Posts for January 30, 2013

Sun's Restaurant and Figueroa Produce Threatened As Highland Park Booms

A neighborhood boom means the boot for some of its institutions

Highland Park and its surrounds are quickly becoming the new bulls-eye of L.A. gentrification. This boom means a few stalwart businesses are, as always, being threatened with the boot. Phillip Sun, owner of 27-year-old Chinese restaurant Sun's, may have to vacate his space as the property's owner is seeking a rezoning ordinance to turn it into a commercial property, with plans to sell the building and its neighboring bike shop. "It's basically a done deal," Sun tells Highland Park Patch. "I have nowhere else to go."

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Tickets Go On Sale Friday For Firestone Walker's Invitational Beer Fest

Firestone Walker

This Friday at 12:00 A.M., tickets go on sale for Firestone Walker's Invitational Beer Fest, a June 1 celebration featuring 40 curated breweries, a whole lot of rare beers, live music from three bands, and local chefs. Held at the Paso Robles event center, the lineup is still being hashed out, though highlights from last year's inaugural included California beer makers mingling with visiting brewers like Dogfish Head, Japan's Yo-Ho, Southern Tier from NYC, and Denmark's Mikkeller. All breweries brought a session beer and one of their specialties, while area chefs offered complimentary food to pair with it. $75 tickets also sold out rather quickly, so if you want to take part in Firestone Walker's five hour event, hit the brewer online for reservations come early Friday morning.

‘Coffee Rust’ Is Destroying Central America’s Coffee Berries

There is a fungus among us.

Forget for a second that global warming will soon render several farming regions that produce much of the world's supply of Arabica coffee untenable as soon as 2020: Costa Rica's coffee plantations are at the moment being devastated by a fungus called "coffee rust." Authorities are saying that the 2013-14 harvest may be halved in the hardest hit farming areas. What's worse is that coffee rust is affecting crops in other countries, and a University of Michigan in Ann Arbor-based ecologist named John Vandermeer tells Nature that the outbreak now includes “reports of devastation in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Mexico."

It's not looking too good in Costa Rica. »

Watch a Preview of Anne Burrell’s New Show, Chef Wanted

Like her mentor Mario Batali, Anne Burrell dons shorts and clogs in the kitchen, only her clogs are fuchsia and she seems to curse a lot more. The new season of her show, Chef Wanted, which premieres tomorrow night on the Food Network, approaches the "restaurant-rehab" theme with a novel setup: Burrell leads teams of professionals through challenges at actual restaurants (like the Old Homestead Steakhouse), and there are actually executive positions to be had at the end of each line. In the exclusive preview, just ahead, a fearsome Burrell confronts a contestant she thinks is screwing around. "That's your Amatriciana sauce? Amatriciana does not have garlic in it," she says. "Italian cuisine is regional," the contestant gurgles back, "I grew up with it in my sauce."

The heat is on. »

The Southland Scrambles to Make Room For Your Backyard Chickens

"I'll never get caught, I'm popular."

L.A. might be crazy for chicken once it hits the plate, but having your own little cluckers scratching around the backyard is becoming such a booming trend that local governments are considering revising existing laws. As raising chickens becomes the "in" move for certain city-dwellers, many in the Southland region are crying fowl** over bans that prohibit backyard chickens. The laws are mostly perceived to be antiquated ones from another era, no matter that one could probably argue that keeping farm animals from smelling up your house was once considered an evolutionary step forward from our agrarian past.

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A Look Inside Taiwan’s Very Pink, Very Creepy Barbie-Themed Restaurant

The inspiration.Photo: SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images

In the heart of Taiwan, there is now an electric-pink Barbie restaurant full of more dead-eyed, busty blondes than the Playboy Mansion. The restaurant, in the heart of Taipei (where Barbies were once manufactured), is fully licensed by Mattel, a company not known for its culinary prowess. Odd that food is on sale here, really, since Barbie's measurements are prime endorsements for anorexia. But eating isn't really the point: It's all about selling dolls! In a move that's probably great for business and horrible for feminism, "The staff who work at the restaurant sport a not-entirely practical uniform of pink Barbie logo T-shirts, matching tutus, Barbie logo armbands and glitter and tiaras on their heads," the Telegraph reports.

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Aroma Cuban Bakery Closes in Woodland Hills

CerradoPhoto: Joshua Lurie

Among the many local cafes named "Aroma," only one was set up as a Cuban Bakery with medianoches, cortaditos, and guava and cream cheese pastries. Sadly, Valley dwellers will no longer have these options in Woodland Hills, as Aroma Tropical Bakery and Cuban Cafe his now shuttered in The Valley. Now the locals will have to hoof it twenty-plus minutes to Porto's like the rest of us. Meanwhile, a For Lease sign at the closed space encourages prospective buyers that this could be an excellent location for "sushi, Mexican, barbecue, Cuban, Vietnamese..." Wait, Cuban? Didn't that NOT work out so well last time?

