And as long as we’re on the subject of metaphysics, we will also confess to being a bit judgmental, because judgmental is what we do around here. If we’re suggesting that some things 99 things are on this particular list, we’re also suggesting that others are not. A Tito’s taco: Eat before you die. A Pink’s hot dog? You’re on your own.
See you’ve barely started reading and we’ve already absolved you of the responsibility of standing in line behind Leonardo DiCaprio. You’ve already recouped the entire cost of the issue, and then some.
To eat, perchance to dream, in no particular order.
Eat before you die? If you get it from the wrong guy, blowfish can be what you taste rather immediately before you expire tetrodotoxin, the nerve agent concentrated in the innards, is enough to paralyze a charging bull elephant, and is rumored to be the agent used to turn men into zombies. Usually, we satisfy our fugu cravings at Dae Bok, the Koreatown specialist that cooks the blowfish into a spicy, garlicky stew, but everybody should experience, at least once, the translucent petals of fugu sashimi prepared by Hiro Urasawa in its early spring season. But be warned: If the toxins won't get you, the size of the check just may. Urasawa, 218 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills. (310) 247-8939.
If you've been to a local farmers market midwinter, you've probably seen these things lumpy, glowing, pale-green vegetables, the size of footballs bisected on their horizontal axes, plunked down near the counter at any Weiser Family Farms stand. If you're at the Pasadena farmers market, there may be a Caltech student or two nearby, admiring the peculiar geometry of the vegetable; fractal pyramids flowing in tight logarithmic spirals, cruciferous Fibonacci series, galaxies expressed in the medium of cauliflower. Nudge the postdocs out of the way and take one home. Made into a salad with pureed anchovies, roasted whole with a dribble of olive oil or sliced and sautéed with garlic and capers, the nutty, deep-flavored Romanesco is the queen of winter vegetables. weiserfamilyfarms.com.
There Will Be Belly: The 2nd Annual Gold Standard Food and Wine Event
By Erica Zora Wrightson, Monday, Mar. 1 2010
If you happened to be looking for Octavio Becerra, Ludo Lefebvre, Leo Bulgarini or Susan Feniger yesterday, they were all at the Petersen Automotive Museum, and no, they weren't ogling over the Hot Wheels Hall of Fame. Ludo was busy churning cornichon sorbet out of his Pacojet to adorn cups of cold chorizo velout,, and Feniger posed patiently alongside Jonathan Gold for dozens of snapping digital cameras.
The Second Annual Gold Standard Event at the Petersen was really a microcosm of L.A. pop culture at the moment--word on the street is food on the street and traffic has become an obstacle for mobile restaurants and a goal for food blogs. Angelenos are mad about cooking, tasting, photographing and talking about food, and Jonathan Gold's weekly column has become a culinary barometer for diners from the Eastside to the West.
The event was generously attended, although unfortunately the doors opened 30 minutes late because the county health inspector found that the water temperature on an outside sink that was not used until several hours into the event was not up to temperature. But once the line started moving, it was clear that the space was more user friendly than last year, with plenty of food and drink to go around for the first couple of hours. Dozens of wineries and a handful of breweries helped wash down the dishes of forty restaurants and Bulleit Bourbon poured shots. Behind the museum, a Kogi barbeque truck handed out free tacos for their first annual Free Taco Day. After a week of intermittent rain, Sunday's brilliant blue sky perked appetites and people stood basking in the sun on the roof of the museum, discussing whether tapioca makes uni sing, or if pickle should be eaten with a spoon.
