Posts Tagged ‘Santa Monica’

Free Agent

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Robin's Thanksgiving table being set

I felt fine about Thanksgiving. Well, fine until today when I kept reading on everyone’s Facebook page how great their leftovers taste; writing in full description how they all make their turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce and mayonnaise. Some put stuffing in that sandwich. I wouldn’t. But did I mention I don’t have leftovers?

This was finally the year to go to Robin’s. She has invited us for a few years but we are too big a bunch to feed unless it’s without all the kids. This year my husband really wanted to be with his family, so he chose to go to his cousin’s and I became a free agent and traveled far for me, Calabasas. I already knew Robin was a good cook, I have been eating her food for years, and her mother Abbe was actually my first cooking teacher. I knew I was in for something great and it was!!!! Perfect. My favorite was Robin’s stuffing and Gene, her husbands green bean casserole was outrageous. He uses haricot vert green beans and fries the onions, doesn’t use canned shit. Didn’t realize Robin can be militant about “her” kitchen, “her” turkey dinner and that I might be stepping on toes when I said I’d be bringing a few pies. She said it was a good lesson in letting go of some control when she allowed me to bring them.

Robin and Gene, their kitchen, HER turkey...don't walk in there!!!

I will mention — and I did mention this in last year’s blog (remember?) — that the Gelson’s Market bakery, Viktor Benes, has an amazing pecan pie — almost as good as my mom’s, which was the best. However, their pumpkin is not as good as other homemade pies, like the one my friend Bruce makes. Bruce had invited me over on Wednesday for a Watch-Me-Make-My-Pies party. I’m sure it was lovely and the aroma in his kitchen must have been intoxicating. But I couldn’t bring myself to go and then not have a taste right away; I’m not that much of a masochist.

At this time of year, I am reminded of what my dad often said: “You didn’t choose your family, but you do choose your friends and can make them your family.” In case you haven’t noticed, I will be forever quoting my father. Let’s face it, he was my hero and I love just about everything that came out of his mouth, including the word cunt which seems to offend the rest of the world.

In the spirit of “my friends are my family,” I chose Robin’s house. She is family and I told her that when she asked everyone at the table to please say what they are grateful for. I also love old people. They are often the forgotten ones and I said during my what-I’m-grateful-for speech that I also came to Robin’s to see her mother again. Abbe, her mom, told me that the way she gets enough exercise is by walking back & forth cleaning up dog and horseshit — an image that in itself was worth the trip to Calabasas.

Tradition. This is the premiere holiday of tradition, isn’t it? And I for one have never been that traditional. But the special fragrances of the turkey feast is something that I always long for and associate with my mother who I miss being in the kitchen making her great Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, I made a big sort of failed attempt at it myself – but this time I was fine with my kids going to their dad’s house. (more…)

Favorite Haunts

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

I have a few favorite haunts right now and I believe it’s the time to share so here I go.  In Los Angeles and sorry, but only the westside,  I have a few restaurants that I love for more than just the amazing food.  They aren’t the biggest secret but I’m certain that word of mouth is the reason all are usually packed with regulars.

One is the Nook or is it Nook Neighborhood Bistro? My friends and I just simply call it the Nook.  It’s small and tucked into a corner ( hence the name) of a shopping mall on the corner of Barry and Santa Monica Blvd. in West Los Angeles.  The food is fresh and very good and I especially like their french fries.  But, what I really like about this restaurant and the others I’m about to out is that they are” neighborhood” restaurants.    The owner, Brian,  is present and lovely and a great restaurateur.  The aioli mayonnaise is the second or is that third now reason that I love the Nook.

Next not so new find that I’m ready to reveal is Akasha in Culver City.  I love her.  I’m starting with that.  The chef and owner is a famous private chef for years by the name of Akasha and she has talent in the kitchen and a warmth that makes you feel like you’ve known her a hundred years, or as my dad would often say ” I know him 40 years” Say it with a heavy New York accent and you can sound exactly like him. It’s very healthy, all fresh farmers market ingredients and dishes like Red Quinoa and Edamame with market vegetables and lemongrass tofu.  You get the idea, it’s VERY  healthy but it’s tastes nothing like healthy food usually tastes to me.  Not like cardboard is basically what I’m saying.  The cannellini bean hummus is truly out of this world.  And here is a main draw that will be the common theme here. Akasha’s husband is Alan Schulman, also an owner and he is always there welcoming guests, bringing you extra goodies (freebies) to try.  I am loving these two restaurants for the old fashioned quality they have with their owners being such good restaurateurs.

Last one I’m giving away today is Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica on Ocean Ave.  Still so new to me, but I go at least once a week.  I’m saying still so new because the name of the guy who manages the place just escaped me.  It’s like Silvano or something.  I’m making that up but it will have to do.  He has that charm that I love of someone getting to know you and realizing that you are a regular.  He called me an evangelist because I’m so out there spreading the word.  Saying that to me is when he really sealed the deal.  The food is very good and if you love oysters, you definitely have to go because they have some very fresh good ones.  Again, here I do love their french fries, oy, how old am I that I keep talking about the fries in these restaurants? And fries with mayonnaise no less.  Sorry, that’s the way I like my fries.  They have a lobster sandwich on brioche but I’m digging the ahi tuna sandwich on brioche just as much.