edible los angelesÂŽ Exploring Local Food Culture Season by Season â€˘ No. 6 Fall 2009
Silverton, Batali and Bastianich discuss
Front Yards for Veggies
What's In Your Kitchen, Dodger Food Blogger? back to school edible education how the heritage turkey was hatched
Member of Edible Communities
photographs clockwise from top left: Nathan Hazard; David Guilbert; Diane Cu; Meeno Peluce; Todd Porter; Leah Greenstein
farm to plate
what’s in your kitchen?
boring but important
farmers' market profile
dodger food blogger andre ethier
fisherman john wilson
feeding the community
back of the house
edible art/class act
ask the experts
landscape designed for harvest
the birds and the bees of sky farm red
tea as an ingredient
behind the bottle
one for the road
the art and tastes of artbites
mozza2go green with mario batali, nancy silverton and joe bastianich
la fall: the second spring
24th street school garden
41 fantastic mr. fox’s food flick
fantasy chicken dinner
IN EVERY ISSUE 2 EDITOR’S LETTER 4 EDIBLE LA.COM 6 EDIBLE ADVENTURES 8 NOTABLE EDIBLES 15 THE INTERNET CAFE 16 CHILDREN’S CORNER 28 NUTRITIONIST’S CORNER 63 DIRECTORY 64 LAST CALL
On the Cover: Out of the Fire—Mozza2Go Photograph by Tony Molina; Thank you to Chef Matt Molina at Mozza
Lucy Lean, Editor 2
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Liz Silver Mike Brady Jenny Brady
editorial assistant Agatha French designer
head of sales
contributors Liana Aghajanian Cindy Arora Andrea Arria-Devoe Gail Baral Mario Batali Brooke Burton Amy Christine Nancy Cipes Damien Corbell Diane Cu Jason Deyo Bernard Falkin Judi Gerber Curt Gibbs Jeff Gilfillan Leah Greenstein David Guilbert Kim Haasarud Nathan Hazard
Peter Hunken Nic Johnson Kathy Kottaras Joan McNamara Brian Moyers Gary Paul Nabhan Meeno Peluce Todd Porter Ellen Rose Richard Ruskell Amelia Saltsman Krista Simmons Sienna Spencer Jordan Stephens Lisa Lucas Talbot Carole Topalian Deborah Trainer Vanessa Vaughan Josh Viertel
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! ar nd eI t With A Frie
“Spring forward, fall back” reminds us all to reset our clocks as we mark the passing of yet another season (FYI, daylight saving ends Nov. 1). In a town famous for its endless summer these markers, like the anomaly of seasonal items, are needed to remind us that, however mild, the seasons do follow one to the next. I turn to food to help me transition. As a parent, fall means back to school. A new year (of sorts) calls for resolutions– healthy interesting lunch boxes–and Im more committed than ever to eating local food and knowing where its from. In order to eat well we don’t want our food to travel very far: Apart from the carbon footprint, Mario Batali tells me it just tastes better (page 32). However, this need not be limiting. When I think about eating local produce, my mind starts to travel around the world. The freshest early-fall heirloom tomatoes from my garden can be chopped up for a spicy Mexican salsa or sliced with Mozzarella for a Caprese salad from southern Italy. Food is so much a part of defining a culture and we are so lucky in Los Angeles to have such diversity. There are no language barriers when it comes to taste; you can enjoy a dish without understanding a word of the mother tongue of the chef— although it helps to be able to say thank you! In this issue our Global LA story is all about local Vietnamese food (page 26). So remember to say “Cám őn” when you order your noodles. Food can also transport us through time. Consider the ancient practice of gleaning (page 52). Or play with time and reinvent fall as a second spring with Judi Gerber’s gardening tips (page 36). Better yet, she shares how to put time on hold by saving a tiny seed for next year’s crop. Time stood still when I visited Meeno Peluce and Ilse Ackermann at their inspiring Sky Farm Red, an oasis of sustainability minutes away from downtown LA (page 44). And what about memory? Just think of Proust and his madelines. The sight, smell and then taste of food will induce the biggest leap back in time. One sniff of pumpkin pie and wham! 1994 London, my kitchen. My sisters and I tried very unsuccessfully to make a pumpkin pie from scratch (pumpkin purée recipe page 23). We were all very sick but still laugh about our culinary adventure with a very large, stinky carving pumpkin. I am astonished by the food memories of my children. Last summer in Provence, Minty, 6, announced on the way to the village café that she was ordering the same dessert that she’d had the previous year. Could any of the grownups remember it? She went on to describe in great detail the delicious soft fluffy white mountain floating in a thick creamy yellow custard. She did order it again: Ile flottante! Made from the local farmer’s eggs with yolks as yellow as sunflowers. I want what she’s having, even if it is so last season! Off to the Santa Monica Farmers Market for eggs. Egg farmer Peter have giant emu eggs come Thanksgiving—thats a lot of custard! Schaner tells me hell
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photograph: Tony Molina
Celebrate the 27th Annual
Supporting the Puck-Lazaroff Charitable Foundation to benefit Meals on Wheels programs of Los Angeles.
O C TO B E R 3, 2 0 0 9 at Universal Studios Backlot 6 – 11 PM CELEBRITY CHEFS S P E C TAC U L A R W I N E & S P I R I T TAST I N G S S I L E N T AU C T I O N FA B U LO U S E N T E R TA I N M E N T
Friday O C TO B E R 2, 2 0 0 9
RED HOT at Red Seven
Celebrate an evening of fine wines and spirits, music, and spectacular food. Red Seven 7PM
For tickets and information about the weekend’s events visit W W W. AW F F.O RG
@ ediblela com Hungry for more?
Visit edibleLA.com for local treats we are unable to fit into the magazine.
We are cooking up our own series of exclusive events and adventures that you won’t want to miss.
24th Street Elementary School Garden—The Movie.
(063.&5$)0$0-"5&4 ."%&'30.5)&)&"35 A better tasting chocolate made with less corn syrup and more flavor! Receive a 4oz Assorted Chocolate Pretzels with any order of $15.00!
Think you’ve got a green thumb? Check out the kids at the 24th Street Elementary School Garden. Better than Top Chef, we dare you to make herb tortellini that look that good. Watch and learn.
Recipes In addition to Mario Batali’s rabbit recipe, check out our recipe archive for inspiration from seasons past.
Photographs Space is a premium in print— online we can showcase many more photos.
Eat the Magazine dinner Our dinner at Grace was a resounding success, and judging from the mouthwatering food and lively turnout, our second Eat the Magazine dinner is not to be missed. It’s in the works, to take place at Providence, and Michael Cimarusti’s menu based on the stories in this issue is sure to be delicious. A series of Tea Talks at Algabar tying in to our Tea as an Ingredient story. Scuola di Pizza at Mozza Learn to make pizza with Nancy Silverton whilst drinking Italian and Santa Barbara Italian varietals with Joseph Bastianich. Act quickly, our events
Events If the mood to go out strikes, the Events section of our site lists edible events throughout the city. In addition to the 5X5 Chefs Collaborative, our calendar follows highbrow foodie events like the ArtBites series, children’s cooking classes, opportunities to meet our team and more.
sell out fast!
The Blog Updated goings-on around town on our quest to stay on top of everything sustainable, local and edible in LA. Nancy Cipes' regular farmers’ market report will have you scribbling lists at your desk…
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From top left to right: Guests prepare their rods, David LeFevre (Water Grill) teaches how to shuck
photographs: Meeno Peluce
fishing with chefs: All Aboard the Monte Carlo
oysters, Andrea Cavaliere (Cecconi's) and Domenico DiBartolomeo (Domenico's Artisanal Food) eating Carmela Ice Cream sorbet, Doug, Adam and Edwin from The Bazaar prepare Iberico jamon in the galley, guest with a barracuda, Michael Pietroiacovo (The Truffle Brothers) feeds a seagull, Josiah Citrin (Mélisse) and David LeFevre (Water Grill) make truffle treats, guest with a barracuda, Andrea Cavaliere (Cecconi's) makes gourmet truffle sliders in the galley
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a beer renaissance by brooke burton
~We at edible Los Angeles love beer. Line our initials up and if you spell them backwards you’ll see beer is part of our name (ALE)!~
here’s a renaissance going in the US,” declares Mark Jilg, Craftsman Brewing Company’s award-winning brewer and founder. He’s pouring a glass of his seasonal Oyster Stout for two curious visitors who stopped by to see his newly expanded Pasadena brewery. “Twenty years ago, beer was a monolithic thing,” Jilg explains as he watches the pair savor the nuanced flavors and minerality imparted by oyster shells used during the brewing process. “Now beer is a blank slate. You have the freedom to do whatever you want.” And with just a few sips of a handmade Craftsman beer, two wine drinkers are transformed into beer lovers. Once a Jet Propulsion Laboratory photo technician, Jilg now enjoys the science of brewing. “If you want a consistent product you gotta taste it and take notes.” Thanks to the recent 1,500-square-foot expansion of the Craftsman facilities in Pasadena, the man some beer aficionados call the best brewer in LA finally has the space to do everything he wants. For the first time in the company’s 14 years, Craftsman is now in the bottling business.
Thirsty Angelenos can now buy 22-ounce bottles of the Craftsman 1903—a pre-Prohibition-style malt lager—as well as corked Bordeaux-style half-bottles of the spicy Craftsman Triple White Sage and the Honest Ale directly from select retailers like Red Carpet Wines and Spirits in Glendale and The Wine House in West LA. What makes Craftsman spark a beer renaissance in Southern California? LA beer connoisseurs extol Craftsman’s subtle flavors as reason enough for the beers’ popularity. Jilg handcrafts his awarding-winning Heavenly Hefe, fruity Orange Grove Ale and Smoked Black Lager with flavor and character in mind. And with just three employees making, selling and delivering the beer within two or three days of brewing, Craftsman has an untarnished freshness that many breweries cannot maintain. “Beer is fragile,” Jilg remarks. “Shipping across country and leaving a beer on a shelf for a long time can do a lot to change the way a beer tastes.” With a waiting list of more than 20 restaurants eager to sell his beer, Jilg appreciates Craftsman’s popularity. “It’s sobering when you realize how many people there are that want your beer. When you have a great product and a niche market, you can find yourself catapulted into a huge market.” Even with the growth of his brewery, Jilg is careful to take things slow. Increasing production at Craftsman isn’t as simple as doubling a recipe. Jilg’s brewing process changes daily as he attempts to create a consistent product with inconsistent elements and ingredients. “It’s difficult to maintain scale. It’s not about a recipe. It’s about a palate.” Even as Jilg increases his workload, this perpetually chipper man can’t help but get excited about his newest project: sour beer. “It’s the final frontier,” he offers. “You wanna try it?” The couple eagerly nods as Jilg scurries off to the cooler to get another sample. There couldn’t be a better time to be a beer lover in Los Angeles. Craftsman Brewing Company 1260 Lincoln Ave, Unit 100 Pasadena 91103 626-296-ALES (2537)
brooke burton writes for LA Weekly's food blog, Squid Ink, Haute Life Press, LAist, Urban Spoon and edible LA's food blog. She is the writer behind FoodWoolf.com and is the co-author of the Food Blog Code of Ethics. 8
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photographs: Brooke Burton
For a complete listing of retail and restaurant locations offering Craftsman beers, see craftsmanbrewing.com
The Farmer’s Kitchen
photograph: Carole Topalian
by leah greenstein
typical Sunday at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market this time of year reveals tables teeming with plump heirloom tomatoes—crimson and ruby, lemon yellow and chartreuse, striped and solid. Butternut and acorn squash, figs, pomegranates and apples abound too. But what happens to the leftover produce at the end of the day? Before the Farmer’s Kitchen opened last spring, much of it ended up on the compost pile. These days, some of that produce is turned into delicious lunches and brunches at the Farmer’s Kitchen, a café and retail space at the corner of Selma and Morningside Court. Started by Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA), the community development organization that manages the Hollywood Farmers’ Market and six others, including Echo Park, Lemon Grove and Watts, the Farmer’s Kitchen is a weeklong showcase for the bounty of the farmers’ markets. And while many LA restaurants are dedicated to highlighting Alex Weiser’s potatoes or McGrath Family Farm greens, the Farmer’s Kitchen actually helps ensure those markets’ longevity. Walter Smith, son of Pompea Smith, who started SEE-LA some 30 years ago and the sweat equity
behind the café, says, “We source a lot of product from some of the lower-income markets, which helps support the farmers there,” crucial at a time when access to fresh fruits and vegetables is still rare in some of these neighborhoods. The Farmer’s Kitchen is also about education through eating. All of those delicious things on the menu this time of year, from the Sugar Baby pumpkins to the Moroccan squash, are prepared in ways that help the community understand what to do with some of the more unusual produce when they get it home from the market. Kitchen visitors can also stock up their pantries with goodies designed to preserve the incredible flavor of local ingredients to enjoy year-round. The Metro racks and fridges there are stocked with delectable fare like Farmer’s Kitchen Marinara and Ha’s Apple Cider, pumpkin butter, vegetable leathers and dried heirloom beans, all from vendors at the area’s markets. If you’re patient, you may even get the opportunity to crunch on the long-rumored Weiser potato chips, which are said to be coming soon. Proceeds from the café and these products are reinvested in SEE-LA and the participating farmers, helping further the over-arching goal of creating a sustainable urban food system. If all those delicious edibles weren’t enough, the Farmer’s Kitchen intends to build on SEE-LA’s educational mission by offering community workshops in everything from food preservation to oyster shucking. Chef Gill Boyd is coordinating back-of-the-house externships for Cordon Bleu and Cal Poly Pomona students, giving them a great opportunity to experience a sustainable kitchen. Once the externship program is established, the Farmer’s Kitchen will also offer job training in the food service industry to needy people in the community. And Chef E, whom you may remember from his days at the Viper Room, focuses his energy on special projects, particularly catering, bringing farm-fresh produce to movie lots and corporate dinners. The Farmer’s Kitchen 1550 Vine St #19 (Sunset + Vine Building at the corner of Selma and Morningside Court) Los Angeles 90028
Tuesday–Friday 11 am–3 pm and Sunday, 7 am–2 pm hollywoodfarmerskitchen.org
always see people picking from this tree but never knew what it was,” says Silver Lake resident Mary Rasmussen as she reaches for a kumquat from the golden-leaved tree across the street from her home. This was our first urban harvest, and while we’d expected an artfully drawn map of the neighborhood printed from the internet to lead the way, what we didn’t expect was how much we’d find on Mary’s block alone. The first project by Los Angeles art/activist collective Fallen Fruit, the guide in our hands mapped “public fruit”-
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bearing trees between the Silver Lake homes of members Matias Viegener, David Burns and Austin Young. By California law, “public fruit” refers to any fruit from trees growing in—or merely hanging over—public spaces. While the picking of this fruit may feel a bit taboo, Fallen Fruit views it as a virtually untapped and invaluable community resource. Conceived five years ago in response to a call for submissions from the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, Fallen Fruit “in a way had a solution before a problem,” says Viegener. The ethical code of public fruit picking branded their outlook: Take only what you need, say “hi” to strangers, share your food, take a friend and go by foot. After publishing several more fruit maps of other Los Angeles neighborhoods (all printable via the group’s website), Fallen Fruit found that its focus became more social, its energy most devoted to organizing nocturnal fruit forages, communal public fruit jam-making events, fruit park proposals, guerrilla fruit tree plantings and nonstop conceptual “propaganda.” “It was always about the fruit,” Viegener says, adding that “it’s more about the connections among people through the vehicle of fruit,” in the end. Regarding the future of these popular neighborhood fruit maps, Fallen Fruit promotes a DIY approach: Start by looking around you. “Our goal is not just to show where the fruit is; our goal is to get people to explore their neighborhoods.” fallenfruit.org nathan hazard lives and eats in Los Angeles. He writes about tasty things in his blog The Chocolate of Meats. chocomeat.com
photographs: Nathan Hazard
by NATHAN HAZARD
Fallen Fruit of Silverlake
map by vanessa vaughan spring: summer: fall: winter: year-round:
guavas, cactus apples, bananas, figs, grapes, nectarines, peaches, plums carob, persimmons, walnuts passion fruit, pomegranates avocados, lemons, limes, oranges
vegetarian and vegan royalty by nancy cipes
ward-winning chef Michael Mina opened his 14th restaurant and his first in Los Angeles, the “high concept” XIV on the Sunset Strip, last October. Decorated in the style of Louis XIV, it is chateau chic, and diners are treated like royalty. The high concept here is social dining. To Mina the idea is “to have an incredible meal with friends and great conversation all night.” The restaurant is designed with Angelenos in mind, perfecting vegetarian and vegan menus that mirror the main menu so that people can dine together and socialize freely no matter how they choose to eat. At XIV guests can order a la carte, choose their own dishes, or have the chef select a tasting menu of 8 or 11 dishes or the “14 experience.” “People are tricky here,” admits Executive Chef Steven Fretz. “They spend more time outdoors, they’re more health conscious and they eat better. So we designed a menu with dishes that are ‘user friendly’ for vegetarians and vegans. “Mina’s famous caviar parfait appetizer, for example, is recreated for the non-meat-eaters with seeds from a Japanese pine tree. It looks exactly like caviar when it’s marinated in tamari,” Fretz says. Ahi tuna tartare on one menu is offered as turnip 12
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class citizens! XIV also features seasonal farmers’ market salads that range from classic to cutting edge, as in peach and heirloom tomato with watercress and manchego cheese. According to Michael Mina, “fresh, local and organic ingredients absolutely create the most flavorful dish.” Fretz agrees. He works closely with his “produce guy,” who scouts the state for the best fruit and vegetables. “I can trace back everything I buy to its origin,” says Fretz, “so I know I am getting the best possible product on the planet.” The bottom line is that at Michael Mina restaurants “we don’t say no,” Fretz says emphatically. “If you want a vegetarian or vegan meal, if you want your fish steamed and your vegetables prepared without oil or butter, we’re going to give you exactly what you want with a smile on our face. And it’s going to be the most delicious food you’ve ever eaten.”
