Highlights of The Taste 2019: Sunday

Omega Blue Baja Kanpachi Tacos from Holbox. All Photos by Elise Thompson for The LA Beat.

LA Times’ food event, “The Taste,” was mellower and less crowded on Sunday night. That doesn’t mean the food was anything but spectacular. Two chefs even served three-course meals.

Sometimes the simplest things, expertly made with the best possible ingredients surpass complicated technique. Union’s new Executive chef, Chris Keyser, created the best bite of the night with a house-made Mortadella with peach mostarda on rosemary focaccia. I must confess I went back for seconds.

Osteria Cal Mare from Chefs Adam Sobel and Michael Mina, was frying saffron arancini filled with smoked mozzarella and green marinara. Chef Nancy Silverton of Osteria Mozza turned out lovely wooden boards with bite-sized pieces of Eggplant Parmesan that looked straight out of a fancy food magazine’s dinner party layout.

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Don’t Miss Cafe NELA’s Last Shows!

Come party with us!

Come rock out at Café NELA’s last shows before it’s too late. Thursday, September 9/19/19 Dave Travis will celebrate his 52nd birthday with The Mormons, Turds of Misery, and Sinful Nature.

On September 21, 2019, Cafe NELA will be celebrating their 6th Anniversary by inviting back the same bands that opened the club to play their 1097th show, which is also their second to last. Swords of Fatima, Somos Mysteriosos, Carnage Asada, Atomic Sherpas, and several other bands will be filling out the bill starting at 4:30 PM. The door is only $5, and as always it’s 21 and over. More shows and details at the end of the post.

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Liquid Kitty Punk Rock BBQ Today!

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Movies Till Dawn: The Tough Ones, Part II

The Harder They Come” (1973, Shout! Select) Jimmy Cliff turns outlaw and self-styled folk hero when his dreams of becoming a reggae singer are met with corruption from the Kingston music industry and brutality at the hands of the police. The first feature made in Jamaicans by Jamaican filmmakers (director Perry Henzell), “Harder” had the right mix of authenticity and grit – as well as a stellar soundtrack featuring Cliff on the iconic title track, “Many Rivers to Cross” and “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” as well as Desmond Dekker‘s “007 (Shanty Town)” and the Maytals‘ “Pressure Drop” – to win over Stateside audiences during its extended run as a midnight movie (distributed by Roger Corman) in the 1970s, and eventually help to serve as a beachhead for Jamaican music to enter the global mainstream. Shout! Select’s three-disc Blu-ray set is a stellar showcase, offering multiple interviews with the late Henzell, Cliff, crew and family members, admirers (like Ridley Scott), but the real find is Henzell’s long-lost second film, 1986’s “No Place Like Home,” which documents an American production crew’s deep dive into Jamaican culture while shooting a commercial (starring P.J. Soles!) on the island. It ambles where “Harder” pops and crackles, but looks gorgeous, and deserves wider exposure.

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A Preview of Chef Sammy’s Thursday Night Cookout At Preux and Proper in DTLA

The pork shoulder, pulled right before your eyes. Photo by Billy Bennight.

Downtown’s popular Southern eatery, Preux & Proper, made a big impression on us when they first arrived, and chef Sammy Monsour has been one of our favorite familiar faces to spot at food events around town ever since. They’re now offering a new Thursday Night Cookout menu, which we recently got to take an advance peek at. Somewhat more informal and family-style in service than their usual fine dining experience, Monsour and owner/ operator Joshua Kopel laid out a memorable and funky table.

It’s not a complete left turn from Preux’s normal fare. Fried seafood – we got the rock shrimp – is crisp and delicate. Traditional sides like mac and cheese and collard greens, which are also on the standard menu, are in some ways just like mother used to make, but the best parts – massive amounts of acid and fat competing against each other in a bite of collard greens, the cheesy aftertaste – are just a little more pronounced. There’s a melon and cucumber salad that that I want delivered to my house in buckets on the next 100 degree day in the Valley.

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Highlights of LA Times’ ‘The Taste’: Saturday Night

Mister O’s Curried Corn Bisque with octopus and togarashi at The Taste of LA 2019. All photos by Elise Thompson for The LA Beat.

Saturday night is always a big bash at the LA Times’ Taste. Although it is no longer themed “Cocktail Confidential,” the event is still as much about drinking as eating. It attracted the biggest crowd of the three events—it felt like twice as many people as had attended Friday night. You have to change your expectations from trying all of the food to having a few libations and enjoying the excitement and the crowd.

I still did a pretty good job of getting to most of the booths. It was kind of a surf and turf night. Chef Holly Jivin of Bazaar by Jose Andres always has something interesting happening. She had teensy tiny “ice cream cones” that were actually Smoked Hamachi Cones with yuzu mayo, jicama, and watermelon, topped with swirls of yuzu meringue. And can I just take a moment to applaud Chef Andres, who is once again swooping in to help where governments falter, providing food and water to the Bahamas as he did for Puerto Rico and Haiti and Houston and North Carolina—too many places to name. I hope he does get the Nobel Peace Prize. If you would like to donate to his World Central Kitchen you can do so HERE.

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The Intown Report’s Gig Picks of the Week 9/12/19 – 9/18/19

Joe Baiza of The Mecolodiacs. Photo by Elise Thompson.

