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The art is on the plates, and on the walls

The art is on the plates, and on the walls
Chef Wes Whitsell describes specials on the menu to his waitstaff during a tasting before doors open at Manuela. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

I don't know about you, but it feels like it's been an awfully long week from where we sit. Yes, there's been excellent basketball, but there's also been news of the end of some really terrific projects, including the Lucky Peach food magazine and Andy Ricker's L.A. Thai restaurant Pok Pok, which will shutter on Tuesday. So maybe take the most recent Lucky Peach issue, devoted to chicken, and read it while you sit at the Pok Pok bar in Chinatown, drinking one or more cocktails and appreciating Ricker's fried chicken, while you still can.

In happier news, Jonathan Gold considers Manuela, the new Southern small-plates restaurant at the center of the Hauser & Wirth gallery complex in downtown L.A. Because there's nothing like modern art and country ham and biscuits to make you feel better about the world. And then there's the Persian New Year, which begins on Monday and is an object lesson in optimism. We have a celebratory dinner menu, and not a few recipes. In other news, we start a new drinking column, consider what's on the stands at local farmers markets, and check in on a new restaurant featuring kosher sandwiches from chef Eric Greenspan. Speaking of local chefs, another positive note: four L.A. chefs just picked up James Beard nominations. As if you needed more dinner recommendations.

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North Texas meets L.A.'s Arts District

The deer burger is served with pimento cheese, charred onion and spicy mayo at Manuela.
The deer burger is served with pimento cheese, charred onion and spicy mayo at Manuela. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Manuela is the newish restaurant in the center of Hauser & Wirth, the art gallery in DTLA's Arts District, so there's a Raymond Pettibon mural on one dining room wall, a Mark Bradford painting on another. The art is on chef Wes Whitsell's plates as well, where he's translating the North Texas and Deep South cooking he grew up with into a seriously urban setting. So: country ham, pimento cheese and biscuits; a venison burger; collard greens. But also, a single plate of near-perfect Kishu mandarins, which is art enough.

Cooking for Nowruz

A selection of herbs and other ingredients, including a Persian spice blend and saffron, will go into making dishes for the Persian New Year.
A selection of herbs and other ingredients, including a Persian spice blend and saffron, will go into making dishes for the Persian New Year. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Nowruz is the Persian New Year, and it's celebrated on Monday in both Iran and in Iranian communities around the world. What to cook for the holiday? Deputy Food Editor Jenn Harris asks an Iranian matriarch, the mother and mother-in-law, respectively, of the co-owners of Spring restaurant in downtown L.A. This year, 71-year-old Shamsi Katebi will be making the same feast that she's made for over 40 years, and we bring you her recipes.

More New Year food

A variety of Kurdish dips, including piyas (red in brown bowl), hesandin dip (light brown in blue bowl) and riha ezme (dark brown in white bowl).
A variety of Kurdish dips, including piyas (red in brown bowl), hesandin dip (light brown in blue bowl) and riha ezme (dark brown in white bowl). (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

The folks at Nîroj Kurdish Cuisine in Agoura Hills celebrate Nowruz too, though, being Kurdish, they call it Newroz — and the restaurant's name is itself a version of the name. Chef-owner Luqman Barwari's cold mezze dips are this week's Culinary SOS recipes.

Driven to drink

Order and chaos behind the bar.
Order and chaos behind the bar. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Sometimes it helps to be a little OCD, especially if you run a bar. Noted L.A. bartender Eric Alperin (the Varnish, Bar Clacson) and writer Deborah Stoll consider how to bring order out of chaos when the lights get too dim, the garnishes wither and the music is too loud, in a new drinking column.

Fun with green garlic

Bunches of green garlic spotted at the Thao Farms stand at the Hollywood Farmers Market this week.
Bunches of green garlic spotted at the Thao Farms stand at the Hollywood Farmers Market this week. (Noelle Carter / Los Angeles Times)

March is a pretty great time for SoCal farmers markets — though, really when is it not — and this week Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter considers green garlic. If you're unfamiliar with the stuff, it's likely the greens that you've seen around but thought were scallions: pretty long shoots of the immature garlic plant. More subtle than dried garlic, it's fantastic in soups and fritattas, among many other dishes.

Chocolate news, kosher sandwiches

Mast Brothers Chocolate in downtown L.A. has closed. Pictured is a selection of chocolate bars at the L.A. factory.
Mast Brothers Chocolate in downtown L.A. has closed. Pictured is a selection of chocolate bars at the L.A. factory. (Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

What's been going on lately? Mast Brothers has closed its chocolate factory and retail shop in DTLA's Arts District. 85°C, the Taiwan-based bakery chain, has opened another shop in Glendale. And chef Eric Greenspan has opened a kosher sandwich shop, called Fleishik's, on Beverly Boulevard. And yes, there's more.

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 month-long 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 their 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.

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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