Monday, January 30, 2012

Javier Plascencia, Mision 19, Tijuana, Baja, and Street Gourmet LA in the New Yorker on Newsstands Now

Check out Dana Goodyear's piece in the New Yorker on Javier Plascencia's Mision: to save Tijuana through cuisine. If you're not an online subscriber, you can still pick up a copy at newsstands in the Jan. 30th issue of the New Yorker.

The exciting year at Plascencia's Mision 19 was first reported on here at SGLA. With fantastic friends all hungry for a taste of Tijuana, we headed down in last January just a few weeks after it first opened and had a memorable evening at the chef's table.

Read about the life and times of one of Mexico's best chefs, and how I kept everybody loose and tipsy on the way down to Baja's first Culinary Fest.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mercado Olympic-L.A's Next Street Food Star

I've always shopped in the Produce District at the various Mexican produce markets, pinata and sweets shops, and Latino cooking supplies wholesalers along Olympic Bl. to the west of Central Ave. You can find quality chiles--a broad selection, too--Mexican spices, special cooking devices and utensils, and all the oddball candies and savory snacks.

When I first started going to the legendary Breed St. vendors on the weekends sometime back in 2007, I thought there might be another place like that, and the Mercado Olympic certainly had potential--a huge Latino customer base of shoppers hungry after dragging their families to and from the Fashion District before calling it a weekend. But the vendors and restaurants here were either bad, routine, or both: pupusas, hot dogs, tacos, and street corn.

That all changed a couple of years ago. It got much better--way better--and in the last 6 months it has erupted. It seems as though every week something new and substantial is joining the ranks of the mostly Mexico City, Puebla, and Michoacan style vendors.

These vendors are only around on the weekends, from the early morning 'til around 5PM. The hot items here are quesadillas, where a fresh made-to-order tortilla is formed from raw masa and cooked on a flat top. The tortillas are stuffed with a variety of stews, called guisados in Spanish. Most of these stands are people from Michoacan and Puebla, which means they have different stews and braises, and their tortillas and masa shapes are a bit different. The huaraches(masa boats shaped like sandals)are thinner and crispier at the Michoacan style stalls, and they have pots of delicious stews like chicharrones in salsa verde, steak ranchero, and ribs in chile pasilla, or a soupy tinga(spicy chicken).

The Pueblan stands have the stuff we're more familiar with: squash blossoms, huitlacoche, mushrooms, and the thicker style of tinga, but they also have tlacoyos(stuffed masa shaped like an oval). Tlacoyos are rare in Los Angeles, and the're usually filled with requeson(like ricotta), beans or another simple flavor, that is mixed in with the masa then toasted on the comal.

There are several solid carnitas vendors from Michoacan preparing this famed Mexican dish in a mode you would find on the streets and in the market stalls of Michoacan . Whole pork shanks, fresh made chicharrones, kidneys, liver, hog maw, pork skin, snout, ears, ribs, and shoulder are all available to go or for some quick tacos at the curb. Hidalgan lamb barbacoa, Mexico City style deep fried fish fillets, cemitas poblanas, tacos de canasta(basket tacos), toasted garbanzos with Valentino salsa, and there are a few Pueblan barbacoa trucks that park nearby as well. Shopping? Take home some chapulines(grasshoppers), quesillo(Oaxacan cheese), sweets from Puebla, or homemade chorizo.

What does this all mean? If you've ever walked the streets of Mexico City, you'll feel as though a stretch of Arcos de Belen has fallen on the City of Angels. LA now has a serious street food zone with a density and bill of fare only the likes of what you'd find in D.F., or in the State of Mexico. Very similar types of vendors set up here--except for the heavy presence of the michoacanos--but never-the-less it's a place to snack like a chilango(people from Mexico City)

Don Julio pinata. I want to beat hell out of that one just on principle.

