Daily Dish
The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles
Quest to save the 60-year-old Cindy's diner sign in Eagle Rock

The green and white Cindy's diner sign has been a fixture on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock for the last 60 years. But the Googie-style sign is deteriorating, and the diner's new owners, Monique King and Paul Rosenbluh, are hoping the public will want to help save the sign.  

King and Rosenbluh, who own Firefly restaurant in South Pasadena, took over the diner in January and reopened its doors in April. They've kept the original booths, wallpaper and countertops inside, from when the diner opened in 1948, but King says the sign outside is crucial to maintaining the integrity of the mid-century landmark. 

"We felt like the luckiest people in the whole universe when we got it," King said. "It’s a beautiful sign, it’s vintage, original and there is just something so important about preserving it and taking it away from being just a big pigeon roost." 

King and Rosenbluh started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $16,250 they say is needed to restore the sign. The two are hoping to fix...

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West Coast waters still safe from radioactivity, but testing continues

Remember all those headlines after the Fukushima reactor disaster in 2011? “The Coast Is Toast.” “Holy Fukushima – Radiation From Japan Is Already Killing North Americans.” “28 Signs That the West Coast Is Being Absolutely Fried With Nuclear Radiation From Fukushima.”

Well, so far we all still seem to be doing just fine, and actually some good has come from all of that fear-mongering.

Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and director of WHOI’s Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity, has turned that citizen concern into a nifty bit of fundraising, crowd-sourcing the testing of coastal waters from Alaska to La Jolla.

To date, more than 30 sampling sites have been launched via the website Our Radioactive Ocean. The organization has raised funds from groups as diverse as a junior high science class in Santa Barbara and a group of surfers in Santa Cruz.

The testing not only measures levels of radiation from the Fukushima disaster, but it...

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A chocolate toilet? A $133,000 bathroom suite made out of Belgian chocolate

Thinking of remodeling your bathroom? Maybe you're looking into a new pedestal sink or a mirrored cabinet. How would you feel about installing a bathtub made of 8 million calories worth of 100% Belgian chocolate?

Bathrooms.com, a bathroom furniture retail site, and U.K.-based chocolatiers Choccywoccydoodah have gotten together to create a bathroom furnished with Belgian chocolate. The set is being advertised on Bathroomsweets.com, a site Bathrooms.com Chief Executive Ian Monk decided to create after seeing people frequently mispell suite as sweet. 

"We realized that over a million British people searching for new bathrooms were popping 'bathroom sweets,' rather than 'bathroom suites' into their preferred search engines," said Monk in a statement on Bathroomsweets.com. "The simple mistake caught our imagination, what if we created a bathroom suite, out of something sweet?"

The Maderno Sweet bathroom set includes a 210,000-calorie chocolate bidet, a 210,000-calorie chocolate sink, an 8...

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Catalog your cookbooks on Eat Your Books and find every recipe every time

After spending an hour and half on my knees, sorting through stacks of cookbooks, looking for a recipe I knew must be somewhere, in some book--if I could only remember the name -- I was beside myself.  I opened boxes. I tramped out to the garage to peruse my rarely used stash. I searched next to the bed, in the living room, all over the house, and never did turn up the recipe I was looking for.

Fast forward to yesterday when I decided to go to a site I'd discovered weeks before, but never really examined closely. It's called  Eat Your Books and is billed as a search engine for your cookbooks. 

Sounds too easy: add titles of cookbooks to your “library” and you can search for recipes in any of the books therein. You get to add up to five books for free, which would be fine if that’s all I had. Then again if I only had five cookbooks, I wouldn’t need this site at all.

But after inputting five books and running a quick search, I quickly saw how easy and useful having all of my considerable...