nancy cipes is a Los Angeles County Master Gardener and a Certified Edible Landscape Designer. She can be reached at organicediblegardens.com.
photograph: Karl Petzke
tartare on the others, and the foie gras terrine is replaced with one made of pine nuts, but both versions come with rhubarb mostarda, saba and flatbread. There are nine vegetarian entrées and eight vegan, all of them incorporating many of the same ingredients found on the full menu. Sweet potato hash with grilled pineapple, cornbread and star anise mimics the duck entrée, and the chickpeas and raita that are served alongside the lamb dish are paired with a grilled vegetable skewer instead. “I wanted to make sure,” says Mina, “that the vegan and vegetarian menus matched the full menu in flavors, texture and satisfaction.” Finally, a four-star restaurant where vegans and vegetarians aren’t treated like second-
CHAI: A Taste of India in Venice by liana aghajanian
photograph: Liana Aghajanian
n a secluded, low-traffic alleyway along Venice Beach, amid the tourists and wave chasers, between a sushi stand and a gyro house, sits Bombay Indian Cuisine, the very definition of a hole in the wall. The wind is strong on this peculiarly breezy Los Angeles day carrying with it the potential to whet a passerby’s appetite for some warm, wholesome Indian food. Owner Mohinder Singh is alone today. Fresh from a swim a couple walks up and orders two servings of lamb curry. Singh, a soft-spoken man, rings up the sale and immediately begins cooking, mixing the tender pieces of meat with delicate yet pungent spices, all the while snatching glimpses of an anticipated game of basketball on a small television mounted overhead. The menu carries familiar Indian favorites: samosas for under a dollar; mango lassi—“India’s smoothie”—for $2.99; chicken curry with rice for $4.99. But look beyond the entrées and combos, and the most inconspicuous yet delectable item on the menu appears: chai, or Masala chai as it is traditionally known, a hot beverage made with brewed tea, milk and cardamom, ginger, cloves or cinnamon. The history of chai is a long one, with some mixtures (derived from Ayurvedic medical texts) that claim to support the immune system and contain anti-stress properties. Singh, however, uses a family recipe for his chai, which isn’t prepared from a tea bag or by a machine with more buttons that you care to count, but with a simple black pot on a hot stove, something that reminds you of home. He boils the water, then adds the tea leaves just long enough to release their flavor and after a few moments, in go a slew of spices, followed by a generous helping of whole milk. The flavors: a hint of ginger, a smidgeon of black and fresh green cardamom, which Singh grinds right before your eyes. The spices dance around your mouth like a Bollywood number and linger there until your next sip. Forget the so-called chai at your cookie-cutter coffee shop, forego the mix sold in the market, this is what real chai should taste like. Unsurprisingly, Singh, clad in a blue plaid shirt and traditional Sikh turban, used to be a chef at Nawab on Wilshire Boulevard and the now-closed Gaylord India Restaurant in Beverly Hills. His small shop in Venice caters to a wider variety of customers: “Some American, some Mexican, others from
Norway and London,” he says. Though coffee isn’t popular in India, chai is revered and Singh’s reasoning as to why so many people love the sweet yet spicy beverage is because of its invigorating properties. “People drink chai because of the cold, because they’re tired, to try and wake themselves up,” he says, whilst pouring milk in a pan of lamb curry that’s sizzling in the background. “Drink some chai and you’ll be ready to go after that.” Having had his shop for about 11 years, Singh’s main issue with his location is the lack of proper seating for customers but that doesn’t stop them from telling him how much they love his delicious tea. This irresistible beverage, whose popularity extends well beyond India to the rest of the world, seems to have found an ambassador in the tucked away corners of Venice Beach. Bombay Indian Cuisine 1301 Ocean Front Walk Venice 90291 liana aghajanian is a journalist who writes and edits for a number of online and print publications, in addition to working full time as a content editor by day. She can be found at writepudding.com
o you’ve hit the hot list of restaurants during the hyped-up LA openings but you feel disconnected from the chef and distant from the other diners—a little snubbed, even. Put off by the chilly receptions and designer dishware, you crave intimacy and escape to your neighborhood farmers’ market. You like talking to your friendly farmer about seasonality and no-spray signs. Every week, you enjoy chatting up new friends while sharing different preparations for okra. But who will cook up this booty you have purchased? And you can’t drink at the market in the middle of the day. You are culinarily restless. Like a food addict illin’ for the next big fix, you want more, bigger, better—different. Introducing the Underground Dining Experience, brought to you by Amy Jurist, as well as other rogue LA chefs who want to hijack you and your plus one to a pirate restaurant for a night. Unique? Check. Foodie community? Here they are. Unlimited wine? But, of course. This new adventure in dining is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced and each night is a one-of-a-kind encounter, never to be duplicated. The menu, the company, even the setting is subject to change, and you are grateful to be part of this intangible feeling, this enchanting
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event. You arrive at the recently disclosed location, an amazing private space: perhaps a hip West Hollywood penthouse, a mid-century Modern home in the hills with city light views or the al fresco dining area of a Brentwood mansion, cooled by the onshore breeze of the Pacific. You might feel awkward at first, especially if you’re alone, but don’t panic! The appetizers start coming to comfort you along with Prosecco, whose bubbles swirl up into your nostrils and let you know that the party has started. But what is this party, exactly? Looking around, it seems pleasant, yet unfamiliar. Are you at a wedding reception? A cocktail party? Sort of, although the guests are too enthralled with the food and are extremely enthusiastic about meeting each other. A restaurant? Not really; there are 80 guests and you end up sitting with several strangers for the entire evening and everyone is eating the same five-course meal. New friends bond over a wide range of cool conversation topics: LA restaurants, your children, social networking, art, RSS feeds, food allergies, where everyone is from, the meal you are devouring. You laugh happily as you pass water jugs and almost-empty bottles of wine up and down the table, while the volunteer kitchen staff of professionals are expressing their creative freedom with each dish. They plate proudly, remembering how far they’ve come from first putting on these events—just breaking even with family and friends. But now, their reputation is growing, with a string of popular evenings like The Mushroom Experience, and before that, Euro-Decadence. But the talk of the wandering supper club scene is the infamous Bacon Affair, with those lucky enough to have been in attendance back in the spring still licking their lips as they brag. Yes, you will be back in six weeks for the next one, regardless of the evening’s cuisine theme. Until then, your stomach (and your mind) might remain…restless. log onto: amysculinaryadventures.com and theghet.com
photograph: Caroline on Crack
Pssst…Buddy—Wanna Go to a Food Rave? by sienna spencer
boring but important
No Choke: Quick Action Can Save a Life by cindy arora
Internet Café by jordan stephens
[In the interest of integrity I would like to disclose that I will be a contributing writer for Zester Daily. My involvement in the LA food community afforded me this opportunity but not until after I had assigned the piece did this come about. LL]
Zesterdaily.com is the newest foodie website on the block and
it hits us right where it counts: our bellies and our brains. With content that’s sure to make you salivate, Zester is more than just a site about food, it’s a news source for all things delicious. The articles are as eclectic as the experienced journalists who write them, covering everything from cooking to wine to health topics to gardening and even food policy in politics. The celebration of food is an attitude that permeates the site, but it’s the community they are developing that is the real strength. With a host of personal pages and blogs, the site is not just writergenerated, it is its users, as readers can come to the site and share ideas directly with an article’s author and build relationships. Whether you’re hungry for a tasty new recipe or want to get the scoop on a new restaurant in town you’ll always find an open seat at Zester Daily. LA.Foodblogging.com If you’re looking for something a little closer to home, LA.Foodblogging is just the ticket. As the name implies, this site is a collective of Los Angeles–based food enthusiasts and bloggers who are passionate about sharing their food experiences. The site centers on dining locally and is filled with beautiful images and thoughtfully written restaurant reviews. It’s very easy to navigate, with each post being conveniently categorized by any of a number of criteria: region, course, meal, beverage, cuisine type, etc. An interesting element about this site is that the reviewers are writing content on their own; honesty is their code of honor because they’re sharing something they love. Goodgoings.com There is something so quintessentially LA about taco trucks and even more so is the difficulty people have finding them. Well, worry no more, searchers of sabor! Good Goings is dedicated to street food and serves as an online documentation to find the best taco trucks that our city has to offer. The site itself maybe simple but it’s a great resource for planning that late-night snack. Best of all, they don’t just limit themselves to tacos; they find and review all types of street food. A recent post even had a link to some of the more popular trucks’ Twitter feeds. This site is the perfect way to stay in the know about where to find the best “fast food” in town.
Chef Tom Colicchio—a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef— received the title of “hero” earlier this year after he saved the life of a cookbook writer who took a generous bite from a sandwich and nearly choked to death at a dinner party. Luckily Colicchio was able to step in, perform the Heimlich maneuver and a deadly dining disaster was averted. Yet, how many of us—outside of reality television superstardom—would actually know what to do if someone suddenly had their hands clutched at their throat flashing the universal sign for choking? According to the Red Cross of America, choking is a common breathing emergency that takes the lives of 3,000 people a year. Here are some signs to alert you that someone is choking, and the recommended steps to perform the Heimlich maneuver. If you are choking never go off to a quiet place—make a fuss to get help. Signs of choking
Hands on throat Cannot speak or breathe Turns blue Collapses on floor Steps for Heimlich maneuver: 1. From behind, wrap your arms around the victim’s waist. 2. Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against the victim’s upper abdomen below the ribcage and above the navel. 3. Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into their upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust. Do not squeeze the ribcage; confine the force of the thrust to your hands. 4. Repeat until object is expelled. Performing the Heimlich maneuver on yourself: 1. Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against your upper abdomen, below the ribcage and above the navel. 2. Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into your upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust. 3. Repeat until object is expelled. 4. Alternatively, you can lean over a fixed horizontal object (table edge, chair, railing) and press your upper abdomen against the edge to produce a quick upward thrust. Courtesy of Heimlich Institute
jordan stephens moved out to Los Angeles five years ago following his dream to be a professional writer. He has yet to wake.
take a lesson — information at redcrossla.org
Any kid (or grownup) who’s ever suffered a hot-dog-and-ice-cream bellyache can appreciate the message behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Too much of a good thing is hazardous to your health. But with childhood obesity at the top of public health concerns, the beloved bedtime story about a town where food falls from the sky strikes a particularly relevant chord today. First published in 1982, the clas-
sic story gets the Hollywood treatment with the fall release of the 3-D animated movie. In this retelling, the story centers on kooky inventor Flint Lockwood. When his hometown Swallow Falls hits hard times, food becomes scarce and everyone is forced to eat sardines. Lockwood literally bites off more than he can chew when he creates a machine that converts water into food—and it actually works. Ambitious weather
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, from Sony Pictures Animation, opens in theatres September 18, 2009.
intern Sam Sparks gets her big break by being the first to report on a heaven-sent cheeseburger rain. Lockwood becomes the town hero. Sparks is catapulted to weathergirl fame. Everyone is in business until the food machine becomes out of control, threatening to destroy the world. Hmm. Calling the movie the kids’ version of Food, Inc. might be a stretch but the notion isn’t too far from the truth. Like Lockwood, agribusinesses like Monsanto started out (innocently enough) with a dream of fixing the problem of hunger through science. Ultimately, the experiment went wrong and now massive portions (at lower costs) are the enemy. Unfortunately, getting agribusiness to take responsibility for this food crisis isn’t as easy a fix as a Hollywood act break. Young moviegoers will most likely focus on Lockwood’s monkey sidekick and flying pancakes. If nothing else, parents can expect a good forecast for dinner: sunny with a newfound appreciation for green veggies.
My Lunch Box Printed on individual recipe cards, these packed lunch recipes provide the perfect opportunity to teach kids the value and rewards of inventive, healthy meals. No PB&J or soggy crustless creations to speak of, My Lunch Box contains 50 recipes for crunchy salads, exciting mains and healthy treats. Developed by Hilary Shevlin Karmilowicz, a former chef and current mother, My Lunch Box packs a healthy dose of homemade brain food; just think of it as nutrition class. $16.95 from the marketplace at edibleLA.com and local stores. (Chronicle Books, 2009; Illustrated by Rebecca Bradley)
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image (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) courtesy of Sony Pictures, 2009; image: Hilary Shevlin Karmilowicz, illustrations: Minty Rachou + Penelope Thornton
You Got Served: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Food, Inc. for Kids? by andrea arria-devoe
*In 1981 ketchup was classified as a vegetable.
Back to School Health Care Reform Starts at School by josh viertel, president, Slow Food USA
To learn more about how you can get involved and take action both before and after the Child Nutrition Act is passed visit slowfoodusa.org/index.php/campaign/time_for_lunch
not provide a healthy meal with only a dollar to spend on ingredients. Congress should raise that rate by a dollar per child per day, so that schools have at least $2 for each child’s meal. That would grant schools the ability to serve kids real food: food that tastes good, is good for them, is good for local economies and is good for the planet. It would make a down payment on health insurance reform, and it would begin to build a new foundation for our children’s health. It would also be the right thing to do. There’s no excuse for federal policy that hurts our children. Our country needs a Child Nutrition Act that benefits kids, not one that makes them sick. The health of the nation depends on it.
here is a bill on Congress’ agenda this year that has the potential to dramatically reduce health care costs, but you probably haven’t heard it mentioned very often this summer. It’s called the Child Nutrition Act, and since 1946 versions of it have governed the food that most American children eat for lunch every school day. A provision in the bill gives Congress the opportunity to update it every four to five years, and this year happens to be one of them (it expires September 30). Though the bill affects the lives of 30 million American children, Congress usually passes it very quietly, in pretty much the same form as it previously did. This year, we can’t let that happen. Not while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is telling us that one in four children is overweight or obese, and one in three will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime. Not while obesity now costs the nation $147 billion per year, about half of that in the form of Medicaid and Medicare, paid for by taxpayers. We can’t rein in health care costs while the obesity epidemic continues to spiral out of control, and we can’t prevent obesity while our schools continue to feed kids fast food and junk food for lunch. Right now, the Child Nutrition Act gives schools $2.57 for each meal they serve to a child whose family makes under $28,665 a year. After paying for equipment and labor, that amount leaves most schools with only $1 per child to purchase food. Even the most well-intentioned school food director can-
josh viertel is president of Slow Food USA, which seeks to create a dramatic and lasting change in the food system. Slow Food USA envisions a world in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it and good for the planet.
Known as the snailwrangler in Slow Food circles, lisa lucas talbot is the coleader of Slow Food Los Angeles. She shares with us what is happening on a local level in early September and beyond: Slow Food Los Angeles is joining the Time For Lunch “ campaign by working with schools, businesses, and individuals to press for changes in the Child Nutrition Act. In addition to sponsoring six Labor Day “eat-ins” in and around Los Angeles, local efforts will focus on working with area schools on educational programs and on letting Congressional representatives know that getting real food into schools is a priority. For news and information about local programs, visit www.slowfoodla.com/ timeforlunch/ Some of the local organizations that are generously supporting the local eat-ins include: USC Childhood Obesity Research Center, Whole Foods locations in and around Los Angeles, Homegirl Café, Garden School Foundation, Fancifull Gift Baskets and Fine Foods, Milagro Allegro Community Garden, Spiraling Orchard Art Park, Jennie Cooks and Reyhan Persian Grill.
The Spoons words and art by
We call ourselves The Spoons. We’re a cooking club of 13 women who meet every two months to share great food and friendship. The club began about five years ago when Ellen Rose, founder of the recently closed Cook’s Library, decided to gather together some of her diverse friends and devoted customers, all passionate Los Angeles cooks. We take turns hosting the meetings in our homes every other month. We select one cookbook or theme and each person makes one or two recipes.
(This month’s theme is cooking from the farmers’ market for fall; many of us are using The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook by Amelia Saltsman, who incidentally is one of our newest members). Unfortunately, we don’t cook together, that would be a logistical nightmare, but dishes are finished and beautifully presented on site.
