Meals, a Food-Centric Label From L.A., Will Make Your Mouth Water

Meals, a Food-Centric Label From L.A., Will Make Your Mouth Water

The slogan of the Los Angeles–based fashion label Meals is “Wear What You Eat.” And if these clothes were food, they would be delicious. The genderless collection—founded by Sam Salad (a pseudonym) and his partner, Rebma (the formerly anonymous designer of the denim label 69)—references rich natural foods in each of the garments. In the mix is a workwear-style canvas jacket and utility pant set that is displayed in a look book with a […]

Photograph by Oliver Maxwell Kupper

SALT OF THE EARTH: CHEF DAVID NAYFELD

The abundance of simplicity is often a concept lost on our generation. Art directed foodie shots tout just as much presence in the digital sphere as Instagram sideboobs, cat Vines, andYouTube makeup tutorials. The art of consumption floods our daily feeds. And we always want more.

It would be a mistake to assume the grass greener or the meat leaner with a fussy approach to a meal’s core ingredients. David Nayfeld agrees. The chef observes a traditional, chivalrous approach to living a proper culinary lifestyle. It’s his love affair with ingredients that resonates after tasting one of his exquisitely prepared dishes.

Trusting in his gut, Nayfeld began his gastronomic expedition in California before heading east to New York’s Eleven Madison Park to hone his craft. Then there was Spain, Paris, and London, before circling back to Los Angeles to set the framework for Fifty Seven, a restaurant that, quite literally, ‘revolves around’ chefs. Now, Nayfeld embraces his future solo. His outlook, passion, and gusto pivot as he finds his balance with a new food tradition and a timeless restaurant space that obliges his way of life.

LA CANVAS: WHAT’S THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR COOKING?

CHEF DAVID NAYFELD: The underbelly, so to speak, of my cooking was formed in Northern California. I grew up in the Bay Area. Essentially, you don’t figure out until later on in life that you’ve been exposed
to an education of how human beings should eat—having vegetables multiple times a day with fruits as snacks. And not as chores. People have orchard trees in their backyards! Even
in East Oakland, people have apple and orchard trees in their backyards—because you may as well.

LAC: DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE A CHEF?

DN: I wasn’t planning on becoming a chef. I did love food, but it was all very accidental. When I was working at a produce stand at 13, I didn’t think I was working towards a career,
I thought I was putting my ADD to good use—my absolutehyperactivity to good use.

LAC: WHAT’S YOUR CUISINE STYLE?

DN: Stylistically, my cuisine is very much about showcasing and highlighting incredible ingredients and not over manipulating. Over manipulation comes with a level of insecurity—you feel like you have to work harder to make it super interesting or extraordinary. At the end of the day, we’re cooking food. Food is meant to be eaten. It’s meant to create comfort, sustenance, and happiness. Yes, a lot of it is artistic, and I like to plate with an artistic flair. But again, what we’re cooking is meant to satisfy people’s need for nutrition. I would say my style is trying to adhere to simplicity. My cuisine, or the cuisine I’m trying to achieve, is New American, Progressive American, or whatever people want to call it. Really, what I’m trying to adhere to is an abundance in simplicity.

INDULGE MORE IN THIS TASTY PALETTE IN OUR EXTENDED E-ISSUE.

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photography JOSH TELLES

UNION BY THE SEA: TABERNA ARROS Y VI

A row of striking antlers set off by vibrant lighting dominates the bar upon entering Taberna Arros y Vi, Michael Cardenas’ latest tapas-centered venture in Santa Monica. The restaurant’s mishmash of art and decor include a boar’s head, flickering candles, large chairs and couches, and an assortment of art, providing for a hip, eclectic ambiance that walks the line between intimate and energetic.

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 We are greeted warmly and settle down to enjoy one of the restaurant’s numerous house-crafted cocktails, the Seasonal Salted Watermelon. A wash of sweet and savory pleasantly tingles our tastebuds and we decide that the tasty cocktail may have been worth the trip to Santa Monica alone. But what meal is complete with just one solo drink? A selection of refreshing sangrias awaits, and who are we to deny ourselves, particularly when a delightful Honey Grapefruit sangria is just begging to be consumed.

But let’s get down to business. Deciding what to order from the extensive menu might seem overwhelming at first, but that’s why the Iberian Gods invented small plates, right? You’ll find a variety of tapas and paellas on chef Verite Mazzola’s menu, including traditional standbys like Gambas al ajillo (Shrimp sautéed with garlic) or Aceitunas Alintadas (Cured Olives) and more creative interpretations, like Pulpo en Lata (Octopus in a Can).

