Category Archives: Food

Old World Flavor Goes Fast-Casual

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Photo by Courtnay Robbins

Some people, under the tutelage of a parent or grandparent, open a restaurant because cooking is in their DNA. Or, a master chef might’ve inspired them in the kitchen during their first restaurant job.

Peter Georges landed in the restaurant business by happy accident. In 2003, he and his wife, actress Cathrine Georges, moved from New York to L.A. to be closer to her family and her work: She had a recurring role on “Days of Our Lives.”

“I was an executive at a tech company and could work from home,” says Georges. “Plus, L.A. seemed like a better place to raise kids.”

The restaurant business was on Georges’ bucket list. When he found himself with money to invest, he jumped into restaurants and real estate — though “I never thought either would be successful,” he admits.

But he’s now the proud co-owner of Rodini Park Greek Kitchen in North Hollywood, the popular local breakfast spot HASH on Bluff Creek Drive in The Campus at Playa Vista, and, as of March, a second Rodini Park just next door to HASH. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

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Going Bananas for a Good Cause

CinnamonJen Miller is on a mission to challenge our current food system — more specifically, to tackle food waste. Bunch, her company launched just this year, uses perfectly good produce that’s too ripe to stock to make banana-based ‘nice’ creams. While the product might be free from dairy, artificial ingredients and refined sugars, the seductively named results are full of flavor: Deep Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter Fudge, Coffee Chocolate Chunk, and Cinnamon Swirl.

“I have a passion for food, health and wellness,” says Miller from her Culver City commissary, where you can pick up her hand-packed pints.

Working in kitchens throughout her life, Miller became aware of just how big a problem food waste is over the course of her culinary career. In fact, she has the statistics to prove it: up to 40% of food in the U.S. gets tossed because of factors like cosmetic imperfections and supply surplus, according to USDA estimates. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

New Kids on the Block

food-1It seems like every other day one restaurant closes its kitchen and another one pops open. It can be hard to keep track, so let us introduce you to several interesting eateries that have opened in the past few months:

The Window

The corner of Rose and 5th avenues has been quiet since Fiesta Brava and Ranch Market left, until now. Last week the brains behind the soon-to-be-in-this-spot restaurant American Beauty have been piquing diners’ interest with The Window, a walk-up counter serving a $3.95 cheeseburger and $2.75 fries. The entire parking lot is roped off, sprinkled with colorful blue, red and turquoise stools and an umbrella for shade. The simple menu also includes a beauty burger (for vegetarians), a fried chicken sandwich, a shaved kale salad and a grain bowl. Drink options are lemonade, iced tea and soda, and an ice cream sandwich for dessert. Everything on the menu is under $8 — a treat in pricy Venice. (JK) …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

The Must-Devour List

food1Honey butter, melt-in-your-mouth strip steak, Hachiya persimmon ice cream: Now that you’re hungry, we present six standout dishes that fall into the exclusive category of one-of-a-kind/too-good-to-miss. Start checking these items off your foodie bucket list tonight!

Shrimp & Grits at Ms Chi Cafe

When someone mentions shrimp and grits, you probably think Southern soul food. Turns out, it’s also a Chinese brunch staple. Chef Shirley Chung remembers her grandma’s dish: “Some people used tofu. My grandma added shrimp. She was fancy.” The “Top Chef” runner-up has updated her brunch menu with requests from regulars, substituting eggplant for pork in her hand-cut noodles and adding her shrimp and grits: a potpourri of fried scallions, crunchy preserved vegetables, sesame granola and shrimp bathed in chili sauce floating around in a nutty batch of brown rice grits. Another pure delight is Chung’s matcha glaze mochi donut, like an old-fashioned buttermilk made with mochi flour, so it’s gluten-free. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Cherryvale Farms Makes Baking a Piece of Cake

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Photo By: Zsuzsi Steiner

It’s 10:30 a.m. on a Monday, and Cherryvale Farms founder Lindsey Rosenberg is already on her second meeting. That alone is not such a great feat, until you factor in that she’s nine months pregnant, the mother of a two-year-old daughter, and that her company — which produces 100% plant-based baking mixes and on-the-go treats — is undergoing a brand redesign. And yet the 34-year-old is the image of calm and control.

“My inbox is only at 36,” she says with a smile when I ask if she’s overwhelmed every day.

We’re sitting comfortably in the front lounge of her husband’s ad agency in Playa Vista.

“After USC, I worked in fashion and entertainment for a few years,” Rosenberg shares. “And I was ready for a big change.”

Change meant going back to the farm — literally. Rosenberg grew up in Soquel, just south of Santa Cruz, population 1,000. Her parents still live on their hobby farm, growing fruits and vegetables on Cherryvale Avenue.

Rosenberg and her father, a veteran entrepreneur, set out to create a brand out of the Cherryvale Farms story. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

Sweet Heaven!

sees2Every year for Valentine’s Day, my father-in-law gives my husband and me a large, red, heart-shaped box of See’s Candies chocolates — specifically, the Nuts & Chews. He also mails boxes to his two out-of-state daughters. It’s a tradition he takes very seriously, and he’s not alone: See’s Candies’ single best day for sales is always the one before Valentine’s Day.

