Monday, December 16, 2013

Join Cecilia Rios Murrieta of La Niña del Mezcal for A Night in Oaxaca at Petty Cash Taqueria, Wednesday, December 18th @ 7 P.M.

This Wednesday, December 18th at 7 p.m., Chef Walter Manzke's Petty Cash Taqueria will have a special mezcal tasting with the charming Cecilia Rios Murrieta of La Niña del Mezcal. For $30, you can taste her current product line including varietals of mezcal not yet available in the U.S. Murrieta will be pouring pechuga(triple-distilled with a Turkey breast and a mixture of seasonal fruits, including plums, prunes, tejocotes, apples, cinnamon, cloves and more!), primario (40 proof espadin), tobala, and madrecuixe.

The exciting thing about mezcal for me are the diverse expressions of the many agaves used in the mezcal region, and even those outside the Denomination of Origin.

I met Cecilia at an event in L.A. and then sipped the night away in Toluca back in June at Chef Pablo Salas' Amaranta on her sublime madrecuixe mezcal--I was hooked.

Petty Cash Taqueria, on behalf of Chef Walter Manzke; and bartenders Julian Cox, Nick Meyers, and Danielle Cadena, is proud to present this first event in our series of agave spirit tastings.

There will be food available from a selection of Chef's Favorites to sustain your evening's libations Cecilia will be there to talk, mezcal, Oaxaca, and agave with you over memorable drinks of her signature line of agave spirits--come meet the new face of mezcal: La Niña!

A Night in Oaxaca with La Niña del Mezcal ($30 per person for mezcal tasting only)
Petty Cash Taqueria
Wednesday, December 18th @7pm
7360 Beverly Bl., Los Angeles
RSVP @ (323) 933-5300  or         

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fixing the Wall Street Journal's, The Best Fish Taco in Baja California, Mexico

Back at the beginning of this past summer, I was called by the Wall Street Journal to help writer Georgia Freeman do a story on the Baja fish taco--I was referred by Lesley Téllez of the Mija Chronicles, and my original fish taco crawl of Ensenada had also peaked their interest.

I'm quoted in the article and there's a nice plug for Club Tengo Hambre (but I only curated the entire list, from Ensenada to San Felipe to Tijuana). Ms. Freeman was a pleasure to hang out with--we met up in Tijuana in between my Singapore trip for the World Street Food Congress and Tacolandia.

It's a great article, and a stellar list--if I do say so myself--of places to enjoy fish and seafood tacos in Baja California, so, check out where I took the Wall Street Journal.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Jimmy and Andrew Shaw's Mexico City Style Torta Co. Opens this Friday, December 13th

Mexico City is the torta capitol of Mexico, and after many years without any great DF style tortas in L.A., hermanos Jimmy and Edward Shaw are introducing Torta Co., the first ambitious Mexican sandwich shop in Los Angeles. Read about on my latest for Los Angeles Magazine.  

Torta Co., 732 S. Figueroa St., Downtown.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Carnitas El Momo Brings Artisanal Craft to the Streets of LA in my Latest Vitamin T for Los Angeles Magazine's Digest

Carnitas fresh from the cazo de cobre (copper pot) at Carnitas El Momo Acosta

Not much more to say about this place, other than that Carnitas El Momo makes the best carnitas in Los Angeles, the state of California, and perhaps the U.S. Truth is, you'd have to go to Central Mexico to get this style and level of artisan in Romulo "El Momo" Acosta.

Sweet, and sticky pig's feet carnitas ready to taco

I went this morning and will be back there tomorrow; it's the only place I get my carnitas right now. Read all about it on my latest Vitamin T for Los Angeles Magazine's Digest--Artisanal Guanajuato-Style Carnitas at Carnitas El Momo.

