Posts for February 27, 2013

David Lentz Preparing Baltimore Pit Beef at Hungry Cat

It just might look a little something like this...Photo: Goodiesfirst/Flickr

Basically, everything we know about Baltimore, we learned from this guy. That could all change on March 8 as chef David Lentz holds a culinary tribute to his hometown at The Hungry Cat in Hollywood. That Friday, Lentz is preparing Baltimore pit beef, the local breed of barbecue described in a 2008 New York Times article as "beef grilled crusty on the outside, rare and juicy inside and heaped high on a sandwich," typically using top round. The chef is skipping the lake trout, chicken boxes, and Berger cookies for thinly carved steak on fresh rye, served with grilled oysters, a raw bar, and beer station, alongside eight-dollar cocktails by Matt Jeronimo and Josh Curtis. The Baltimore pit barbecue is planned from 5:30 to 11:00 P.M., with dishes priced a la carte and reservations at 323-462-2155.

Groupon Stock Continues to Drop After Sad Earnings Report

Insert joke about $10 for $20 in stock here.

Groupon, once upon a time a beacon of deal-site glory, continues to get battered as a public company: Yet another dismal earnings report got released today. The news of a fourth-quarter net loss of $81.1 million hit the airwaves after the markets closed, but it's already sent the company's stock price tumbling in after-hours trading — it's down at $4.46 as of this writing, a full 25 percent drop from its closing price of $5.98 just an hour ago. Things had been looking slightly up for the company since hitting an August low amid some media mumbling about the public having serious "deal fatigue." Maybe too many people are sick of the unused scuba lesson coupons staring them in the face every time they open their junk drawers. [Chicago Tribune, Reuters, Earlier]

Abbot Kinney Annihilation: Glencrest BBQ Farewell Party Today; Jin Patisserie Closing Late March

Glencrest B.B.Q.

Rising rents are about to leave a few noticeable holes in Venice's trendiest street. It started with the news last summer that Jin Patisserie, home to Kristy Choo's beloved macarons, chocolates, and tea garden, was relenting to its landlord's insane pecuniary demands. The news was followed closely by the closures of Lily's and Chocovivo, along with the word that stalwart Glencrest BBQ was fleeing the scene itself. Today, Yo! Venice! reports that a 4:00 P.M. farewell party will be held at the latter, with local organizers encouraging fans to "bring signs, posters, music, whatever you want to bring to show your appreciation" for the Featherstone family who have worked the street for 25 years.

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Customers Weirdly Not Cool With Porn-Browsing Pizza Hut Worker

Several Pizza Hut customers in Richmond, Virginia, who encountered a worker spending his break looking at pictures of naked women on his laptop in the restaurant's dining room were nonplussed when management told them it wasn't their problem. "It was personal time," a shift manager tells the local NBC affiliate, explaining it's really Larry the mozzarella guy's right to spend his downtime any way he chooses. "He wasn't on the clock." The employee apparently spends many of his three-hour breaks out in the dining-room booth, which doesn't really seem to freak out Pizza Hut management, who say it doesn't affect his "job performance" and that they "had a talk" with the guy after the incident. Ten bucks says he was looking at pizza-delivery-guy porn.

Break time's over! Let's get back to work! »

In Utah, Restaurants Still Can’t Pour Alcohol in Front of Customers

Home of the sober.

Close your eyes, kids! Don't look at the scary bottle of chardonnay! People in Utah apparently think it's harmful for children to see servers pour alcohol. In 2010, the state lifted a mandate that required bars to operate as members-only clubs, but there was a compromise: At restaurants that have been open for less than three years, servers can't pour alcohol in front of patrons. Now lawmakers are considering repealing the ridiculous "Zion curtains" rule, which requires bartenders to make drinks out of sight, like they're cocaine dealers. (One of the bill's notable opponents, Republican State Senator John Valentine, says, "Alcohol is a drug.") The law is crippling for new restaurants; not only do they have to waste money building special service bars, they also have to cut back on tables to make room for them. And pouring booze in the back causes customers to think a restaurant's being shady. "It lessens consumer confidence," says Melva Sine, president of the Utah Restaurant Association. "We have got to stop feeling like everyone who drinks alcohol is doing something wrong." Preach. [AP]

