Touchstones and Keepsakes: Chinatown’s New Orleans in L.A.

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A FEW months back, I’d heard word about a spot opening up in Chinatown that was going to bring a little bit of New Orleans to L.A. It got my hopes up, but I also knew to be sure to be a bit measured with my expectations. We’ve been disappointed before. Frankly New Orleans is difficult to get right — the accent as well as the food.

Slipping into Little Jewel back in August, I saw from the start that this was going to be different. Strikingly so. Since then,
I’ve been following the evolution of this market/deli and rendezvous for the last six months.

For many transplanted New Orleanians it’s already become a freeway-close home away from home.

You can click here to find my piece about Chinatown’s Little Jewel of New Orleans.

Executive Chef Marcus Christiana-Beniger greets customers at The Little Jewel of New Orleans -- photo by Lynell George

Executive Chef Marcus Christiana-Beniger greets customers at The Little Jewel of New Orleans — photo by Lynell George

Lagniappe

SERIOUSLY though … I think I may have found a close-by place to get my proper beans, hot sauce and smoked meats. Also, the promise is that they will be carrying Leidenheimer bread for the po’boys … praise be.

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The Little Jewel of New Orleans — a New Orleans market and deli situated at the edge of L.A.’s Chinatown — had its soft opening last weekend. I picked up quite few staples I’d been running low on — mustard, peppers, seasoning, hot sauce.

The deli portion won’t be open for another couple of weeks but I had a great talk with folks who are heading this project — a chat that was  paired with Community Coffee and some time paging through all manner of cookbooks. All of a sudden my quick “pit stop” had turned into a “pull a chair up” sit-down.

It was so well worth it.

Stay tuned here and I’ll be posting more as they get everything up and running.
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“A Seat at the Table”

THIS IS my old neighborhood. Literally a stone’s throw away our old house and long-ago routines.

It was a deep-dose of nostalgia to sit on a patio beneath a canopy of green to conduct interviews and see the high-rise office building where my mother would take us for our pediatrician appointments. We shopped steps away in the now-vanished Santa Barbara Plaza and the old Crenshaw mall. It’s encouraging to see the shifts and additions as well as the fact that two savvy restauranteurs have decided to set down roots here.

“The space serves as a touchstone for Angelenos who have grown up in one of these contiguous neighborhoods and may want to travel back, not just to a physical place, but to a time. “There’s a reason why this is a neighborhood,” Brad Johnson reflects. “So many did stay rooted here emotionally, even after they moved away.” from my profile on Brad Johnson and Govind Armstrong and their restaurant Post & Beam now up at at KCET DEPARTURES.

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Photo byTeresa A. Mendoza via KCET Departures

More Writing About Music and Food

IMG_3216FINALLY, my piece about Leigh Ann Hahn, the director of programming of downtown L.A.’s outdoor music series, Grand Performances is now on the newsstands (and a free preview is also tucked away here you just sign in).

Leigh Ann was kind enough to clear out a couple of days and let me run around L.A. with her as she carefully assembled the crucial bits and pieces for dinner with some of her closest friends.

She talked more than a little bit about the similarities of programming music and assembling a well-paced dinner party.

These photos below are my snapshots of the day … the real photos of the finished food and the event itself were shot by one of my usual pro accompanists, the photographer Anne Fishbein.

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Knife Skills

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aprons

BY ALL means, this is not turning into a food blog. However I have to thank my friend J.J. for a cooking-class treat on the other side of town.

Communal cooking — knife skills and all — even under the big, hot summer sun was a nice little break from a lot of up-close detail writing work. Thanks to Kyrsten and the Hipcooks crew.

Prep

TODAY WAS prep day for a story I’m beginning work on: tailing around one of L.A.’s premier music curators on the eve of a new season.
She’s dreaming up some menus — one for food and one for music — for tomorrow evening.
Just a few frames from this morning from the Larchmont Farmers Market. Tomorrow more when she gets down to work.

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we’ll see what’s in store…