Creative Judaism

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Rabbi Lori. Photo by Edizen Stowell/venicepaparazzi.com

Disco dancing down Abbot Kinney Boulevard with headphones for Simchat Torah. Reading text from rabbis about human sexuality as essential herbal essences waft in the air at Scent-ual Havdalah. Biking through 100 Years of Jewish Venice on an Electric Light Bike Shabbat.

This is Open Temple.

“I always say the core values of Open Temple are truth, creativity and love,” says Rabbi Lori Shapiro, who created Open Temple four years ago. “People that stick with us are on that journey. They are people seeking love, creativity and truth. It creates a strong core. I see that happening. It’s beautiful and fascinating.”

Open Temple is having a breakout year, according to Shapiro. It now has a home — Open Temple House on Electric Avenue — and is receiving national attention: a three-year commitment from The UpStart Accelerator and recognition in the current Los Angeles edition of the Slingshot Guide, which highlights the most innovative Jewish organizations in America.

“What began as one woman standing at the Abbot Kinney Fest collecting names is now a powerful dynamic reverberating throughout the Jewish world, locally, nationally and internationally,” says Shapiro. “It’s its own thing — bigger than me.”

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

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A Cook’s Tour of L.A.

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Drunken Noodles at unity la

Put the words airport, hotel and food together and you aren’t usually talking about an unforgettable meal. But that’s just what Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport’s new three-in-one dining concept — the conspicuously un-capitalized unity la market, bar and restaurant — aims to serve. Their motto, “unquestionably un-airport,” says it all.

The average stay of a visitor at the Hyatt Regency is one day. The hotel’s mission is to expose guests to L.A.’s diverse food scene without them having to leave the building.

“We want to give people a sense of where they were for a short amount of time,” says Charles Fusco, executive chef at unity la.

The unity la menu is currently divided into the fare of six neighborhoods: Thai Town, Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights, East L.A., Santa Monica and Sunset Strip. In East L.A., chicken mole is plated with chorizo potato hash. Boyle Heights showcases charred corn salad and crispy pork belly. Santa Monica offers up fish tacos and California salad, with roasted kabocha squash. The Drunken Noodles from Thai Town is a take on a traditional Thai hangover cure, shares Fusco. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Hot Licks

icecreamOn a cone, in a cup, between two cookies or even inside a waffle taco shell, ice cream in all of its many incarnations remains the official treat of summer. And these days, Baskin-Robbins and Ben & Jerry’s aren’t the only game in town.

Ice cream shops specializing in house-made, artisanal, organic, sustainable and locally sourced frozen confections are popping up throughout the Westside.

Let’s call it The Golden Age of Ice Cream: a whole new crop of boutique shops is attracting lines out the door with adoring fans willing to wait, often late into the night, for some of the richest, most decadent flavors that ice cream lovers have ever tasted.

Beat the heat and treat yourself to one of these 13 standout frozen treats. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

She’s in the Smile Business

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Photo by Emily Hart Roth

One look at Margaret Schniderman’s face — her bright green eyes, beaming smile and ginger-colored hair — and it’s easy to see why she picked radiant yellow to dominate Ginger’s Divine Ice Creams, her new ice cream shop on West Washington Boulevard. Three yellow umbrellas, yellow door frames, yellow chairs … the list goes on.

“Yellow is a happy color,” Schniderman, whose nickname is Ginger, explains. “I want it to feel like a little break in here. A treat. A vacation spot.”

While Schniderman is no stranger to retail, this is her first foray into the food business. Born and raised in Santa Monica, she and her husband bought DNA Clothing on Rose Avenue in 1996. Although incredibly popular with locals, the one-of-its-kind-for-some-time boutique on Rose shut its doors in January 2016.

About two years before DNA closed, Schniderman began thinking about ice cream. In 2014, she attended an ice cream making program at University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the top two ice cream programs in the country along with Penn State. She worked in a dairy plant in the dead of winter with temperatures of 20 below, and followed that experience with a one-year gelato program in L.A.

Finally, Ginger’s Divine Ice Creams opened its doors in late January. …

Read full article at The Argonaut.

Hidden Treasures

tiki-1023x640Playa del Rey feels like a charming little beach town tucked away from the rest of Los Angeles, so perhaps it’s fitting that the chefs behind a brand-new poke shop on Culver Boulevard would hide it in the back of a neighborhood convenience store.

TikiFish started serving traditional Hawaiian-style poke — or, as Chef Lionel Killens calls it, “sushi in a bowl” — just a few weeks ago in Gordon’s Market, where it shares the back wall with ASAP Phorage. While ASAP advertises its Asian sandwiches and pho with a stand-up sign outside Gordon’s, TikiFish is still without one.

For now, they’re focusing on the food.

“We pride ourselves on quality. We get our fish from the Fiji Islands and the Maldives, our salmon from Canada,” Killens says. “We get fresh fish that top-of-the-line sushi places get.”

The story of TikiFish begins with Chef Wonny Lee, who after working at Japanese restaurants for half his culinary career decided to step out on his own. Lee and his partners opened the first TikiFish back in August inside the shopping center at Overland and Rose avenues, where it shares an address with ASAP Phorage parent restaurant Phorage. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Grab & Go, Go, Go

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Photo by The Drip Group

Westside powerhouse chefs D. Brandon Walker and Jill Davie set out to elevate Mar Vista’s dining scene with The Mar Vista, the elegant and airy farm-to-table eatery that replaced The Good Hurt on Venice Boulevard.