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We start off with an order of the Pickled Vegetables, a mix of vegetables with just the right mix of crunch and tanginess, and a welcome briny accompaniment to our dishes still to come. Out comes a Scallop Ceviche, which is plated with sweet pickled fennel, blossoms, herbs and melt-in-your-mouth fried capers. We also order the Mejillones al Vino Blanco, green-lipped mussels that sit in a complex, queso-and-white-wine broth perfect for soaking crusty bread in. Dip in and you might also find bits of chorizo for a nice surprise. Crispy Pig Ears also arrive, paired with a flavorful harissa aioli. We dig in and we’re pleasantly surprised with a tasty, refreshing experience in a tapas realm that can be all too predictable.

READ MORE ON TABERNA ARROS Y VI IN OUR NEWEST ISSUE HERE 

 

1403 2nd St.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
tabernala.com

A YEAR AND AWAY: ALMA’S ARI TAYMOR

text MICHAEL FRANCESCONI
photo RACHEL MANY

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After a slow start that saw the brink of closure, Alma, the first brick-and-mortar from 28-year-old Ari Taymor, has surged to the front of LA’s chef-driven must-try list. A mountain of recent press and praise from foodies alike has the restaurant poised to be one of the most sought after seats in 2014. LAC sat with the young chef to review the year gone by and look at what’s ahead.

A year ago you said: “We’re looking to do everything the right way. From the way we build To the ingredients we use. To the way that we treat our staff. We’re looking to do something different.” Any update?
You know, I’m really happy with the way those things are going. With the success of the restaurant, we’ve been able to move closer to those ideals—in terms of compensating staff, growing our own food, working with individual farmers, cooking unique, delicious food.

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You’ve been open for a year. You’ve been in LA for two. Thoughts on Los Angeles?
Truthfully, I love it. The markets are the best in the country. The produce here is untouchable. I’ve said that it’s hard to do conceptual food here, but we’re here because we have the best product and it allows us to the cook the best tasting food.

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Will you elaborate on conceptual food?
We’re not necessarily cooking from a regional background. Conceptual cooking is trying to bring the essence of some dish you had in Italy or France or Spain into the kitchen. Personally, I have these memories and emotions that I want to articulate through food, and Alma is my venue to do that.

What made you start cooking?
I went to Atera in New York where Matt [Lightner] was serving a beet ember I think they cooked for thirty-six hours. And you look at it and think ‘this is a beet’ but everything that went into it, the way it was eventually dressed and plated, made it taste more than of itself, like the platonic ideal of what a beet should be. When I experienced cooking that made food taste more like itself than it would normally, I realized I had to do it for a living.

Speaking of hyper-realized food, you have to explain your lament of the Cronut.
[Laughs] Look somebody spent all this time and care to make this thing that hasn’t been made before. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s original. If people can use that to articulate something else, and make something that’s equally beautiful and original and delicious, then that’s great, but you can’t just take things from people like that. There’s no copyright on it, but that’s intellectual property. There’s borrowing and there’s chefs sharing things with each other, but I don’t hear anyone thanking Dominique Ansel for making this thing we’ve all been inspired by. They’ve just hacked together a crude copy. It doesn’t seem fair when you consider he probably spent a couple of years perfecting it. What I’d love to see in LA is less of that and more people looking inside and deciding how they can express LA and what we do here and what we love.

Is there anything indicative of LA cuisine yet?
I think it’s still so open. The pervasiveness of second and third generation guys that are straddling both worlds—between immigrant parents and a modern California culture—and are finding authenticity in their cooking without looking for it are going to be big shapers of defining LA cuisine. I guess it’s going to be very personality driven.

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Is Alma personality driven?
I don’t think Alma is necessarily about me, Ari. I think it’s more about the memories and emotions that I try to convey to people, the care I show to the staff, the sourcing, the preparations. I think those are things I could eventually instill in a chef de cuisine and no longer be here and Alma could exist and succeed.

Are you working on anything else?
I would love to get the support to turn this into a prix-fixe restaurant. As we grow to utilize the garden more, the easiest way for us to use 100 percent of the vegetables is to have a more focused menu. But that requires trust—guests coming in and feeling comfortable, giving up total control. And I think in LA that’s a little more difficult than it is other places. And that trust takes time. This restaurant is 20 percent of where it could be. We can get so much better. So much more refined.

 

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Goals for the next year?
Be full every night. Continue to grow the staff and give them a bigger voice. Continue growing our social and community outreach. I want more time to do research, to discover how to better articulate through cooking. You know, really, to just keep making better food.

