Girls on Food

Julianne

Actress and Founder of Girls on Food: I was born and raised in the suburbs of Sacramento, California. I grew up a typical “McDonald’s kid”. I was very picky about what I ate and refused to try new foods. No fun, I know. My Mom started taking me on trips to Europe when I was a teenager and that’s when my palate for finer foods began to develop. Some of my most memorable favorite meals include Veal Bolognese in Rome, Gyros in Athens, Paella in Lisbon and Duck L’Orange in Paris. While this helped me grow out of a fast food phase, I still eat out quite a bit. I know I should be at home cooking, but I love dining out. I started working in restaurants in various front of the house positions at age 15. Since my start, I’ve worked in every casual restaurant setting you can think of: a teriyaki stand, brewery, sushi nightclub, trendy Mexican, family-style Italian, American diner, pizza parlor and even a BLT themed food truck. I can't help but notice that many of the LA food bloggers don't have any sort of background working in a restaurant. A lot of my perspective on food and dining out comes from my years of experience in the biz. Since starting this blog, I have shot appearances on a couple of cooking competition shows as a taster (including MasterChef Junior and another upcoming show). We have also started producing a Youtube Channel. IMDb page here: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2023647/ For this site I contribute content from all over Los Angeles (and the world) to showcase my favorite fine-dining spots, steakhouses, exclusive supper clubs, Hollywood nightlife and our very own #GOFx events, which I plan and coordinate.

Media Tasting: Los Balcones Brings Mestizo Dishes to Studio City

Spoiler alert: Los Balcones’ new location in Studio City is way worth the drive for a Westsider.

The Hollywood-based Los Balcones team (Brothers Jorge, Eduardo and Walter Rodriguez) recently took over the fine dining Girasol space, a beloved spot that just wasn’t able to make it in the long run. It’s always tough taking over a treasured spot but I believe the Peruvian brothers will win the locals with their diverse dishes. This Los Balcones location features mestizo (Spanish for mixed race) dishes by veteran Girasol chef Polit Castillo, and creative director Ricardo Zarate of Rosaliné.

Upon checking out the menu at Los Balcones prior to dinner, I have to admit I was a little stumped with some of the descriptions of the items. My server, Tomas admitted he learns something new about this modern cuisine daily, so I felt a little less guilty about my lack of mestizo knowledge.

If not just for the fun presentation of it, I recommend starting with a glass of their house white, the 2017 Bodegas Gaintza Txakolina. This Txakolina (pairs well with the seafood-based appetizers) arrives in a porron, a wine pitcher commonly found in Spain. This was a first for me, since I’ve sadly never been to Spain. Tomas pours the Txakolina from the porron (see image below) at your table, which gives the wine a natural effervescence. This is such an Instagramable way to begin dinner!

Fun fact: porrons are often used at Spanish weddings to pour wine directly into guest’s mouths.  

Tomas and the porron service

For those of you on the progressive wine-train, all of the wines by the glass are made from organic grapes. In addition to the boost of girl power from their Somm, Sarah Jones, 40% of the wines by the bottle happen to be produced by female vintners.

Pan de la Chola

I love that Los Balcones focuses on refreshing seafood dishes to start and works their way into meatier, richer dishes for main courses. I started with the Pan de la Chola (a crusty, dense potato bread on a tasting plate), Oysters (1/2 dozen topped with uni ponzu, popped quinoa, charred aji oil, and garlic chips) and Salmon Tiradito (salmon thinly sliced with an orange miso rub in a citrus and beet sauce). All three of these starters were complex but not in a way that’s pretentious. Every unique flavor is robust and feels purposeful. All three of these starters were fantastic but I have to give extra props to the Salmon Tiradito, cause the earthiness of the beets worked so well with the miso and citrus flavors.

Oysters
Salmon Tiradito

For a second course, I went with their Italian-Japanese creation, Quinotto. This one is a quinoa risotto with shimenji shitake, trumpet royale, maitake, pecorino and truffle essence. I am a big fan of quinoa used as a risotto substitute, so this one was a major win for me. The mushrooms are buttery and pack an umami flavor. The use truffle flavor is light, which is a nice change of pace from many LA restaurants.

Quinotto

My compliments to Somm Sarah, who is super knowledgable on the wines but also very approachable. At this Los Balcones location, don’t feel guilty about tasting more than one wine, they want you to be happy with your choice. As you can see from the image below, I tasted 3 wines before choosing a glass of 2014 Celler Pinol “Ludovicus”, a jammy Garnacha with a lingering smoky finish. Those of you who love a strong tannin profile will love this glass, it pairs well with many of their meatier dishes. The house red, 2017 Vinos del Atlantico “Flaco”, a Spanish Tempranillo is juicy with light tannins, a great lighter option to pair with meatier items (and also only $12 a glass).

Wine sampling with Somm Sarah Jones

With my glass of Garnacha in hand, the time came to feast my eyes upon one of Los Balcones unique dishes. The Costilla de Short Ribs comes in a stainless steel box, taking a nod to Korean culture. This concept is known as a Lunch Box and many people shake this container mixing all the flavors together before eating. I decided to keep it intact (for the ‘gram!) and savor each item one by one. The tender braised short ribs are topped with a runny sunny side up egg, paired with a lima bean and rice patty (another Korean-inspired item) and also paired with banana topped with salsa criolla. Those not down for mixing textures and temperatures should steer away this one. But those of you who love to mix foods together, like me, this will be a treat for you.