Carnitas El Momo, for more information

Monday, October 7, 2013

Catch me Tomorrow Night(10/8) Judging a Cutting Contest between Umami Coporate Chef John Herndon and Red Hill's Trevor Rocco on Esquire's Knife Fight with Chef Ilan Hall

Chef John Herndon preparing a dish for the judges table on Esquire's Knife Fight with Chef Ilan Hall

Tomorrow night(10/8) on Esquire's Knife Fight with Chef Ilan Hall, I will be joining the judge's table with chingones Lou Amdur, and the man himself, Mr. Ilan Hall.

The show airs at 9pm PST on the Esquire Network with a fiery showdown between Umami Burger corporate chef, John Herndon, and Chef Trevor Rocco from Red Hill.

Knife Fight is one of the most entertaining food shows to come along in the last few years, with a fresh approach to the culinary battle. It's just two guys, head-to-head in the Gorbal's kitchen, cooking for one hour in real time.

Who will make the cut? Tune in tomorrow night.

Knife Fight airs at 9pm, Tuesdays on the Esquire Network

Saturday, October 5, 2013

6th Annual Feria de los Moles Attains World Class Status with Serious Mole Masters from Puebla, Tlaxcala, and Guerrero to Complement our Local Pueblan and Oaxacan Mole Scene

El Mural de los Poblanos, Puebla

This Sunday, October 6th, the 6th Annual Feria de Los Moles will take place at Olvera Street from 10am-7pm. The event is free to the public, will have live music, and will feature dozens of booths serving mole from Puebla, Oaxaca, Tlaxcala, and Guerrero along with other foods from our local Oaxacan and Pueblan communities.

Mole poblano at El Mural de Los Poblanos in Puebla

This is the largest Latin-American food festival in the United States, and this year they outdid themselves by bringing the world famous Los Murales de los Poblanos direct from Puebla to serve their mole poblano, and chiles en nogada among other of the restaurant's signature dishes. This is reason alone to go!  

Chiles en nogada at Mural de Los Poblanos

If that weren't enough, they are featuring mole masters from the state of Tlaxcala serving mole prieto and mole rojo; from one of my favorite mole cultures, the state of Guerrero will present mole verde, mole rojo, and mole tipo Guerrerense.

Understand that every state of Mexico has moles, not just Puebla and Oaxaca as many cookbook uthors and non-Latino food personalities would have you believe. You will be amazed at the new flavors you'll experience here from the regional chiles used to make the provincial mole. This is getting serious!

Mole negro oaxaqueno and pipian rojo at the 2012 Feria de Los Moles

From our amazing local Pueblans, there will be the archetypal mole poblano, mole poblano almendrado, pipian verde, pipian rojo, chiles en nogada, mole de Olla, mixiotes de carnero, tamales de Moles, and cemitas de mole.

The Oaxacans will be showing off their mole negro, coloradito, mole verde, and tlayudas drenched with mole negro.

Biggest Mexican food festival in the U.S., Feria de Los Moles

This is the biggest Latino food festival in the U.S. featuring one of Mexico's greatest dishes from the best in L.A. and Mexico. This is essential eating my friends--see you in line at El Mural!!!

6th Annual Feria de Los Moles
Sunday, October 6th
Olvera St., admission is free
Food and beverages can be purchased at the event

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

An Antidote for the New York Times, Pet Wells, and Ligaya Mishan's Collective Tacos Delusiones: An Elegy for Mexican Food and Tacos in New York in LA Magazine's Digest

Mexican food in New York, where Boar's Head Products are proudly served, Reyes Deli

Frayed, dry, flaccid tortillas and meats that would get thrown out at L.A. chains like King Taco and Tacos Mexico. Bring on the Guacala-mole!

As soon as the New York Time's Ligaya Mishan published her piece on how great New York tacos are--on par with Los Angeles according to her--the team at Los Angeles Magazine took to action. Well, light action, as it doesn't require any perspiration to slap the store-bought tortilla out of the New York Times' mouth.

Read what I had to say about Mishan's story in the Los Angeles Magazine Digest.