Until now I've agonized over sharing this pristine spot, only sharing it with good friends, and encouraged them just to enjoy--no tweets or pictures. This is where I go to eat Mexican food these days--more of a vision of Mexico than the former Breed St. extravaganza--and like a few other Latino spheres around L.A. it's pura raza. The last thing I wanted to see was 50 blogs, Yelps, and Chowhound posts with marathon rundowns, and having the vendors ducking from intrusive shuttering of IPhones and cameras, or other disruptions. I'm hoping that those who truly want to savor this amazing food come for that reason, and that's why I now serve up this bounty and offer up a seat to a Mexican food lover's wonderland. Buen Provecho!

The South side of Olympic is a pathway covered by the familiar umbrellas of Mexican street food vendors, this is where most of the action resides. But don't neglect the other side of the street--there are some amazing eats there, too.

Yes, there are still elotes, or esquites to be had. But if it isn't Mexican field corn, I'm out.

Screw Jamba Juice; go for some Mexican fresh squeezed Viagra casera(homemade). Ask for an orange juice with quail eggs, and a splash of Jerez. Hehe, uh...shhhh. For 2 quail eggs, Jerez and juice it's $4--take a drink of the juice first so there's room for the other ingredients.

Need some Rompope, tortas de santa clara(Pueblan sweets originating from a convent), a box of the famous camotes from Puebla's calle de los dulces(sweets street), candied fruits and vegetables, caramel, quesillo, or palanquetas(nut bars). There's a young, street smart entreprenuer that bring them in fresh from Puebla, as well as other food products--the quesillo is amazing. These days, much of the quesillo used in Oaxaca is made in Puebla.

And their chapulines are thick, juicy and only purchased seasonally. They make excellent bar snacks or a filling for small tacos with guacamole, or for sopes.

Tacos de canasta are not commonplace in Los Angeles, but there are a couple of stands here now on the weekends. Neither of them are as good as even the average stands in Mexico City, but for homemade versions, they aren't bad. This is a real serious taquero discipline, and is a lot harder to make these than it seems. The tacos are filled with basic fillings--mostly sauce--and carefully stacked in a basket or box like the one above, and covered with a towel after cooking. The tacos are steamed on the way to the stand and slump into soft, oily, wet snacks as the tortilla absorbs all those hearty flavors.

Potatoes, beans, and chicharrones are the only ones available, these sellers avoid the more challenging mole verde and adobo fillings you'd find as standard in D.F. This is just the difference between pros, and the way families make them at home.

Domestic picklings of vegetables and chiles are a required side for tacos de canasta.

They're small so get a set, and just pour the salsa on top, otherwise they might fall apart when you open them.

One of my favorite stops is to see Eddie. I call the muscle bound chilango Eddie because he always has an Iron Maiden shirt on, and dark shades. He's a real gentleman, but could easily take Danny Trejo's gig if there's ever an opening.

He does Mexico City style fried fish--thin, crispy strips of fish with a nice seasoning, topped with the D.F. classic: salsa valentina. Here's Jeannie Mai showing us how fashionable street food is now that these guys have showed up. Eddie has superb frying technique, and there might not be anything better on a Sunday afternoon than a basket of these things with a bit of hot sauce.
He promises soon to include seafood empanadas--he'd been waiting on a recipe but it turned out to be unfit for his stand. I had hit a sore spot when I brought them up since he had previously told me he'd have them. "I called home and told them this isn't right" "I need a correct recipe." "Give me another month and hopefully I'll have something", he shrugged.

He might even have some refreshing tepache(fermented pineapple rind juice) on hand. Just don't show up with a Poison t-shirt--Heavy Metal rules here.

I'm going to spare you any chia jokes here, but there's an agua fresca of chia seeds that's flush with the infamous gelling buds. This is the signature drink over at one of the carnitas vendors.

At first there were just a couple carnitas stands, both making some fine textured and porky, lard-fried pig.