Sitting down to one of these meals is a truly awesome experience, and we end by having an informal critique—discussing what worked, what didn’t, and which recipes need to be tweaked. Then we choose a book for our next event. What’s really special about The Spoons is how close we’ve become over the years. As in any good marriage, flexibility is important, and egos are left at the door. Somehow we end every dinner by saying “This really was the best one
The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook Reviewed by ellen rose
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I have often been at a farmers’ market and admired the beautiful displays of ramps, epizote and bumbleberries but had no idea how to prepare them. Then, I found the perfect book: Amelia Saltsman’s The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook. Saltsman, a writer, teacher and television host, wrote and self-published her love story about one of the oldest markets in Los Angeles—established over two decades ago: the Wednesday farmers’ market in Santa Monica. The recipes in her book apply to all the farmers’ markets in and around Los Angeles, and to the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables that they provide all year long. She has written over a 100 delicious and easy recipes that take advantage of the huge selection of seasonal produce, including poultry, beef, pork and fish. Amelia has known most of
the generous and hard-working farmers supplying the wonderful array of food at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market for over 20 years. She knows them personally and tells their stories. Saltsman also guides us in how to shop, explains plant terms and gives us a long list of recipes for every season. Get your copy of The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook, gather your ingredients at the market and try the Summery Zucchini-Lemon soup—great all year long. Or turn to my favorite, Chicken Legs with Kumquats, Prunes and Green Olives. I have made this several times and it is simple, fun to make and addictive. This is a wonderful book to guide shoppers through the seasons, in Santa Monica and beyond.
photographs: Deborah Trainer and Gail Baral
yet.” The Spoons name comes from one of my favorite possessions: a silver spoon from 19th century Philadelphia, which my mother-in-law gave to me. It’s perfectly balanced, a pleasure to hold, and I cook with it every night.
chicken legs with kumquats, prunes and green olives Makes 6 to 8 servings Winter + Spring ½
pound prunes, or 6 ounces pitted prunes
cup boiling water
tablespoon olive oil
3½ pounds whole chicken legs
(drumstick and thigh) Kosher or sea salt and freshly
ground black pepper 1
large onion, chopped
large clove garlic, finely
cup dry white wine
cup mild green olives such as
Adams Olive Ranch Manzanillo About ½ cup chicken stock
Used with permission from The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes, and Stories from the Market and Farm by Amelia Saltsman (Blenheim Press, 2007)
Harissa (optional) Pour the boiling water over the prunes to soften, about 15 minutes. Drain and use scissors to pit and quarter the prunes. Quarter the kumquats lengthwise, remove the seeds and center pith, and if you feel energetic, cut the quarters in half again lengthwise. Set the prunes and
kumquats aside. In a wide pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, add the chicken pieces, season with salt and pepper, and brown, turning as needed, until golden on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. Pour off all but 1 to 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion. Stir well, scraping the pan bottom to loosen the brown bits, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, stir, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the wine, raise the heat to medium, and cook, stirring to deglaze the pot, until the liquid is reduced by slightly more than half, about 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and add the prunes, kumquats, olives and a little salt and pepper. Stir, cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add ¼ cup of the stock, stir (the sauce develops as the chicken cooks) and simmer covered until the chicken is very tender, about 1 hour, basting occasionally with the sauce and adding stock if needed to keep the chicken half submerged in the sauce. The dish may be made a day ahead and reheated. Serve with the harissa.
farro penne with winter greens, potatoes and cheese Makes 6 servings Autumn + Winter 1
cup olive oil
head escarole or 2 bunches
Swiss chard, beet tops or other
quick-cooking green 2
large cloves garlic, minced
Kosher or sea salt and freshly
ground black pepper ½
pound farro or whole-wheat
pound waxy potatoes such as
French Fingerling, peeled and
cut into 1-inch cubes ¼
pound Fontina or Gouda cheese
such as Winchester mild, cut
into ½-inch cubes
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a deep skillet or wide pot large enough to accommodate the pasta, sauté the onion in the oil over medium heat until translucent and soft, 5 to 7 minutes. While the onion is cooking, wash but don’t dry the greens and roughly chop them, discarding any tough stem ends. You should have about 8 cups. Add the garlic to the onion, stir and cook until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the greens, a little salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir a few times to help wilt the greens, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir a couple of times during cooking and add a bit of water if the pan seems dry. Meanwhile, add the pasta and potatoes to the boiling water and cook until the pasta is al dente and the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta so it is still dripping, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water. Stir the pasta and potatoes into the cooked greens, adding a little of the pasta water if the mixture seems dry or stiff. Season to taste with salt and generously with pepper. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese until melted and creamy, and serve.
farmers’ market profile
fisherman John Wilson
joan’s molasses cookies By Joan McNamara, owner of Joan’s on Third
cups dark brown sugar
cup molasses cups all-purpose flour
teaspoons baking soda
teaspoons ground ginger
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs slowly, one by one. Add molasses. Add dry ingredients last. Combine. Take one rounded tablespoon of batter and form into ball. Dip in water, shake off excess water and quickly toss in bowl of sugar. Place on parchment. Bake at 325° for 11 minutes. Note: The trick to making this cookie with lots of crackly sugar is to quickly dip the ball in cold water and coat with sugar. This cookie can also be frozen after baking. They’re especially wonderful warm from the oven. Why not get together a group of friends and start your own cooking club? Food, friendships and fun just like The Spoons. Please write to us and let us know all about it.
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When John Wilson started crab and lobster fishing nearly 30 years ago, he thought his biggest adversary was going to be Mother Nature. While she does put up her share of fights—currents that pull the orange buoys he uses to mark his traps underwater, 25-foot swells, 30-knot winds and crashing waves—the hardest part may be battling how little people value his work these days. According to John, a tall, 40-ish man with the tousled, slightly graying sun-bleached hair of a surfer, sea smoke eyes and the get-it-while-you-can philosophy of someone who works at the whims of nature, there are only 67 active rock crab fisherman left in California and fewer than 80 lobster fisherman. “We get swallowed up by the system that’s trying to put us all out,” John told me one afternoon whilst out on his boat, the Sea Fever. “There really are not any major, big fisherman anymore in this state; there used to be, but like I said, the regulations have become so strict and severe and the cost of fuel and doing business in this state so expensive, it has made it unsustainable.” Then there’s harbor drama. On the day I went out with John he got a phone call from the harbormaster telling him that he needed to move his slip that night. The Sea Fever, a 45-foot workboat with no bathroom, just a bucket in the cabin down below, has the yellow-slicker feel of old New England. It doesn’t quite blend in with the rows of shiny white yachts and sportfishing boats at the harbor, and his neighbors were complaining that the boat occasionally smelled like bait. The move to the new slip at the outer reaches of the harbor, nearly a mile away from his current one near the parking lot, would add at least another
photographs: (cookies) Deborah Trainer; (John Wilson) Leah Greenstein
by leah greenstein
to get to LA from his home in Santa Ynez a little easier. The $4 a pound he can get for the crab, and the ability to connect with consumers and rebuild excitement for our local bounty, makes the trek worthwhile. Before he started selling at the farmersâ€™ markets (he also works Solvang and Carpenteria) most of his catch went to a distributor who sold it to large Asian markets in LA, paying just $1.28 a pound. Prices for the spiny lobster werenâ€™t much better. However, John is feeling optimistic. â€œNobodyâ€™s seen lobster down there,â€? he said, â€œI know it. I know theyâ€™re going to love them.â€? You can buy yellow and red rock crab (year-round), spiny lobsters, ridgeback shrimp (Octoberâ€“May) and line-caught halibut and red snapper from John Wilson, occasionally helped out by his mom or his wife, Tina, on Sundays at the Hollywood Farmersâ€™ Market. Roxy the golden retriever stays home to sleep. Itâ€™s her only day off.
hour onto his already arduous 12â€“15 hour work day. John was born in Studio City. He fell in love with fishing when he was 5 and spent much of his teen years hopping the RTD bus west to fish off the Santa Monica Pier. He moved to Santa Barbara to get a degree in environmental studies from UCSB, where he got into commercial fishing when permits were easy to get and cheap. â€œI met this lobster fisherman who asked me if I wanted to come out and be his crew member,â€? he recalls. â€œBut I was going to school so I asked him if I could do it part time. Once I saw how well he was doing, how much money he was making, I said, â€˜I could do that.â€™â€? Itâ€™s hard-earned money, however. John takes the Sea Fever down a lonely line that stretches from the Santa Barbara Harbor to Point Conception. With his golden retriever Roxy and a single deckhand named Paul, he pushes through the long days, hauling 150-pound vinyl-coated traps teeming with yellow and red rock crab out of the water. He has about 100 traps to check, and from each trap he gets about two 5-gallon buckets of salable crab after he tosses the pregnant females, molting crabs and small ones back into the sea. In the winter, he often spends the night out on the boat, mooring amid the 25-foot swells and violent weather of the Channel Islands near Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands, where he goes to catch spiny lobster. When heâ€™s not out pulling the crab or lobster traps, John goes out to fish for red snapper, halibut and small, sweet ridgeback shrimp. â€œI feel like the general public does not understand what we have out here. They have no idea that just over those mountains thereâ€™s crab and lobster and fish,â€? he told me. Fortunately, theyâ€™re learning. His crabs were an immediate hit at the Hollywood Farmersâ€™ Market, which makes waking up at 3 a.m.
leah greenstein is a Los Angelesâ€“based food and wine writer, the author of the blog SpicySaltySweet.com and the co-author of the Food Blog Code of Ethics.
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Squash by todd porter
s the autumn months settle in, Southern California is often denied the natural glories of changing seasons. The colors are muted, the bite in the air is more of a nibble and many of the classic edible harvests are nowhere to be seen. (It’s hard having a perfect temperate climate nearly all year long.) Thankfully, there is still at least one sign of fall that even Southern California gets to revel in: the harvesting of glorious winter squash, including those brilliant orange orbs, pumpkins. Few crops epitomize autumn more than the winter squash family. Slowly, over the summer months, the squash absorb the warm sun, feed upon the earth’s rich nutrients, swell their masses and harden their shells. Long after berries and stone fruit have spent their splendor, the squash family continues to offer its wares in increasing abundance. Nearly all winter squash share a hard, thick rind and usually a pale yellow to brilliant orange interior flesh. Beyond these basic details the squashes’ individual personalities start to emerge. There is the delicately ridged acorn squash, mimicking the shape of the nut for which it’s named; the tan and smooth bell-shaped butternut squash, which rings in pure pleasure for a cook’s repertoire; squat, green and striped, the buttercup squash seems more like a schoolyard ball than an edible commodity, and yet when cooked it evokes the sweet potato. And of course, all of the different pumpkin varieties, in unforgettable orange,
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inspire more character comparisons with their hardened stems and distorted shapes than a sky full of cumulus clouds. Getting beyond the visual appeal of winter squash, the seemingly impenetrable mass takes just a little coaxing to yield culinary treasure. The tough rind is nearly always removed, either by peeling before or after roasting, at which point the flesh is easily scooped away from its tough armor. The other disposable part of winter squash is the center nest of seeds and the fibers that hold them there, although almost universally these seeds lend themselves perfectly to being seasoned and roasted, then saved as a snack. It is the nutrient-packed flesh that holds the main focus of a cook’s attention. Using slow-cooking techniques that mirror the slow-growing maturation of the squash themselves, they soon offer a sweet flesh that’s as fragrant and earthy as the ground they’ve spent their lives maturing in. Just as the shapes of winter squash are variations on a theme, the textures of the cooked flesh are distinguished merely by nuances. (Spaghetti squash serves as a wild card, with an interior that separates into long, spaghetti-like strands). The majority of the other winter squash vary in smoothness and moisture content, but otherwise maintain similar texture qualities. Although they are most commonly known as a Halloween decoration, pumpkins shouldn’t be forgotten at the table. Sometimes the convenience of buying a pre-made ingredient for a recipe outweighs the effort is takes to make it from scratch. Other times there is absolutely no comparison to the homemade product and home-roasting pumpkin purée is definitely one of the latter circumstances. A necessity for many holiday recipes, most people will buy pumpkin purée by the can at their local grocer and be satisfied. Yet roasting one’s own pumpkin purée is so simple, it keeps well and the flavor can’t be matched. Sample
a pie made from homemade pumpkin purée and you’ll always want to make this extra-special treat from scratch. Everything has its purpose, and the behemoths used for carving usually aren’t meant to be eaten. Instead, find a nice Sugar pumpkin at the farmers’ market, a good grocer or even grow your own. Plan a day trip to a pick-your-own farm to pick out a large carving pumpkin or two, and ask if they have any good cooking pumpkins this year. With fresh purée having an earthy, roasted quality unmatched by the canned stuff, the result of your efforts will be a fabulous dessert or a fantastic filling for autumnal ravioli. Unlike their fast-lane summer brethren, winter squash are especially slow to spoil. As the nights become longer, everything slows down and the winter squash will patiently wait for weeks or months without even showing a blemish. The harder the rind, and the less moist the interior flesh, the longer the squash will keep. From haunting decorations, to comforting soups as the evenings draw in, to Thanksgiving sides and grand finales, winter squash are the culinary emblem of autumn. Take the time to craft some of these beauties into fabulous meals
and desserts and declare that even here in sunny Southern California, we know what fall tastes like.
2–3 sprigs thyme
pumpkin purée recipe
Sea salt and fresh-ground
Makes about 3 cups 1 Sugar pumpkin, about 3 pounds Preheat oven to 375°. Place pumpkin on a sheet pan and place in the oven. Roast for 1.5 hours or until flesh feels soft when you do the Pillsbury Doughboy poke. Let it cool, then peel away skin, scoop out seeds and their fibers. Save the seeds to roast using your favorite recipe. Blend the pumpkin flesh in a blender or food processor, then strain it using a chinois or other similar strainer. Store in the fridge until needed.
truffled butternut squash soup recipe 4
tablespoons unsalted butter
garlic cloves, crushed
ounces bacon, uncooked and
pound brown mushrooms, thinly
1 Butternut squash, peeled and
cut into ½-inch cubes
2–3 sprigs Italian parsley
cups chicken broth
cup heavy cream
tablespoons white truffle
Approximately ½ cup whole milk 1
black truffle (approximately 1
ounce), shaved paper thin
Melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan. Add shallots, garlic, bacon and mushrooms: cook until soft (about 15 minutes over medium-low heat). Add squash; cook until soft (about 15 minutes). Wrap parsley, thyme and sage together with butcher’s string. Add herbs and chicken broth to pan; bring to a boil and cook until liquid reduces by 1/3 (about 15 minutes over medium-high heat). (Note: At this stage you can adjust the consistency of the soup. If you like your soups extra thick, reduce a bit more. If you like your soup thinner, reduce a bit less.) Add the heavy cream and cook 5 minutes more. Discard herb bundle. Transfer to a blender and process until a fine, smooth, consistency is obtained. Pass through a sieve, season with sea salt and pepper, add 1 tablespoon of truffle oil and pulse (or stir) to combine. Keep warm. Bring milk to a simmer over medium heat in a 1-quart pot, add remaining truffle oil, season with salt and pepper and blend with an immersion blender or beat with a whisk until foamy. (Alternate method: If you have a cappuccino machine and are adept with it, combine above ingredients in steaming pitcher and steam to a velvety consistency). Ladle the squash soup into individual bowls. Garnish with a dollop of truffled milk foam, top with freshly shaved black truffle and enjoy one of the best soups
photographs: Todd Porter
there is. Go to edibleLA.com for a list of local pick-your-own-farms.
todd porter is a Los Angeles–based photographer and cooking instructor. He is also the author of the food website WhiteOnRiceCouple.com
Landscape Designed for Harvest by kathy kottaras
he farm is coming back to Los Angeles, but don’t worry: There will be no razing of tract homes, or even barn raisings, for that matter. Catering to a new generation of urban dwellers who are intrigued by the prospect of growing their own produce, two landscape design firms are reimagining the urban landscape as a source of agricultural plenty. L.A. Farms and Heart Beet Gardening are innovative ventures that merge the concept of a community-supported agriculture subscription service (CSA) with the convenience of one’s own home. By transforming otherwise bleak yards into productive mini-farms, they are reclaiming the modern lawn as a source of nourishment and community. The first venture, L.A. Farms, is a project of the landscape design firm Everything Gardens. As co-owner, Vanessa Rutter has always offered the option to incorporate edibles into her Permaculture designs. Both she and her sister Stephanie Rutter, who manages the farming operations, were influenced by their mother, a single parent dedicated to vegetable gardening, teaching them how to grow and preserve their own food. “I came to this because my mother was a hardcore gardener,” Vanessa Rutter says. “My sister and I come by it honestly.” When Elizabeth Besch, chef and graduate student, contacted
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Rutter to help her transform a 10,000-square-foot lot at her home in La Cañada Flintridge into a sustainable farm that could somehow provide a larger benefit to the community, Rutter was inspired by the idea of farming, at its most local level. Still in its pilot phase, eight vegetable gardens have been installed at homes in La Cañada and Atwater Village, and produce now comes in weekly. Participants contract with L.A. Farms to install, cultivate and harvest vegetables in their own yards. The produce grown in their gardens can be pooled with that from the other minifarms so that participants receive a box of produce each week. Thus, homeowners who are intrigued by Michelle Obama’s garden but also apprehensive about the labor involved can relax as Rutter tills their urban soil. Participant Judy Korin’s house is easy to find, her front yard a fertile mirage among the neighboring patches of green sod typical of most Atwater Village homes. Rutter replaced Korin’s lawn with six beds that are now home to squash, bok choy, kale, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and beans. “It’s just the most amazing feeling to be able to pull something out of your front yard and cook it up,” Korin says. “I know people have done that for centuries—but I haven’t, so it’s satisfying.” Rutter emphasizes the fact that Korin came into the CSA “wanting to gain knowledge.” Along with the installation and weekly maintenance, Rutter tutors the homeowners on the essentials of vegetable gardening and organizes dinners to educate participants on cooking their homegrown produce according to the seasonal cycle. For Rutter, L.A. Farms is about encouraging the new urban farmers to extend their relationship to the land, as well as to their neighbors. “We’re finding ways to use the excess produce to bring people together and extend the community, which people in Los Angeles really like,” Rutter says. Like L.A. Farms, Heart Beet Gardening is reconnecting Angelenos to the land, although unlike the Rutter sisters coowner Sara Carnochan came to farming via “a background that is completely unrelated to gardening.” Having worked with migrant farmworkers in upstate New York while studying creative writing and Spanish in college, she had always been interested in teaching self-sufficiency and self-reliance. Upon returning to Los Angeles, Comochan connected with two friends from middle school, Megan Bomba and Kathleen Redmond, who had both graduated from Oberlin College with degrees in environmental studies. After Bomba and Redmond helped build Carnochan’s mother build a vegetable garden, the three started their business. “I just fell in love with gardening,” Carnochan says. Since January 2007, Heart Beet Gardening has installed more than 100 kitchen gardens and integrated edible landscapes.
photograph: Kathy Kottaras
photograph: Nancy Cipes
amount of yield is not always of primary concern for the homeowner, in a CSA subscribers are paying to receive a weekly supply of goods. However, Carnochan also notes that the CSA subscribers are aware of this distinction and are still eager to participate. “They know what they’re getting into,” she says. “We’re sharing in what the gardens do produce.” While participants sign up to share produce, they also harvest a new appreciation for the urban land. Los Angeles provides the perfect petri dish for such 21st-century agricultural experiments. Projects like L.A. Farms and Heart Beet Gardening are reigniting a back-to-the-land movement—without the moving trucks—and making good use of land that would otherwise go to waste. “The history has been lost, but L.A. is still a great place to grow food,” Carnochan says. This year, they have also started a CSA, much like the L.A. Farms project, in the Larchmont area. Their produce grows in two farms located in the front yards of family homes, and the CSA supports 10 household subscribers who live nearby. Their first season started in June and ended in mid-September. During the coming winter they plan to double the size of the CSA, farming two more properties and adding 10 more subscribers. Carnochan’s goal is to recruit participants who live near the farms, thereby promoting local eating in its most ideal form. “People are really excited to walk over, pick up their produce, bring their kids and walk around the garden,” Carnochan says. “It’s really wonderful to have that human connection and just hand people a basket full of food.” The goal of self-reliance still remains a key goal in Heart Beet Gardening’s projects. In the kitchen gardens designed for single-family homes, homeowners can choose to have Heart Beet Gardening maintain the vegetables. However, Carnochan enjoys when the homeowners “graduate out of Heart Beet maintenance.” She has noticed that the educational component has been a primary motivator for many parents to contact her. She also emphasizes that gardening doesn’t have to be overwhelming. “Our goal in all of our gardens is that people can harvest something at any point of the year, whether it’s just tomatoes or even a small lettuce garden for salad.” Carnochan also stresses the difference between single-family gardening and the larger farming project. “This new experiment is a different animal,” she says. While in private gardens the
kathy kottaras is a writing instructor at Pasadena City College, where she teaches lessons about contemporary food sustainability issues in the context of rhetoric and composition. She is also an active gardener.
pro chefs + edibleLA readers
October 9–11 | 9 a.m–5 p.m.
