Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Stop vaping now

A smoker vapes with an e-cigarette. California health officials issued a warning Tuesday that people stop vaping immediately.
(Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Sept. 28.

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Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

Top Stories

Stop vaping immediately. California health officials issued a warning Tuesday that people stop vaping immediately, joining a growing chorus of health experts advising caution following recent reports of severe lung illnesses linked to e-cigarette use.


California and impeachment. What’s the worst part of the impeachment inquiry for Donald Trump? He has to “put up” with California’s Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, current chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Not since the Civil War. In related news, Trump is on track for the poorest showing in over a century by a Republican presidential candidate in California, a new poll finds. Just 29% of likely California voters say they plan to vote for him.

Challenging Boise. A growing number of local governments, including the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento and San Diego, are attempting to challenge Martin vs. City of Boise, a court decision that has allowed people to legally bed down on sidewalks overnight.

Autumn leaves. Think there’s no way to see fall in California? Here are a few places where you can find trees with spectacular displays of autumnal color.

No Endeavor IPO. Endeavor Group Holdings Inc., the owner of talent agency WME-IMG and mixed martial arts league UFC, canceled plans for its highly anticipated initial public offering just one day before its stock was expected to begin trading on Wall Street.

Designer chicken coops. Some Los Angeles chicken owners want to house their pets in high-style comfort. And they’re spending hundreds to thousands of dollars to do so.

Who picks babies’ gender? Some California couples are choosing not to state the gender of their children until the kids are old enough to articulate their identities on their own. But that’s set up clashes with federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration.

A radical approach to getting people off the streets. In the face of a growing homelessness crisis, city and county officials in Bakersfield want to put homeless people in jail for misdemeanor drug offenses and potentially for trespassing.

1. How ex–Trump whisperer Hope Hicks spins the Hollywood liberal establishment. Air Mail

2. The 10 weirdest things at the very weird Emmys 2019. Los Angeles Times

3. A new California city of 120,000 is rising five miles from Fresno. Would you live there? Fresno Bee

4. The burns that almost cost Eve Babitz her life. Air Mail

5. Where to find a quiet spot amid the bustle of L.A. Los Angeles Times

ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Meet Caren Spruch, Planned Parenthood’s woman in Hollywood: In her role as the organization’s director of arts and entertainment, she encourages screenwriters to tell stories about abortion and offers script expertise. Washington Post

Who wants to leave California? Young voters can’t afford housing, and conservatives feel alienated. Los Angeles Times

A “white boy” from Maywood (a now 96% Latinx neighborhood) reflects on how his upbringing as the neighborhood shaped him, and made him a better parent and citizen. L.A. Taco

“Why does this place exist — and for whom?” San Francisco Chronicle dining critic Soleil Ho (whose name you should know if you don’t already — she’s been doing fantastically interesting work since joining the paper earlier this year) dissects Union Square’s famed Le Colonial to ask whether a restaurant celebrating French colonialism even belongs in San Francisco. San Francisco Chronicle

An L.A. jazz legend pays homage to Jackie Robinson, with a pitch from a library assistant. Los Angeles Times

Looking ahead

Saturday Recommendation: Queso from Amá•cita in Culver City

The bar in Amá•cita’s dining room.
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

Restaurant critic Bill Addison ventured to Amá•cita, Bar Amá chef Josef Centeno’s new Tex-Cal-Mex joint in his former BäcoShop space. There is much deliciousness to be had on the menu, but Addison had some strong advice for readers: Do not resist the queso. (The servers will offer it if you ask for guacamole with your chips.) Here’s what he had to say about it:

“This is alchemist’s queso, unlikely elements turned to molten gold. The mixture indeed includes Velveeta; processed cheese imparts a necessary smoothness, and Centeno knows better than to fight it. He also tinkers ingeniously. Cheddar and Monterey Jack add hearty tang and textural substance. The sneaky kicker is Brebirousse d’Argental, a bloomy rind Lyonnaise sheep’s milk cheese with restrained pungency and otherworldly creaminess. Its presence makes the queso comforting but not too comfortable.

The dip arrives in a small 1970s-era brown crock, with garnishes of crema, concentrated tomato salsa and crumbled ricotta salata for surprise flickers of sharpness. It is narcotic in its appeal, chip after submerged chip. The amazing thing about this stuff is how it retains its pull even as it starts to cool. The consistency doesn’t become plasticky or gluey like most queso; it stays silky, and the tiers of flavor keep revealing themselves. Even as other dishes begin filling the table, I find myself moving the queso back to the center of the action.”

Amá•cita is located at 9552 Washington Blvd. in Culver City. (424) 523-3300. Read the full review here.

Want for more food stories delivered to your inbox? Sign up for the Tasting Notes newsletter, written by restaurant critics Patricia Escárcega and Bill Addison.

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes. (And a giant thanks to the legendary Diya Chacko for all her help on the Saturday edition.)