Costilla de Short Ribs

The final feliz will have me driving from Culver City to Studio City more often! You must order the Lucuma Bundino, a pudding made with lucuma, which is like an avocado mixed with a mango, chantille cream and topped with salted feuilletine (crispy crepe pieces) crumbles. When you order this, tell them to add extra crumbles because the saltiness is so tasty with with sweetness of the pudding and cream. I even told them Tomas they could’ve layered the pudding like a parfait with the crumble and that would be even more delightful. Fingers crossed they listen to me on this before you get there!

Lucuma Bundino

Additional items I’m looking forward to coming back and devouring are the Locro Pappardelle (with pumpkin ragu and goat cheese) and the Seco de Pato (duck two ways, confit and roasted) and the Lomo Saltado. I’m more of a wine drinker but those of you who love cocktails should sip on the Chilcano made with Pisco and ginger.

I am very excited to see watch this Los Balcones location flourish among the Studio City scene. With a unique takes on traditional Peruvian and flavors familiar to LA locals, I have no doubt guests will be coming back for more!

Come Indulge With Us At The 6th Annual Los Angeles Magazine’s Top 10 Best Restaurants Event

ATTN: LA FOODIES!

Are you ready to indulge in one of LA’s best annual food celebrations? Get your tickets for the 6th Annual Los Angeles Magazine’s Top 10 Best Restaurants Event now!

Our friends at Los Angeles Magazine are hosting this food and beverage packed evening, Tuesday, January 29th, 7-9 PM at Rolling Greens in DTLA.

Confirmed participating restaurants include:

alta

Bavel

Freedman’s

Hayato

Hippo

Ma’am Sir

majordomo

And more to be announced soon!

BUT FIRST! HOP OVER TO OUR INSTAGRAM BEFORE WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16TH AT NOON PST, TO ENTER TO WIN 2 FREE TICKETS TO THIS EVENT! 

When: Tuesday, January 29th, 7 PM 

Where: Rolling Greens, 

1005 Mateo St,

Los Angeles, CA 90021

Tickets sold here.

Early Reservation Tickets are already sold out!

If you can’t be there, be sure to follow along with us @girlsonfoodblog, where I’ll be posting live stories from this demo!

CHEERS!

Girls on Food And Tlayuda LA To Host Brunch For Butte: A Fundraiser For The North Valley Community Foundation

Girls On Food Hosts A Brunch With Tlayuda LA To Benefit The North Valley Community Foundation

Where: Tlayuda LA, 5450 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029

When: Sunday, January 20th, 10 AM – 2 PM

Girls on Food, in partnership with Tlayuda LA, will come together to raise funds for the entire community affected by the Camp Fire in Butte County. 

Tlayuda LA owners Laura Guerrero and Alex Tinoco are generously donating 50% of all brunch sales at this date and time to the North Valley Community Foundation, assisting the many community organizations serving evacuees and first responders.

Girls on Food founder, Julianne Gabert, will also be on-site collecting cash, check or online donations for NVCF. Attendees who donate $50 or more will receive a special gift- a bottle of Domaine Saint Nicolas Blanquette de Limoux, 2016, to take home.*

The Camp Fire in Butte County has claimed 85 lives and is now the most destructive and deadly fire in state history. Cal Fire says the destructive blaze burned 153,336 acres.

Please help us spread the word on Facebook by sharing the invite link here.

*21 and over only

Vino Bistro: Hollywood’s New Destination For Cicchetti

Family-owned-and-operated Osteria Mamma, continues to serve Larchmont with authentic Italian dishes since 2010. Not that I’m aligning myself with the “authenticity police” but every pasta dish I’ve had at Osteria Mamma has legitimately tasted like the house-made pasta I devoured on my trip to Italy. 

The Osteria Mamma family just opened their latest endeavor, Vino Bistro on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. While Osteria Mamma remains the perfect location for a family-style dinner, Vino Bistro is a perfect precursor for a night out in Hollywood. The spacious location has a metropolitan vibe with brick walls and subway tile. There’s lots of bar seating as well as tables, so you have options. 

Somm Filippo Cortivo has curated a diverse wine list, featuring old world and new world wines. Currently, Vino Bistro offers many wines by the glass but the bottle selection is impressive and includes includes an orange wine for those of you who love this trend. 

Vino Bistro specializes in Cicchetti, which translates to Italian tapas with a menu by Alfonso Reyes, Fabio Di Stasi & Osteria Mamma (who’s matriarch-restaurateur Loredana “Mamma” Cecchinato, sadly passed in December 2015). Although Vino Bistro offers bites from a broad range of Italy, I became familiar with Cicchetti in Venice along the touristy canal pubs. And if I’m being totally honest here, I wasn’t really into them at the time. Although I loved the social aspect of these pubs (and I always enjoy an Aperol Spritz) the fried items that were hyped up didn’t knock my socks off. Fast forward to this week when every bite I had at Vino Bistro brought their own improvements on Venetian-style tapas that align with my taste buds.

​​​​​​​The Taglieri, an Italian-style charcuterie board packed with imported meats and cheeses is a fantastic way to start. Unlike many other LA spots, there are 3 different sizes to choose from, depending on the size of your party. A party of 2 can stick with the small at $12.95 and it’s an ample portion size and you get to choose your own cheeses. 

