L.A. Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold shown in “City of Gold” digging into a Poseidon Tostada from the Mariscos Jalisco taco truck in Los Angeles.
(JTA) — If you live in Los Angeles and care about food, you already know Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times.
You may have traced one of his pithy reviews to a mini-mall in the San Gabriel Valley for Sichuanese hand-torn noodles, or to an unromantic stretch of Hollywood Boulevard for blood-thickened Thai boat noodle soup, or to Compton for succulent barbecue, or to one of dozens of other neighborhoods far from Rodeo Drive or Venice Beach and other icons of Los Angeles culture.
In eating your way down the trail he has blazed, you may have acquired a taste for a different notion of Los Angeles, for the city as a mecca to which the foodways of East and West, both high and low, all make hajj to tell their story upon your palate.
“City of Gold,” a documentary by Laura Gabbert that premiered Jan. 27 at the Sundance Film Festival, is a dual portrait of both Gold and the city he loves. The camera follows him as he roams from restaurant to restaurant analyzing the food, pointing out subtleties in the metropolitan texture and philosophizing upon the nexus between food, culture, history, geography and anything else that comes to mind.
President Obama visited Canter’s Deli today, an old favorite of Jews in Los Angeles. Over the course of the meal, he sat with a teacher, a wounded veteran, and two women entering the job market, according to Mark Knoller, CBS’s White House correspondent.
Pres Obama discussing basketball and free-throw abilities with customers at Canter's restaurant in Los Angeles. pic.twitter.com/EQVITBHuuO— Stephen Crowley (@Stcrow) July 24, 2014
Canter’s opened in 1931, and has always been a family-owned business dedicated to providing classic Jewish deli foods for the L.A. area.
Let’s hope the President had the good sense to order the matzo ball soup. Goodness knows he’ll probably need some comfort food to go with everyone’s kvetching.
ChocoChicken’s chocolate fried chicken and duckfat fries. // Twitter/KristieHang
Looking for a new way to eat all-American food on Independence Day? Try any of Adam Fleischman’s restaurants.
Who is he, you ask? Why, the founder of the famous Umami Burger, of course!
In 2009, Umami Burger was a single burger joint on La Brea Avenue, in Los Angeles. Since then, the chain has exploded to more than 20 locations in New York, Florida and California. After his first year in business, he had four restaurants that garnered him about 1 million dollars a month.
When Umami Burger opened in New York City, the line curved around the block.
Known for its gourmet burgers like the Truffle Burger, with house-made truffle cheese and glaze, the Hatch Burger, with four types of green chilies and house cheese, and the Umami Burger, with Parmesan crisp, shiitake mushrooms and house ketchup, Umami Burger has revolutionized burgers. “When I created the Umami burger, I wanted a forward-looking burger,” Fleischman said in an interview. “I wanted a burger that was global and that had all sorts of modern influences.”
Mel Brooks Ate Here! If the booths at Kate Mantilini could talk, they’d have plenty of Jewish stories to tell./Image courtesy of Kate Mantilini restaurant.*
(Reuters) — The din of voices haggling over movies and pitching TV series, as familiar as the trademark meatloaf and grilled salmon, will soon disappear from Kate Mantilini, the Beverly Hills restaurant whose booths have long been a mainstay of Hollywood’s power lunch crowd.
Situated on Wilshire Boulevard in the heart of Beverly Hills, Kate Mantilini - a favorite of comedian Mel Brooks and late director Billy Wilder - will close its doors and pack up its wood-backed booths on June 14 after 27 years.
“Many, many deals were made in those booths,” said Adam Lewis, the restaurant’s chief executive who made the decision to close after a rent increase. An outpost in Woodland Hills in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley will remain open.
“There’s a semblance of privacy in there, but you can hear everything everybody is saying,” added Lewis, 59, whose older brother David is the executive chef. “I’ve listened to pitches go down; some were really good, some I can’t believe they made it this far.”
The restaurant’s popularity among the Hollywood set was down in part to its location, said Tim Gray, a senior vice president of trade publication Variety.
It sits across from film studio The Weinstein Co and two blocks from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the industry organization that hands out the Oscars.
“It really was one of the staples for industry lunches,” Gray said of the restaurant that is arranged like a postmodern diner with a large sculptural sundial, a key early work by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne’s firm, Morphosis.
In cities across the globe this month, Jewish communities are celebrating Tu B’Shvat. One of the types of celebrations is the mystical Tu B’Shvat seder. It started in the 16th century, by Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, who took the New Year of the Trees and gave it an other-worldly spin. Through the ritual of the Tu B’Shvat seder, the Jew celebrates the fecundity and blooming of the trees as a totem for spiritual perfection. Basically, the seder is a ritual that leads the Jew through four divine worlds culminating in the world of emanation—the world of the spirit which is perfect and holy. Here we eat fruits that are fleshy and without pits, teaching that in the world of emanation, all is perfect and sweet. It’s lovely and spiritual, and totally backwards. Let me explain.
The problem with the totemic thinking of Tu B’Shvat is that it ignores the underlying structure of the human-eco balance on which this day relies. Luria’s seder is a ritual journey that elevates the soul up and away from the physical to the metaphysical, from the body to the spirit, from this world to the world beyond. Notice, the subtext: the world we live in is nothing but a beginning—a way station to the real world of God’s essence felt in the undiminished mystical union. Understood this way, the purpose of the seder is to elevate ourselves away from the physical, turning our backs on this world, and on our responsibility for it, for a chance at a mystical union with God.
If Rabbi Noah Farkas of Valley Beth Shalom synagogue in Encino, fulfills his vision, 101 food-bearing gardens will blossom at synagogues, Jewish organizations, schools and private homes throughout urban Los Angeles — with 90% of their harvest going to feed the hungry through his new organization Netiya: The LA Jewish Coalition on Food, Environment and Social Justice.
The organization, which was founded in November 2010 and is getting off the ground this season with two gardens, is named for the Hebrew word for planting used in passages about the Garden of Eden.
The idea for the organization germinated at a 2009 Hunger Summit convened by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. When a participant asked if gardening could be a way to combat local hunger, Farkas stood up and said that Valley Beth Shalom day school students and their families were doing precisely that. Working with the synagogue’s Green Team, they have established a budget and set up a work schedule to grow food that is given to local food banks to help feed the hungry. Several participants joined the effort and Farkas hosted a series of group meetings with Jewish professionals in the area to gain more volunteers. The organization also teamed up with the local federation’s Fed Up with Hunger campaign to which the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles granted $250,000.
Each night of Hanukkah, donut blogger and connoisseur Temim Fruchter will share one of America’s best donuts to devour during the holiday. Click here to read last night’s installment and check back each day for a different city’s top donut.
When you are serious about donut-consumption, you need trustworthy sources in other cities to tell you where the best ones are. Los Angeles is a city where donuts abound, but good donuts are a bit more elusive. My trustworthy source swears by SK’s Donuts and Croissant. Unpretentious, affordable, open late, and boasting what sounds like a dreamy buttermilk bar and a somewhat-renowned apple fritter, it sounds to me like a perfect donut go-to.
Hanukkah relevance: SK’s serves their donuts in a pink box. Festive!