Jonathan Gold, with wife Laurie Ochoa at right
Jonathan Gold is one of the finest writers about food and restaurants in the universe! Along with A.A. Gill of the London Times
, Mr. Eats -Merrill Shindler (and, perhaps, modestly, me), he is a veteran dean of writing about all manner of food, cooking, and eating. As attested to by the fact he's the only writer to ever win a Pulitzer Prize for restaurant criticism. His book, Counter Intelligence, Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles,
is the definitive tome on ethnic cooking in L.A. As Ruth Reichl, former Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet
, said: "In this book Gold gives you the life of the city, and although it is the best guide you could ever find to the ethnic food of L.A., you could read it like a novel and be very satisfied."
I must admit that I still pick it up and read a few chapters before falling asleep at night, then dream about the weird, wonderful dishes he describes.
For the past several years, Jonathan has been writing in the LA Weekly
about his weekly adventures into the Los Angles culinary culture. His stimulating column is unparalleled in any city by any individual anywhere. And now, in its present form, it is ended. On Sunday, Jonathan bade farewell to the weekly journal... and begins a new adventure, returning to a long-ago home base at the vastly changed Los Angeles Times.
This daily paper, which has undergone bankruptcy and misery for the past several years, stepped up and smartly (bravely) threw down a gauntlet to him: Write your heart out and make us all happy... or at least happier.
On Sunday, Jon held his fifth annual Gold Standard
culinary event at the Petersen Auto Museum, an event he has hosted each year to demonstrate the talents of some 40 restaurants which ordinarily would never, never participate in the traditional food festivals strewn about the city all year. This one is an ethnic food paradise, where 2,000 foodies pay about $75 each (which goes to "Heal The Bay") for an afternoon of eating and drinking until you drop... of exhaustion, stomach seizures and such.
I had an opportunity to ask him when he would start at the daily paper, and he laughed as he said, "I think tomorrow." I then asked if he would be repeating this annual event for the newspaper; he shrugged his shoulders as he replied, "I hope so, in some form, but we have not even discussed that. My duties at the paper are still somewhat undefined." I then queried him about whether he would be writing a blog on their website and he vigorously shook his head in the affirmative, saying: "I think that I will be doing a lot of Internet stuff for them." I am told that the paper's current restaurant critic, S(herry) Irene Vibila, will continue to write weekly reviews for the new Saturday food section.
Mayura Indian Restaurant in Culver City was a new find for me.
My friends at Jitlada Thai in Hollywood served hot curry.
As I wandered around the large exhibition hall, I was impressed by the collection of boutique wines which Bill Knight of the Wine House
(2311 Cotner Avenue, West L.A.) had gathered here for sampling. His 30-year-old establishment is the place to buy wines and spirits at remarkable prices. And, I ate myself into a stupor at the many unique restaurants exhibiting here for Jonathan.
I have often written about the paucity of good Indian restaurants on the Westside, and yet here was a group of smiling Indian folk offering a delicious yellow curry and several sauteed vegetables. I made note of Mayura (10406 Venice Blvd. Culver City (310) 559-9644). In business for seven years, "Where taste meets tradition," they are a prime prospect for a full review in Jay Weston's Restaurant Newsletter
. Brandon Boudet of Little Dom's and Dominick's handed me a barbequed oyster, which was delectable, and Nancy Silverton's new Short Order in the original Farmer's Market served me a pretzel pup, two short dogs on a La Brea pretzel bun. Her Mozza had their legendary butterscotch budino. Downtown's The Spice Table (114 S. Central Avenue) called attention to itself by serving snippets of savory pig's tail on a cracker. They offer Southeast Asian cooking inspired by Singapore and Vietnam, and their food is astonishing.
Yes, everyone was offered a taste of pig's tail, courtesy of The Spice Table downtown.
Chris of the Night & Market stand handed me a plate of spicy chicken so hot I was unable to finish the first bite, but I knew that this down-home addition to Sunset Blvd's Talesai would soon see me. Ramen Jinya, on Ventura, Sawtelle and Wilshire Blvds, served up little cups of crunchy Japanese noodles with broth. My buddy, the smiling Jazz, oversaw the Jitlada Southern Thai Restaurant booth (5233 ½ W. Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood) serving up spicy beef curry over rice. The authentic Texas barbecue people at Smoke City Market (5242 Van Nuys Blvd, in Sherman Oaks), where all meat are smoked over white oak, were publicizing Jon's review of their food: "The beef ribs are as thick as bibles and black as sin." Ricardo Zarate hailed me from his booth serving Peruvian food from Mo-Chica and Picca (9575 W. Pico Blvd) and I reminded him of Jon's statement that he was the most prominent Peruvian cook in the U.S. at the moment, obviously doing something right. "Mo-Chica revolutionized the way L.A. looks at Peruvian cooking, with its emphasis on strong flavors and sushi--fresh ingredients."
Zach and Steve from Sotto on Pico offer up pork belly to all.
Sang Yoon from Lukshon and Father's Office on Helm Avenue served cured yellowtail.
The guys from Animal and Son of a Gun, Jon Shouk and Vinny Potolo, told me that they owe their huge success to Jonathan's initial review of the beef-friendly Animal on Fairfax, while serving up foie gras mousse with buttered toast and Satsuma marmalade. Zach and Steve from Sotto on Pico paid tribute to his touting of their unique Southern Italian pizza and such. All the while I was sippng a cocktail made from St Germain, a spirit made from the flowers of the elderberry bushes found on the foothills of the Alps. I stopped at the Bushmill's Irish Whisky stand and told the girl there how I had brought Irish coffee to the U.S. in 1956 while publicizing Bushmill's. She had no idea what I was talking about. Hugged Genet of Meals by Genet and sopped up some stunning Ethiopian stew with their soft bread. She told me that my recent Huffington review still brought in diners to her Fairfax retreat.
Genet's Ethiopian food was eaten by scooping it up with a slice of soft bread.
Huckleberry Cafe had an astonishing table of sweet treats. I had a chocolate cupcake.
Nickel Dinner on Main Street posted Mr. Gold's intuitive comment: "The difference between involvement and commitment is like eggs with bacon... the chicken was involved but the pig was committed." Sang Yoon, the cool and cunning owner of Father's Office and the newer Lukshon (3239 Helms Ave., Culver City (310) 202-6808) was supervising the serving of cured yellowtail at his booth, and we discussed Jonathan's review of Lukshon, which featured this comment: "I've never had anything quite like his tiny bulbs of California squid stuffed with Northern Thai fermented ground-pork sausage, although I've stared at recipes for similar dishes in Vietnamese cookbooks. The sauce, a kind of pesto made with the pungent Vietnamese herb rau ram and Malaysian candlenuts, is from a fantasyland where Liguria meets Kuala Lumpur." See what I mean about good writing? We wish Jonathan Gold all good fortune at his new situation and eagerly look forward to the next stage of an illustrious career.
Bushmill's Irish Whisky was sampled... in small cups.
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