Taglieri 

Those of you trying to keep it light-ish will appreciate the Melone con Branzino e Salmone. This dish is slices of juicy melon and soft Brie topped with branzino and salmon and topped with a light creamy sauce. Fans of sweet and savory will love this items and again, the portion is large enough to share with a group. Those of you looking to indulge in Venetian classics, I recommend ordering the Frittura di Seppie e Sardine. This shared plate is a mix of fried squid, sardine, zucchini and polenta. If you tasted fried sardines in Venice and wasn’t as hyped up on them as you thought you’d be, order them at Vino Bistro to compare. The batter here is so much lighter which makes for a much more crisp sardine. 

Melone con Branzino e Salmone
Frittura di Seppie e Sardine

My favorite item from the menu is the Carbonara di Calamari. This was a first for me! I eat pasta carbonara typically once a week (I know… it’s a problem), I’m obsessed with it. But I have never heard of anyone attempting to create a carb-free carbonara before so I had to give it a shot and it exceeded my expectations. The calamari is lightly pan fried then tossed in the traditional pancetta and egg mixture, coating the calamari evenly, so it’s not drowning in the mixture. Trust me, you’re going to want to taste this one!  

Carbonara di Calamari

It just wouldn’t be an Osteria Mamma endeavor without pasta, so I had to taste the Gnocchi all’Ossobuco. This veal shank is fall-off-the-bone tender,  and the gnocchis are heavenly little pillows in a chunkier but still brothy mix. 

Gnocchi all’Ossobuco

The desserts will be changing daily, so you may not be able to order the Semifreddo Pistachio, that I inhaled. Which is a shame, because it was so rich, frothy and nutty. I have my fingers crossed for you, that you will be able to taste the greatness of this dessert.   

When in Hollywood you must stop into Vino Bistro for a glass of wine and Cicchetti. There are a couple of great deals currently offered on their Yelp page as well, be sure to take advantage of those https://yelp.to/qTKq/ZmdO5JHBCS while you can! 
​​​​​​​Vino Bistro – 6266 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028

#girlsonfood Insta-Interview With @trishglasser_

Our hashtag #girlsonfood has over 13.2K uses on Instagram! 

Thank you so much to our readers for using this tag!

I have been looking through all the images and saw that there were so many bloggers/photographers/influencers that I wanted to get to know a little better. So, I created a column where I interview the folks behind some of most the interesting pages.

Through the uses of our hashtag, I found Trish Glasser of @trishglasser_, an OC-local home loan diva by day and wine tour hostess by night. I get to know Trish a little bit better in the interview below.  

Trish Glasser

GOF: Where in OC do you live?

TG: I live in the unincorporated area of Trabuco Canyon, California. It is a very unique area for Orange County. Having grown up in the Midwest, it’s the best of both worlds – country living and the city is right around the corner.

GOF: When you did first fall in love with wine?

TG: When I came to California in 1986 from Kansas and began drinking buttery Chardonnay. Having grown up in the Midwest, I can certainly appreciate the farming process in making wine. I even help some of my local winemaking friends bottle their wine on occasion which has definitely given me a hands-on appreciation for the hard work and craftsmanship that goes into making even a single bottle. With the accessibility of wine (particularly here in California), my taste buds have expanded significantly through the years to include all sorts of sparkling, whites, roses and reds. Since all of my wine education has been self-taught up until now, I’m currently working on obtaining my Level 1 Sommelier designation which I should have by the end of this year.

GOF: How do you conduct your wine tours?

TG: Right now, all of my wine tours are virtual via Instagram and Facebook from personal experiences in checking out wineries and making suggestions. This serves as a launch pad for my next dream and vision of in-person tours beginning here in Orange County and in other areas too such as Paso Robles, Santa Barbara and Napa Valley. Stay tuned for information on my inaugural in-person Orange County tour coming up in January. The Orange County wine tours will start at my home/private wine cellar in Trabuco Canyon. They’ll be comprised of food and wine pairings with hand selected bottles from my private cellar. Then, we will proceed to 3-4 local Orange County wineries. Since I’ve made friends with most of the winemakers here, they’ll be notified of the schedules in advance so tourists will have the opportunity to meet and chat with owners/winemakers.

GOF: Favorite wine valley?

TG: That’s a tough question. There are so many. In California I’d have to say Paso Robles followed by Napa Valley. In Europe, I’m very fond of the Alsatian region of France.

GOF: Any favorite under $15 you can tell us about?

TG: I have a few that I recommend!

  • Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava Sparkling (Spain): $9.00
  • Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand): $12.00
  • Louis Jadot Rose (Burgundy, France): $14.00
  • Fess Parker Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County, California): $13.00
  • Poppy Pinot Noir (Monterey County, CA): $13.00
  • Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles, CA): $13.00

GOF: Favorite Instagram pages to follow?

TG: Another tough question – in general, local restaurants, chefs and wineries along with:

  • @DonatellaArpaia
  • @guarnaschelli
  • @cheftoddenglish
  • @chef_morimoto
  • @bobbyflay
  • @foodandwine
  • @foodnetwork
  • @thecheesestoreofbeverlyhills
  • @ocwinetrail
  • @pasorobleswineries
  • And of course, @girlsonfoodblog

GOF: Favorite SoCal winery?

TG: With the resurgence of wine here in Orange County over the past 10 years, there are about a dozen options here ranging from actual winery venues in the Orange County Santiago Canyon area to tasting rooms located in the different local cities.

