Monthly Archives: March 2015

2010’s Food Trends

What’s going to be hot on the food scene for 2010? In-house butchering? Homemade condiments? No more bottled water? Improved, personalized service? More comfort food?

DineLA interviewed ten of Los Angeles’ most creative and forward thinking chefs, sommeliers and restaurant owners, asking them to look into their crystal balls (or magic stock pots), to tell us what’s in store for 2010. Check it out below.

Ben Ford: Chef and Owner, Ford’s Filling Station
Fords Filling Station, 9531 Culver Blvd, Culver City, 310.202.1470

According to Ford, look for more alternative cuts of meat on local menus. In addition, the number of chefs butchering animals themselves in their kitchens will grow.

“It’s a lot more work,” admits Ford. “But there’s something about working with an animal by hand: the effort translates to plate.” In addition, he says, “In a world where our food sources are getting harder to understand, it’s better to have an animal you know is consistent as opposed to a burger patty with a thousand cows in it. It’s the epitome of taking it in the other direction.”

It’s all part of what has become known as the “snout to tail” or “head to tail” movement: using the whole animal.

“With the shift in the economy, it’s a great way to preserve concepts and preserve the integrity of your restaurant and lower your price point,” says Ford.

2. DIY
Akasha Richmond: Chef and Owner, Akasha

Akasha, 9543 Culver Blvd, Culver City, 310.845.1700

Local chefs are going to be making their own condiments, says Richmond. This includes ketchups, chutneys, jams and pickles.

“You can get a better product this way,” she says. “And it goes hand in hand with using local ingredients and being sustainable.” It’s also a great way to use up excess fruit, she adds.

“It’s very slow food,” she says, referring to the movement embraced by many local chefs.

Finally, customers love it. “It’s just so nice on the menu to say ‘cheeseboard with selection of house made chutneys.’ Everyone is really into it.”

Steve Goldun: Wine Director, Palate

Palate, 933 South Brand Blvd, Glendale, 818.662.9463

Keep an eye out for more Portuguese wines on local lists. “People are looking for value,” says Goldun, and Portuguese wines are “very well priced, the whites in particular.”

Goldun expects “vinho verde,” which translates to “green wine,” to continue to make inroads. “It’s nine to ten percent alcohol, spritzy, you can drink a lot of it in the heat, it’s very refreshing, clean and crisp. It’s just easy to drink. It’s a good party wine. I see a future in that.”

He is also a fan of, and predicts a rise in popularity of what he calls “the robust reds of the Alentejo,” adding, “they’re a lot better than and half the price of comparable French and American wines.”

Joe Miller: Chef and Owner, Joe’s and Bar

Joe’s, 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, 310.399.5811

While local restaurateurs have been flirting with family style dining, with special family style nights, 2010 is the year we’ll see “a big move towards family style sharing at the table,” predicts Miller.

Quite simply, he says, “It’s a lot more fun to eat that way.”

“What the mainstream is doing is, ‘This person gets salad. This person gets soup.’ That’s going to change.”

Miller even expects ‘position numbers,’ the system by which restaurant staff identify who is sitting where at each table, to go the way of the dodo bird. Because everyone will be sharing everything, there will be no need to know the guy at seat two is having the salmon and the woman in position four having the quinoa salad. Instead, it’s salmon and quinoa for all.

Steve Arroyo: Owner, Cobras & Matadors

Cobras & Matadors, 7615 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, 323.932.6178

“I think the potato is going to make a big comeback,” says Arroyo.

“You look back to any kind of economic struggle. When the potato was in its heyday, we were in a little bit of a recession. Joachim [Splichal] was doing the most amazing things with potatoes.”

Arroyo doesn’t anticipate all-potato restaurants. But potatoes will get more play on menus, which he expects to get more compact in the coming year. Why so?

Restaurateurs, struggling to turn a profit, are going to need to trim costs. The easiest way to do that, he says, is to cut labor. Instead of having a big kitchen staff, “You bring in four guys and prepare a dozen really good things.”

Mary Sue Milliken: Chef and Owner, Border Grill and Ciudad

Border Grill, 1445 4th St, Santa Monica, 310.451.1655

“Being in California with our clients,” says Milliken, “we’ve had lots of vegetarians and vegans. We have to keep that in mind all the time. I think broadening that to the general public that loves meat is the next thing.”

This doesn’t mean big plates of tofu and broccoli. But vegetables will get more action while meat portions will shrink.