9ZhXVchd<VgYZch =dgi^XjaijgVa;V^gZ Great plants, great value —all in one place! UÊ UÊ UÊ UÊ
Monrovia Growers Mt. SAC Horticulture Dept. Descanso Plant Propagation Music, demos, lectures
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1418 Descanso Drive | La Cañada Flintridge
Bountiful Vietnamese Flavors in the San Gabriel Valley by diane cu
resh herbs perfuming delicate rice-paper spring rolls; long, chewy strands of rice noodles bathing in rich beef noodle soup pho broth; and crusty banh mi baguettes filled with umami deep pork, cool pickled carrots and crunchy cucumbers. This splashy feast of flavors, colors and textures characterize Vietnamese cuisine and there’s no need to gallivant across the globe to indulge. Vietnamese food is abundant and accessible right here in our very own suburban backyard of Los Angeles. Dotted throughout Los Angeles’ huge metropolitan sprawl are hidden jewels of Vietnamese restaurants, bakeries and specialty food stores. A few are trendy, modern polished gems, but most are diamonds in the rough: humbly decorated locales with delicious caches of food lurking behind the front doors. Connecting the delicious dots of Vietnamese food establish-
edible LOS ANGELES
ments is the maze of the Los Angeles freeway system, but once this is navigated with confidence, there are noodle soups, herb rolls and more Vietnamese pleasures at the end of your destination. The sprawl of great Vietnamese food can stretch from the ocean shores of Long Beach to the inland hills of the San Fernando Valley, to the bustling high rises of Downtown Los Angeles, but the biggest collection of Vietnamese restaurants and supermarkets supplying Vietnamese ingredients are found in the San Gabriel Valley. Although San Gabriel Valley boasts a strong and culturally rich community of Chinese Americans, within the diverse framework of the Valley’s boundaries lies a bountiful offering of Vietnamese markets, shops and eateries. Cities such as Alhambra, Rosemead, El Monte and San Gabriel boast large supermarkets filled with classic ingredients for Vietnamese cooking, such as rice paper, rice noodles, spices, aromatic Vietnamese herbs and a variety of fish sauces for every Vietnamese-inspired salad, braise, grill and stock. Even unique Southeast Asian fruits normally found plentiful in the homeland are often abundant in the produce section of these sprawling supermarkets. Fresh, gigantic jackfruit averaging 25–30 pounds, lychees, longans, durian and mangosteens are common inventory items. Bakeries specializing in banh mi—Vietnamese-style baguette sandwiches—are often just a block away from one another along the long stretch of Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel. Fresh, hot, crackly French bread with the lightness of air come
out of the ovens to large, appreciative crowds of banh mi lovers. Popular fillings such as grilled pork, Viet-style cold cuts and juicy meatball banh mi are standard menu selections, but each and every banh mi shop has its own house special sandwich, savory filled puff pastries called pate chaud and delicately sweet pastries to make their dedicated following come back hungry for more. In fact, sweet and intense Vietnamese iced coffee (cafe sua da) often gets roaring applause and multiple orders to help wash down the banh mi sandwiches. Navigate your way down Garvey Avenue and the fragrance of beef noodle soup is very reminiscent of Saigon, Vietnam. Within walking distance of one another, pho noodle soup shops compete elbow to elbow with one another for pho-hungry customers. The competition can be fierce, with a large number of pho shops stretching along just one block of Garvey Avenue, but that means one great thing: more selection of noodle bowls to add to the pho repertoire. The plethora of pho shops are not only hunkered down on Garvey Avenue, but are scattered along Valley Boulevard and neighboring intersections as well. The abundance of pho restaurants in
photographs: Diane Cu
Sampling of Vietnamese Food Sources in San Gabriel Valley Supermarkets San Gabriel Super Store: 1635 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel 91776-3998; 626-280-9998 Ranch 99 Market: 140 W. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel 91776; 626-307-8899; www.99ranch.com Hawaii Super Market: 120 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel; 626-307-0062, 626-571-8732 Restaurants Saigon Flavor: 208 E. Valley Blvd. #B,
San Gabriel Valley also cook up diverse menus of classic Vietnamese dishes when you’re craving dishes beyond noodles. Grilled lemongrass beef over plump rice noodles (bun thit nuong), crispy spring rolls (cha gio) and bun bo hue (Huestyle pork noodle soup) can satisfy more yearnings for Viet flavors. Much of everything you need for cooking, eating or quenching that thirst for Vietnamese cuisine is a reasonable drive away from even the farthest corners of Los Angeles County. So, put away that passport, luggage and travel guide and just grab your car keys. There’s no need to trek across the globe for a great variety of Vietnamese food when there’s ample alternatives here to rival those back in Vietnam. You just
need to brave the freeways to your delicious Viet destinations.
vietnamese fish sauce dip (nuoc mam cham)
This classic sauce mixture can be used for dips, dressings and marinades. Just a bit of this flavorful fish sauce brings a wonderful depth of flavors to Vietnamese food. 1–2 garlic cloves, crushed (or finely
minced—but crushing garlic
really brings out oils, thus the
1 Thai chili, crushed or minced
(customize your spice level)
lime, squeezed (about 1
teaspoon rice vinegar (optional)
cup fish sauce (add more for
extra fish sauce depth)
Mix all ingredients together well, ensuring all the sugar gets dissolved. Makes about ¾ cup.
diane cu is a Los Angeles–based photographer and cooking instructor. She is also the author of the food website WhiteOnRiceCouple.com
San Gabriel 91776; 626-572-6036 Vietnam House: 710 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel 91776-1156; 626-282-3630 Golden Deli: 815 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel 91776; 626-308-0803 Com Tam Thuan Kieu: 120 E. Valley Blvd. Suites I & J, San Gabriel 91776; 626-280-5660 Pho (Beef Noodle Soup) Pho Minh: 9646 E. Garvey Ave. #108, South El Monte; 626-448-8807 Pho 54: 8450 Valley Blvd. # 111, Rosemead 91770-1680; 626-571-6663 Pho Saigon: 8036 Garvey Ave., Rosemead 91770; 626-782-0166
Pho Hien: 9911 Garvey Ave., El Monte 91733; 626-575-1949 Pho Huynh: 9706 Garvey Ave., El Monte 91733; 626-350-6688 Banh Mi Sandwiches Banh Mi Che Cali: multiple locations including 8450 Valley Blvd. Rosemead 91770; 626-288-5600 Saigon Sandwich & Bakery: 718 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel; 626-288-6475 Ba Le Sandwich Shop: 1426 S. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra; 626-308-3003 Baguette Express: 400 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel; 626-280-8883
MODULAR MEALS IN MINUTES by jason deyo
fter 15 years of consulting clients on health, longevity and weight loss, it’s become very clear to me what separates those who succeed from those who struggle. It’s not motivation. It’s not appetite, cravings or self-control. The long-term success of a nutrition program boils down to time, variety and taste. If you don’t have time to cook, you don’t know what to make or you’re fussy for flavor, don’t worry: I have the solution. Three building blocks and three steps: prep, cook and store. In less than an hour you have a stress-free week of modular meals all ready to go. So what’s a modular meal? It’s a creative combination of what I call the three simple building blocks: fiber, proteins and vegetables. When you batch-cook enough fiber, such as quinoa, brown rice or black beans; enough protein, such as chicken, salmon or buffalo; and any variety of seasonal veggies, the work in the kitchen is over. You’ll have the building blocks to make modular meals in minutes for the rest of the week. For example: Monday lunch—buffalo meatloaf over barbecue beans and rice; Monday dinner—warm squash and salmon salad; Tuesday lunch—a colorful shrimp and rice chilled salad with lemon and herbs; Tuesday dinner—spicy buffalo and black bean chili. Learn to recognize what a healthy portion looks like and get creative with your building blocks by mixing and matching and using your favorite seasonal flavors so you never get bored. I encourage everyone to think of fiber as the first and most important building block and here’s why: Consistent evidence shows that eating fiber-rich whole foods can significantly reduce
at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market 28
edible LOS ANGELES
the risk of coronary heart disease, Type II diabetes and colorectal cancer. Whole grains are higher in nutrients like folate, magnesium and potassium, which are associated with reduced cardiovascular risk. The greater your body’s demand for insulin, the greater your risk for type II diabetes. So choose high-fiber whole grains over insulin-spiking processed grains. Instead of a tuna salad sandwich, try the tuna over a brown rice and garbanzo bean medley. Fiber tip: Try tossing a few of your pre-prepped diced scallions and red peppers into yesterday’s leftover rice and turn it into a new building block you can serve cold for lunch. To keep kitchen time under an hour, get your fiber choices on the stove and move right on to proteins. I like to have three or four choices ready to go. Try salmon for its DHA content, which helps fight the battle against heart disease, then a marinated chicken and a buffalo meatloaf to bake in the oven. In about 45 minutes your first two building blocks are both ready at the same time. Protein tip: Keep frozen shrimp on hand to thaw for time-crunched weekdays as a last-second addition. While your oven and stove are being put to good use, chop up some veggies. Prepping the third building block now makes for fast snacks, salads, steaming and stir-fry. The National Cancer Institute recommends a minimum of five servings of fruits and veggies a day to reduce the risk of cancer. A few more servings of broccoli and Brussels sprouts should be on everyone’s to-do list this fall. Vegetables tip: At your local farmers’ market talk to the vendors about how to prepare their wares. Some of the best seasonal veggie recipes I’ve ever learned came from the people who grew them. I’m not a trained chef but this modular meal system has been working for me for years. One hour a week in your kitchen with a solid game plan is all it takes to stay on track and make dozens of healthy and versatile combinations. Once you have the modular system down you can jazz up the basics like rice or quinoa with a few easy-to-learn tricks. One of my favorite recipes is Chef Lee Gross’s delicious sprouted quinoa tabbouleh. Try his creations at any one of the M Café locations and then perhaps take the macrobiotic seasonal cooking class for new fiber inspiration. Learn more at mcafedechaya. com. Looking for something more daring as a protein block? Contact Chef Lela Buttery, of Rawesome in Venice, at thebutteryla.com to learn about her seasonal fall ceviches. Her raw protein building blocks are delicious. Her next “Primal Protein” class is Oct. 22. Pickled chicken, anyone?
jason deyo designs science-based nutrition programs for longevity, fitness, family nutrition, diabetes related imbalances, cholesterol level maintenance and weight loss. He has a master’s degree in holistic nutrition and is working on his doctorate. You can contact Jason at elementalbyj.com
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the art of tea Now through November 29, 2009 at the Fowler Museum at UCLA
This exhibition brings together magnificent art from three continents and many centuries, including rare Chinese ceramics and paintings, th- and thcentury Japanese ceramics and prints, extraordinary English and Colonial American paintings, historic photographs and documents, tea-serving paraphernalia and furniture from many countries, and much more — to tell the fascinating story of tea.
Related Events in September , , Fowler OutSpoken Lecture: Guest Curator Beatrice Hohenegger , , – Kids in the Courtyard: The Perfect Blend A chance for the kids to blend their own tea and scoop it into take-home tea bags! Visit fowler.ucla.edu for a complete list of related programs, including tea ceremonies and tastings, lectures, tea tours, cooking programs, and more!
Media sponsorship provided by edible Los Angeles. fowler.ucla.edu
The Gansevoort Limner (America, active –), possibly Pieter Vanderlyn (New York, ca. –); Artist unknown, possibly Richard Collins (England, d. ), Man and Child Drinking Tea, circa , Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; Picking the Tea, China, c. , © by The Kelton Foundation; Design by Bianchi, made by Carlo Landi (Italy, active –), Teapot, c. , Fowler Museum; John Coakley Lettsom, (b. Virgin Islands, ; d. London, ), Bohea Tea from The Natural History of the Tea-Tree: With Observations on the Medical Qualities of Tea and on the Effects of Tea Drinking, London, , History & Special Collections for the Sciences, Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, UCLA; Tea bowl, Qingbai ware, China, Northern Song dynasty, –, Asian Art Museum, the Avery Brundage Collection; Nambang Yeomje ([Nanfang Yendi] Lord of the Southern Quadrant, the Fiery Emperor, Shen Nong), Korean, Joseon dynasty, th century, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Tea chest, Japan, early th century, Private Collection, Susanna Truax, , National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
the art and taste of ArtBites by agatha french
“It’s hard when you’re looking at a mummy to start talking about food,” said Maite Gomez-Rejon, moments before disregarding her own statement and expounding upon the role of millet and chickpeas in ancient Egypt. Having led that morning’s ArtBites class through a select collection of the Getty Villa—including a trio of busts so obviously beloved by her that she spoke of their individual characteristics like a longtime friend—Gomez-Rejon effortlessly transitioned from evidence of the Byzantine in mummy portraiture to the agricultural history of North Africa. Smiling, quick-witted and full of astounding facts, she lets her enthusiasm for the intersection of food and art history burst through every segment of the lecture. Just before noon on a Saturday, the lesson’s second portion was about to begin: After working up an appetite in the ancient art collection, it was time to head to the kitchen. ArtBites, an LA company founded and run by GomezRejon, bills her exploration of art through food as “Rachel Ray meets Sister Wendy” and the playfulness of this description, as much as its personal parallels, comes wonderfully close to the truth. A self-proclaimed history buff, Gomez-Rejon trained as an artist but found herself spurning the studio for the stove. After attending culinary school, she missed having a daily relationship with art and museums. Combining these passions, while it might appear ingenious to the rest of the world, seemed for her the only logical step. “Cooking is a great way to make a work of art come to life,” she says. “The context makes it accessible.” While museums can get a bad rap for stuffiness, ArtBites’ approach is anything but. By first viewing a collection and then cooking a meal inspired by it, ArtBites invites attendees to experience the art and the history, to view that still-life cake and eat it too. 30
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The cooking classes—open, unfussy, collaborative efforts— are punctuated by such familiar culinary murmurs as “Can you chop this garlic?” “Anybody have a measuring cup?” and the promising “Where’d you find these herbs?” (“The Tehran Market,” says Gomez-Rejon, citing a little-known ethnic grocer in Santa Monica. The olive oil is Trader Giotto’s.) After prepping and delegating and cooking things up, a multi-course meal inspired by the day’s lesson is ready to be devoured. It’s amazing what art can do to an appetite, and as history jumps off the canvas and onto the plate, the level of conversation between strangers can reach a whole new level. “How is it?” asks Gomez-Rejon. Judging by the clinking of forks and the buoyant banter, it is edifying, edible and good. This fall, in addition to a number of classes for both children and adults, ArtBites will be debuting a much-anticipated Thomas Jefferson two-part series at the Huntington. Part one will explore Jefferson’s time in Paris and offer a chance to taste the French foods he would have encountered there, while part two will focus on Jefferson and his garden in Monticello, the menu inspired by the American South. While the Monticello class is sure to be fascinating—Jefferson planted 27 varieties of kidney bean alone, all scrupulously detailed in his Garden Book—Gomez-Rejon has a zeal for how the details of Jefferson’s life, and American cooking, were influenced by the French. Jefferson, reputed to have returned from France with 86 boxes of kitchen equipment, may not have approved of the French Court’s excess or politics, but he didn’t leave without taking a page from their Pot au Feu. “France was a joy and a revelation to him,” says Gomez-
Portrait of Thomas Jefferson; after Charles Willson Peale; oil on canvas; date unknown; Copyright the Huntington; Stag Rhyton; artist unknown; ca. 50 B.C. - 50 A.D.; Gilt Silver, garnet and glass; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
edible art/class act
and one teaspoon peppercorns
tied together in cheesecloth) 1
small turnips, peeled and
pounds small new potatoes cloves garlic, peeled
Cornichons Grated horseradish Dijon mustard
Rejon, adding with a glimmer that he must have attended “some spectacular dinners at Versailles.” The art of ArtBites lies in recreating them. Cook up Jefferson’s original, handcopied recipe, or ArtBites’ adaptation for the museum (or home) cook…
pot au feu
photograph and recipe testing: Todd Porter and Diane Cu
Jefferson's version: Take 3 pounds of beef, the short ribs are best, put in a soup kettle and cover well with cold water, about 3 quarts, and bringto a boil. Skim well. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 large carrots, 2 turnips, 1 parsnip, 3 large onions, each one with a
clove stuck in it, a small piece of garlic, a bunch of leeks and a small stalk of celery. Let it boil very slowly for five or six hours. ArtBites' version Serves 6
top round 2
pounds beef short ribs
medium leeks, trimmed
carrots, peeled and chopped
stalks celery, chopped
large onion, quartered and studded with 4 cloves
pounds boneless rump roast or
bouquet garni (handful fresh parsley, thyme, two bay leaves
Organic Vegetable Gardening Expertise
In a large stockpot place 6 leeks, 6 carrot pieces, 6 celery pieces and onion. Tie each piece of meat individually to hold its shape during the long cooking time, and place on top of the vegetables. Add the bouquet garni and salt to the pot. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer partially covered for 3 hours, skimming any foam that forms on the top. Strain the broth and discard the cooking vegetables. Return the broth and meats to the pot and the remaining vegetables except the potatoes. Bring the broth to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 1 hour, adding the potatoes after an half hour. Remove the meat from the broth and discard the trussing strings. Carefully remove the vegetables from the broth, place them on a large serving platter. Strain the broth. Carve the meat and place on the serving platter with the vegetables. Serve the meat and vegetables as a main course with cornichons, horseradish and mustard. As well as being our Girl Friday at edible LA agatha french writes for oneforthetable.com and Venus Zine.