Leo Bulgarini is the wrong guy to mouth off to the day after his beloved AS Roma squad drops a game to Genoa or Inter Milan, and I suspect he cheered the bankruptcy of AIG as cosmic revenge for its sponsorship of the hated Manchester U. His gelati are labeled only in Italian, and he is not above correcting an 8-year-old on her faulty pronunciation of pistacchio or stracciatella. His standards are so famously strict that he's been known to pull his delicious sorbetti from the menus of restaurants and the freezer cases of retailers that in one way or another failed to come up to his standards. A big photograph on the wall of his Altadena shop shows him making an obscene Italian gesture to a giant Sicilian ice cream plant. But it cannot be denied: Bulgarini is an artist, a master of smooth textures, an ace at coaxing the maximum flavor from a rare-breed plum or a ripe peach, an artisanal dark chocolate or an especially fragrant Sicilian pistachio he himself smuggles from Italy. When the evenings are warm, he screens Italian movies on Saturdays on the patio outside his shop. And he probably pulls the best espresso shot in the San Gabriel Valley, when he's in the mood, a thick, syrupy thimbleful made with an antique Italian machine. If you don't believe me, ask him yourself.
Just another perfect day
By JONATHAN GOLD
Wednesday, October 3, 2007 - 12:00 pm
It is still dark when I wake up, and I pad down the stairs to put together one last breakfast of biscuits, eggs and juice before the rest of the family gets out of bed. The biscuits are made with cultured Vermont butter and the soft, fine flour I mail-order from the Weisenberger Mill in Kentucky. I will serve them with the plum jam that my neighbor Kazi sometimes makes when she is not otherwise engaged as the principal violist of the L.A. Opera. The eggs are from the Kendor Farms stand at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market. The juice is from my own grapefruit tree. The music on the radio is the Emerson Quartet playing Haydn. If it were a weekend, I might also throw a center-loin Schreiner’s smoked pork chop or a hot Italian sausage from Alexander’s Prime Meats into a skillet, and maybe brew a plunger-potful of Krakatoa-blend coffee from Monkey and Son, but I’m not eating until later.
The oven beeps. The biscuits are golden and flaky. My wife and daughter slide into their chairs at the dining room table, and my 4-year-old son fetches today’s copy of the L.A. Times from the lawn, where it has miraculously not been soaked with sprinkler runoff. (Are the headlines true? Are the troops really on their way home? Did the Celtics really agree to trade Kevin Garnett straight up for Kwame Brown?) When I walk Leon to his pre-K class a little later, he remembers to hug me goodbye.
From the school, I drive to the gym, where I meet Melody Schoenfeld from Flawless Fitness, who has the unenviable task of directing me through the workout. (Why would I go to the gym on my last day on Earth? You never know when core fitness is going to come in handy on the other side.) I am in luck it’s arms-and-shoulders day, no squats or lunges, and the mook who likes to work out to the Rocky soundtrack is nowhere to be seen. Even better, JACK-FM seems to have been struck by lightning during the night: Everybody’s reps are powered by a podcast of last week’s Chocolate City on KCRW, and the host, Garth Trinidad, has found some late-’70s Meters sides I have never heard before. The iron practically lifts itself.
Posted by Amy Scattergood on 12:04 PM, Aug 8 2007
Gelato and a movie
Driving up the San Gabriel foothills into Altadena for a fix of Bulgarini Gelato has been well worth the trek since the outpost opened in April. And now you can pull up a folding chair and stay awhile: Owners Leo Bulgarini and his wife, Elizabeth, recently instituted movie nights. Every other Friday night, after the sun (and the lines snaking out the door) goes down, at about 9:30, you can watch an Italian movie free of charge in the open courtyard outside their shop.
Eat a bowl of pistachio gelato or spoon up an affogato (a scoop of gelato topped by a shot of espresso) while you wait for the same stars watched by the nearby Mt. Wilson Observatory to come out. Last Friday, the third movie night so far this summer, it was a showing of "Mediterraneo," the Italian flick that won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1992. Come early, save a seat and get dinner too: for $9 you can get a huge plate of homemade lasagne or ravioli and a salad at the table they set up outside. Or get back in line for a second bowl of plum sorbetto or chocolate-orange gelato while you brush up on your Italian. Not that it's required; the films are subtitled, even if the occasional shouts from the back of the house aren't.
Bulgarini Gelato, 749 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena; (626) 441-2319.
