7.30.2009

Weekend By The Sea


We decided to escape the sweltering LA heat and drive up the beautiful California coast for the weekend. Our destination: the cool breezes and pristine vistas of the Monterey Peninsula. It was a weekend full of walks on the beach, crashing waves, leisurely drives, and heirloom tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes somehow found their way into many of our meals. They were sweet, firm and memorable.

On our first night in Carmel, we stumbled upon La Bicyclette, a small, quaint, and charming French bistro. The restaurant had a prefix menu that was seasonal, simple and affordable. Our first course was a local heirloom tomato salad with arugula, garlic confit and a balsamic reduction. It was so good I almost forgot to take a picture of it. The tomatoes were fresh and lightly kissed by the balsamic reduction. The garlic confit was so tender it almost melted with each bite. A perfect start to an all-together inspiring meal.


The following night we dined in Monterey at Passionfish Restaurant. While studying our menu for a starter we were immediately drawn to the heirloom salad with fried mozzarella. We questioned having heirloom tomatoes two nights in a row but could not resist. These heirlooms were not as sweet and laid under a bed of tender field greens. They were different in their presentation, but just as appetizing.

Before leaving our weekend oasis we purchased some local heirloom tomatoes. When we got back home to our LA apartment we made our own heirloom tomato salad: the tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt and touch of balsamic vinegar. Heirloom tomatoes and a trip to the sea- two reasons why I love summer!


7.25.2009

Picnic City


It seems that everyone in Los Angeles is packing a picnic this summer. There is a plethora of picnic friendly places and events popping up all over town. Los Angeles has become a venerable picnic city.

I used to only associate packing a picnic in the summertime with the Hollywood Bowl. Being a native Angeleno, when summer rolls around I have always frequented the Bowl. I love the novelty of packing up delectable treats for my friends and I to slowly savor at our seats while enjoying the performances and the sun setting overhead. This year I am venturing out and packing more picnics, but not just for the Hollywood Bowl.

Yesterday I enjoyed a perfect evening of indulgence at Barnsdall Park. Each Friday during the summer, Silverlake Wine holds a tasting. On this particular Friday, the place was packed. The wine was crisp and refreshing, the picnic perfection, and the sun sparkling off the Hollyhock House enchanting.



For my picnic at Barnsdall Park I made a roasted shrimp and orzo salad, a minty cucumber yogurt dip with crunchy pita chips and a fresh fruit salad. Packed carefully in my tote and spread across our little blanket we enjoyed a brilliant summer evening.

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo (serving for 3):

* recipe modified from Barefoot Contessa

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 pound of orzo pasta
  • 1/2 cups of fresh squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cups minced scallions
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cups chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3 persian cucumbers, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • small wedge of fresh feta, diced
Diced onion, dill, parsley, cucmbers and set aside. Mix lemon juice with a pince of salt pepper and a tablespoon of oliveoil.
Cook orzo in a pot of salted boiling water 9-11 minutes. While the orzo is cooking toss shrimp in EVOO, salt and pepper and place on a baking dish and roast for 5-6 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees.
When the orzo is cooked and strained pour lemon juice with EVOO over pasta. Toss the hot pasta with the roasted shrimp and the diced onion, dill, parsley and cucumbers. Allow the flavors combine for an hour. Salt and pepper the dish to taste. Add feta before serving.



For picnics at the Hollywood Bowl I usually turn to Joan’s on Third to do the work for me. The daily selection of fresh deli salads and entrees are always the ideal picnic food. My favorites are the lightly breaded chicken Milanese or the poached salmon topped with toybox tomatoes, garlic, and basil. I usually accompany an entrĂ©e with either Israeli couscous with mushrooms and parsley, crunchy sweet Szechwan green beans, or baby beets with goat cheese and walnuts. Any choice from Joan’s many salad offerings is always delicious. Also not to be missed is the selection of cupcakes, cookies, and bars. My favorites are the chocolate coconut cupcake and the strawberry cream puff – a light pillow of sweetness! Joan’s on Third is a one-stop shop for a perfectly packed picnic.





Where to go when you pack a picnic:

7.16.2009

It's Official I'm In Love With Summer!

I love summer. There is a carefree feeling that comes with summertime. Summer is an excuse to go to the beach because it is too hot in the city. Summer is a reason to eat one to many strawberries because they are in season. Summer is a time to enjoy warm nights under the stars. I love lazy summer afternoon naps. I love summer bbqs. I love heirloom tomatoes. I love summertime concerts. It is official I am in love with summer! Here is an abridged list of my summer loves. There are many more I could list but I'm not trying to write a book here. Enjoy!