But It's All Over Now: Rolling Stone Restaurant Folds in Hollywood

Rolling Stone: The Entrance

Considering that Vince Neil , Lyndyrd Skynyrd, and Toby Keith all have their own restaurants, you can't necessarily blame Rolling Stone magazine for giving it a shot. Perceiving itself as somehow still relevant, the publication sprang a self-branded bi-level club and eatery on the Walk of Fame back in 2011. But rather than embrace a concept that might appeal to Hollywood's tourist hordes, Rolling Stone got all Tinseltown diva on everybody, putting on airs that it would introduce a"high-end" concept (based on an aging $3.95 magazine) in an effort to get would-be players to pop their bottles there over trout toast, burgers, and flatbreads.

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Watch El Tepeyac Regulars Pay Tribute To Burrito King Manuel Rojas

If you didn't know Manuel Rojas, the owner of East L.A.'s El Tepeyac who passed away earlier this month at the age of 79, you're probably going to wish you did after watching this video tribute to the late, great innovator of gargantuan burritos. According to Daily News L.A., 2,500 people filled his Montebello memorial service on Tuesday, while several long-time employees and fans celebrated his life at the restaurant. The pastor recalled, "I never saw a man who got to kiss so many women in front of their husbands, and got away with it." Meanwhile, a 19-year veteran of El Tepeyac's staff recalled the departed owner's sharp sense of humor.

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Scenes From Marcus Samuelsson's "Taste of Harlem" Dinner at Post & Beam

It's far from common to find a joint dinner between two chefs bringing ticket-scalpers out of the weeds, but that's the power Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised, New York phenomenon Marcus Samuelsson has to transfix the public. Post & Beam was packed to its exposed rafters last night as the Red Rooster chef teamed up with L.A.'s own Govind Armstrong to bring a "Taste of Harlem" to the one-year-old Baldwin Hills restaurant. While the two celebrated chefs' unique restaurants have been compared in local media for both introducing Southern-skewing, chef-driven experiences to previously overlooked neighborhoods, Red Rooster and Post & Beam share a much deeper bond. "Brad [Johnson, owner of Post & Beam] came to the restaurant in the beginning," Samuelsson told Grub Street, "and I've known Govind for a very long time; always admired what he is doing."

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Nightmare Scenarios: Tainted Burrito Leads to Brain-Invading Tapeworm

Watch out!Photo: Corbis

It's like a scene from a particularly vile VH1 Behind the Music. Jay Whalley, the front man for Aussie punk group Frenzal Rhomb, suffered seizures, headaches, and feared he had a brain tumor. But his woes had nothing to do with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Instead, it was because Whalley consumed a tainted burrito while on tour in Central America, and then pork tapeworm eggs jaunted from his intestines to nestle in his brain.

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This Is Not a Pop-Up Moving To Tiago, Teasing Us With Foie Gras

Kyle Schutte's oyster Po'boy with tomato jam, spicy remoulade, and pickled lemon zest

This Is Not a Pop-Up, the chef incubator providing a stage for local chefs to pursue their passion projects, announces its transfer from Square One to Tiago Espress Bar + Kitchen in Hollywood this week. The roster for the next two weeks include D'Cache chef Phillip Frankland Lee commanding dishes like sea urchin and green mussel ceviche with crispy maitake, avocado mousse, and tomato extract and a 900-degree egg with chorizo and Russian caviar from February 28 to March 3, followed by Kyle Schutte cooking a menu called "Pressurized to Vaporized," and Wolfgang Puck Catering head Barbara Brass focused on Italian recipes from March 14-17.

