Please Enjoy Michael Bolton Singing Coffee Orders (Video)

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By Cooking Panda

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, singer/songwriter Michael Bolton decided to come out to an Alfred coffee shop and sing orders to unsuspecting customers. What a great surprise!

Customers of this Los Angeles coffee shop appeared to be shocked and thrilled to find Michael Bolton singing their coffee orders to them. According to Laughing Squid, Vanity Fair asked the singer to go undercover to try this little stunt, and I don’t think anyone was disappointed.

When you check out the video below (because, of course you’ll want to) you’ll hear Bolton say at the very beginning that he’d never do such a thing. I almost believed him at first, except that there were four more minutes of video left, so I knew he must have given in.

At first, customers appeared uncertain of what was happening. I can’t say I blame them, anyone would be second-guessing their eyes and ears at that moment. The first customer laughs and sings “thank you” back to Bolton. The next drink is a $10 latte, which is clearly astonishing on its own, even without the singing.

While customers are called to get their drinks one by one, and catching on to what’s happening, you start to see everyone videotaping with their phones in amazement. One fan was so excited he was shaking. He claims he can never go to Starbucks now, because what if Michael Bolton comes back here? One customer even got a special “Happy Birthday” song line.

The singing gets better and better as Bolton warms up and the video goes on for a full four minutes, but you’ll swear it happened in the blink of an eye. Michael Bolton has such a soothing voice, you could just doze off listening to it! At the end of his shift, I think every customer was pleasantly satisfied, and I feel sorry for anyone who was just arriving and missed the whole thing! I can say one thing though, I bet those baristas got some pretty great tips that day.

Check out the video to hear the singing for yourself.

Sources: Laughing Squid, Vanity Fair / Photo Credit: Alfred/Instagram

Tags: Alfred Coffee Shop, coffee, los angeles, Michael Bolton
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Ice Cream In December? Yes, Here’s Why (Video)

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By Cooking Panda

Ice cream in the wintertime? Yes, ice cream always. Though we’d gladly eat the cool dessert at any given moment, we believe that there is a special art to concocting ice cream that is tempting even in the coldest of winters.

Popular Portland-based ice cream joint Salt & Straw has done just that, swirling the very essence of the holiday season into several rich, complex ice cream flavors that we’d choose over a cup of hot cocoa any day (video below).

We were able to get behind the counter with Kara Jones, the manager of a Los Angeles location, and sample their wintry December menu. Each bite took us back to cozier times.

First, we really did trade in our cup of hot cocoa — for a cone of cold peppermint cocoa ice cream, that is. The mint and cocoa base, flavored with peppermint oil, is flecked with slabs of homemade peppermint patties that taste just like a chilly night by the fire. The aromatic peppermint flavor and rich chocolate woke us up and made us feel cozy all at same time.

Next on the tasting menu was apple brandy & pecan pie, which has the same flavor sensation as if you cut a thick slice of Grandma’s warm pecan pie and topped it with a scoop of melting apple brandy ice cream. Each spoonful of the brandy base has bites of dense pecan pie, and it was so warming that we forgot we were eating something cold.

After that, Jones insisted we try her favorite: gingerbread cookie dough. With its smooth almond base and molasses-heavy mix-ins, this flavor impresses with varied texture.

“This one has an almond liqueur and almond spice ice cream base, and then there’s swirls of gingerbread cookie dough and actual gingerbread cookie pieces,” Jones said. “This is my favorite thing ever; it’s like eating a cookie wrapped in cookie dough.”

Though Salt & Straw’s December menu features many familiar holiday flavors, a few unique ingredients stand out. Among them is fennel, which the shop combines with eggnog for an earthier, nutmeg-rich ice cream. The pudding-like eggnog base is made with egg yolks and lots of nutmeg, and a blend of cinnamon, fennel, star anise, black pepper and cloves gives it an addictive spiced taste.

“That’s kind of what you would put in a stew: fennel and nutmeg and pepper,” Jones said. “A lot of people who don’t like eggnog like this, so I think people are pleasantly surprised.”

Last on the list was another surprising flavor: honeyed butter tarts. Before we sampled, we had to learn just what a honeyed butter tart is, and the answer did not disappoint. It’s a buttery pie with a hearty crust, its smooth filling tasting faintly of spices and blissfully interrupted by dried currants. Jones described it as a spiced fruit cake within a pie crust. Generous pieces of the tart are folded into Salt & Straw’s deliciously simple vanilla bean ice cream.

