DO! delivery Get your weekly produce delivered by Daily Organics

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We have a new favorite food truck. You can’t chase it on Twitter, and it isn’t hawking fusion tacos or avant-garde ice cream. It’s just one woman in a 1962 Corvair Rampside pick-up on a mission to deliver fresh, organic produce to underserved areas of the city.

Behind the wheel of that vintage truck is Renee Gunter, a South LA native who founded Daily Organics as a way to address the lack of healthy food options in her neighborhood and other food deserts in the city. For the past two years, she’s set up her pop-up produce stand on street corners in South LA and Mid-City where fresh fruits and veggies are hard to come by. Her seasonal spread has included sustainably sourced and thoughtfully curated varietals like Pinkerton avocados, Austrian crescent potatoes and globe eggplants alongside homemade jams, Smart Simple Gourmet soups and her locally roasted DO! brand coffee beans.

Renee Gunter and rosco (her truck). (Photo credit: Stephen Zeigler)

Now, Gunter has decided to transition from mobile pop-up (a tricky business model to sustain) to a weekly home delivery service. To start, she’ll deliver within a five-mile radius of her pop-up locations, with plans to expand beyond that in the future. Subscribers can customize their selections on a weekly basis ($25 to $45 per week for produce; no delivery fee); extras like soups and coffee can be added for an additional fee.

Gunter’s motivation to work toward solutions to food deserts sets Daily Organics apart from other produce delivery services. She’s as passionate about advocating for change as she is about selecting her produce. “It’s not just me stocking my truck full of food and selling it out of a box,” says Gunter. “I share ideas. I share conversation. It’s a sense of community, and it’s centered around food.”

Think of it as the street corner—on wheels.

Daily Organics
dailyorganicsla.com

Cold rush Scratch your dessert itch (healthfully) with Pressed Juicery's Freezes

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Our mom always told us that if we ate our veggies, we could have dessert. But what if we told you that if you ate dessert, you could have your veggies?

Pressed Juicery has totally flipped the script on dessert logic with the introduction of their new Freezes ($5 to $8). Made exclusively of vegetables, fruits and nuts, the Freezes are based on the Juicery’s cold-pressed juice creations, so start wrapping your mind around soft serve that sounds like it’s a seasonal vegetable plate. The Greens Freeze is made with kale, spinach and romaine, while the Roots Freeze has beets, carrots and ginger.

There’s nothing bitter about the veggie-laden Freezes. Their subtle sweetness comes from the dates and coconut meat also in the mix; they contain no refined sugar. And even though there’s not a drop of dairy, the Freezes have a smooth, creamy consistency that suggests otherwise; think fro-yo, minus the “yo.”

Get your juice with a twist at Pressed Juicery’s fro-yo style freeze bar.

If you’re looking for more classic dessert flavors, they also offer naturally sweetened twists on favorites like Vanilla (almonds, dates, sea salt, vanilla) and Chocolate (same deal but with cacao), as well as fruit-forward flavors like Citrus (orange, apple, pineapple).

The Freezes’ nutritional profiles are similar to the juices. For example, you’ll get 45 percent of your recommended daily dose of vitamins A and C from an 8-ounce Greens Freeze. Toppings like chia and hemp seeds, cinnamon and fresh berries pack a nutritional punch, too. And all the offerings are non-GMO and gluten-free.

Brain freeze time!

Pressed Juicery
6201 Hollywood Blvd. #128, Los Angeles
323-960-3350
889 Americana Way, Glendale
818-247-2034
www.pressedjuicery.com

Tempting terroir Relish lofty fare with earthy ingredients at Aestus

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Right about now, we’re having serious Aestus envy. We’re jealous of the residents of Santa Monica’s Arezzo building, who can simply slip downstairs to dine at this new restaurant, where the produce-driven plates and mid-century modern dining room are equally stunning.

Location is everything, especially in this kitchen. Owner-sommelier Kevin O’Connor and chef Alex Ageneau have grounded the New American menu in the concept of terroir, which (aside from the wine focus) means that the kitchen’s emphasis is on produce hailing from Southern California soil.

Food with a sense of place is something quite familiar to Ageneau, who grew up on a farm in the Vendée region of France, where his grandparents tended orchards and vineyards and made everything served at the table from scratch.

Aestus’ mid-century modern dining room and open kitchen.

Ageneau is carrying on that tradition at Aestus, where he crafts his own charcuterie, pickles, and pasta—pretty much everything except the bread—in house. His French training is apparent in his dishes, but the California context means that he’s favoring olive oil and citrus over cream and butter.