  • Favorite Winery Venue: Giracci Vineyards and Farms and Cowboy Canyon Winery which are both located on the same property in the Santiago Canyon area: beautiful grounds and a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. You’re allowed to bring your own picnic to pair with your Giracci/Cowboy Canyon Wine.
  • Favorite Tasting Room: Frisby Cellars located in Lake Forest. The tasting room has a cool, urban vibe and the staff is always very friendly and knowledgeable about the wines. The winemaker, Josh Frisby turns out a consistent, good quality product for a reasonable price. And of course, all of his grapes are sourced from Paso Robles.

Be sure to follow @trishglasser_, and contact her directly about her wine tours. Also follow @girlsonfoodblog and use that hashtag #girlsonfood to be featured someday! 

#girlsonfood Insta-Interview With @bethaneclair

Our hashtag #girlsonfood has nearly 13K uses on Instagram! 

Thank you so much to our readers for using this tag!

I have been looking through all the images and saw that there were so many bloggers/photographers/influencers that I wanted to get to know a little better. So, I created a column where I interview the folks behind some of most the interesting pages.

Through the uses of our hashtag, I found Bethany Richardson Webb of @bethaneclair, a St. Paul-based food scientist, world traveler and dog-mom to a beautiful golden retriever named Herby. I get to know Bethany a little bit better in the interview below.  

GOF: Please tell me about being a food scientist! What is you day-by-day like?

BRW: Since finishing school I’ve had a few different positions- previously I worked at a food ingredient company developing custom color solutions for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies. I now work in food safety & quality at a large CPG company. My main role is in labeling regulatory compliance- using my regulatory expertise to create ingredient declarations, nutrition facts panels, and claims that end up on packages. Additionally, I’m doing a stretch role into a food safety & quality product manager position where I influence to ensure that food safety requirements are taken into account, that quality is designed into a product, and that our manufacturing plants can meet that quality on a consistent basis. I love what I do- it allows me to use my technical expertise and problem-solving skills and what I am doing helps bring products into our consumers homes to feed their families

GOF: What kind of degrees/certifications do you have?

BRW: I received my BS in Food Science from Clemson University and my MS in Food Science from University of Illinois where my research focused on flavor chemistry of beets

GOF: What drew you to the science of food?

BRW: I’ve always loved food. When I was younger, I actually considered going to culinary school. However, I found food science through watching Unwrapped on the Food Network. I loved seeing all the science and processing that went into getting food onto our grocery store shelves. Even after having been to many food production facilities, I still find manufacturing so fascinating. It’s an incredible feeling seeing products you were part of on grocery store shelves. Eating is a very intimate experience, but most people likely don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the risks of what they might be eating and how to mitigate them. 

GOF: Is there one food fact that you’re shocked more people don’t take into consideration before they bite into it? 

BRW: Probably food safety? Eating is a very intimate experience, but most people likely don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the risks of what they might be eating and how to mitigate them. In full disclosure, I will on occasion eat raw cookie dough but will never touch raw milk.

GOF: I noticed you have a hashtag of your own going, #bethanys30by30. What does this hashtag mean to you?

BRW: Last December I turned 29- in the months before, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I really wanted to accomplish prior to turning 30 and this list of 30 was the output of that. Some of the goals are relatively minor, like learning how to do crow pose in yoga, while others are pretty big, like buying a house. Obviously there were some food-related items like cooking with a new ingredient monthly and learning to make bagels. I was a little nervous to post on social media about it, but I’ve actually found there’s been a lot of positivity that’s come from sharing.  Several people have joined me on my goals and it’s even inspired some of my mentors at work to create 40 by 40 or 50 by 50 lists! The real purpose behind it was to be intentional with my goals and really to push myself to grow and progress, even if that didn’t necessarily mean accomplishing every last one of them.

Chèvre agnolotti with sweet corn, bacon, and peas.

GOF: When it comes to Instagram, would you say you post food for your following or for yourself?

BRW: I would say mostly for myself- I love sharing what I eat and took photos of food in the years prior to Instagram; however, I do love partnering with local businesses (we’re blessed with a wonderful food scene & community in the Twin Cities) so the intention behind some of what I post is to let others in the Twin Cities know about certain restaurants or products. At the end of the day, I want my Instagram account to be a reflection of me personally. I have intentionally chosen to only have one Instagram account, and while you’ll see a lot of food (because I love eating and am passionate about it!) there’s also more personal content like outdoor adventures and dog photos.

GOF: Let’s talk dog food – do you make your own or do you have a preferred brand?  

BRW: Sometimes I do make homemade dog treats or cupcakes on birthdays! Herby also really likes fresh fruit and veggies so sometimes I’ll give him a bite when I’m in the kitchen. I recently switched to Hill’s Science Diet Senior per our vet’s recommendation.

GOF: Any food items you want to see less of on Instagram?  

BRW: Foods that only look good but that only taste mediocre. There’s nothing more disappointing than visiting a place that’s been highly Instagrammed about and the food itself doesn’t live up to the pictures. I’d rather eat something that’s plain-looking but delicious. Also, “yolk porn”. I really don’t like eggs already, and these videos just gross me out.

GOF: Favorite St. Paul restaurants?

BRW: Mucci’s Italian- their food is delicious and the atmosphere feels like being at home. Plus they have excellent donuts on the weekends. I’m also happy to see that some of my favorite Minneapolis spots like Parlour and Revival have opened St. Paul locations. Stewart’s and the original Punch Pizza are both excellent and walkable from our place. In my opinion, the best Juicy Lucy in the Twin Cities is at The Nook in St. Paul- I take everyone who comes in to visit from out of town here.

