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Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez was trapped. The door between him and a mob of fellow inmates, many wielding makeshift weapons, could give way at any moment, and his main source of protection was a T-shirt he’d wrapped around his neck in case someone made a move for his jugular. Some of his dorm mates were praying for their lives….
Read the rest of my piece “In Prison, Sharing Ramen Can Be More Powerful Than Gang Affiliation” on Vice Munchies.
Get ready for Sips and Sweets, LA Weekly’s holiday event on December 7th, 2pm – 5pm. It sounds pretty great to me—it’s being held at the The Majestic Downtown + The Reserve and will include sweets from bigwigs, like Nicole Rucker of Gjusta, Hans Röckenwagner of Rockenwagner Bakery, Margarita Manzke of Republique, and Zoe Nathan of Huckleberry. Sips are by Michael Lay of Faith and Flower, Robin Chopra of Corazón y Miel, Darwin Manahan of PUNCH, and Danielle Crouch of Caña Rum Bar.
Yeah, kind of a big deal for food and drink lovers, like us.
Want to go? Well, you can win two tickets here! All you have to do is:
1. Make sure you are 21+ by December 7.
3. Let me know which social media platform you follow me on. Tell me your handle, please, so I can contact you if you win.
4. Enter by midnight Tuesday, November 25. I’ll be picking the winner the next morning in a raffle.
5. If you win, you must answer me by midnight November 26. If you don’t respond by then, I’ll pick another winner.
So, you love food and Eastside Food Bites. Well, then you gotta follow me on Instagram (@eastsidefoodbites)! I update almost daily, and the feed goes far beyond the east side, so you can get a taste of what’s cooking all over Los Angeles—and sometimes the world. Okay, mostly just Los Angeles, but I did take a trip to Canada this summer….
The idea that L.A. doesn’t have good pizza is an antiquated one. Sure, the perception was mostly true ten years ago—though there were always a few gems, like Village Pizzeria, Casa Bianca, and Mulberry Street, to name a few—but ever since Nancy Silverton opened Pizzeria Mozza (What, like eight years ago now?), the LA pizza floodgates have opened, bringing our fair city delicious pies of every regional persuasion. Think: 800 Degrees, Settebello, Hollywood Pies, Bestia, Tomato Pie and, now, DeSano Pizza Bakery in East Hollywood, a casual neighborhood eatery filled with communal tables and legit wood-burning ovens, serving up handmade pies that follow a strict Napoletana pizza-making process.
Locavore DeSano is not. The 900-degree ovens are Italian imports and so are many of the ingredients, including Mozzarella di Bufala, olive oil, and San Felice flour, which are all flown in from Naples and Campania. Adding to DeSano’s authenticity is the fact that the operation is run by actual, born-and-bred Italians–Marino Monferrato, former general manager at Cecconi’s, and pizza maker Massimiliano Di Lascio. The result is a menu of beautiful pizzas with high-quality ingredients and a slightly charred crust—the kind you find in cute, outdoor restaurants in the alleyways and piazzas of Italy.
DeSano offers traditional Napoli pizzas, including such standards as the Margherita and ricotta-laden Bianca, as well as their own house specialties, like the Verdura with broccoli rabe, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and garlic. The Pomodorini (pictured at the top), dotted with sweet and juicy Vesuvian cherry tomatoes, is as simple as it is delicious. A meatier venture, the San Genarro (pictured below) has a crowd-pleasing, spicy mix of sausage, peppadews, carmelized onions and garlic. Oh, and they also offer calzones with similar ingredients combinations.
As good as the pizza is at DeSano, they really could get away with so-so desserts, but instead they go all out. The canolli are some of the best in town, and a big reason why is that they’re stuffed to order, an almost impossible feat in LA. And because they are stuffed to order, the shell stays crispy—not soggy like most cannoli we’re subjected to. You also get your pick from seven different fillings. The Tradizionale is done the way I’ve seen it done in Italy, using the chocolate chips as a garnish on the outside, rather than mixing it with the creme, which is sweet-tooth-pleasing perfection. The Cocco Cioccolati, chocolate and coconut, is really to die for and just rich enough that you won’t be able to stop until, tragically, there’s no more.
If that scares you, try the gelato. It’s not made in house, but it is hand-crafted in small batches by local artisan Alessandro Fontana.
P.S. They don’t have a liquor license yet.
DeSano Pizza Bakery
4959 Santa Monica Blvd.
This Saturday (tomorrow!), head over to Coolhaus in Pasadena, and buy some baked goods. Proceeds benefit the Philippine Red Cross. On the menu are Salted Caramel Ginger Snap Sandwiches, Arkansas Black Apple Hand Pies, Bacon Caramel Popcorn, Lemon Shortbread Bars, Ube Cupcakes, gluten-free treats, and even pre-made pie dough (hello, Thanksgiving shortcut). I made the Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies with Dark Chocolate & Cherry Chunks you see above, and they’re totally good.