“We need to be a little mindful of the fact that it’s not sustainable for us to continue to consume massive amounts of protein and meat and animal-based product,” says Milliken. A diet that’s heavier on veggies, says Milliken, “is easier on the pocketbook, easier on the body for digestion and easier on the planet.”

And restaurants are in a great position to lead the way on this front.

“When you’re cooking plant-based food at home, it’s very time consuming,” says Milliken. “It’s a lot more work than throwing some protein on the grill. In restaurants we can process huge amounts of vegetables. This is a place where we can really help people.”

Andrew Kirschner: Chef, Wilshire

Wilshire, 2454 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, 310.586.1707

“Casual comfort” is the rule for the coming year says Kirschner.

“Food will still be farm fresh and local,” he adds, “but stripped away of all pretension and fussiness. We all need a little comfort in the current economic time, and this will be no different in the coming year.”

Look for “comfort food made with the same care, love, and attention to detail as fine dining food.”

“I believe this to be a great thing,” concludes Kirschner. “It’s time for all the pretentious chefs to pull the stick out of their—“

Neal Fraser: Chef and Owner, Grace and BLD

Grace, 7360 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, 323.934.4400

You know the practice of waiters pushing that pricey bottled water? Well, expect a little less of the hard sell. In fact, the most progressive restaurants aren’t going to be offering bottled water at all, says Fraser.

“Local water once cleaned or ionized is as good as the stuff from the Alps, with a smaller footprint,” he says.

And one more forecast from Fraser. “I think it is early, but in five years I see more bugs making it into cuisine in America. They’re a great source of protein, have no methane, no antibiotics and no fat.” And, he adds, they’re “crunchy and yummy.”

Kris Morningstar: Chef, The Mercantile

The Mercantile, 6600 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, 323.962.8202

Gourmet markets and larder style concepts will continue to multiply in 2010.

“A lot of it has to do with the economy,” says Morningstar. “It’s a more casual, affordable way to eat.”

“People are growing more food aware,” he adds. “Some of it has to do with Trader Joe’s. They know their meats and cheeses and are seeking them out.” These marketplaces are therefore fulfilling a need. And from a business standpoint, having a marketplace and restaurant under one roof “creates opportunities to expand the customer base,” says Morningstar.

Sherry Yard: Pastry Chef, Spago

Spago, 176 North Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, 310.385.0880

Yard says the biggest trend for 2010 will be more emphasis on service. After all, people are eating out less and they’re going to go where they feel the warmest welcome.

Pastry chefs will be doing their part, she says, by offering more desserts that are served or finished tableside.

“It’s not crepes Suzette or baked Alaska,” she clarifies. “It’s cobbler and spooning things out, finishing plates with sauces at the table.”

She points to the influential restaurant Alinea in Chicago which recently started a new dessert protocol. “Two chefs go out to the dining room and roll a mat out on the table. It’s an eating surface. Then they create artwork on the table and the guests eat from the table. When the guests are finished, they roll up the mat.”

It all comes down to this. “People want to feel special,” says Yard.

Crumbs of the Day: Thursday, Jan. 7

I follow so many food blogs every day that I thought I’d share some of my favorite stories with you. God knows I post enough food news on Twitter (@PardonMyCrumbs, if you’d like to follow me), so I’m going to share the love here, too!

This new foodie news column is called “Crumbs of the Day.” It will have links to stories filled with deliciousness, food oddities, restaurant openings/closings and random foodie musings. Hope you like it. If you’ve got any food columns or blogs you follow that you’d recommend I add to the list, definitely let me know. Thanks and enjoy!

  • “Six unusual garnishes for soup.” I usually add diced avocado and shaved Parmesan to mine. Mmmm!
  • What Food Term Should Be Taken Off The Menu??? Toothsome? Mouthfeel? Foodie?
  • Hollywood’s newest cupcake shop, Frosted Cupcakery. Food Porn at it’s best!
  • Unable to eat, Roger Ebert misses dining, not food. Makes me sad, b/c I understand cancer all too well.
  • LOL…new food trucks for 2010! Get ready…
  • Food GPS’ Top Meals of 2009 revealed! Can’t believe I haven’t had the Olive Oil Bonbon…
  • I want these lasagna cupcakes. Like, NOW. Guess I need to book an event with Heirloom LA!
  • A YODA pizza??? Bryan is so going to ask me to make this. I’m screwed.
  • Pancake Flip Game for the iPhone??? Thank God I have a blackberry, or I’d be done for. Carpal tunnel for sure!
  • Cheese-tasting at Surfas on Jan! Two of my favorite things…count me in!
  • Love Nigella Lawson? Check out some fun facts, in honor of her 50th bday.
  • At least they have good taste??? Suspects hit South Bay liquor stores, Steal expensive booze.
  • Carrot overload at the Farmer’s Market! Mmmm…glazed, slaw, juiced; carrots are healthy & delish!
  • Have u kept good on your New Year’s resolution? These places will help keep u on track!
  • Food Network’s winning Super Chef duo Flay/Comerford recipes posted!
  • Let’s Talk About Food; Ground Rules For Civil Dialogue
  • Cupcakes for dudes? Only if you like beer flavor and camouflage frosting…
  • Doughboys on 3rd = (soft) reopening! Free meals thru Friday…hopefully the red velvet cake is just as great.
  • Uh-oh! “Lean” Cuisines aren’t so lean! Study shows chain & frozen meal calorie count = higher than advertised!

