S. Irene Virbila

Writer

S. Irene Virbila is a former restaurant critic and wine columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Her worldly perspective on the L.A. dining scene has won a James Beard Foundation Award in 1997 and the American Food Journalists Award in 2005. Before joining The Times in 1993, she wrote about food, wine and travel from Europe and Asia, trained as a sommelier in Paris, edited cookbooks and was part of the culinary scene in Berkeley when Chez Panisse changed everything. She left The Times in 2015. 

Recent Articles

  • Chef Steve Samson shares a New Year's Eve tradition: tortellini

    Chef Steve Samson shares a New Year's Eve tradition: tortellini

    In Bologna where Steve Samson's mother, Anna, grew up, tortellini is the dish of celebration, part of the meal at every special occasion — birthdays, weddings, even New Year's Eve. So when the chef/owner of Sotto and his entire family went back to Bologna this past summer to celebrate his parents'...

  • Looking to drink something a bit different this New Year's? Pour a fizzy Lambrusco

    Looking to drink something a bit different this New Year's? Pour a fizzy Lambrusco

    There are many things you could drink with your New Year's Eve supper, but if you're making an Italian feast, you would do well to ring out the last day of the year with Lambrusco. Even if you're not cooking a vat of tortellini in brodo yourself, the fizzy, bittersweet wine from the area around...

  • Banquet: A new wine-buying app that's actually easy to use

    Banquet: A new wine-buying app that's actually easy to use

    If you’ve ever tried to buy wine through a smartphone app, you’ll know how sluggish and frustrating the experience can be. But what if the interface was easy to use, you could buy unique wines from independent wine shops across the country and only have to enter your credit card information once?...

  • Stocking stuffer: That really good hot mustard from Philippe the Original

    Stocking stuffer: That really good hot mustard from Philippe the Original

    Here’s a little something to stuff in a mustard lovers’ stocking: Los Angeles’ own moutarde — namely the rip-snorting French mustard the French dip house Philippe the Original has been making since forever. Well, practically. The Big Dipper, as we like to call it, turns 107 this year. The mustard...

  • Gift idea for bakers: a cloth pie carrier in organic cotton

    Gift idea for bakers: a cloth pie carrier in organic cotton

    Here’s a gift for all those avid pie bakers out there. Instead of a basket or box, they can tote that freshly made pie to a dinner party in a cloth carrier. Why didn’t someone think of this sooner?  The carrier is made by San Francisco company Aplat.  "A plat," which translates as “a dish” or “is...

  • Need a gift for a wine lover? 10 cru Beaujolais for $40 or less

    Need a gift for a wine lover? 10 cru Beaujolais for $40 or less

    It’s tricky picking out a gift for a wine lover. You don’t want to show up with something no one wants to drink. Of course, if you have the means, a bottle of first-class Barolo, Napa Valley Cabernet or white Burgundy would be a slam dunk. But what about bringing something that’s a bit under the...

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