Posts for February 15, 2013

Jay-Z and Beyonce at Gjelina; Britney Spears Dates New Dude at Banzai

Beyonce KnowlesPhoto: Hollywood PR/Flickr

Cupid's arrows were flying this week, as stars and their beloveds hit the town for Valentine's Day gougings dinners. Nicole Kidman looked relieved to be with a non-Scientologist nutjob while leaving Eveleigh last night with her husband, Keith Urban, while Britney Spears met up with a new squeeze at Banzai Sushi, Katy Perry and John Mayer enjoyed a date at Vincenti, and Chris Evans and Minka Kelly decided to cook at home following a shopping trip to Gelson's. But while Jay-Z and Beyonce might have had a good time at Gjelina this week, their table-mate Kelly Rowland again had to suffer the torture of a third-wheel, reportedly breaking into tears on Abbot-Kinney following her meal. To see where else famous lovers and spurned partners were eating in L.A. this week, look below.

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Altadena's Sticky Rice Specialist Heading To The Grand Central Market

Sticky Rice's som tamPhoto: Javier Cabral

Shortly before the new year, we learned that Downtown's Grand Central Market was undergoing a big overhaul, raising concerns that the time-worn spread of food stands would get a watered-down, yuppified touch. One piece of early news raises our hopes a little higher as we see som tam specialist Sticky Rice announcing the development its own Thai concept for a stand at the reinvented arcade.

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Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Are Making People Insane


"If Edinburgh is overweight today," says Tam Fry, the spokesperson of a U.K.-based anti-obesity group, "then it will certainly be obese by tomorrow." Fry is referring to the chaos in Edinburgh, where Krispy Kreme opened its first Scottish outlet last week with numerous promotions and freebies that have caused three days of mile-long lines and a general accumulation of cruller fiends. London resident Ben Esterson camped out in the cold outside the store to make sure he was the first customer. He is now entitled to two dozen free doughnuts per month for one year. "I was first in line for the Wales Krispy Kreme store too," Esterson tells the Daily Mail, "so when I heard they were opening in Scotland I couldn't not be first here as well." Fair enough.

Kruller and punishment. »

The Counter Launching Its Own Fast-Casual Concept: Built Custom Burger

Established restaurants are increasingly getting into the lower-overhead, higher-volume world of opening their own branded fast-casual outlets. Following such recent examples as Umami's U-Mini and Park's BBQ's Oleego, The Counter announces the coming arrival of Built Custom Burger by The Counter. The new business will be opening at the end of the month or the start of March on Figueroa near USC, offering the businesses' build-your-own service over lunch and dinner in a stripped-down version offering slightly smaller quarter-pound burgers at a slightly lower price. Guests will be able to watch the burgers get made, while getting a quicker Counter experience. Right now, the successful burger brand is just focusing on this initial location, though more are scheduled to be announced in the months to come.

Built Custom Burger by The Counter, 3584 S. Figueroa St. Los Angeles.

School Food Fight Ends With Police Spraying Mace


Food fights aren't supposed to involve chemical spray and trips to the emergency room. But after a fifteen-minute, 200- to 300-person food fight at South High School in Minneapolis turned into a violent brawl, police had to intervene. According to a sergeant, students were throwing "anything they could get their hands on," sending four people to the hospital with minor injuries. So far, no arrests have been made, but the cops are reviewing surveillance video. These kids should probably dye their hair and start donning disguises; the charges can be extensive. School officials maintain that the cops sprayed above the crowd, but students are complaining about the effects: Mace doesn't taste as good as pie to the face. [Earlier, AP]

Watch 13,000 Boxes of Girl Scout Cookies Get Crushed by Heavy Machinery

Look away, lovers of Samoas and Tagalongs: 13,200 boxes of unexpired, "perfectly fine" Girl Scout cookies were crushed by a tractor in Redlands last spring and then sent to a landfill. A CBS investigation finds the Southern California region's scout council pinning the blame for all this waste on ABC Bakery, which supplies the troops with their product and destroyed the cookies when a local troop bought more than they could offload. The devastation-by-tractor is basically how the unsold extras get disposed of around these parts, a policy set to change now that food banks and churches are catching wind of the practice. "We would have gladly accepted the cookies and they would probably disappear as fast as any product we have in here," says a Westside Food Bank rep. Indeed, the deliberate waste makes good old destruction pretty hard to stomach. Nonetheless, take a look as oh-so-many Thin Mints meet the big metal death machine in this video.

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Santa Monica Pier Making Room For Berlin Currywurst, Green Truck, and Crepe'n Around

Always room for more sausagePhoto: Harsh Light/Flickr

Several L.A. restaurants will soon be walking on water, as The Santa Monica Pier prepares to introduce several new dining options. Santa Monica Lookout reports that the local City Council approved one-year leases to nine food vendors on Tuesday. The agreement paves the planks for new eating outlets, including Berlin Currywurst, Crepe'n Around, and Green Truck, who will set up carts alongside some of the wharf's older inhabitants, most of whom are in the tourist clothing and memento business. Yes, L.A. has finally crammed itself so full of German sausage that we need to start pushing the brats past the Pacific shorebreak. [Santa Monica Lookout]

Patina Searching For New Pastry Chef

Kasra Ajdari, the pastry chef who jumped aboard Raphael when his Saddle Peak Lodge peer, Adam Horton, joined the Studio City restaurant as executive chef in 2011, parted ways with Patina in mid-January to spend the days over Oaxcan street food. As a reader indicates about the skim sorbet and strudel offered as part of the Downtown restaurant's $150 Valentine's Day menu last night, the departure leaves a hole in the fine-diner's dessert department, with Patina currently seeking a "pastry sous" on Craigslist. The restaurant's PR confirms that a replacement for Ajdari, prized for his visually pleasing plates, is yet to be made.