Small Bites For the Big Game #3: Italian Meatball Sliders

When it comes to party appetizers, there are few things more adorable or magically-delicious than sliders. Think about it; miniature replicas of your favorite big burgers or sandwiches are an automatic crowd-pleaser. Say you’re at a party and the host brings out sliders. They’re gone before you can find yourself a plate. Three minutes, tops.

Here are two of my absolute favorite sliders:

Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders
(these were from our wedding!)

Pulled Pork & Cole Slaw Sliders
Photo courtesy of

But aside from these two miniature classics, there’s a third I’ve been wanting to try. I’ve adapted it from Bon Appetit’s January 2010 Meatball feature, which highlights a fantastic recipe for Spaghetti & Meatball All’Amatraciana. But when you take away the pasta, the homemade meatballs and accompanying marinara sauce seemed like a perfect match for Super Bowl sliders, especially when you put them on homemade brioche burger buns. So off I went, on a brioche-baking and meatball-making test run. Or frenzy, however you want to look at it!

I’m not going to lie; there are a lot of steps and time involved in making the meatballs and the marinara sauce from scratch. But my goodness is it ever worth it. Simply put, these meatball sliders are incredible; they are so flavorful and in my opinion, don’t have that metallic taste of a typical ground beef slider. The addition of bacon, marjoram, roasted red pepper, garlic, egg and bread crumbs – in the patty alone, no less– makes the slider incredibly moist and full of textural contrasts. And double-cooking the patties – first in bacon grease and then in the marinara sauce – just adds that certain…”Ooomph.” Not to mention “Ooh’s” and “Aah’s” from your party guests. Just top with a few shreds of mozzarella and freshly grated Parmesan cheese and you’ve got yourself one of the best Super Bowl sliders in town!

The Best Meatball Slider Ever
Note: The sliders are small; about 2 1/2″ across. My photo is not to scale!

Meatball Ingredients:
  • 3 ounces uncured applewood-smoked bacon (about 3 slices), diced
  • 1 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 pounds ground beef (15% fat)
  • 1/3 cup chopped drained roasted red peppers from jar
  • 1/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup coarsely grated onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram
  • 1 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice (preferably San Marzano)
  • 1 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 ounces uncured applewood-smoked bacon (about 3 slices), diced
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 3/4 cup beef broth mixed with 1/4 cup water (one cup total)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram
Additional Sandwich Ingredients:
  • 12 mini brioche buns (recipe here)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Make the Meatballs: Place bacon in processor. Using on/off turns, grind to coarse paste. Transfer to large bowl. Using garlic press, squeeze in garlic. Gently mix in beef and all remaining ingredients. Let stand 15 minutes.

Grind bacon in food processor until a paste forms
Press garlic into bowl
Add beef & remaining ingredients, mixing gently
Let combined ingredients sit for 15 minutes

Line large rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Using moistened hands and scant 2 tablespoonfuls for each, roll meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Arrange meatballs on sheet and press down gently so they have a flatter surface. (DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; chill.) Note: I used a plate since my sheet pans were occupied by fresh brioche buns!

Roll meat mixture into 1 1/2″ patties
Make the Sauce: Puree tomatoes with juice and garlic in batches in blender until smooth. Cook bacon in large pot over medium heat until crisp; transfer bacon to plate. Add 1 tablespoon oil to drippings in pot and heat over medium heat. Add half of meatballs. Cook until brown on all sides, turning carefully with small metal spatula, about 9 minutes. Transfer meatballs to baking sheet. Add more oil to pot if needed and repeat with remaining meatballs.

