20 January 2015

An LA Food Diary

We're a few days out of a trip to Los Angeles, the Venice/Malibu area, and with that in mind, for this post, I thought it could be fun to relate how we ate over the course of a few days. For us East coasters, the pink sunset, sunny days and spectacular Point Dume are etched in good memory. And as it goes when you visit somewhere new, you take a piece back with you. As I head back into the kitchen here, I feel a kick of the Pacific informing our cuisine. Travelers, if you're looking, bookmark some of these items I cobbled together through recommendations, a torn page from a cooking magazine, a colleague and a few LA bloggers. You'll find natural sites much prettier than your plate, but you can eat well, too. 

Our welcome to Hollywood began with, naturally, a late night drink. I'd been on a plane, Ed already there, watching business presentations all day, so we stole away via Uber to the bar with only an address, no sign. Walk through a back door, open in a vintage-inspired bar with handcrafted cocktails. My O Henry, was a delicious mix of bourbon, ginger and lime, chilled by a rectangular ice cube and my gentleman, a fine aged scotch. Next time, I'd dress the part. 

An early lunch is a delicious bet here; while the popular, thick breakfast brioche and house jam seems delicious, if a bit unbalanced on the belly, the savory items are not to be missed. The sorell pesto rice bowl topped with feta, preserved lemon, radish and a poached egg screams Welcome to CA, and is benefited by hefty avocado and marinated kale garnishes, and the scrambled egg, avocado, pancetta, arugula on baguette is indeed a man-'wich. A hipper than hip vibe, yet also reasonable on the wallet. The coffee is delicious, too, and served in a carafe. 

The food is excellent. The wine. People will be ordering lots of plates, and lots of wine. You'll order a few things and realize that they are probably spending $300. The small plates are deliciously detailed but small. There was a rustic pile of escarole, almond and parmesan salad, super-fresh, wood-fired large shell-on shrimp (3!), house-made sausage with king mushrooms and a fire-roast cauliflower. In a Seinfeldian moment, a group of four foodies beside us asked the busboy for bread, which he promptly brought. That may have been the missing link to take our meal into more substantial territory. It's there if you ask! I'm sure it wasn't free...

Chocolatier Blue
A charming handmade chocolate shop across the street on Abbott Kinney, with a laid-back vibe. We bought a few chocolates: espresso, sage-honey, 75% dark, and then, incredulously, were handed a parchment bag of three giant oatmeal raisin cookies. "We give away what didn't sell at the end of the night!" said the bright bandana-wearing employee. The giant, oaty cookies lasted three days, not losing a shred of moisture. We brought one on each outdoor excursion for fuel. Ok, maybe we split the first one for dessert right away. With tea of course.

This clean, design-forward, small shop steps from Venice beach is so charming, we forewent both the Blue Bottle and Intelligentsia on Abbot Kinney altogether. They make a mean long black, have fresh beans and a kind, hip vibe. 

Probably one of my favorite finds, thanks to a coworker. A bare bones, fresh-caught fish shack. Order at the counter and you only have a few choices, which is exactly what I loved about it. Choose a fish fillet from the case for grilling, choose 2 sides. We did a halibut and an Aji tuna. Enjoy one of the many beers, sit outside or in at a checkered picnic table. We went for a late Friday lunch 4ish, and it was pleasantly occupied but with a nicely sparse crowd. A bonus for going at this time is being able to capture the sunset across the street afterwards.

The budget-answer to Gjelina. Our bill with a takeaway kale salad, burrata pizza, meatball side and store bought wine was half what it was the previous night. People stand in the alleyway and at the counter there scarfing down their hot pizza and sides but we were happy to drive peacefully around the corner into our Airbnb abode. 

Malibu Farm Cafe
Put on your sweater at sunset, walk down the pier jutting out into the pacific ocean and sit in what feels like someone's big rustic California kitchen. White-walled, oak-tabled, this quiet, romantic spot is ideal for the end of a day, and the tangy soy-mustard salmon and skirt steak are sturdy mains.  

A Friday morning market with a coffee cart, lovely citrus, avocados, fresh eggs and a seeded organic French baguette, which lasted 3 days on the counter.

Every couple blocks in this part of the country. We replenished our sundry supply with gruyere, smoked deli turkey, watercress, maple yogurt and on-sale California strawberries. Whole Foods are interesting for people watching in general and this SoCal one was no exception...

Be back soon with a new recipe xx

Photos: Malibu sunset, Point Dume I-3, Venice market, Getty Villa mosaic detail, Sqirl, Reel Inn

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