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Wine, wurst and wildfires

Good morning. The beginning of a new year often means looking both backward and forward, calibrating gains and losses, and preparing for the future. What the last year meant for many folks in California was fire, and so we have two stories about what that has meant, in the fields and in the vineyards.

And for some of us, a new year also means cooking, and not so much the flamboyance of holiday feasting, but the pragmatism of daily meals. So we have a story about how to do that with a very short list of ingredients, with recipes to match. We also have news of restaurant openings and closings, and a poignant look at the importance of pastrami. Have fun watching the Golden Globes, planning Coachella — and maybe baking some minimalist shortbread — and enjoy your weekend.

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FARMING AFTER THE FIRE

Kerry Clasby, right, and César Ramírez, whom Clasby credits with helping to save what she could of her farm.
Kerry Clasby, right, and César Ramírez, whom Clasby credits with helping to save what she could of her farm. (Lucas Kwan Peterson / Los Angeles Times)

A Malibu farmer rebuilds in the wake of November’s devastating Woolsey fire. As Lucas Kwan Peterson reports, farmer Kerry Clasby and her team have been replanting the produce — which supplied restaurants such as Spago, Gjelina, Eataly and Rose Cafe — that flourished before the fire and looking to the future.

WINE AND WILDFIRES

There are a lot of ways wines can go wrong. You may not have heard of this one yet, but winemakers fear its name: smoke taint.
There are a lot of ways wines can go wrong. You may not have heard of this one yet, but winemakers fear its name: smoke taint. (Johanna Goodman / For The Times)

“Some effects of a wildfire are visually arresting. Others are invisible, dormant for months, and then, suddenly, smellable,” as food writer Arielle Johnson writes. “You may not have heard of it yet, but winemakers fear its name: smoke taint.” In the aftermath of the recent California wildfires, winemakers are seeing the effects in the bottle — with some interesting results.

LESS IS MORE DELICIOUS

A recipe for honey-chia granola requires only a few ingredients.
A recipe for honey-chia granola requires only a few ingredients. (Maria Zizka)

Sometimes it’s fun to put much time and many ingredients into a recipe, but sometimes it is not. Food writer Maria Zizka considers a few dishes that require five or fewer ingredients, including a honey-chia granola, a pan of salt-and-vinegar cauliflower — even a warm steak salad with sherry-soaked cherries.

#ALLTHESCHNITZELS

Vegan schnitzel at Hinterhof German Kitchen and beer garden in Highland Park.
Vegan schnitzel at Hinterhof German Kitchen and beer garden in Highland Park. (Hinterhof German Kitchen)

In his weekly news column, Hadley Tomicki has details on a German beer hall opening today in Highland Park, with schnitzel, wurst and spaetzle. There’s also a new delivery service specializing in the Georgian cheese-filled bread adjaruli khachapuri. More? More, including a Rowland Heights spot that has dumplings, cat decor and dishes served on shovels.

AN ODE TO PASTRAMI

On his last day at Langer's Deli, Chon Barajas, left, stands with owners Jeannette and Norm Langer.
On his last day at Langer's Deli, Chon Barajas, left, stands with owners Jeannette and Norm Langer. (Bea Barajas)

Reader Bea Barajas writes in to tell the story of her father, Chon Barajas, who worked at Langer’s Deli in downtown Los Angeles for a half-century before recently retiring at 78. During those decades, as her family changed and moved, Langer’s remained both constant and a constant. (And check out this video of Norm Langer explaining how to eat the world’s best pastrami sandwich.)

Our 101 Restaurants We Love list for 2018 is out. The list incorporates restaurants and trucks from around Los Angeles and Orange County, in alphabetical order (no rankings this year). Plus this year there’s a bonus list of 10 classic restaurants.

Check us out on Instagram at @latimesfood.

And don’t forget the thousands of recipes in our California Cookbook recipe database.

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

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