Argentine-Italian comfort for the L.A. Times:
PHOTO by ALLEN J. SCHABEN / L.A. TIMES
There’s a kind of heartland excess at many Argentine restaurants, palaces of meat that offer as good a lesson in bovine anatomy as any abattoir. But Del Tomate doesn’t indulge in steakhouse gluttony. Instead, the 2-month-old Tustin restaurant busies itself draping ribbons of prosciutto and kneading handmade pastas, the essentials of a streamlined and simplified Argentine-Italian cafe.
Del Tomate’s cooking is a South American invention, a hybrid cuisine that evolved after waves of Italian immigration to Argentina. It’s a cross-cultural heritage shared by owners Guillermo and Susana Giacobbe, the husband-and-wife team who one minute might be streaking butter across spongy Argentine white bread and the next piping dulce de lechemousse into delicate profiteroles.
The restaurant is an all-day affair. Warm your morning first with a cortado (an eye-widening espresso cut with a measure of milk) or mate cocido (toasted yerba mate steeped like herbal tea). Those who start sweet can linger over one of Susana’s wonderful pastries while others fill up on Del Tomate’s substantial tortilla Argentina, the egg and potato frittata localized and assimilated into the Argentine diet.
Of course, there are always empanadas. They’re objects of admiration here: Shells that shine with the luster of burnished pine, braided edges that barely contain their contents.
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Okinawan cuisine’s entry into Orange County for the L.A. Times:
PHOTO by GLENN KOENIG / L.A. TIMES
A skein of flat, linguine-like noodles and shards of ginger are so fine they all but dissolve in the broth. There are pork ribs, with brawny slabs of meat thick as a Little Leaguer’s baseball bat. But the soki soba is all about the bones, marrow-filled ribs stewed until they can be eaten.
If there’s one thing Mayumi Vargas wants everyone to know about her native Okinawa, it’s the island chain’s affinity for pork. And at Habuya, Vargas’ new Okinawan restaurant in a hidden corner of a Tustin mini-mall, pork is a uniting force.
Okinawa is a Japanese prefecture apart. Although the subtropical islands have been absorbed nominally into Japan’s national identity, they remain culturally individualistic. Habuya reflects that in its humble cooking, which is less like that of a refined seaside restaurant and more like that of a salt-licked coastal pub.
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Bolivian basics for the LA Times:
PHOTO by GINA FERAZZI / LA TIMES
The wall of sweets inside Rollie’s Bakery Café in Tustin — a collection of shell-shapedconchas, rows of cinnamon-crusted confections and a group of fluorescent pink pastries — is deceiving. The year-old restaurant is part panadería, but it has also evolved into something more anomalous: a rare outpost of Bolivian cooking.
That Andean element crept slowly into the kitchen: In its nascent months, Rollie’s operated only as a bakery, serving the sugary Mexican staples that satisfy those not quite close enough to neighboring Santa Ana. Slowly, however, the restaurant began adding Bolivian dishes until it arrived at a set of parallel menus — one each for Roland Guerra and his wife, Ebie.