Patric Kuh Praises Gorge in West Hollywood; Gold Soaks In Venice's Hostaria Piccolo

Elia Aboumrad at Gorge

"Charcuterie is of the moment..." Patrick Kuh writes, observing that "the lodestar is the smokehouse of yesterday...almost the antidote to the celebrity chef movement." The critic is dining at Elia Aboumrad's Gorge on Sunset Boulevard, where the D.F.-born Top Chef-testant is taking an "old school" approach to "an old school art," relying on natural aging instead of seasoning and shunning nitrates and synthetic casings. "As restaurants go, this is about as personal as it gets...paying tribute to a painstakingly understated-and single-minded-craft." Offering respect for both the chef's traditional techniques and "sense of playfulness," Kuh concludes, "classic, contemporary, self-assured and feisty--Gorge isn't showy but boy is it seductive." Two stars! [LAM]

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Here Are 17 of the Internet’s Best Food-Themed Harlem Shake Videos

While there actually is a hamburger joint called Harlem Shake opening up — in Harlem, naturally — any day now, there's also this viral video phenomenon to contend with, which combines a sort of third cousin to the uptown dance and a Bauuer song, that was released last year. Everyone and their mother has been uploading their own Harlem Shake videos in the last few weeks, recorded in offices, parking lots, dorm rooms, and elevators, so it was only a matter of time before a few restaurants got into the act. Check out a whole MenuPages-worthy multiverse of tabletop dancers and demented dishwashers, just ahead.

Spider-Man, Abusive Santas, drunk Gumby. »

Free Cruller For Plan Check's First

West L.A.'s Plan Check was a hit from day one, serving draft beer with burgers engineered by former Umami Burger chef Ernesto Uchimura alongside a well-edited menu of Asian-kissed bar eats and an update on fried chicken using Jidori and smoked gravy. This coming Wednesday, February 20, Plan Check will celebrate its first birthday by serving a free order of its cooked-to-order cruller doughnuts to every party who comes in during normal business hours, a tempting offer to get you to drift from the ramen section of Little Osaka for an evening.

The Startling True Life Story Behind Chef Curtis Duffy of Grace

Curtis Duffy's Grace in Chicago has earned, in two months of being open, national acclaim as one of America's most ambitious restaurants, Duffy's eyes set on every prize to be had. What few have known, and only rarely came out in the press about Duffy, was that his ambition and drive as a chef — which led him from a Colorado country club to Charlie Trotter's, Alinea, and two Michelin stars at Avenues before opening his own restaurant — was rooted in a troubled childhood, which climaxed horrifically with the murder-suicide of his parents in 1994, when Duffy was 19.

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Horsemeat News Keeps Getting Worse

Horsemeat was in cottage pies delivered to 47 schools.

Throughout this scandal, food-manufacturing companies have protested that hidden horsemeat is an issue of mislabeling, not food safety. News broke today that adulterated meat ended up in school meals, hospital food, and restaurant dishes in Britain, which is particularly alarming because yesterday, public authorities announced that small amounts of the meat contained a powerful equine painkiller. The phenylbutazone drug is potentially harmful to humans, but the chances of getting sick are low: Out of 206 horse carcasses, eight tested positive for phenylbutazone, and only six of those carcasses were exported to France (French meat wholesaler Spanghero is the current culprit). Horsemeat isn't typically harmful; the issue here is that these horses weren't sourced responsibly and raised to become part of the food chain. [AP, NYT, Earlier]

Introducing the Marc Jacobs-Designed Diet Coke Cans

Women wore houndstooth bikini bottoms with striped pants underneath in the aughts? Really?Photo: Coca-Cola

Recently appointed Diet Coke creative director Marc Jacobs designed these limited-edition cans of Coca-Cola Light in honor of the company's anniversary in Europe, and, surprisingly, he illustrated someone other than himself. Each can celebrates a recent fashion decade (the eighties, nineties, and aughts), and is inspired by Broadway and Radio City Music Hall, where Diet Coke made its debut in 1982. In all likelihood, the corresponding ad campaigns will showcase Jacobs's abs, or at least a topless model. [Earlier, NYDN, Cut]

Bruce Willis Recalls His Days As a (Flair?) Bartender

On a promotional tour for his new Die Hard movie — the title of which could have been so much better — Bruce Willis hit Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. One topic of conversation: Willis's days as a New York bartender. Per Fallon, people would actually travel to see Willis, who apparently dabbled in some flair. Willis won't confirm or deny — he'll only say that the secret to being a well-liked bartender is just giving drinks away (especially if the customer is John Goodman). Watch the clip, straight ahead.

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Model Chrissy Teigen Loves Airplane Food and Ina Garten’s Salmon

"I realized that cooking was my calming source."Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Stringer

Models aren't known for their appetites, but Chrissy Teigen is different. "I wasn’t a model that loved food," she says. "I was someone that loved food that started modeling." Teigen — who maintains her own food blog and has a special airing on the Cooking Channel — says it stems from her parents. "My dad's a big white guy ... always making meat and potatoes," and, she adds, "my mom's full Thai, so I had two totally different cuisines happening in the home, and it was very cool to see, so I started getting excited." Granted, the last month has made it hard to find time: It went from inauguration to Super Bowl to Grammys," she says. And this week she's been busy promoting the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Even with all that, she managed to find time to cook in L.A., smuggle wine into the Grammys, and find some pho in New York. Read it all in this week's Grub Street Diet.

"Thai people, we make the dirtiest noodles." »

Grubstreet Sweeps

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