Film and Television

Dishes Worthy of a Game of Thrones: Feasts Fit for the Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms

In between the murder and mayhem, betrayals and backstabbing, trysts and torrid affairs, the characters on Game of Thrones love to indulge with a good meal. The kitchens at King’s Landing, Winterfell, and the Inn at the Crossroads are renowned throughout the Seven Kingdoms for turning out memorable feasts of epic proportions. So as the hit HBO show returns for its sixth season, we wondered what the Starks, Lannisters, and Targaryens would eat if they stepped out of our televisions and into our dining scene (we’ll take a pass on dining with Ramsay Bolton). Here are seven Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun-sized Game of Thrones dishes worthy of the successor to the Iron Throne. Because #winteriscoming.

Seaspice & Modern Garden, Miami, Florida
When Tyrion returned to Winterfell after his time on the Wall, the cooks whipped up a stunning supper starring roasted suckling pig. The Imp would surely approve of this rendition, which is served tableside with yucca gratin, green plantain fries, and pickled beets. Given the size and preparation time of this not-so-little piggy, the restaurant requires a two-day notice before the reservation and a four-diner minimum. We suggest fasting for those 48-hours, so you can truly do it justice. Make a reservation at Seaspice & Modern Garden.

Game of Thrones dishes

Makoto, Bal Harbour, Florida
Reminiscent of the fare served at Ned Stark’s first dinner in King’s Landing, the Kurosawa bone-in ribeye clocks in at a beyond-impressive 26 ounces. Marble-rich and imported from the Land Down Under (Australia, not Sothoryos), the beef is grilled on the robata, sliced up, and served on the grill in a stunning presentation that may have even given the King’s Hand pause to admire it. Make a reservation at Makoto.

Game of Thrones dishes

The Guild, West Hollywood, California
On Oath Day, the newly minted brothers of the Nights Watch dine on food normally reserved for the Master Commander and his high-ranking crew. Jon Snow and company enjoyed rack of lamb, which reminded us of chef Cho’s rack of New Zealand lamb chops. Pierced with a knife to create an Instagram-worthy presentation (#jonsnowisforever), it arrives with brown butter pommes puree, pomegranate demi, and a variety of veggies. Make a reservation at the Guild.

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City of Gold: Intrepid Dining Tips from Food Critic Jonathan Gold

Pulitzer Prize-winning insatiably curious eater and Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold, star of the new documentary City of Gold, shares how dining out is one of the best ways to discover a city, whether traveling or in your hometown.

Jonathan Gold

Finding a city’s hidden gem eateries — be it a dusty food truck with incredible fried fish tacos or a counter spot in a dingy strip mall slinging life-changing pho — is far more than an Instagrammable form of epicurean off-roading. It awakens us to the oft-underappreciated mosaic of cuisines and cultures that make up our cities’ landscapes.

For Jonathan Gold, longtime food critic at the L.A. Times and star of a documentary on this very subject, dining out has always been about uncovering culinary treasures — a quest that started in his early 20s with a mission to try every hole-in-the-wall restaurant and ethnic street vendor on a 15-mile stretch of LA’s Pico Boulevard.

Last month while in Chicago promoting the release of City of Gold, he caught up with OpenTable for a little Intrepid Dining: 101. From scouting foreign-language message boards for restaurant tips to eating at (literally) every Indonesian noodle house, he shared advice on how to discover — or perhaps re-discover — a city’s culture through its food.

Was there a certain cuisine or experience when you were starting out that sparked your curiosity?

I did this thing right after college when I was bored out of my mind working as a proofreader at a law newspaper – I decided to eat at every restaurant on Pico Boulevard. It was at the time of the wars in Central America, so there was a lot of new immigration there and a lot of new places, from street vendors to tiny little restaurants.

