Bagel Blues, gingerbread giant, culinary events, and more restaurant news.

Caption: Executive Pastry Chef Pierino Jarmonti stands in front of the bar in Terranea’s gingerbread lounge, which is over 15 feet high and took over 1500 pounds of gingerbread to build. Photo by Richard Foss

Holiday cheer, or lack thereof: According to a survey, the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest night of the year at bars. It’s sometimes called Blackout Wednesday, and there are good and bad reasons people might tend to overdo it that evening. Some folks are celebrating a reunion with friends and family the day before the more staid dinner with the whole clan, while others may be drinking alone and overdoing it. If you are reading this, you survived, but it’s worth thinking about the people who really wish they had a holiday table and convivial company. Think about who you know who might be alone, and invite them to spend time with you at future holidays. They will have a more joyous evening, and you will too…

Zombie restaurants of Hermosa: The energy level in downtown Hermosa has decreased markedly since the closing of Dia de Campo and Rok Sushi, and more changes are likely in the neighborhood. Readers have asked how some high profile places can possibly be making money when they’re often nearly empty. The answer is that they’re not expecting to make a profit at this point, but to increase their sale price. A restaurant that is in operation, with a valid alcohol license and health permits, is more than just a building, it’s a business. A new owner can transition to a different concept without closing for even a day, and they can keep staff members who know the service pattern of the restaurant. It’s a win for all concerned when it works, but in the meantime those eateries run on inertia. It’s likely that there will be a lot of changes soon, and perhaps newcomers with new concepts can elevate the excitement.

Trying times at Uncle Stevey’s: Uncle Stevey’s Bagels opened in downtown El Segundo with the reception that business owners dream of. Some days, there were over 50 people in line. Unfortunately, the fledgling operation was unable to handle that level of business, and closed for a few days so they could retool for a higher volume. They reopened, but shortly after that the staff caught Covid, so they closed again. Uncle Stevey’s hopes to open after this weekend, and we wish them smoother sailing in the future…

Forty years of chili and music: Texas Loosey’s wasn’t the highest profile business thanks to their side street location, but for a long time it was one of the South Bay’s premier party spots. They opened in 1982 with waitresses in bikini tops and chaps and a soundtrack of Southern rock and country tunes. Though the place toned down over the next 40 years, they kept a devoted fan base. The fire that started in the early morning of November 6 demolished the building, and a GoFundMe for staff members started almost immediately. Patrons have expressed hope that the place will reopen, but the owners have not commented on their plans…

Belated welcome: The WaGyu Meatsmith butcher shop opened in Hermosa almost two months ago, but it took me a while to notice that fact – the location has a very limited view from the street. (It’s just north of the Trader Joe’s on PCH in Hermosa, in case you haven’t noticed it.) Their sign went up over two years ago, and I wondered if the place would ever open. Along with the famously tender Japanese beef, they offer Iberico pork and other luxury meats, and will be a destination for dedicated carnivores (1200 PCH #105, Hermosa)…

Event Alerts: And my, there are an unusual number of them in the next month. Fete Bistro in Manhattan Beach will host its first wine dinner on November 28, at which the 2021 vintages from David Slay’s own vineyards will be released. Four courses with cocktails and hors d’ouerves will set you back $150 plus tax & tip – reserve via Open Table… The very next day, Fishbar will host a dinner with wines by Tablas Creek of Paso Robles. Four courses with wine are a mere $89 plus T&T – see the menu and reserve at Resy.com page… On November 30 you have two options: a Daou winemaker dinner at Mar’Sel at Terranea, or San Polo at Primo Italia. San Polo specializes in Brunellos from Montalcino, about midway between Rome and Florence, and this dinner will highlight the cuisine of that region. Price is $125 plus T&T, reserve on Open Table. The Daou dinner will be hosted by winemaker Jose Santos, and will start with cauliflower and white chocolate soup with orange segments, caviar, and chives. The rest of the menu is as eclectic… Price is $275 – book from the Events link at the Terranea website…

Culinary historian, (and yes, A La Carte food writer) Richard Foss will present “Raising a Glass with Charles Dickens” at Collage in San Pedro on Saturday, December 16 at 2 p.m. He’ll explain traditional drinking culture and show how to make a Victorian rum punch. Tastes included, of course. $10. Reserve at collageartculture.org

On December 2 you can get ahead on your Christmas party planning at the holiday hors d’oeuvre cooking class at PSP Steak. Chef Christine Brown will teach how to make seven sure-fire items, which include lump crab savory cream puffs and a chocolate, peanut, and dried cherry bark. Price is $150 including T&T, with two beverages included – book on its OpenTable.com page. On December 3 there’s a rare public event at the La Venta Inn — their Holiday Brunch. They’ll serve a sumptuous buffet from 11 to 2, along with signature cocktails. Craft stations will be available for those wishing to make wreaths or decorate cookies or ornaments. $55 for adults, reduced rates for teens and kids – see their Eventbrite page for details… On December 7 Primo Italia will host a Jack Daniels dinner with live entertainment for Frank Sinatra’s birthday – price is $396 inclusive for dinner with wine and library whiskey selections. Reserve on opentable.com… Those who enjoy both culinary fireworks and the real thing can get both at the December 10 dinner at the Strand House. Six courses with the best view of the show in the sky is $300 plus T&T for adults, $95 for under 12. Book on Resy… And finally, for those who want to host a traditional Christmas party, including beverages that Charles Dickens would have served at home, we have the event for you. On Saturday, December 16, at 2 p.m. culinary Historian Richard Foss will present “Raising a Glass with Charles Dickens” at Collage in San Pedro, at which he’ll explain traditional drinking culture and show how to make a Victorian rum punch. Tastes will be included, of course, and yes, that’s me presenting this talk. Price is ten dollars – reserve at the link at collageartculture.org…

Gingerbread as you haven’t seen it before: It’s rare that you see a gingerbread house so large that it might actually require a building permit, but the chefs at Terranea have one. It’s over 10 feet high, and took over 1,500 pounds of gingerbread and three months to construct. It’s in the bar area next to the lobby, and the staff are serving holiday beverages from inside. It’s worth the drive to see, and you might have a beverage or a snack while you’re there. Management requests that you not chew on the walls to check whether it’s edible, and just trust that they are…

Odds and ends: Manhattan Bread and Bagel has expanded its food menu, and is offering an egg frittata and crème brulee French toast on weekends. They’ve expanded their pastry offerings too, and are making a wider variety of filled croissants and other delights. Meanwhile Sweet Wheat in Redondo has slimmed down its menu. For a while it offered pasta, soup, and other dinner items, but they’ve cut those in favor of sandwiches, quiches, and more simple items… While I was at Terranea to view the gingerbread lounge I found out about their “slow smoked Sundays” at Nelson’s. They offer all the barbecue and fixings you can eat for $55, with the ocean view thrown in for free. The list of sides and meats is extensive, and sounds like a celebration of Southern traditions…

In Closing: If you know a restaurant opening I might’ve missed, a culinary event that should be covered, or just about anything related to food that I should know about, please send the information my way. I’m at richard@richardfoss.com. And as long as you’re on the internet, check out past restaurant reviews on our website at https://easyreadernews.com/restaurants/. ER

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