Los Angeles

greenspans1Greenspans is tiny and sandwiched (no pun intended) in between a bar and some tacky Melrose clothing store on the old Tommy Tang strip of Melrose, where Evan Kleiman opened Angeli Cafe all those years ago. Back then all of the good actors in town could be found in Milton Katselas’s Mon and Wed night class at the Zepher Theater just across the street, and Chianti was down the block serving up perfect stracciatella soup. That stretch was something back in its day. (Pardon the walk back 30 years).

Well, seasoned chef Eric Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese is going to bring that block back. It’s good. It’s real good.

My friend Sandy emailed me last week. “Just came back from a place that’s right up your alley”. My friend Sandy is a woman in the know and she certainly knows what alleys I frequent.

She’s also very discriminating and not prone to false alarms or wasting anyone’s time, so my interest was piqued. When I heard the name, Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese, I was more than curious, I was out the door. Not being a lady who lunches, my friend Sandy was a bit surprised, and I hope delighted, that I emailed her straight back asking for a lunch date.

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ludobites8logo.jpgIt's all my friend Jo's fault. She brought me to LudoBites 3.0 at Royal T in Culver City just over 2 years ago. I had never heard of Chef Ludo before and really wasn't that into food, but I was happy to go along for the ride. This was still in the early days of the "pop-up" phenomenon – where a chef takes over a restaurant not normally open for dinner for a night or, in Ludo's case for a few weeks. At that point it/he was still a novelty, so getting a table was still possible and not left up to the whims of fate.  I learned quickly that while dining with foodies you are required to share plates (something I'm still not always a fan of) and at least try everything that is put in front of you – unless it will kill you. Ludo hooked me with my first bite of his food – a foie gras beignet – and sealed the deal forever with his crispy fried chicken. (Now thankfully available on a regular basis from his food truck. Find it. Eat it. You will never think of chicken the same way again.)

Now whenever a new version is announced, our household goes into the same tizzy as the rest of the food community in Los Angeles, wondering if we're going to get a reservation. We have to get in. It's no longer an option. For LudoBites 8.0, his wife Krissy (the organizational brains behind the Man) switched reservation systems from a computer free-for-all, keep-clicking-in-the-hopes-you-get-thru to a 24-hour, enter-at-your-own pace, lottery where you honestly had just as much of a shot in hell of getting a seat, just without the frustration, angst and sore finger. Lucky for us, we got a reservation.

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ice-cream-cones.jpg Despite the fact I have parents who eat ice cream almost every day (if they could have it at every meal, they would), until recently I thought I could live happily without ever lifting a dessert spoon again.

I know what you’re thinking. Quelle horreur! C’est impossible! I tell you it’s true. When I gave up my 2-liter a day Coca-Cola habit  in college in an effort to regain a good night's sleep (caffeine is not my friend), I found, after a few months, I no longer craved sugar. As my tastes matured, I discovered the savory complexity of wine and eating dessert no longer interested me. Since ice cream was never one of my favorites, I didn’t miss it.

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320southlogoFlouncing along La Brea Avenue one windy day looking for a great cup of coffee which, by the way, is rather difficult to find in Los Angeles, I happened upon a rather stark building. Being the warrior that I am, I knocked on the door and asked a young lady there if they served coffee and was it any good?  She told me that they only made french press café. How pleased I was to hear this.

It was rather late in the afternoon and I enjoyed my cup in this quite provocative wine lounge. As I was about to go on my merry way, I noticed a young man sitting in a deep, red velvet chair sipping on a glass of wine. It was 3.30pm and knowing the habits of people who love their wine no matter what time of day or night, I decided I must return…a quick glance at their menu also helped me to make that decision.

I did return for the best coffee in town a few days later and chatted with the owner, Edgar Poureshagh, a very interesting and educated person.  He was, in fact, the young man I had seen sipping wine.  We spoke of many things – food, wine and the Assyrian empire and after telling him I wrote restaurant pieces, I decided this would be a grand place to write about.

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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.

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