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Counter: Kismet and Cabernet

Counter: Kismet and Cabernet
The Turkish-ish breakfast at Kismet features a variety of small plates. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

If you observe Lent, which began this past week, this mightn't be the best time to read stories about excellent California wine or new restaurants with elaborate menus.

On the other hand, you'll need to live vicariously — and plan for all the food and drink you'll be able to enjoy again soon. So we have a story about the lovely Cabernets of the Alexander Valley and a new restaurant featuring Middle Eastern-ish cuisine.

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Of course, if you're not the sort of person who gives up anything, that's all the more reason to head to Kismet, the subject of Jonathan Gold's latest review. Although, really, who gives up vegetable-intensive small plates or plates of crispy rice anyway?

If your calendar revolves around sports instead, there is college basketball to look forward to, and spring training soon enough — all of which can help you work up an appetite. So there's another restaurant with variable pricing that's worth checking out, plus some pretty good omakase in Encino.

And if you need to get some essential cooking done, in between restaurant-hopping, we have some stock recipes plus more than a few cookie recipes. Good projects, while there's still snow on the mountains.

The kismet of Kismet

This week, Jonathan heads to Los Feliz and to Kismet, the new restaurant from chefs Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson, the duo behind the Grand Central Market falafel stall Madcapra. At Kismet, the chefs do not have falafel on the menu, but instead offer shared plates of Middle-East-meets-California cuisine: freekeh porridge with lamb, jeweled crispy rice, rabbit with tahini and labneh.

Jeweled crispy rice at Kismet in Los Feliz.
Jeweled crispy rice at Kismet in Los Feliz. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Beyond Napa

Wine writer Patrick Comiskey checks out the wines of California's Alexander Valley, specifically three bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon. "These are among the sturdiest Cabs in California, with robust tannins that counterbalance any overly forward tendencies," writes Comiskey, noting that the Alexander Valley Cabs also come at a lower cost. More reasons to raise a glass — or a bottle.

Many bowls, many prices

In food and drink news this week, Deputy Food Editor Jenn Harris gives details on Everytable, the South Central restaurant where the food is priced based on neighborhood income, which is opening another location today in Baldwin Hills.

In other news, Clark Street Bread at Grand Central Market now has a counter with a breakfast toast bar. And Barbara Jean, chef Jason Fullilove's pop-up restaurant, is back.

A bowl of chicken tinga is available from Everytable in South Los Angeles, a restaurant that prices dishes according to neighborhood income. Three more locations are planned later this year.
A bowl of chicken tinga is available from Everytable in South Los Angeles, a restaurant that prices dishes according to neighborhood income. Three more locations are planned later this year. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Omakase in an Encino strip mall

If you love sushi, you likely already spend a lot of time in the San Fernando Valley, which has always had a sort of sushi row along Ventura Boulevard. Food writer Steph Cha heads toward the western part of that row, to an Encino strip mall and to Okumura. Opened in 2012 by chef-ower Ryota Okumura and his wife, who works the floor, the restaurant features omakase that won't break the bank.

Shima aji with soy sauce, top, and kanpachi with yuzu kosho at Okumura in Encino.
Shima aji with soy sauce, top, and kanpachi with yuzu kosho at Okumura in Encino. (Steph Cha)

The Los Angeles Times Food Bowl: Want to spend 31 days exploring the food of this city through a Night Market, forums, dinners, films, pop-ups and more dining and drinking? A monthlong food festival is coming to L.A. in May.

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The Daily Meal, the food and drink website under the editorial direction of Colman Andrews, is now one of our partners. Check out its 101 best pizzas in America and other stories, recipes and videos.

Jonathan Gold's 101 Best Restaurants, the authoritative annual guide to local dining, is online for subscribers and now features his 2016 Best Restaurants. If you didn't get a copy of the booklet, you can order one online here.

"City of Gold," Laura Gabbert's documentary of Jonathan Gold's Los Angeles, is available on Amazon.

Check us out on Instagram @latimesfood

Check out the thousands of recipes in our Recipe Database.

Feedback? We'd love to hear from you. Email us at food@latimes.com.

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