Be sure to follow @bethandeclair, @girlsonfoodblog and use that hashtag #girlsonfood to be featured someday! 

Marissa A. Ross Talks EastSide Food Festival, Natural Wines And Chugging Wine Straight Outta The Bottle

The 5th Annual EastSide Food Festival is coming up, Sunday, October 21st, 2018 and the line up this year is incredible. Girls on Food will be there tasting and sipping the afternoon away, so come join us!

With over 35 local food establishments will be participating, there will also be guest appearances from Eric Andre and Eric Wareheim but I’m most excited for the discussion with Marissa A. Ross, Bon Appétit’s wine editor and writer of my favorite wine book, Wine. All The Time.: The Casual Guide To Confident DrinkingI love this book because she approaches wine in a non-pretentious but still informative tone. Marissa also writes with a cheeky sense of humor and brings her personal experiences along the way.

Marissa took a break from chugging wine from the bottle on her Instagram stories (you know what I mean if you follow her!) to chat with me below. 

 

GOF: What food vendors for the Eastside Food Festival are you the most excited for?

MR: Oh man, it’s so hard to choose! I’m excited for Kismet because I don’t eat there nearly as often as I’d like to, and Otoño. I love seeing female chefs doing badass work.

 

GOF: I saw on your Instagram stories that you don’t accept unsolicited wines via mail, which I respect because it shows you’re not biased on wines. How many unsolicited wine samples do you receive per month? 

MR: I don’t get any now that I just started returning them to the sender [laughs]. There was a time when I was getting like maybe four wineries a month sending me stuff. I don’t even know how they got my address! I still get at least a dozen emails a day from wine PR companies that want to send me stuff. I used to be nice and politely respond “no thanks” to every one but I’ve given up and just started ghosting that shit [laughs].

 

GOF: Favorite wine region? 

MR: It’s constantly changing, but I’ve been on a big Italian kick for the last year or so. I love Abruzzo and Umbria, but I’m also super intrigued by the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

GOF: Any plans to start your own wine club? 

MR: I’m going to have to since everyone keeps asking me! [laughs] It is something I’ve been toying with for awhile, so we’ll see. Hopefully soon.

 

GOF: I know you’re a big promoter of natural wine, in your opinion, is there one region in the world that is mastering this? 

MR: No. The truly incredible thing about natural wine is that it is proving that fantastic, terroir-driven wines can be made anywhere in the world, versus this old school thinking that certain regions were better than others. I mean, of course there are some regions that are not conducive for making wine but often regions have been dismissed because people were trying to grow grapes that shouldn’t be grown there. You can’t grow Cabernet everywhere! [laughs] But any region can shine with the right grapes in the right hands.

 

GOF: Are there any commercial wines that you can’t help but love, like a guilty pleasure? 

MR: This is going to make me sound snobby, but I don’t. Honestly, after years of drinking natural wine, it just doesn’t taste good to me. That’s not to say I don’t have my own shitty guilty pleasures. I love Coca-Cola, especially Cherry Coke. That’s the ultimate treat for me, besides a bowl of Jeni’s Brambleberry Crisp ice cream topped with their Lemon Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt but I don’t feel guilty about that. [laughs]

 

GOF: Do you recall the first time you ditched the glass and drank straight from the bottle? 

MR: Yes. It was June 2008. I had just moved to Los Angeles with $400 to my name and unwittingly moved in with a drug dealer and a Craigslist hooker, hoarder, heroin addict. I had moved in May, but by the time June rolled around, the hoarder had all of our dishes in her room and I was terrified to even leave my room and The Ross Test— chugging out of the bottle, specifically two buck chuck because that’s all I could afford– was born. And is now forever my trademark [laughs]. I think some people think I do it just to be an ass, but for me, it reminds me of where I came from and that everyone starts somewhere with wine.

 

GOF:  What are some of your favorite restaurants with wine programs in LA?

MR: I love Kismet, Elf, Night + Market Song, Cosa Buona, Marvin… there’s so many!

 

GOF: Who are some of your favorite fellow female somms or wine enthusiasts? 

MR: One of the most exciting things happening in the wine industry is how many strong women and non-binary people are now a part of it. I love Courtney Walsh, who does the wine program for Cosa Buona and Alimento, as well as works at Domaine LA— owned by another favorite, Jill Bernheimer–and is a rep for Amy Atwood Selections— owned by surprise, surprise, another favorite, Amy Atwood. I absolutely adore Helen Johannesen of Helen’s Wines, as well as Kae Whalen of Kismet and Roni Ginach of Michael’s. There are so many! I could go on forever, especially if I ventured beyond Los Angeles, and feel really grateful to be a part of such a passionate and hard-working community.

 

GOF: Can you sum up Trump with a bottle of wine? 

MR: Probably his own, which no one in their right mind would ever drink because it’s assumably toxic and disgusting.

 

Be sure to follow her Instagram page or check out her podcast, Natural Disaster, for all of her wine adventures. 

Belcampo Santa Monica Serves Up One Of The Meatiest Brunches In LA

Since 2015, Belcampo has supplied Santa Monica locals with classic Californian farm-to-table dishes and a local butcher shop. With a recent remodeling, Belcampo is looking fully refreshed and ready to cater to the Westside brunch crowd.

