Drink This: Pisco Punch
Pisco Portón unearths a long-lost recipe for the San Francisco punch thought to have disappeared during prohibition.
July 20, 2011
Although it’s rumored that the recipe for the famous pisco punch died with its creator, Duncan Nicol, Pisco Portón has uncovered the centuries-old secret. Created by Nicol in 1893 at a bar called Bank Exchange in San Francisco, the popular punch recipe, and its bar of origin, disappeared during Prohibition. Nicol is said to have used a pisco made with Torontel grapes and gum syrup to give the punch its silky texture. Fittingly, Pisco Portón is one of the only piscos available in the United States today that is made in part with Torontel grapes. Here, the recently debuted spirit brand shares its recipe for Nicol’s mysterious pisco punch.
1/2 pint of gum syrup
1 pint of distilled water
3/4 pint of lemon juice
1 750 ml bottle of Pisco Portón
1 fresh pineapple
Cut a fresh pineapple into half-inch by one and half-inch squares. Add pineapple to a punch bowl with simple syrup and soak overnight. Once done, add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix well. Serve cold in three to four ounce portions.
A Victory Cupcake at Sweet Arleen's
The beloved cupcakerie offers a new Food Network award-winning cupcake.
July 19, 2011
Sweet Arleen’s has done it again. The So Cal bakery known for its boutique-style confections claimed its second consecutive victory at the Food Network’s champion round episode of Cupcake Wars. The cupcake that won the judges over was a new creation, dubbed The Standing Ovation. Made of port wine, raspberries, crème fraîche and chocolate mousse, the winning cupcake will be available for a limited time at Sweet Arleen’s in Westlake Village. 960 South Westlake Blvd., Suite #4, Westlake Village, 805-373-7373
Reinventing the Meal
A book for foodies.
July 11, 2011
The latest must-get for the ambitious home chef or sophisticated foodie is the $625, 2,438-page, five-volume Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking opus, out this summer. It’s the culmination of three years of research, cooking and innovation to produce eye-popping— and yes, mouthwatering—photos of gorgeous cuisine, progressive techniques and reinvented recipes. Barnes & Noble, The Grove, 189 The Grove Dr., LA; barnesandnoble.com
Wine Pro: Susan Brink
A self-proclaimed “wine dork” has made restaurants all over LA undeniably cool.
June 27, 2011
Chances are you have Susan Brink to thank for some of the wines you’ve been sipping lately. This enterprising lady oversees wine lists at restaurants all over LA, including Dominick’s, Little Dom’s and Soho House West Hollywood.
Brink began her “informal wine career” as the opening manager at A.O.C. Wine Bar and Restaurant. Later, while working at Dominick’s, Brink overhauled its wine list and then attended the International Sommelier Guild, receiving her formal sommelier certification in 2007.
In addition to her restaurant work, Brink runs a small shop in West Hollywood called Venokado with her sister, Molly, and third partner Tracy Hof. They sell a handpicked selection of artisanal wines and eclectic high-end gifts—the name is a play on the Italian word for wine and the French word for gift.
This May, the trio opened a second Venokado at The Market at Santa Monica Place, where they offer wine tastings every day. “Angelenos are becoming more wine savvy,” says Brink. “People are willing to take a risk and try a new varietal or region. We love to share and educate in a way that’s not heavy-handed, so [the tastings] are a fabulous opportunity for us to geek out with fellow winos.”
She says, “Every bottle is memorable because I always have something to learn about the grape, the place it’s from and the feeling it gives me. I’m very romantic about the metaphysics of wine and like to imagine the history and passion of what’s in the glass. Dork.” If only the nerds in high school had been this cool.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CHEYENNE ELLIS/ALYSSA PIZER MANAGEMENT
La Vida Ludo
Meet Ludo Lefebvre, chef/owner of the touring restaurant LudoBites.
June 13, 2011
Who: Ludo Lefebvre, chef/owner of the touring restaurant LudoBites
From: Auxerre, France
When did you know you wanted to become a chef? 10 years old. I spent every day after school in the kitchen with my grandmother.
How did you come up with the concept for a pop-up restaurant? I didn’t want to spend a million dollars to open a restaurant. I realized my friend’s bakery was closed at night, so I approached him to do a special dinner service. It became a big success, so I thought, Why not do it again and again? Each time I do a pop-up I completely reinvent the menu.
Tell us about Ludo Bites America, premiering on Sundance Channel this July. The show captures me and my wife as we travel around America to six cities, explore the local culture, find a restaurant to partner with and then open LudoBites in that city for one night.