But the cazos have come out and the carnitas game has gotten interesting even as of today, when I saw a couple of new vendors that I'd never seen before, and it was only a month since I've was last here.

A more offal intensive spot was offering dark,smooth pieces of kidney, liver and wrinkled buche(hog's maw); another tray held snouts, and skin; and a silent, grimacing man was working a cauldron of chicharrones. Crackling,popping, hot chicharrones to go are also a trend here at the Mercado Olympic.

Across the street a more peppy fellow from Sahuayo brought a real familiar tone to the afternoon. "Hey, where are you countrymen from?" he asked. "Here, have a piece of this chamorro(pork shank), come on you have to have some tortilla with it....and salsa."

"I also have chorizo michoacano, have a taste" Chuy and I took 2-inch long pieces of raw chorizo to taste. We could have made a meal with the samples. Man, such a well-seasoned chorizo, and so natural--we each picked up a pound.
The key to the carnitas is arriving early for best results, and get it to go, some of these vendors are out by 6AM stirring pork in large metal pots of hot lard.

Lamb barbacoa roasted in a pit, Hidalgo style, is available and is very good.

But the spicy pancita(offal stuffed stomach) is even better, packed with dried chile tang. This stand is on the southwest side of the E. Olympic as it fractures, losing itself into E. 9th St.

Heading back towards Central Ave. into the jam of peddlers, food stands and markets you'll see a portly street stand boss manuevering around a table of soup pots full of tasty stews. His family also serves up quesadillas brimming with colorful brews full of pork ribs, cactus, and dark, stained sauces that form appetizing shades of oils and chile on the surface.
The cactus salad and pot beans are on the house--this is Mexico.

On a more quiet and sane corner-- the northeast rim of Olympic and Kohler--you'll delight in the novel tlacoyos and traditional quesadillas of Pueblan origin. Try a tlacoyo of epazote-laced requeson(Mexican ricotta)that yields a creamy, mild, salty cheese pungently seasoned by Mexican herb.
The quesadillas of squash blossom, huitlacoche and cesina(salted beef) are outstanding, but the moronga(blood sausage) is gourmet street food, a memorable dish that sets this stand apart. It's well-herbed, supple, and tastes of purgatory: neither foul, nor purified of its bloody soul.

In Toluca, Mexico, chorizo is their pride, their craft. "Oaxacans and Pueblans have mole; Jalisco its birria; Hidalgo its barbacoa--we have chorizo", says the spectacled Toluqueno with a perpetual smile. All day long he makes the best chicharrones on the strip; large sheets of trimmed pork skin, or fatty gnarled chunks with meat attached.

This chorizo is a gift to us weary of the industrial brands at the Super; the rotting, discolored imports also of industrial origin, and the mediocre store made sausages at places like Vallarta. It's one of the only places I shop for chorizos--along with the stand on the other side of the street from Sahuayo--made from 100% meat, and includes almonds in the mixture. The longaniza is spiced differently and is made in a continuous tube of sausage, not tied into links. Tolucan chorizo is perfect for grilling and making tacos, the longaniza, too. They're all made with natural casings, and get their reddish color from dried chiles instead of the paprika found in Spanish chorizos.

I asked about their famous chorizo verde, a Tolucan creation that has earned Mexico's charcutiers international recognition. This is an original Mexican sausage of Toluca, and a symbol of Mexican gastronomy. Its color comes from the bleeding of green chiles, and vegetables. He made it for me a couple of times, and occasionally has it available. I'm picking up a pound next week matter-of-fact. Tacos de chorizo verde? Forget about it.

Toasted gabanzos are as Mexican as tacos, and ceviche. You see it more in Michoacan and Jalisco, but here it is in the heart of Downtown LA. As many things street food, it's given some hot sauce, and a little lime. All that's missing here is a pulqueria!