In just five months, the concept has been so successful they’re now splitting their time between that collaboration and a sister restaurant — The MV Grab & Go — directly across the street (between the Venice Grind coffee shop and Soaptopia).

“We’ve been doing a lot of jaywalking,” Chef D., formerly of Bread & Roses Café, says with a smile.

“… Even though there’s a brand-new crosswalk in front of us on Venice Boulevard,” Davie (Venice Beach Wines, Josie) is quick to add with a laugh.

While The Mar Vista has established itself as a hot dinner spot on the block, Grab & Go is more casual and quick. The idea for the concept came to the two when they were building out The Mar Vista. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Top 10 Summer Treats

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Photo by Emily Hart Roth

Summer is all about fun under the sun, which makes it equally important to cool off. Restaurants in and around Playa Vista are there to help with lighter fare, thirst-quenching cocktails and, of course, frozen concoctions that will bring out the kid in everyone.

Authentic Shave Ice @ Da Kikokiko

Not to be confused with shaved ice (aka snow cones, usually made from crushed ice), the shave ice at Da Kikokiko is the real Hawaiian deal. The ice is shaved right behind the counter while you watch, then it’s your job to choose the syrup (such as lemon-lime and blackberry), toppings (such as sour spray and dried plum powder), and fillings (like mocha and fresh lychee). Add small-batch ice cream on the bottom if you like. dakikokiko.com

Sunshine Smoothie @ Hal’s Bar & Grill

Hal’s has been born again in Runway at Playa Vista, and this time there’s a juice and smoothie bar. With a name like Sunshine, it’s hard to imagine ordering a more perfect drink with summer brunch. The kale, fresh apple juice, banana and lime combo can be an energizing appetizer before diving into the delicious eggs benedict or popular turkey burger. halsplayavista.com

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

5 New Eateries in the Santa Ynez Valley That Make It an Ever Better Weekend Destination

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Photo by @eatwithxjenn3

The Santa Ynez Valley’s bread and butter is food and wine. Tourists flock to the area just north of Santa Barbara to indulge in fine vintages and a bonanza of locally sourced products, from vegetables to poultry. With dozens of restaurants across six towns, visitors might have a hard time picking where to eat — but as it happens, there a number of brand-new restaurants here that are quite good, each adding something unique to the food scenes in the valley’s main clusters: Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Buellton and Solvang.

First & Oak
When it comes to food, Solvang may be best known for its aebleskiver and other Danish delights. But First & Oak — a few blocks from Solvang’s main drag, Copenhagen Drive — is quickly changing the culinary landscape. This quaint restaurant on the first floor of the Mirabelle Inn is probably the fanciest place in town. Jonathan Rosenson and his family bought the inn on the corner of First and Oak in 2015. The following year, they opened the dining room for business, adding un peu de France to this touristy Danish-themed village. The aesthetic may be French, but the chef is British: Steven Snook, who worked with Gordon Ramsay for six years. The menu includes crispy duck wings and lobster bisque speckled with Dungeness crab beignets. The truffle-roasted cauliflower with crisp quinoa (and scoops of whipped cauliflower) is a standout. …

Read the full article at LA Weekly.

Afternoon Delight

Why should tourists have all the fun? Santa Monica hotels have mastered the art of fine dining in settings that’ll make you fall in love with Southern California all over again. By sea, sky or pool, here are four great places to sit back, relax and feel like a sightseer in your own backyard — all without breaking the bank.

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FIG at Five’s charred octopus. Photo by Matthew Christopher Miller

FIG at Five at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel

FIG Restaurant, 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica | (310) 319-3111 | figsantamonica.com

FIG at Five is one of the more happening happy hours in Santa Monica. There might be a wait for a seat, but it’s worth it. And not just for the relaxing view of the pool and palm trees. From 5 to 6 p.m. seven days a week, most of the food and drinks on the menu are half-off — except the pizzas, bread balloon and last six items on the menu. Since the dishes are from the dinner menu, the selection is rather fancy: charred octopus served with butter beans, pickled onions and Fresno chilies ($8.50); albacore tuna crudo with fennel rub ($6.50); tomato and radish salad with mint, French feta and zinfandel vinaigrette ($8.50); and wood-smoked manila clams with fresh thyme and pepper relish ($8.50). Choose indoor or outdoor patio seating — most seats have a view of the rustling trees. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

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A Kitchen with a Mission

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Photo by Emily Hart Roth

Yellow Fever: The phrase has some pretty negative connotations attached to it. But Chef Kelly Kim has plans to change that, one Asian bowl at a time.

After years of working in corporate sales and marketing research, Kim decided to turn her after-hours passion of cooking and catering into a career. After all, she had watched her Korean dad open and run three Texas BBQ restaurants in Houston.

“I was the oldest daughter of my family,” explains Kim. “My dad worked all of time, and I was in charge of feeding my two stepsisters. My dad would bring home leftover brisket and homemade sausage links.”

Kim is not a classically trained cook. But she’s very sure of what she likes to eat — and how to make it — and started her venture from an innovative idea: an Asian version of Chipotle.
Her Asian bowls top a base of rice, noodles or greens with recipes inspired by Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Hawaiian and Californian cuisine, each with its own artisanal sauce and various customizable toppings. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.