I’ve always been an East Coast girl, even when I lived on the West Coast. Even more so, I’m a New Yorker, and as such, I’ve been a little prejudice against Los Angeles for a good long time. For years my friend Amy has been trying to convince me of the wonders of life in sunny southern California with little success and a bit of Brooklyn attitude to top it off!
Well, after my most recent visit last week, I think she finally got through to me. Not bad for less than 48 hours in the city! She wrote a great post on our whirlwind tour on the Eat Something Sexy Blogs, but I wanted to at least acknowledge the reasons for my change of heart.
1. The smell of things growing: After a miserable bout of snow storms, cold wet slushy rain, and months of gray in NYC, I was so happy to wake up in a place where bright-colored citrus fruits were growing in the backyard and walking for coffee was like a stroll through the botanical gardens.
2. Kiss My Bundt: My new favorite bakery (on the west coast, at least). Full size bundt cake bliss (we had 7-Up cake the day we visited), baby bundts (good for two), and mini bundts (better than a cupcake) – we had chocolate Oreo cream and their famous red velvet bundt (only Cake Man Raven here in BK can rival this). Flavors change daily, the selection is fantastic, and they even offer baking classes in the evenings. Owner Chrysta Wilson is vivacious and welcoming, I look forward to meeting her again. She also has a new Kiss My Bundt Cookbook out that you can purchase by clicking here.
3. Providence: Two Michelin stars, two doors down from a friend’s house, and too good to pass up. This was the first restaurant of the evening on our only night on the town this trip. We were only there for appetizers, but that didn’t diminish the quality of service in the least – the attentive captain and sommelier both escorted our group of three (me and two Amys) through an assortment of dishes accompanied by a trio of wines that worked perfectly (chosen by us – three women who know their wines) – Cremant de Bourgogne, an Arnais from California, and Coeniubum from the Lazio region of Italy. The amusee was a fascinating (and delicious) array of tastes and textures: wasabi pea dusted marshmallow, a filled gougere, and a parfait of cured ocean trout layered with lemon gelee, 4-spice cream, and Japanese rice crisps (the real name escapes me right now). Though they were not serving the uni dish that we were there for, we were not a bit disappointed with the Hawaiian big eye tuna, the crab salad, and a diver scallop and fresh peas three ways (puree, shelled, and tendrils). All were exquisitely prepared, simple, and popping with flavor and texture.
4. Hatfield’s: They just relocated to a bigger space in February 2010. Having not seen the old one, I can’t compare. The new space is chic, simple, modern yet warm and inviting. The open kitchen keeps the mood lively and comfortable. This was the second stop on the tasting tour – entrees (and as it turned out, dessert too). Since the three of us are more into apps than main courses, we opted for a selection from that side of the menu and were happy we did. If you go here, do not miss, under any circumstances, the tuna croque madame – it is a sensual delight that will leave you sighing and moaning softly to yourself, savouring each bite like lover’s kisses – buttery, rich lover’s kisses. We also had a silky cuttlefish salad, and delicate yet sinfully rich agnolotti. With these, we tried a few of the unusual (and quite tasty) wines by the glass: Oppidum Moscato di Terracina Secco Aquerelli from the Lazio region of Italy (another one!), a Spanish rosado, and a Savennieres. What we weren’t expecting was the dessert extravaganza that would follow, complements of a very generous general manager (Full disclosure: one of the Amy’s is a wine/liquor rep for the restaurant; this had absolutely no influence on my review of the food). The desserts were all great but with so many it was hard to keep track – my memory lapse was aided by the fact that each was paired with a different dessert wine or beverage! All were lovely and the pairings were spot-on (hope Amy’s notes are better than mine!) – my hands down favorite was actually a “cocktail” made with Taylor’s 20-year Tawny Port and Old Rasputin stout. Yum!
5. Donuts: I learned something new over dinner at Hatfield’s – apparently Los Angeles has an unusually large number of donut shops and it is rumored that as many as 90-95% of them are owned by people of Cambodian descent. Hmmm. And open 24 hours? Even after a long night of indulging in some of the best food LA has to offer? Why not?! On the way home from our eating extravaganza we stopped at Amy’s favorite Cambodian donut shop for a sweet treat – worth it!
Can’t wait for my next visit!