I must be psychic, hitting up two '09 trends in one meal with brunch at Joe's
Breadbars are at it with fun food events: Tomorrow the Santa Monica Blvd. location will do A(nother) Chocolate Tasting with master chocolatier Patricia Tsai providing a tasty seminar on chocolate's history, the processing it goes through to turn the cacao beans into luscious edibles and things to look for in quality chocolate. Of course, it'll come with plenty of samples, tastings and other sweet treats (more deets from FoodGPS here). $30 a person from 6-8 p.m. And then next week the Third Street outpost is collaborating with Adam Sobel, former chef de cuisine at Vegas' Guy Savoy, for their CRUSH event, featuring refined street cuisine using seasonal foods. The $55 five course menu feature items such as liquid-center potato gnocchi with fontina and chanterelles; marinated nantucket bay scallops with young coconut and kaffir lime vodka and "stoner sandwich" with warm belgium waffle, nutella and pistachio gelato. RSVPs are needed for both events either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at the respective Breadbars (Chocolate tasting at Century City: 310.277.3770; CRUSH at West Third: 310.205.0124
End of year means everyone's predicting 2009 food trends: Most of the food news sites seem to link to Epicurious / Bon Appetit and Hotels prediction lists. The long and short is, due to the economy, expect lots of scaled-back comfort foods (read: homestyle meals on the cheap) and that reflects throughout from peanut butter as *the* ingredient of '09 (bummers to all those allergic to it) to noodle bars being the new sushi joints (no surprise, $10 or less for a big bowl of pasta and soup vs. two pieces of nigiri . . .) and breakfast all-the-time. Personally, I expect small plates dining, which can be economical and healthful, to hang around -- as well as a resurgence in beer at bars and in restaurants, and more folks being more adventurous and value-savvy overall (cava and prosecco instead of champagne, for example). Also hope that this means chefs are getting innovative in turning out delicious, creative dishes w/o having to rely on gourmet labels as selling points; name-dropping wagyu, foie gras and truffles are nice and dandy, but for me they aren't as big a selling point as how foods are combined / prepared / seasoned and where they came from.
And speaking of economical dining: the critics definitely took their readers' diminishing discretionary income to heart. LA Weekly's J Gold hit the streets of South El Monte and dined on the cheap, comforting beef noodle soup at seven pho shops. LAT's S. Irene hit up Robata-ya in Santa Monica. Not necessarily cheap for stuff on skewers, but definitely more easy on the wallet compared to the places she usually reviews; a ten-skewer omakase is only $25.
Finally and only tangentially food related, RIP to NPR's 'Day to Day" and "News & Notes" -- both produced from their West Coast outlet in Culver City and got the axe in the latest round of cutbacks (earlier this year they eliminated the "Bryant Park Project", another one of my faves.) Both programs have done pretty good food-related segments, a notable one recently included a segment with Noah from Man Bites World during his Afghanistan day. *sigh*