People who don't live in Southern California forget that in the winter, the temperatures can drop into the 40s and even the 30s at night. That's mild compared with the weather experienced by our friends and relatives who live in other parts of the country.
But even here, a sunny day is appreciated all the more after several weeks of gloomy weather. The last couple of days were beautiful. Bright blue, clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70s. Just about everyone switched to shorts and t-shirts.
A perfect time to drive up the coast and have lunch at Malibu Seafood (25653 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, 310/456-3430, 310/456-6298, fax 310/456-8017), 1 1/2 miles north of Pepperdine University.
Even though the menu has a lot of variety, I always order the same thing, a very politically incorrect basket of fried fish with fat cut fries and tartar sauce. Michelle likes the ahi tuna burger or the grilled fish taco with a side of cole slaw. If you want to keep the calories down, there are salads and grilled fish and for anyone flush with cash, the Maine Lobster plate.
I've studied wine for a decade and have worked on my palate,
expanding my personal taste to include styles from all over the world.
Red, white, sparkling, dessert. I've tried them all. Yet, when it came
to food, I still treated most meals as the means to an end – which was
drinking great wine. So the fact that I've dined at the Petrossian Cafe
twice in 3 weeks is more than a little out of character. It wasn't
until I started following a bunch of LA foodies this past spring on
Twitter that I realized how limited my experience with food really was.
I was embarrassed by the long list of delicacies that I had never eaten
and was actually afraid to put in my mouth. So, I started making a
concentrated effort to eat outside my comfort zone and jump on the
foodie bandwagon. Within the last six months I've eaten Wellfleet
oysters on the half shell (a must when on Cape Cod), Escargot a La Bourguignonne
(anything smothered in garlic and butter tastes good) and a Scotch Egg
(a deep-fried delight).
I was beginning to understand what all the buzz was about, but was still a bit hesitant when invited by my friend Jo to join her and a group of local foodies at Petrossian, a restaurant that specialized in two of my biggest food challenges – caviar and salmon. I've tried both several times over the years and have been unable to overcome my overall dislike. Just when I think I've turned the corner (our friend Charles' amazing poached salmon with homemade dill sauce comes to mind), I encounter a variation that sends my palate running for the hills yet again. However, since Petrossian makes their fame and fortune via these delicacies I decided to try the best before giving up for good.
It seems everywhere we look nowadays, our eyes light upon a charming French style eaterie, usually simple as that is the underpinning of any bistro of repute. I, for one, am glad of this trend especially as so many French chefs are willing to stay true to their roots and serve delightful cuisine. Quite the opposite to the fancy hoo-ha of other chefs around town who keep trying to impress by mixing two, three and sometimes more cuisines for what I call confusion food – and just end up with dishes of unparalleled mediocrity in taste, although presentation might be eye catching.
At one end of town is Morels Bistro which opened quite recently at the Grove, that little piece of Disneyland set next to the Farmers Market. I must say Morels is quite chic, and really does achieve what it sets out to do – afford you the ambiance of a French bistro. I admit getting confused between a bistro and brasserie but I think this restaurant has incorporated the two, downstairs is the bistro and upstairs a brasserie style French steakhouse. Tucked away in the corner by the entrance is a glass cabinet filled with lots of French cheeses and some good ones from specialty farms in England too.
I’m always dragging my friend Laur with me to try out new restaurants. From casual gastropubs up the street like Laurel Tavern, to “modern (molecular) cooking” at The Bazaar across town. She’s always up for a new dining adventure no matter where we go.
When she invited me to dinner at a new place in Malibu last month, I thought to myself, “Seriously, does anyone DRIVE to Malibu just for dinner?” I wondered if trying to get there during rush hour would be worth all the trouble.
If you live in Los Angeles, you understand the hell that is our freeway system, especially during the work week. Sometimes it can take hours to crawl across the 405 freeway, and even shortcuts are clogged with hungry diners trying to make that 7 or 8pm dinner reservation.
It wasn’t just the thought of midweek traffic that bothered me: it was also the general consensus (I think) that Malibu proper is for locals only. I’ve lived in Studio City for fifteen years now, and I can remember driving to Malibu only once for an actual dinner. It was an intimate gathering at some restaurant (can’t remember which one) for a friend’s 40th birthday party.
