Los Angeles

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.

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believer2010.gifI 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!”

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picca-01.jpgChef 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!

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ChocolateOreos 2662I went into Edelweiss Chocolates in Beverly Hills, not to buy chocolates but to buy their white Jordan almonds which I always keep handy in a silver sugar bowl.

“That’s it?” the lady behind the cash register said, casting her eyes in the direction of the case full of beautiful chocolate confections.

“Yeah, that’s it,” I said.

But Steve Zahir, the owner of the shop who was busily arranging his inventory, does not tolerate indifference to chocolate.

“Come in the back. I’ll show you how we do it,” he said.

“Oh,” I said, surprised. ”Okay!” I love it when a minor adventure presents itself unexpectedly.

Four employees were busy in the spotless back rooms of the shop, meticulously cutting toffee bars and dipping pretzels in dark chocolate.

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yamashiro.jpgThough I've lived in Los Angeles for two decades, I still don't consider myself an Angeleno. Mostly because we rarely do anything that's considered interesting or hip in this vast and ever-changing metropolis.  We have our own wine cellar – well it will be someday, but right now it's an office with cases of wine stacked in it – and a kick-ass Rock Band set-up, so we're pretty much self-entertained. It's hard to pay for drinks when you have so much waiting for you at home. However, every once in awhile I feel the need to explore our horizons and wander out into the City. The Man goes along with "the plan" because he has no real choice in the matter. Putting up a fuss just wastes energy in a fight you aren't going to win. Lately, our excursions have centered around vintage Hollywood venues, which are regaining their popularity due to an "old is cool" mentality sweeping the city. We're not only old-fashioned, we like our drinks that way too, so the new classic cocktail culture is giving us a reason to step out once again. Being a fan of Hollywood history, I am slightly embarrassed to admit that there are many old school, infamous places I've never been to like Musso & Franks, The Polo Lounge, Chateau Marmont and Spago. Didn't have any money when I moved here. Still find it hard to spend $12 on a martini. There is however, one place I can now cross off the list: Yamashiro.

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