We tried about eight other year-round flavors, but in honor of the holidays, we ended the afternoon with a cone of fennel five-spiced eggnog and honeyed butter tarts.

Jones said Salt & Straw’s ice cream is more than just a cool treat on a hot day; it’s a guaranteed delicious way to try something new.

“It’s ice cream, so it’s going to satisfy your sweet tooth, be a comfort food and make you happy, but it’s still pushing you to try something different,” she said.

That’ll teach us never to doubt the power that ice cream has to take us back to snuggly times with the family — even in the dead of winter.

Check out a video of our tasting journey below.

Photo Credit: Cooking Panda

Tags: december, dessert, holiday, ice cream, los angeles, salt & straw, salt and straw
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There’s A ‘Bob’s Burgers’ Pop-Up Restaurant Coming!

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By Cooking Panda

Do you have a thing for clever burger puns and the misadventures of a certain quirky, off-kilter animated family? Head on over to Los Angeles’ Chinatown on Dec. 1, where you’ll find a Bob’s Burgers art show and burger collaboration.

Bob, Tina and the rest of the Belchers are coming to the City of Angels, where they’ll stay until Dec. 10, reports Eater Los Angeles. We hear that the actual Bob’s Burgers artists will be showing off their art in Chef Alvin Cailan’s restaurant and “concept shop” Unit 120’s dining room space, while you’ll have the option to pick up one-off burgers from a daily guest chef. While the artwork is going to be the event’s focus, and you won’t have the full-on restaurant experience, we can’t imagine anyone not getting excited to try out some creatively named, punny creations that use a few odd ingredients here and there. And we’re pretty sure that Unit 120 is going to have some delectable culinary treats in store for us, considering Cailan’s excellent history of supplying us with top-notch burgers, just like he did with restaurateur Jeremy Fall, who started Easy’s at Unit 120, which became so popular that he’s now preparing to set it up in a proper brick and mortar establishment.

If you can’t make it out to Los Angeles but want to eat some of Bob’s uniquely titled creations, stock up at the grocery store and check out the Bob’s Burger Experiment blog, where Honda engineer Cole Bowden has done the dirty work for you and turned all the best burger puns into actual recipes and given them a taste so you don’t have to go through the whole process of making shrimp gumbo, only to find out that it’s actually disgusting stuffed into a hamburger.

If you’re not sure where to start, why not try the Bruschetta-bout-it Burger, which is an angus beef patty topped with bruschetta, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and mozzarella cheese on toasted French bread? It’s Bowden’s favorite.

“I remember biting into it and being like, ‘Yes, I can make burgers,’ ” he told NPR.

Sources: Eater, The Bob's Burger Experiment, NPR / Photo Credit: Bob's Burgers (Restaurant)/Facebook

Tags: Bob's burgers, food event, food exhibition, Food News, los angeles, pop up
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We Ate An Entirely In-Season Meal By The Water (Photos)

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By Cooking Panda

Smoked plum and Alaskan halibut are just a couple of foods you might try during an early fall dinner at Marina Del Rey Hotel restaurant SALT in Los Angeles. Come again in late winter or mid-spring, and the menu will have changed.

That’s because chef Mark Gold keeps the menu in season, changing dishes according to inspiration he finds at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. He likes to let the food shine.

“I’ve always been inspired by Japanese cuisine, just based on the fact that it’s sourced in the season,” he said. “And so that’s what we try to do — just source things that are in the season and prepare with simplicity.”

So as not to neglect the many fresh offerings on SALT’s menu, we tried several dishes. First was our favorite: Japanese hamachi (yellowtail) with plum, buckwheat, avocado and a citrusy yuzu sauce. The buckwheat was roasted until crispy, and in between pieces of fish, it served as a crunchy contrast to the soft and bright sashimi. 

Next came a plate of charred octopus. Each suction cup on the tentacles was perfectly blackened, but the standout of the dish were the delicately crispy roasted fingerling potatoes and Spanish chorizo underneath. The salsa verde tied each element together for flavorful finish.

Because we never forget to eat our greens, we ordered a salad of assorted lettuces, plum, marcona almond and aged provolone, dressed with vinegar. The sharp cheese and roasted nuts gave each bite of salad an earthy punch.