The simple preparations let the high-quality ingredients—sourced from sustainable family farms whenever possible—speak for themselves. Selections will rotate seasonally, but expect dishes like snap peas with mint pesto and pistachios ($8), roasted carrots with kumquats, goat cheese and argan oil ($13) and branzino paired with celery root, grapefruit segments and hazelnuts ($38). There’s a wood-burning grill for meats like the superb grass-fed flat iron served with sunchokes, spinach and mushrooms ($32).

Our advice? Order a bunch of dishes to share. Otherwise you might have plate envy.

Aestus
507 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
424-268-4433
www.aestusrestaurant.com

Forget the freezer Enjoy a fresh new take on Vietnamese fare

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How fresh is the Vietnamese cuisine at The District by Hannah An? Let’s put it this way: the restaurant doesn’t have a walk-in freezer.

Sure, there’s a small freezer for ice cream, but everything else—from the sustainably sourced fish to the grass-fed beef to the locally sourced vegetables—is used in its freshest state and cooked to order.

You might recognize An’s name from her family dynasty. She learned to cook from her mother and grandmother, who established the legendary French-Vietnamese restaurant Crustacean in Beverly Hills. But at The District, An is breaking away from that fine-dining focus. Though the two-level space—with an industrial-chic vibe downstairs and colonial-era Vietnamese manor setting upstairs—is on the upscale side of casual, she’s serving up dishes you could eat every day.

… the upscale side of casual dining

Instead of heavy oils or the butter and cream that can weigh down French preparations of Vietnamese dishes, An is using broths, fish sauces, citrus, herbs and spices to lend flavor. Following the Vietnamese principle of balance, each dish is at once subtly spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet.

We would drive across town for the divine turmeric-crusted Chilean sea bass ($35) and the crispy chicken rice paper rolls ($12) served with garlic-lime dipping sauce. And we love how An is presenting familiar vegetables through a novel lens, from the curry-spiced, wok-fried brussels sprouts ($9) to the charred heirloom cauliflower served atop mushrooms, edamame and cashew puree and accented with beet juice and hazelnuts ($17).

Given the supreme tastiness, you probably won’t have any leftovers, which is just as well. Food this fresh should be enjoyed as intended: on the spot.

The District by Hannah An
8722 W. Third St., Los Angeles
310-278-2345
www.thedistrictbyha.com

Salads go glam Have a healthy night on the town at Greenleaf

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As build-your-own salad places go, Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop (with locations in Beverly Hills and Century City) is consistently one of our favorites. The local and sustainably farmed produce, the clean, flame-grilled proteins and the epicurean preparations make us wish there was a Greenleaf on every corner of the city.

With the opening of their new Hollywood location, we’re on our way to wish fulfillment—and then some. Not only does the new outpost make their stellar salads more accessible to Eastsiders, but it also elevates the Greenleaf concept to night-on-the-town dining.

Whereas their Westside locations offer only breakfast and lunch service, the Hollywood location—located next to the Pantages Theatre—is positioned for nightlife. Open daily until midnight, the restaurant offers full dinner service, an indoor/outdoor bar serving craft cocktails made with organic juices and a buzzy patio decked out with market lights and a fire pit.

Ahi & farro salad at Greenleaf gourmet chopshop.

That means you can enjoy some festive pre-theater dining, grab pre-game drinks before hitting the clubs or sidestep the boulevard’s greasy pizza joints for a healthy late-night snack. Creating your own salad is always fun, but we’re also partial to the specialty salads ($8 to $16) like the Antioxidant Orchard (bursting with vitamin-packed berries and nuts) and Zorra The Great (an updated Greek salad). Sandwiches, burgers, thin-crust pizzas and hot entrée plates round out the menu.

And with the new brunch service (Friday through Sunday from 8:00am to 3:00pm) featuring egg dishes and smoothies, you can follow your nightlife with a healthy morning after.

Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
6201 Hollywood Blvd., Ste. 120
323-380-5127
www.greenleafchopshop.com

Vegan cheese, please Indulge guiltlessly with these artisanal nut-milk cheeses

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Five years ago, chef Youssef Fakhouri decided to sequester himself in his West Hollywood home kitchen with a singular goal: to find the secret to making nut-milk cheese taste like the “real” thing.

Around the same time, chef Tal Ronnen began searching for a way to successfully apply traditional European cheese-making techniques to nut milk and even enlisted the help of a Stanford biochemist.

