After hearing about Dinoâ€™s on my favorite pod cast Good Food with Evan Kleinman on www.kcrw.com I decided to take an early lunch and check out their Los Angeles location located at 2575 West Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, Ca 90006.
Itâ€™s in a neighborhood called the Byzantine Latino Quarter that is dotted with historic storefronts and what looks to be some very promising restaurants and food stands.Â As I drove down Pico looking at the street numbers I suddenly saw plumes of smoke wafting across the street. As I drove through the smoke the intense smell of grilled chicken hit me and I knew that I had found Dinoâ€™s.Â I was really hungry so that smoke had me jogging into this joint with the formica covered tables.
As I approached the counter to place my order I saw stacks of orange marinated chicken waiting to be thrown on a smokey flaming hot grill. I placed my order. Chicken plate please. Six bucks. As I waited I watched the grill master throw on half chickens and move them around with long tongs. Ever so often he would douse the flames with a wet brush of marinade. It was awesome.
I watched them grab a Styrofoam box and place a heaping amount of French fries. They then topped the fries with the hot half chicken. They once again doused it with the marinade, placed a container of coleslaw in the corner, and topped it with a couple of tortillas.
I sat down at one of the old formica tables and ripped into the chicken. It was so tender and juicy that a knife was not needed. The marinade is a mixture of vinegar, red pepper flakes, garlic, oregano, and possibly paprika because of the color of the chicken. It is just delicious. And it doesnâ€™t stop there the juices from the chicken are soaked up by the French fries below which makes a great side dish.
The only way to sum up Dinoâ€™s is really good and cheap.
April 20 (Bloomberg) — Gordon Ramsayâ€™s flagship London establishment dropped out of the Worldâ€™s 50 Best Restaurants list tonight and kept falling. The three-Michelin-starred venue failed even to make the Top 100 after coming 13th last year.
To add to the woes of the British chef, known for TV shows such as â€œHellâ€™s Kitchenâ€ and â€œKitchen Nightmares,â€ his former friend Marcus Wareingâ€™s new venue came in at No. 52. Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley — on the site of the old Ramsay- owned Petrus — also won the Breakthrough Restaurant award, meaning itâ€™s most likely to enter the Top 50 next year.
El Bulli, Ferran Adriaâ€™s experimental restaurant north of Barcelona, topped the S. Pellegrino Worldâ€™s 50 Best Restaurants and Heston Blumenthalâ€™s Fat Duck came second for the fourth year in a row. Noma, chef Rene Redzepiâ€™s venue in Copenhagen, jumped to third from 10th and also took the Chefsâ€™ Choice award.
Ramsayâ€™s empire spans the world, with establishments in Asia, the U.S., the Middle East, Africa and Europe. In London alone, the chef has eight restaurants, plus Foxtrot Oscar and three pubs. He plans to reopen Petrus and Savoy Grill this year. Ramsay came under fire last week when the Sun reported that a central kitchen supplies dishes in bags to Foxtrot Oscar and the pubs. The highest Ramsay venue in the Top 100 is Maze, at 91.
â€œGordon takes all these sort of surveys with a pinch of salt,â€ according to an e-mailed statement issued by his public- relations company, Sauce Communications. â€œAs always, Gordon regards his thousands of customers as his most valued critics. They are his judge and jury.â€
The top placed U.S. entrant was Thomas Kellerâ€™s Per Se, in New York, which came sixth. The same chefâ€™s French Laundry, which won in 2004, came 12th this time. Other U.S. winners included Alinea (10th), Le Bernardin (15th) and Jean Georges (19th).
Wareing split from Gordon Ramsay Holdings last year. Ramsay kept the name Petrus and Wareing held onto the site at the Berkeley hotel, retaining the business he had spent nine years building.
The awards were announced at the Freemasonsâ€™ Hall in Covent Garden. The Worldâ€™s 50 Best is one of the foremost gatherings of chefs from around the world. Among those planning to attend were Adria, Blumenthal, Daniel Boulud, Joel Robuchon, Tetsuya Wakuda and Wareing. Ramsay wasnâ€™t planning to be there, the organizers said.
