Los Angeles

ImageI try really hard to be a health-conscious dancer. I go to the health food markets and buy spinach and avocados and turkey breast and trail mix. But the truth is, I am a carb monster. "C stands for cookie. That's good enough for me." But for me, the real C stands for croissant, and I just couldn't find the perfect one. Until one day I was walking around the neighborhood and saw it. Tarte Tatin. In that little mini-mall on Olympic and Oakhurst. Yep; the one with the frozen yogurt place and the nail salon.

Owner Kobi Tobiano (the former pastry chef at Charles Nob Hill in San Francisco) makes everything in-house from all natural ingredients. It's perfect. Clean, cozy, and filled with croissants! Their almond croissant has become an almost daily indulgence for me--buttery and rich, made from real almonds, not that disgusting paste everyone else in town seems to be using.

If you are a freak of nature and almond croissants just aren't your thing, try to the cinnamon vanilla swirl or the fluffy, powdered sugar covered brownie (or if you are like me, maybe you should get all three). Their egg salad is light and fresh, made with homemade mayo and on fresh baked bread. Their muesli is nothing short of a work of art.

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 ...

saintamour.jpgIs there an uptick in the number of French restaurants in Los Angeles?  I certainly hope so.  French food = comfort food.  At least in the case of Le Saint Amour in Culver City.  I haven’t kept track, and I don’t really know actual figures but it seems to me that there are more and more French restaurants opening in Los Angeles.  And that’s a good thing.  We’ve been so Italian for so long that I’m ready for the return of France.  The best recent example of this was my weekend visit to the very French Le Saint Amour, a Culver City restaurant that has been open for a year and a half.

But before I go there, a bit more on French restaurants in Los Angeles, (San Francisco and New York too).  I just checked on Open Table and seventy-four French restaurants came up in a search for Los Angeles and Orange counties.  A quick cursory glance and I’d remove a number of them because they’re not truly French.  A secondary search of West Hollywood/Beverly Hills/Mid-Wilshire and the Westside gave me thirty-five results.  For those same neighborhoods seventy-three results pop up for Italian.

Not scientific in the least.  The reason I say there seem to be more French places: Le Saint Amour, Petrossian, Fraîche Culver City (French chef Benjamin Bailly), RESTAURANT at the Sunset Marquis (French chef Guillaume Burlion), Church & State, Comme Ça, Bistro LQ (French chef Laurent Quenioux), RH at the Andaz (French chef Pierre Gomes), to name a few and not naming the many that have French influenced menus, or American chefs that lean towards cooking French food. 

Read more ...

artisan-cheese-gallery.jpg 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.

Read more ...

joes9.jpgJoe’s restaurant on Abbot-Kinney in Venice, California is a delight and a deal.  Michelin thinks so, having just given this French-California gem a star.  And my entire family agrees, and we are not always the most agreeable foursome.  Our recent love affair with Joe’s began when I took my husband there for his birthday lunch several weeks ago.  A friend joined our table.  We ordered from a three course prix fixe menu that ran about $17.00.  There was also a two-course lunch with many choices that was much cheaper.  The dishes were innovative and fun, reminiscent of my favorite French or Bay Area menus (Larkspur Inn, Aqua, French Laundry).   Even the bread was incredible.  The service was great and, important to me, flexible and easy. 

Read more ...