Clearly, the race to find a non-dairy cheese that doesn’t taste like sawdust has been an impassioned one. The result? L.A. is having a delicious artisanal vegan cheese moment, with Fakhouri’s new WeHo cheese shop Vromage and Ronnen’s Kite Hill line of cheeses.

Tal Ronnen and Youssef Fakhouri, L.A.’s premier vegan cheesemongers

Fakhouri won’t reveal the secret technique he stumbled upon to give his nut- and seed-milk cheeses a flavor to rival old-school fromage. But let’s just say that in a blind taste test, we’d be hard-pressed to distinguish his pepper jack from the real deal. So far he’s created 17 cheeses that mimic the flavors and textures of their dairy counterparts, ranging from soft manchego to hard asiago. The cheeses slice and melt just like the real deal; Vromage serves them in caprese salads, sandwiches and pizza.

Kite Hill’s lineup, crafted from their proprietary almond milk, includes a soft-ripened cheese with a fluffy rind reminiscent of brie or camembert, as well as creamy ricotta and spreadable fresh cheeses. And the new cream cheeses (plain and chive) are a dead ringer for their dairy counterparts. Ronnen serves the cheeses at his plant-based restaurant Crossroads; you can try the cream cheeses on a bagel with his smoked heirloom carrot “lox” and taste the ricotta, which cooks just like the real stuff, in pasta dishes. Kite Hill’s products are also the first vegan cheeses to be sold in the Whole Foods gourmet cheese section.

So long, sawdust.

Vromage
7988 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood
323-745-0157
www.vromage.com

Crossroads
8284 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles
323-782-9245
www.crossroadskitchen.com

Barneys gets fresh Savor the veggie-driven fare at the new Freds at Barneys New York

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We love a good power lunch as much as anyone. But the tradition of brokering deals over a gargantuan steak, basket of bread and a midday martini? That’s not how we roll.

So we’re thrilled that one of Beverly Hills’s most beloved power lunch spots, the restaurant at Barneys New York, has hit the “refresh” button on lunchtime luxury. Formerly Barney Greengrass, it’s been reimagined as Freds, and the decadent, deli-style menu of caviar blinis and pastrami reubens has given way to farmers’ market salads and pressed juices.

The chef responsible for the transformation is Mark Strausman, a New Yorker with a farm-to-table philosophy and Italian background who oversees Barneys restaurants nationally. He’s having a field day sourcing organic produce from local family farms.

Freds serves up lunch with a view.

Salads promise a wealth of fruits and vegetables, including a kale salad ($22) loaded with raw celery, carrots, fennel, beets and zucchini in blood orange and mustard dressing. The penne (gluten-free upon request) with vegan “bolognese” ($24) boasts a dozen vegetables slowly simmered in tomato sauce.

For heartier appetites, there’s a grass-fed beef burger ($22.50), an organic omelette of the day ($21) and a heavenly citrus-rosemary chicken breast ($24) served with a tangle of arugula. “Estelle’s chicken soup” ($12), a recipe passed down from Strausman’s grandmother, has a rich bone broth base infused with onions and herbs—a cure-all for whatever’s ailing you.

And—despite the Tinseltown crowd—if you hear someone at the next table talking about “Orange is the New Black,” it’s probably the orange-carrot juice with ginger and turmeric.

Freds at Barneys New York
9570 Wilshire Boulevard, 5th Floor, Beverly Hills
310-777-5877

This produce pops Sample the spoils from small-scale farms at Pop Produce

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We love a good power lunch as much as anyone. But the tradition of brokering deals over a gargantuan steak, basket of bread and a midday martini? That’s not how we roll.

So we’re thrilled that one of Beverly Hills’s most beloved power lunch spots, the restaurant at Barneys New York, has hit the “refresh” button on lunchtime luxury. Formerly Barney Greengrass, it’s been reimagined as Freds, and the decadent, deli-style menu of caviar blinis and pastrami reubens has given way to farmers’ market salads and pressed juices.

The chef responsible for the transformation is Mark Strausman, a New Yorker with a farm-to-table philosophy and Italian background who oversees Barneys restaurants nationally. He’s having a field day sourcing organic produce from local family farms.

This stand is not your average pop-up shop.

Though the produce selection is ever-changing, you’ll likely find staples like kale, Swiss chard, Haas avocados and Fuji apples. Romney and Bowman also make a point to feature more obscure varietals (when in season) like finger limes, chilacayote, mirabelle plums and watermelon radishes. Local food products including granola, nut butter and jam are also in the mix.