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay came second to El Bulli in the inaugural list in 2002, which was dominated by U.K. restaurants, It placed fifth in 2003, eighth in 2004, fifth in 2005, 14th in 2006, 24th in 2007 and then 13th in 2008. The list started life as a way of promoting â€œRestaurant,â€ a U.K. magazine.
The S. Pellegrino Worldâ€™s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and List is organized and compiled by â€œRestaurant,â€ and sponsored by S. Pellegrino. The winners are chosen by a total of 837 food writers, critics and commentators around the world, organized into 26 panels. Each panelist has five votes, of which a maximum of three can go to places in his or her region.
For the first time, I was a member of the U.K. and Ireland panel, chaired by Jay Rayner of the Observer. I voted by post and donâ€™t know who else was on the panel or how they voted.
Noma knocked Pierre Gagnaire from third place. El Celler de Can Roca, in Girona, Spain, was the biggest gainer, jumping 21 places. The other notable change this year is the presence of Asian restaurants in the Top 50. Les Creations de Narisawa, Tokyo, ranked 20th. Iggyâ€™s, in Singapore, which the new â€œMiele Guideâ€ named Asiaâ€™s best restaurant last October, came 45th.
The Fat Duck, which topped the list in 2005 and now comes second each year, was closed for more than two weeks earlier this year after 529 diners reported falling sick. Health officials later said the cause was norovirus Winter Vomiting Disease.
The Top 50:
1 El Bulli, Spain (=) 2 The Fat Duck, U.K. (=) 3 Noma, Denmark (+7) 4 Mugaritz, Spain (=) 5 El Celler de Can Roca, Spain (+21) 6 Per Se, U.S. (=) 7 Bras, France (=) 8 Arzak, Spain (=) 9 Pierre Gagnaire, France (-6) 10 Alinea, U.S. (+11) 11 Lâ€™Astrance, France (=) 12 The French Laundry U.S. (-7) 13 Osteria Francescana, Italy (New Entry) 14 St. John, U.K. (+2) 15 Le Bernardin, U.S. (+5) 16 Restaurant de lâ€™Hotel de Ville, Switzerland (+11) 17 Tetsuyaâ€™s, Australia (-8) 18 Lâ€™Atelier de Joel Robuchon, France (-4) 19 Jean Georges, U.S. (-2) 20 Les Creations de Narisawa, Japan (New Entry) 21 Chez Dominique, Finland (+18) 22 Ristorante Cracco, Italy (+21) 23 Die Schwarzwaldstube, Germany (+12) 24 D.O.M., Brazil (+16) 25 Vendome, Germany (+9) 26 Hof van Cleve, Belgium (+2) 27 Masa, U.S., (Re-entry) 28 Gambero Rosso, Italy (-16) 29 Oud Sluis, Netherlands (+13) 30 Steirereck, Austria (New Entry) 31 Momofuku Ssam Bar, U.S. (New Entry) 32 Oaxen Skaergaardskrog, Sweden (+16) 33 Martin Berasategui, Spain (-4) 34 Nobu U.K. (-4) 35 Mirazur, France (New Entry) 36 Hakkasan, U.K. (-17) 37 Le Quartier Francais, South Africa (+13) 38 La Colombe, South Africa (Re-entry) 39 Asador Etxebarri, Spain (+5) 40 Le Chateaubriand, France (New Entry) 41 Daniel, U.S. (=) 42 Combal Zero, Italy (Re-entry) 43 Le Louis XV, France (-28) 44 Tantris, Germany (+3) 45 Iggyâ€™s, Singapore (New Entry) 46 Quay, Australia (New Entry) 47 Les Ambassadeurs, France (-2) 48 Dal Pescatore, Italy (-25) 49 Le Calandre, Italy (-13) 50 Mathias Dahlgren, Sweden (New Entry) 51 Zuma, China 52 Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, U.K. 53 Spondi, Greece 54 Lâ€™Arpege, France 55 Lâ€™Atelier de Joel Robuchon, China 56 Hibiscus, U.K. 57 Aqua, Germany 58 Le Gavroche, U.K. 59 Chez Panisse, U.S. 60 Les Amis, Singapore 61 El Poblet, Spain 62 Maison Pic, France 63 Cafe Pushkin, Russia 64 Le Meurice, France 65 Bukhara, India 66 Varvari, Russia 67 Schauenstein, Germany 68 RyuGin, Japan 69 La Maison Troisgros, France 70 Wasabi, India 71 The River Cafe, U.K. 72 Enoteca