Los Angeles

cervichiaAnyone who lives in Los Angeles knows this is a great city to enjoy ethnic food. It is easy to eat affordably priced meals at any number of national and regional restaurants including those that serve Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Brazilian, Thai, Jewish, Korean, Vietnamese, Armenian, Persian, Peruvian, Guatemalan, Ethiopian and Indian dishes.

Living near the beach, I don't come into town as often as I would like. To meet a friend close to where he lives meant we needed to find a restaurant near the 10 Freeway at the Crenshaw Boulevard exit.

Not knowing where to go, I turned to Bobby Rock, who knows the area well. He had suggestions. They all sounded good. We wanted a light meal, so we figured we'd try La Cevicheria (3809 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019, (323) 732-1253).

As I parked in front of the restaurant, my friend called to say he would be late. A car issue, easily solved in ten to fifteen minutes. Ok, no problem. That gave me time to explore the area.

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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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barhayama.jpgWhat is wrong with me? Why do I drive past intriguing places and keep on driving? Or, why do I keep going to the same places because I know them, they are familiar and safe? My friend, another foodie, Andrea, had made a plan with me last night to try a Japanese restaurant. Then, she kept reading reviews online that scared her straight. This new Japanese usually costs $100 per person. She called me ahead of time to warn me and then told me she really likes this other place on Sawtelle. So now we really have two choices.

When I hopped in her car, she navigated her way around the city in such a way as to end up directly in front of the alternative restaurant and not the original terribly expensive restaurant. I still don’t know whether she did that on purpose, but I was hungry and said, lets just go in there. I had seen it before and it called to me. When she mentioned a place on Sawtelle I just thought it was Hide Sushi and I do already go there all the time.

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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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hatfields_logo.jpgMarriage is a beautiful thing: the union of two people who perfectly complement one another.  So be it with food.  And what better way to appreciate them both than at Hatfield’s, an epicurean labor of love for husband-and-wife chef team Quinn and Karen Hatfield.

Due to both poor time management and navigational skills, we arrived unfashionably late on a Friday night.  Despite our tardiness, we were graciously welcomed like old friends, albeit old friends who are known for being late.  Bourbon, lemon juice and prosecco played nice (for once) in the perfect, pre-dinner French 95 cocktail.  Flaky cheddar biscuits were served with perfectly spread-able butter, and it is well known that butter serving temperature is an art form not easily mastered.  By the time our delightful amuse bouche of quail eggs and parsnip soup made its way over, we knew we’d be back.

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