the facility that were left uncovered and exposed to rain and birds, it sounds as though they've got some work to do. [AP, Earlier]

Watch This Chinese Dishwasher Sanitize Plates Like Nobody’s Business

This video, posted on LiveLeak and YouTube yesterday, shows a super-speedy pot washer who, with his soapy squeeze bottles and trusty sanitizer (we hope) at the ready, dispenses with a stack of twentysomething dim sum plates with finesse and ease. This man and his scrubbie are keeping the dream of scullions everywhere alive. If you've ever scrubbed pots and washed dishes in a restaurant, this one's for you.

Long live the four-compartment sink. »

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