Forget those old fashioned star maps. If you want to spot a celebrity in Los Angeles, the best place is usually over a high-end meal and a great cocktail. Here, 10 restaurants for star gazing in Hollywood
The Tower Bar
For a while there, it looked like Jennifer Aniston had made the Tower Bar—the dark-wood-and-brass-rails restaurant at the Sunset Tower Hotel—her personal commissary. Judging by reports in Us Weekly, she was on the premises more often than some of the part-time staff. We can’t really blame her: The maitre d’ at this 1929 landmark, the decorous Dmitri Dmitrov is something of a celebrity in his own right, and the shrimp cocktail ain’t bad either. Other notable sightings: Sacha Baron Cohen, Catherine Deneuve and Dolly Parton, Scarlett Johansson and Arnold Schwarzenegger. 8358 West Sunset Boulevard, 323-654-7100
Wolfgang Puck’s name is synonymous with California cuisine and celebrity rubbernecking. His Beard Award-nominated steakhouse, Cut, at the Regent Beverly Wilshire doesn’t disappoint on either front. The steaks are perfectly marbled, and the brows on the guests—like Cindy Crawford, Mary J. Blige, and Anjelica Huston—are, ahem, smooth as marble. The B-list is welcome too: Heidi and Spencer from The Hills had their rehearsal dinner here. 9500 Wilshire Boulevard, 310-276-8500
(Credit: FilmMagic / Getty Images)
The Bazaar by José Andrés
Spanish master chef José Andrés brings his whimsical tapas (e.g., a foie gras lollipop wrapped in cotton candy) to this Philippe Starck-designed eatery in the SLS Hotel. You might spot Sarah Jessica Parker, Lady Gaga, Aziz Ansari, LeBron James, David Beckham, Adrien Brody, or Eva Longoria dining or just shopping—there’s a pantry full of Spanish artisanal food items and even décor items on sale. 465 South La Cienega Boulevard, 310-246-5555
In April, Gwyneth Paltrow made the gossips cackle by taking a Town Car from the Stella McCartney boutique on Beverly the whole .06 miles to this old-school Italian joint. Maybe she just needed a private moment to unbutton the top button on her pants: The burrata here is so creamy it could have a second career in porn. Elizabeth Banks, David Beckham, Sidney Poitier, Riley Keough, and Avril Lavigne have all indulged recently. 8897 Beverly Boulevard, 310-859-0242
You have to be a member of Soho House—annual fees start at $1,800—to dine at this private bar in West Hollywood, but membership has its privileges—among them a grilled cheese sandwich with braised short rib and 180-degree views from 14 stories up. Interior views have included Reese Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz, and Jodie Foster. 9200 Sunset Boulevard, 310-432-9200
Katsuya (Photograph courtesy Katsuya)
Katsuya by Starck Hollywood
The formerly, famously seedy corner of Hollywood and Vine has undergone quite a transformation in recent years. Among the improvements: Katsuya Hollywood, a Japanese standout known for its crispy rice with spicy tuna, Kobe filet with foie gras and plum soy sauce, and appearances by Halle Berry, Calista Flockhart and Harrison Ford, Twilight’s Kellan Lutz, Jessica Simpson, and Blake Lively. 6300 Hollywood Boulevard, 323-871-8777
The red-sauce Italian is ho-hum. There are almost no windows. The red leather banquettes wouldn’t be out of place at a roadside greasy spoon. And the prices are as artificially inflated as the boobs around here, bah-dum-ta! But since 1964 Dan Tana’s been a favorite of everyone from Karl Malden to Paris Hilton and family to Glenn Frey and Don Henley, who wrote a lot of Eagles lyrics at a booth near the front side of the bar. Other loyal guests: Sumner Redstone, Jon Hamm, Bill Maher, Seth MacFarlane, Channing Tatum, and John Mayer. 9071 Santa Monica Boulevard, 310-275-9444
Joan’s on Third
You might see Amanda Seyfried, Kirsten Dunst, Robert Duvall, or Jake Gyllenhaal waiting in a too-long line to lunch amid the stinky artisanal cheeses and million varieties of fleur de sel sold at this LA gourmet market. Some things are just worth the headache. 8350 West Third Street, 323-655-2285
The Polo Lounge
When LeRoy Neiman immortalized the crowd at the Polo Lounge in his famous mural, the canvas featured Hollywood royalty like Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and Johnny Carson, to name a few. The menu for the in-house restaurant at the Beverly Hills Hotel hasn’t changed much in the years since the Rat Pack got besotted poolside, with predictably classic (or is it classically predictable?) fare like Maine lobster salad and veal Oscar on offer. But thankfully the crowd has been restocked, with the likes of Michael Douglas, Jennifer Aniston, Warren Beatty, Michael Kors, and Jack Black. Might be time for a new mural. 9641 Sunset Boulevard, 310-276-2251