Hope to see you there! Here’s the flyer:
An Italian sub can be a glorious thing, but cold cuts aren’t for everyone. If you’re a vegetarian, or if you just prefer a meatless lunch now and again, finding a good veggie sandwich can be a task. Sometimes all you get is lettuce, tomato and cheese. Talk about blah. Still, there are some satisfying veggie sandwiches out there that demonstrate real deliberation and craftsmanship. Here are three good ones:
The Trails Cafe: The Avocado Sandwich and The Trails in Griffith Park is one of the best citywide. Thick chunks of ripe avocado, tomato, red onions, alfalfa sprouts and cheddar cheese are stacked high between two slices of sweet squaw bread. Mayo and soy bacon bits complement each bite. It’s the kind of sandwich that you miss when it’s gone, but the lavender shortbread cookies they sell are will console you. 2333 Fern Dell Dr Los Angeles, 90068
It’s been a while, but I have another giveaway! This one is for the 2nd Annual Sunset & Dine. The event will kick off the Oscars Outdoor summer movie screening program at Academy Hollywood (6322 DeLongpre Ave. in Hollywood), the outdoor amphitheater on the campus of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
If you win, you’ll get 2 tickets (they’re usually $30 a piece), which will get you free beer and wine, plus food from local restaurants, like Magnolia, The Cat & Fiddle, Doomie’s Home Cookin’, Fabiolus Cucina, Stella Barra, Village Pizzeria and more. They’ll also be screening “Sunset Boulevard”. Sounds fun, no? Event goes from 6-10 on June 13.
Here’s how to win:
- Follow Eastside Food Bites on Twitter or Facebook–if you’re already a follower, you’re good. If not, just click one of the corresponding buttons in the left hand corner.
- Comment below and let me know where you follow me (FB or Twitter), so I can check. Tell me your handle name.
- Enter by midnight Tuesday, June 11.
I’ll pick the winner (fair and square raffle style) on Wednesday morning and let you know who won by noon. If you don’t get back to me by 6pm that night, I’ll have to pick someone else. Once you’re confirmed, your name + 1 will be put on the guest list.
Easy as pie.
If you’d like to forgo the contest and buy a ticket, you can get yours here.
Admittedly, I’ve been bored with Malo for a while. I used to go all the time, but eventually my enthusiasm waned. Of course, I still had love for the habanero and cream salsa and ground beef and pickle tacos, but neither kept me coming back. For that reason, news that Chef Robert Luna had re-vamped his menu caught my attention. And as luck would have it, I was invited to try it.
The verdict: I liked the new menu so much that I’ve already been back twice.
What I’ve always appreciated about Malo is that it doesn’t purport to be authentically Mexican. Instead, it’s a re-imagining of good old-fashioned LA-style Chicano comfort fare—cheesy enchiladas, hard-shell tacos, chewy chips, sweet mole, etc. The new menu follows that line, but goes beyond its previous taco-centric limitations with a long list of starters, salads, and small plates.
Standouts include the Soyrizo Fundido, a decadently cheesy concoction that’s meant to be spooned onto thick pieces of bread. I preferred it as a chip dip. On the lighter, more nutritious side was the Kale & Seed Salad topped with flax and sunflower seeds, thick tomato chunks and pistachio dressing. Unexpectedly functional were the Kale Mole Enchiladas with Pumpkin. Mixing cheese and pumpkin shouldn’t work, but somehow it does.
I’m currently sitting on a stockpile of cinnamon rolls.
It’s true. They’re hanging out in a bag in the bottom drawer of my freezer, and every third morning or so, I break into it and enjoy one with some butter and tea. It’s quite the treat.
The best part is that I made them myself. That’s right—I made the dough, rolled it out, sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar and lived to tell about it. The result is super wholesome, relatively nutritious (75% whole wheat) pillowy cinnamon rolls that freeze well and can be reheated in a toaster oven…because you deserve a nice breakfast even on a weekday.
You can do it, too. Just beware that yeast is involved, so you’ll need a few hours of prep time. Here’s how (see full ingredients list at the end of post):
Prepare the dough: To start, heat butter and milk in a saucepan and set aside. Next, mix white flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour, water, yeast, sugar and eggs together at low speed using your paddle attachment. Now add the milk and butter mixture, salt, and the rest of the whole wheat flour. Don’t stop until it’s well blended.
If you have a kneading hook, now’s the time to use it. Start kneading, adding more flour (verrrrry slowly and in tiny amounts) if needed. The goal is to get a big ball of dough that doesn’t stick to the sides of the mixing bowl. Same goes if you’re kneading by hand. You want it to be moist but not sloppy. It should take about 10 minutes.
Once you get it right, transfer the ball into a large, oiled metal bowl. Cover with a towel, and put it in a warmish place.
Starting Monday, Downtown LA’s Cornerstone Theater will host Creative Seeds, a two-week event all around LA that brings together artists, food activists, farmers, chefs, food critics and thought leaders to explore a wide array of hunger issues.
I’m especially honored (and totally humbled) to be included in the November 15th panel, which includes Jonathan Gold, Good Food’s Evan Kleiman and Elina Shatkin of LA Weekly. Our panel will be held at the Bootleg Theater in Historic Filipino Town from 12-2 and will be hosted by performance artist and writer Luis Alfaro–the topic is “What do different generations of food critics hunger for?“
Other panel topics include:
How do we get food to people that are hungry?
How does our relationship with farmers shape our relationships with hunger and with food?
How are culture, ethnicity and class linked to experiences of hunger and fulfilment?
From multinational corporations to the corner store, what are the links between access, food choices, and money?
There’s a lot more too. Check out the program schedule and book tickets (it’s FREE!) to the stuff that interests you because seats are limited.
See you there!