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Easy dinner recipes: Three great pasta ideas for Gluten-free Wednesday

So what if it's Gluten-Free Wednesday! If you're like so many who crave pasta but need to stay away from wheat, fret no more. Enjoy with these tempting pasta ideas:

Cashew cream fettuccine Alfredo: With its rich flavor, you might not guess this dish is both gluten-free and vegan. Rice fettuccine is tossed with sauteed spinach and a rich cashew cream sauce, then garnished with delicate (vegan) parmesan crisps, making for a dramatic presentation.

Rice noodles with Chinese chives, shrimp and pork: Larger than their Western counterparts, Chinese chives lend a fresh yet delicate garlic flavor to Asian rice noodles with their full, flat leaves. In this quick recipe, the chives are cooked along with shrimp, pork and flat rice noodles, making for a lightly sweet dish, brightened with a squeeze of fresh lime at the end. You can find Chinese chives and noodles at Chinese and Southeast Asian markets.

Rice noodle bowl with stir-fried beef: You can't go wrong here when you're craving a great noodle...

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Kick off The Taste with L.A.'s hottest chefs opening night

This year, the Los Angeles Times' annual food and wine festival The Taste kicks off Friday, Aug. 29, with a full night of festivities. The Paramount Studios lot is transformed into an intimate party with some of the hottest chefs in the city. 

The opening night is a chance for attendees to mix and mingle with the festival's participating chefs. This year, event hosts include Michael Cimarusti, chef-owner of Providence and chef-partner at Connie & Ted's; Julian Cox, mixologist at Rivera; John Sedlar, chef-principal at Rivera; and Nancy Silverton of Mozza. 

Guests can expect small bites from Alma, Cafe del Rey, Chichen Itza Restaurant, DeSano Pizza Bakery, Guelaguetza, Hinoki & The Bird, Jitlada Thai Cuisine, Phorage, Plan Check Kitchen + Bar, The Counter Burger, Union, Wood & Vine and more. 

Basil Hayden's Bourbon, Don Julio Tequila, Kirin Ichiban, Knob Creek Rye, Matua, Stella Artois and Stoli Elit will be providing libations for the evening. 

A limited number of tickets are available...

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You ready? Every single thing on the new Taco Bell Dollar Cravings menu

Taco Bell launched a Dollar Cravings menu Monday with a selection of items priced at $1. We're here to break them down for you. 

There are a total of 11 items, but Doritos Locos Tacos are not one of them. Standing in as the token chip hybrid is the Beefy Fritos Burrito made with cilantro rice, nacho cheese and original Fritos. If you're not into chips in your burritos (why are you eating at Taco Bell then?), you can order the Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito, or a plain Cheese Roll Up. 

If it's 11 p.m. and you're craving fries and a taco post dance party, there's a Spicy Potato Soft Taco made with crispy potato bites, lettuce, creamy chipotle sauce and shredded cheese.  

Cheese lovers can order the Beefy Mini Quesadilla with ground beef and chipotle sauce or the Shredded Chicken Mini Quesadilla with shredded chicken and chipotle sauce. Or go for the Triple Layer Nachos with beans, red sauce and nacho cheese sauce. 

And sometimes you just need to eat a tostada in the car. The Spicy Tostada...

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Corona beer is recalled; limes are unaffected

Well, there went a couple thousand Southern California summers.

Corona, the beer of choice for the California beach crowd, is recalling some bottles of its flagship Corona Extra because they might contain small fragments of glass, according to Constellation Brands, the mega-liquor conglomerate that owns it.

The recall affects only beer sold in 12-ounce clear glass bottles with selected production codes. They may be sold in 6-pack, 12-pack or 18-pack packages. If you have one of the affected beers, call  1-866-204-9407 to find out how to return them for reimbursement.

"We are troubled by this development and are working proactively with our distributors, retailers and consumers to resolve this situation as quickly as possible," said Bill Hackett, president of Constellation Brands Beer Division in a prepared statement.

Corona Extra is the No. 1 imported beer brand in the United States in terms of sales, and the No. 5 beer brand overall, according to the company.