The New York Times making a taco edition would be like an L.A. publication doing a bagel issue--but we're not that foolish. After reading how Pete Wells became excited over the thought of Alex Stupak handing him tacos like he was at a sushi bar shows something beyond poor judgment and ignorance--cultural elitism.

The reason I love Japanese food culture so much is the similarities it has to Mexican cuisine in its specialization, tradition, and serving methods. Taquerias, stands, and shacks in Mexico have a variety of settings, from the dirty corner space in an industrial part of town, to taquerias in Condessa with valet service--they all serve tacos directly to the customer. Not every sushi bar in Japan is in the Michelin Guide--many are quite humble, and ultimately, this is just a service issue.

Not all tacos have to arrive with urgency--grilled meats yes, but guisados can hold up just fine.

Mr. Wells, you are a lout. Try a little research next time, or consulting someone before you go on a "taco safari", if Mr Stupak wants to provide street style service and can't figure it out, you can always take a trip to Mexico.



Monday, September 30, 2013

Is Justin Timberlake Good for Tequila?-Catch me This Sunday at the Patchwork Festival in Costa Mesa with Chef Marcela Valladolid of Hacienda de la Flor Tequila, Raul Yrastorza of Las Perlas, and Cecilia Rios Murrieta of La Niña del Mezcal

(Pictured L-R)Raul Yrastoza of Las Perlas; Cecilia Rios Murrieta of mezcal La Niña del Mezcal; and Chef Marcela Valladolid of tequila Hacienda de la Flor, CBS's American Baking Competition, and Food Network's Mexican Made Easy.

This Sunday, October 6, 2013 at 2PM, I will be moderating a panel on Mexican Spirits called Is Justin Timberlake Good for Tequila? The Gentrification of Agave, at the Patchwork Festival in Costa Mesa, the edible edition.

I'm honored to have dear friend, Chef Marcela Valladolid of CBS's American Baking Competition, and the Food Network's Mexican Made Easy representing her family tequila brand, Hacienda de la Flor; one of the best agave experts in the United States, bartender Raul Yrastorza of Las Perlas; and Cecilia Rios Murrieta and her Oaxacan mezcal label, La Niña del Mezcal.

Our discussion will discuss the future of agave based spirits as a rising global demand is putting pressures on the regions of tequila, mezcal, bacanora, sotol, and more. Will agave survive? Learn more about agave based spirits while sipping on the excellent tequila and mezcal from Valladolid and Murrieta, respectively.

Patchwork Show-Modern Handmade Festival
Soco Collention
3303 Hyland Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Panel Discussion moderated by me!
Is Justin Timberlake good for tequila? The Gentrification of Agave
Sunday, 10/6
2PM-3PM @ Chuck Jones Gallery Stage
Patchwork Show in Costa Mesa

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ilan Hall's Knife Fight Brings a Rowdy, Edgy, Old-School Head Cutting Contest to the New Esquire Network, Debuts Tonight

Ilan Hall--Let's Get Ready to Crumble!!!

Chef Ilan Hall has been in the trenches--he won Season 2 of Bravo's Top Chef, and is the man behind the Gorbals's restaurant in DTLA, where his new show, Esquire's Knife Fight was shot some months ago.

The new show debuts tonight as part of the Esquire's launch, and will air Tuesdays with back to back episodes at 9p.m. and 9:30p.m EST/PST.

The battling chefs on Knife Fight have one hour in real time to plate, and wow the boozed-up, screaming crowds--and judges--to win bragging rights, and a crappy $3 knife as a trophy. The judges include celebs like Drew Barrymore, and Elijah Wood, and top L.A chefs like Michael Voltaggio, and Michael Cimarusti, as well as other local food personalities like yours truly--I will be a judge on one of the episodes on October, 8, 2013.