Belcampo Santa Monica
1026 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
https://belcampo.com/restaurant/santamonica/

Belcampo practices Regenerative Farming, meaning their approach is holistic, rejecting pesticides, artificial fertilizers and aims to enhance ecosystem services. All of the meats and eggs served are organic, grass fed, from their farm in Yreka, California, near the Shasta River. They raise their animals on their own farm, operate a USDA-inspected and Animal Welfare Approved processing facility, and sell their meat in their own restaurants and butcher shops.

The colorful bar brings instant feel good vibes when you arrive. There’s an ample selection of cocktails and creative non-alcoholic beverages too.

Looks are very deceiving with their Bloody Mary (I recommend celery infused vodka). As you can see, it’s not that canned tomato juice base, it’s actually a clarified tomato juice, giving it a thinner appearance, but it’s just as flavorful and more refreshing than a traditional BM.

The Santa Monica Egg Cream is their dreamiest, creamiest beverage. Although it’s called an egg cream, there’s actually no eggs, the foam is made with coconut cream for a rich texture. This beverage will make you feel like you’re drinking a Pina Colada and want to get caught in the rain.

The Classic Beef Tartare is a must-order item. Start by dipping grilled bread into the egg yolk custard, then top with minced beef sirloin and greens. If you’re dining solo, I recommend making this your biggest priority.

For those of you with a sweet tooth, the Pancakes, which happen to be gluten-free, will be right up your alley. Topped with a citrus jam, strawberry butter and fresh fruit, these cakes are so fluffy and are perfect to pair with any meatier dish.  

For those of you on the Keto diet, Belcampo has you covered. The Keto Breakfast Bowl packed, with bacon, 2 fried Belcampo farm eggs, kale, avocado, tomato is dressed with pistachio dressing. It’s high fat, low carb but it’s a larger bowl to keep you full.

Other fantastic items include their BLT and their Greek Yogurt. The butcher shop at the front entrance also serves up fresh bone broths for those of you looking for additional protein power.

GOF Interview: Brooke Rewa of mylk

There’s nothing more irritating than buying something that you think is good for you and then realizing, it’s not. After the interview below with Brooke Rewa, owner of mylk by Made With Love Wellness Co, I finally decided to look up the ingredients to the almond milk my husbands likes me to buy and… yikes. I can see all the icky ingredients she pointed out to me: added sugars, gums, binders, fillers and oils. Also, when I looked up the nutritional facts, I realized, there’s nothing nutritional to the almond milk I was buying at all.

According to Brooke, “not all plant milks are created equally and just because it’s a plant milk doesn’t mean it’s actually healthy” and after researching many other store brands of plant-based milks, she’s totally right. Originally, juice started as a beverage line under Made With Love Wellness Co, then came the mylk, which has been very successful.  

After mylk was also such a hit at my recent Shared Plates fundraiser for the L.A. Kitchen, and after tasting many of the different flavors from Brooke’s line, I am officially making the switch in my almond milk to mylk and I hope you’ll join me! Check out my interview with Brooke below!      

GOF: Why did you decide to cut out dairy?

BR: Well, I never liked the taste of milk. My parents would make us drink a glass of milk with dinner every night and I would plug my nose and chug mine to get it down as quickly as possible. I cut out dairy when I was in my early teens mostly because I loved animals and as I learned about the practices of most big dairy farms, I got really grossed out. Plus, it never made me feel that well.  

GOF: Do you remember when and how you discovered almond milk?

BR: I was pretty young when I started drinking non-dairy milks but honestly, I started with soy. It was all the rage back then and the most widely known. Freshman year of Collage, I moved to San Francisco and that’s when I found almond milk and there was no going back! 

GOF: When it comes to making your own almond milk recipes, what is the process like for you? 

BR: Making the recipes is my favorite part! I’ve never made a plant milk recipe I didn’t like actually. I always joke, as a kid I never competed in talent competitions because I didn’t really have a talent. But if I could go back to my childhood, with my recipes now, I think I’d have a good chance at taking home some prizes! 

GOF: Have you had any recipe blunders when you were creating your products?

BR: I actually have a strange knack for getting it right (or at least tasty) the first time. Other than the literal messes I make, not really. My staff pretty much cringe when they see me coming for the kitchen as I am definitely very messy in there. I have certainly had a few face fulls of blender contents in my day… putting the lid on is very important!  

GOF: I see you grew up on a farm in New York, what brought you out to LA?

BR: My grandparents actually had their own dairy farm, so I spent a lot of time there. I came to LA after film school to work in film/tv. Health and wellness were my other passions but I had no idea how to make a living pursing a career in those areas. 

GOF: How long did you take you to go from selling at farmer’s markets to selling in shops and cafes?

BR: Selling wholesale was really my plan all along so they kind of went hand in hand. The farmer’s market was great because it paid immediately and allowed me to put money right back into my business. Wholesale accounts usually take anywhere from 7-30 days to pay, so you have to have a little financial support to get those accounts going.  

GOF: Any new flavors coming up that you’re excited about? 

BR: Yes! We are planning for the launch of our new Single Serving and Concentrate Frozen Mylks. Hopefully by January 1st, 2019 you will be able to order Goodmylk to your door anywhere in the US! 

GOF: What is your favorite flavor of mylk or juice? 

BR: Matcha Mylk, always. But Nut Nog is coming, during the holidays, that one! 

