Posts for February 19, 2013

Johnny Rockets Gives Us A New Excuse to Use Up Old Bottles of Heinz

Cynthia Kostylo's Mouth Rushmore No. 57Photo: Tatiana Arbogast

Though we already know food-based art is generally crap and there are much better ketchup brands than Heinz out there, curiosity caught the better of us. So, holding our noses, we stopped by Santa Monica's Johnny Rockets on President's Day to see their ketchup art workshop in full Factory mode.

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Tuscan Chef Antonio Guida Cooking at Tower Bar, March 8-14

Antonio Guida, the executive chef of Tuscany's double Michelin-starred, Relais & Châteaux Il Pellicano Hotel, is coming to L.A.'s Sunset Tower for a full week in March. From March 8 to 14, the chef plans to prepare a $135, four-course tasting menu of his Mediterranean specialties alongside Tower Bar chef Matthew Hougland. Dishes will include roasted lobster with masala and Moscato bisque, grilled John Dory filets with sauteed sea whelks, and goat cheese ravioli with lemon-mint sauce. See the full menu online and get reservations at 323-848-6677.

Grey Poupon to Ruin Classic ‘Pardon Me’ Ad

Don't call it a comeback.

Is nothing sacred? It's been sixteen years since the "Pardon Me" Grey Poupon commercial aired, and in an effort to boost sales and compete with the cooler condiments, Kraft is reviving the spot and adding a bunch of twenty-first-century crap. The new commercial, which will debut during the Oscars on Sunday, begins in the same way as the original, with two fancy men exchanging mustard. But then, "the scene continues with the second car speeding off without returning the mustard. A wild car chase through a golf course and city streets ensues, complete with explosions to make the spot look like a trailer for an action adventure movie." Did Michael Bay direct this mess? Pass the ketchup. [AP]

Apple Tattooing Is a Very Real Thing

Does Che look better on a Gala or a Pink Lady?

Edible Geography explores the history of the apple stenciling subculture; people around the world are branding innocent fruit with everything from Che Guevara's face to the Apple computer logo. A Japanese pop star even put his picture on apples to give out as presents, which we're pretty sure is the fruit equivalent of a tramp stamp. So how does this work? First, apples are covered in wax paper bags during the growing season, producing a pearly white skin. Then, they're adorned with stencil stickers that block the sunlight. It's basically the same thing that happens when you accidentally tan while wearing sunglasses. Apple tattooing isn't a recent phenomenon; it stems back to nineteenth-century French fruit-growers. But for the past few years, it's actually been on the decline. Your move, people of Williamsburg. [Edible Geography]

Wildcraft Sourdough Pizza Opens Monday in Culver City

A look insidePhoto: Wildcraft

Culver City's rise to prominence finds it with a lopsided number of restaurants focused on upgraded U.S. cooking, with newcomers like City Tavern and P.S. 310 jockeying for customers with the likes of Akasha and Ford's Filling Station. And though it has a great traditional red-sauce slice at Vito's, the main drag is so far devoid of a devoted specialist of authentic pizza. This Monday, WildCraft Sourdough Pizza seeks to remedy this issue with its own wood-fired pies, opening at 11:30 A.M. to employ the proprietary wild sourdough starter of Tin Vuong, executive chef at Abigaile, whose partners Jed Sanford, Chris Stone, and Michael Barson are also behind the new business.

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Samuel Adams Will Finally Be Available in Cans

A Sam Can mock-up.Photo: The Boston Beer Company

The Boston Beer Company announced this morning that, after two years of meticulous ergonomic and sensory research, they'll offer twelve-packs of their Samuel Adams Boston Lager in cans, starting in early summer. (Until now, Sam Adams has been sold exclusively in bottles.) CEO Jim Koch, never a fan of cans until spending millions to develop what he says is his own superlative vessel, believes that "cans have changed," per a release. Craft brewers, like Brooklyn's Sixpoint, long ago proved that good beer can indeed be found in cans. The logically named "Sam Can" will differentiate itself with a flared lip and wide top, designed to let those luscious hoppy aromas waft freely from can to nose. More important, it'll probably be just as easy as other cans to hide at the beach. [Official site]

The Staples Center Lets Morrissey Get What He Really Wants: Vegetarian Food

Morrissey, doing it for the animals

Today, in the most Morrissey of Morrissey news, the former Smiths front-man convinces Downtown L.A.'s Staples Center to go completely vegetarian for his upcoming March 1st show, with a portion of ticket sales going to PETA. Billboard learns that The Mozfather personally requested the arena's vendors to only serve meatless, murder-less dishes; a demand that makes the removal of all green M&Ms from the bowl look fairly quaint. Fulfilling the singer's request, which was previously denied when Paul McCartney asked, means the arena's McDonald's location will be closed for the night while the rest of the stalls scramble to provide vegetarian-friendly fare.

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Mark Peel Making Suckling Pig Liver Ramen at This Is Not a Pop-Up, February 21-24

Mark Peel

Starting this Thursday night at Square One in Hollywood, Campanile chef Mark Peel is back in action. Peel is planning a fixed $50 five-course menu for the This Is Not a Pop-Up dinner series that already arouses our appetites. The menu finds Peel working with offal in a ramen dish of suckling pig liver and wild mushroom broth, as well as on a plate of short ribs with beef heart alongside grits bonded with aged cheddar. He's also shaving bottarga over a slow-cooked tomato with coriander vinaigrette, and cedar-smoking salmon for a crostini appetizer. In expected fashion, the chef is using both the familiar in new ways and rearranging cult ingredients in accessible plates that have us captivated before even having the chance to try them. See Peel's fulll menu below and find reservations for the four-night stint at 323-451-1767 and over email.