Looking for cool live music this week? Here’s some show recommendations:

Thursday 9/12

Cafe Nela – Pedal Strike, Public Nuisance, The Rails + Sun Prairie

Hollywood Forever Cemetery – The Allah-Las + Big Search

Maui Sugar Mill – In Deed, The Armoires, Kairvina + Buffalo Traffic

Friday 9/13

ArcLight Hollywood – Desolation Center with rare performance footage of Sonic Youth, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Swans, Redd Kross, Survival Research Laboratories, Savage Republic, + more, 7pm: Director Stuart Swezey with Suzi Gardner, George Hurley, Don Bolles + moderated by Chris Morris

Cafe Nela – Speedbuggy USA, Dr. Savage & the Shrunken Heads, Mike Livingston + The Reckless

Maui Sugar Mill – Dirty Cakes, Keen, Cuntpunch + Xtine & The Reckless Hearts

Molly Malone’s – Radioactive Chicken Heads + Dr. Madd Vibe & The Missin’ Links

Orpheum Theater – The Squeeze + X

Regent Theater – Test Dept, Severed Head, Pop Will Eat Itself, Paul Barker’s Min-Dub Soundsystem, Kaelan Mikla, Invatlid + DJs Danny Lethal & Matt Pernicano

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Heart and Soul, David Crosby at The Saban Theater

Somewhere in America, David Crosby has something important to say, and you need to hear it. He’s singing his heart out, joking with his audience, and playing as proficiently as ever, time has not caught up to him.  Last night at The Saban Theater, one of Los Angeles’ most intimate venues, David Crosby put on one hell of a show.  With about as much fanfare as someone walking up to a fast food counter, Crosby took to the stage last night, with a simple, “Hi there”.  No pretense, no musical trickery, just that old, familiar area rug that he’s been hauling around with him for years.  I guess it brings a sense of home to him, while he’s on the road. 

If you saw “Remember My Name”, the documentary on Crosby, you know how much he hates being on the road, and does whatever he can to bring a piece of home with him.  Like his embroidered skull-cap that’s become something of a trademark.  “My wife made this for me”, he announced to the audience prior to singing a note, and even with those six words, you could feel the love that he sings of, speaks of, and exudes. Continue reading

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“AGA” Brings The Lonely Tundra To U.S. Theaters

The Bulgarian film “Ága” opens in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Royal on September 27th. A favorite at international festivals, the movie has also been selected as that country’s Oscar submission this year for Best Foreign Language Film. Directed by Milko Lazarov, it’s the quiet tale of an elderly Siberian nomad couple living the traditional life in a yurt on the immense tundra, missing their daughter who left for the city years ago.  Nanook and Sedna, played with subtlety and enigmatic expressions by Mikhail Aprosimov and Feodosia Ivanova, go about their daily tasks, checking traps, repairing the home or dog sled, etc, all the while making the easy conversation of two people who have been together a very long time: “Remember when such & such happened?” “Mm hmm.” They stare up silently at the blinding bright sky when jets fly over, leaving a stream behind—the only sign that the setting is modern day.

Until Chena, a young friend (relative? it’s unclear), comes to visit and we learn that the daughter Ága left after a fight with Nanook, who says nothing whenever his wife mentions her. Chena tells them Ága works in a mine now and after he leaves, Sedna increases her hints that she wants her family all together again—perhaps because she knows that she doesn’t have much time. All the while, Nanook keeps having sightings of a lone reindeer on the horizon, despite the fact that reindeer have become very scarce.

The film is beautiful and the shots are often composed like paintings, even inside the couple’s home. The brilliance of the ice and sky are mesmerizing and the level of detail in the scenes where Nanook works remind me of the many passages about Pa building things in The Little House on The Prairie books. “Ága” delivers when it comes to authentic performances and cinematography, but fair warning: It has glacial pacing and the plot doesn’t really exist until about two-thirds of the way through. I do wish that more was developed at the ending, because we are left hanging after seeing what we already know from the trailer. (And also, what happened to Nanook’s beautiful dog?? It seems like he gets abandoned?) Recommended regardless!

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Showbiz Royalty Lorna Luft and Barry Manilow Sing All the Hits at the Hollywood Bowl September 6 and 7

Barry Manilow. Courtesy of The Hollywood Bowl.

Barry Manilow and Lorna Luft were at the Hollywood Bowl last weekend for two nights only, playing the hits for over two and half hours under the open sky and on the big stage, backed up by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Manilow’s outstanding back-up singers and  band, and a choir adorned in purple gowns, added even more glitter and glitz to the star-studded night. During the National Anthem, I knelt.

Oh the big night sky, the glittering stars, the waxing moon! The movie star columns of light overhead from spotlights at this open-air venue! The show business legends! It was a night to remember.

Lorna Luft wore spangly blue and satin pink, and sang songs her mother, the incomparable Judy Garland, sang. I could hear Garland in Luft’s voice! She gave a charming overview of Garland’s career, which melded with the songs and medley Luft sang, including the powerful “The Man That Got Away.” My tears flowed as Luft exited the stage with hand-blown kisses and a sweep of her skirts, matter of fact glamour in the wave of her arm, efficient generosity, so much like her mother! Life goes too fast, even when it feels slow. When Manilow and Luft hugged, it looked like love.

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