Pinchiorri, Italy 73 Le Cinq, France 74 Allegro, Czech Republic 75 Quintessence, Japan 76 Restaurant Dieter Mueller, Germany 77 Geranium, Denmark 78 Caprice, China 79 Jardines, South Africa 80 Amador, Germany 81 Biko, Mexico 82 Lâ€™Atelier de Joel Robuchon U.S 83 Fasano, Brazil 84 Mozaic, Bali 85 Obauer, Austria 86 Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee, France 87 Lâ€™Ambroisie, France 88 Maison Boulud, China 89 De Librije, Netherlands 90 Babbo, U.S. 91 Maze, U.K. 92 Zuma, U.K. 93 Manresa, U.S. 94 Pier, Australia 95 De Karmeliet, Belgium 96 Aubergine, South Africa 97 Bo Innovation, China 98 Rust en Vrede, South Africa 99 Del Posto U.S. 100 Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire, UAE
Figures in brackets indicate change on last year.
(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Bloomberg News Opinions expressed are his own.)
To contact the writer on the story: Richard Vines in London at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Updated: April 20, 2009 15:00 EDT
For a while now I’ve been listening to my cooking pod casts and reading articles about the following topics:
- With a 4 foot by 8 foot piece of dirt one can grow enough food for a family of four for at least 9 months out of the year.
- The quality of the vegetables we purchase at our local markets are grown on lands that are engineered to yield the most quantity and not quality.
- The vegetables we purchase are lacking of flavor and valuable vitamins. One can grow better quality vegetables at home.
- Chefs are starting to grow their own vegetables to get the best quality into their dishes.
- And the here’s the real kicker the first lady of the United States Michelle Obama broke ground for a White House vegetable garden.
I found all of this to be true and became inspired. I have a space in my backyard and I live in Southern California, which is perfect for growing vegetables throughout most of the year.
So the following are the steps and instructions on how to build your little space of vegetable heaven.
Give yourself some time to get all the items on the list. Don’t expect to get this all done in one day. Call around first so you don’t waste time traveling around to store that may not have the items needed.
Find a place on your property to place the garden. You want an area that will get the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the day. No shady or partially shaded areas. The area should be away from any structure on your property. Think about the possibility of it raining and water from the roof from a structure pouring into your vegetable garden.
The standard area needed is about 5 feet by 10 feet to build a box that is 4 feet by 8 feet. Why this size you may ask? Well when you buy the wood it usually comes in lengths of 8 feet, which makes it cost effective and limits the time needed to cut the wood.
Find and contact a local lumberyard that carries redwood. Why redwood? Well it’s in my opinion the best outdoor wood to use that will not rot as fast as other woods. DO NOT buy any pressure treated wood. You can smell the chemicals used in the pressure treatment a mile away and it should not be used with anything that will be grown and end up on your plate.
1. Call the lumberyard and ask if they carry the following sizes of redwood.
- 2 inches by 8 inches by 8 feet or 2” x 8” x 8’.
- 2 inches by 6 inches by 8 feet or 2” x 6” x 8’.
- 4 inches by 4 inches by 8 feet or 4” x 4” x 8’. These are posts.
Also ask if they will cut the wood for you. Not all of us have saws or electric saws at home so this cuts down on your labor.
