The Belly Of Los Angeles: An Interview with LA’s Favorite Food Critic Jonathan Gold

By JESY ODIO
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Jonathan-Gold---credit-Marie-Astrid-Gonzalez-for-LA-Times-Media-Group

We sat down with the Pulitzer Prize-winning LA Times Food Critic Jonathan Gold to discuss underrated cocktails, the perils of Trip Advisor, and Falkner. 

 

Jonathan Gold is not afraid to eat and tell. What goes in the mouth of the Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic goes on the page of The Los Angeles Times and in KCRW’s weekly show Good Food. His appetite does not discriminate between the dishes served with fine silverware or the grub wrapped in tin foil on a paper plate. Most recently, he has turned his insatiable hunger to thirst for spirits.

The pours and sips that have captured his palate in the local scene will all be on display at Paramount Pictures Studios for LA Times’ culinary festival The Taste. After several years of masticating incognito, Gold put his anonymity act to rest in 2007. At this year’s fete, not only will he confess his gastronomic crushes to the eager ears of L.A.’s food-lovers, but he will also evangelize on the chemistry between bites and sips.

The smell and flavor you cannot capture in a photo or a hashtag is recorded vividly in Gold’s reviews. So before you share another #foodiepic, listen to the belly of this city. Pulitzer Prize-winning Food Critic Jonathan Gold + The LA Times present: The Taste.

LA CANVAS: In your most recent cocktail survey, the Moscow Mule is ranked as the Los Angeles drink. But what would you consider to be the Los Angeles food and spirit pairing?

JONATHAN GOLD: The Moscow Mule, first concocted on the Sunset Strip in 1946, is the most prominent cocktail associated with the city. But the quintessential food and liquor pairing in Los Angeles is still probably a Welsh rarebit at the Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood chased with an icy Gibson from the bar. If it was good enough for Faulkner, it’s good enough for you.

LAC: What do you think is the most underrated cocktail?

JG: A spritz is often despised for its simplicity (and in Europe for its ubiquity), yet the version at the Normandie is shimmering, complex and delicious. Also, it should be noted that there is no better nightcap than a limpid Aviation #2 from the shaker of the Varnish’s Eric Alperin.

LAC: How do you think technology and social media has changed the way we eat and drink in L.A? 

JG: It has never been easier to find untrustworthy reviews of inedible food from unremarkable kitchens. Truly, my idea of a personal hell would involve wandering the San Gabriel Valley for all eternity, allowed only to eat in the restaurants most highly rated by Trip Advisor.

LAC: Given that the year is almost over, what has been the biggest surprise so far in the culinary scene in 2015?

JG: I always like to think the best is yet to come, but the biggest surprise so far has probably been the subtlety and depth of Helen Johannesen’s wine list at Jon & Vinny’s. I mean, you probably expected Bryant Ng, Ray Garcia and Neal Fraser to come up with something good, but a great wine list in a pizza parlor? Who knew!

LAC: And is there a gastronomic trend that you believe should die before the year is over?

JG: I sense the long, cruel reign of eggs on everything may finally be coming to an end.

LAC: Now that you have renounced your anonymity forever, tell us about the positive aspects that this has brought to your dining experience.

JG: It is so much easier to appreciate the nuances of a nice Poulsard now that I no longer have to sip it through a Lucha Libre mask.

Follow @thegold on Twitter to get your own version of his taste.


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