I stuff a few dollar bills into the machine and scroll through the CDs: Banda Machos, Gerardo Ortiz, Juan Gabriel, Julio Iglesias, Enrique Iglesias, Christina Aguilera … and settle on the younger Iglesias, plus The Eagles, The Cars and Eric Clapton. The Eagles’ 1979 hit “I Can’t Tell You Why” begins to play, and everyone in the dining room seems to approve, even the two guys in the corner who are wearing dusty cowboy boots and sharing an ice-filled bucket of beer.
My first strategy at the OC Fair was to follow the smoke. Where there’s smoke, there will also be good food. Or so it usually goes. I spotted the beef tri-tips smoldering on a grill. They looked awesome. They looked like real Santa Maria barbecue. I immediately got in line and ordered the tri-tip sandwich. It was gross…
The Freehand Los Angeles opened last week at the corner of 8th and Olive — across the street from legendary dive bar the Golden Gopher. The 226-room hotel resides in the landmark, 12-story Commercial Exchange building, which has been gutted and completely redesigned with an urban-hipster twist on California Craftsman.
I’m feeling grateful and blessed to receive the Southern California Journalism Award for restaurant criticism at the Los Angeles Press Club’s annual gala. It is particularly gratifying to see this comment from the judges: “The winning critique blends a keen palate with laugh-out-loud humor in this spot-on reminder that a restaurant is much more than the food on the plate.”
The chef reaches over the sushi counter and places a bowl in front of each of us. The bowls are filled with ice, topped with the live shrimp he has just dismantled. The shrimp are huge, like mutants. Their dismembered heads and bodies sit side by side, a couple of inches apart but still very much alive.