2. Go to the lumberyard and buy the following amounts.
- 6 2” x ”8 x 8’
- 2 2” x 6” x 8’
- 2 4” x 4” x 8’
3. While you are there ask them to do the following:
- Cut 2 of the 2” x 2” x 8’ planks in half. So you’ll have four 4-foot planks.
- Cut the 4” x 4” x 8’ into 4 equal pieces so that they are each 2 feet long. So you’ll now have eight 2-foot posts.
4. Go to the Hardware Store/Garden Center and buy the following:
- 52 3-inch Wood screws.
- 16 2-inch wood screws.
- 16 3-inch Corner Braces.
- Weed block. This is black fabric that you will lay at the bottom of the box to prevent any unwanted weeds growing up from the earth below.
- 2 yards of good organic soil. Ask for a little help with this one. Tell them what you are trying to accomplish and ask them for a recommendation.
- Soaker Hose. This will be used to spread across the top of the bed to efficiently keep the soil moist.
Ok now that you have all the needed materials you can now start building your box.
- Take 2 of the 4” x 4” x 2’ posts and spread them apart by 8 feet.
- Place 2 of the 2” x 8” x 8’ planks on top. Make sure all the edges line up as in the picture.
- Screw in 2 of the 3-inch wood screws into each side of the planks so that it firmly attaches to the post. Ok now repeat with the remaining wood for the other 8-foot side.
- Take 2 of the 4”x 4” x 2’ posts and spread them apart by 4 feet.
- Place 2 of the 2”x8”x 4’ planks on top. Make sure all the edges line up as in the picture.
- Screw in 2 of the 3-inch wood screws into each side of the planks so that it firmly attaches to the post. Ok now repeat the remaining wood for the other 4-foot side.
- Now it is time to screw in the braces. Get one of the four-foot pieces. Space out two of the corner braces evenly on each side of the piece. Make sure they are up to the edge of the piece. Use a 3-inch wood screw for the interior screw hole, as it will go through the 2-inch plank and into the post. Use a 2-inch wood screw for the outside hole, as it will only go into the 2-inch plank. Repeat with the remaining braces and with the other 4-foot piece.
- Now it is time to put all the pieces together to make the box. Attach the 4 foot pieces to the 8 foot pieces. Use 3-inch wood screws for the interior screw hole and 2 inch wood screws for the outside screw hole.
- Take a 2” x 6” x 8’ plank and lay on top of the 8 foot side. Make sure all the edges line up like the picture below. Take 2 of the 3-inch wood screws and attach the top plank to the post and plank below. Repeat on the other side. Repeat with the other 8-foot side and with the remaining 4 foot pieces. Take some additional wood screws and secure the middle sections.
- Now that your box is built move it over to its location. Mark the areas you will need to dig for the posts of the box.
- Remove the box and start digging the holes. This will be take some time because each hole will have a different depth as you will want the box to be level on each side.
- Place the posts into the dug holes and place a level on each side of the box. If the box is not level add or remove dirt from the holes until it is level.
- Once it is level step far away from the box and get down on one knee to view the box. You want the box to look visibly pleasing.
- Once this is accomplished fill in the holes with dirt.
- Place the weed block at the bottom of the box and fill with the organic soil.
French Bistros File Record Bankruptcies as Le Big Mac ReignsÂ
By Ladka Bauerova
Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) — It’s lunchtime in Paris and the packed restaurant has neither checkered tablecloths nor carafes of red wine. It’s a McDonald’s and the French are lovin’ it.
While rising prices and record low consumer confidence drive the French to throw their culinary pride to the wind and embrace le Big Mac, traditional bistros are hurting. About 3,000 independent French restaurants filed for bankruptcy in the first half, a record 27 percent higher than the same period a year earlier, according to Paris-based statistics office Insee.
“A hamburger patty and fries in a bistro around the corner from my office costs almost twice as much,” said Alexandre Cavanel, a 27-year-old computer programmer, as he tucked into his 8 euro ($10.70) double cheeseburger menu meal with colleagues at a McDonald’s in Paris’s Opera district.
