Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

FOOD SECTION: Feb. 27, 2008: Soup, Coinless Restaurants, Cocktails, and Pastel Vegetables

In this week's Food Section:

Russ Parsons details some fresh spring soups to make with all the new vegetables coming into season. Soup is what I get excited about in winter, but Russ Parsons can get me enthusiastic about anything, and he's getting me with the spring soups. He gives you some basic templates for creating your own soups, in the category of broths, chowders, and bisques.
If you want to get started on making some soup, perhaps you could take inspiration from the market vegetables coming into season, although it's kind of a shame to disguise these particular choices, as they are visually stunning vegetables that deserve their own showcase. Cauliflower is peaking right now, so you should be able to find many colorful and pictureque varieties. Also peaking are watermelon radishes. Watermelon radishes are a dramatic choice since they are a radish in negative - white on the outside and bright pink in the middle. You could make such a hot looking appetizer plate with these.

The Restaurant Journal reports that patrons of Charcoal in the Arclight complex are noticing that the restaurant is operating on a coinless system, meaning they round your bill up or down before giving change. The problem with this is that whether the bill is rounded in your favor or not is up to the server, and it appears that at least one or two servers are using this to express their opinions of how you are as a customer. Seems like a bad strategy, since the customer still has time to make up for any shortchange in the tip.

The restaurant journal also reports on various restaurant openings around town: Citrus at the Social, The Waffle, and STK in Hollywood and West Hollywood; Akasha (vegan-friendly) and Luckyfish (conveyer belt sushi) in Culver City and Beverly Hills respectively.

I've eaten at The Waffle and will report on it soon. I've taken a stroll past Akasha and Luckyfish and from a design perspective - thumbs up. They both look very inviting.

Finally, Betty Hallock profiles Vincenzo Marianella, once bartender of Providence, now creating the menu for the super-secret, ultra-rich people's, democrats-only fancy club, the Doheny. You know, the place you so wish you could go to, just for a night, just to SEE, but you also know it would be SO BORING once you were there--because the only interesting thing about it is that you buy your membership with a combination of money, power, and liberal politics that most of us only dare to dream of.

But there's the slight possibility that you could walk in, and it could look like "Eyes Wide Shut." So you still kind of want to see, just to know if it's really just middle-aged white dudes with trophy dates drinking expensive liquor as you suspect, or if it's awesomely filled with people in capes and masks and naked supermodels. And perhaps a trapeze. And peacocks and tigers (but not where they can eat you - and being treated well and not abused). And a big champagne fountain. And do you see how with this imagination I am constantly disappointed by real life?

Oh yeah ... and the article was actually about this bartender and how he makes a jillion kinds of cocktails and is all hot and Italian and tall. Wait - what? How did I not know about this guy when he was at Providence? He needs to go back!


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