Los Angeles

surfas2.jpgThe other day, my daughter Hannah and I stopped by Surfas. It always surprises me when she wants to go there, since their prepared food is, lets just say..um..esoteric.  She ordered the 72 layer biscuit with ham and cheese and drank a Bubble Up. Oh to be 13, 5’5” and weigh 98 lbs.  After that, as we crossed over into the store, a fellow cradling a basket of hot baguettes narrowly missed running into me as he made his way to his station or should I say ‘kingdom’, because this guy rules!

Hannah and I watched him set up the baguettes and tend to a customer at the newly established Cheese Bar. If you haven’t been to Surfas lately, there have been some delightful additions to the whole experience.

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ImageLast night One for the Table got a sneak peek into what promises to be Culver City’s newest hot spot—A-Frame—the brainchild of restaurateur David Reiss and rockstar chef Roy Choi of Kogi BBQ fame. Like most of Choi’s ventures, the menu reads like a sugar-crazed kid’s take on gourmet cuisine. Blazin’ Jay’s kettle corn, sprinkled with furikake and mixed with Corn Pops, is a total guilty pleasure. And don’t get me started on the milk chocolate dipped churros or the fried apple pie with cheddar ice cream.

My favorites, of course, veer on the lighter side. The crab cakes garnished with shiso leaves are plump and simple and the peel ‘n eat shrimp is fresh and juicy, with just the right amount of citrus and salt. And don’t neglect the Korean-style pickled side dishes, which, in true Choi fashion, veer from the traditional, featuring pears and endives alongside more expected vegetables, like radishes. And I have to admit the baby back ribs are worth getting your hands messy over and so is the totally indulgent carne asada torta (which should only be attempted if you have a serious appetite, and are maybe a little stoned).

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ludosign.jpgAfter watching Ludo Lefebvre on Top Chef Masters I knew I wanted try out his food. Around the same time his episode aired he opened up a “pop-up” restaurant at Bread Bar on 3rd St. On Tuesday night a bunch of my friends and I went. Simply put the meal was amazing. It’s really a mixture of classical french food and molecular gastronomy. Onto the food.

The table that was supposed to be ours decided they wanted to sit and talk for a long time so we had to wait. To make up for this Ludo’s very nice wife brought us out some lobster medallions with daikon & rosemary with a honey-sherry vinaigrette. It was amazing and great indication of things to come. It looked like a scallop and the sauce was very strong and sweet so the lobster was mainly there for texture.

One of the best things about the meal was the butter for the bread. It was a homemade honey and lavander butter.

First came the chorizo soup with cantaloupe and cornichon. It really tastes like the essence of chorizo. It was perfect. When there was only a little left we almost fought over it like junkyard dogs.

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centralmarketLocated on Broadway and Hill between 2nd and 3rd, The Grand Central Market reflects the changes sweeping over Downtown Los Angeles. Long before farmers markets appeared all over LA, the Grand Central Market provided the Downtown community with fresh food at affordable prices.

The shoppers who filled the aisles, bought fresh produce, fruit, fish, meat and poultry. Freshly made tortillas traveled down a conveyer belt where they were stacked in plastic bags and sold still warm in the open-air tortilla factory that once stretched along the southern wall close to Broadway.

The Market specialized in health products, fresh fruit juices, herbal teas and homeopathic remedies from around the world. And where there are shoppers, they will be places to eat. Dozens of stalls sold Mexican tacos, enchiladas, ceviche, whole lobsters, plates of fried fish and shrimp in the shell. Anyone who needed an old-school Chinese-American food fix could eat at China Cafe and Broadway Express.

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currywurstoutsideKai Lobach's “baby” is Currywurst, the hole in the wall sausage restaurant on Fairfax Avenue that he opened a few years ago and is fighting to keep alive and well. Small, compact, and beautiful as it is, it has not had the proper attention it deserves! Maybe it’s because in Southern California we don’t appreciate sausage stands. They are a common site, though, in Germany and are as popular and ubiquitous as Mickey D's here in America. We don’t think in terms of sausages for lunch…or dinner…and not too much for breakfast anymore, truth be told.

No, when making a lunch plan, sausages, (pork, chicken, or veal), served on a delicious homemade brioche bun, with a choice of different sauces on the side, (including my favorite aoili mayonnaise) doesn’t come readily to mind. But it should, the way Curry Wurst makes it! Served with excellent French fries on the side. My Heaven. The French fries are so good; in fact, they could be the main act.

Kai Lobach goes way beyond interesting and catapults risk-taking to new heights. He also seems to be quite fearless, but I suppose one has to be to lead a life guided by passion. Make that plural…passions.

Kai is a chef who has his own event planning business one could call celebrity driven or sustained. Born, raised and schooled in Germany, and having attended European culinary institutes, it would be natural to assume that food and cooking are his main passions. But haven’t we all been taught, assume nothing. Or, as my growly teen puts it, assuming makes an ass out of you and me. Collecting art and what he lovingly refers to as his “baby”, take first position.

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