Do any of your tattos hold a special meaning? They all do: I have a tattoo of my wife’s name, my sister’s name, a Buddhist prayer and my rooster logo.
Sweet Treat: Velvet Rope Bake Shop
Get stellar delicacies at Velvet Rope Bake Shop.
April 04, 2011
Is it a cake? Is it a truffle? Velvet Rope Bake Shop’s cake truffles are a mouthwatering combination of both (moist mini cakes covered in a chocolate coating) that come in decadent flavors including carrot cake, peanut butter-chocolate, red velvet and lemon.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JACQUELYN ALLEN
Bottling the LA Brand
Nightlife mogul Sam Nazarian is expanding his empire and his trademark vibe across the country.
April 04, 2011
SBE doesn’t stand for “several big endeavors” but it might just as well. Sam Nazarian’s LA-based company—comprised of hotels, restaurants and nightclubs—will soon include an impressive 24 properties, and that’s just in Southern California. According to Nazarian, who founded SBE in 2002, the next decade will be spent bringing this city’s certain je ne sais quoi to those who don’t share a zip code with his hot spots, which now stretch from Downtown LA to Malibu. “We’re excited about our national expansion,” he says, “about providing our guests with the keys to the city of LA.”
Nazarian is poised to take the “LA feel” of his properties countrywide. His formula has proven successful with Angelenos, where big bankrolls, big names and big spaces make big impressions. While he counts local, more intimate fixtures, such as West Hollywood’s The Abbey Food & Bar, among his investments, Nazarian made his largest mark with the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills, where the setting comes courtesy of überdesigner Philippe Starck, and Spanish superchef José Andrés helms his acclaimed restaurant The Bazaar. Miami and Vegas outposts of the SLS Hotel are already under way.
Like any successful businessman, Nazarian knows how to tailor ventures to suit his patrons’ tastes. “LA is the most underestimated city,” he says. “But its wealth of cultures and growing population allow [us] to react and give people what they want.” He may be setting his sights farther geographically, but he’s showing no signs of slowing down in his hometown. In April, he opens Papaya King, a kitschy-cool NYC tropical drink and frankfurter chain, in Hollywood. Fittingly, it will have a nightlife experience attached to it. Meanwhile, cities in Texas, New York, Florida and Nevada are being prepped to get a dose of LA, SBE-style.
New Club: Supperclub Los Angeles
A hedonistic hot spot from Holland comes to LA.
February 28, 2011
The club’s bed-like seating and open kitchen
Amster-dayum! The sensuous vibe of Holland’s hedonistic hot spot just bedded down—literally—on Hollywood Boulevard in the form of the new nightlife destination Supperclub Los Angeles.
Transporting the look and feel of the world-renowned collection of Supperclubs across the globe—four-course prix-fixe dinners, intimate bed seating, pulsating music, performance-art showcases and an avant-garde and often erotic undercurrent—to the historic Vogue Theater, the new outpost melds an indulgent Euro-sensibility with classic Hollywood glam. To say more would spoil the surprise.
“When I was in Amsterdam 14 years ago, I said, ‘Oh my God, this is what I want to do with my life!’” says managing partner Abdi Manavi, who patiently labored for years to fine-tune Supperclub Los Angeles for the LA audience. “There was every age, sex, color and sexual orientation enjoying the same four courses in the same space with the same music for three hours. That really appealed to me.”
It’ll take some time to figure out what our guests are comfortable with,” says Manavi. “In Amsterdam, it’s a lot more fetish stuff we can’t get away with [here]. We want to keep it mind-opening and challenging, but we also want to keep it glamorous—because of where we are.” 6675 Hollywood Blvd., LA
Valerie Confections offers sweet treats worthy of your love.
January 31, 2011
The way to a woman’s heart is through chocolate, and you’ll get there even faster when it’s a handmade treat from local chocolatier Valerie Confections. Grab the Grand Elle Assortment ($45) for your sweetie, which includes everything from classic liquid-caramel pieces to gourmet rose-petal passion fruit ganache hearts. 3360 W. First St., LA
An Awards Season Champagne To Love
Moët & Chandon's Gold Award Season limited-edition bottle is a winner.
January 25, 2011
The Hollywood awards season is fully upon us, and Moët & Chandon’s new limited edition Champagne is the toast of the town. As the exclusive bubbly of the 2011 Golden Globes and 83rd annual Academy Awards, Moët & Chandon debuted its Gold Award Season Moët & Chandon Impérial bottle on January 1. Available through March 31, the eye-catching bottle—which captures the elegance, glamour and spirit of Hollywood (if we do say so ourselves)—sells for $120 in fine liquor stores everywhere.