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The Ultimate Resource for Garden Nerds Call us at 310.391.3949 c hr i s t y @ g arde ne rd. co m w w w. g a r d e n e r d . c o m
editor asks the experts
la's mozza Pizza to Go, Green
What does green mean to you and your restaurants?
Mario Batali: Almost all of the fruits
and vegetables on all of our menus are grown by responsible farmers within 200 miles. In fact, it’s almost a selfish decision. Local produce captures the delicious geo-specificity that distinguishes the great food regions of the world, but most important to me it just tastes better. 32
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left to right: mozza owners
nancy silverton, Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali
It’s an amazing thing in the middle of an artificial-looking world [Las Vegas] to have a green farmers’ market. People think I’m putting on a circus show but it’s real. I have to loan the farmers money to get the produce here. It’s the idea of being part of a community, the idea of interacting with farmers and having them interact with us; it’s what sustainability really is. Sustainability is such a pop term, it means jack to me! It’s too used! But when you talk about loaning money to your farmer so he can bring you the best produce, what better use of my funds? Mozza has a Green Restaurant Association certification. Was that hard to get?
Nancy Silverton: It wasn’t difficult
to get because it was the direction that we wanted to go in anyway. They’re not asking you to change everything about your operation. They give you a whole list of compliances and then you pick a certain amount. So obviously we picked the things that worked best for us.
A lot of those things you were probably doing anyway?
Silverton: Right, but some were
different. We had to get a new trash company, because we were no longer recycling the traditional way of bottles and cans. It’s more like food and paper go together and everything else is trash. We always recycled but now we had to do it a different way. Another example: In the employee’s washroom there’s no paper towels, just a blower—but they don’t require that in your restrooms for the guests, so you have a choice of going either way. All of the packaging for Mozza2Go is green, but that’s something we would have wanted to do. Do you still have bottled water in the restaurant?
Silverton: Well, we have bottled water,
but we have a system for bottled mineral or bottled carbonated, which we do on the premises. We’ve always had in-house filtered water.
photograph (Nancy Silverton): Nicolas Beckman ; (Bastianich + Batali): IS Photography
Did you know that Las Vegas means “the meadows” in Spanish? Apparently Chef Mario Batali did. Sin City, famous for its excessive consumerism, gambling and light pollution, is now home to Batali’s farmers’ market, Molto Vegas. Could there really be the potential for green pastures and a market garden that is truly local and sustainable, in the middle of the desert? And led by this country’s top restaurateurs? “What is ‘green?’” asks Batali at the launch of Molto Vegas. “Green is really more of a lifestyle and an attitude.” It’s very apparent that green is more than a movement or a passing trend for Batali and his business partner Joe Bastianich. It’s a commitment to finding the finest sustainable ingredients for their restaurants across the country and they are proud to carry certification from the Green Restaurant Association. Here in Los Angeles, they partner with Nancy Silverton and co-own Mozza. Despite a terrible economy Mozza is one of a handful of restaurants where it remains nearly impossible to get a reservation. Highly successful and environmentally responsible as well?
What was the motivation behind going
How often do you get to go to the farmers’
Joe Bastianich: Sustainability and
Silverton: I only get to go vicari-
going local is not done just to be certified and to use it as a PR campaign; it actually does make your product better, it makes your restaurant better, it makes the people who work in it better, it ultimately complements and enhances the customer experience and that’s what this is all about. Batali: Sustainability really just means taking a small bit of responsibility for using a fair share of resources at the rate that they can be reproduced without the bleeding of peripheral resources.
ously, meaning that Matt [Molina] and Dahlia [Narvaez], our chefs, go to the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market every Wednesday and they supplement when necessary at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market on Sundays.
What makes Mozza green?
Bastianich: We are certified green
photograph: Tony Molina
and I think it starts with the spirit of the restaurant, with the type of food from Nancy. The kind of produce you have in LA we can only dream of in NYC. With that kind of bounty and availability of great produce, the restaurant naturally evolved out of that. Batali: It is sick! The access you guys have to unbelievable stuff at farmers’ markets.
How does your time spent in Italy influence your life here in the United States?
Silverton: It reinforces the type of the
food I like to eat. There, I eat very local food prepared very simply. When I’m in Italy I love to throw gatherings, informal dinner parties, that remind me how much I like to entertain and be around people. It does help me get over the rush of most of my time here and to actually be able to relax and gather energy. Bastianich: Being brought up in an Italian household, I think that the sensibility of the Italian lifestyle, especially how it applies itself directly to food and wine, is an incredible moral compass to live your life by: moderation, health and balance that comes with the Italian table of how to live your life. If you take
that sensibility and apply it to your life at large, there’s a lot to be garnered from that. Do you think people in the States moved away from local sustainable living that’s been more a part of life in Europe, and do you think America is moving back to this? Why?
Silverton: I think there’s certainly
been a shift back to this. Because it’s the right thing to do and there have been enough strong advocates of that movement, whether it’s the Alice Waterses or Michael Pollans of the world, there’s been so much pressure from respectable communities for change. Batali: It kinda makes a logical sense. It would seem to be the clear and obvious next step to the evolution of mankind to leave the next generation a planet capable of sustaining its energy and food reserves. The first and easiest step is to simply buy as may of things you eat from a local food producer as possible. Bastianich: I think that people are getting back to it. I think maybe it took the economic crisis to have people really wake up to the fact of what’s important in their lives again, what do they want to spend their time doing and who do they
getting consumers to realize that more and more, that wine in every way is truly a natural product. Where do you like to eat in LA?
In Europe you have the local market,
I’m not technically a winemaker but I’m intimately involved in all three of our wineries. The wines are very personal and important to me.
you’re eating what’s in season…
Bastianich: But it’s not just that. It’s
Is all your wine organic?
also that on your way to the market you talk to people, you know the shopkeeper, you know the guy who bakes and sells you your bread. Everything about these human interactions that revolve around everyday activities are the basic fundamentals of what life should be about.
Bastianich: We have one winery
Does Mozza grow any produce?
that will be certified biodynamic next year which is currently organic. [Pause] That’s my problem, what does organic mean? In Europe it means something different, right? I know that organic is such an abused and misused word in this country that I almost hate to put it in any sentence.
Silverton: My father has a large
garden in Encino. Kenter Canyon Farms started their garden in his backyard 30 years ago so his land is very fertile because they took great care of it. Last year for the first time we planted tomatoes for the restaurant. That was really terrific. We are planning on doing a garden on our roof for herbs and things and we’re also going to do an herb wall, a green wall in front of the restaurant, that’ll be right outside Mozza2Go on Melrose Avenue. I guess you serve your wine at Mozza, so that could count?
Bastianich: My business is that of
being a restaurateur; my passion is wine. 34
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In Las Vegas you talked about drinking a glass of wine being an agricultural act. What did you mean by this?
Bastianich: It’s kinda the essence of
the green movement, at least as it applies to wine. To get away from all the marketing, packaging, scores and everything that selling wine’s been built and sold around. Getting to the fact that wine is truly a product of agriculture. The concept of growing grapes, the offspring of vines, and then taking mature grapes and through alcoholic fermentation turning the sugar in the grape juice into alcohol and making wine. It will happen if you don’t do anything to it. Very ancient and natural processes, and I think we are
What is the perfect dinner for you?
Silverton: At least 80 percent of it
would be food you can eat with your hands. I love that. It would take place outdoors and luckily in Southern California that’s 90 percent of the time. Oh, and I like room-temperature food. Bastianich: It depends on where. It could be anything from a taco truck in LA, or linguini vongole at the beach, or skiing in the mountains with my kids and having Wienerschnitzel. It depends on the location. Life is all about moments. What makes for a great night in the restaurant?
Silverton: Certainly the flow of it. I
love a busy restaurant. I don’t like a crazy restaurant. I love when we are busy from 5:30 to 11 at a nice steady pace and where I feel like everybody is on that night and I can peripherally see that the food is going out, that everything is perfection. You get a vibe—when the
photograph: Tony Molina
want to spend their time with and what enhances their quality of life.
Batali: I had a great meal at Michael Cimirusti’s place [Providence] last year. Boy, is he talented. You guys have a lot of talent. Unfortunately, unlike Manhattan where in 30 blocks I can see 10 great chefs’ restaurants, in LA you’ve got to go 30 blocks to see one! But you know what? You get to live by the beach! That’s the payback. Silverton: I live right near Mozza and I tend not to travel west of La Cienega, so when I say “where do I like to eat,” it’s really in this neighborhood. Although last night I went to a restaurant that I’ve been going to recently because I think it’s really terrific called Church and State, downtown, I think it’s great restaurant, but locally I go to AOC and Lucques and Hungry Cat and Jar.
customers are happy and you are happy and it’s great. How often do you cook in LA, Mario?
Batali: I am there once a month. At Osteria Mozza
and Pizzeria Mozza, both of them. Tell me a bit about Mozza2Go.
Bastianich: Well, Mozza2Go is pretty straightforward—it’s Mozza, to go! Mozza2Go opening was delayed, why?
Batali: When I was 30 years old I might have opened a
couple of things without all the permits and kinda without the right size bathroom. I’m way under the microscope now so we have to do it all right and do it in time and it costs a little more and it’s not as quick and easy. But that said, it’s a better example for the industry. Will you be in the kitchen at Scuola di Pizza?
Batali: You can book me! It’s not a school per se with
classes on a regular basis. It’s effectively a way for you to book me or Nancy or Matt Molina to host your party. So we could do an edible LA party?
Batali: That would be a blast! Silverton: It’s a private dining space with Matt and I cooking right in front of guests. It’s one of the few cooking schools that actually have a pizza oven in it. Bastianich: We’ll do a Naples-inspired dinner made with local produce from LA with Italian wine pairings and with Palmina, a Santa Barbara vineyard using Italian varietals. On October 1 edible Los Angeles and Mozza are planning an intimate charity dinner for 36 people at Mozza Scuola di Pizza, with Nancy Silverton and Matt Molina cooking and Joe Bastianich pairing wines. For information about how to buy a ticket, please visit edibleLA.com
Fall: Southern California’s Second Spring by judi gerber
ven though the heat is still on, the beginning of September signals the coming of autumn, which officially starts on Tuesday, Sept. 22. Many gardeners eagerly await fall because it is one of the best times of year to work in the garden, not only doing end-of-summer gardening chores or clean-up but because it’s the best time of year to plant your “second” vegetable garden. Our mild fall and winter provide us with a unique climate that allows gardening year-round. Our fall days are usually fairly warm combined with crisp, cool evenings—making an ideal planting climate for cool-season vegetables, offering us this second growing season. So, if you haven’t done it before, this is a great time to try planting vegetables because cool-season crops are some of the easiest to grow. What is a cool-season vegetable? Cool-season versus warmseason refers to the heat requirements needed for growth. They can be grown in temperatures about 10 to 15 degrees lower than
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warm-season crops. Cool-season crops do poorly in the warmest summer temperatures and can actually turn bitter and bolt to seed instead of producing anything edible. This means that cool-season vegetables do better in fall, winter and early spring than in summer. Because we live in a mild climate, we are lucky enough to be able to plant them from late summer to early fall for harvest in late fall, winter or early spring—well before summer’s heat. The most distinct difference is that cool-season crops are usually not grown for their fruits or seeds, but are mainly leaf or root crops (carrot, lettuce, radish) with exceptions like broccoli and cauliflower (known as cole crops) that are grown for their edible flowers, but there are some that are eaten for their seeds (such as peas). Cool-season vegetables include asparagus, artichoke, beet, broccoli, Brussels sprout, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, pea, radish, spinach, Swiss chard and turnip. Of these, the root crops include beet, carrot, onion, leek, radish and turnip, and the leaf crops include cabbage, celery, chard, kale, all lettuces and spinach. The cole crops (those with a stem) include Brussels sprout, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi and mustard. The leafy greens are the easiest cool-season crops to grow. These include all types of lettuce, especially leaf lettuces. They don’t require you to wait for them to mature because you cut the leaves as you need them and most are fully grown in less than two months. That’s why they are also called cutting lettuces. The best way to plant cool-season vegetable gardens is by direct seeding and the best time is the end of July and August. However, there are some plants that don’t have to be started from seeds, and are easily planted from seedlings purchased at a local nursery. These are cole crops such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, because they are big and slow-growing. Regardless of what you plan to grow, all cool-season vegetables require a minimum of six hours of sunlight each day for best growth. Try to choose the sunniest spot in your yard, including those up against the southern-facing side of the house, along a sunny fence or wall, or anywhere that won’t shade your vegetable garden.
photograph: Carole Topalian
photograph: Carole Topalian
Since most people think of starting seeds when spring comes, why not think of saving seeds as fall comes? Seed saving has been the main way that plants are passed down from generation to generation and is responsible for the wonderful heirloom varieties we have. You can develop strains of plants that are suited to your specific growing conditions by saving seeds and can select plants with traits you want, such as disease resistance, flower color or higher yield. So what kind of seeds can be saved? Standard or heirloom varieties that are not cross-pollinated by nearby plants work best (meaning they have not been crossed within their family by wind, insects or people).