Oh! It comes from magueyes grown in Victorville, mind you, and is pasteurized, and isn't the same as you'll find in D.F.--closer in flavor and texture to the type offered on the highways of tequila country, in Jalisco, but give it a try. Or drink of the aguamiel, the sweet nectar of the maguey plant.
This is the place to pick up a molcajete to make your own table-side guacamole without going to Rosa Mexicano, or to give some cascabel chiles a try. Its a one stop shop for large bags of duritos(puffed wheat snacks), molinillos(mole stirrers), and to get set up with your own backyard al pastor rig--and you don't even need a Costco membership to buy a palette of toilet paper. Load up the car and stroll the stands along Olympic Bl.; pick up a queso fresco wheel, a cup of chapulines; and experience a food crawl, Mexico City style at the Mercado Olympic: a Mexican street food consulate in Downtown Los Angeles.

Saturday and Sundays
early morning to 5pm
Olympic Bl. just west of Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA

Thursday, January 19, 2012

14th Annual Los Angeles Times Travel Show-January 28-29 at the L A Convention Center

The 14th annual Los Angeles Times Travel Show will be held Saturday and Sunday, January 28 – 29, 2012, with an exclusive travel trade-only day on Friday,January 27, 2012. The show will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Downtown LA.It's only $10 to attend, and you can take the metro and let your travel adventure begin.

On the La Times Stage there will be talks panel discussions led by the biggest names in travel like Lisa Ling, Rick Steves, Adam Richman, and Arthur Frommer; a destinations stage to introduce places like Ecuador, China, and South Africa; other discussions for all types of travel; and a culinary stage with demos from Top Chefs Kris Morningstar(Ray and Stark's Bar), Nyesha Arrington(Wilshire), and more.

I've gone to this show whenever I've been in town, going on several years now, and I love the opportunity to talk to destination representatives, and discover new places. I'm sure I'll come home with an overloaded bag of promotional materials, and minor swag(lot's of pens), but there are always some surprises in these flyers and pamphlets whether it be new hotel recommendations, restaurant guides, or travel discounts, it is well worth the effort to make it out. If you love to travel as we do, you're going to love this travel show.

Speaking of adventure and interesting people, we caught up with the Cooking Channel's Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark from their new show Classy Ladies With Alie & Georgia, who will be trying their fumbling and bumbling hands at cooking classes on each episode. These two ladies are slaves to vintage fashion, and self-proclaimed counter-cocktail-culture nerds. They're a breath of fresh air in this all-too-serious-climate of mixologists that refuse to make cocktails that are beneath them, and behave as though they might be curing cancer. Ever have a 24-year-old mixologist wearing a vest that makes him look like a Disneyland Hotel employee refuse to make you an Argentine style Fernet Branca and Coca Cola, because their bar doesn't carry soft drinks? I have!! Cocktails are supposed to be fun, and that's where our girls come in to the picture.

(Our interview was conducted over the phone, so the responses are both Alie and Georgia talking together and in turns)

SGLA: On your website and show, you both talk a lot about ruffling the feathers of the bar community. Would you say some of these people take themselves a little too seriously?

Alie and Georgia: We love those bartenders and have been to a lot of those bars--you know: tight vest, bow ties, renditions with 5-6 or more ingredients--but you want to have a good time and not be exclusive. I mean, we came to order drinks, not your attitude(both girls laughing).

SGLA: Then what are some of the places you like to go for a drink?

Alie and Georgia: We like Villian's Tavern, One Eyed Gypsy, the Roost in Atwater Village, and our dive bars. These places don't take themselves so seriously, but anyplace that has a photo booth, dart boards, and good whiskies is alright with us. We love La Descarga, anytime you can walk through a closet with Narnia wardrobe for a secret entrance, and drink rum with a fire breather on stage, we're there. We really like the vibe at Harvard and Stone's R and D bar. It's got that kind of Indiana Jones feel.

SGLA: How would you describe your show?

Alie and Georgia: It's kind of David Lynch meets Pee Wee's Playhouse.

SGLA: Where did the vintage fashion look come from?

