Los Angeles

little_02_purchase.jpgI go to Pasadena often because my younger daughter’s cheer team practices there. Yes, I spawned a cheerleader because my parents don’t have enough to laugh about in heaven. It’s given me a chance to explore Old Pasadena and I’ve been loving it.  But the fact that “Of all the Gin Joints” so to speak, I mean that Little Flower Candy Company just happened to open a bakery in Pasadena was just dumb luck for me. The building is an art deco cubby that reveals itself as you’re zooming along what looks like a residential area. Pasadena is funny that way. 

I want Christine Moore to be my mommy. She’s the owner of the Little Flower Candy Company in Pasadena. She makes those sublime caramels and wondrous oversized square marshmallows you’ve seen at places like Joan’s on 3rd and Clementine. But the reason I want her to be my mommy is because she told me she had a sleepover for her eight-year old daughter and six other little girls at her new store on Colorado Blvd.

Read more ...

boa-sm-dining-room.jpgMy idea of a good time is dragging my sorry ass up the stairs after a long day, plopping down on the bed, snuggling with my husband and watching re-runs of Law and Order or, if God REALLY loves me, a NEW episode of Real Time With Bill Maher. This 4 star vacation is earned after a day of schlepping kids, policing homework and of course the dance of death known as feeding everyone.

I’ve lost the will to live at that point, so preparing food for myself is out of the question.  I hastily eat something over the sink or bring things up to the bed that can be dipped or combined such as pesto with bread and diet coke, or Cheezits and Cranberry Juice. Oy.

Read more ...

ImageIn 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 neighborhood color.

Read more ...

fraiche.jpgI know I’m really late to the game on this one, but I finally went to Fraiche in Culver City. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t just chance that kept me from trying it. It’s not that I don’t want to give Culver City a chance. I do. And I have. I’ve been to Wilson – terrible and terribly expensive (good riddance). I’ve been to Akasha (and will probably go back)—I highly recommend the lamb sliders, but it’s a little expensive for me. I’ve even been to Royal/T where, although I do like the idea of eating in an interactive art gallery, the food is only so-so and there are way too many children running around. But my mom would not stop raving about Fraiche. So I decided to swallow my bias about Culver City and try it. Plus, Matt and I really needed to go on a date—for both of our sakes.

It was surprisingly easy to make a reservation and I guess they sensed we needed a “date” because they made us wait a few minutes so that we could have the best table in the house. The menu is full of fresh ingredients (baby beets, house-made ricotta), surprising combinations (white wine and saffron) and besides the shellfish platters, nothing is over $25. And the drinks are some of the best I’ve had in LA. I ordered the Summer Sage which is like spiked spa water and Matt had the Bourbon Street (Bourbon, Grand Marnier, egg whites and orange bitters) which I thought I was going to spit back up on the table but ended up liking so much that we’ve since tried (unsuccessfully) to make it at home.

Read more ...

umami-burger-logo.jpgMy mom makes the greatest hamburger in the world. I don’t know how she does it — it’s not the cut of the meat or the way she marinades it (she doesn’t) or the fact that it’s organic (which it is) or that it has some fancy cheese on it (though it usually does). It’s just the greatest hamburger you’ve ever had. Which is why I’m always hesitant to try the great, new burger stand around the corner — especially, when it’s a gourmet burger stand. Don’t get me wrong. The idea of maple grilled onions and blue cheese and truffle oil on a hamburger is certainly appealing to me, but somehow those gourmet burgers — even the ones from Father’s Office — just never taste as good as my mom’s plain, old patty melts.

But how could I not try Umami burger? Everyone’s been talking about it and even the name is sort of intriguing. Umami: the fifth taste. What the hell is the fifth taste? My friend Ben Chinn and I had to find out.

Read more ...