a knife and fork revolution: Ghetto Gourmet feeds the ‘hungry’ in Los Angeles

Ghetto Gourmet SignI am an avid reader of blogs— I have to be, as a blogger– but also, it’s my passion to find out what’s going on. It used to be I would read bulletin boards and the local free newspapers around where I lived or was visiting to find out what was happening, but now I can do it in my P.J.s. and I like that.

So, last week, when I got an update from one of the myriad of food blogs in L.A. (I wish I could remember which one) and they were talking about a new concept in dining that is sweeping the country; underground restaurants, I knew I was in!

There’s a lot of snobbery and dissing of these roving eateries in the food review world, but I was curious and wanted to see what it was all about, to judge for myself. So I called my friend Anne Block, who is a fabulous tourguide in L.A. and beyond, and owner of Take My Mother Please* custom tours (and who by the way, will be one of my regular guest bloggers on this site) and said, “let’s go!”. She was in, too. She’s like that.

I didn’t know where to start looking, but as it turns out, The Ghetto Gourmet, normally based out of San Francisco, was holding an event every night this week in Los Angeles. We signed up right away at the reasonable cost of $42.00 and made our battle plan for the evening.

What is an underground restaurant? It’s a roving dining experience where chefs, waiters and entertainers come together in different people’s homes and offer a prix fixe [the fancy way of saying fixed price] dinner to hungry and adventurous guests. Often the menu is posted on the internet or in a confirmation email (if you are lucky enough to be privy to the super-secret lists I keep hearing about). They operate in a quasi-legal atmosphere and have been compared to speakeasys of the Prohibition Era and the early verison of raves.

Here’s what I found when googling around:

Bruce Frieseke, head chef at Manzanita [an underground restaurant in Silicon Valley in California], believes the appeal of underground restaurants comes largely from diners’ shifting attitudes toward the entire restaurant scene. “I think this is part of a trend,” he says, “even in traditional restaurants, to make the dining experience more homey.”

This change toward wanting a dining experience to be more comforting and less highly formalized is a welcome one, according to many restaurateurs. Taking a restaurant out of the traditional context and putting it–quite literally–in a homier setting allows people to relax. Providing this type of low-key atmosphere is much easier when running a restaurant out of a basement or a garage, and these illegal dining spots are rapidly gaining cult status.

So…what was it like, I hear you wondering? It was SO MUCH FUN! Anne and I were among the first to arrive, as we wanted to make sure we got comfortable seats. Jeremy Townsend, the host of GG, was there to warmly greet us and, as we would later discover, to memorize the name and occupation of every single guest. (the night we were there, there were over 30 people). We chose a table in the stylish Silver Lake living room and opened our delicious wine.

GG living room

The food was very good, local Chef Anita Bergman offered up a delicious 4 course meal, well described at our tablemate H.C.’s L.A. food blog here. But to me, the most fun part was the way Jeremy worked the crowd. His warm and engaging energy and personality made the night what it was.

Of course, sitting in a strange house with people you don’t know can be quite awkward, but the way it came down, it was as if we were at a party of good friends and so there was little or no social anxiety. (I am sure the 5 bottles of wine at our table helped!). By the dessert course, we were exchanging email addresses, phone numbers and promising to stay in touch. We all left with a sense that we had participated in something that was out of the ordinary.

The cool thing is, Jeremy not only tracks down local chefs, but also local entertainment wherever he hosts his soirees. The other night, we were regaled with the caffeinated song stylings of Mr. Jose Promis and the quite politically incorrect comedy of Ryan Stout. (I did laugh anyway, I admit). Was he funny? Ummmm, not really, but I am one of those people that figures it’s good to laugh when you can. It feels good.

