Self-aggrandizing users of a certain restaurant review website surely deserved the takedown brought by South Park’s “You’re Not Yelping,” but the truth is that rating systems and photo shoutouts are pivotal in our increasingly-connected world. Digital word-of-mouth is a launchpad for publicity, and can even help restauranteurs scale back on traditional marketing expenses. This lower-risk climate is ushering the arrival of new dining concepts like adventurous fusion and dynamic pop-ups. East Hollywood’s cult favorite Baroo is a bit of both; incorporating charming decor, picture-perfect plating, and dishes that present today’s most exciting ingredients in never-before-Instagrammed pairings.
Los Angeles has long been hailed the frozen yogurt capital of the United States, thanks to self-serve outlets popping up at every strip mall in the metro area after Pinkberry launched in 2005. Finally a new trend has emerged, ripping through neighborhoods as quickly as the phrases “bone broth” and “are those peanuts non-GMO?” spread and saturate Los Angeles vernacular. Storefronts across town are now dispensing dairy-free yogurt that celebrates the intersection of the city’s two major scenes: health and indulgence. The result is a low-guilt treat that satisfies the most decadent cravings, without having to question just what’s in those chalky powdered mixes behind the counter at ‘Froyoluv."
No movie defines Los Angeles like Short Cuts. Based on nine short stories and a poem by Raymond Carver, the film ushered director Robert Altman back into the mainstream after years of poorly-reviewed films.
The cast alone is larger than life – Julianne Moore, Huey Lewis, Tom Waits, Lyle Lovett, Robert Downey Jr., Lilli Taylor AND Lily Tomlin, Frances McDormand, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jack Lemmon, Chris Penn, Tim Robbins, Andie MacDowell, and Madeleine Stowe are just a few.
In a city known for its vibrant, ever-growing culinary landscape, eating habits are often categorized by neighborhood. Ask Los Angeles locals to rattle off a list of preferred restaurants, and it won't be long before the Venice, California food scene comes up. Once disparaged due to decades of neglect and decay, today the sleepy beach community is a world-class dining destination.
Gjelina is often considered the forerunner of change in Venice. The restaurant opened in 2008 yet continues to book reservations months in advance. Chef Travis Lett extended his brand's popularity in 2011 with the launch of a takeaway storefront - GTA - and again in 2014 with delicatessen Gjusta. All three outposts focus on fresh, seasonal items that are simple in presentation yet concentrated in flavor, using labor-of-love preparations that have been immortalized with the publication of Lett's first cookbook.
Once the rainy season lets up, spring breakers from all over the globe travel to Southern California for sun, fun, and Disneyland. While Mickey Mouse fans gnaw smoked turkey legs in the balmy springtime haze, visitors just down the road take part in a different kind of feast: Natural Products Expo West, an event that could be described as the “the Happiest Place on Earth” by health and wellness devotees.
In the summer months, cauliflower needs little embellishment. Simple preparation is best, whether charred on the grill or oven roasted for a cold grain salad. But when the seasons change, cauliflower's versatility truly shines. The vegetable is highly adaptable, and makes a great focal point for hearty wintertime meals: fried in florets and smothered with buffalo sauce, pureed to create a creamy soup base, or sliced into thick “steaks” as a vehicle for flavorful sauces.
It really is true that 'nobody walks in LA' - unless it's to visit one of our bountiful local Farmers' Markets. Each week vendors proudly display their offerings in different neighborhoods around town, showcasing everything from perfect plums to woody mushrooms. Though each market has a unique focus, the weekly event in Hollywood is one of the largest in Los Angeles and takes the cake -- as well as homemade pastries, pies, and tarts, too.
When it's too hot to even think of switching on the oven, I turn to "bread salad." Doesn't matter if this concoction consists of toasted pita and sliced radishes and we’re calling it fattoush, or if I'm whipping up a mustard-based dressing and turning that day-old loaf of ciabatta into panzanella. No matter the name, I'm always sure to use plenty of tomatoes and fresh, fragrant herbs.
Beyond brussels sprouts and cabbage, eggplant tends to be one of the more hated vegetables - er, fruit- simply because it is so misunderstood. A unique member of the nightshade family of plants, eggplant's sinewy, porous texture and thick skin is often a challenge for inexperienced home cooks. Frustrated chefs make the mistake of frying, pre-baking, and boiling eggplant into submission to remove its bitter flavor, when in reality, a simple salt bath is what makes all the difference.
Coachella never piqued my interest, but the annual Los Angeles Beer & Food Festival? I'll gladly wait hours in line to sample items from my favorite restaurants, breweries, and brands. The 6th annual event took place over the weekend at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and over 150 vendors were in attendance. I made the gluttonous mistake of sampling foods from almost every exhibitor, but it's hard to have regrets when you're eating the most delicious plant-based foods from Southern California and beyond.
Millennials are forever a hot target, and recently there have been a slew of articles from The New York Times et al., attempting to get to the bottom of our so-called mystique. You know the type: the lengthy diatribe asking how anyone would be so arrogant as to strive for sufficient work/life balance, or the column with tips for managing the twenty-something set ("How to Block Facebook at the Office"). I did, however, come across an article categorizing Millennial penchant for "instant nostalgia." Now that's a phenomenon I can get behind.
As far as cults go, The Source Family of 1970s Los Angeles was arguably the most attractive and the least vindictive (though having the Mansons right down the road doesn’t really make for fair competition). Led by a pervy but commanding conman who demanded to be called "Father Yod," the group patented their own brand of far-out mysticism preaching the virtues of daily prayer, natural foods, and orgies with "father." This disturbing manifestation was recently the focus of a 2012 documentary produced by Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos. The film illustrates the rise of the freeform commune with clips from the era and current-day interviews, offering a harrowing study on the power of psychological control.