Alie: I grew up near Berkeley and was a Goth girl, so second hand culture has been with me since I was younger. Georgia is from LA, and second hand stores are the only place you can find nice dresses for $50. The dresses allow us to bend the rules, we can get away with it.

SGLA: How did this whole thing get started and how did two girls making strange cocktails end up on TV?

Alie and Georgia: It started as a joke. We made a video of a now famous cocktail called the McNuggetini. The video went viral after a week. We then got together with our friend Peter who directs videos for FunnyorDie.Com to help us put together a better presentation. We put on our best Eisenhower era dresses and well, we got several calls to do a show.

SGLA: What do you have in store for the folks at the Los Angeles Times Travel Show?

Alie and Georgia: We will be making travel based cocktails like a Thai Coconut tea, but you never know with us. Expect some accident to happen, and we do talk like a couple of sailors. Guy Fieri invited us up on stage at a show and Alie was shaking a yam cocktail that ended up all over herself and the stage. Guy almost slipped on the yam puree--I don't think he was very pleased.

We're going to be loose and have fun, that's kind of the juxtaposition we bring; we're hard working and serious, but with some goofiness thrown in.

Alie and Georgia and the video that started it all.

You can catch Alie and Georgia at the Travel in Style Pavilion on the 28th and 29th, from 11am-11:45am

Los Angeles Times Travel Show
January 28-29,2012 **exclusive travel trade-only day on Friday, January 27, 2012
Los Angeles Convention Center
1201 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Public Hours – 10am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday
Travel Trade Hours – 9am – 6pm, Friday

Admission Fee

The box office on site will open at 9:30 A.M. each day. Or get $2 off by purchasing in advance online when you use the code EARLYBIRD!Purchase here.
Children 16 and under free (children must be accompanied by an adult)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Aromas y Sabores 2011- Parral, Chihuahua: Northern Exposure

Photograph of General Francisco "Pancho" Villa at the Museo Francisco Villa in Hidalgo del Parral, Chihuahua

Hidalgo del Parral--founded in 1631 as a mining colony--would begin our [Aromas y Sabores] eye opening odyssey into the northern state of Chihuahua; rich in native-American tradition, stocked with a formidable gastronomy, a curious history of German Mennonite cheese makers, the terroir of Sotol, the grandeur and adventure of the Copper Canyon and the famous Chepe(train),the land of the Rarámuri, and the place where General Francisco “Pancho” Villa was assassinated.

Our first stop was at the mine for a luncheon to sample the marvels of parralense cuisine, before exploring the city. The event gave a glimpse into the past and present of a city that was once declared the “Capital of the World” by King Philip IV of Spain for its bountiful silver strike, and now the former prized, colonial city is celebrated for its culinary strike--it ranks as one the 10 gastronomic wonders of Mexican cuisine.

Chef Patricia Quintana in Chihuahuense fashion

By the end of this leg of the trip we found that Chihuahua holds its own with any states in southern Mexico and that my own speculations about the north were validated. While cookbook authors and culinary travelers have focused on Puebla, Oaxaca, Vera Cruz, and Mexico City, they’ve neglected to look beyond the surface of Mexico for its cuisine. Chef Patricia Quintana gave an impromptu lecture on our bus during our Chihuahua trek that was revelatory. I’ve taken greater notice of the intricacies of chiles, tortillas, cheeses, and common dishes and flavors found all over the republic; and how they adapt in each region. Tortillas are Mexico’s canvas, painted with the colors of spring and fall in chiles.

The La Prieta mine produced silver, gold, and zinc for almost 4 centuries and now is a tourist attraction in Parral

Chihuahua tourism was just as hospitable and delightful as our hosts in Nuevo Leon. They put together a tight menu of regional dishes on a patio overlooking the city of Parral. Spectacle and commotion became a routine part of our visits to each city as we snapped photos, and plunged our eager hands into snacks, noshes, and slurped down any beverage that was handed us.

