A major obsession, a minor sensation

In Reseda, amazing fresh tofu, seasoned with lemon grass or whipped into a custard.
By Linda Burum, Special to the Los Angeles Times.

In a  dining area barely bigger than a lunch truck, Kevin Tran presides over the counter and dining room of Vinh Loi Tofu, a Vietnamese vegetarian cafe and tofu factory in Reseda. He banters on a first-name basis with regulars who trickle in all day: mothers with children picking up takeout, a burly guy whose black T-shirt sports the moniker “Harley House Calls,” a woman wearing a hijab who takes a few bottles of the factory’s freshly made soymilk from the large refrigerator case by the doorway.

If your timing is right, you might hear the low whir of a soybean-grinding machine emanating from the kitchen, which is also a compact atelier where Tran makes fresh tofu, soymilk and creamy tofu custard daily.
[[

MARKETS : It’s Polska Time

By Linda Burum, Special to the Los Angeles Times.

On a Westside street lined with office buildings, banks and voguish-looking stores, you wouldn’t expect to find a couple of old-country Polish butchers tending a brick smoker.Certainly J & T European Gourmet is no funky neighborhood butcher shop–it’s a high-style mirrored store that fits right into this Santa Monica neighborhood– but it does have that smoker, and John Pikula and Ted Maslo have been turning out Southern California’s best Polish-style cured and smoked meats here for almost a decade. [[ read more ]]

Greek Specialty Cheeses At Athens West

By Linda Burum, Special to the Los Angeles Times.

“Greeks love to talk about food,” says Peter Georgatsos from behind the deli case at his market Athens West. “Food importing is our family’s business, so when my Greek band played weddings and festivals, I’d always take notice when the conversation turned to food shopping.” Georgatsos’ eavesdropping has recently come in handy. [[ read more ]]


By Linda Burum,  Los Angeles Magazine

Even before you taste Christine Moore’s caramels, their irregular shapes and opaque waxed paper wrappers can leave you feeling sentimental. The simplicity of the dainty, hand-formed candies conjures images of soda fountains and old Mickey Rooney films. But it’s more than mere nostalgia that has people making ritual Sunday visits to Moore’s Little Flower Candy Company stand at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. For anyone who’s tasted her mahogany-colored butter-and-cream mini logs, there’s no substitute. [[ read more ]]

Heavenly gelati, homemade and close to home

In a small cafe, Massimo’s  Delectibles sells original flavors so good it’s hard to believe you’re not in the other Venice
By Linda Burum, Special to the Los Angeles Times.

Massimo Moro is a man obsessed with gelato. Every afternoon, once his Italian pastries and hand-dipped truffles have been lined up in their cases at his Marina del Rey pastry shop, Massimo’s Delectables, the Milan-born pastry chef heads for the gelato kitchen behind the bakery’s work area. There, he and an assistant crank out silky gelati destined for Massimo’s Gelato, Moro’s old-fashioned artisanal gelateria and cafe about 10 minutes away in Venice.

Massimo’s Gelato is as charming as any neighborhood gelateria you might stumble across in Florence or suburban Milan. Pale ocher walls amplify the sunlight as it floods the long, narrow room. A display case by the entry holds vividly colored gelati and sorbetti in rectangular tubs lined up like watercolors in a paint box. Next to it is a pastry case (sometimes a bit depleted by late afternoon).
[[