"Throughout its history,...

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Grand Central Market one of Bon Appetit's 10 best new restaurants in U.S.

Last year it was the experimental restaurant Alma that was honored by Bon Appetit as the best new restaurant in America. This year, the magazine went in an entirely different direction, naming the Grand Central Market as one of its Hot 10 — the best new restaurants of 2014.

At Alma, chef Ari Taymor is turning out dishes that push the envelope when it comes to advanced modernist techniques. But at Grand Central Market, something different is going on — a modern take on the old-fashioned food court.

Rather than ordering from a single menu, at Grand Central you can choose old-school tacos from Tacos Tumbras a Tomas, polished Thai street food from Sticky Rice, adventurous egg dishes from Egg Slut, a great cheeseburger at the nation’s first completely vertically integrated meat market from Belcampo, great cheeses from DTLA Cheese, Texas barbecue from Horse Thief and much more.

“What in the world is a 97-year-old food court doing on this list?” asks Bon Ap restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton....

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Easy dinner recipes: Grilled pork chops with sweet lemon grass marinade

Why not try something new with pork chops tonight? The standard baked and fried pork chops are a good standby, but here's a recipe with a Vietnamese twist.

Charles Phan from Slanted Door in San Francisco shared his recipe for grilled pork chops with sweet lemon grass marinade with the Times' S. Irene Virbila. Phan's chops are marinated in a mixture of sugar, fish sauce, lemon grass, garlic, shallot and chile before cooking on a charcoal grill. Try these sweet and salty chops with a fresh papaya salad and steamed white rice.  

Grilled pork chops with sweet lemon grass marinade, adapted from Charles Phan's "Vietnamese Home Cooking": 

Total time: 40 minutes, plus marinating time | Serves: 6

"Vietnamese Home Cooking" by Charles Phan.

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup plus

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 lemon grass stalk, finely chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1 Thai chile, stemmed and finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 bone-in center-cut pork...

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First look at the Nice Guy, a 'mafia'-inspired restaurant opening Friday

Walking into the new restaurant and lounge the Nice Guy, with its mod yellow and white floral-patterned booths and wood paneling, is like taking a step back in time. You half expect to see Warren Beatty walk through the door, flanked by a young Diane Keaton. 

The throwback restaurant, which is scheduled to open Friday, is the latest venture by John Terzian, Brian Toll, Markus Molinari and Adam Koral of The h.wood Group, which opened Bootsy Bellows, Hooray Henry's and Shorebar. It's what Terzian calls a passion project that he's been wanting to do since he started in the restaurant and club business 10 years ago. 

"We wanted to stick to the theme of the nice guy, family atmosphere, dinner with grandma and friends hanging out," said Koral.  

In the corner, there's a piano with a microphone stand, ready for an old-school lounge singer with big hair. The space was designed by John Sofio and Sormeh Azad of Built Inc. Sofio said he went for a late '70s, early '80s look, describing the space...

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Josef Centeno dishes on his classic American makeover of Pete's Cafe downtown

Josef Centeno plans on doing his take on American classic cuisine as a new partner and the executive chef at Pete's Cafe in downtown. The restaurant will be his fourth venture in the Old Bank District with the existing Baco Mercat next door, and Bar Ama and Orsa & Winston around the corner on 4th Street. 

Since the restaurant has been a fixture in the neighborhood since it opened in 2002, Centeno says the name will remain Pete's.

"When Peter McLaughlin (owner of Pete's Cafe) approached me about taking over the reins of what is a downtown institution as a partner, I paused for a second, took a deep breath and said, 'Yes,'" Centeno told The Times.  

Centeno will give the interior and exterior a complete overhaul along with a brand-new menu, drawing inspiration from his first cookbook, James Beard's "American Cookery." 

"I wanted to do my version of classic American dishes, much of which is rooted in early 20th century cuisine, which also fits in with the history on this block," said...

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