Pictured L-R, Liliana, Sarahi, Jahzeel, and Julieta at La Prieta Hill overlooking Hidalgo de Parral were part of the many attractions we saw in the final resting place of "Pancho" Villa. I can see why he liked it here. These young ladies and the Chihuahua tourism people made sure we all got seated--all 90 of us--for a taste of Parral.

Enchiladas in Los Angeles are about the most difficult foods to find for me--hardly anyone does them correctly. Traditional enchiladas in Mexico are perfect examples of the local culture: local fillings, local tortillas, and local finishing touches.

Little did I know at the time of this lunch that I was having my enchiladas prepared by royalty. Doña Cuca started in 1922 and has made their enchiladas exactly the same as day one. They are famous for their enchiladas verdes made with chile pasado, but today it was enchiladas rojas with chile california filled with queso ranchero from Chihuahua.

The recipes are simple, the sauces are pure chile with a bit of garlic to allow the bold flavors of these chiles to shine. It's the same today as when Doña María del Refugio Delgado Muñoz began serving them back in 1922.

At our tables Chihuahuan requeson(similar to ricotta), and asadero(melting cheee) were set out to awaken our appetites. Chihuahua has one of the most archetypal cheese traditions in Mexico.

Arroz a la jardinera, a local rice dish with carrots peas and corn.

Like many northern bean dishes the refritos here are fortified by pork lard for flavor and it gives the beans a rich creaminess.

It was here at this event that I found my favorite rajas con crema, made with the spicier and more full bodied chile chilaca.

Asado de puerco, a pork with chile california dish is used to fill burritos de guisado as well as gorditas here in this region.

There is a pit roasting tradition in Chihuahua explained the young chef that oversaw our meal, "we prepare barbacoa de res underground." The barbacoa was bursting with juice and tremendous beef flavors.

The chile pasado is the hardest working chile in Mexican cuisine. Take a chilaca, roast it, and set it to dry with seeds and skin intact. The chile packs a wallop that is quintessential Chihuahua. You've had pork ribs with chiles a million times, but costillas de puerco en chile pasado is an entirely new sensation. Dark, smoky chile sauce clings to the pork ribs bite after pleasurable bite. Les ingredients are used in some of these preparations because the chiles have strong flavors, and don't require all the seasoning of sauces from other regions of Mexico.

For dessert, dulce de frijol, sweet cool beans topped with cinnamon and nuts.

Later in the afternoon we made a few stops, first at the Panificadora Parralense to try the famous rayadas(pictured in the top center of the collage), a simple wheat and white flour bread with hints of anise. Parralenses eat these with meals and use it to make capirotada(bread pudding) in the Semana Santa(holy week leading up to Easter). This place has been around for a while, but you know, I'm not a bakery buff, BUT, I sure know when I'm in a great bakery, and this is one of them. You can see and smell the quality items all of which are fired in owner, José Guadalupe Ochoa's brick ovens.

As if 90 people snapping pictures at the bakery wasn't enough, our trip over to the famous Dulceria La Gota de Miel(since 1932) peaked to a new level of media frenzy. Shutterbugs fell upon the sweets like bees lusting after the queen bee. So, I made like a hornet and buzzed off for a while to achieve one of my prime directives--a walk around every town I visit. When I came back it was still a swarm.I spoke with a photographer who was taking pictures of all the other photographers climbing all over each other to get their shots. "This is crazy", he said.

Once the clicks of digital cameras ceased then it got even more intense as lots of locals as well as people from our group snatched up handfuls of treats made from a base of milk and nuts, and stuffed them in goodie bags. I waited 'til it was over and settled for what was left, and even the less desirable items at this well known sweet shop were delicious. We happily chewed on our bite sized candies in tourist cars on our way to have our first sips of liqour that day, besides the beers I had at lunch of course. OK, second sips of alcohol that day.