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Alma Restaurant
952 Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90015
alma-la.com

THE BESPOKE COCKTAIL: INDIAN SUMMER

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photo RACHEL MANY

When it comes to cocktails, Talmadge Lowe is all about what we’d like to phrase, “classic ingenuity.” A seemingly paradoxical term, Talmadge’s concoctions are a nod to mid-century cocktail culture, channeling the elegance and sophistication of the time, while incorporating unique ingredients like fennel and black walnut bitters, or grated nutmeg. A former actor, Lowe’s culinary chops were developed in the bowels of struggling-actor-dom, having worked almost every job in the restaurant business, he eventually ended up in catering.

Harnessing the dread of rubber chicken dinners and uninspiring cocktails alike, Lowe decided to venture into conceiving his own creations, laying the foundation for what would become Pharmacie—a roving, underground speakeasy of sorts that has now evolved into a bespoke cocktail catering service.

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At the center of it all are lovingly crafted libations. You won’t find superfluous flavored spirits (“What on earth is buttered popcorn vodka?” laughs Tal). Instead, you’ll find homemade syrups and shrubs, and a menu of cocktails put together with strategic dexterity. After a consultation with his clients, Lowe goes back home and prepares. Beyond the taste of the drink itself, style and aesthetic play a critical role in all his productions, down to the glassware used, the uniforms of staff, the color and vibrance of the cocktail, and even the name of the libation itself, which, in Lowe’s eyes, should elicit a gastronomically inquisitive reaction.

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Which brings us to our featured drink: Indian Summer. A smoky mezcal is complemented by the herbal aroma of Yellow Chartreuse. Homemade honey syrup mellows the drink with rich sweet notes, while lime balances the drink with some necessary acidity. Finally, says Lowe, “dashes of Angostura bitters give it a little pop and depth, like a little firecracker.” The result? A supremely refreshing drink we wouldn’t mind extending our hazy summer for.

TAL’S RECIPE
2 ct. Mezcal
1 ct. Honey Syrup*
1.5 ct. Yellow Chartreuse
1 ct. Lime
2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters (dash into drink before you shake and pour into glass)
1 Lime Wheel Garnish
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice and shake vigorously. Then strain into a glass. Add garnish.
*To make the honey syrup add water (8 oz.) and honey (8 oz.) and heat together until the honey thins out.
Always let cool to room temperature before using. Refrigerating overnight is strongly recommended.

See more in our newest issue here

www.pharmaciela.com

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RECAP: LA TIMES’ THE TASTE FESTIVAL

On a hot summer’s day an outdoor food festival complete with cool drinks is a welcome respite. But this isn’t any plain old food festival, it’s The Taste, one of LA’s premiere food adventures. Set on the Paramount lot, nothing could be more quintessentially Hollywood than this ode to food and drink, particularly since the backdrop street is… Brooklyn? Leave it to LA to have our own city’s top-notch food festival in a fake (yeah, I said it, FAKE) East Coast city’s backdrop. We can be or do anything, so don’t mess with us. We are farm-to-table, Izakaya, California-French fusion. Got a problem with it? Call our agent.

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Now back to the action that made up The Taste Festival last weekend. “Field to Fork” was the first event with Los Angeles Times food editor Russ Parsons. Cooking demonstrations focused on sustainable seafood and featured noted chefs such as Ari Taymor of Alma and Michael Cimarusti of Providence fame. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jonathan Gold, of the LA Times, hosted “Flavors of LA,” the first evening’s event, co-hosted by Sang Yoon, the creator of Father’s Office and LukshonDiscussions (and samples!) of the growing pop-up restaurant culture were covered, as were cooking demonstrations from some of LA’s hottest up and coming chefs.

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Vendors hawked their goodies, everything from sausages to watermelon slaw. Two days and two nights of food frenzy and enough alcohol to keep one forgetting about the scorching heat.  Who knew there could be so many iterations of wine cocktails out there? Wineries such as Jacob’s Creek and Cupcake served up iced concoctions of their well-received white blends. Can I say that Cupcake Wines wasn’t the only vendor sloughing out cupcakes and can I say I am over the cupcake? Can we move on? How about a Cronut or a Fonut? Or a gluten-free, dairy free, date-nut, acai, antioxidant puff? You know, something Gwynenth Paltrow might eat a crumb of? And make it tasty. This is a LOS ANGELES food festival isn’t it?

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The gems of the event seemed to be some of the smaller restaurants that knew making a name for themselves here could mean a boon for business. L & E Oyster Bar came out with guns blazing: mountains of ice and pounds of oysters from around the country. Wagyu Beef by Gottsui was both smoky and satisfying. Surprisingly, Ramen from Jinya Ramen was so tasty that ninety degree weather couldn’t stop them from running low on their superb broth. And nothing like The Counter’s deviled eggs, shredded in cheddar, mustard, mayo, paprika & topped with parsley and bacon to keep your tastebuds coming back for more.

