There Are Hipsters in the San Gabriel Valley

I don’t want anyone to be alarmed, but there are hipsters in the San Gabriel Valley.

They’re hard to escape these days — bearded, tattooed young guys wearing Vans and cool t-shirts emblazoned with logos for Nashville honkytonks, their hair either coiled up in a man bun or shaved off entirely, accompanied by beautiful tattooed braless young women of often indeterminate Hispaneuroasian ethnicity.

Jaydyn, Willa and their dim sum

San Gabriel Valley is as unhip as it gets. Why, then, are the hipsters there? I partially blame it on Jonathan Gold, the late Pulitzer Prize-winning Angeleno food critic. Jonathan Gold was unhip, too — a portly, balding guy with suspenders and a squeaky voice. But he wrote with the music and flourish of a poet as he gleefully took the road less travelled to L.A.’s grittier corners in pursuit of a great meal. He was, as it turns out, was a muse for L.A.’s hip and intelligentsia, who could boast amongst one another of the most recent Jonathan Gold treasure they’d frequented. More

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East L.A. Road Tripping

My pal Alex wanted to make a pilgrimage to the fabled Ramirez Liquor in Boyle Heights, East L.A., home to one of the best tequila and mezcal selections north of the border. Who was I to say no?

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With our gal pal Erin in tow, we set out on a misty June Tuesday morning from our quiet green canyon and onto the freeways of greater Los Angeles. More

Food Trends for 2015

On the more or less one-year-later heels of my wildly popular “Food Trends for 2014” post of a year ago — okay, it was Freshly Pressed, which meant I got about 12,000 page views I wouldn’t have normally gotten — I present my thoughts for what may be on the horizon in the coming year for the foodie universe.

Here are some of my predictions:

• Detritus
Where last year I predicted an explosion in foraging, with well-meaning chefs and hipster home cooks appearing hunched over in woods, urban parks and even unsuspecting back yards, this year I imagine a new trend in plating where chefs scatter dirt, leaf duff, twigs and other miscellaneous detritus they discover over the top of their dishes. I did read an article recently about a chef in Tokyo who was actually using dirt in his food. I tried to make it up, folks, but I couldn’t — it had already happened.

Tokyo chef Toshio Tanabe trying to explain why his dirt tasting menu is a good idea

Tokyo chef Toshio Tanabe trying to explain why his dirt tasting menu is a good idea

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Burger Saturation

Heading to lunch at a local restaurant called Plan Check with my friend and business associate Greg, we got talking about burger saturation.

A special — the "smokey and spicy PCB" (Plan Check Burger)

The “smokey and spicy PCB” (Plan Check Burger)

Our local Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic, Jonathan Gold, named Plan Check #71 in his 101 Best Restaurants in L.A. 2014. It is the poster child of the now overused designation of “gastropub.” A superb restaurant indeed, it served a delicious selection of craft beers — including my current favorite, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA — a variety of fingery bar foods and artisan pickles, and several carefully curated hamburgers. More

Clarity of Flavor

One day recently, I was reading a restaurant review by one of the great treasures of the L.A. culinary scene, our Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer, Jonathan Gold. If you don’t know Jonathan or his work, he is a grizzled hippy Jewish rocker who used to write concert reviews for the L.A. Times, and at some point transitioned to food — and now is one of the country’s most celebrated authors on all things edible, the only food critic ever to win the Pulitzer. He brings a literate rock & roll sensibility to his reviews that is perfectly suited for Jim Morrison’s City of Night.

The makings of a perfect dinner.

Anyway, in this particular review, he was praising the fresh, focused cooking of whatever restaurant it was (“seasonal, well-sourced produce presented in a way that lets its virtues shine through undisturbed”) against the prevailing trend of molecular cooking and the “restless mutation that modernism needs to survive”. He went on to point out that ” in California, the taste of a Cara Cara orange straight from the tree will always eclipse the flashier pleasures made possible by a packet of xanthan gum.” More