LA in Nibbles and Bites

This trip, I’ve kept the itinerary to a minimum – my hostess has a broken foot and I’m content to relax and go with the flow of being on vacation. We had the party to keep us busy the first day and a tasting event to attend on Saturday night (more in my next post), and several farmers markets I wanted to visit in an effort to reintroduce myself to cooking (more on that soon, as well)!

In between, we have managed to do a little bit of exploring. Here are a couple of places we visited for nibbles and bites, in the next couple of posts I’ll write about a wine tasting event and my reintroduction to cooking!

Yogurtland: I never really got into the frozen yogurt craze that seemed to enthrall so many over the past few years – never been to Pinkberry, or any of its competitors for that matter. That said, I’m never one to turn down a sweet treat, so when Amy tempted me with frozen yogurt flavors like taro and lychee, I was quick to agree to the short drive to La Brea and 3rd. This is a self-serve shop – a wall lined with softserve taps dispensing flavors ranging from tart plain yogurt to blueberry, chocolate, toasted coconut, and the promised taro and lychee. The line leads you past two condiment/topping bars before you get to the scales where you pay by the pound for your custom-blended concoction. I opted for four flavors: tart plain, taro, lychee and toasted coconut (all non-fat and full flavor) topped with mochi bits and tender coconut flakes. The texture was rich and silky, the flavors were pure and intense (though the toasted coconut was a bit weaker than the rest). The plain was a good foil for the three tropical flavors and the lychee was a bit tart – a good balance for the sweeter taro. Amy skipped the coconut (both the yogurt and the flakes). Together, for two generous servings, I paid just over $5… I would have paid that much for mine alone.

Cube Marketplace & Cafe: (on N. La Brea near Clinton Street) Amy and I went here for an early lunch on Saturday before an adventure in Orange County that I will write about in a subsequent post. The room is comfortable-industrial (not mutually exclusive terms in restaurant design). The four corners of the room comprise the marketplace – not terribly convenient for real shopping, great point-of-sale material for those seated next to the shelves of Rancho Gordo beans, Luxardo Maraschino cherries, Sicilian marzipan, olive oils, and pastas. The rest of the room is comfortable restaurant seating – booth-style banquettes, well-spaced tables and bar seating. There’s also a great cheese and salami selection displayed at the rear of the room. There were two menus – one for a vast assortment of cheeses, salumi, and small snacks (assorted olives, marcona almonds, and “huge toasted corn kernels”), the other for more substantial fare. Everything sounded so good that we had a very difficult time deciding, especially since we were only there for a light bite. We opted for the aforementioned toasted corn kernels (yum!), grilled baby octopus with grilled radicchio, pizza with buratta, prosciutto, and grilled garlic scapes, and sautéed fava tendrils with garlic and lemon. The octopus was tender and succulent, the fava tendrils (a first for both of us) were addictive – sautéed summer – green, bright, lemony. The pizza was good but not great – the ingredients were beyond fresh and the flavors were right on, but the crust was disappointingly nondescript.  Next time I’ll go for one of the many enticing pasta dishes and more of the farm-fresh side dishes (and some cheese, and salami, and…). I did, by the way, pick up some of my favorite Rancho Gordo beans to go, how could I resist?

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