I like what Jeremy does and I really appreciate where he comes from. He is most excited that he can bring crowds of people together all over the country (and soon the world!) and create a magical evening where everyone is involved and everyone goes home happy. That IS a good mission, Jeremy! Thank you, and I will be back again for sure.

see you on the freeway…

jessica

PS Tonight, Anne has invited me to see a funky slideshow offered up by Charles Phoenix at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. I can’t wait! He is known for his retro-snarky (in a loving way) look at America and Americana in the 50’s and 60’s and I am hoping to scoop and interview for you with him!

Prominent Outsourcing Attorney Joins Gibson Dunn in Los Angeles

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP has announced that Bill Peters has joined the Los Angeles office as a partner. Peters is recognized as one of the top outsourcing lawyers in the country. He was formerly a partner with O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles, where he served as co-chair of that firm’s Transactional Intellectual Property Practice.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher practices in corporate transactions, labor and employment, litigation, public policy Continue reading

Happy New Year and here are some great resources for you!

Hey, gang, I just put my 15 year old on the plane in Burbank this afternoon and *whew!*, life resumes it’s normal pace again and I can (finally) get back to blogging.

Meanwhile, over the last few weeks, I have been busy taking some great cellflix that I will be sharing with you over the next few days.

Right now, though, I want to give you something to Continue reading

Ice Skating in Downtown Los Angeles Until Jan. 21

The 10th installment of the Pershing Square Ice rink continues until Jan. 21. There’s still plenty of time left to skate and enjoy the activities at the L.A. Kings Downtown on Ice rink in Pershing Square. On Wednesday night at 6 p.m there is one final adult hockey clinic. Thursday at noon a Lunchtime concert takes place and a Led Zeppelin cover band performs Friday night. On Saturday starting at Continue reading

$5 to Reserve Greyhound Bus Seat Ticket

You can reserve your Greyhound bus seat for an additional $5 per ticket

Reserved seating is sold one way and in select cities on specific schedules. The reserved seat upgrade must be purchased in person at the departure terminal, even if you bought your ticket online. Priority seating may be reserved from 30 days in advance to 45 minutes prior to departure, but you must be present at the Continue reading

Pink’s Hot Dogs

Not to far from Paramont Studios in Los Angeles is Pink’s Hot Dogs. The distance between Paramont Studios and Pinks is less than a mile. Pink’s Hot Dog Stand has been in the same location since 1939. Pink’s is historical by all means for just not its location to Hollywood Studios but also for its hot dogs.

You may also find these great hot dogs being served Continue reading

Vacation Venice Beach, Los Angeles (California) 90291

Everyone likes fun on the beach and to enjoy a vacation at the seashore. The ocean makes you feel relaxed, rejuvenated and calm. And what better spot can there be to escape than Venice Beach. Venice Beach is located between Santa Monica and Marina del Rey. 2 miles from the Santa Monica Pier, 5 miles from Hollywood, 7 miles from Los Angeles International Airport, 10 miles from Downtown Los Angeles Continue reading

I probably should keep my mouth shut

I have to say that since I moved to the L.A. area in 2000, Burbank Airport, a.k.a. Bob Hope Airport (BUR), has been my hub of choice. I beg friends to choose that as their arrival point and leave from there whenever I can.

My daughter lives with her dad up in the Bay Area and visits me once a month, so I consider myself Continue reading

Eva Mendes Los Angeles Celebrity

Eva Mendes is a popular star that was born in Miami, Florida, but she was raised in Los Angeles with a Cuban-American heritage. During her college days, she started her acting career and study under Coach Ivana Chubbuck. After studying acting, she developed a desire to appear into film in the future. At first Eva was taking smaller roles in films and she was not yet known at the time… Continue reading

Guo Nian – Happy Lunar New Year!! Year of the Rat.

Gong Xi Fa Cai! which means to Celebrate The New Year in Chinese. Chuc Mung Nam Moi! means Happy New Years in Vietnamese

It is 2008 and the year of the rat. And the world is gearing up for this wonderful celebration of life and family. All the way from Los Angeles, to China, Vietnam, Korea, San Fransico. and to New York City.

Lately we have been going to Continue reading