Casa, Sweet Casa: I love that there's a Carl's Jr. on the ground floor. In honor of the Caesar Hotel, where the Caesar salad was invented, which died today... With its ornate facade (what is this style called?), and a sort of museum to trajes de luces,—which translates "suits of lights," the shimmering, adorned outfits that bullfighters wear—in the lobby, the Hotel Caesars somehow managed to be, to the end, a remnant of Old Tijuana. I remember going there with my dad, who had a restaurant across the street, and who, when he first moved to Tijuana from Acapulco in the 1950s, used to work as a waiter at the Caesar Hotel and toss the salads table side himself. I love that Tijuana. I love that salad. And even when the restaurant renamed itself the Caesar Sports Bar & Grill and hung a row of track lights and televisions, they still turned out one of the best Caesar Salads I have ever eaten. I wish I knew the secret. Is it the fake Parmesan cheese that comes out of a can? Th ...

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Finally, a diet muffin I can get behind. (Bran, too: my favorite!) The muffin on top is the bran muffin sold in the bakery at Suzanne Goin's new Tavern restaruant. The one below is sold at Whole Foods. I think (but this is a guess) it is baked by a company called Il Fornaio. Tavern's weighs in at 3 ounces, the bottom guy weighs exactly twice that. The small one ,which is dense and chewy and tastes of molasses and walnuts, was much, much tastier. And (I'll venture another guess here) half the fat, half the calories, of that other one. ...

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Today's NYTimes story, When Local Makes it Big, is a great story that shows just how removed Americans are from their food. I mean really: if anyone out there truly believes that because Frito-Lay shows them a farmer on television (sadly most people have never seen a farmer!) that Lay's cares about farmers, or about local, or even about potatoes, then they are stupid. Or at the very least, very naive. Lay's cares about sales, and to that end, Lay's cares about buzzwords, and that is what "local," has become. A primer: to the extent that local is important, here are some reasons why: 1) because food that is sold and/or consumed near where it is grown is food that does not have to travel, and according to Michael Pollan's epic Farmer in Chief, our traveling food is the second biggest use of fossil fuel in this country. 2) food grown locally is presumably--unless you live in the Central Valley or Salinas some other agribiz hub--grown on an independent, family-owned farm. And since America ...

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I am on deadline + doing my taxes so no time to go into it right now, but... did Sherry Virbila really describe the shade of an olive as being the color of a felt puppet frog in her review of Pizzeria Ortica in today's L.A. Times? I've long thought she and her old school-style reviews should be put out to pasture—an opinion that was solidified over a year ago when she reviewed Axe, a Venice neighborhood favorite. She gave it a favorable review that sounded like: "Well, I don't get it but I know the young people like it so I will try (or pretend)... But the seats really are too hard!" In case you don't want to read the whole story (the pizzeria does sound appealing, which is good news!), here's the bit from today's L.A. Times: The best place to start is with some antipasti, maybe a beautiful plate of prosciutto di Parma with Kermit-the-Frog-green olives. Or the house-cured blah blah blah... As newspapers struggle to stay afloat, they should think very critically about what they are a ...

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