Unless you've been living under a rock you've likely heard of Kogi BBQ,
LA's twitterific Korean-Mexican fusion truck. If not, allow me to
introduce you. The Kogi BBQ fleet, now three trucks strong, travels all
over LA, from Torrance to Glendale, on a day-to-day basis, informing
the public of their locales via everyone's new fave social network,
On weekends Kogi occupies the kitchen at Venice's Alibi Room. This is where I first enjoyed the delicious fare, but as my BFF Brendan was recently in town and we decided to hit up one of their trucks, the way it's meant to be. We accidentally arrived early , which was a blessing in disguise as it took no time for quite a line to grow behind us.
We kept it real by ordering two beef short rib tacos, two spicy pork tacos and their Kogi special, a spicy pork, Jack cheese quesadilla topped with Kogi's new salsa verde.
One for the Table has never engaged in deliberate snarkiness. I’ve
certainly avoided it as I scrupulously adhered to the motto “if you
can’t say anything nice…” But, in this economy, I find myself being a
bit cranky when certain chefs hold themselves to a particular standard
and humiliate others on national television, when they themselves have
a restaurant that is pitiful. Gordon Ramsay has set himself up as the
arbiter of quality, but after eating at The London twice now, I can
tell you The Emperor has no clothes on.
The first time I went there, I was really excited to have the English Breakfast. I loves me sausages. What I got were these dry, jerky-like, lukewarm salt tubes accompanied by a roasted tomato whose flavor was incomprehensibly bad. How can you mess that up?
The second time I went was because my daughter’s admissions counselor for the college she’ll be attending in the fall was staying at the Bel Age hotel where The London is located. Looking over the menu, I felt like a pinball being battered around from bad choice to bad choice.
I think there might be a reason most of the neutral or positive reviews of Olio Pizzeria focus mainly on breakfast. Their overhyped pizza crust tastes like english muffins. And, unfortunately, it's not quite Thomas'.
It's a tiny restaurant – in a neighborhood pizza parlor way, not a candlelight date kind of way. Not that there's anything wrong with pizza parlors. I am borderline obsessed with Vito's and sitting at a sidewalk table at Village Pizzeria on Larchmont always puts me in a great mood. But Vito's and Village won't empty your wallet and their locations don't force you into shelling out for valet (a completely ridiculous thing to do if you're going out for a slice). At Olio, dinner for two cost almost as much as dinner for two at Sushi Ike.
Chef Ricardo Zarate has proven once and again his blossoming creativity of modern cuisine, all while never losing sight of his roots. I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Zarate back in April while dinning at his original restaurant, Mo-Chica in south Los Angeles. I was with my parents, and we had the distinct opportunity to enjoy his company while discussing our beloved Peru. As my parents and I left the restaurant for the evening, my dad commented that Chef Zarate was so humble considering his accomplishments, and my mom said he had very kind eyes. At that time, his newest restaurant Picca was still under construction. Fast forward a few months, and we have the newest, hippest, most delicious place to dine in LA: Picca Peruvian Cantina!
In many places in the world a bakery is often the nexus of a neighborhood. A place where the locals meet to buy baked goods and bread. Bread, the so-called ’staff of life,’ is inexpensive nourishment to many people. Slowly but surely The Village Bakery and Cafe has become the nexus of our Atwater Village neighborhood. Much like their sisters in Europe, it has a walk up counter with a shelf of various types of bread behind.
When I go in and see the stacks of
freshly baked baguettes it feels a bit like it did when I bought the
daily loaf while living in France. The difference here is you can also
order coffee, a house-made pastry, breakfast or lunch, then sit and
WiFi it up for as long as you want. Since it’s located very close to
the horse stables and riding schools along the Los Angeles River, I’ve
seen more than a patron or two wearing English riding boots and
jodphurs as well as the occasional cowboy boots. A bit of local
Headaches are the worst. And if you don't catch them right when they start, they're hard to cure. I've had one for four days. My mom told me to drink lemonade.
I've taken naps, sat in dark rooms, taken Aleve, even taken Fiorinal. What the eff is lemonade gonna do?
But I was desperate, and unable to operate a motor vehicle, so I walked to Cabbage Patch.
I told them my mom sent me and was convinced they could cure my headache. As if that was a normal thing to say to a cafe owner.
He told me of course they could and prescribed French lentils (which were beautifully presented with avocado and drizzled oil and tasted like they could purify your soul) and told me the mint lemonade was on Dr. Cabbage Patch.