Jonathan Grahm, the owner of Compartés Chocolatier in Brentwood, is just back from a whirlwind pre-Valentine's Day tour of Japan, where 100 Compartés pop-up shops opened for the holiday in Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, Hiroshima, Nagoya and Kobe. Grahm's face has been plastered on billboards, little old ladies in kimonos vied for his autograph, designers wanted his chocolates to coordinate with their products (underwear, for example) and fans showered him with gifts (such as a Mickey Mouse action figure).
He is, as they say, big in Japan.
After winning a chocolate competition in Tokyo that pitted him against dozens of European contenders and brought him outsized media attention, Grahm has eight permanent Tokyo stores and is about to open another in Shanghai. But the 28-year-old chocolatier aims to be the face of American chocolate in his hometown.
"I've been sort of under the radar" in L.A., says Grahm, who is puckish and inclined to wear button-down shirts with colorful bow ties. He has been Compartés' chocolate maker since he was 21. Four years ago, he bought the business from his family when they were about to give up on it and has since rebranded and expanded.
I was ecstatic to be reminded of an old tradition by Martha Stewart in her magazine this month.
I remember doing this on New Year's Eve with some foreign friends many, many years ago and everyone had a lot of fun partaking in the simple ritual.
According to Martha, it's a Spanish tradition (my friends were French) to quickly eat a dozen grapes at midnight.
The fruit being a predictor of the year ahead: Each sweet grape representing a good month, each sour grape a less-than-lucky one.
So join the fun, thread a bunch of grapes onto skewers and serve each in a glass of Champagne right before the countdown.
This is great because children and non-drinkers can also participate. Just put the skewer in Sparkling Apple Cider or whatever beverage you are serving for the toast.
Since we love books WAY more than college basketball, we just had to share this. So cool!
In its fourth and biggest year yet, Out of Print's Book Madness tournament has given hundreds of thousands of fans a chance to vote their favorite books to glory. This year, Out of Print is taking it to the next level with "Hero vs. Villain."
Like college basketball's March Madness tournament, readers can complete a bracket and compete against fellow bookworms. But this year, it's all about the characters themselves, with fans voting on their favorite heroes and villains from classic lit.
Is Big Brother any match for President Snow? Will Harry Potter's magic be enough to defeat Atticus Finch? It is time to decide once and for all!
Brackets can be submitted through Sunday, March 23rd for a chance to win a $500 Out of Print gift card and other prizes. Voting begins March 24th.
To participate please visit, http://outofprintclothing.com/book-madness
From the LA Times
I ate my share of lobsters while spending summers in Rhode Island. My family still talks about the 10-pounder we bought from a shop in Galilee. We spent an hour scouring the neighborhood looking for someone who owned a pot big enough to cook it. Lobster is still one of my favorite foods of summer — that's when it is the cheapest, when they move closer to shore and the fishing conditions are better.
A good lobster is something to be relished, eaten with your hands, the buttery juices wiped from your chin and licked from your fingers.
The easiest way to cook lobster is simply boiled and then served on a picnic table spread with newspaper. Select a pot that is large enough to accommodate all the lobsters. Add enough salt to the water to approximate the salinity of the sea, about 3.5%. Add enough vinegar that the water tastes slightly acidic.
Bring the water to a boil, add the lobsters and cover the pot. The water should maintain a simmer but no more — that makes more tender meat. The general rule for cooking lobster is to allow 7 to 8 minutes per pound. I think lobster tends to be better when slightly less than fully cooked, but most people want their shellfish well done. This is totally understandable, but a hint of translucence in the flesh is not a bad thing.
by Chef Mark Shoup
by David Latt