Only in the summertime:

  • Nothing says summer like the Hollywood Bowl. I have already seen 2 shows so far and have 4 more on my roster. The open air, the stars, the LA Phil, a picnic and friends. There is no better way to enjoy the summer and to enjoy Los Angeles.
  • Only in summer can you enjoy an outdoor screening in a cemetery. Bring a blanket and get there early to enjoy a film under the stars Saturday nights at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
  • Grab a book and leave the heat and the crowds- during the week that is. Weekdays escape to Huntington Gardens and relax under the shade of their beautiful trees or go north to Malibu and enjoy the crashing waves of El Matador state beach.
  • All summer long the W Hotel in Westwood is hosting Sunday Summer Cinemas at their poolside. Enjoy a movie along with gourmet snacks and cocktails from their restaurant The Backyard. First come first serve and it is free, so get there early and grab a comfy chaise lounge.
  • With summer comes Clementine’s Summer BBQ Fridays. The menu changes weekly, but always includes a variety of mouthwatering delights. Be sure to pair your BBQ selection of choice with their homemade ginger limeade it is not to be missed!

Summer Nights:

  • Enjoy the perfect calm of a Los Angeles summer night on the patio of Street for an eclectic and inspiring dinner.
  • Cool off with a Locali homemade snow cone (the store is open late til' 11pm). Or if you can catch their Icycle (bicycle pedaled popsicle truck) then grab a gourmet flavored pop instead- I enjoyed the mojito and the strawberry lemonade.
  • If you want something cool but not too icy head over to Yogurtland in Little Tokyo. At this frozen yogurt shop you make it yourself. Choose your flavor or flavors however much you are so inclined to indulge in and top it with the array of treats from mochi to strawberries. There is plenty of seating outside so enjoy the warm night air with your cold summer treat.
  • Malo offers a $1 Taco Mondays. While not every taco on the menu is $1 they are pretty affordable and damn delicious. Gather a group of friends and enjoy their large patio seating for a fun Silverlake night.

Summer Libations:

  • Every Wednesday Silverlake Wine hosts a 3 glass wine tasting in the lobby of the Standard Downtown from 5pm-8pm. Come early and enjoy the sun poolside at the Standard’s rooftop or stay late for some after dark tunes on the roof.
  • Ciudad has a happy hour Mon-Fri 4-7pm in their bar. The best mojitos in town are only $4.50 with an equally affordable and tasty bar menu. Afterwards enjoy downtown- the MOCA is open until 8pm on Thursdays or there is the Downtown Art-walk the 2nd Thursday of every month. If you want to enjoy summer under the skyline of downtown Ciudad also offers a Mojito Dinner on the patio tonight (July 15th) 4 courses 4 cocktails.
  • For more cocktail fun try the Roosevelt’s Tropicana Bar. Sit on lush daybeds along the pool while sipping your cocktails. DJ’s spinning tunes nightly.
  • For summer the Edison Downtown has introduced summer inspired concoctions. Try their modernized Mai Tai or their Amelie the “classic champagne and strawberries”.
  • Obviously anytime of year is a good time of year for Tiki Ti’s but there is no time like summer to enjoy tropical refreshing drinks. If you can’t get away or before you get away, escape to your tropical destination of choice through one of their tropical cocktails.
  • My favorite summer libation of them all is sangria at the Do-Over. Every Sunday until Halloween there is a backyard style energetic party at Crane’s of Hollywood. Get there early and stay there late. Drink the hot summer day away while jumping to the beat of their guest DJ’s. And don’t bother with a glass of sangria go straight for the pitcher!

7.07.2009

Let Them Eat Cake (or Too Many Fatties on the Dance Floor)


Last night I joined some friends at Spaceland in Silverlake for some free tunes. Enjoying an engaging night of new music, I didn't think that while dancing along to the electric energy of Andy Clockwise I would find inspiration to post a blog about my favorite thing- cake. Sweaty, hot, and alive, Andy Clockwise belted a song called “Let Them Eat Cake.” One of the lines is 'let them eat cake cause they all look famished...the fatties on the dance floor.’ I jumped, I swayed, I laughed and thought that this man on stage in front of me is brilliant because - let's face it folks - we should all eat cake! So there it was blaring from the speakers and, having just made cupcakes for R's birthday last weekend, I decided to share the simple and delicious recipe I used to make German chocolate layer cake cupcakes.

I love cake. Vanilla cake, chocolate cake, cake studded with nuts, cake with sweetened coconut flakes - you name it and I probably love it. I don’t believe cake should be reserved for birthdays and special occasions. However, this was a birthday and the cake of choice was German chocolate. This was my first attempt at making the oh-so-delectable coconut pecan frosting that sets this chocolate cake apart from the rest. Twenty minutes of a good arm workout and the base for the frosting was complete. It was all much easier than expected.




Cook the frosting on the stovetop, stirring constantly so that the egg yolks do not cook. Take the frosting off of the stove and mix in the shredded coconut and pecans and voila! The frosting cools and it is ready to assemble. I thought that layer cake cupcakes would be a nice change from the standard layer cake birthday cake. Having 24 delicious layered cupcakes made for a week of tasty fun.




In the words of Andy Clockwise, ‘we are all big fatties.’ So eat your cake!



Links:

http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/german-chocolate-cupcakes

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2005/09/german_chocolat_1.html

http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2008/11/german-chocolate-cupcakes.html

http://www.andyclockwise.net/


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