No tablecloths, no bread baskets, no cushions—no comforts, essentially. The food is the focus at Animal, run by the two dudes who starred in the Food Network’s 2 Dudes Catering, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. Serving head cheese, pig’s tail, pork belly, rabbit loin, and other nose-to-tail specialties, they’ve drawn in Mario Batali, Dustin Hoffman, Justin Timberlake and basically everyone else awesome. But if you’re vegetarian, you might want to do your gawking elsewhere. 435 North Fairfax Avenue, 323-782-9225. —Mickey Rapkin
Related: The 10 Best Restaurants for Celebrity Sightings in New York City
Acts of Mild Subversion By NATE SILVER | NYT Magazine
Statistics can be used for benevolent purposes or for evil ones. Once each month, I’ll suggest ways in which you can exploit data to improve your lot in everyday life. I won’t advocate that you do anything illegal or (in my opinion) immoral. But statistical analysis is being used, and not always to your benefit, by everyone from your cable company to your real estate broker. Consider this your chance to fight back.
Let’s start with that confounding multipiece puzzle of modern life: the local salad bar. Odds are that it’s a pretty bad deal. You plop a few items into a plastic box, and next thing you know you’re forking over 13 bucks. There’s got to be a better way.
Of course salad bars provide for a certain measure of convenience, but the ingredients I crosschecked were, on average, 70 percent more expensive at the salad bar than on the shelves. Cucumber, for instance, was just $1.49 per pound in the produce aisle. Other ingredients were more reasonably priced — and a few were actually cheaper at the salad-bar rate than anywhere else in the store, providing for “Moneyball”-like opportunities for arbitrage. So the fight against Big Salad Bar is winnable yet. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:
1. The choice of lettuce is key. Avoid romaine ($3.06 per pound off the shelf) at all costs — and consider baby spinach ($6.67) and mesclun ($7.99) your friends. They’re good for you, too.
2. Too much dressing will weigh down your value proposition. Ranch and Italian ($3.99 each) are to be skipped; blue-cheese dressing ($4.65) — or simple oil ($4.26) and balsamic vinegar ($5.10) — offer a comparatively better deal.
3. Veggies can be a trap, but especially beets ($1.84), carrots ($1.69) and red onion ($1.99). A few white button mushrooms ($3.99) can perhaps be indulged in. The real value, however, is in sun-dried tomatoes — cheaper at the salad bar than on the store shelves ($9.99).
4. Go crazy on toppings. Check out how high the prices for walnuts, almonds, gorgonzola crumbles and croutons are in the graphic above. Much to its credit, Whole Foods doesn’t stock the best salad topping of all — bacon bits, obviously — in its salad bar. Why? Because it costs a whopping $21.28 per pound. With any luck your local salad-bar merchant isn’t quite as savvy.
For the chicken:
- 8 large chicken wings
- 1 to 2 tsp lime zest
- Season each wing evenly with kosher salt, ground black pepper, chili powder, smoked paprika, and a little cayenne pepper (the amount for each is totally up to you)
- 3 scallions (optional)
- For garnish, chopped cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tbsp oil or non-stick cooking spray for the baking sheet
For the glaze:
- 1/4 cup honey (or more)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (or more)
- 1 tsp lime zest
- 1 to 2 tsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 1 teaspoon of adobo sauce
- Season the glaze with cayenne pepper, black pepper, a pinch of salt, smoked paprika, onion powder, granulated garlic, cumin, and chili powder (I literally used 1-3 shakes each)
- Kosher salt to sprinkle on top (optional)
Preheat oven to 450. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray evenly with non-stick cooking spray or brush 1 tablespoon of oil all over the bottom of the foil lined baking sheet.
For the glaze…
Combine all of the ingredients except the lime juice, into a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a soft, controlled simmer and allow to reduce for about 5 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste as you go, adjusting the seasoning as you see fit. Add the lime juice at the very end, and stir. Remove from heat, cover loosely, and set aside to keep warm while the chicken cooks. As the glaze sits, it will thicken and become stickier by the minute — just a heads up.
