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Eat LA: Pop up restaurants, tasty goat meat and why lobster is still expensive

Chef Ari Taymor outside Alma, his Downtown Los Angeles restaurant.
Chef Ari Taymor outside Alma, his Downtown Los Angeles restaurant.
Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

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This week, we talk to two chefs and try to find out what makes some pop-ups pop, we’ll talk about why Los Angeles won’t benefit from the East Coast’s newest bumper crop of lobsters.

But first, Off-Ramp's John Rabe talks to Eat LA Contributor Linda Burum about one of the most underrated, edible animals on the farm: the noble goat.

For The Love of Goat

"A lot of people think of goat as something really wild and exotic, but for a lot of people, its comfort food, It's what they grew up with," said Burum. "You can get goat from India, Pakistan, Korea, Vietnam and many kinds of Birria and Mexican goat dishes."

Click here for our comprehensive list of where you can get goat dishes in SoCal

Pop-up Restaurants

They can appear in an instant—and sometimes vanish just as quickly. Here in L.A., we’re no stranger to the temporary chef driven concept: chef Ludo Lefebvre’s appearances at L.A. restaurants has gotten him national attention—not a day goes by on food blogs without news of the next pop-up restaurant.

And for some up-and-comers, like Ari Taymor, it’s the only way to go.

The Bay Area native has cooked in San Francisco, France and even here in L.A. at Suzanne Goin’s venerable Lucques on Melrose. When wanted to start own restaurant here, he spent months popping up all over L.A. Now he’s got a permanent space Downtown—it just opened this past June. Off-Ramp producer Kevin Ferguson talked with Taymor to find out why he settled down.

"Pop-ups are difficult in nature...What a brick and mortar allows us to do is storage space, it allows us the room to do long-term projects," said Taymor.

While a permanent location allows for more flexibility, Taymor says starting out the pop-up route is a good way to get your name and food out there to the masses. Plus, its more cost-effective.

"Doing a pop-up for me is financially based. it's really difficult to get the money that it takes to start a restaurant, open a restaurant, to make sure you have the name recognition," said Taymor. "For us, it was a way for us to start small, see if we could do it on our own, stand on our own two feet, then if we were lucky branch out and take our own place."

The pop up world isn’t just a place for rookie chefs to cut their teeth. For some veterans like, Laurent Quenioux of Vertical Wine Bistro and the late, great Bisto LQ, above all, pop up restaurants mean creativity.

"It would be like a wife and a mistess. Vertical would be more like a wife, it's more serious," said Quenioux. "The pop-up is more fun, it's more adventurous and we tackle different products and ingredients that are really exciting."

L.A. Lobsters Still Pricey

The national media has been talking about the record-breaking haul of Maine lobsters this summer. It's resulted from a confluence of the unusually warm winter and more sustainable fishing practices in recent years.

So where in L.A. can you take advantage of this bumper crop? Nowhere, unfortunately.

It turns out we here in L.A, won't benefit from this situation. The bumper crop of lobsters have soft shells, because of the warm water, and they don't travel well. And actually they don't taste as good as the cold-water lobsters.

L.A.'s restaurants and seafood vendors are getting their lobsters off the colder waters of Canada this summer. And those prices? Let's just say they're not cheap