Los Angeles

yakaizoe.jpgMerrick and I had the honor of attending a costume jewelry auction at Decades hosted by the original Zoebot herself—Rachel Zoe. I die! Events don’t get much better than that. The people watching was on another level. Dresses from every decade, necklaces bigger than my head; heels for which the word “high” doesn’t even begin to describe it; and Hermes bracelets on every wrist in the house.

As amaazing as the outfits were, the hors d’oeuvres were offensively wafer sized and even at that scale, the pin thin socialites were turning their noses up at them. The server looked shocked that I even took one and, god forbid, ate it! It was tuna tartar with wasabi caviar by the way and it was delicious (despite its miniscule size). Merrick had a vision of throwing a Sprinkles cupcake into the crowd and watching the emaciated socialites knock each other out with their Chanel handbags as they fought for the red velvet treat.

Don’t get us wrong. Merrick and I love skinny as much as the next Angelenos. Merrick practically coined the term manorexia and I may or may not be responsible for the offensively amoral www.thisiswhyyoureskinny.com blog. But even we had to pig out after that event.

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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.

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tartI love breakfast.  Pancakes that taste like cookie dough at Hedley's, Huevos O'Groats, I'll even drive to Ventura for the chorizo skillet at Golden Egg or go to Barney Greengrass in New York for nova, onions and eggs.  So I was excited to try Tart, the cute cafe next to the Farmer's Daughter hotel on Fairfax.

It's adorable inside.  Quaint, cozy, the owner, who looks like Yosemite Sam, bouncing around in an apron, like someone's dream of what a breakfast place should be.  So I didn't mind that we got seated right next to the door on a particularly chilly Angeleno day.  And I didn't even mind that it took almost a half an hour to get our coffee.  It was Saturday, and they were busy.  But the coffee was burnt and watery.  Like it was scraped from the bottom of the dispenser. 

I returned it and ordered a cappuccino to compensate. It took twenty minutes to arrive AND it came with lipstick smeared all over the mug.  Not mine, by the way.  I sent it back, and suggested that since it had been forty five minutes and there was no sign of our food, maybe we should abandon ship...

My friends weren't having it.  They'd waited this long and we were starving.  So we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  A concerned bus boy finally came to check on us.  When our food finally did come, it was a disaster.  I honestly don't know where to start. 

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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.

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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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