Lingering in Los Angeles (by Carmen)
The movie LA Story starring Steve Martin really captures Los Angeles for me despite the fact that it came out 20 years ago. It plays on the stereotypes of Angelenos being self-involved, superficial, apathetic road-ragers, which they can be at times. At other times, though, there is a charming, laid back, carefree aspect to the city. Add to this warm sandy beaches and the sunny Mediterranean climate and Los Angeles can really start to look attractive. I am always going back and forth between love and disdain for LA. Some of the people I love most live in the LA area, “area” being the key word since the city is so spread out. On the other hand, I simply don’t want to spend half my life stuck in traffic on the freeway because there aren’t many viable transit options.
Nathan and I have been using LA as a home base during our time in the US. And since we’re here we are taking advantage of the good side of LA as much as we can. Fortunately, that has meant a lot of good food – including home cooked meals! One of my favorites has been Dorie Greenspan’s chicken in the pot recipe which Nathan and I have wanted to make ever since we saw it on the cover of her book. The dough seal on the pot means the chicken steams into juicy, tender perfection. I also tackled some of David Lebovitz’s desserts including these incredibly fudgy brownies. I’m happy my dad shares our love of cooking and shared his large kitchen and ample cooking tools with us : )
We also had the opportunity to eat out. Manhattan Beach Post falls under the California cuisine category. To me, this means it has unique flavor combinations matched with the right cooking technique to produce food that makes you sit back in pleasure. The menu is super varied with everything from Vietnamese influenced caramelized pork jowl to mac and cheese. But the common thread is that is all undeniably delicious. One of my favorite dishes was a simple turkey sausage, mixed with kale and drizzled with maple syrup. Another similar and equally yummy place is The Sunny Spot in Venice Beach. Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures but I highly recommend it.
You can’t talk about food in LA without talking about tacos. And the ones at Guisados are worth talking about. The variety on the menu left us speechless for a while but we eventually ordered a ceviche tostada and tacos filled with rajas, carnitas, chile verde and chicken. After so many months in South America, simple, good tacos were just what we needed.
The Chinese community also makes up a big part of LA so it’s no wonder that it has a branch of the international chain Din Tai Fung Dumpling House. We came here for the soup dumplings and were not disappointed. They came steaming hot and filled with savory pork broth. Now I just have to figure out how to get my hands on one of those dumpling shaped bobble heads they had on the counter.
On the occasion of my Dad’s birthday we made a special outing to Osteria Mozza, which is owned by a group of chefs including Mario Battali and Nancy Silverton. The simple clean decor, the smooth service, the sommelier’s smile all indicated we were in for a treat. There were about 5 different burrata starters! With great difficulty we narrowed it down to one. I then ordered simple red sauce pasta which had a perfect balance between sweet and acidic. Nathan’s roast chicken included toast slathered with rich liver pate. To be honest, you really don’t expect less from a place like Osteria Mozza. But it definitely delivered.
Like LA, these restaurants are all over the map- Venice Beach, Manhattan Beach, East LA, Arcadia, and Hollywood. Try to hit them all and you’ll see what I mean about freeway overload. But if you can at least get yourself to some sand and surf, the road rage will begin to melt away a bit.