Chef Ilan Hall is bringing a party vibe to the stale cooking competition genre with a loose, clubby environment, where the cast, judges, and audience are well lubricated, and encouraged to get up close to the action. Hall started his career with Tom Colicchio, and has worked for Mario Batali's and Bastianich's Casa Mono, and you can catch his at such exclusive festivals in Scottsdale, Aspen, and South Beach, but tonight, he's taking a raw, stripped down approach to Knife Fight, in the bowels of his DTLA kitchen.

Hall isn't afraid of a good, clean fight--here's what he had to say about Esquire's Knife Fight.

SGLA: Who is the most dangerous chef in a knife fight, and why?

IH: I'd say it's a close tie between Octavio Beccera and James Trees. They're both powerful, polarizing chefs who are also big and scary.

SGLA:  Can you name a chef you'd like cut down to size in a cooking competition?

IH: Bobby Flay. I'll slice the freckles right off his face (jk, LOL).

SGLA:  Is there an ingredient out there that you wouldn't want to have to face in a competition?

IH: Definitely whole blowfish. I'm not precise enough with a knife and scared I'd kill everyone.

SGLA:  What was the one thing that all winning chefs brought to Knife Fight?

IH: Incredible skill and fearlessness and superb combinations of flavors.      

 Esquire's Knife Fight, Tuesday's at 9p.m and 9:30p.m. EST/PST, starting tonight, 9/24/2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

2nd Annual Food GPS Fried Chicken Festival Today from 4-7 p.m at DTLA's Lot 613

Will Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen make an appearance? Chicken Dance!

Fried chicken is one of the greatest dishes ever created; it's a challenge to both the home cook as well as the professional chef. Every culture more or less follows the basic recipe with some different spices and side dishes, but in the end we all have high expectations of golden, well-seasoned skin clinging to tender, juicy meat dripping dripping all over our fingers.

The Food GPS Fried Chicken Festival is one of the best food events in L.A., and the chefs will all be in Tony Robbins mode, because on one wants to make mediocre fried chicken. Take a look at who will be plating today.        

A list of the esteemed fryers:

Susan Feniger, STREET – “Top Chef: Masters” Season 2, Champion’s Round
David LeFevre, Fishing With Dynamite + M.B. Post – 2012 James Beard Awards, Best New Restaurant Semifinalist
Daniel Mattern & Roxana Jullapat, Cooks County - #1 Best New Restaurant, Los Angeles Magazine’s Top 10 Best New Restaurants of 2012
Jason Neroni, Superba Snack Bar – Los Angeles Magazine’s Top 10 Best New Restaurants of 2012
Bryant Ng, The Spice Table – 2012 FOOD & WINE Best New Chef
Chris Oh, Seoul Sausage - Winner of Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” Season 3
Matt Poley, Heirloom LA - Best of LA, Los Angeles Magazine 2011
Eduardo Ruiz, Corazon y Miel – Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants
Ernesto Uchimura, Plan Check Bar - “Chef of the Year” Los Angeles Magazine 2012
Ricardo Zarate, Mo-chica, Paiche + Picca - 2011 FOOD & WINE Best New Chef

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams and Sugarbloom Bakery are providing dessert, and DJ Bryan Davidson is playing a set throughout the event.

Sponsors: Firestone Walker Brewing Co. will be pouring three craft beers throughout the event: Union Jack, Pale 31, and Solace. Uber is offering festival guests a free ride valued at up to $20 for first time users.

Charity: A portion of proceeds from the Food GPS Fried Chicken Festival will directly benefit My Friend’s Place; a Hollywood-based charity dedicated to assisting and inspiring homeless youth to build self-sufficient lives.

Ticket Information:  General Admission tickets are $55 per person in advance, and $65 per person at the door, if still available.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Festival Chileno Today in Woodland Hills--Empanadas, Completos, and Me!