-- Amy Scattergood
Photo by Stefano Paltera for The Times
99 Essential Restaurants: The Metropolitan Palate
By JONATHAN GOLD
In search of excellence
Sweet heat relief at Bulgarini gelateria
By Jonathan Gold
|Leo Bulgarini and Elizabeth Foldi with their frosty love child|
Early each morning, Leonidas Bulgarini and Elizabeth Foldi buy fresh fruit at the produce markets in downtown Los Angeles. They bring back cases of seasonal bounty, like blueberries, cantaloupe and white peaches, to their gelato shop in Pasadena.
On a recent weekday, Bulgarini decided to make blueberry sorbetto (mirtillo). He washed the fruit, inspected each berry by hand and threw the rotten ones out. He pulled off the tiny stems, one by one. He blended the berries, then added the puree to a sugarwater solution and froze the mixture in a gelato machine for about 20 minutes. In the last few moments, he added a splash of moscato d'asti, an Italian dessert wine, to add dimension to the flavor.
I scooped up the fat-free delight with a little shovel, and the bright, creamy flavor of blueberries burst in my mouth.
The fruit in my dessert was only four hours old. Handmade Italian ice cream is a rare treat, whether it is gelato (made with milk) or sorbetto (without milk).
Before the couple opened their shop, Bulgarini was a manager and sommelier at Trattoria Tre Venezie, an upscale Italian restaurant in Pasadena. The Italian native grew up in Rome, and wears his hair in a long ponytail. He met Foldi when she walked in for dinner one night. His wife-to-be had worked as lawyer for several years, but was looking toward food as a new career.
While Foldi is Chinese and Hungarian, she is also fluent in Italian.
"I was pumping him for information about Rome, because I wanted to move there," Foldi said. "He said, next time I'll let you know. And I thought, What next time?'
Bulgarini eventually won her over, and the pair traveled to his hometown together and stayed for a year. They wanted to learn how to make authentic gelato the old, artisan way, but couldn't find anyone in the city who knew how.
They finally found an octogenarian in Sicily who was a famed gelato maker. They arranged to meet the gelato master, who passed down his techniques to the couple.
After they came back home, they opened their gelateria in April, just inside the Pacific Asia Museum in Old Pasadena. The pair makes traditional Italian favorites, as well as zen-inspired flavors like chocolate ginger, mandarin orange and lychee strawberry.
Actually, most of the time, Bulgarini makes the gelato; Foldi is the taste tester.
"I love doing it," Bulgarini said. "The one thing about gelato is, when people eat it, it's (like) ice cream, and people are happy."
The basic method of making gelato starts with combining the base ingredients: milk, sugar, nonfat milk powder, and vanilla beans. After heating the mixture through, you add chocolate, espresso, fruit or nut paste. A popular flavor in Italy is zabaglione, which is flavored with marsala wine..
Bulgarini has his own little secrets to making his phenomenal Italian ice cream. He only uses all-natural ingredients and revealed that he lets the gelato mature a little longer in the freezer.
All of the sorbettos are made with fresh seasonal produce. Sometimes Bulgarini will go to San Luis Obispo to find quality produce.
He only uses organic milk in the gelatos, as well as quality ingredients like Madagascar vanilla beans, imported Sicilian pistachios from the volcanic region of Bronte, and hazelnuts from Piedmont.
Making Italian ice cream from scratch is time-consuming, expensive, and takes a certain amount of skill. The fruits, proteins and sugars need to be balanced, Bulgarini said. A lot of things can go wrong, too: The finished product can develop ice crystals, or the flavor can be too rich or not sweet enough.
Most gelato shops in the United States and even Italy have switched to pre-made bases and artificial flavors. People have forgotten traditional methods as they turn to packaged products, and the art of gelato making is dying, Bulgarini said.
"Gelato is not like reinventing the wheel. It's making it from scratch and the artisanal quality of gelato that's being lost," he said. "In mass-produced lemon sorbet, the lemon is so tangy, you feel something artificial. You might taste acid, which is a preservative they put in so it lasts longer. When I'm making gelato, I make it so it doesn't last more than a few days."
Bulgarini is also a sculptor and a welder, and he likes to create beautiful things from raw material. He has the same sentiments about gelato: making it by hand is more difficult, but worth it, he said.
