Newsletter: Food odysseys


Good Saturday morning and Happy Bloomsday. For the uninitiated, June 16 is the day on which James Joyce’s “Ulysses” took place, and thus a food holiday for some of us, especially those who like Guinness or Bewley’s tea, grilled mutton kidneys or other offal, and a few other totemic items. If that sort of thing isn’t to your liking, pretend to be Molly Bloom and ask your partner to bring you a good breakfast, preferably in bed. You could also go bar-hopping for brunch, wherever you are. Or just get a cup of something and read — your novel, our newspaper.

Speaking of timeless, infinitely curious wanderers, we’re all still thinking about the late Anthony Bourdain, as we’ll be doing for some time. Because Bourdain was our Ulysses, navigating between rocks and monsters, stopping for music and dinner and drinks, trying to keep his ship sailing through soup tureens and whirlpools, and the vast, endlessly televised ocean. The “Bourdain-shaped hole,” to quote our restaurant critic, is not one that will be filled (with salt water, with turtle soup) anytime soon, if at all.

It is also Father’s Day tomorrow, which is impossibly sad if you’re still in elegiac mode, so switch gears on the boat or the pick-up or whatever, and go hug the children and maybe make them some breakfast — or a hamburger, or something good to eat, which we can help you with. And if you like poetry, get a cup of coffee and maybe read W.S. Merwin’s modern reworking of the Ulyssean theme, “Odysseus,” which is a memory palace in its own right, and ends, fittingly, with a question mark. Have a good weekend.


Amy Scattergood

Anthony Bourdain attends “Parts Unknown Last Bite” Live CNN Talk Show at Atomic Liquors on November 10, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Isaac Brekken / WireImage )


The hummus spread at Bavel.
(Mariah Tauger / For The Times )

This week, Jonathan considers the new restaurant from chef Ori Menashe and his wife and pastry chef, Genevieve Gergis, lately opened in DTLA, not too far from Bestia, the Italian restaurant which has been one of the hardest reservations in town since, well, what seems like forever but is only so in restaurant-time. Bavel, named after the Biblical tower, is Middle Eastern in idea and on the plate. So: hummus. “And as you scrape the bread between one density and the other, through the oil or not, the dish becomes an essay in the nuances of texture and fragrance, a nifty, chefly trick.”


A woman makes tortillas at a sidewalk food stall along Cesar Chavez Boulevard in Boyle Heights.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times )

Food writer Willy Blackmore checks in on the status of this town’s street food vendor laws, the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign, recent voting and more. “Now that I can street vend legally, I don’t have to worry about the police taking away my equipment or food,” said Caridad Vazquez, who was at the informal, unpermitted — and near-legendary among food circles — Breed Street market for years.


Sidewalk vendor Merced Sanchez awaits customers at her food booth at the recent Taste of Boyle Heights event.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times )

In a not unrelated piece, food writer Sarah Portnoy brings us the story of Merced Sanchez, a sidewalk vendor from a small town in the Mexican state of Puebla who now makes her home in L.A. with her family. Sanchez also makes some pretty great elotes and mole, and if you haven’t had enough of those in your life lately, you’re seriously missing out.


Recipes for three different homemade hamburger buns: brioche, pretzel and whole wheat. Hamburger is on a Brioche bun.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times )

Yes, that headline got through our copy desk, which means that all is well — though it could very well have been a headline for Jonathan’s recent review of MTN, come to think of it. Anyway, this week, the buns in question are for your hamburger, as Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter has a lovely piece on making your own, with three variations.


And that’s a Wes Anderson joke, not an endorsement. Still, Bill Chait has done an awful lot for restaurants around town, as Food Deputy Editor Jenn Harris reports in her weekly food news column. Most recently: Tesse, Chait’s first restaurant in two years, is set to open Tuesday. And there’s more (a new pizzeria in Dana Point!). There’s always more.

The Taste(s): Food Bowl may be over, but our events calendar is ongoing. Next up is our annual Labor Day festival, the Taste, held over the course of that holiday weekend at Paramount. And this year, we’re having two Tastes, not one (Your double-dipping joke here: ___.), with the second happening in October in Costa Mesa (no O.C. jokes please, as the food is marvelous and Gustavo Arellano may be reading this.). For more info and early tickets, to go

Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants, the authoritative annual guide to local dining, is online for subscribers featuring his 2017 Best Restaurants. If you don’t have a copy of the booklet, you can order one online here.

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

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