It’s also a good idea to try and choose a location that offers some wind protection from both the northerly winds of winter and the hot Santa Ana winds most prevalent in autumn. A big advantage to gardening in fall is that insects and other pests slow down or disappear until spring. Even the growth of weeds slows down, and because we usually get rain during this time of year, watering isn’t required as frequently since the winter rains and cooler temperatures allow the soil to stay moist longer. While one of the advantages to planting cool-season crops is that you don’t have as many insects or diseases as in summer, cool-season vegetables are prone to slugs and snails, particularly in areas with fog and ocean moisture. You can use an organic snail bait like Sluggo. Cole crops are prone to cabbageworms; use Safer Brand Tomato and Vegetable Insect Killer, reapplying often. Before you plant make sure to amend the soil since healthy soil makes healthy plants and lots of fruit. The first step in soil preparation is to till the soil to loosen it up, so you can get the weeds and weed seeds out now—making it easier to keep the soil bed weed-free later. Once the soil is tilled, make sure you feed it with lots of organic materials such as compost so plant roots will grow well, and then water the area, wait a couple of days, and make sure to plant your seeds while the soil is still moist. judi gerber is a garden and agriculture writer, a horticultural therapy consultant and a certified Master Gardener with the UC Cooperative Extension Los Angeles, Common Ground Garden Program. She is known as LA Farm Girl, lafarmgirl.blogspot.com
Here are a few basic rules to get started saving your own seeds: Don’t save seeds from hybrids, since they are created by crossing specific parent plants. The seeds are usually sterile and are usually not as good as the parent plant. Choose plants that are healthy, disease-free and vigorous when selecting plants to save seeds from. If the seed is saved and planted the following year, the disease may damage or kill young plants. Always harvest mature seeds. Seeds are mature or ripe when flowers are faded and dry and usually turn from white or cream-colored to light or dark brown. The dry method of saving seeds works best for beans, peas, onions, carrots, most flowers and herb seeds. After gathering seeds, spread them on newspaper or on a screen in a single layer, put in a well-ventilated location and let them air dry for about a week. A helpful hint is to write seed names on the newspaper so you don’t mix them up. The wet method works best for “fleshy” fruits like tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. Let them get a little overripe on the plant before harvesting them, but not rotten. Separate seeds from the flesh and clean by letting them sit in water in a jar for a few days. The seeds will sink to the bottom and pulp will float; pour off the pulp and dry the seeds on paper towels or newspaper. Seeds must be stored dry. Pack them into airtight jars and keep them in a cool, dry place. Label all containers with seed type/variety and date. Seed viability decreases over time and most seed should be used within three years. One of the best resources for finding out how to save the seeds of common vegetables is the International Seed Saving Institute at seedsave.org/issi/issi_904.html. The site has step-by-step instructions for the beginning seed saver. Another great resource is Seed Savers Exchange, seedsavers.org; they have saved over 25,000 heirlooms and have seeds to purchase. You can also buy their book Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth.
lA's Model Edible Schoolyard Garden
words and photos by diane cu
s soon as the morning school bell rings, the students at 24th Street Elementary School scurry to classrooms for another day of learning. In one particular class fourth and fifth graders pore over not schoolbooks but seeds, shovels and herb baskets. Their instructor, wearing a broad-brimmed gardening hat, starts the day’s lesson with a lecture on composting and how to plant a vegetable plot. Unlike most indoor classrooms where traditional curriculums are filled with math and science formulas, students in this class bask in the gentle morning sunlight and also spend the next hour understanding the differences between basil and mint flavor profiles. Here the math and science are firsthand— counting seconds for watering, following a recipe or learning about life cycles. This schoolyard garden in the West Adams district is an outdoor education project sponsored by the Garden School Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing native gardens, science gardens, kitchen gardens and teaching
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kitchens to public schools. “It’s really a learning center,” says Nancy Goslee Power, a garden designer who usually works on much larger projects such as her garden at the Norton Simon Museum but when asked to design the school garden she jumped on the project and is now chairman of GSF. Nancy makes time in her busy schedule to spend time in the garden every Friday morning. “The idea for this school is to be the model school for other schools, so that we’ll be able to have programs for the teachers to teach the classes and for other people to come here to learn.” Responding to a collective desire to build an outdoor teaching classroom—rather than resorting to a repaving and chainlink project on the school grounds—a group of local activists, business owners, parents and teachers joined forces to come up with a more positive educational model. In 2003, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Unified School District, this panel of activists introduced a space for not only education, but also where urban and social challenges facing the school and community could be addressed. In 2006 a crew of volunteers, teachers and students dug up an acre of asphalt and the 24th Street School Garden was born. The vegetable plots and fruit orchards are continually maintained by the sweat and hard work of those same volunteers. With founders such as Nancy Silverton, founder of La Brea Bakery and now chef/ owner of The Mozza restaurants, and under the continuing direction of Power, the vision of the garden-school classroom model has become a reality. The dedicated team of experienced instructors and master gardeners is the driving force behind this green, sustainable classroom. Funding comes from donations in all forms, including gifts of gardening items, soil, seeds and volunteer labor to help maintain the garden.
On a busy day GSF member and master gardener Laurie Dill invites a curious group of fourth graders to fill baskets with garden basil, chives and parsley, all planted by students a few weeks prior. She has the students smell fresh dill and asks, “What do you smell?” The kids cheer with their assortment of
answers, “Cheese! Onion! Spaghetti!” Dill then teaches how to harvest mint leaves. At another plot, Nat Zappia, director of the 24th Street School Garden, gives a lecture about native plant species: “We incorporate our native edible garden where kids get to know the difference between cultivated versus wild/native vegetables.” Ali Bhai, the project manager, helps students wash Italian heirloom radishes nurtured from donated seeds and picked earlier that morning. “Some of the kids have taken the initiative to make their own garden beds. They prepared the soil, created the borders and did the planting,” he says proudly. “Things start on a smaller scale and they definitely understand all the concepts of gardening.” Back at the student benches at a large table next to the garden shed, Chef Gino gives a dynamic cooking lesson on how to make fresh herb and ricotta tortellini and mint and raspberry skewers made from the garden. In between showing the children what to do he teaches them Italian gestures for “good” and “hungry.” There isn’t one bored student in the open-air classroom. 40
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The students roll out the fresh dough and fill it with the herb and ricotta mixture. The air is filled with puffs of flour and squeals of excitement as they fold over the dough and create perfect parcels ready to be cooked. As the pasta cooks inside the garden shed on a gas-fired camp stove, the children turn to making their dessert: raspberries and mint leaves threaded onto toothpicks. Minutes later they are feasting in the garden on the tortellini creations, the fresh pasta that they made from produce harvested mere steps away. “It tastes like macaroni ’n’ cheese,” says one boy. “When you see so many happy children and what a difference you’ve made to their lives—I’m happy and crying at the same time with joy because we are bringing such joy to their lives,” exclaims Power, surrounded by the students. The mood is joyful, the students are excited and the smells of fresh garden cooking fill the playground. In this garden classroom, the students are exuberant, energetic and alive with curiosity to learn more, tomorrow. edible Los Angeles is proud to support GSF in its venture of building an outdoor kitchen—with a stove and a sink so that the kids can do more cooking. The money raised at our Eat the Magazine dinner at Grace restaurant for the summer issue will go a long way to getting this started. Next goal: an outdoor oven—pizza, anyone? Visit gardenschoolfoundation.org for more information.
food fl ick
Fowl Play: BLT Steak Chef Brian Moyers Creates a Fantasy Chicken Dinner for Fantastic Mr. Fox
photographs: Fantastic Mr. Fox images courtesy of Fox Searchlight; (chicken): Tony Molina
by andrea arria-devoe
In Hollywood a celeb sighting can be as good for a chef’s reputation as a way with a cut of meat. Unfortunately, most stars aren’t known for their big appetites. Not so Mr. Fox, the sly hero of Wes Anderson’s upcoming stopmotion animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox, based on the book by Roald Dahl. Chef Brian Moyers of BLT Steak LA has just the feast to entice the toothy character. In the movie Mr. and Mrs. Fox (George Clooney and Meryl Streep) live an idyllic home life but after 12 years this bucolic existence proves too much for Mr. Fox’s wild animal instincts and he slips back into his old ways as a sneaky chicken thief. In doing so he endangers not only his beloved family but the whole animal community. Trapped underground and faced with starvation the animals band together to fight against three rich, greedy farmers— Boggis, Bunce and Bean—who are determined to capture the audacious, fantastic Mr. Fox at any cost. Dahl’s three villains would scare off most adults, let alone children. Boggis,
an obese chicken farmer, eats three boiled chickens a day smothered with dumplings; Bunce, a squat duck-andgoose farmer, gorges himself on doughnuts stuffed with goose liver paste; and Bean, a nasty drunk turkey-and-apple farmer, subsists on hard cider. “To be honest, the book puts chefs in a hard place, since farmers are our friends,” notes Moyers. Yet, inspiration strikes in the form of a foie gras Monte Cristo (seared La Quercia prosciutto with roasted foie gras and preserved mulberries on country bread), beignets and house-made hard cider. Considering BLT’s flair for mouthwatering food, it’s easy to please Mr. Fox (or the farmers, for that matter) with what’s already on the menu. Fat popovers, chicken liver mousse and twicesmoked Neuskie’s bacon whet the palate for the star of Moyers’ feast: a dark-crusted roast chicken stuffed with rosemary, preserved lemons and breadcrumbs. Like Mr. Fox, Moyers envisions a big family-style dinner with all the tables in the restaurant placed end to end to create one long table in the center of the room. Reflecting on the story’s themes, Moyers appreciates it’s not a black-and-white morality picture. “There’s an interesting twist at the end of the book (not in the movie) since ultimately the heroes are stealing,” he says. Badger points out this fact to Mr. Fox, who counters “…do you know anyone in the whole world who wouldn’t swipe a few chickens if his children were starving to death?” Life-or-death scenario aside, the tale’s message from an epicurean perspective is clear: The only way to enjoy food is by sharing it. Rest assured, Mr. Fox: Should you show up to Moyers’ fantastic feast, “There’ll be plenty to go ’round.”
roasted rosemary-lemon chicken Serves 6 3
pounds fingerling potatoes, cut
in half lengthwise
large onions, sliced, plus 3
tablespoons chopped onions
large garlic cloves, chopped
tablespoons chopped fresh
cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly
1½ sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter,
cup fresh breadcrumbs
cup rinsed and chopped
preserved lemon (about 1
6½-to 7-pound chicken, or 2
Preheat the oven to 375°. Oil a large baking pan. Prepare the vegetables: In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, sliced onions, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the rosemary, ¼ cup of the oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the vegetables out in the pan. Make the stuffing: In a bowl, combine the butter, breadcrumbs, lemon, chopped onion, remaining 1 tablespoon rosemary
and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well to
dough bread, cut into 2-inch circles
form a thick paste. Prepare the chicken: With a chef’s knife or cleaver, cut off the chicken wings at the joint closest to the breast. Push the vegetables to the sides of the pan. Place the wings in the center. Place the chicken on top. Gently work your fingers between the skin and flesh of the chicken. Stuff the breadcrumb mixture under the skin, distributing it evenly to cover the flesh. Brush it with remaining tablespoon oil. Roast the chicken: Roast the chicken, basting occasionally, 1 to 1½ hours according to the size of the chicken, or until the skin is golden brown and crisp and the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife at the joint of the leg. Transfer the chicken to a platter, cover loosely with foil and keep warm. Brown the vegetables: Toss the potatoes again and turn the broiler to high. Cook until the potatoes are well browned and tender, 5 to 10 minutes more, stirring and turning them over once or twice. Serve: Carve the chicken, making sure each portion includes some of the skin and stuffing. For a large chicken, cut each breast into three pieces and separate the legs and thighs at the joint. Serve with
6 2-ounce pieces of Sonoma A grade
foie gras “monte cristo” Serves 6 ½ cup champagne vinegar ½ cup granulated sugar 10 basil leaves ¾ cup fresh mulberries 6 ½-inch slices of country-style sour-
6 thin slices of domestic prosciutto Olive oil Salt and pepper Make the sweet and sour mulberries: Combine the sugar and vinegar in a small saucepot set over low heat and allow to reduce to a syrup consistency, about 1–2 minutes. While the liquid reduces, julienne four basil leaves. Add the julienned basil leaves and mulberries and stir to combine; allow mixture to warm through about 20 seconds, being careful not to break up the berries. Remove from heat and set aside. Grill the bread: Preheat a grill to medium heat. Brush both sides of the country bread with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Lightly grill the country bread, about 30 minutes on each side. Sear the foie gras: Set a sauté pan over medium heat. Sear the foie gras until brown, about 30 seconds on each side for medium rare. Remove the foie gras from the pan and set aside. To serve: Divide the grilled bread into the center of six plates. Top with a layer of prosciutto so that it drapes over the bread. Place a whole basil leaf over the prosciutto and top with the seared foie gras. Finish by drizzling the sweet and sour mulberries over the foie gras and decoratively around the plate. Serve immediately. The voice of the rabbit in Anderson’s film is played by none other than Mario Batali, who was kind enough to provide a recipe with carrots. True to Dahl’s penchant for the macabre and clever plot twists, Batali’s “vegetarian” offering includes the whole rabbit with carrots and peas!
rabbit three ways with peas and carrot vinaigrette Recipe courtesy of: Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich’s Babbo Ristorante E Enoteca 42
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Serves 4 2
Salt and freshly ground black 2¼
pepper cups extra-virgin olive oil
carrots, peeled and roughly
onion, roughly chopped
celery stalks, roughly chopped
cup vin santo
tablespoons tomato paste
quarts chicken stock
(see recipe below)
cup fresh English peas
cup Thumbalina carrots, roasted
cup pancetta, rendered
bunch parsley, picked
Zest of 2 lemons Cut each rabbit into six pieces, separating the back legs, the loins and the front legs. Season each piece liberally with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven, heat ¼ cup olive oil until smoking. Add the back legs and cook until golden brown, turning often (about 5 to 6 minutes). Remove the legs to a plate and set aside. Add the carrots, onions and celery and cook over high heat until browned and softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the vin santo, tomato paste and chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge browned bits. Bring the mixture to a boil and return the legs to the pan. Cover with aluminum foil and cook in oven for 2 hours, or until meat is falling off the bone. Next, take the rabbit loin and grill (with
photographs (foie gras) Tony Molina; (rabbit) Jeff Gilfillan
brown chicken stock
Makes 2 quarts 2
tablespoons extra-virgin olive
whole capon or chicken, cut in
pieces, excess fat removed
from the bottom of the pan. Bring almost to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook at a low simmer for 2 hours, until reduced by half, occasionally skimming off the fat. Strain the stock, pressing the solids with the bottom of a ladle to extract all the liquid. Cool, then refrigerate or freeze until
carrots, peeled and coarsely
onions, coarsely chopped
celery stalks, coarsely chopped
large carrots, rough cut and
tablespoon tomato paste
boiled in water until soft
tablespoon black peppercorns
quart carrot juice
Stems from 1 bunch of flat-leaf
tablespoons sherry vinegar
tablespoons olive oil
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil until smoking. Add the chicken or capon pieces and brown all over, stirring to avoid burning. Transfer the browned capon parts to a bowl, then add the carrots, onion and celery to the pan and cook until soft and browned. Return the bird to the pan and add 4 quarts of water, the tomato paste, peppercorns and parsley, stirring to dislodge the browned meat and vegetable bits
ready to use. carrot vinaigrette
Salt and freshly ground black
pepper, to taste.
Purée carrots and carrot juice to a fine, thin consistency. Remove and place in a medium bowl. Add the sherry vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix by hand.
Fantastic Mr. Fox, from Twentieth Century Fox, opens in theaters November 2009.
photograph: Fantastic Mr. Fox image courtesy of Fox Searchlight
the flap open) on the hot side of the barbecue until cooked through, about 3 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the other. For the front legs, heat 2 cups olive oil (or enough to cover the legs) in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Without letting the oil come to a boil, submerge the rabbit legs and cook slowly for about an hour and a half, until tender and falling off the bones. Pick the meat off the bone and set aside. In a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan, heat olive oil over high heat until smoking. Add the peas, carrots and rendered pancetta and sauté for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix the confit with parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. To plate, place spoonful of the sautéed pea, carrot and pancetta mixture on the plate, place one back leg on top of the mixture, cut the loin in half and place on either side of the back leg. Put the confit salad on top of the leg and the loin. Drizzle with the carrot vinaigrette and extra-virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.