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Not to be outdone, an entire bar featuring beers from Belgium stole the show. High end sponsors like STK and BOA Steakhouse drew lines for mouthwatering sliders and filet mignon.

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Sunday’s festivities covered more family-friendly fair, dubbed the “Labor Day Block Party” and co-hosted by Noelle Carter and Nancy Silverton. The most meat-heavy day, event-goers could also fill up on everything from fresh made guacamole, bratwurst, or octopus ceviche. Not to leave the kiddos out, the paramount lot was filled with bubbles, face-painters, and balloons. If you still had room, or like us were willing to continue out of the goodness of your heart and not wanting to leave anyone out, ice cream sandwiches beckoned, as did more cold beer.

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The final night was “Cocktail Confidential” hosted by LA Times Deputy Food Editor Betty Hallock, Destination Cocktail columnist Jessica Gelt, and mixologist Matthew Biancaniello. All in all, a food lover’s dream complete with the little guys and big guys all in the trenches showing LA what they’ve got. LA’s got a lot to be proud of and the spectacular food and drink made this event one not to be missed!

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All photos provided by Supper For One and Ben Hunter for Life & Thyme

 

 
 
 
 

FOOD SCOOPS: BANK OF VENICE

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Right off the beach on a prime corner lot, the Bank of Venice looks like it could be a historical landmark. Instead, owners Tom Elliott and Spoon Singh are hoping to create a cornerstone in the community. This is the same team behind the Venice Ale House, and they’ve brought over their local, organic menu. Singh carefully curates his menus, making sure his meats are sustainable, GMO-, hormone- and antibiotic-free. It’s what he feels the community he wants to build should reflect. That also inspired the feel of Bank of Venice. The name is a nod to the building’s original use, as a bank, and the interior has an air of nostalgic revival, despite being in the middle of colorful, beachy Venice. Singh describes Bank of Venice being an, “old world refuge on the beach.” While “old world” and “sustainable organic” might seem like disparate concepts, their fresh, California cuisine is easy and unpretentious and accommodating of both concepts.

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Though Bank of Venice has an impressive list of beers and California wines, we wanted to know what they had up their craft-cocktail sleeves. We started with a couple of their Soju cocktails: Bank Cosmo and The Mint. Their cosmo came with a hint of blueberry, and was very sweet. Almost like drinking a berry tea, the Bank Cosmo is great for those who prefer something fruity and easy to drink. The Mint is a chocolate mint mojito garnished with raw cacao and mint leaf. Refreshing and citrusy without being overwhelmingly tart, the Mint is balanced well by the cacao. If you don’t like chocolate (who are you?), never fear. It simply rounds out the flavor and gives it a rich finish without being overwhelming.

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Our meal started with the Burrata Salad and the Tuna Poke Nori Wrap. Made from local market finds, the Burrata Salad included asparagus, caramelized onions and raspberries served on a pillow of creamy burrata drizzled in balsamic and olive oil. A tasty combination of flavors and a fresh take on a salad without overloading on leafy greens. The Tuna Poke was also an example of masterful texture and flavor combinations: crisp cucumber, buttery tuna and avocado with toasted nori.

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Also served up was the Cold Wild Alaskan Salmon Sandwich which is poached and chilled, then served with avocado and lemon dill aioli on sourdough. Salmon is definitely the fish for everyone (sorry, tuna) and you can’t call yourself a Californian without loving avocado. Up next was Bank of Venice’s Meatloaf, which is based on a recipe by their general manager, Megan. Served on a bed of mashed potatoes and hearty vegetables, this modern take on an American classic is a little sweet with a spicy kick.

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California cuisine would be remiss to exclude a Mexican influence. Bank of Venice packed their starter menu with Latin-inspired dishes, and the one we sampled was Camarones Del Banco (wild Mexican white shrimp, sauteed in garlic, coconut and cerveza). Slightly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, this dish had a light, savory sweetness of coconut throughout that made us want to cook all our food in coconut oil. The final dish we sampled was another adoptee from abroad– Bangers and Mash. Pork sausage with garlic mashed potatoes, and caramelized onion sauce with spinach. Rich, comfort food. Just what we want from our local eateries.

We finished off our meal with one final cocktail, The Heat. This ginger-infused drink was spicy and had just the kick needed as we neared the end of our dining experience. Satisfied with our multi-faceted tasting, we’re confident that Bank of Venice, with its menu of American classics reinterpreted for the eclectic palate, is a much needed addition to the Venice community.

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More information: 

Bank of Venice
80 Windward Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90291

Hours:
Friday & Saturday: 12pm-2am
Sunday-Thursday: 12pm-12am