In anticipation of the holiday, I dream about the California-grown almonds covered in dark Guittard chocolate. I tell myself I’ll only eat two pieces a day, knowing it will be incredibly difficult to have such discipline — I’ll probably eat more. And I’m not alone: More than 17 million people eat See’s each year.

When I moved from Venice to Inglewood a little over a year ago, La Cienega Boulevard became one of my main thoroughfares. It was during one of my commutes, sitting in slow-moving traffic and swinging to KJAZZ, that my eyes fixated on a building with a familiar, classic logo: See’s Candies.

I began to fantasize about what happened behind closed doors. Was it just like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory in the classic Gene Wilder movie? Could Oompa Loompas be singing and dancing inside?

The factory is not open to the public, but I was able to secure a press tour. I immediately thought of the words printed on the five golden tickets Wonka hid in his candy bars: “In your wildest dreams you could not imagine the marvelous surprises that await you.” …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

In With The New

hals2Sometimes a restaurant becomes so enmeshed in your memory that it becomes synonymous with family and home. That’s the way I think of Hal’s Bar & Grill.

In the late ’80s, Hal’s was one of the fancier restaurants in Venice. It was ultra cool, hosting live jazz and serving the most diverse crowd of artists, celebrities and locals on the Westside. My family and I would excitedly settle into one of their booths to celebrate birthdays, holidays and other special occasions. Hal became a true friend.

At some point during our meal, Hal would slide in next to whoever was at the end of our booth and chit chat about everything from art and entertainment to world headlines and local happenings. He was warm and welcoming, and when he smiled at you, you felt special, a characteristic he shared with my stepfather, the late actor-dancer Gregory Hines. They were kindred spirits and good friends.

The night of my high school graduation, my family rented out the entire restaurant. I felt like a big shot because I got to invite my good friends to a sit-down dinner at the hippest restaurant in the neighborhood. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Merry Meals

food_merryOh what fun it is to ring in the New Year — and yet, the end of the year can also drum up more work and stress: shopping, planning, cooking, baking and more cooking. It’s a time of family togetherness, which is nourishing, but it also means more mouths to feed and dishes to wash. While home-cooked meals are worth their weight in gold, sometimes going out to eat is… priceless. Reserve your table at one of these restaurants that’ll gladly give you the gift of peace of mind for the holidays.

Celebrate Your Good Fortune @ Lunetta

Most holiday scenes are filled with snowy streets and chestnuts roasting by the open fire. But in SoCal, our December days are filled with sunshine, shorts and surfboards. Lunetta Dining and Moon Bar — the nocturnal counterpart to brunch-driven Lunetta All Day — makes you feel right at home in the wintry season. Low lighting and mistletoe hang from the walls, the warm and welcoming atmosphere feels like a toasty lodge après-ski, and chef Raphael Lunetta has crafted Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve menus with a few of his favorite things. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Slow-cooked comfort comes to Hal’s Bar & Grill

hals_1Some things about Hal’s Bar & Grill never change: Hal’s turkey burger, which has its own following on Instagram; Hal’s Caesar salad; the organic half chicken, a favorite of regulars; live jazz on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights; Mikel Alatza’s three-dimensional portrait of co-owner Hal Frederick hanging on the back wall across from Kwaku Alston’s larger-than-life black-and-white portrait of a sharply dressed lone African-American man walking down the road holding a guitar case; and the sight of Hal himself, white hair, classy suit, big smile.

And then, of course, some things do change. Like when the original location of Hal’s Bar & Grill on Abbot Kinney closed its doors in April 2015 after 30 years and opened down the street, sharing the former Primitivo space with its sister restaurant, Casalinda Mexican Grill, also owned by Hal’s Bar & Grill. Then, in April 2017, Hal’s Bar & Grill launched its new, additional location at Runway Playa Vista, serving only breakfast and lunch for six months while they waited for a liquor license. 

This month, Hal’s announced the arrival of a new executive chef, Lee Garman …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

Timely Treats

treatIt seems like every day another evite or email pops up in our inboxes requesting our presence at another party: an office party, holiday gathering, family potluck, or end of the year celebration. It’s a wonderful — but also busy — time of year, and because you can’t show up empty-handed, here’s a list of delicious sweet and savory snacks to bring to your next soiree.

1. Terrific Tamales

For many Mexican-American families, tamales are a Christmastime tradition. Tamara’s Tamales on Washington Blvd. has been filling holiday orders for 27 years and counting. You’ll most likely see Tamara herself walking around in the kitchen overseeing every hand-packed tamale. Things get serious right about now. The cutoff date to order half dozen and a dozen tamales is Dec. 15. After that, it’s walk-ins only. If you do walk in, ask for whatever’s just out of the oven. Impress your party host with machaca beef or chicken verde tamales, or specialties like the king crab or traditional sweet tamale — stuffed with pineapple, raisins, sugar and anise. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.