I’d grown up in LA and driven down this street before thinking those restaurants were monolithically Mexican because everything was in Spanish. And then you start going from door to door and you go, wait a second, this one’s Guatemalan, this one’s Nicaraguan, this one’s from El Salvador, this one’s from Mexico but it’s Jalisco, and this one’s also Mexican but it’s Sinaloa so the food is completely different. Then you do it a little more and you see which ones have big city or European influences because their menus are more continental.

It wasn’t even the actual basic things being served. It was just the knowledge that this wasn’t monolithic, that what had seemed like one big thing turned out to be this mosaic — an endless, tessellated grid of culture. And it was so good.

What’s your strategy for finding under-the-radar restaurants?

I do it a million different ways. I will go down certain streets and eat at every single restaurant. I’ll spend hours on message boards in foreign languages with Google translate, like Weibo, the Chinese Facebook. I also find that going to a restaurant that looks like the center of a community probably means what you’ll find there will be pretty good. It may not be the absolute best one. But then what I’ll do is eat at all of the Indonesian noodle houses to tell you which one is the best one.

How long does that usually take you?

Sometimes that takes quite awhile, other times not so much. I tend to try to spread them out, but there always comes a time where it will be six places in a weekend.

Is there anything that would make you skip a place? Your strategy seems to be to try pretty much everything.

Yeah, well (laughs), I don’t like being bored. One kind of restaurant I tend not go to is actually lounge restaurants. I find the food tends to be really subsidiary to what else is going on there. Or if I’m looking at an Italian restaurant and it has exactly the same menu that every other Italian restaurant has, there’s no point in going there.

Jonathan Gold

For the average diner experiencing a certain cuisine for the first time, how should they set themselves up for a successful meal? Continue Reading

Out of This World: 12 Ways to Dig Into Potatoes, Inspired by The Martian

With the Oscars just around the corner, we’ve got movies on the brain. Nominated for seven of the coveted awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, The Martian, based on Andy Weir’s 2011 novel of the same name, has our vote. Matt Damon plays astronaut Mark Watney — stuck on Mars and fervently plotting to survive long enough to be rescued, he (SPOILER ALERT) figures out how to grow potatoes on the previously barren planet. While Watney only gets to enjoy the fruits (or tubers) of his labor with salt or ketchup, his efforts inspired us to count the ways we love a good spud. Fried, baked, mashed, topped with cheese, or folded into pillowy gnocchi dough, potatoes are pure starchy pleasure. Below find some of our favorite ways to dig into a potato. Surely, The Martian would approve.

Marta, New York, New York
If you’re having trouble deciding whether pizza, potatoes, or pasta is the ultimate comfort food, head straight to Chef Nick Anderer’s Marta in Manhattan’s Martha Washington Hotel for your definitive answer. Marrying the best of all three, Patate Alla Carbonara is a white, thin-crusted pizza cooked on a wood-fire grill and topped with potatoes, guanciale, black pepper, pecorino, and egg, for an especially comforting and tasty iteration of the classic Roman Spaghetti Alla Carbonara. Make a reservation at Marta.

MARTA breakfast pizzas

Blue Duck Tavern, Washington, D.C.
This contemporary neighborhood spot in D.C.’s West End turns 10 this year, and while their signature Handcut BDT Fries have been on the menu from the beginning, they’re revamping the recipe for the occasion. Russet potatoes are steamed, dried, seasoned, and mixed. The mashed result is molded onto a sheet pan, hand cut, and fried for a delightfully unique take on your average french fry — inside, a fluffy foil to the perfectly crispy exterior. A happy birthday, indeed. Make a reservation at Blue Duck Tavern.

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No. 9 Park, Boston, Massachusetts
With a few ingredients, gnocchi can be made relatively easily, but in the hands of chef Barbara Lynch, simple potato dumplings are elevated to legendary status. In a multi-step process, Lynch’s Prune-Stuffed Gnocchi start with made-from-scratch potato dough, which cover prunes that have marinated in Vin Santo. Forget pillows; this dough is as soft as a down comforter, lovingly wrapped around each sweet wine-soaked fruit. The dumplings are covered with a foie gras butter sauce and topped with slabs of seared foie gras and slivered almonds. Licking the plate might be frowned upon in this stately Beacon Hill spot, but we’re not here to judge. Make a reservation at No. 9 Park.