Puree tomatoes and garlic in blender until smooth
Cook meatballs in bacon drippings, one batch at a time
Cook meatballs until brown on all sides, about 9 minutes
Set cooked meatballs aside and cover with foil
Increase heat to medium-high. Add onions and crushed red pepper to pot. Sauté until golden, about 6 minutes. Add wine; boil until reduced by half, stirring up browned bits, about 8 minutes. Add tomato puree and marjoram. Boil until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add onions and crushed red pepper to pan
FYI: This is Marjoram, in case you were curious

Add tomato & garlic puree and marjoram to pan
Mix bacon into sauce. Add meatballs; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until meatballs are heated through and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Add bacon to tomato sauce
Place meatballs in sauce and cook for another 10 minutes
Assemble the Sliders: Heat your oven to 300 degrees. Slice mini brioche buns in half and place, cut-side up, on foil-lined sheet pan. Place in oven and bake until edges are toasted and golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and place bottom halves of buns on serving platter. Top with a meatball and a small scoop of marinara sauce. Drizzle shredded mozzarella and freshly-grated Parmesan cheese on marinara sauce. Add top-halves of brioche buns, serve and enjoy!

Slice mini brioche buns in half
Place brioche halves on foil-lined sheet pan
Enjoy your mini meatball sandwich (about 2 1/2″ wide)!

Gifts For The Beginner Cook: Because You Gotta Start Somewhere

All great chefs had to start somewhere, and like In Garten says, sometimes it’s best to go “back to basics.” It doesn’t matter how much cooking I do, how much I practice new techniques, or whether I’m actually able to get recipes finished and on a plate; I still use five basic kitchen tools almost every single day. I’ve listed them below and while a few of them aren’t cheap, they’ve lasted me for years and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. So if you know anyone who’s just starting out in the kitchen, consider getting them one of these basic kitchen tools. Not only will they thank you for it, but you’ll be one of the first one invited to their dinner parties. It’s a win-win.

1. All-Clad Non-Stick Fry Pan: From $110
The “workhorse” of all cookware shapes, All-Clad fry pans’ versatile shape and size make them a frequent choice for scrambling eggs and bacon on Sunday morning, or preparing a quick chicken sauté dinner on a weeknight. Nonstick fry pans are safe in the oven to 500F degrees but should not be placed under a broiler. Come as small as 8″ and as large as 14″.
2. Rösle® Beater Whisk: $29
Whisk scrambled eggs, soups, sauce, cake batters, sauces, salad dressings, and more. Basically, if it starts out as a liquid, it will inevitably meet a whisk. The long, supple wires of these whisks provide good action to your whisking, allowing air to incorporate into sauces and creams, giving them a thicker consistency. The handles have watertight seals and handy hanging loops. Made from 18/10 stainless steel and designed in Germany.

3. Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls With Rubber Base: $29.95
These bowls are incredible for a few reasons: they come in three sizes (1/2-quart, 3-quarts, and 5-quarts), the rubber base prevents them from sliding around your countertop, even when it’s wet; they’re great for cooking, baking and even food storage; and they quickly adapt on both heat and cold temperatures. If you need to make whipped cream, just throw a bowl in the freezer until it’s very cold, then add the cream and whip away. Same goes for storing ice cream.
4. Shun Classic 7″ Chef’s Knife: $129.95
Every cook needs an amazing knife, and in the case of a knife, you get what you pay for. Shun is my favorite knife brand, because the labor-intensive manufacturing process results in one of the most amazing, razor-sharp knives I’ve ever held. Shun knives are created in Seki City, Japan’s 700-year-old center for samurai swords. The “ripple” Damascus rust-free finish is achieved by forging 16 layers of steel. Flexible, stick-resistant blade is stamped, hand-ground to an exceptional 16-degree angle, then hand-polished. If you can only get one knife, this should be it.

5. Set of 3 Personalized Silicone Spatulas: $27.59
These are already on my gift list for bakers, but I’ve got to share them again. Bryan got these for me last year, branded with Pardon My Crumbs on each handle. While you certainly don’t need to have personalized spatulas, they do add an element of fun to the kitchen. If you’re brand new to cooking, you could brand them with, “Beginner’s Luck” or something fun like that. I use these pretty much every day, whether it’s to make scrambled eggs, pancakes, chili, pastas, cupcakes batter, etc. They are indispensable for mixing, stirring, scraping and folding ingredients. Made in the USA from flexible silicone, their wide heads withstand heat up to 800°F and they won’t chip or crack.