Trendy Tamales

Leave it to John Rivera Sedlar, quirky chef of Abiquiu restaurant in Santa Monica, to put out a poster of beautiful tamales. This latest exercise in culinary, well, cheesecake from Ten-Speed Press doesn’t show your basic chicken, pork or cheese choices but rather what can only be described as designer tamales.

Who else but Sedlar would make a Jewish tamale of whitefish mousse, smoked salmon and baby bagels? Or a Tokyo tamale of ahi tuna marinated in ponzu , pickled ginger and wasabi? The ultimate is the gold tamale, made of chocolate ganache, toasted hazelnuts and caramel-lime tequila sauce, garnished with--you guessed it--gold leaf. Available from Ten-Speed Press, (800) 847-2665.

If you’d like to see some weird tamales up close, Sedlar has invited some of California’s best-known chefs, including Wolfgang Puck, Nobu Matsuhisa and Jeremiah Tower, to invent courses for an all-tamale dinner Nov. 15 to benefit St. Joseph Center, a Venice organization that helps low-income and homeless men, women and children. Tickets are $100 and available by phone at (310) 395-8611.

Cooking Quiche


These ceramic quiche plates come in three sizes and are as practical as they are beautiful. The thing that’s different about them is that each comes with a woven straw mat you can use to take them to the table. Get ‘em while they’re hot at Cookin’ Stuff in Torrance.

Sour Sodas

Today’s youth--well, the pre-teens, anyway--are crazed for sinister colors and low pH values. Plain red sourballs aren’t enough; they have to be acid green or poisonous purple. They’re even into sour chewing gum.

It was only a matter of time before a mainstream soft drink company joined the pucker parade. Nehi, the oldtime specialist in fruit-flavored soft drinks, has introduced the Lockjaw line of flavors: Sour Red Cherry, Sour Blue Raspberry, Sour Green Apple and Sour Yellow Lemon. We’ve tried the raspberry and the apple. The former has the requisite shade of Tidy Bowl blue, but its flavor is not entirely convincing. However, the apple (vivid chartreuse) tastes exactly like a good green pippin. In supermarkets.