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GQ Names the ‘12 Most Outstanding Restaurants of 2013,’ Includes La Vara, Central Kitchen, and Vedge

Richman doesn't care if his waiter smells.

It's a big day for lists! GQ critic Alan Richman dropped his roundup of the country's top twelve restaurants, which are places he identifies as "casual, kindhearted, original, and a little too loud." Richman deems fine dining a "democratic institution"; his idea of a perfect night out includes eating off cutting boards and waiters wearing dirty T-shirts — not wild foraged ingredients or twenty-course prix fixe menus. And by omitting Mission Chinese Food, his list is by default different than most others of its kind. Last year, L.A.'s ink took the top spot, and the crown now goes to Little Serow, a Thai restaurant in Washington, D.C. Check out where else to go if you want to feel "coddled, welcome, and well fed," ahead.

St. Anselm and Bäco Mercat made the cut. »

BierBeisl, Tar & Roses, and Josef Centeno Top The List of Local James Beard Semi-Finalists

Bernard Mairinger of BierBeisl

The James Beard Foundation released its list of restaurant and chef semi-finalists this morning. And though we'll probably never see the spirited Red Medicine make the cut (considering they booted a member of the judge's panel), this year L.A. seems to have a little to cry about as some of its most engaging chefs are nominated among a number of categories. Bernhard Mairinger's new Beverly Hills Austrian, BierBeisl, appears to be the major breakout city this year, nominated in the "Best New Restaurant" category, and where the chef-owner is also found vying for a "Rising Star Chef of the Year" win, a category that makes room for Kris Yenbamroong of Night+Market, as well. Andrew Kirchsner's Tar & Roses is also nominated for "Best New Restaurant," while Rivera and The Varnish are being credited for their excellent bar programs. Elsewhere, familiar and deserving faces are again being bandied about, suggesting the Beard board might still need to update their local knowledge just a little bit.

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First Look Into La Casita Mexicana's Expanded Space and Menu

La Casita Mexicana, which emerged over fourteen years ago in Bell as one of the Southland's strongest Mexican restaurants for its beautifully appointed regional dishes, authentic chef-driven creations, fresh ingredients, and expansive sauces, has vastly expanded both its space and menu. Over a single week, without disturbing operations, chefs Jamie Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu watched the wall of the neighboring beauty shop get breached so their James Beard-nominated casita could reach dimensions more fitting of a hacienda in their native Jalisco, with room for approximately 100 seats and a coming beer bar strapped with happy hour specials. The refreshed restaurant plans to explore the wines of Baja's Valle de Guadalupe and a bigger menu, featuring new dishes like bone marrow in adobo, blackberry mole, and taquitos inspired by del Campo's college years. Come with us as we take a look at the newly expanded space and eating options at Casita Mexicana in Bell.

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Here Are 2013’s James Beard Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists


The James Beard Foundation just announced its annual restaurant and chef semifinalists, and per usual, the list is a behemoth. Some highlights: Danny Bowien's nominated for Rising Star Chef; and Andrew Carmellini, David Chang, and Marc Vetri are going head-to-head for Outstanding Chef. In the coveted Best New Restaurant category, Empellón Cocina is facing stiff competitors like Chicago's Balena and Grace, San Francisco's Rich Table and State Bird Provisions, and Vernick Food & Drink in Philly. Last year's winners included Chicago's Next, Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park, PDT, and Boulevard in San Francisco. Check out the massive list of semifinalists ahead, and stay tuned until March 18, when the Foundation will reveal the lucky finalists.

Will Outstanding Bar Program go to the Aviary or the Bar at the NoMad? »

Code Closed in Venice

Code nee Dry Tour

There was a second there where having a 90291 zip code almost made a new restaurant seem bullet-proof, such was the seaside city's demand for a Gjelina alternative. Proving that even an investment just a stone's toss from the sand can carry pitfalls, Code closed this weekend on Windward, just nine months after debuting as a wine bar and restaurant. The business may have suffered slightly from its questionable names, first debuting as "Dry Tour," which sounds like it necessitates medical attention, and later re-branding itself last October as Code, which sounds like some kind of K-Town nightclub or SBE's latest Hollywood hang, neither of which are about to let you in. According to Yo! Venice!, investors in the space may be holding on to the building for a revamped concept.

Closing Party: Code Venice [Yo! Venice!]

Benjamin Netanyahu Has a $2,700-per-Year Ice Cream Budget

"Who used the scooper last?"

Dude, that's a lot of literal and figurative Rocky Road: In the midst of increased scrutiny and the implementation of austerity measures, it seems as though the prime minister of Israel has been eating an unhealthy amount of expensive ice cream.

Cup or cone, Mr. Prime Minister? »

Watch Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jim Beam Commercial

In an international ad for Jim Beam Bourbon, Jack Dawson chips away at a block of ice, showing us how he could have single-handedly saved the Titanic from sinking. Our friends at Vulture noticed that he only says four words in the seventeen-second spot. But we think he mouths "wow" six seconds in, so let's make it four and a half.

Never let go. »

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