farm to plate
birds and the bees of sky farm red Words by
inutes after leaving the busy downtown freeway my car is crunching along an unpaved track through rolling hills of dry grass that feels more Little House on the Prairie than urban Los Angeles. Perched on this hilltop in Lincoln Heights is Sky Farm Red, the homestead of Meeno Peluce, world-class photographer, and his renaissance woman of a wife, Ilse Ackermann. I am greeted at the gate by a barking dog, quickly followed by a crazy mop of dark curls and a big, friendly personality: Meeno. Ilse emerges from the house, pretty in pink silk tunic, no makeup, long blond hair: a woman serenely at ease with the world and who she is. They warmly welcome me into their world. I discover a whimsical oasis of lush greenery, trees, flowers, vegetables and animals everywhere—three dogs, three cats, a dessert tortoise, eight chickens, four hives of bees, a pair of cockatiels, some fish and up until recently a heritage turkey. (Oh, and just in case the living menagerie isn’t enough, a fourfoot silver pleather rhino made by Ilse for a safari photographic project.) At the end of the garden, down a path of cerulean blue crushed glass, majestic 100-year-old yucca trees frame the 46
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million-dollar view of the downtown skyline. “It’s particularly special at night with the city lights,” says Ilse. Meeno grew up as a Hollywood child TV actor—his first role was on Starsky and Hutch, his mother catered film sets and his sister is actress Soleil Moon Frye of Punky Brewster fame— whilst Ilse followed her manifest destiny, moving to LA from the East Coast. Having met at Hollywood High—they were both teaching there—they lived for a time in an artist loft building that didn’t allow children. With starting a family their top priority they began to search for a home with more space and, most importantly, a garden. “Our former landlord illegally forbade children on all leases in the building and did so for many many years, for which Meeno and I, along with Fair Housing, won a landmark lawsuit for family status discrimination. This while we were building our new home! But morally we had to do it. The best part of all that is the lawsuit built our guesthouse, and the landlord had to rewrite all of their leases.” Before Sky Farm Red neither of them had much experience with construction, gardening or raising animals and Ilse certainly knew little to nothing about being an apiarist. However, Ilse and Meeno are doers—fast learners, diligent researchers and resourceful in the true sense of the word. Even the story about how they came to buy Sky Farm Red is filled with determination to overcome the odds: A listing with no address, a house that was written off as a tear-down, a quarter acre of land that was as good as dead, parents who felt they were making a huge mistake and post cross-country road trip that left very little in the bank. Instead of seeing the farm as a money pit that could drive them apart, they took up the adventure and used it as a way to grow closer, to build something to treasure for their growing family of daughters Bindi, 8, and Mette, 4. Together they renovated their 1920s house, which was falling down when they fell in love with it almost seven years ago. Evidence of this capable couple is everywhere: In the girls’ bedroom power tools lie next to plastic PetPal homes below a half-constructed closet. A giant homemade aviary of red-painted wood and chicken wire for their cockatiels, a gift from Meeno’s mother, sits across from the guesthouse—reminiscent of a gingerbread cottage nestled amongst the bougainvillea and trailing roses—that used to be little more than a garden shed. A wooden climbing structure, a giant nest perched between branches, rises above the many plants. Most of these were transplanted from gardens around town that were being torn out—the couple dug them up, transported them on a hired flat-bed truck and recycled them at Sky Farm Red. There’s a lot of recycling—be it old furniture, vegetation, a bright red high-end espresso machine and even the hot tub— they love making old new again. This summer the patchy lawn
was ripped out to make way for raised beds of veggies. There are large, ripe heirloom tomatoes; deep yellow squash blossoms; rows of lettuces, radishes, basil, Swiss chard and dark purple string beans climbing up natural wooden teepees. Ilse plucks a bean for me to try and I nibble on it as we investigate a basin for newly hatched mosquito-eating fish. “Water is important for the bees,” she says. “Especially in the summer.” Ilse proudly shows me her bees, which are Carniolan and known as being exceptionally docile, more so than Italian bees, but the downside is that they tend to swarm more. She started with two hives; the bees subsequently swarmed and so she doubled up to four hives. To do this she bravely cut down the branch that the bees were swarming on and somehow wrangled them with the all-important queen bee into a new hive. All without being stung. One hive sits just outside the kitchen window, making it easy to watch the bees coming and going. The hive’s whitewashed legs rest in four buckets of oil to repel ants. “We live on an ant hill,” says Ilse. “Ants can destroy a [bee] colony in two days.” We examine the hexagonal wax cells of an empty hive insert and Ilse shares her new discovery with such excitement and admiration for nature’s wonders: “The cells are angled up ever so slightly so that the nectar and water is held in place until it turns into honey.” “Fecundity is everywhere,” says Ilse. “Three recently hatched silkies in the coop hatched by the broody hen for Mette’s pre48
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school. We watched a nest of hummingbirds hatch and grow up in the tree next to the screened summer porch where we often sleep. We raised a turkey from an egg I found and even the fish have multiplied since arriving here.” I sit in the kitchen watching Meeno crack two fresh pale blue eggs into a pan. He effortlessly sprinkles herbs on top as they sizzle and spit, adds a large knob of butter and a couple of slices of hard cheese. Once the cheese has melted and the eggs are cooked he slides it on top of toast and then drizzles it with some of Ilse’s precious golden honey. At the same time he grinds some coffee beans and puts a pot on the stove to percolate. I half expect him to pop outside to milk a cow for the lattes. Ilse tells me goats are the next step in her animal husbandry adventure—to graze on all the unused land that surrounds them, provide them with milk, cheese and perhaps yogurt and to teach her girls something new. This, along with a child’s beekeeping outfit she intends to order, means that her daughters are learning first hand things that most city kids only get to read about or see on television. She explains her plans for more landscaping, including a retaining wall to reclaim unused space and enable their small patch of land to become even more prolific. Life is experienced at a slower pace as they reconnect with nature and where their food comes from. The house is so grounded and normal and calm and yet simultaneously it buzzes with creative energy and imagination. In their adjoining studios below the house Meeno is editing photos for a disco
album cover and Ilse is sewing costumes for the girls—vintage ostrich feathers, sequins, diamantes and more tulle than Balanchine’s New York City Ballet. The costumes are for their latest family project, Circus, a follow-up to the Safari book of photographs that Meeno shot, Ilse art directed and the girls modeled for with the silver vinyl rhino that now sits along one wall. Bindi contemplatively paints in the adjoining living room in her own intense artistic world as I chat with her parents
over a breakfast of Sky Farm Red produce in the kitchen. Her younger sister, Mette, is out expending energy at summer camp. A bouncy pedigreed boxer—a pet rescue from an English actress—comes bounding in and disrupts the peace. I wake up to the fact that two hours have passed and I’m late in returning to the hubbub of LA life down the hill. Idyllic is not too strong a word to describe the perfect happiness I drag myself away from. I later discover they live on Paradise Hill, Happy Valley—it’s all in the name.
How the Heirloom Turkey Was Hatched On a family trip to a Shaker museum in Massachusetts Ilse found an egg outside one of the heritage turkey coops. Finder’s keepers, she carefully hid the stolen loot in her bra between her breasts and the family raced away in their getaway car. Next stop FedEx, where they boxed up the egg between layers of packing material and sent it across the country. The egg was safely delivered to Sky Farm Red in LA, where the house-sitter unwrapped it and placed it under the broody hen, a tiny bantam silky. Then 28 days later, Ilse opened the coop to discover a newly hatched baby turkey! They named the turkey Giles Corrie, after a New England man who was crushed to death having been accused of being a witch by his wife. (His last words as they placed the rocks on his chest were “more weight!”) Giles Corrie the turkey soon grew from a soft chick cuddled by the girls and under the wing of the silkie bantam into a large 50-pound bird. The chicken coop was too small for a turkey that insisted on following its tiny bantam adopted mother around. Something had to be done, a bigger coop or friends her own size for the turkey? The later was found in nearby Eagle Rock—two male heritage turkeys. So into the dog crate Giles Corrie was put and delivered to her new home. As soon as she emerged shyly to meet her new boyfriends the males’ tail feathers went up and they both began strutting their stuff. “You should see the wild turkey dances online,” says Meeno, “not to mention the broody hen videos posted!” log onto:
what’s in your kitchen?
Andre E, dodger foodie
he diet of an athlete can be quite a phenomenon. Their eating habits range from slightly shocking (Lamar Odom’s candy fixation) to almost appalling (Michael Phelps’ 12,000-calorie-a-day intake). Athletes are elite specimens, spending countless hours training, competing and traveling. But regardless of the physical strain that their bodies endure, their dietary regimens remain a reflection of their personality, background and passion. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier is no exception. In fact, he’s an enthused foodie who writes a blog called Dining with Dre’, and can’t seem to get enough of the LA dining scene. “There are only a few cities in the U.S. where you can really experience so many different ethnic flavors in one area.
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Every kind of food you could want to taste is within 20 minutes’ distance here,” he says. And he’s in the center of it all. His wife, Maggie, and 10-month-old son, Dreson, live together in Hollywood during the baseball season; in the off-season they head to his hometown, Phoenix. Ethier confesses that his dining lifestyle has changed quite a bit since his son’s birth. His blog posts have slowed in frequency because he treasures the moments he gets with his family. “We don’t go out as much, and when we do it’s more of a homey, mellow place,” he says. But he and his wife have taken to making natural, homemade baby food. Dresson’s favorite is sweet potatoes, which they sometimes get from the Original Farmers Market at the Grove. Ethier believes that his son will follow in his foodie footsteps. “Well, he won’t really have much of a choice,” he chuckles. “I think he’ll have a very wellequipped palate.” The left-handed right fielder is of French Canadian and Mexican descent, and his favorite homemade dishes reflect that. “My aunt has the greatest recipe for menudo,” he says. Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup commonly served on the weekends made with tripe and garnished with lime, cilantro and chopped onion. “I just can’t live without it. On Sundays we get it catered in to the field. It’s a tradition.” One of his favorite snacks to make is freshly chopped mangos and cucumbers topped with lots of lime juice and hot sauce. “It’s a refreshing snack I go with all the time,” he says, a simple way to get some fruit and veggies in. (Angelenos can find a similar snack at the little fruit stands that adorn many street corners on the Eastside). Ethier has taken a firm stance in the great Hot Sauce Head debate—Chalula is his seasoning of choice. It’s always on stock in the slugger’s refrigerator. “I swear it goes great with everything. I think it’s a little thicker than Tapatio and a little garlickier.” There are other items he can’t live without: gyro meat, fresh fish and lots of veggies, for example. You won’t find many frozen meals or prepared foods in his kitchen. “Everything we have is really fresh,” Ethier says, including the orange juice: He is a fan of freshly squeezed OJ, the pulpy kind to be precise. And since breakfast is one of the meals that he’s guaranteed to eat at home, he takes it seriously. There’s always turkey sausage, eggs
photograph: Amber Matsumoto/LA Dodgers
by krista simmons
photograph: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers
and fruit to be found in his fridge. And just like many other true-blue Angelenos, Ethier is a huge fan of Pizzeria Mozza. His favorite pizza? “The salumi, mozzarella, tomato and chile. It’s my staple,” he confesses. “Usually, I’m not a big fan of cheese or wine. I like to get to the substance of the meal,” he says. But on occasion, he lets his FrenchCanadian side shine through, and indulges in some of Mozza’s specialty cheeses and charcuterie. “I’ll pick up one of those balls of burrata, and snack on it throughout the week. I also really like their prosciutto,” he says. Ethier admits that his wife does a lot of the cooking during the season on top of eating out frequently. Wherever he is, though, there’s one thing he can’t do without: his trusty custom-made chopsticks. ‘I have this awesome set of chopsticks that [former teammate] Takashi Saito gave me. They’re made of recycled baseball bats. They are hand-crafted by [the sporting goods manufacturer] Mizuno and have their own special carrying case. I take them with me everywhere I go. I bring them back and forth
between LA and Phoenix. People always give me funny looks when I bring them out,” he says. Perhaps it’s not the chopsticks they’re staring at—after all, Ethier is a Major League Baseball superstar, and a darling young one at that. But no matter how big of a star he is, Ethier still manages to make time for the local community. He’s worked with the Dodgers Dream Foundation for an event called Carne Asada Sunday, where he served up fans strip steak for the charity, which builds fields and donates equipment for youth in LA. He’s also an active volunteer with the Union Rescue Mission and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. It seems as if Andre Ethier’s heart is as big as his batting average. Now, if only they could incorporate that into his stats…
krista simmons is a local restaurants editor, writer and blogger who regularly contributes to various LA publications including Brand X, Metromix, the LA Times Daily Dish and iamthatgirl.com
GLEAN and be SATISFIED
by sienna spencer
The Big Pick. Catchy name. Rick Nahmias, the founder of Food Forward, knows what he’s doing—and why he’s doing it. A professional photographer by trade, he is the gracious host of weekly “mini picks” and quarterly “big picks” throughout the San Fernando Valley and the LA Basin, each of which is simply a day of gathering extra fruit from the city’s plentiful trees that would otherwise go to waste, and giving it to people in need. Feeding the community—literally.
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feeding the community
This ancient custom called gleaning has been connected with feeding the poor and downtrodden since biblical times, as illustrated by the story of Ruth, who is allowed to modestly glean during the barley harvest, thus demonstrating the way to God. Although considered an act of charity here in present-day America, back in medieval Europe it was the peasants’ legal right to glean at the end of every agricultural cycle. According to food historian Ken Albala, farmers who “were scrupulous about picking everything up were considered stingy and mean.” Valuable fruits and vegetables were strictly offlimits. In fact, there was a litany of rules that both farmer and gleaner had to abide by, and hungry families were relegated to precious wheat and other field crops. Jean-Francois Millet’s 1857 painting “The Gleaners” is the most famous depiction of this act, and realistically portrays three lower-class female figures bent over gathering leftover wheat after a harvest. The work shocked critics and the gentry alike, who were dismayed at this reminder of the rural poor’s existence.
photograph: Curt Gibbs, ExperienceLA on Flickr56
In the winter of 2008, Rick was walking his dog when he thought of an altruistic idea: He could organize a regular community gleaning and have a local food bank be the distributor. The Valley headquarters of the Jewish Family Service agency’s SOVA food pantry program was eight minutes from Rick’s home so he wouldn’t have far to drive with boxes of fruit on his backseat. He had no idea that in a few months, he would be driving away from each pick with hundreds of pounds of produce. Luckily, SOVA had a truck. Equipped with three food pantries at Pico and Robertson in the Fairfax District and in Van Nuys, SOVA (which is Hebrew for “eat and be satisfied”) has been providing supplemental foodstuffs for low-income urbanities for 26 years. Fred Summers, SOVA’s director of operations, tells me that, sadly, the need for free groceries has gone up by 50 percent in the past year. Talk about paying it forward; the overhead for Food Forward is practically zero. They already have the equipment (which are basically fruit pickers, available for $12), and provide other thoughtful amenities like water, sunblock, gloves and cardboard boxes for transporting the
Forward word now graces the front of their T-shirts. Before making a final decision, Food Forward will go on reconnaissance, and conduct a fruit taste test to see if it is indeed pick-worthy. So far this year, they’ve collected tangerines, lemons, grapefruits and plenty of oranges. Just wait until fall, when they get their hands on apples, dates, persimmons and pomegranates. Rick says that citrus fruits are best because of their long shelf life, their amazing nutritious properties, the abundance of trees here in Los Angeles and two seasons for harvesting—summer and winter.
harvest. Taking these minimal costs into account, the remuneration is priceless. On average, the SOVA Community Food and Resource program feeds over 7,000 individuals monthly, and now, thanks to Food Forward, they receive a copious weekly gift of fresh fruit. The very first mini pick (more of a trial pick) consisted of Rick and one other person who answered his ad on Craig’s List and a friend’s tangerine tree. They departed with a surprising abundance and Rick knew he was on the right track. This was just one tree on one block from one neighborhood in the Valley. For the next go-round, two pickers climbed to six, and the found fruit bounty from this tree totaled 800 pounds.
The urban gleaning movement has been catching on in progressive areas all over the country. The “immediacy and simplicity of the action” is what has reconnected passionate volunteers with a sense of community purpose, says Rick. This ideology is clear in Food Forward’s simple, sincere slogan: “A grassroots effort by Angelenos to alleviate urban hunger.” There are no layers of bureaucracy to cut through. The volunteers are donating their time knowing that all the fruit they hand-collect will be put directly into hungry mouths beginning the very next day. “Doesn’t matter the age, demographic or interest level in food,” Rick explains. For pickers, gleaning and giving creates a pure feeling of tangible, instantaneous satisfaction. This is a premise I heard from several participants, especially Erica Kenner and Carl Buratti, Rick’s right and left hands. They were strangers who met at a pick and have become avid friends. Before finding Food Forward, both of them were searching for something…more. Something they weren’t getting from school, work or a church. They needed some good vibes. Food Forward is “at the intersection of all the things I care about,” says Tim Mansfield, volunteer picker and Google site designer. “You don’t need to have any political affiliation, it appeals to the lowest common denominator: feeding the homeless.”
THE BIG PICK
In the beginning months, Rick ran into a few thorns when lining up potential residences to gather at. Before the website was up it was challenging to evaluate the volunteer homeowner’s tree offering. Food Forward thrives on being organized and professional, without losing its grassroots feel, and now they provide a short survey for prospective donators to fill out online, with questions regarding the age, height and health of the potential food source. The pickers have become a little more picky, and it has paid off with enormous victories. The first Big Pick in March yielded 4,800 pounds of oranges and the second doubled that with close to an astounding 8,000 pounds of citrus gathered. The definition of Fruitanthropy: the picking, donating, or distributing of fruit for humanitarian reasons. This Food
On the first officially hot weekend of summer, I park behind a large, white SOVA delivery truck on the street. Just past the curb are the Cal State Northridge historic orange groves, still pristine after 80 years. How is this here? I mutter to myself, as I slather on the SPF 50. It seems like an anomaly, suddenly, magically existing on Nordhoff Street. I have a vague notion of what to expect: I know what trees and oranges look like, that’s a good start. But gleaning? The only gleaning I’ve done up until now is the intellectual kind… I spy a charming gazebo with white folding chairs set up wedding style, a sea of straw hats, and the sight of all the green and orange makes me sigh a little. At the check-in desk, all I have to do is fill out two short forms, they give me a typed
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photograph: Bernard Falkin
nametag with my reservation time and I’m good to go. That was easy, I think with a smile. I am encouraged to head to the gazebo for a quick orientation (how to do a thumb test to determine whether an orange is spongy and therefore unusable) and to nosh on the delightful pot-luck spread. Pink Floyd is softly rockin’ in the background while a father helps two young kids juice some of the just-picked oranges. Scanning the crowd, I take in collegiate couples, parent/ child partners spending a Sunday outdoors, teenage boys here on a faith-based community outing. Teenage boys? They are the last demographic I expect to see here, and yet they end up working so hard that I incorrectly assume they are with Food Forward. Many of the day’s 100 volunteers have heard about the Big Pick through CSUN, Slow Food and through friends of Rick. Erica Kenner speculates that about half showed up for the March Big Pick and the other half are first-timers. It is proudly mentioned that all the pickers were invited electronically via Facebook, Twitter and the Food Forward blog—no wasted paper flyers here. I mosey from tree to tree in the orchard, picking up the occasional orange and listening in on conversations. A young lady says to her girlfriend that she sits at a desk all day and it’s nice to get some exercise. A sweet, middle-aged couple have come to the pick with matching hats, bandanas, gardening gloves, a canteen, the works. They are obviously experienced. “We’ve never done this before!” they insist, laughing together on a ladder. Children are giggling, creating orange piles, pausing to peel and nibble. Rick has given the OK to tree-climb, so I grab hold of a branch and jump into the V-shaped lap of several sturdy ones, feeling like a little girl again. But my body tells me that climbing trees was easier 20 years ago and I quickly give up and grab a picker. What’s a picker? Why, it’s a long broom handle with a basket and what look like claws at the top. I beeline to the beautiful brook and choose to attack trees where I can hear the zen-like babbling. But the oranges I manage to knock off fall directly into the water and my picker isn’t long enough to reach the high fruit. I start to feel useless until a good Samaritan trades me his extended one. Proudly, I look down into my sunny box of oranges and lovingly pluck the leaves and stems off. I take a picture of it. I have sunblock on top of sweat on top of dirt on top of sunblock. It feels good to be of service. See you in this fall for the third Big Pick! log onto foodforward.org + jfsla.org/sova
sienna spencer earned her degree in critical studies and writing from CSULA and has worked in restaurants, catering, cooking schools and with the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. Recently she has been a segment producer for KCRW’s Good Food.