GOF: Is there anything in the health/lifestyle world that you’re tired of seeing on Instagram? 

BR: Oat milk. I could go on but instead, I encourage people to do their own research. The oat milks on the market are very dangerous for daily consumption. 

GOF: Are there any restaurants in LA that you think live up to Made With Love standards?

BR: We have a few that we are lucky to work with actually! Joi Cafe, Jewel, Green Table Cafe, Sweet Laurel Cafe, the food and drinks are all on point at these places.  

GOF: How often do you do cleanses? 

BR: I personally do our 3 day cleanse with juice, food and our superfood mylkshakes twice a year.  

GOF: If there’s one piece of advice you have for aspiring business owners? 

BR: Be bold. Think Bigger.  
Made With Love Wellness Co is located in Los Angeles, join me in making the switch from grocery store to locally owned!

Mei Lin to Serve a Taste of Nightshade at JBF’s Taste America LA 2018

Every year, Taste America brings the James Beard Foundation dinners and programs to exciting culinary destinations to their annual LA benefit dinner. This year’s LA event, Friday, October 12, 2018 at SLS Hotel, Beverly Hills, starts with a 6 PM cocktail and tasting reception followed by a seated dinner and dessert reception at 7 PM. I am so excited to cover this year’s event since last year’s was so incredible.

This year’s event will include many tastings, including Holly Jivin of The Bazaar by Jose Andres and Tres, Raphael Francois of Tesse, Margarita Manzke of République and Mei Lin, of the highly anticipated upcoming spot Nightshade, which is set to open this Fall. 

Born in China, Mei Lin and her family immigrated to the US when she was only 3 months old. Mei started her work in the industry at her father’s restaurant in Dearborn, Michigan which took her on a path to a line cook position at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Vegas. Then she  worked up in the ranks to a junior sous chef.

Mei burst onto the LA scene as a part of the opening team at Michael Voltaggio’s ink. where she earned the sous chef position. She most recently won season 12 of Bravo’s cooking competition show Top Chef and after hosting many of her own pop-ups, I’m feeling confident in Nightshade becoming LA’s next top restaurant. Check out my interview with her below.  

Chef Mei Lin

GOF: Any advice for aspiring chefs working their way up?

ML: One of the key components to me becoming a sous chef within 6 months, is a no holds barred attitude. Just get your work done and learn to take criticism.

GOF: What inspired the concept behind Nightshade?

ML: Nightshade is inspired by my childhood, previous work experience and travels around the world. From helping my parents in their Chinese restaurant as a kid in Detroit to my previous restaurant jobs with stalwarts such as Michael Symons, Wolfgang Puck and Michael Voltaggio, and lastly to my extensive travels around the world. I wanted Nightshade to be the culmination of my culinary history.

GOF: I read that when you were testing out recipes for Nightshade, you opened up your test kitchen and asked for honest feedback. Which items had the best feedback and was there one item that had regrettable feedback?   

ML: The Mapo Tofu Lasagna has been the dish that has gotten the most praise so far. Surprisingly I’ve gotten feedback that the Szechuan Hot Fried Quail wasn’t spicy enough.

GOF:  What can we expect aesthetically with Nightshade’s design?

ML: The dining room is going to be light and airy with emerald green accents lined with brass. The kitchen is semi-exposed behind a marble bar counter that will be reserved for walk-ins.  

GOF: Is there one food item you wish had more hype to it?

ML: Shirataki miracle noodles.

GOF: Any foods you wish Instagram would calm down on?

ML: Rainbow colored foods.

GOF: Which JBF Taste America chef are you most excited participate alongside with?

ML: It’s a pretty exciting lineup all around but I’m particularly excited to see Holly, we’ve been friends for a long time and she is a really talented chef.

GOF:  Why is the James Beard Foundation important to you?

ML: The James Beard Foundation is important to me because it’s creating more awareness around food culture as well as honoring talented chefs that work hard to create good food ultimately helping to bring people together.  

There are still tickets available for the Taste America LA event, click here for info. 

Girls on Food’s Shared Plates Event Recap

The Girls on Food inaugural fundraiser with Industrious Century City and some of LA’s finest food and beverage vendors raised over $2,300 for the L.A. Kitchen.

Host Julianne Gabert (Girls on Food) hosted the event on Friday, October 5, 2018 at Industrious Century City. This ticketed event was in affiliation with L.A. Kitchen’s Shared Plates fundraiser, a city-wide weekend of gatherings October 5-7, 2018 to celebrate the power of food in Los Angeles. 100% of all ticket sales and any additional funds raised were donated to L.A. Kitchen.

Despite the L.A. Kitchen’s significant impact and outpouring of support, they have had to acknowledge that their combined philanthropic and earned income has not been able to fully sustain their work and meet the requirements of the loan they took out to build their beautiful facility. This required them to temporarily pause their culinary training and meal distribution programs.

Although they are not going anywhere, this year’s Shared Plates was more important than ever. All money raised through Shared Plates was matched as part of their goal to reach $600K by the end of the year. Although this event raised a total $1,167, through donation matching, this event raised $2,334 total!  

Industrious Century City, a co-working space that also celebrated it’s grand opening 2 night before this event, generously donated the space. Attendees were allowed to explore the upscale Century City offices, which make up the entire 17th floor of the Watt Plaza, freely as they participated in the event.