I was sitting in Chilenazo the other night after a rehearsal in the same neighborhood--Canoga Park (the West Valley is a hotbed of Chilean restaurants and culture) waiting for my order to go when I saw an add for the annual Chilean Independence Day celebration.  While checking out the menu and patriotic decor, a poster advertising several bands caught my eye; I realized that I had just finished rehearsing with the same guy I saw on the flyer. Here I was thinking I wouldn't be able to make the festival--I'm playing saxophone at the celebration--excellent--paid empanada tasting!

One of the best Chilean restaurants L.A. ever had was there in Canoga Park--El Chileno, and now Chilenazo is picking up the slack.

Come out for Chilean empanadas, anticuchos, asado, pastel de choclo, humitas and a sweet glass of mote con huesillo--or pisco sours and chicha--to enjoy while you listen to the Chilean cumbia sounds of Noche de America with Daniel Avila--I'm in the horn section playing saxophone, and we go on at 6:30p.m.

September is when most Latin American countries celebrate their independence from Spain and Portugal--in the case of Brazil. The Colombians had their bash a few weeks ago, last weekend was Brazil Day L.A; now it's the Chilean community's turn.

Come out for a taste of Chile, and say hello!

Chilean Independence Day 2013
Sat., September 14th
11a.m. to 11p.m.    
6543 Corbin Ave.
Woodland Hills, CA 91367

Friday, September 6, 2013

Latin America Triumphs at the Cusqueña Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants on LA Magazine's Digest

Latin America's Big 3: Gaston Acurio(Lima, Peru-Astrid y Gaston); Alex Atala(São Paulo, Brasil-D.O.M.); and Enrique Olvera(Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico-Pujol)

Yes, I watched this historical event on streaming video here in L.A. from my laptop as many friends, acquaintances, and chefs whose restaurants I've dined at in my many travels throughout Latin America took their bows at the 1st annual Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants.

The top 3 were predictable, and it was no surprise that Peruvian and Mexican cuisine had a strong presence on this coveted list. Sadly, many of the restaurants featured international cuisine--also predictable when such lists are made--and, there were some rather lame entries that had many of us Latin America regulars puzzled.

Overall, this was a validation of Latin America as a world class dining destination for fine dining. Here are some thoughts on the awards on my latest for the Los Angeles Magazine Digest.

 The List
1. Astrid y Gastón, Lima, Perú
2. D.O.M., São Paulo, Brasil
3. Pujol, México City, México
4. Central, Lima, Perú
5. Mani, São Paulo, Brasil
6. Biko, México City, México
7. Malabar, Lima, Perú
8. Boragó, Santiago, Chile
9. Tegui, Buenos Aires, Argentina
10. Roberta Sudbrack, Rio De Janeiro, Brasil
11. Maido, Lima, Perú
12. Pangea, Monterrey, México
13.Rafael, Lima, Perú
14. Fiesta, Lima, Perú 
15. La Mar, Lima, Perú
16. Mocotó, São Paulo, Brasil
17. La Cabrera, Buenos Aires, Argentina
18. Tomo 1, Buenos Aires, Argentina
19. Criterión Bogotá, Colombia
20. Parador La Huella, José Ignacio, Uruguay
21. Quintonil, México City, México
22. Harry Sasson, Bogotá, Colombia
23. Fasano, São Paulo, Brasil
24. Andrés Carne de Res, Chia, Colombia
25. Alto Caracas, Venezuela
26. Merotoro, México City, México
27. Oviedo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
28. Chila, Buenos Aires, Argentina
29. Sucre, Buenos Aires, Argentina
30. Corazón de Tierra, Valle de Guadalupe, México
31. Aramburu, Buenos Aires, Argentina
32. Attimo, São Paulo, Brasil
33. PuraTierra Buenos Aires, Argentina
34. Casa Oaxaca Hotel, Oaxaca, México
35. Olympe, Rio De Janeiro, Brasil
36. Sud 777, México City, México
37. Francis Mallmann 1884, Mendoza, Argentina
38. Remanso do Bosque, Belém, Brasil
39. El Baqueano, Buenos Aires, Argentina
40. Unik, Buenos Aires, Argentina
41. Epice, São Paulo, Brasil
42. La Bourgogne, Punta del Este, Uruguay
43. Pitiona, Oaxaca, México
44. Paraje Arévalo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
45. Casa Umare, Buenos Aires, Argentina
46. Laja Valle de Guadalupe, México
47. El Cielo Bogotá, Colombia
48. Osaka, Santiago, Chile
49. Hernán Gipponi Restaurante, Buenos Aires, Argentina
50. Elena, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Saved by Uni-Mariscos El Pizón in the OC Weekly's Tijuana Si!

