Parisian brasserie feels so good after COVID distancing
Go to the brewery, save the LA Breakfast Club, remember the insatiable critic and pioneer of food blogs. I’m Laurie Ochoa, General Manager of LA Times Food, with this week’s tasting notes.
The café culture triangle centered on Paris Boulevard Saint Germain is dominated by The Two Magots and Flora Coffee, where queues of tourists and a few Parisians take pride of place on the sidewalk waiting for a seat at one of the duels Left Bank literary attractions. On the other side of the busy thoroughfare, you are less likely to find a line at Lip Brewery, which is mentioned in by Hemingway “A moveable party.” Indeed, “Hemingway ate here” is a claim made by all three institutions.
With an early evening return flight ahead of me, I went as a tourist and spent my last hours in Paris over a long lunch at Lipp’s, a perfect venue to soak up the city’s romance. I suspect one of the reasons it’s a little easier to find a table at the ever-crowded Lipp is that it lacks the outdoor seating at Flore and Deux Magots — its few outdoor tables are closed. Still, after eating there the first day in Paris and two weeks later the last, I decided I could easily come to love Lipp with the same ardor I have for Hollywood. Musso & Frank Grill. Writer (and current star player of “Tár”) Adam Gopnik called Lipp “the third planet, disrupting the orbits of the other two” when he questioned the mode of Flora above Les Deux Magots for a 1996 New Yorker essay that was adapted for his book “Paris on the Moon”.
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It was dated early when we first arrived for lunch at the Lipp (there was that plane to catch) but that gave us a chance to be swept away to a main corner table from which we could watch the dining room fill up. Two French couples, perhaps grabbing a bite before a Saturday matinee (Opera Bastille organized an afternoon performance of “Salome”) sat next to us. A skillfully managed solo dinner snail pliers. The chef, a fearsome hat on the head, has reserved the VIP treatment for the distinguished guest of a table for six. Not far from there, a waiter with a long apron delights the youngest members of a family by presenting them with a dessert of profiteroles with a wink and a graceful hand blossom.
At our table, I couldn’t resist the pig’s trotter, a pig’s trotter served with mashed potatoes so creamy with butter it went beyond mashed potatoes. We also had classic herring fillets and snails, all sorts of foods that we rarely see in LA – although I have memories from a long time ago of a wonderful dish of snails and feet pork wrapped in caulking grease to Roland Gilbert and by Maurice Peguet 1990s restaurant on Melrose Avenue Tulip.
Eat your way through LA
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Beyond the romance of the food, it struck me as lunchtime diners filled the dining room, where groups of guests were barely inches between them and waiters had to remove the tables well set up to allow guests to sit at the banquette, which I hadn’t been to such a busy and crowded dining establishment in years – certainly not since the onset of COVID. Beyond the clinking of glasses, the laughter of friends, and the sounds of Americans trying to place their orders in English and broken French over the din, it felt good to be in a room full of humans. happy. Hopefully we’ll be done with the new pandemic variants and we’ll be able to have meals like this in Los Angeles too.
Save the Breakfast Club
Writer Heather Platt shares the happy news of the rebirth of a longtime SoCal institution: “Nearly a century since its inception as a meeting place for businessmen to grab breakfast after a horseback ride along of the trails of Griffith Park, the Los Angeles Breakfast Club is thriving despite its virtual demise almost ten years ago, when there were only nine members left. When Platt visited, there were nearly 100 people “seated at long tables with paper placemats and silver carafes full of hot black coffee next to white cups of creamer packets” at the Friendship Shrine Auditorium, where the club’s 50-year lease expired. Read Platt’s full report with the early risers as they fight to keep their place in the meeting room.
The insatiable critic
Over dinner last week, The Times restaurant critic Bill Addison told me about his beginnings in learning the profession of critic. He filled a notebook full of restaurant reviews that he printed off the Internet, and between acting jobs and acting auditions, he studied the form – the descriptions of the dishes, the structure, the place to flesh out the plot of chef background. Ruth Reichl, Alison Cook and yes, Jonathan Gold were among the reviews he was studying. But when the news broke this week, this longtime New York magazine food critic Gael Greene had died of cancer at age 88, Addison wrote an appreciation that spoke of her place in her handmade textbook.
“Among my study material was a piece that I returned to several times for its scope, intelligence and boldness.” It was a 2000 review of Alain Ducasse’s attempt to bring a three-star Michelin restaurant to New York at the Essex House.
“The room is slipping,” Addison writes. “The insults are incredible. A roulade of sole is “pathetic”. She says of a rye tuile flavored with sun-dried tomato and parmesan and presented with a lot of panache: “I’m trying another one just to be sure. It’s not even a big deal. It’s a little embarrassing.
Of Greene, whose reviews frequently ran under the “Insatiable Critic” banner, Addison says, “She was a journalist but also often made a character. Her prose was unashamedly lush; she was a proud sensualist. …. In her reviews, the beards often landed like the well-done white butter she must have eaten so often in the days of French-dominated New York gastronomy: vinegary, suave, and consistent.
How Julie Powell changed food blogging
This week also saw the death of author and blogging pioneer Julie Powell, 49, who, as Christi Carras writes, ‘documented her year-long mission to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s book’ Mastering the art of “French cuisine” for the Salon. com blog “The Julie/Julia project”. The blog became the movie “Julie & Julia,” starring Amy Adams as Powell and Meryl Streep as Child, a role that earned her an Oscar nomination.
What few people don’t know is that, despite the film’s narrative, former LA Times Food editor Russ Parsons was the first major newspaper reporter to interview Powell about the blog, when she was halfway through the project. In his 2003 article, he wrote, “Powell’s isn’t the premier food blog, but it’s one of the few worth repeat reading. Most are devoted to “here’s what I cooked last night” or “here’s where I ate last night”. What makes ‘Julie/Julia’ different isn’t just the premise, but also Powell’s sense of humor about it. Read more of his interview here, as well as his 2009 story of when he shared what happened when he first showed Powell’s blog to Child.
The Koreatown classic returns
Stephanie Breijo has the great news that the mother-son team behind beloved Koreatown restaurant Jun Won, which closed in July 2020, is resuming operations as “Jun Won Dak, a take-out-only operation,” writes Breijo, “focusing on chicken, though a few of their signature dishes — like braised black cod, a favorite of famed Times food critic Jonathan Gold — will also be making a comeback. On November 21, they hope to hold the grand opening of Jun Won Dak.
On November 16, we welcome fate, a new LA Times newsletter that Tasting Notes readers will want to check out. Arts journalist Steven Vargas prepares a list of the best events of the week. As Vargas says, “I’m going to share the top five things to do right now, along with suggestions for your nightly or daily date with the kids, a warning about tickets on sale (or on sale for free!) And a preview of these must-see shows ends soon. From time to time, I’ll bring some tips straight from the source – sharing what LA artists have to say about what to see and where to find it. You here.
“And while we’re talking about going out: Bill Addison is in the home stretch to choose and write the restaurants that will make its list of The 101 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles, but tickets for the announcement night are already on sale and are going fast. Early bird tickets are gone, but there are still tickets available for the December 6 event at City Market Social House in downtown Los Angeles Learn more on our events site.
— Finally, with the end of Halloween, many are already starting their holiday gift shopping. Our foodie gift guide was released this week along with several other buying guides. Wooden cutting boards left over from the making of musical instruments, modern molcajetes and exceptional tea are some of the suggestions. My pick is the hot sauce collection from Gilberto Cetina restaurant Holbox.