McDonald’s, accused by Jose Bove — the activist farmer who ran last year for president — of serving “malbouffe,” or junk food, said French revenue will increase 12 percent this year. In contrast, the fate of traditional French restaurants may worsen as a slumping economy drives more people to swap offerings such as duck dish “confit de canard” and “blanquette” of veal for hamburgers and fries, economists said.
France may have slipped into its first recession in more than 15 years in the third quarter, Insee said Oct. 3. Consumer spending will stagnate for the rest of 2008 as employment and the real estate market deteriorate and credit for new investment dries up, the statistics office said.
“Clearly, the current economic environment speaks in favor of cheaper products,” said Dominique Barbet, an economist at BNP Paribas SA in Paris.
Wine for Lunch
That trend is evident also in other industries. Retailers including Carrefour SA and Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA report consumers buying unbranded products and switching from supermarkets to discount chains. Groupe Danone SA, the maker of Activia yogurt, last month introduced cheaper products to offer shoppers alternatives.
Many French restaurateurs and cafe owners are concerned that rising prices and growing unemployment together with the global financial crisis will stop people from dining out.
“Fewer people eat in restaurants now, and when they do come they don’t order like before,” said Clara Vega, a manager of La Cote d’Azur cafe on Rue Quatre Septembre in central Paris. “They used to order an appetizer and a meat dish with a glass of wine for lunch. Now they buy a crocque and wash it down with a carafe of tap water.”
A crocque is a popular French snack similar to a grilled cheese sandwich. A steak with fries costs 13.70 euros while a crocque goes for 5.20 euros in La Cote d’Azur.
Falling consumer spending and a ban on smoking in cafes have eroded business, resulting in more restaurant bankruptcies in the wealthiest Paris neighborhoods as well as in less affluent ones, court records show.
“L’Instant de Plaisir,” in the 12th arrondissement, met with the same fate as “Manhattan” on the Champs Elysees and “Le Consul II” on the opulent Avenue Friedland in the past six months, according to the Tribunal de Commerce.
“We are disturbed by the rise in bankruptcy filings and fear the consequences for our businesses,” Union des Metiers et des Industries de l’Hotelerie, a hotel and restaurant association, said in a Sept. 25 press release. “Restaurants, particularly cafes in rural areas, have seen a brutal decline in their business.”
Meanwhile, France has cemented its position as the biggest earner outside the U.S. for McDonald’s Corp., accounting for about 13 percent of total sales.
“Logically, people are switching from restaurants to fast food,” said BNP’s Barbet.
McDonald’s, which is based in Oak Brook, Illinois, and opened its first French restaurant in Strasbourg in 1979, is doing better than ever. Sales at the company’s 1,115 outlets in France will rise this year to a record 3.35 billion euros, McDonald’s said this month. The company is opening 29 new restaurants in France this year.
“In the short term, we will probably benefit from the current economic crisis,” Jean-Pierre Petit, chief executive officer of McDonald’s France and southern Europe, said in an interview. “Offering food at accessible prices and correcting our negative image helped us win over clients who used to eat only in traditional French restaurants.”
Still, even McDonald’s is wary of the economic morass.
“It’s never good to have an economic crisis because sooner or later it will catch up with you,” Petit said. “That’s why we aren’t just offering cheap meals. We are also offering a wider selection of products.”
Since becoming CEO of McDonald’s France in 2003, Petit has added salads, Danone yogurts and bite-sized snacks to the menu, overhauled interior design and opened about 30 outlets a year. While there are fewer McDonald’s outlets in France than in Germany, they generate more revenue per customer, he said.
At the McDonald’s Opera restaurant, Cavanel’s friend Jerome, also a computer programmer, said he enjoys eating at McDonald’s even though it makes him feel a little guilty.
“I know it’s malbouffe, but malbouffe can be good every now and then,” he said, declining to give his surname. “We eat differently from the Americans. We eat less, and only at meal times. And we can’t afford a proper lunch every day.”
