You knew I couldn’t assemble a Holiday Gift Guide on which a good proportion of the gifts are books, on which an entire post is dedicated to a list of a dozen books based out of Los Angeles, on which said books are based on Los Angeles restaurants, and not gush about my hero, right?
Los Angeles + Restaurants = Jonathan Gold.
You knew that, right?
Jonathan Gold’s Counter Intelligence was inspiration for my original blog post, which was intended to be a list of a delicious dozen books for the Los Angeles food lover. There are at least two dozen cookbooks written from the perspective of local chefs and restaurants, both classic and new. The problem is that there are very few books about Los Angeles food and restaurants that aren’t a highly-paid restaurant marketing consultant’s deliverable – a menu with recipes that are more than likely too complicated to make at home so why bother, you should just make a reservation instead!
Oops, did I just blog that cynicism out loud?
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with cookbooks centered around a restaurant. Gorgeous photography of professionally-styled presentations. Recipes for “restaurant-quality” dishes. A good excuse to ask a hot chef for an autograph. I’m just saying, “Let’s be real.” For the most part, restaurant cookbooks are less functional, and far more fashionable for the coffee table. How many of us are really going to attempt AOC’s Bacon-wrapped Dates?
Oh wait. I did. And AOC doesn't have a cookbook anyway.
Let’s explain this from a different perspective.
On a list of Los Angeles restaurant books that was becoming heavily weighted toward cookbooks, a single book of restaurant reviews seemed out of place, as if it had been added as an afterthought. It would not have done the book, nor my hero, justice.
So I changed the original list’s theme strictly to cookbooks, had a little bit of trouble at the end almost having to resort to the Border Grill/Ciudad's Too Hot Tamales to round out the dozen, was saved of that when I found the El Cholo cookbook, and resolved to compose a Los Angeles restaurant-focused gift list that is wholly dedicated, not to the replication of restaurant meals at home, but to the experience of dining out in LA.
And let me tell you, dining out in LA is definitely an “experience.”
Gold Standard: Technically, JGold's Counter Intelligence could have been the single gift on a List-of-One, but then I wouldn't have been able to title this post "Delicious Dozen" like all the other lists.
Ethnic Cui-scene: An older book, but one that demonstrates the breadth of ethnic cuisines that is the hallmark of Los Angeles dining.
"essential" for "mobility": I used to live and dine by Zagat. Until they made me pay for a subscription. But if you didn't have to buy it, it wouldn't be a gift, now would it? (At least not for Merry Consumer-mas!)
Where the Rubber Hits the Road: The original red-covered restaurant guide has hit LA, and our stars aren't just about Hollywood Boulevard anymore.
(G)P.S. I Love You: If there’s one dining city on this planet that requires sophisticated navigation, it’s the metro-quilt that covers the equivalent square mileage of most New England states. You live on the Westside. You have to cross town for Mexican, double back for Italian food, somehow find your way off the downtown freeway loop for dim sum, and let’s not talk about road-tripping to Orange County to get a decent bowl of pho.
Free of Charge: You have to call for directions because you left the address at home. You have to call to push the reservation back because eastbound Sunset is at a dead-stop. You have to call your date and apologize for being late. Solio will keep you powered.
Talk Wordy to Me: You're actually talking to yourself while sitting at Mozza's bar alone, but that'll be our little psychotic secret. With a Jawbone in your ear, everyone else will think you're on the phone.
Meter Made: Parking Meter Timer Keychain with 10 Quarter Holder: $12. Forty-five minutes in parking meter in front of Diddy Riese: $1.50. Running out to feed your meter 90 seconds before it expires and seeing the meter maid slap a ticket on the Volve four cars behind you: priceless.
Valet of the Dolls: UCLA is for the people who drive and valet park. If you went to USC, we assume you have a driver.
Hook, Line, and Sink Her: As amusing as it is to watch servers do the steeplechase through a dining room set with handbag hurdles, you can't risk their messy miscalculation on your $2,700 YSL.
Deal Deals: It's like buying someone a Cosmo at each restaurant with the savings from Cozmo. They just have to bear the shame of pulling out a "discount" card at the table.