TUESDAY—FRIDAY 11:00AM-3PM • SUNDAY 7:30AM-2PM Suite 19, Sunset + Vine Building Corner of Selma Ave. and Morningside Court For Location Map and Daily Menu visit www.hollywoodfarmerskitchen.org
LOCAL HARVEST PRODUCTS Seasonal Preserves Made from Locally Grown Produce FARMER’S KITCHEN CAFE Serving Healthy, Affordable Dishes Prepared with Farm Fresh Produce from the Hollywood Farmers' Market The Farmer’s Kitchen is operated by Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA), the non-profit operator of the Hollywood Farmers’ Market
4HE ,ITTLE 'REEK 2ESTAURANT 3HOP 4HAT (AS IT !LL
0APA #RISTOgS \ #+ )MPORTING
back of the house
Neal Fraser Grace
photographs by david guilbert
josiah citrin Mélisse
michael cimarusti Providence
david lefevre Water Grill
gino angelini Angelini Osteria
ourteen- to sixteen-hour days slaving over a hot stove creating perfect plates is tiring and lonely, even for chefs at the top. As a way of combating the loneliness Donato Poto of Providence Restaurant came up with the idea of collaborating. The five chefs came together to form the 5 x 5 Chefs Collaborative to inspire one another, have some fun in the kitchen and create amazing menus in the process. Rotating who hosts, each chef cooks a course at each dinner and if the lineup of top chefs isn’t enough there’s also a special guest chef from out of town for every meal Chef Michael Cimarusti put it best: “We come together in the kitchen, inspire each other…learn something new and in the process make some money for charity.” A portion of the proceeds from each night benefits the Southern California chapter of Special Olympics. Restaurant kitchens are exciting: so much activity, so many people focused on their
piece of the machine, so many delicious smells from steaming pots on the stoves. The atmosphere is hot and highly charged; working the line is not for the faint-hearted. At the center of it all is “Chef”—checking plates, tasting sauces, giving orders and generally directing the show. Sometimes shouting, oftentimes quietly creating a plate—head down and in full concentration. In the case of the 5 x 5 there are six Chefs including the special guest all working together. Before each dinner the chefs get to have dinner together as they sign menus, chat about their businesses and share a joke— or two. Then it’s off the kitchen to stir the pot, chop, grill and prep the plates. The final dinner is Sept. 21 at Angelini Osteria, at $150 per person (plus $65 for optional wine pairing). It’s not cheap but it’s a bargain when you think about the sheer quantity of talent in the kitchen—and it benefits a worthy cause.
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tea as an Ingredient by agatha french
Taking a page from Algabar, the following recipes elevate tea beyond its usual status. Whether as cookies, hors d’œuvres or cocktails, tea adds a whisper of familiar flavor but in the most unexpected way.
wild hibiscus martini
From Kim Haasarud, The Liquid Chef
1½ ounces Belvedere Citrus Vodka ½
ounce Hendricks gin
ounce hibiscus syrup*
ounce lemon juice
ounce orange juice, fresh-
Hibiscus flower, for garnish
or most of us “teatime” signifies an afternoon endeavor: A time to kick back with a warm, restorative cup of one of the world’s oldest beverages, a 3 o’clock respite we too rarely find the time to enjoy. But for others, the scents, flavors and nuances of the many varieties of tea have served as a creative jumping off point, a world of endless possibilities to taste and explore. That tea can mean more than a prepackaged bag becomes instantly clear the moment that Gail Baral, owner of Algabar, begins to speak about how she “curates” her store. As with a fine art collection, Baral and her team rigorously select their teas to provide the highest quality sampling, seeking out optimal flavor and sustainable practices often used in their growth. Perhaps because Baral is so familiar with tea and with the many ways that it is experienced the world over, tea at Algabar has seeped out-
side the cup and into other incarnations. One taste of their addictive homemade potato chips sprinkled with smoky black tea, and the idea of tea as an ingredient begins to unfold. Matcha, a finely powdered green tea, is a wonderful addition in “cooking, baking and smoothies,” says Baral. She recommends drinking the highest grade Ceremonial Matcha like Zen Treasure and cooking with Maison Matcha. The taste of her lavender-infused iced tea begs for white lace gloves and other finery and best of all it doubles as a base for vodka cocktails thus extending tea’s social life to the witching hour. Of Algabar chef Cathy Shambley’s Khyber Pass chai and pear jam, Baral adds that all fruit is sourced from local farmers’ markets, and that Shambley “hand stirs and samples every batch.” Tea like perfect local produce can make so much more than the sum of its parts.
Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a skewered candied hibiscus flower. * To Make Hibiscus Herbal Tea Syrup: 2–3 dried hibiscus flowers 1
cup white sugar
Combine the contents in a saucepan and heat over low heat. Keep stirring until sugar has been dissolved and the hibiscus flowers start to give off their color. Keep stirring until the mixture turns into a deep pink color. Take off the heat and let cool.
edible Los Angeles is excited to announce a series of events planned with Algabar. Beginning in September and following once per month, three events will explore tea as an ingredient in some surprising recipes. More to follow as we fine tune these teathemed evenings, as well as a tea-themed recipe contest! Please check in on our website for dates and details.
behind the bottle
One for the Road by amy christine
ince the movie Sideways Santa Barbara County has been a popular quick-trip destination. Not only is it a mere 2½-hour drive from Los Angeles, roughly similar to your daily commute on the 10. We Angelenos love a casual and laid-back environment, making Santa Barbara County’s shabbychic vibe the perfect weekend getaway for LA wine devotees. The geography: Santa Barbara County is divided into three broad areas for wine: Santa Maria Valley, Santa Rita Hills and Santa Ynez Valley. Santa Maria Valley is the most northerly region, just below San Luis Obispo. Santa Rita, with its picturesque rolling hills, falls just south of Santa Maria and stretches to the east, bordering the Santa Ynez Valley. Santa Ynez is the warmest and most easterly region. Though some will consider this heresy, if you know your French wine regions and aren’t
afraid to use your imagination a little, you can think of the regions in Santa Barbara County as Burgundy (Santa Maria and Santa Rita) extending through the Maconnais and finally landing in the Rhone Valley (Santa Ynez). Which explains a lot about what grapes are planted where. The grapes: Look for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Santa Maria Valley and Santa Rita Hills, where the proximity to the Pacific Ocean results in warm days and cool nights, an ideal climate for these varieties. Heat during the day produces rich ripe fruit, while cool nights preserve acidity and minerality. Depending on the producer and wine-making techniques the Pinot Noirs range from savory and spicy, like Samsara and Sea Smoke, to delicate cherry fruit–driven styles, like Brewer-Clifton. The Chardonnays range from citrus and green apple–dominated unoaked wines, like the Melville Vineyards Inox bottling, to rich oaked styles like Gainey. The white jasmine and honeyed Viognier grape also does quite well in Santa Barbara County; check out Cold Heaven wines for an exotic twist on your white wine summer drinking. Moving east into a warmer climate where the fog burns off early in the day, Syrah is king in Santa Ynez Valley. Known for its highly spicy aromatics and meaty/smoked game flavors on the palate, Syrah thrives in this warmer, more inland region. Syrah from Santa Ynez is generally big, bold and lush and can have savory undertones of black pepper and olives, like Piedrasassi and Rusack, or be full-blown in your face wines with stewed black plums, raspberries and delicious notes of framboise. No matter your travel style, the annual Celebration of Harvest festival at Rancho Sisquoc Winery is a great way to taste a wide spectrum of styles and varieties from many different producers. This year the event is Oct. 10 from 1 to 4 p.m. There’s a silent auction, live music, and food from local restaurants. With 100-plus wineries in attendance, be prepared for purple teeth and dry lips. Stay late, bring a blanket and feel free to crash out and sober up on hay bales beneath the Santa Barbara County stars.
Where to go: Lompoc! Lompoc (insider tip:
pronounced Lom-poke, not Lompock) has two claims to fame: Vandenberg Air Force Base and the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex. However, it also happens to be the location of the Wine Ghetto, known officially as Sobhani Industrial Park, a place where 60
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photograph: courtesy of Presidio
The Nitty Gritty Tour:
there are two fabulous dive bars on H Street just north of Ocean Avenue. The first one is called Jasper’s and the second, what else besides Your Place or Mine? Where to stay: The new Embassy Suites offers clean, simple army barracks-like accommodations, at 1117 N. H St.; 805735-8311. A Kitschy Jaunt:
photographs: Peter Hunken
Where to go: Solvang. If tasting in an industrial park doesn’t do
large storage spaces have been converted into true “garagistes” wineries. It’s rustic, off the beaten path and there is nothing glamorous about it. The great news is that winemaking is happening everywhere. Between September and November you can watch grapes being crushed by stomping feet as you sip your Syrah. Tres authetique! The Ghetto is located at the corner of Ninth Street and Industrial Way behind the Home Depot. Where to taste: Palmina, Flying Goat, Fiddlehead, Samsara, Holus Bolus and La Vie all have tasting rooms in the Ghetto. Ampelos Cellars is just down the street at 1633 W. Central Ave. Just 10 minutes east of Lompoc in Santa Rita Hills is Melville Winery, a must-see estate with a beautiful Tuscan-style tasting room. Special for edible LA readers: Holus Bolus, a small boutique Syrah producer, is offering a special VIP tour for free, complete with barrel tasting, and 10 percent off all wine purchases. Email Peter in advance to set up an appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org. Where to eat: La Botte, an Italian eatery that charmingly has not changed its décor or menu since 1975. Red checkered vinyl tablecloth atmosphere, eggplant Parmesan smothered in mozzarella and of course, the proprietor, “Mama,” will knock off a glass or two of Port at your table and if prompted will regale you with stories of her gambling adventures at the Chumash Casino. Suvan’s Kitchen: a great little Thai eatery. Again, expect the opposite of fancy, but it’s locals people-watching at its finest! A note about Lompoc: 8 p.m. is considered late dining, so get there by 7 or you may risk wearing out your welcome! What else to do: If you’re feeling like hanging with the locals,
it for you, and you happen to have a penchant for wooden clogs and windmills, then Solvang is one-stop shopping! An authentic Danish village unmarred by time, check out solvangusa.com for a calendar of super fun local events, including Free Friday Flicks at St. Mark’s Church! Where to taste: Walk down Copenhagen Drive and stop into Presidio, D’Alfonso and Curran (the Curran wines are made by
Kris Curran of Sea Smoke fame) in the morning, then head out to Beckman Vineyards and Winery in Santa Ynez with a picnic basket and a thirst for Grenache rose. What else to do? Take a cooking class, learning to work with local ingredients, at Chef’s Touch on Mission Drive. Classes offered every other Friday; call 805-686-1040 for reservations. Where to eat: Don’t miss Paula’s Pancake House for breakfast (1531 Mission Dr., Solvang; 805-688-2867). Cabernet Bistro (485 Alisal Rd., 2nd Floor, 805-688-8871) offers duck three ways (foie gras, pate and thighs prepared confit). And of course, The Hitching Post, about 10 minutes from Solvang, but worth the drive for hardcore meat lovers! Where to stay: The Royal Copenhagen Inn, of course! You will feel right at home in a room ostensibly decorated by your grandmother circa 1962. It’s fashionably unfashionable. If your kitsch likes a little more refinement, the Ballard Inn and Suites in the town next to Solvang offers upscale rooms at more upscale prices; 800-638-2466. The Connoisseurs Retreat: Where to go: Los Olivos. The rustic but classy one-street town
with an Old West feel. Where to stay: For Daniel Boone fans, the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn offers quaint wine country charm and room service. Word on the street is that Mr. Parker himself can be found from time to time in the parlor hosting a fireside chat. Or take a gamble and stay at the Chumash Casino, really nice rooms
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with fluffy down comforters, a gym and a lap pool! It’s only a 15-minute drive from Los Olivos. What else to do: Take an afternoon to detox with a facial, a deep-tissue massage or full-body scrub at the Champagne Spa at the Fess Parker. Drop a few coins in the slot machines at the Chumash. Discover great local nightlife at The Maverick, aka “the cowboy bar.” where you can freshen your weary wine palate with a cold draft beer into the wee hours of the morning. Tired of tasting? Ride horseback through Santa Ynez Valley: Alisal Barn; 805-688-6411 for reservations. Where to eat: Panino for sandwiches to go or Patrick’s Side Street Café for a relaxing sit-down lunch. Mattie’s Tavern is perfect for a romantic dinner for two! Both Mattie’s and Patrick’s are family owned and operated, which we love! Where to taste: Los Olivos has the highest concentration of tasting rooms of any town in the Central Coast. Must-taste places include Stolpman Vineyards and Longoria. Off the beaten path, head to Foxen (7200 Foxen Canyon Rd.; 805-937-4251. Most importantly, don’t forget to swallow only the wines you like and spit the rest! Or better yet, rent a car and driver for the day: Gold Coast Limos; 805-937-LIMO.
amy christine is the director of California sales for Veritas Imports and works part-time as a sommelier at A.O.C. restaurant. In addition, she makes a little Syrah called Hocus Pocus with her husband in Lompoc.
cooking / wine&spirits / farm&garden / restaurants /etc
22nd Street Landing Fishing Charters 141 West 22nd St. San Pedro 90731 310-251-4140 22ndstreet.com
American Wine and Food Festival Los Angeles October 2-3, 2009 AWFF.org
Auntie Em’s Organic, seasonal produce delivery 323-255-0800 auntieemsdelivery.com auntieemsproduce. blogspot.com auntieemskitchen.com
Chez Cherie Cooking Classes and More 1401 Foothill Blvd. La Cañada Flintridge 91011 818-952-7217 chezcherie.com
Cowgirl Creamery 866-433-7834 cowgirlcreamery.com
D’s Delights Gourmet Chocolates Dschocolates.com
Descanso Gardens 1418 Descanso Drive La Cañada Flintridge 91011 818-949-4200 www.descansogardens.org
Heart Beet Gardening 310-460-9365 heartbeetgardening.com
Heritage Wine Company 155 N. Raymond Ave. Pasadena 91103 626-844-9333 heritagewinecompany.com
JCT Woodwork Wood bowls from fallen trees of LA jctwoodwork.com
Los Angeles Regional Foodbank LAfoodbank.org
Magnanimus Wine Group
Surfas Corner of W. Washington and National Blvd. Culver City 90232 866-799-4770 surfasonline.com
The York 5018 York Blvd. Los Angeles 90042 theyorkonyork.com
Verdugo Bar 3408 Verdugo Rd. Los Angeles 90065 323-257-3408 verdugobar.com
Whole Foods Market 23 Los Angeles County stores wholefoodsmarket.com
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Molto Vegas Farmers’ Market 7485 Dean Martin Drive at Eldorado Las Vegas NV email@example.com
Organic Edible Gardens Nancy Cipes 310-471-7592 organicediblegardens.com
Papa Cristo’s/C&K Importing 2771 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles 90006 323-737-2970 papacristos.com
Elements Kitchen 107 South Fair Oaks #110 Pasadena 91105 626-440-0100 elementskitchen.com
Fowler Museum at UCLA 310-825-4361 fowler.ucla.edu
See-LA Farmers’ Markets 323-463-3171 See-LA.org
Farmer’s Kitchen Sunset & Vine 323-467-7600 hollywoodfarmerskitchen.org
Gardenerd 310-391-3949 gardenerd.com
A Terroir-ist’s Manifesto for Eating in Place By Gary Paul Nabhan garynabhan.com
Know where your food has come from through knowing those who produced it for you, from farmer to forager, rancher or fisher to earthworms building a deeper, richer soil, to the heirloom vegetable, the nitrogen-fixing legume, the pollinator, the heritage breed of livestock, & the sourdough culture rising in your flour. Know where your food has come from by the very way it tastes: its freshness telling you how far it may have traveled, the hint of mint in the cheese suggesting what the goat has eaten, the terroir of the wine reminding you of the lime in the stone you stand upon, so that you can stand up for the land that has offered it to you.
Know where your foods come from by the patience displayed while putting them up, while peeling, skinning, coring or gutting them, while pit-roasting, poaching or fermenting them, while canning, salting or smoking them, while arranging them on a plate for our eyes to behold. Know where your food comes from by the slow savoring of each and every morsel, by letting their fragrances lodge in your memory reminding you of just exactly where you were the very day that you became blessed by each of their distinctive flavors. When you know where your food comes from you can give something back to those lands & waters, that rural culture, that migrant harvester, curer, smoker, poacher, roaster or vintner. You can give something back to that soil, something fecund & fleeting like compost or something lasting & legal like protection. We, as humans, have not been given roots as obvious as those of plants. The surest way we have to lodge ourselves within this blessed earth is by knowing where our food comes from.
photograph: Carole Topalian
Know where your food has come from by ascertaining the health & wealth of those who picked & processed it, by the fertility of the soil that is left in the patch where it once grew, by the traces of pesticides found in the birds & the bees there. Know whether the bays & shoals where your shrimp & fish once swam were left richer or poorer than before you & your kin ate from them.
Know where your food comes from by the richness of stories told around the table recalling all that was harvested nearby during the years that came before you, when your predecessors & ancestors, roamed the same woods & neighborhoods where you & yours now roam. Know them by the songs sung to praise them, by the handmade tools kept to harvest them, by the rites & feasts held to celebrate them, by the laughter let loose to show them our affection.
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