Oyster Virus in France Risks Making Delicacy `Rare as Caviar’
By Gregory Viscusi
Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) — Jean-Pierre Suire reaches into a nylon bag suspended in a tidal pool on the French Atlantic coast and takes out a dozen baby oysters, none larger than his thumbnail. They’re all he has left from 2,000 he bought in May.
A herpes-like virus has killed about 80 percent of France’s annual 130,000-ton oyster harvest this summer, threatening an industry that generates more than 1 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in yearly sales, according to researchers. The virus infected 12- to 18-month-old oysters that would be edible in 2010.
“For Christmas and New Year’s in 2010, oysters risk being as rare as caviar,” said Francois Patsouris, head of the producer’s association for the Atlantic region of Charente, where half of France’s oysters are raised.
Oyster growers are trying to replenish stocks. The French government said Aug. 20 it formed a committee to look into the losses, and will work with local authorities to iron out insurance payments.
Suire, who lost 50,000 euros on baby oysters, is spending the same amount to buy a new batch.
“It’s a disaster,” said Suire, 54. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Bruno Bergeon, 46, a producer who works out of an oyster shack under one of the bridges that cross the tidal estuaries in the Charente region, lost about 700,000 oysters in July, about half his planned output for 2010.
“We are living with the sword of Damocles over our heads,” said Bergeon, whose father and grandfather also were growers.
Oysters are normally eaten in their third year, and those due to be shucked this year and next aren’t affected by the virus, which thrived in the mild winter and wet spring.
Researchers at the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea found that tests in coastal waters this year showed larger than usual quantities of the Ostreid Herpes, or OsHV-1, virus as well as bacteria called Vibrio Splendidus.
The bacteria might have weakened the oysters, making them susceptible to the virus, said Tristan Renault, a researcher at the institute. The 60-member team at the institute, based in the Paris suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux, is continuing to research the causes of the infections.
“The oyster mortality seems to be part of the changing climatic conditions,” said Renault. Winter temperatures in 2007 and 2008 were 2 percent above average.
Oysters, or “huitres” in French, have been a delicacy in France since the 16th century, eaten raw with a squeeze of a lemon or vinegar over a glass of chilled white wine. They are displayed on beds of ice at restaurants in Paris and elsewhere in the country, particularly in autumn and winter.
The first oyster farming parks were created in 1866 in France, the largest producer of the shellfish in Europe and the fourth-largest globally behind China, Korea and Japan.
In Charente, about 4,000 people work directly for oyster producers and another 25,000 jobs are dependent on providing them with boats, equipment and transport, according to the local producers association.
Colorful oyster shacks line the side of Charente’s canals, not far from the flat-bottom boats moored amidst piles of nets and cages. The air is heavy with the smell of burning pines because of a popular local way of cooking mussels.
Oyster farms cover 3,200 hectares (8,000 acres) of Charente’s coastline. Local oysters are born in tidal estuaries and attach themselves to plastic poles placed by oyster farmers.
During their second year they are detached and placed in meter-long nylon bags laid on top of “beds” in shallow tidal water. They stay there for about two years, before being placed for a few weeks in basketball court-sized ponds in tidal marshes.
Almost all of France’s oysters are consumed domestically, with half of the year’s sales crammed into the weeks around Christmas and New Year. In 2006, France imported 3,163 tons of oysters and exported 7,300 tons.
The oyster disease hasn’t spread outside France’s borders, even through producers in southeast England are within 40 kilometers (25 miles). “We are keeping a close eye but, fingers crossed, we haven’t seen anything here,” said David Jarrad, associate director of Britain’s Shellfish Association.
France’s first oyster deaths were reported in late May in Normandy and Brittany, where most oysters are born in nurseries, and ceased in early June. The deaths resumed in late June, and by late July spread down the Atlantic coast to Charente as well as to the much smaller Mediterranean oyster industry.
Meanwhile, Suire and Burgeon are concentrating on saving the new babies they are buying.
“We just hope that the next set of babies don’t suffer the same fate,” said Bergeon. “If there’s another year like this one, there won’t be an oyster industry in France anymore.”
Last Updated: August 26, 2008 18:14 EDT