Welcome to the first weekend in September, your Labor Day weekend and yet another major L.A. heat wave. If you're bored and hungry, maybe come on over to Paramount Studios, where we're in the middle of The Taste, our holiday weekend food festival. If you're staying home, you can read about food instead, or maybe cook it yourself, which we can help you with.
So settle in and read what Jonathan Gold has to say about Vespertine, Jordan Kahn's experimental new restaurant, especially as you may not have the bank account to try it yourself anytime soon. Or read about Barbara Jean, another new restaurant that is as modern as Vespertine, albeit in a very different way. If you're headed to the farmers market, maybe pick up some Asian pears or ingredients for a summer cocktail to help beat the heat. We also have some grilling recipes, a recipe for Jitlada's Thai tea, a look at a new brewpub, and a tutorial on brownies — because you can always crank the AC and bake. Right. Enjoy your weekend.
This week, Jonathan visits Jordan Kahn's new restaurant Vespertine, a highly ambitious, modernist tasting menu project in Culver City. There, in an Eric Owen Moss building, he considers 20-plus-courses served by folks dressed like characters from "The Handmaid's Tale." Bougainvillea leaves glued with a gel of beets and Concord grapes; cured mango laminated with sunflower petals; hirame with burnt onion; toasted kelp with yuzu cream; and many, many more. Is it worth a price tag that can hit $1,000 for two? Good question. "It's not dinner," writes Gold, "it's Gesamtkunstwerk."
POP-UPS AND PERSEVERANCE
Chef Jason Fullilove's new restaurant is on the other end of the spectrum from Vespertine, but is just as of-the-moment. It's the permanent, sort of, incarnation of his pop-up, Barbara Jean, a restaurant like a reverse speakeasy in the back of a bar, often without a roof, that looks like an art installation crossed with a garage. I talk to Fullilove about how he got there, after a career spent at some of the most quintessential of this town's restaurants; it's a very L.A. story.
Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter considers the brownie, that chocolate-loaded dessert that is quintessential comfort food. Brownies may seem fairly straightforward, but the mechanics behind them are more intricate than you might think. Chocolate bars or chips or cocoa, and then what kind of cocoa? How much butter and sugar? What kind of flour? Do you refrigerate the dough or not? And yes, she gives us a recipe — for triple chocolate brownies. Just in time for school, the holiday baking season, and of course football.
MAKE YOUR OWN JITLADA TEA
If you've spent a lot of time at Jitlada, the Hollywood Boulevard Southern Thai restaurant, you've likely downed your fair share of their excellent Thai tea, if only to try and counteract all the chiles. Recently owner Sarintip "Jazz" Singsanong came to our Test Kitchen to demo the drink, so you can make it at home, to pair with your own curries, or maybe your favorite Jitlada dishes to-go.
LUDO AND FRIENDS
In her latest food news column, Deputy Food Editor Jenn Harris gets the details on what's going on around town, including chef Ludo Lefebvre's latest dinner series. The Trois Mec chef has invited six high-profile chefs to come cook with him. In other news, there's a new cocktail bar in Venice, and a new pizza place in the Fairfax neighborhood.
The Taste, our annual Labor Day food festival (this one is three days, not a whole month!) is this weekend at Paramount Studios. Check out the lineup, the demos and panels, the chefs and bartenders, and of course all the food. Tickets are on sale.
Goldbot: You can talk to Jonathan Gold any time you want — or at least the robot version of him that lives on Facebook Messenger. You can ask Goldbot for a personal restaurant recommendation based on location, type of food or price. The bot will also deliver Jonathan Gold's latest reviews straight to your device.
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