Our appetites sufficiently stimulated, we opted for a line-caught swordfish entree. The fish was flanked by deliciously sweet figs and grilled artichokes, and everything sat on top of velvety potatoes that were so smooth they felt more like a buttery cream sauce. We made sure every bite got a bit of the apple mustard and pine nut gremolata (a textured accompaniment of pine nuts, parsley and garlic) artfully presented on the plate. 

Since there is always room for dessert, we ordered two: brown butter cake with fresh berries and vanilla bean ice cream, plus a chocolate pot au creme, served with a caramelized banana and whipped cream. The miniature cakes, each bite moist with butter, were easy to share, and the caramelized coating on the banana was a welcome complement to the rich chocolate custard.

Attire is casual, but going to a place where the plating — and waterfront scenery — is prettier than your face, you feel like dressing up a bit. That should become especially true as the restaurant continues to grow in popularity and draw a more food-loving crowd, as opposed to solely hotel guests.

“We’ve made a mark in Marina in the sense that people know us for being consistent and the quality,” Gold said. “This is really a freestanding restaurant inside the Marina del Rey Hotel. It’s become a destination, which is awesome, so we’ve been able to evolve with the menu.”

SALT is open for brunch, lunch, happy hour and dinner. With seating right on the marina, it’s not a bad place to watch the sunset with friends, wine or craft cocktails and eats like fried chicken thighs and avocado hummus. You can also make champagne toasts over lobster rolls and oatmeal “brule” for brunch or wow guests with a steak dinner. 

Gold said he’s had the freedom to take the restaurant to a new level since he started there two years ago. The dinner menu used to feature fish tacos and cobb salad, and now it boasts Maine lobster pasta and prime filet of beef. He said the future of SALT holds an even more in-season focus, tasting menus and an emphasis on consistency.

“For me now, I think it’s really developing the team to take it to the next level,” he said. “I want every item on the menu to be pristine.”

Tags: dinner, farm to table, farmers market, los angeles
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Everything You Need To Know About The First Whole Foods 365 Store

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By Cooking Panda

If you’ve been holding your breath, wondering what to expect from Whole Foods’ much-hyped 365 chain, you can finally exhale. The first 365 store, which is branded as a hipper, cheaper version of Whole Foods, will open May 25 in Los Angeles, and details about the location are already surfacing.

While there have been numerous reports about what the new 365 stores will include, from tattoo parlors to record shops, the reality appears to be much simpler. Jeff Turnas, president of 365, summed up the concept in just a few words, stating, “At Whole Foods, we love big, round apples. At 365, we love apples too, and get them from the same suppliers, but they may be smaller, less beautiful.”

In order to keep prices low, the new stores will also forgo on-site butchers, bakeries, and elaborate displays. All meat will come pre-packaged, baked goods will be sourced from local bakeries, and fruit will be sold out of the crates in which it arrives. Finally, 365 stores will stock a smaller selection of products than their parent stores, focusing on a carefully curated selection of Whole Foods brand products.

Whole Foods’ 365 stores will do more than lower prices, however. The New York Times reports that locations of the new chain will also include exciting, tech-friendly elements and enticing affiliated eateries. The Los Angeles location of 365 will include a robot that serves tea, a sommelier app to help customers select wines, and the first West Coast location of cult-favorite vegan restaurant By Chloe.

It remains to be seen whether the new 365 stores will help Whole Foods recoup its image among younger clientele, but there is no question that the brand is doing everything it can to cater to the tastes of millennials. From vegan cupcakes to ugly apples, only time will tell if the retailer can lure a broader range of customers to its stores. 

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Source: Grub Street / Photo credit: Whole Foods via nymag.com

Tags: 365, By Chloe, los angeles, whole foods
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An Affordable Whole Foods Is Finally On Its Way!

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By Cooking Panda

Whole Foods markets are certainly well known for their high quality products, but also they’re just as known for their high prices.

Finally, Whole Foods fans can rejoice in the news that the first ever affordable location is set to open in Los Angeles!

The store, called 365 by Whole Foods, will include a grocery section as well as a craft brew bar that includes coffee, beer and food. 365 will also include a vegan restaurant, a self-serve tea station and a delivery service through Instacart.

Delish reported that the grocery section of the store will feature value products and a selection of local and national brands.

The brand is planning two more locations — Bellevue, Washington, and Portland, Oregon — in 2016, and another 10 will open nationwide in 2017.

Source: Delish / Photo credit: Delish

Tags: affordable, grocery, los angeles, news, whole foods
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