Movie Review: City Of Gold

You’ve tasted Korean, Thai and Mexican food. You may have tasted Burmese, Ethiopian and Iranian food. You know that Los Angeles is a city with a diverse population. In City of Gold, you learn that Jonathan Gold often begins his reviews with writing in the second person. Hence, my opening paragraph.

Food critic Jonathan Gold wraps his arms around Los Angeles and its diversity. He loves L.A., his hometown, and its wide assortment of cuisines and flavors. City of Gold explores the food of Los Angeles and the people who cook and serve it. The film also provides insight into Gold and his writing.

Gold says, “You’re not going to find food like this anywhere but L.A.” I’d argue that many cities in the U.S., including St. Louis, offer a wide range of ethnic cuisines prepared with skill and passion.

But this film is about Los Angeles. The sheer enormity of the L.A. metro area and its population from across the world make it possible for Gold to experience meal after excellent meal at favorite dining spots. Gold revels in the smaller establishments, often in the less celebrated corners of town. (He once wrote a series of articles about every block of Pico Boulevard, which runs from downtown L.A. to the ocean at Santa Monica.)

Among the spots I like best in the film are the taco stand King Taco, which also has a taco truck permanently parked outside, and downtown’s Grand Central Market.

City of Gold features appearances from food personalities Andrew Zimmern, David Chang, Ruth Reichl and Calvin Trillin talking with or about Gold. (He and Reichl commiserate over fried grasshoppers.) Gold’s wife Laura Ochoa, who also works for the Los Angeles Times, adds her takes about her husband and his work.

Gold, the first food critic to win the Pulitzer Prize (2007), writes colorfully. Of a spicy dish, he compares it to “a mysteriously pleasurable punch in the mouth.” In an Op-Ed regarding preservation of over-harvested sea animals for food, he writes of the “bitter taste of extinction.”

Jonathan Gold has a wide cultural range. He is a cello player who grew up listening to classical music but later wrote about Gangsta rap. He doesn’t seem like a truck guy, but he proudly drives a Dodge pickup.

Laura Gabbert directed City of Gold. Her shots of Los Angeles at the end of the day give the city an appealing look that contrast with the gritty look of much of her street level filming.

City of Gold provides a glimpse of the vastness of the food choices L.A. brings to the table. Gold is a man who loves his work as much as he loves his city. His passion is obvious. You will enjoy meeting him and, especially, checking out the food he eats.





Fish Market, Birmingham

Last month I finally had the opportunity to eat at the Fish Market in Birmingham. I met the owner George Sarris at Railroad Park in B’ham last year and my dad had told me that his restaurant was excellent.

Fish Market

I took my dad out to dinner (for his 85th birthday) at the Fish Market (dining area pictured above) and it was good (and plentiful). Our visit was just a few days after a Birmingham News feature on the restaurant and just a couple of days before the Fish Market was featured on a Bizarre Foods segment that spotlighted Birmingham. (Included in the Andrew Zimmern visit was a stop at Jim ‘N’ Nick’s, a barbeque joint, at whose Gardendale location I dined in May.)

Fresh fish

At the Fish Market you can go to the counter and order from among the many fish on display (above). You can also select a live lobster or a live trout (below). Or you can opt for table service (as we did).


My dish was a grilled red snapper and barbeque shrimp combo, pictured below.

Grilled Fish

My dad ordered (and loved) a fried fish platter. He also enjoyed his gorgeous Greek salad with feta, pictured below.

greek salad

If you enjoy raw oysters, The Fish Market has several different types of oysters available at their oyster bar.

Should you find yourself in Birmingham, Alabama, check out the Fish Market. On 6th Avenue South, between 21st and 22nd Streets. Official address is 612 22nd Street, 35233.

If you didn’t click the link to the Fish Market’s website at the top of this post, click HERE for a (quick) fun video intro from owner George Sarris.