So, I was like, driveen in the valley ‘n’ stuff? And I like drove
past a shop that said Artisan Cheese Gallery, ‘n’ stuff? And I was like
“wait, did I just, um, this is like the valley, ok? And I think I jist
saw sometheen with the word ‘artisan’ on Ventura Blvd.”. No way,
right? So, I go “maybe I’ll jist turn around and check it out, right?”
So, alls I wanted to do was see if I dint eemagine it?
So anyways, I turn around and park and go in. Let me tell you darlings, it was as if a magic wand was waved over me, imbuing me with all manner of sophistication. This was no ordinary cheese shop. It was a ‘gallery’ indeed. The light streaming in from the street reminded me of my days spent in the South of France (NOT). Wooden shelves lined with cheeses that were in their natural habitat of room temperature beckoned for my palate to take the journey. A sliver of Boschetto with Black Truffles from Italy brought on such a surge of ecstasy through my body, I could have used something to hold on to. A bedpost, perhaps? I closed my eyes with rapture as I allowed Brie Nangis from France to slowly dissolve on my tongue.
"How many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"
"It's a really obscure number. you wouldn't have heard of it."
Since starting my dance company, my affiliation with hipsters has grown exponentially (and it wasn't exactly non-existent before). So instead of fighting it, I've decided to fully embrace all the customs and habits of this (increasingly less) rarified group of moustache sporting, shower shunning, flannel-wearing, beanstalk-bodied ugly ducklings. To accomplish this, I consult my sister, who, while she is much too beautiful to need to hide behind hipster affectations, is an expert on all things Eastside and off-the-beaten path.
The Kogi Taco Truck made me miss
being in my twenties. Especially over the last couple of months, since
I started following their Twitter updates on my cell phone. Late at
night I’d be in bed reading a book, and have to stop so I could see the
incoming Twitter text: “10PM-2AM@The Brig – Abbot Kinney and Palm in
Venice”. I couldn’t stop wondering, “Who ARE these people partying
EVERY night of the week, chasing down the Kogi taco truck at 2AM?
To great acclaim, José Andrés recently opened four restaurants (Rojo,
Blanco, Saam, & Patisserie) and a bar (Bar Centro) on the ground
floor of the SLS Hotel (465 S. La Cienega, Los Angeles, CA 90048;
310/246-5555). Collectively called The Bazaar, the space reflects
Andrés' elegance, playfulness, energy, and love of food.
Serving an eclectic menu, Andrés uses foam and flavor essentials reflecting his relationship with Ferran Adrià. Serving the best hams and cheeses cements his connection to the Spanish tapas bars where working people gather to eat, drink, and talk.
Over several visits to the Bazaar, I enjoyed wildly extravagant treats like his crispy cones filled with cauliflower cream and topped with American caviar or the whimsical, delicious sticks of foie gras wrapped in cotton candy, but the most memorable dish was something extraordinarily simple: an appetizer of salt crusted potatoes with a cilantro-parsley dip.
Three weeks into all night shoots in Chatsworth on a low-budget indie movie with the same caterer twice a day serving us burgers for “breakfast” every single day (not even I can eat a burger every day, 4 times a week is my limit) and the least I can say is crew morale was low. Hence my excitement that the upcoming Thursday we would go a few hours early (and by early I mean late but time gets completely backwards on a night shoot), and we needed to bring in a second meal, not only to avoid paying meal penalties but, more importantly, to keep everybody happy.
I took off to scour the Internet and find the best possible food truck to grace our set, and one willing to visit us at 4 in the morning. My best friend texted me a list of his favorites and one name stuck out: The Hungry Nomad. We had become sort-of nomads ourselves, living in motorhomes and camera trucks and pop-up tents as we set up in various locations to shoot a high-school-age-rom-com all over Chatsworth. And the name promised Middle Eastern food, or, as I soon learned, Middle Eastern Fusion, my new favorite genre.
I recently joined Facebook and that is another story for another time, but its relevant to what I’m telling you because I’ve never made a friend this way until recently.
I was reading my favorite magazine, The Believer. I always turn to Sedaratives when I first get it and this month it was written by a girl named Julie Klausner. It was very funny and caused me to look up her web site where I read some of her other material. Even funnier. I wrote on her “wall” telling her how much I liked her writing. One thing led to another and I was taking her out to lunch because she was here from New York on a book tour. Her book, I Don’t Care About Your Band, had some of the funniest things I’d ever read about relationships.
When trying to figure out where to eat, she assumed that I might have that “California” thing and be all ‘food restriction-y”. I told her I was a native and that kind of crap was usually behavior adopted by people who move here. One thing we got out of the way right immediately was that neither of us was a vegan or vegetarian. We had some really arch things to say about people who are, but I’m not going to repeat them because you never know, right?
So, I thought, “Burgers!”
