Two years ago, I made a decision that forever changed my dining experience. I stopped being friends with anyone who doesn’t like to eat. Living in Los Angeles, the city of beautiful people, this wasn’t an easy feat. But frankly, I was tired of sharing meals with the likes of someone who either pushed their food around their plate as if eating were a punishment, called themselves fat during the entire meal in their size zero glory, or deliriously eyed my order because the last time they ordered anything that truly tasted good was a distant memory. Turns out it was a damn great decision because without this new rule in my life, I wouldn’t have my fellow foodie girlfriends Tannaz and Rachel in my life which means I would have never been introduced to my summer food crush and what I seriously consider the best new addition to my Fairfax district neighborhood – The Golden State Café.
Located on Fairfax Blvd, smack dab across from Canter’s Deli, is the laidback and downright delicious Golden State which serves the kind of food that even if you were on the date from hell, you’d be able to withstand it because the food here is just that good. Seriously. So courtesy of the advice Tannaz and Rachel gave me, here is what you should be indulging in the next time you want to eat a meal that reminds you why eating is an activity that is meant to be enjoyed.
Mario Battali’s newest haunt in L.A.
Mozza Osteria, Mario Battali’s newest adjunct to his Mozza Pizza just opened on Melrose, just west of Highland. Though most new restaurants in LA advertise their debut date months before to start a healthy buzz and build anticipation, Mozza Osteria remained cas about it’s opening date: “Sometime this summer”; “Early July, if you’re lucky”. So my ever-dedicated foodie friend Ben stalked the restaurant for months; until one day, he saw lights on inside and seized the opportunity to make not one, but four! reservations. I should consider it a privilege that he deigned to invite me.
Dinner at a great restaurant is like jazz music. The Duke Ellingtons, Count Basies and Billie Holidays of the culinary world perform their signature genius through improvisation.
Such is the case with Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery fame, Chef Mario Batali, and winemaker / restaurateur Joseph Bastianich, who together own Pizzeria Mozza, an up tempo hotspot in Los Angeles.
The trio really knows how to riff when it comes to putting a new stamp on old standards.
Suzanne Goin, the uber-talented celebrity chef of Lucques and A.O.C.
Wine Bar fame, was rumored to be the front runner for the
2005 James Beard Chef-of-the-Year award, and as far as I was concerned,
she could just skip the swim suit competition and pick up her gold
toque and tongs. Because praise the lord and pass the friggin’ salt
cod, if food could cure cancer, it would be this food. May The God of
Good Eatin’ please keep Suzanne Goin’s hands hale, hearty, and forever
heating up the small plates.
Having earlier experienced both the exquisite pleasure and excruciating pain that comes from washing down four or five pounds of Chicken Liver pate with fifteen dollar glasses of 2001 Chateauneuf du Pape, I was careful to prepare my sensitive digestive tract by fasting for practically an entire half-day on Fiji Natural Artisan water, plus a supplemental half-inch rind of smoked salami that I discovered under a plastic tankard of Barefoot Contessa Moussaka that I accidentally made five weeks ago in a bizarre attack of culinary industry. As a note, I have a firm policy of never throwing away any left-over that originally took more than sixty minutes to prepare, unless it starts to stink worse than my daughter’s feet did after two weeks at Catalina Camp, where filth is a fashion statement.
As a devoteé of all things wine, I am on the constant lookout for events that allow me to expand my palate without hurting my pocketbook. It's rare to find me at large "Grand Tastings" because I find it difficult even with pouring/spitting to get my $50-$100 worth and still be able to function or remember what I drank. Living in Los Angeles, "bang for the buck" wine-centered evenings are few and far between so when I heard about the Tavern's bi-weekly Wine and Cheese Club, I made a reservation immediately. The Larder, where the tasting takes place, is the casual cafe attached to Tavern, which is Suzanne Goin's latest restaurant venture. Even though I've never been to her reknowned wine bar A.O.C. – it's horrifying I know, I'll get there, I promise – I knew this was going to be good. It's what she does. Plus, four wines paired with cheese and nibbles for $29? There's nothing wrong with that equation. Except the drive, which thankfully for us was against traffic.
The evening is very casual, though there is some "education" about the wine region being featured, the backstory behind each wine and why it was selected, as well as what they hoped to accomplish with each pairing. It was probably 5 minutes of information before each course, leaving you plenty of time to socialize with your dining companions while savoring the pairings. Questions are encouraged, but not necessary to the enjoyment of the evening.