"Young people these days are working in banks, with air conditioning and on their cell phones," Bulgarini said. "They don't know about hard work. And you see these old gelato masters in Italy riding around on their bikes, but they make the most unbelievable gelato you've ever eaten."
In the future, Bulgarini and Foldi want to make chocolate-dipped gelato, as well as sugar-free and lactose-free versions.
"I want to make things other people don't make," Bulgarini said. "I want to do what the old artisanal masters used to do 40 to 50 years ago. Through making gelato, I'm just trying to preserve a little of my heritage."
(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2507
Global Village: Wie zwei Einwanderer Amerika retten wollen
mit Vanille, Pistazie und Sinnlichkeit
Leo nimmt jetzt eine Mango vom Stapel,
er hält sie mit beiden Händen,
wie man ein Baby hält, er beugt sich
vor, versunken, starrt die Frucht an, als
wollte er durch die Schale blicken, dreht
sie, schnuppert, wiegt die Mango in den
Händen, betastet sie, nickt. Atmet hörbar
aus. Legt sie beiseite.
Va bene, ist okay. Leise Stimme.
Leo, langhaarig, lässig, geboren in Rom,
gelernter Schmied, dann Metallbildhauer,
dann Landwirt, großbürgerliche Herkunft,
dann nach Amerika, einfach so, weil es
romantisch war und er sich beweisen wollte,
in Los Angeles Tellerwäscher, Kellner,
Pizzabäcker, Manager, Türsteher, bärig, bedächtig
und ausgestattet mit einer Adriano-
Celentano-Stimme sowie Bizepsen, die
sich, wenn er die schweren Kisten stemmt,
wölben wie Zuckermelonen Leo hat
schon die nächste Mango. Schnuppern,
tasten, starren, und so vergeht
der Vormittag, nach den
Mangos die Erdbeeren, dann die
Pistazien, drei Säckchen, die Eier.
Dann die Haselnüsse. Die Schokolade.
Leo Bulgarini, 37 Jahre alt, seit
16 Jahren in den USA, hat neue
Visitenkarten drucken lassen. Unter
seinen Namen ließ er mit
kecken Schnörkeln setzen: Gelato
Artigianale, was man frei übersetzen
kann mit „Eis-Kunstwerke“.
men beschatteten Innenhof. Ein Espresso
wäre jetzt nicht schlecht. Aber es gibt kein
Café. Dafür eine Küche. Und da fuhrwerkt
Leo. Und winkt einen heran.
Hier ist sein Trainingscamp, sein Labor,
und falls Kunden kommen, sind sie Testpersonen.
Man gibt für drei Portionen eine 20Dollar-
Note hin und bekommt ein unbeträchtliches
Wechselgeld zurück, und während
man noch rechnet und überlegt, ob
man irgendwie meckern sollte, hat man
bereits probiert, und Leo beobachtet aus
Es schmeckt umwerfend.
Erdbeere: fruchtig, aromatisch, wie noch
nie im Leben ein Erdbeereis geschmeckt
hat, Wald und Schatten, Untertöne von
Pflaume, Likör, Birne, Minze; das Pistazieneis:
komplex, nussig, rauchig, pfefferig;
italien, die Schweiz, Sizilien, sie aßen in
Hunderten Eisdielen, interviewten Dutzende
Eismacher, nahmen in Catania
monatelang Unterricht, schrieben Notizbücher
voll, kamen zurück. Nahmen einen
Kredit auf, 50 000 Dollar. Mieteten
sich im Museumshof ein, fanden außerdem
einen Laden an der Lake Avenue,
ihre eigene Eisdiele, die bald eröffnet wird,
„Du kannst dir im Supermarkt“, sagt
Leo, „grauenvolles So-als-ob-Eis kaufen,
für zweieinhalb Dollar das Kilo oder du
legst ein bisschen drauf, leistest dir eine
kleinere Portion und erlebst etwas damit.
Und erinnerst dich, mit Glück, den Rest
deines Lebens an den Geschmack.“
Drei Jahre haben sie ihren Coup vorbereitet.