For the chicken…
Rinse the chicken wings under cold water quickly, then pat each wing completely dry with paper towels. Season each chicken wing all over with kosher salt, black pepper, chili powder, smoked paprika, and a little cayenne pepper. If using the scallions, place them on the bottom of the greased foil-lined baking sheet. Arrange each wing flatter side up (see photo for reference) on top of the scallions, leaving at least 1-inch of space between each wing. If you arrange the wings too closely together, they will steam rather than crisp up. Sprinkle the lime zest over the top of each wing, evenly.
Place the chicken wings on the middle-lower oven rack and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and brush 1 to 2 coats of the glaze glaze over each wing. Place the chicken wings back into the 450 degree oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Keep an eye on these last 10 minutes, because depending on your oven, it can caramelize faster than you’d expect and burn. Allow the wings to rest and cool for 10 minutes, then brush with one more layer of glaze right before serving. Sprinkle just a tiny pinch of kosher salt over each glazed wing to help bring out the flavors.
Serve with lime wedges and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.
If using “party wings” smaller than the regular parts of a whole chicken wing, reduce the cooking time by 5 to 10 minutes.
Where do you even begin when it comes to fancy cheeses? Which are mild, and which are stinky? Which will melt well on my burger and which is better appreciated off a cheeseboard with a smear of good honey?
For each cheese in this list, we’ll talk a bit about the following features:
- Country of Origin: The country where the cheese was first developed. In some cases, the name of the cheese is protected, meaning that unless it is produced via strictly controlled methods in a specific region of the world, it cannot bear the name. Roquefort or Manchego are examples of cheeses like this. Other cheeses originate from a certain area but are now produced around the world. Gouda is an example of such a cheese. In general, the latter type of cheese will vary in quality far more than a protected cheese.
- Type of milk: Cheese always starts with milk, but the animal it comes from can make a profound difference on its final flavor. Cow’s milk is the mildest, with a creamy, sweet flavor that translates into a more subtle base flavor in the cheese, so aging and ripening play a prominent role in the development of flavor in these cheeses. Sheep’s milk has a mild grassy flavor with a tangier backbone and less buttery sweetness than cow’s milk. Goat’s milk is the gamiest of all, with a definite hay/barnyard funk to it.
- Aging: Most cheeses are aged for a period of time in a temperature-controlled environment. During this process, moisture evaporates leading to a denser paste and a more intense flavor. Bacteria get to work inside the cheese slowly digesting proteins and converting the texture of a cheese from grainy and crumbly to smooth and creamy (eventually, as enough moisture leaves, a cheese can become grainy and crumbly again, like in a good parmesan). Bacteria on the exterior also play a role in developing a rind and enhancing flavor.
- Tasting Notes: Here we’ll discuss what to expect when you eat a bit of the cheese and any key characteristics you should be looking out for.
- Best Uses: Is the cheese best on its own? Cooked into a specific dish? Served with a specific drink? We’ll tell you here.
- Monterey Jack
Country of Origin: France
Country of Origin: France
Type of milk: Sheep
Aging: At least five months.
Tasting Notes: The blue pockets of mold that dot a chunk of Roquefort are colonies of the mold Penicillium roquefort, found naturally in the caves of Roquefort, France. It has a moist, crumbly paste, and a sharp, sweet and nutty flavor from the yeast with distinct grassiness from the sheep’s milk. It’s best eaten in the fall, when cheese made from early spring milk is just coming to market.
Best Uses: Eaten as is, or with nuts and honey.
Country of Origin: France (Normandy)
Type of milk: Cow
Aging: At least three weeks
Tasting Notes: The outer rind is a layer of penicillium candidum. Take a look at this fungus under a microscope, and it resembles the tufted head of a dandelion. That’s why you’ll hear it referred to as a “bloomy rind” cheese occasionally. As one of the most widely produced French cheeses, its quality can vary significantly. Some Camemberts are handmade and name-protected (the raw-milk Camembert de Normandie, for example), while others are mass-produced from pasteurized milk (like “Le Châtelain” brand pictured). Because of their short aging period (just over three weeks), you will not find any raw milk Camembert in the U.S. Rich, buttery, and spreadable, Camembert has a mild, mushroomy aroma.
Best Uses: Eaten as is, on sandwiches, baked in a crust, breaded and deep-fried (giddy-up!)
