Category Food & Drinks

A Hidden Cubby Hole Of Chocolate: Compartés Opens In Melrose Place

Compartes Melrose Place Jonathan Grahm 6

Compartes Melrose Place Jonathan Grahm 5

In the world of cool, young chocolatiers in the United States, only a handful of names will come to mind because those are the only chocolates you see in stores. You have your Brooklyn old schoolers Mast Brothers, cool, mini-makers Woodblock Chocolate, glorified toffee treaters Alma, and the real San Francisco treat TCHO. One of the most important (and somewhat under the radar) makers is Los Angeles’ Compartes, an undoubtedly luxe and incredibly hip brand that eschews artisanal annoyances for no-hype-all-flavor sweets.

Compartes Melrose Place Jonathan Grahm 2

The brand has big news, too: they very recently expanded from a Brentwood storefront, adding a Melrose Place cubby hole hidden from street view (and technically within coffee shop Alfred). It’s an interesting triangular space designed by AAmp Studio that is most befitting of a chocolate store. The goods are a limited selection that include a wall of Love Nuts, a display of chocolate bars, and a glass case of truffles. Yet, that is irrelevant: the shop is an exercise in brevity and beauty, a quick stop into considered foodie charm.

Compartes Melrose Place Jonathan Grahm 3

The design details make the space. The main attraction is a conflicting tiled floor consisting of a black rectangle and triangular brick arrow that leads from the truffle bar to a corner of chocolate bars. A tension (and an eyeline) is created that brings the small room together. A wall of Love Nuts is arranged in a seemingly infinite gradient, placing you in a delectable loop almost demanding your trying each flavor of nut. The counter wisely features a giant logo that doesn’t overpower the room, instead adding a sophistication equivalent of a boutique hotel. If you want to hang for a while, indulging, a small cactus lined seating area is available under a gorgeous white neon sign in brand founder Jonathan Grahm‘s handwriting which reads “Chocolate Is Art.” And, in Compartés case, it really is.

It was a wise move for Compartés to add another location, expanding from their sleepy Brentwood headquarters to a trendy, busy Melrose location. The area may have difficulty in maintaining an identity but the design of the space is so crisp and pristine that it will outlive most of its surroundings. Who doesn’t like chocolate, either? The new Compartés is definitely cause for celebration.

Compartes Melrose Place Jonathan Grahm 4

Compartes Melrose Place Jonathan Grahm 7

Compartes Melrose Place Jonathan Grahm 1

Sophisticated Branding for Fort Point Beer Company by Manual

Fort Point Beer Company Branding by Manual

Crafting unique, standout labels for a new beer seems like an awesome challenge. Making sure that the brew stands out in a competitive market can be difficult as well as creating a look that feels unique and original. Manual, the SF based design firm, has struck gold with this sophisticated look for the Fort Point Beer Company, a craft brewery located in San Francisco’s Presidio.

The brewery resides in a historic Presidio building that was formerly used as an Army motor pool. Their iconic location—close to both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Fort Point National Historic Site—provided inspiration for a modular, illustrative brand identity. The result is a brand that locals can identify with and, as the brand grows and becomes available throughout the nation, can be regarded as the new San Francisco craft beer.

Fort Point Beer Company Branding by Manual

I’m a sucker for gold these days (my team will back this up) and the black, white, and tomato red color combinations really make me happy. The geometric patterns have a playful nature which remind me of the work of Mary Blair, and at the same time honors a San Francisco landmark.

Fort Point Beer Company

The choice of a Copperplate Gothic-esque font pairs well with the bold, geometric lines that make up the label. It has a feeling of being both contemporary yet classic, bringing to mind the early days of San Francisco. The overall branding is extremely charming and inviting, and when you see the bottle it certainly looks like something new that you want to try.

You can see more images from the project by clicking here.

Fort Point Beer Company Branding by Manual

Fort Point Beer Company Branding by Manual

Fort Point Beer Company Branding by Manual

David Chang: “I Hate Fancy Beers”

Miller High Life Print by Alan Hynes

As I write this I’m sipping on a Miller High Life, are is it’s been dubbed, the “Champagne of Beers”. I acquired a taste for it back in 2010/2011 when I was attempting to freelance during a recession. At the corner liquor store near my apartment was 40s of High Life which only cost in the ballpark of $2.50. So long as you kept the 40 oz. cool it was actually a pretty damn good beer. Even Bon Appétit agrees.

Which brings me to my point, this recent article by David Chang for GQ espousing his love for cheap beer. As he says in the article, which I also agree with, rare, obnoxious, snooty beers are great, this is not the reason for his piece. His argument centers around the area that he cares about most: that cheap beers pairs well with food. Here’s the paragraph where he knocks it out of the park.

For all the debatability of my rant here, let me make one ironclad argument for shitty beer: It pairs really well with food. All food. Think about how well champagne pairs with almost anything. Champagne is not a flavor bomb! It’s bubbly and has a little hint of acid and tannin and is cool and crisp and refreshing. Cheap beer is, no joke, the champagne of beers. And cheap beer and spicy food go together like nothing else. Think about Natty Boh and Old Bay-smothered crabs. Or Asian lagers like Orion and Singha and Tiger, which are all perfect ways to wash down your mapo tofu.

Couldn’t agree more. Also, as I tend to find random things when I research posts, I found the really sweet Miller High Life print by Alan Hynes (at top) which you might want to snag. Only $40.

How LA Design Studio notNeutral Changed The Way We Experience Coffee

How LA Design Studio notNeutral Changed The Way We Experience Coffee

When a delicious meal has been set before you have you ever stopped and wondered if the vessels it is being served in are enhancing the flavors, smells, and presentation ability? Most likely not, but if you’re an obsessive barista working for the most well-respected small coffee chain in America, finding that level of perfection might be an idea you dwell on.

