Los Angeles Times Food Bowl Celebrates Anthony Bourdain – and Roti!

Wanderlust. Photo by Elise Thompson.

Food events are making a comeback after more than a year of struggling with Zoom panels and delivery. Saturday night, the LA Times Food Bowl’s Night Market Cinema welcomed us to a screening of “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain.” The expansive lawn in front of the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park was scattered with blankets and lawn chairs, laid out in front of a theater-sized screen. They handed out popcorn and blankets at the entrance, which was a really nice touch.

The thing that I was the most excited about was the food! There were booths representing several international cuisines, with a meal and a drink included with your ticket. Jon & Vinny’s offered their “White Lightning” pizza with pickled jalapenos. A’s BBQ brought Brisket, Link Slices, Cochinita, a side of Mac and Rajas from Chef Alan Cruz, a young Chicano schooled in central Texas traditions. You can try his grub here. Tacos 1986 brought their Tijuana-style tacos de adobada, pollo asada, carne asada and hongos with homemade tortillas. They all sounded amazing, but I was just thrilled that Bridgetown’s rotis would be there!

Photo by Elise Thompson

I have enjoyed West Indian rotis in Toronto, but I have never seen it in the United States. Roti is seen occasionally on a few Asian restaurant menus, particularly Malaysian, but it is always just the pancake, folded into fourths, and served alongside a curry dip. Rotis, as I know them, are thin pancakes stuffed with exciting Caribbean and East Indian flavors, much like a burrito or a wrap.

According to the Bridgetown website, “After slavery was abolished throughout the Caribbean in the late 19th century, Southern Indians were work sent to island plantations where they introduced Paratha rotis to the region.”

We tried both styles. Mom’s Curry Chicken Roti was filled with Curry Chicken Thighs, Crispy Weiser Potatoes, Turmeric Spiced Cabbage, Cilantro, and Scallions. The Channa & Sweet Potato Roti was vegan, nut and dairy free, but they did not skimp on the flavor. It was just as good, if not better than the chicken roti, filled with Coconut Chickpea Curry, Fried Cauliflower, Spiced Turmeric Slaw, Cilantro, and Scallions. Both choices were accompanied by a slightly smashed Jerk Cucumber Salad, plantains, and the most awesome crab cake. The little ball had the consistency of bacalo, and was intense with fresh crab. When you bit into it, it exploded with fat, but the good kind of fat. So good.

I am so excited that Chef Rashida of Bridgetown has finally brought one of my favorite dishes to Los Angeles! She is also known for her patties, and I can’t wait to try them! One of the reasons I had not found Bridgetown before, in spite of them being around for a year, is that it’s a pop-up. You can find them at Smorgasburg every Sunday, and sign up on their website for their schedule.

You could also purchase cocktails and dessert. We did not hesitate when we saw Wanderlust, even though we had not eaten dinner yet. Live a little! Have dessert first! We ordered the usual Ube, plus Sticky Rice and Mango, and a brand new flavor – Kaya Toast! It did taste like the delicious coconut butter that is spread on the toast. They hesitated at making a triple cone for fear it would fall over. Only when we promised they could set the ice cream in bowls after the picture did they relent. Thematically,
Wanderlust was a perfect match for the event, as they are inspired by travel to create global flavors.

The Food Bowl also picked an excellent DJ. Alison Mosshart of The Kills, who was a friend of the late Anthony Bourdain, played an awesome tribute set, with a lot of Ramones, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, naturally. But she also spun a few less obvious choices, like Roxy Music, the Bush Tetras, and Plastic Bertrand. We were touched by “Strange Religion” by Mark Lanegan, which had closed out the Seattle episode of “Parts Unknown.” It was a beautiful moment, relaxing on the grass listening to this song, bellies full of spices and cool breezes in our hair, as the day turned to night. Check out our review of “Roadrunner.”


Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
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