Ihre Haselnüsse kommen aus dem
Piemont, die Pistazien aus Sizilien, die Vanille
von einem ökologischen Anbau
auf Madagaskar, schwierig
war die Wahl der Schokolade: Sie
experimentierten mit 40 Sorten
und entschieden sich für Valhrona,
mit etwas van Houten. Und
mindestens so wichtig ist das, was
sie nicht benutzen, all das, was auf
Eispackungen normalerweise hintendrauf
steht: Emulgatoren, Stabilisatoren,
stattdessen das beste Obst,
das man in Kalifornien kriegen
kann für die Pfirsiche, Erdbee-
ren, Mangos fährt Leo zu einer
Plantage nördlich von Santa Bar-
Dies ist seine Mission. Denn
Leo will Amerika retten.
Er will Amerika retten, indem
er, gemeinsam mit seiner Frau Lisa, Ehepaar Bulgarini: Geschmack als Statement
das beste Speiseeis des Landes
kreiert; eine Erfolgsgeschichte wollen sie
schreiben, an deren Ende die Amerikaner
etwas unendlich Wichtiges gelernt haben
werden über Geschmack und Sinnlichkeit;
während sie, Leo und Lisa, reich geworden
sind und nach Rom zurückgehen und
abends auf einem Balkon sitzen werden,
auf den Campo de’ Fiori blicken und die
Rotweingläser heben: Auf dich, mio Amore,
und weißt du noch, damals, als alles begann
in jenem kleinen Museum in Pasadena?
Die Erfolgsgeschichte, so sie eine wird,
beginnt hier, eine Autostunde nordöstlich
von Downtown Los Angeles, Kalifornien.
Das Pacific Asia Museum liegt an der
Los Robles Avenue, vier kleine Säle, in die
sich kaum je ein Besucher verirrt, mit steinernen
Buddhas aus Angkor, 11. Jahrhundert,
und japanischen Masken der Edo-
Periode und wenn man das alles gesehen
hat, tritt man in einen von Ginkgo-Bäu
die Schokolade: butterig, prachtvoll, in verblüffender
Meine Güte, Leo, wie kriegen Sie das
Viel Arbeit, sagt er, die besten Zutaten,
und vollkommene Hingabe kann auch
Als Leo und Lisa sich kennenlernten,
vor drei Jahren, beschlossen sie, aus ihrem
Leben etwas Besonderes zu machen. Lisa
ist die Tochter eines ungarischen Revolutionärs,
der nach dem Aufstand 1956 in
die USA emigrierte und neu anfing, und einer
Chinesin. Lisa studierte Musik, Jura,
Biologie und suchte dabei nach dem Mann
ihres Lebens und der besonderen Aufgabe.
Und dann traf sie Leo. Der liebte sie und
erzählte von dieser Gelato-Idee, die er
schon immer hatte.
Sie kratzten ihre Ersparnisse zusammen
und reisten zwei Jahre lang durch Nord
bara, sieben Stunden Freeway,
dreimal die Woche. „Aber du
merkst es“, sagt er.
„Geschmack“, sagt Lisa, „ist ein Statement,
fast eine Revolution, fast schon
„Unsere Einstellung zum Essen spiegelt
alles wider“, sagt Leo, „das Verhältnis zu
Gemeinschaft, Tradition, Natur, zu uns
Ihr Eis wird teuer sein, aber nicht unbezahlbar;
eine Revolution für alle, im Becherchen.
Sie sind optimistisch und übrigens
glauben auch andere an den Erfolg
der zwei Eisheiligen. Leo erzählt von einem
halben Dutzend Franchise-Angeboten.
„Wenn Amerikaner Geld wittern, werden
sie übereifrig“, sagt er. „Ich warte, bis
wir für die Partys der Stars und Milliardäre
die Desserts liefern dann kann ich
mir meine Partner aussuchen. Und wenn
es nicht klappt, haben wir’s zumindest versucht.“
„Noch etwas Pistazie?“ Ralf Hoppe
132 der spiegel 34/2006