Sometimes you don’t know a place is missing from a neighborhood until it opens. That’s how I feel about the new Sweet Lady Jane that opened a few months ago in Santa Monica up towards the east-end of the shop on Montana Avenue. I just hadn’t realized before – there really wasn’t anywhere to buy a perfect cherry pie (or a chocolate cake) or a delicious croissant or stop in for lunch and feel like just at the table next to you someone’s having an interesting conversation while you have one yourself accompanied by a perfect curried chicken salad sandwich (not an easy thing by the way) or home-made soup or if you need something cozy, a perfect grilled cheese, and the promise of a perfect cappucino (even though you don’t drink coffee at lunch).
And then, of course, any of their perfect sweets, a heavenly slice of cake, a hefty slice of pie. And you won’t be able to help yourself – you’ll bring something home for dessert that night, too – and if you’re anything like us, place an order for one or two pies for Sunday night (and maybe a chocolate cake) because you’ve just been inspired by Sweet Lady Jane to invite people over for Sunday dinner.
Los Angeles is a very large and fractured city. Most people, myself included, tend to play where they live because commuting is such an
unknown quantity. Sure you get used to leaving yourself plenty of time
to get where you're going, if you have to be on time or actually respect
the people you're meeting. SigAlert.com is practically your best
friend. So, even though I love a good wine bar, the opening of Sonoma
Wine Garden late last summer escaped my attention. I can hardly be
blamed for not knowing. It's in Santa Monica and I live in the San
Fernando Valley two diametrically opposed areas. When I got an
invitation via Twitter to attend a tasting put on by Vibrant Rioja (more
about them later) at the aforementioned SWG, I was excited and
intrigued. A new wine bar, how cool. Then I became slightly concerned. A
new wine bar in the Santa Monica Place Mall?
Well, this recently completely remodeled mall is pretty upscale and far from the usual suburban nightmare, being 2 blocks from the beach and mostly open air. Once I went to their website, I realized this place had real potential. When I arrived, any doubts were immediately put to rest. Being a "wine garden" most of the seats are outside on the roof of the mall, in a setting that is both classy and cozy. Sort of like the patio of most of our dreams. While you can't exactly see the ocean, its presence is felt, which they cleverly temper with several outdoor fireplaces and enough heat lamps to make sure no one ever even has the chance to catch a chill.
Food in New York. I used to know it so well. When I lived there during the ’80s and ’90s, and worked in the food business I knew every place there was to know, and I went to most all of them. It’s been a very long spell since I lived there, and too long since I’ve been able to really visit. A big void has been left in my New York City food knowledge. So when I first heard about Magnolia Bakery and how everyone was raving about it, I had no frame of reference. It was just food-iverse white noise. (I apparently missed its appearance in both ‘Sex and the City’ and in an SNL sketch.) I quickly got up to speed when they announced they were opening a shop in Los Angeles on one of the busiest streets in L.A.: West 3rd Street. With everything that had been written I understood that this was a very popular place. I wanted to go check it out. Some of the stories (in the L.A. Times and on the Internet) were about how owner, Steve Abrams, was met with complaints from the neighborhood and other businesses about how his business would impact parking. The area was already saturated. Parking places were impossible to find. I knew this to be very true. So instead of driving, and battling parking: let’s take the bus!
I’ve always loved a good field trip. Like most Angelenos I live in my car. This is not a good thing. Planning and taking the bus was fun, educational and in a small way helped the environment. We jumped onto the #201 at Brunswick and Los Feliz Blvd., changed to the #316 at 3rd St. and Vermont, and arrived at Magnolia a little over an hour later.
Larry King is my spirit animal. When my brother and I were at El Rodeo Middle School and Beverly Hills High School, respectively, we would often ditch our morning classes and go instead for lox and bagels at Nate & Al’s. If we saw Larry King, we knew it would be a good day. Don’t tell my Mom we ditched, although I’m sure deep down she would have approved. Nate & Al’s was a Concord jet to New York in the middle of Beverly Drive. In fact, I once threw a party in New York and my mother insisted on ordering the hot dogs all the way from Nate & Al’s.
Besides the point, but there was a large fiasco that involved my Mother and both her sisters concerning the foot-long hot dogs that arrived with the lack of foot-long hot dog buns. My Aunt who was hosting the party had a nightmare that the end of the hot dog sticking out of the too short buns would cause ketchup, mustard and the like to spill all over her flawless living room. It was fun without responsibility, and not the kind of party she wanted to be having, so she called their eldest sister to get involved and solve the problem. “I’ll take care of this,” my one Aunt assured the other, and sure enough, the next day a box from Nate & Al’s arrived at my Aunt’s door. But inside were 100 foot-long hot dogs and packs and packs of standard size hot dog buns. So now we had 200 foot-long hot dogs and zero useful hot dog buns, for a party for 35 people. My Mom promptly called Juniors, who referred us to their bakery, and the next day a guy showed up at my aunt’s door with 200 foot long hot dog buns delivered straight from Brooklyn. He didn’t even charge us, which I don’t understand, although if you knew my family stranger things have happened than a guy in coveralls delivering 200 foot long hot buns from Brooklyn on a Saturday for free.