And if you spot Eureka lemons from “Edgemont Farms,” just know that it’s a fancy name for Romney’s own East Hollywood backyard.

POP Produce at Arroyo General
5028 York Blvd., Los Angeles
www.popproducela.com

Counter Chic Grab a coveted seat at veggie-driven Le Comptoir

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There are only 10 seats at chef Gary Menes’s new Le Comptoir—a former pop-up that’s now found a permanent home at Koreatown’s Hotel Normandie—and 10 reasons why you should snag one of them immediately.

1. The divine vegetables: The six-course prix-fixe menu is comprised almost entirely of vegetables: think lofty French-inflected dishes like Japanese yam velouté, mushroom fricassé and a tranche of butternut squash with preserved cherries.

2. The seed-to-table sourcing: The majority of the produce is sourced from the chef’s certified-organic Gladys Ave Urban Farm in Long Beach, where he personally works daily.

3. The tasty supplements: You can supplement your plant-driven prix-fixe with delish grain or protein dishes like Japanese scallop with tomato reduction and broccoli leaves.

4. The sustainability practices: Menes composts fruit and vegetable peels and coffee grounds to fertilize the farm’s soil.

5. The clean meats: The restaurant uses consciously sourced seafood and beef from grass-fed, humanely raised animals.

Get up close with the man himself, chef Gary Menes.

6. The chef’s skills: Menes cut his teeth at The French Laundry and Mélisse—need we say more?

7. The small scale: The diminutive counter allows Menes to maintain the close farm-to-plate connection. “If I have one perfect cauliflower in my garden,” he says, “then that’s the one I’m going to use. That can only feed 10 people.”

8. The entertainment factor: The open kitchen and close proximity of the chef allow for interactive culinary theater.

9. The single-origin coffee: Coffee geeks, this one’s for you.

10. The reasonable tab: At $67 per person for six courses (with supplements running $14 to $35), dinner at Le Comptoir won’t leave you empty-pocketed.

On a scale of 1 to 10? We give it a 10.

Le Comptoir
3606 West 6th Street, Los Angeles
www.lecomptoirla.com

 

(Photo credit: Sam Hernandez)

Hyper Local Get hip to Malibu's rustic revolution with the Malibu Farm Cookbook

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Hold onto your surfboard: Malibu is emerging as L.A.’s modern agricultural oasis. Vineyards are covering more and more of the rolling seaside foothills, fruit orchards are cropping up in expansive backyards and beekeeping suits are becoming as common as wetsuits.

Helene Henderson’s new Malibu Farm Cookbook—a collection of recipes served at her Malibu Farm café at the tip of the Malibu Pier—reads like a love letter to the burgeoning pastoral gifts of the ‘Bu, where she’s been a farm-to-table pioneer.

After moving there in 2008, Henderson began cooking farm dinners and teaching cooking classes on her two-acre property, where she raises chickens and goats and grows fruits and vegetables. The venture grew into a pop-up restaurant and the permanent café in 2013.

Eat the real thing or don’t eat it at all. — Helene henderson Photo credit: Marie Buck

In keeping with the café’s commitment to local purveyors, the book is organized by ingredient source. You’ll find chapters on egg dishes “from the coop,” honey-kissed dishes “from the hive” (like this delicious preparation for kabocha squash, below) and fish dishes “from the sea,” as well as tips on where to source your own local ingredients.

Henderson’s recipes emphasize abundant seasonal produce and minimalist preparations that favor olive oil, herbs and lemon over heavy sauces and seasonings. She is keen on employing ingredients in their most-natural, least-processed state. “Eat the real thing,” she says, “or don’t eat it at all.”

Now that’s a wave we definitely want to ride.

Makes 4 servings

1 whole kabocha squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup black lentils, cooked per package instructions
Optional:
Arugula
Crumbled feta cheese

Honey lemon dressing:

3 tablespoons raw honey
¼ cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Place the whole squash in a large pasta pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and cut into wedges, thin or thick. Leave the green skin on or remove it.
2. Drizzle a sheet pan with olive oil and lay the cut wedges on it. Bake in a preheated 400° oven for 20 minutes, turning once half way through. Season the cooked squash wedges with salt.
3. Whisk together the honey lemon dressing. Toss the squash with the dressing and cooked lentils. If desired, garnish with arugula and crumbled feta cheese.

Malibu Farm
23000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu
310-456-1112
www.malibu-farm.com