That the story of the Lino cup, a creation between ex-Intelligentsia Director of Innovation Kyle Glanville (who now runs my favorite coffee place Go Get ‘Em Tiger) and LA design studio notNeutral. Together they experimented to figure out a more optimal cup for coffee drinking.

The entire R&D process took over a year. Triangular-shaped cups intended to capture precious aromas were nixed (turns out, a triangular canvas makes for terrible latte art). Handles were shaped and reshaped. The cup’s interior curvature, or slope, was meticulously calculated, with notNeutral printing one 3D prototype after another for Glanville and his team to test in Intelligentsia’s lab. There, they pulled shots and poured milk, videotaping the entire process so, like coaches watching tape, they could replay the footage in slow motion and catch flaws in play.

“Sometimes the latte art would break,” Glanville says. “The flow of the milk would go under and bubble up on the other side, breaking the pattern at the top.” The slope was corrected. More prototypes printed. More milk poured. More tape replayed.

Food Republic has the whole story which I found fascinating. These cups are only the beginning with more on the way, including these Gino cups, which are double-walled glass vessels which they released just last week.

Dangerous Popsicles: Would You Eat a Cactus or HIV Shaped Popsicle?

The old chef’s saying is that you with your eyes, and artist Wei Li’s collection of Dangerous Popsicles puts this adage to the test. She’s created unique sets of ice pops, one based on assorted forms of cacti and one based on the shape of life-threatening diseases, each of which begs the question: Would you eat these?

Designer and artist Wei Li’s collection of cacti-inspired prickly popsicles are beautiful, yet dangerous. These popsicles intrigue people with their other-worldly looks while directly alluding to the unpleasant experience of being poked by a cactus. Imagine our tongues, one of our most sensitive organs, being “massaged” by these spiky surfaces. Will pain bring pleasure?

While trained in user experience design, the designer is less concerned with enhancing user-friendliness, and more interested in the aesthetics of user-unfriendliness, and even uselessness.

Building from the cacti collection, Li’s second suite of popsicles are inspired by life-threatening viruses. What might an HIV popsicle taste like? Or would you even taste one in the first place? By fusing repulsion and delight, Li’s work emphasizes that the eyes and mind can taste as well as the tongue. The popsicles are nothing but water and sugar, but ideas of deadly viruses and the spikiness of cacti stimulate a sensory reaction, even before the first taste.

What a fun concept for a project. I’m glad that there are people out there who choose to address peculiar ideas like this.

Dangerous Popsicles: The Aesthetics of User-Unfriendliness

Dangerous Popsicles: The Aesthetics of User-Unfriendliness

Dangerous Popsicles: The Aesthetics of User-Unfriendliness

Places To Visit: Barcelona’s Delicious Looking Praktik Bakery Hotel

Praktik Bakery Hotel

You know that underlying feeling of spontaneously running away from everything and living somewhere new and different? Those feelings have been stirring around for a while, particularly focused on the cities of Madrid and Barcelona. Through a little research and bit of Internet digging I stumbled upon the enticing Praktik Hotels, located in the Eixample district of Barcelona.

The Praktik Bakery, a hotel that has the fully operational Baluard Bakery at it’s heart, sounds like a dream come true to yours truly. You can imagine how enchanting it must be to wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through your window.

Praktik Bakery Hotel

Complimenting the delicious aromas is a cleanly designed hotel that’s lined with white tile and rustic brick throughout. The tiles in the bathroom (as seen below) are phenomenal as well. How could you not take a selfie with those luscious blues as the backdrop?

Praktik Bakery Hotel

Prakitk Bakery Hotel

Praktik Bakery Hotel

Praktik Bakery Hotel

Praktik Bakery Hotel

Praktik Bakery Hotel

If you’re one of those people prefer to drink your meals then perhaps you should check out the just opened Praktik Vinoteca who’s theme is centered around wine. A boutique hotel similar to the Praktik Bakery, here you’ll find an ambiance made up of warm woods decorating the space, a clear reference to the iconic wine barrel.

Second Graders Eating a $220 Tasting Meal – You Can’t Help But Smile

The conceit is simple: Bring seven second graders to Daniel, a two Michelin star New York restaurant (it recently lost a star) to enjoy a seven-course meal valued at $220 a person. The result is a charming, honest look at food, taste, and the pleasures of eating. You can;t help but smile as these children give their genuinely honest critiques of each meal, in a way that only a child can do.

I appreciate head chef Daniel Boulud’s take on the endeavor, and his commitment to serving the food as it is, saying, “Children crave food they can identify. The seasoning has to be mild in a way, and simple. Here, we did it the real way.”

The Cat’s Meow: Suiyoubi no Neko Can Design by Yo-Ho Brewing

Suiyoubi no Neko by Yo-Ho Brewing

Last week I came upon this lovely packaging for Suiyoubi no Neko beer which is crafted by the Yo-Ho Brewing. I think the patchwork cat on the can couldn’t be more charming with a striking color palette that’s sure to catch your eye. This is but one of a series of great looking beers Yo-Ho is brewing, Serious Eats has a great rundown from last year of their line-up, which shows their care of both flavor and design.

Also of note last week was Kirin’s announcement that it would be purchasing a 30%-plus stake in Yo-Ho Brewing, showing that craft brewing is clearly the way to a larger market share. Still, the major Japanese beer producers, Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo, Santori, make up 98% of the beer market in Japan. It will be interesting to see if more small breweries are snatched up by the big guys to earn more cultural cool points.