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Macy’s Gives Emeril Lagasse the Boot

At a trial for Macy's case against Martha Stewart and JCPenney, the department store revealed that it will no longer sell Lagasse's cookware line. Stewart’s company owns and designs Lagasse's products, which it purchased in 2008 for $50 million (along with his franchises). Macy's is suing Stewart for violating their exclusivity deal, but claims that dropping Lagasse's line from 800 stores has nothing at all to do with the lawsuit. The decision apparently stemmed from weak sales performances; customers have been panning his pans. [NYDN]

The Yeastmaster: Flowers Foods Is Buying Wonder Bread

There was supposed to be an auction tomorrow for the portfolio of bread brands — including Home Pride, Merita, and Nature's Pride — that used to belong to the now-defunct Hostess, but since it appears that no other bidders are going to show up for this whole-wheat party, Bloomberg reports a crusted source tells them the Thomasville, Georgia-based Flowers Foods will snap the brand up for $360 million, which sure is a lot of bread. We're now, of course, just counting down the days till PBR buys Twinkies. [Bloomberg, Earlier, Related]

Red Bread Going Brick-and-Mortar in Culver City

Red Bread's organic spread of spiced butternut squash buns and sage marshmallowsPhoto: Javier Cabral

Red Bread, natural foods advocate Rose Lawrence's Venice-based, social-justice pushing bakery with a stand in the Santa Monica Farmers Market, is establishing a brick-and-mortar space in Culver City. Sustainably strapped with wild yeast, compostable packaging, and a bicycle, Red Bread delivers its sourdoughs, Russian black and whole wheat breads, cookies, toast, custards, and bread puddings to several Westside zip codes, with a cut of all proceeds going to L.A. Food Bank.

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IACP Awards Food Writing Finalists Announced

The International Association of Culinary Professionals announced the finalists for its annual food writing awards this morning. Nominees include the heavy-hitting Bouchon Bakery cookbook, but also Nancy Singleton Hachisu's excellent Japanese Farm Food and Naomi Duguid's great Burma: Rivers of Flavor. Friend of Grub Street Ian Knauer got a nod for The Farm, and the always thoughtful Rebecca Flint Marx was recognized for her "Modern Love"-esque, Gilt Taste essay "From Sex Cake to Spurned Salad," which you should go read right now. [IACP, PDF]

Mother and Daughter Crack Coca-Cola’s Bottle Cap Contest


A family of computer criminals manipulated Coca-Cola's bottle cap contest and ended up costing the company over $200,000. After Carrie and Sarah Jones from Albany, Oregon, figured out the winning codes, which awarded prizes such as concert tickets and gift cards, they grouped their earnings and sold them on eBay. The women have to pay Coca-Cola back $50,000, but no one's quite sure how much they actually made off the prizes, as they claimed thousands (thousands!) of codes. Kind of genius, no? This is like a modern-day version of Heartbreakers. [HuffPo]

Are These the Six Best Ramen Shops in the Country?


Food writer Keizo Shimamoto is a ramen obsessive: Exhibit A is his blog Go Ramen! and the tangential claim that he's "probably slurped more bowls of ramen than any other American." The peripatetic noodle guy is now also the subject of Michael McAteer's short documentary Ramen Dreams, an odyssey of broth and chashu. Shimamoto has been hitting up East and West Coast shops in the last year, and in no particular order, he tells the Asia Society's Asia Blog that his current top five are Totto Ramen in Manhattan, Dassara Ramen in Brooklyn, Tsujita in L.A., Shoki Ramen House in Sacramento, and Foo-Foo Tei in Hacienda Heights. Though not a dedicated ramen shop, Grant Achatz's high-end Chicago bar Aviary ranks as a bonus pick, if only for its "molecular ramen." [Asia Blog]

Watch This Homemade Robot Go to Town on an Oreo Cookie

Portland-based artist, copywriter, and Rube Goldberg machine builder David Neevel lost out on some quality time with his dog, risked cold hands, and skipped some potentially good lunches all in service of building this robot that separates the cookie portion of Oreo cookies from the cream, which Neevel dislikes and dispatches with an automated hatchet. It's a Nabisco ad, of course, but a fun one. "I don't have a catchphrase for my machine," he says. "But I guess if it did have one, it could be something like 'let's get that cream out of there,' or like, 'this cream's no good let's get it off the cookies,' or something."

Let's see what this baby can do. »

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