At the Leyenda de Chihuahua distillery, we were greeted by General Fransisco Villa--or at least a good likeness--to sample the spirit of Chihuahua: sotol. Sotol, or Desert Spoon, is available in the United States from the Hacienda label, but many other makers exist in Chihuahua, Durango, and Coahuila.

Of course we visited the Museo Francisco Villa, erected at the exact location Pancho Villa was ambushed on Friday, July 20th, 1923, as he and some bodyguards and staff road by in his 1919 Dodge Roadster. The retired general had come into town to do some banking as a pumpkin seed vendor ran up and yelled Villa! Villa! Seven riflemen then emerged with guns blazing and killed all but one passenger including the legendary General Francisco Pancho Villa. A total of 9 bullets hit Villa, killing him instantly.

Our dinner was a gala event that was attended by a portion of our weary group. But we couldn't proceed without booze, so I grabbed famous southwestern chef and restaurateur, Mark Miller, for a booze run. Another chance to explore. We finally found a place that would sell us some beer at that hour, a dive bar that had a pile of dirt as you walked downstairs, and you had to walk past a vacant 35 yards of space before you reached light and bar folk. The women working there couldn't figure out why we wanted beer to go, but after playing with us a little bit they made a care package for us. "You're not going to open this in the street are you?" "Of course not", we replied.

Just another day on the road with Aromas y Sabores, an unforgettable journey on the northern route, and a rediscovery of Chihuahua's culinary treasures, and a tale of Hidalgo de Parral, Chihuahua, the Capital of the World.

Aromas y Sabores 2011, La Ruta del Norte

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Angeli Caffe extends closing to Jan. 13th, and a few words from Ruth Reichl on the Shuttering of one of LA's Most Influential Restaurants

An e-mail was received announcing that Angeli Caffe would remain open until Jan. 13th due to the high demand of reservations that came after last week's news that the famed restaurant was closing after 27 years.

Thank You so much for the outpouring of incredible love at the news of our impending closing. It's like being dipped in a pool of sweetness.

Because of the huge demand and an attempt to avoid overbooking we will be open another week - Friday, the 13th is our last night now (perfect, right?). See our website for hours.

And don't forget. We're OPEN FOR LUNCH
and just like the name of the show - NO RESERVATIONS AT LUNCH - just roll on in TUESDAY - FRIDAY 11:30am - 2pm
We're also taking orders for Delivery and Take Out starting at 10am


And Thank You Very Much!

-Angeli Caffe

Ruth Reichl on Angeli Caffe

Former editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine, Ruth Reichl, who had just joined the Los Angeles Times as restaurant critic and food editor in 1984(the year Angeli Caffe opened) had this to say about Angeli Caffe and Evan Kleiman.

SGLA:What will Angeli Caffe's place be in the history of California's restaurant scene, and in Italian cuisine in America?

RR: It's hard to remember now, but when Angeli opened nobody was doing that kind of food in the US. Marcella Hazan said it was the most authentic place she'd been - high praise from someone who doesn't hand it out lightly. I think I was in love with it from the first bite, the spare simplicity of the food. (I also remember people complaining bitterly about the lasagna, which was not rich or cheesy enough for American tastes.)

SGLA: What is you fondest memory of Angeli Caffe?

RR: I have so many fond memories - for years it was our default restaurant. I guess my favorite memories are going there when Nick was a baby, and just setting him on the table while we ate.

SGLA: How has Evan influenced the Italian restaurants, and cooking in general in the past 27 years?

RR: The restaurant - and Evan were both enormously influential. The success of the Angelis inspired so much imitation.

And don't underestimate the influence of Evan's books. Cucina Fresca is still one of my favorite go-to cookbooks, and it's basically Angeli between covers. The restaurant will be gone, but at least we'll have that.

Come out any enjoy Angeli Caffe until Jan. 13th.

Angeli Caffe
7274 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046-7667
(323) 936-9086