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Bird Dog, Palo Alto, California
The menu at this sleek Palo Alto bistro highlights the best of Japanese meets California cuisine. Broken into three sections, ‘raw’ offers fresh crudo, ‘protein’ features salmon and Wagyu beef, and ‘vegetables’ includes, among other thoughtfully inventive dishes, the Potato Terrine. Chef Robbie Wilson’s version features paper-thin potato layers topped with Tuscan kale, nori, preserved grapefruit, and a butternut squash puree for a dish that’s as beautiful as it is flavorful and comforting. Make a reservation at Bird Dog.

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Prime & Provisions, Chicago, Illinois
At this swank steakhouse in Chicago’s River North, the name says it all. The Substantial Baked Potato is stuffed with thick-cut bacon, cheddar cheese, and crème fraîche for an elevated take on the quintessential steakhouse side. Your porterhouse needs this potato. Pro tip: it’s colossal, so get one to share. Make a reservation at Prime & Provisions.

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The Breslin, New York, New York
Oh, your favorite French fries are cooked once? How quaint. At chef April Bloomfield’s Michelin-starred gastropub in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, the Thrice Cooked Chips are boiled first, then fried twice for the ultimate in crisp, chewy, salty goodness. They come alongside the excellent Chargrilled Lamb Burger, or order a batch on the side with cumin mayo for dipping. They’re what all fries aspire to be. Make a reservation at The Breslin.

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Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger Shares First Dinner Date Tips for Valentine’s Day

Headed out this weekend for a first dinner (or brunch or lunch) date in honor of Valentine’s Day? Here, world-renowned Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger shares first dinner date tip for a date so delicious he or she is sure to delete Tinder. The essential ingredients for a great date? “Communication, chemistry, and compliments — with a big amount of manners thrown in!” But, there’s a lot more to it, as well.

OpenTable - Pizzaiolo

The first step toward dinner date success is selecting the right restaurant for romance. Should you look for a hip, sexy spot or something more lively? “Quiet, an intimate setting, ambience, and lighting are key,” according to Stanger. “A girl always looks beautiful under candlelight.” And don’t forget to use the notes/special requests to the maître d’ option when booking on OpenTable. “It’s always nice when the person who made the reservation requests a quite table so they can hear each other talk. If it happens to be close to the kitchen, only accept the table if the kitchen has soundproof glass windows.”

Famous for issuing a strict two-drink maximum at her Millionaire Matchmaker mixers, we wondered if the same rule applies when you’re out on an actual first date? “Yes, I recommend ordering one bottle of wine.  A bottle of my sweet red sparkling from PS Match is perfect as it has four glasses total, which is ideal for any romantic date,” she suggests.

Waiter Serving Delicious Food to Young Couple in Restaurant

Now that you’re past the drinks, should you go with shared plates or items with grand tableside preparations – or something else? Stanger recommends trying the tasting menu together. She notes, “A tasting menu with great wines is the perfect shared romantic experience because it allows you time to get to know your date and enjoy the food. Since it is small portions, it is not over the top filling, which gives you energy for what’s to come next!” For those with special dietary restrictions or picky eaters, convey the information politely and in a matter of fact manner. “Nowadays, it is not unusual for someone to say, “I’m gluten free, allergic to shellfish, and so on.’ It’s better to be safe than sorry just to go along. Just tell your date, ‘I don’t want to be a pain because I’m sure any restaurant or menu you pick will be fine, just please know I’m allergic to ___.” A good date will inform the chef and management ahead of time because that shows that they care.”Continue Reading