Attendees participated in a “take one, give one” burrito station, sponsored by Benny Borsakian, the owner of Benny’s Tacos. At this station, guests took half a burrito to eat at the event and donated the other half. Burritos and additional leftovers from this event were delivered to non-profit organization Upward Bound House, and distributed to local food insecure.

Slo Bru Craft Coffee owner Eric Raschka provided guests with bottles of his new decaf cold brew coffee. He also donated his new product, Bru Packs, a line of brew-it-yourself cold brew packs for the raffle.

Lauren Zeiher of the mylk team, supplied guests with servings of their honey, lavender and matcha almond milks. Many guests fell in love with these local plant-based mylks.

Gérard Bertrand brand ambassador Mathias Icard poured the brand’s Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc and their 90 point Cap Insula Red Blend into mason jars, which guests were encouraged to take home.

Wolfgang Puck Catering provided hor d’oeuvres including Butternut Squash Tarts with Caramelized Onions and Crispy Sage, Poached Pear Parmesan Crisps as well as an array of desserts like cookies and brownies.

Co-Opportunity Market and Deli, who’s locations include Culver City and Santa Monica, contributed a full crudités plate and a generous $100 gift card for the raffle.

A Chile Mushroom Quinoa Salad was provided by Beaming Century City. This dish was a perfect side for guests keeping it vegan.

The avocado toast station, provided by AvocaToast by Lizzy with bread by Bread Lounge (special thanks to the team at Kitchen Table app for arranging) was one of the most interactive stations. Caterer Lizzy Cooper has a special connection to L.A. Kitchen having volunteered there several times helping them prep food.

Cheeri Cheeri, an artisanal and vegan Filipino ice cream, were scooped by owner Christy Cunanan on site as well, and ended up being the Instagram image hit of the night.

Additional prizes awarded from the raffle included CHAYA Modern Izakaya, Mee And GreetTŪMBI, Osteria Mamma, and Food Stirs.

Stay tuned for information on any upcoming events here at Girls on Food! 

For more information on L.A. Kitchen, visit https://www.lakitchen.org/.

GOF Interviews: Christy Cunanan of Cheeri Cheeri Ice Cream

I appreciate any good food but food that delivers a kick of nostalgia is extra tasty to me. The preparation of food with an intention to make you feel sentimental takes more than making food that feels familiar. It has to somehow stimulate your sensory memory using all 5 of your senses, transporting you to a specific place in time. These foods often evoke more emotion out of me, because I usually associate the flavors with something very personal to me.

“Ice cream is a medium that takes people back to something special” according to Christy Cunanan, the creator of Cheeri Cheeri, her vegan and Filipino ice cream brand. The mission of Cheeri Cheeri ice cream is to allow its customers to connect back to something precious in their lives, all the while enjoying their ice cream. What inspired her line of ice cream the most? Time spent with her Lolo and Lola (for those not familiar, that’s Grandpa and Grandma).

Born and raised in Pasadena, Christy remembers when the ice cream man would drive around her neighborhood. “What made it so special was the rushed ritual of hearing the ice cream truck and then that challenge of convincing them to give us money to buy the ice cream. After I’d get my hands on a watermelon pop, I’d realize how much Lola and Lolo just wanted to see us happy. So you just remember these times like this and how special they were. You were never eating alone.”

Christy Cunanan in her Pasadena home

These days, this UCLA alumni works a 9-5 at Disney Animation as a Production Coordinator, builds up her ice cream empire and still makes time to have 4 hour Facetime sessions with Lolo and Lola. She started embarking on her ice cream career with her first pop up in April 2017. In the beginning, her brand wasn’t vegan, but in December of 2017, after her family got hit with diabetes and cancer, she decided to take on a plant-based lifestyle. “Since my family was vegan, my product had to be as well. I have to have this ice cream reflect my family. I’d hate for people to miss out just because they’re vegan. It matters enough to have a line of ice cream knowing it’s on the healthiest side.”

Although many people think of dishes like Ube and Ensaymada when they think of Filipino food, Christy insists it’s not hard to go plant-based in this genre. “Sure, I’ve struggled with capturing butter and cheese, common ingredients in Filipino breads but through trial and error, I achieve what my Lolo and Lola say “time is medicine”. I’ve been able to replicate the identity of many traditional Filipino desserts, so we can all enjoy them.”

Buko Pandan

Her top seller is her Buko Pandan ice cream, but looks can be deceiving with this flavor. This classic dessert tends to be identified with it’s bright green gelatinous chunks. But because Christy keeps everything as natural as possible, she doesn’t do dyes. It’s white, but the flavor is still rich with a beautifully creamy texture.

Calamansi Ice Cream (size small)

My favorite flavor is her Calamansi ice cream. It’s refreshing, tart and velvety all in one. This flavor had had stakes for her to capture perfectly. “My Grandpa planted a Calamansi tree in our backyard, so I felt the extra pressure to get it correct. This is one of the most personal flavors to me” Christy told me.

When I asked Christy about the current Filipino food craze; she shared she’s very supportive of the trend but notes “there’s major ube love happening right now and that’s great, but we want you to explore the full spectrum of our food. A strong sense of identity has to be transferred to every bite.”

What customer melts Christy’s heart the most? “Grandparents! I get a kick out of when older Filipino-Americans taste my ice cream and say ‘I know what this is!'”

Get frozen in time! Christy will be scooping her famous Calamansi Cheeri Cheeri ice cream at the Girls on Food Shared Plates dinner coming up, Friday, October 5th at Industrious Century City. get your tickets here.