Jurel con erizo en salsa de mostaza at El Pizón

In case you missed the fantastic news, Ensenada just got a little more tastier with the addition of Mariscos El Pizón to it's pantheon of seafood gods and goddesses.

In last week's Tijuana Si!, I wrote about the delights of sea urchin at this relatively unknown and unsung seafood cart.

You can catch El Pizón on on September 7th at our upcoming Club Tengo Hambre Tour: The Best of Baja--Ensenada in 8-courses.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Take my Self Guided Taco Tour of the East Side on Thrillist

Taco dorado de camaron at Mariscos Jalisco

My friends at Thrillist requested a list of my favorite taco picks on the East Side--from Boyle Heights to the SGV--for a 6 stop, self-guided taco crawl. Jeff Miller says this is a must--I agree! Dive in and let us know what you think.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Sinaloan Sushi has Arrived in Southern California--Break out the Philly Cream Cheese, Tecate, and Cowboy Boots

Sushinaloa where Tacos El Paisa once stood in Lynwood

Menu at Sushinaloa

After recent travels to Asia, I'm not sure who's more rigid, Asians or Mexicans, when it comes to food. Mexicans love raw seafood as long as it's done to their preferences. When it comes to authentic sushi,
it's not very popular in Mexico. Read about how Sinaloa style sushi has crossed the border to serve the local Sinaloan population in my latest for the Los Angeles Magazine Digest: Oh No, There Goes Tokyo Roll--Sinaloa Style Sushi Invades L.A.

Chiles rellenos at Sushinaloa

Culichi Town, Bell, CA

The Guerra Roll at Culichi Town

Sushi Roll the Tweedy Mile at Jibz Sushi y Mariscos

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chef Ricardo Diaz's Colonia Taco Lounge in This Weeks Vitamina T for the LA Magazine Digest. Open August 1st!

cucapaRicardo_PatColoniaguisados3 (2)picklesmenu3
Colonia Taco Lounge, a set on Flickr.
This week's Vitamina T takes a peek at Chef Ricardo Diaz's new Colonia Taco Lounge, where I was introduced to Diaz's taco de pollo tesmole. Run don't walk to this exciting new restaurant in the SGV.

T is for tesmole!

Monday, July 29, 2013

7th Annual Festival Colombiano is the Sexiest Event in L.A. with Regional Food, Music, and Colombian Beauties

I'm still feeling the South American rhythms of Colombia, smell the familiar scents of Colombian street foods, and see the confidence and energy of the the beautiful paisas, caleñas, and costeñas: the women of Colombia.

The Festival Colombiano is still unknown to non-Latinos--I'd say the crowd was mostly Colombian, Mexican, and other Latino groups--I maybe saw 10 non-Latinos the entire time I was there. You can read about the rare regional Colombian food I enjoyed in Los Angeles Magazine's Digest.    

I'm sad that I wasn't able to attend the last 3 years--I always had a conflict--but this happens every July around Colombian Independence Day; it's always at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena, and I can't wait to go next summer. It's bacanisimo!!!!

Festival Colombiano 2013 slide show on Flickr
tolimensesbailandosalpiconcarne_llanerachivacolombiana (2)
empanadacolombianaColombian_barbequelechonaMarcela PizarroMarissa_friends

Festival Colombiano 2013, a set on Flickr.