Country of Origin:Mexico
Type of milk: Cow
Aging: At least 3 months.
Tasting Notes: Younger cheeeses are mild and salty, somewhat like a young feta. As the cheese ages, it acquires nuttier, tangier flavors and a drier, coarser texture.
Best Uses: On tacos, salads, in soups, over rice, on casseroles, over beans, in guacamole, etc.
Country of Origin: France
Type of milk: Goat
Tasting Notes: The French word chèvre literally translate to “goat,” and is used to refer to any cheese made from goat’s milk. Colloquially in America, however, chèvre refers exclusively to fresh goat’s milk cheese, it is unaged and eaten almost immediately after it is made. Fresh chèvre tends to be moist, bright and acidic, with a lemony flavor and slightly chalky finish in the mouth. You’ll find it sold in vacuum sealed logs, sometimes flavored with herbs, spices, or garlic.
Best Uses: Crumbled in salads, breaded and fried, in sandwiches, in macaroni and cheese.
Country of Origin: Greece
Type of milk: Sheep and goat
Aging: About 3 months
Tasting Notes: Feta is one of the many cheese worldwide to be a protected designation of origin product, meaning that a cheese may only bear the label “feta” in the E.U. if it comes from either mainland Greece or Lesbos, and is made with at least 70% sheep’s milk (the remainder must be goat’s milk). A brined cheese, it is made by soaking freshly pressed curds in salt water. Tangy and moist, feta can range from completely crumbly to moderately creamy and pairs well with fresh summer fruit.
Best Uses: Broiled with olive oil. Crumbled in salads. Sandwiches. Use in place of Cotija in tacos and other Mexican dishes.
Country of Origin: Italy (Campania)
Type of milk: Cow or Water Buffalo
Tasting Notes: Mozzarella is a fresh, pulled-curd cheese made from the milk of water buffalo (for mozzarella di bufala) or cows (for mozzarella fior di latte). The curds are heated in warm water and stretched by hand before being rolled into moist balls. The balls of cheese can then either be sold fresh, or packed in a salty brine to add flavor. Fresh and dairy rich, mozzarella is prized for its texture and mild creamy flavor.
Best Uses: Fresh with a drizzle of olive oil, coarse salt and pepper. With tomatoes in a sandwich. Pizza!
Country of Origin: Switzerland
Type of milk: Cow
Aging: at least 4 months
Tasting Notes: Emmental is what many people think of when they hear “Swiss cheese” (yes, holes and all). It’s is considered an “Alpine-Style” or “Mountain” cheese, meaning it originated from the milk of cows that are led up the Alps to graze over multiple seasons, and its curds are cooked and pressed together firmly. The holes you find are bubbles of carbon dioxide gas created as the bacterium Propionibacterium freudenreichii consumes lactic acid. This cheese has a certain sweetness with a piquancy that hits the back of the tongue on the finish. What is more, like all Alpine cheeses, it is a great melter.
Best Uses: Fondue, grilled cheese, casseroles.
Country of Origin: England
Type of milk: Cow
Aging: No minimum, but good ones are generally aged at least one year
Tasting Notes: Cheddar is a cow’s milk cheese that originated in Somerset, England. Cheddar is not only a noun, but it’s also a verb; “to cheddar” refers to a cheesemaking process whereby the curds of the cow’s milk are cooked and then milled into rice-size pieces. The pieces are then pressed into large blocks, and the blocks are stacked one on top of another to press out any remaining moisture. Cheddar cheese made in this traditional fashion are dry and crumbly in texture, with a deep, tangy, nutty flavor. A far cry from the smooth mild American-style cheddars you might find on top of a burger. Cheddar-style cheeses vary dramatically in quality, so it’s a good idea to talk to your cheesemonger about them. The color ranges from ivory to straw to deep yellow in color, depending on the season and the feed of the cattle.
Best Uses: As is, in sandwiches, grilled cheese, casseroles.
Country of Origin: Netherlands
Type of milk: Cow
Aging: At least 4 weeks, but better ones are aged at least a year
Tasting Notes: Gouda is a semi-hard to hard cow’s milk cheese from Holland. Like Cheddar, its quality and flavor can vary wildly from the mild, creamy wax-coated lunchbox versions of our youth to those specimens that are hard, crumbly, and deeply flavorful. Long-aged goudas will have a crunchy texture due to crystals of concentrated calcium lactate or and the amino acid tyrosine that form as the cheese loses moisture, just like a good parmesan.
