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Now What?

20 Apr

Lessons in how to trick my favorite Great Dane.

In the aftermath, it didn’t matter much.  They were friends anyway.

Huckleberry

6 Apr

Did you see the movie “It’s Complicated” with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin?  The movie was fine – nothing special – though if I’m being honest it is exactly the kind of movie I tend to enjoy on a Friday night.  Anyway, the best part about that movie for me was Meryl Streep’s character’s pastry and specialty shop.  In another life, I intend to own one.  Homemade pastries, beautiful displays of savory and sweet items, late night croissant baking – I’m all in.

In the meantime, though, I am always in search of my dream specialty store.  Across the country, I have found some – but not many – that satisfy this very specific notion in my mind about what such a store should look and feel (and taste!) like.  On a recent trip to Los Angeles, on a recommendation, we had lunch at Huckleberry.  This bakery/cafe is among the closest I have found.

Huckleberry serves breakfast, lunch, and early dinner.  There is some seating and lots of great take out options.  It is a family run “local artisan bakery and cafe” full of homemade goodies made of only the top quality ingredients.  And you can tell.  Everything on display is appealing; everything on the menu is compelling.  The menu is written in chalk and changes daily.  It’s all fresh and new.  Nothing you order will disappoint – we found everything to be decadent and just perfect, really.  

There is no specific theme.  The bakery/cafe offers creative breakfast items, salads, sandwiches, and freshly baked breads and pastries.  The pastries are on display up front – you have to have a stone cold heart not to order at least one.

Among other things, we enjoyed the kale salad with local ricotta and homemade croutons – vinegary and refreshing,

a savory white bean puree with freshly baked country bread,

a delicious strawberry crostada with homemade whipped cream,

and a soft and sweet cinnamon coffee cake.  

Adore!

If you have found places like this in your hometown, or anywhere, really, please share!  I’d love to hear from you!

Best Meal 2011

5 Jan

I have been thinking a lot about my best meal of 2011.  And I am having a really hard time.  We ate so well in Las Vegas – it’s remarkable how that city has become a proper food town.  Dinner at Joel Robuchon, in particular, was amazing.  Our meal at Tru was incredible, too (Abe’s favorite meal of the year).  And Graham Elliot surprised us with a lovely prelude to winter on our second visit there in 2011.  Still, I think my favorite meal might be our recent dinner at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles, where we ate with Kim and Sunil on the next-to-last day of the year.

If you follow this blog you know how much I love Mario Batali.  Everything he (and his partner, Joe Bastianich) is involved with (from Vegas to New York City to an Italian food piazza (via New York City), is remarkable.  I think this is because at the heart of it, there is an authenticity.  Even when Chef Batali is being creative or contemporary, his foundation is authentically simple Italian cuisine, the food I grew up with, and I love that.

Osteria Mozza is no exception.  We were starving when we got there and we were with our dear friends – that always helps – but the food was beyond.  The menu is gorgeous – a careful selection of antipasti, various hand-pulled mozzarella and related cheeses, and many beautiful pasta dish choices.  There are also some beautiful meat dishes but we didn’t get that far.  We settled on first, second, and cheese courses, instead.  Difficult to choose just a few items, so we shared many.

Highlights included the steamed mussels with a light pomodoro (tomato) sauce, chilies, and herbs – easily some of the best mussels I’ve ever had (and again, if you follow the blog, you know mussels are a signature obsession);The burricotta with braised artichokes, pine nuts, currants, and mint pesto – creamy, earthy, sweet – OM – amazing.  Lovely presentation, too.Spinach tagliatelle with lamb ragu, olives, and mint – perfectly rich – clever depth of flavor with the savory lamb first, the salty olives, and finally the fresh mint.  Delicious.The bucatini all’ amatriciana (al dente, spicy) and butternut squash mezzalune (soft and sweet) were lovely, too.We had some nice sides, as well.  Broccoli with chilies and vinegar, and fried potatoes with rosemary.  Yum.  (Oh and a baby, too!)

By the end of the meal it was quite late so we opted out of dessert (typically against my religion but in this case, a very good idea – we were full, anyway).  I did, however, see Chef Batali’s olive oil cake on the menu – my favorite – next time!

Even without dessert, this meal, for me, was easily one of the very best of 2011.

Life Is Like, Con’t

3 Jan

Life is like this sometimes.  And other times, the boys book a gig in a bar in Santa Monica, and friends and family come out for it, and we’re up until 5 am on a Thursday, and life is good. 

Venice Beach Canals

2 Jan

For all the years I spent in Los Angeles, living there and visiting friends in the years after, I had not been to the Canals until this year.  The Venice Beach Canals are amazing.  On a foggy day, especially, it is dream-like and lovely.

LA Traffic & Animal

28 Dec

We sat in LA traffic for hours today – and ended up at Animal for a meat-filled dinner.  Car conversation is always good, as is, well, a meat-filled dinner.  And I came back home to some serious rehearsals in my home-away-from-home at Kim and Sunil’s.

Rad.

This Is In Fact A Sand Dollar

7 Oct

As kids, we used to search the beach for sand dollars.

As adults – three of us – we could not identify whether this was a sand dollar.  We had to think about what they looked like.  And we had to look it up on our iPhones before we settled on yes.  This is in fact a sand dollar.

 

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