Merrick and I had the honor of attending a costume jewelry auction at
Decades hosted by the original Zoebot herself—Rachel Zoe. I die! Events
don’t get much better than that. The people watching was on another
level. Dresses from every decade, necklaces bigger than my head; heels
for which the word “high” doesn’t even begin to describe it; and Hermes
bracelets on every wrist in the house.
As amaazing as the outfits were, the hors d’oeuvres were offensively wafer sized and even at that scale, the pin thin socialites were turning their noses up at them. The server looked shocked that I even took one and, god forbid, ate it! It was tuna tartar with wasabi caviar by the way and it was delicious (despite its miniscule size). Merrick had a vision of throwing a Sprinkles cupcake into the crowd and watching the emaciated socialites knock each other out with their Chanel handbags as they fought for the red velvet treat.
Don’t get us wrong. Merrick and I love skinny as much as the next Angelenos. Merrick practically coined the term manorexia and I may or may not be responsible for the offensively amoral www.thisiswhyyoureskinny.com blog. But even we had to pig out after that event.
Despite the fact I have parents who eat ice cream almost every day (if they could have it at every meal, they would), until recently I thought I could live happily without ever lifting a dessert spoon again.
I know what you’re thinking. Quelle horreur! C’est impossible! I tell you it’s true. When I gave up my 2-liter a day Coca-Cola habit in college in an effort to regain a good night's sleep (caffeine is not my friend), I found, after a few months, I no longer craved sugar. As my tastes matured, I discovered the savory complexity of wine and eating dessert no longer interested me. Since ice cream was never one of my favorites, I didn’t miss it.
There’s something about being up at 4:00 a.m. that I feel, gives me
permission to go to hell in a hand basket, gastronomically speaking. I
dropped my husband and kids off at LAX so he could escort them to
Connecticut for summer camp. I always feel bereft when the kids are
away. Especially our younger daughter Hannah, who I think on the eve
of leaving, feels obligated to be sweeter to make up for the fact that
her older sister Lena, urged by her teenage-ness, becomes, well, let’s
just say, not so sweet.
I slept with Hannah last night and it was like being 13 all over
again. Although I think our combined ages when we do that amounts to
about 10. “Quit tickling me!” “I’m not Mom.” “Are too!!” “Am not!”
“Oh, Christ, you farted!” “Miss me yet?”
Driving home from the airport, I thought, ‘what would be open at this hour that would be absolutely decadent and bad for me…..?” “Stan’s!”
My first taste of Chef Josiah Citrin’s cooking was at the James Beard
“Chefs and Champagne” event in May. Melisse served a Spring Veal with
Anson Mills Polenta, Morel Essence and Red Wine Jus. I went back
several times for more. My second encounter with Chef Citrin was
at "Taste of the Nation". Melisse’s Liberty duck breast… tender, juicy
and like no other duck I’d had before. This time, I sent my husband
back for seconds and thirds.
I’m embarrassed… simply embarrassed that my first visit to Melisse Restaurant was two weeks ago. It’s just shameful that I hadn’t been before. With all the press and chatter about French eats in Los Angeles…. from Comme Ca to Anissette… why hadn’t I dined at Melisse before? It took two recent food festivals to open my eyes to this gem… a gem that’s been open for almost TEN YEARS!
Tables lined up along the windows at One Pico
offer not only an ocean view, but also a glimpse of Santa Monica's
glitzy new Ferris wheel. Its complex computer system dials out the
colors, changing light patterns the way a kaleidoscope does when the
barrel is turned. In the foreground, palms nod their shaggy heads in
the breeze, and the sand below is dimpled with hundreds of footsteps.
Joggers streak down the beach as the waiter in a fitted vest pours
glasses of Guigal Viognier from the northern Rhône.
Something is different about the restaurant in Shutters on the Beach hotel in Santa Monica, and it's not just the reasonable wine prices or the interesting selection. To celebrate the iconic beach hotel's 15th anniversary, One Pico has undergone a much-needed makeover. And the powers that be have had the good sense not to go for a trendy restaurant-slash-lounge, but a comfortable and casual place with an updated California menu that emphasizes simplicity over complication, seasonal ingredients over the pricey and precious. It's a strategy that's bringing in locals along with summer's hotel guests.
by Kitty Kaufman