Best Uses: Young they can be melted. Aged cheeses are best as-is or grated into salads or over casseroles.
Country of Origin: Italy (Lombardy)
Type of milk: Cow
Aging: Six to ten weeks
Tasting Notes: At over a thousand years old, Taleggio is one of the world’s oldest soft cheeses. The washed rind cheese is in a family of cheeses created by monks who made cheese from the milk of their grazing cows in order to eliminate waste. The story is that the monks repeatedly washed the wheels clean of any mold that began to grow on their surfaces. Little did they know, they were actually fostering the growth of a slew of new bacteria on the inside and outside of the cheeses, contributing to pungent flavors and even more pungent surface smells. Taleggio smells sort of like… feet. Rich, buttery, meaty, feet. Its soft rind is edible, though it acquires a grainy texture from its repeated wash with salty brine.
Best Uses: As is.
Country of Origin: Italy
Type of milk: Cow
Aging: At least 12 months
Tasting Notes: There are a number of hard cheeses on the market that are sold under the name “parmesan.” These are not to be confused with true Parmigiano-Reggiano, a protected cheese that can only be produced in Emilia-Romagna and Lombardia in Italy. Aged for a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 36, it’s a hard, dry, crumbly cheese that has great crunch and deep caramel-y, nutty flavors.
Best Uses: Grated on salads and pastas. The harder, saltier rinds are perfect for adding flavor to many Italian soups.
Country of Origin: Spain
Type of milk: Sheep
Aging: 60 days to 2 years
Tasting Notes: Made from the milk of Manchega sheep, it’s a firm, compact cheese that ranges in color from ivory to straw yellow. Younger manchegos have a buttery, rich texture that borders on creamy, while the aged version develops a deeply salty flavor and crunchy tyrosine crystals as it dehydrates.
Best Uses: As is. Spanish membrillo (quince paste) is the ideal accompaniment for it.
Country of Origin: United States of America (California)
Type of milk: Cow
Aging: About one month
Tasting Notes: Very mild and buttery in flavor with a bit of tang, Monterey Jack is one of the few all-American cheeses. Because of its young age and relatively high butterfat content, it’s a great melter. It often comes mixed with hot pickled peppers to make Pepper Jack cheese.
Best Uses: Melted in casseroles, grilled cheese, over chili, cheese dip, any time you want a good melting cheese.
“Sticks” of vegetables around 12mm/½ -inch thick and up to 7.5cm/3-inches long. Usually cut before cooking.
A very fine dice up to 2mm/¹/12th inch square. Usually cut before cooking. Often used as a garnish.
Chips and Fries are”sticks” of vegetables between 5cm/2-inches and 10cm/4-inches long and up to 2.5cm/1-inch thick. Crisps are very thin slices no thicker than 6mm/¼-inch. Both are cut before cooking and are usually deep fried until crispy.
A piece of cut vegetable larger than 3.75cm/1¾-inches. Usually cut before cooking.
Pieces of vegetables from 12mm/½ -inch to 36mm/1½-inches square. Can be cut before or after cooking.
Pieces of vegetables between 6mm/¼-inch and 12mm/½ -inch square. Can be cut before or after cooking.
Thin pieces of vegetables created using a grater. They can be any length depending on the vegetable used but are always wafer thin.
Strips of vegetables usually 3mm/ ⅛- inch square up to 5cm/ 2 inches long standard. Often a mandoline is used for accuracy. Often used as a garnish.
Vegetables which have already been cooked until soft then further broken down with a fork or masher.
Matchsticks Thin “sticks” of vegetables no thicker than 6mm/¼-inch square and 5cm/2-inches long.
Paysanne Very thin slices of vegetables no larger than 6mm/¼-inch square. Most often used as a garnish.
Vegetables which have usually already been cooked until soft then mashed, then made smooth by rigorous beating or passing through a sieve. With some vegetables a food processor can be used.
Vegetables cut into thin strips generally no wider than 6mm/¼-inch. Usually done before cooking.
Vegetables cut into similar size flat pieces. Can be lengthways or widthways, from 6mm/¼-inch to 2.5cm/1-inch thick.
Sulfrino vegetable ballsaremade with a very small melon scoop, sometimes called a Parisienne scoop, up to 12mm/½-inch in diameter. Most usually used for garnishes.