Cocktails on Tap Drafted By Eveleigh and The Churchill

We support anything that gets liquor to our lips faster

Standing out among today's lamer trends (like putting stuff on toast and finding new ways to shock and awe us with bacon) arrives something we can believe in. Squid Ink cites the local rise of cocktails on draft, which are just making their way to L.A. from the East Coast, Mid-West, and parts up north. Eveleigh's Kiowa Bryan is using one of the restaurant's vestigial taps to serve Negronis with blood orange shrub, while Mia Sarazen is serving Manhattans through the taps at The Churchill. The benefit of these tap-tails to us drinkers? Less fussy prep wasting your precious drinking time while you stand at the bar watching a guy in suspenders juggle the tweezers. And, as Bryan explains about his Negroni, "I think it mellows it out a little bit; it just meshes the flavors together because they're incorporating together for a longer period of time."

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Gjelina Owner Starts Construction on New Abbot Kinney Restaurant

Fran Camaj already razed this existing structure at 1305 Abbot Kinney

Fran Camaj, the independent owner who set Abbot Kinney on fire when he opened Gjelina with chef Travis Lett in 2008, has another restaurant up his sleeves for the chic street. The native Albanian is taking over 1305 Abbot Kinney, the former home to High D High boutique, and building a new 1,248-square-foot property from the ground up. So far, a name is not being divulged, but schematics show a restaurant space is in development, with outdoor dining, a fifteen-seat bar, and room for eight four-top tables.

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Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Giving Away Anniversary Blend Today

The Brentwood-born Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf chain is giving away free cups of "Anniversary Blend" coffee and tea today in honor of its 50th birthday. Giveaway hours vary by store, so do your homework and you may never have to sleep again! [CBTL Facebook]

Bocuse d’Or 2013 Results: France Wins Gold; USA Places Seventh

Picky eater.Photo: JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty

Congrats to France, which just took the top prize at the world's most prestigious culinary competition. Denmark (winner of the gold last year) was awarded silver, and Japan got bronze. Team USA placed seventh, but captains Richard Rosendale and Cory Siegel (of West Virginia's Greenbrier) shouldn't feel too bad; we've never placed higher than sixth. And apparently, "Born in the USA" played at some point during the competition, which is a huge win in itself. If you don't agree with the results, you can blame Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation president Thomas Keller, who judged the meat platter. Check out the full list of winners, straight ahead.

Two for the United Kingdom. »

Where To Eat and Drink During Super Bowl XLVII in L.A.

Casey Lane's stout-glazed wings at The ParishPhoto: The Parish

Super Bowl XLVII kicks off this Sunday between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens. While monstrously jacked athletes break their bones for your pleasure, your big job is to eat more than you ever thought possible and stuff your face with a motley brigade of chicken wings, chips, pizza, and beer. Fortunately, L.A.'s restaurants are looking out for you, preparing special snacks, drink deals, and feasts to-go to ensure you lack for nothing while cheering on your team. Come see where some of the best game day events are going down this Sunday and where to get some special treats to take home in our Grub Guide to eating and drinking during The Super Bowl.

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Thirteen Appetizing Super Bowl Ads From the Past 33 Years

Don't dispute this one.

Whether you're excited to see the Ravens play the 49ers, or you're just watching for the Beyoncé halftime show, everyone can get excited about the $4 million commercials. Beer and car spots will always dominate, but over the years, there have been some fantastic commercials hawking fast-food and non-beer drinks, too. Michael Jordan and Larry Bird playing Horse is enough to make you want a Big Mac (maybe), and we can collectively blame the nation's current soda crisis on Britney Spears gyrating ten years ago. Here are thirteen of the best, presented in chronological order.

From Cindy Crawford to Betty White. »

Don King Explains Why Josie Should Be Voted Back On to ‘Top Chef’

Don King: American, patriot, and Josie suporter.Photo: Dario Cantatore/Getty

The greatest boxing promoter of all time — who worked with Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Julio César Chávez, Evander Holyfield, and Larry Holmes — has now turned his attention to Top Chef, of all things. Don King says that, at 81, his interests in cooking and food are deepening, and as a regular watcher of Bravo's cooking competition, he feels that chef Josie Smith-Malave was "unjustly" booted at the end of last week's episode, and he's now enlisting the public to get her voted back so she can cook her way through the final rounds. Grub Street spoke with King yesterday afternoon as he waited to board a flight in Cleveland back to his home in Florida.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." »

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