Friday, December 19, 2008

Swooning Over Eric Ripert - Hollywood Farmer's Market 12/7

Having just read a large chunk of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, I found myself exceptionally motivated to get my tuchas down to the Hollywood farmer's market a couple Sundays ago. Dad was busy with his brittle business, so Tater and I bundled up and headed over.

Sunday mornings at the farmer's market used to be our standard routine, but sadly life is just more chaotic and less regimented these days and trips to the farmer's market are pretty infrequent.

After visiting the McGrath stand for our beets, carrots, pea shoots, spinach and arugula and the Givens stand for some incredible cauliflower, onions, and broccoli we noticed Eric Ripert setting up for his book signing. In addtion to his roles as Le Bernardin chef, Top Chef guest, and cookbook author, Ripert just happens to be a dreamy yet down-to-earth and approachable sweetheart.
I quickly snatched up a copy of his book (shhh, don't tell Dad - it's a xmas present) and stood in line. By the time we reached the front of the line, Tater was in rare form, flailing about and cranky as ever. Ripert was warm and friendly as he signed his book and graciously held Tater for a quick picture.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Little Tokyo Lunch Loop - Spitz and Yogurtland

The triangle at Central and Second in Little Tokyo has been our go-to spot for a few weeks now as quick and easy are now seriously attractive restaurant attributes. After a quickie drive through Elysian Park, Tater and I head down Alameda to 2nd, park in the Staples lot and unload the stroller.

Steps away from the lot is Spitz, an Eagle Rock favorite now open in downtown. I love the original chicken doner kabab wrapped in lavash and also the doner salad. Both feature Spitz's signature flavors: spicy pepperoncinis, tender chicken (though I've been liking the veggie version lately), bell peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, feta, olives, some sort of hot sauce, and tzatziki.

We've gone to Spitz for years now, but their new location seems closer and more comfy. It's bigger so the stroller can easily fit and there's much more seating inside so we can avoid the smokers. And who doesn't love booths? Usually Tater sleeps throughout the meal, but if he wakes up and starts crying, no one seems to care.

Just noticed that Eater LA mentioned Spitz in a review yesterday. See here for the write-up.
After Spitz, we stroll over to Yogurtland, home to my new addiction: self-serve frozen yogurt. Seriously, why in the world does anyone go to Pinkberry when Yogurtland, Dolci Mango and others exist? What now serves as my creative outlet (I know, so sad!), I grab a cup, and choose from 15 flavors and over 20 toppings. It's always cheaper than a Pinkberry visit and so much more satisfying. This week they introduced their holiday flavors: gingerbread, peppermint stick, and something else I'm forgetting.

Tater wanted lunch as I was eating my yogurt so I proceeded to feed him. When I got some weird looks from the young guy working at the time, my love affair with Yogurtland dipped a bit. Being able to feed my little guy whenever and wherever he wants is important to me and I almost never sense anything but support from restaurants so when I feel uncomfortable, I take note.

371 East 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 613-0101

130 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 687-0733

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Breakfast at Akasha - Culver City

As Nate's not quite sleeping through the night, we are almost always exhausted and particularly slow going most mornings. But somehow we gathered the energy to make it out of the house this morning for breakfast with Grandpa Stan at Akasha in Culver City.

We'd been to Akasha for dinner once pre-baby but this was our first breakfast. Only served on the weekends, breakfast at Akasha is a pretty calm scene. It's served only in the cafe/bakery section so we sat down at the big communal table, checked out the menu, and ordered at the counter. Thankfully, we were able to just park the stroller next to the table as there's plently of space in the bakery.

The food was good, not great. Max and I shared the bacon and tomato frittata which is served with toast and potatoes. It was fine and I appreciated that everything was organic, it just wasn't incredible. The counter staff were sweet and accommodating, though they seemed like they were still getting used to the morning routine (trying to find a knife to cut the coffee cake, not sure which frittata was which, etc.)

Akasha is indeed a beautiful restaurant so it was lovely to be there as the particularly bright morning light filtered in. Towards the end Nathan started to get fussy and cry a bit which is when I really noticed how quiet and serene it was. A few glances were thrown our way, but we just walked him outside for a moment to work out whatever was bothering him. We also received a couple "He's so cute!" comments from some fellow diners and a nice comment about my "Mama for Obama" pin so I didn't feel like everyone loathed our presence.

As we were leaving we got some chocolate coffee cake, a ginger cookie, and a mini-cupcake, all wonderful. Definitely the way to go for future breakfasts at Akasha.

9543 Culver Blvd, Culver City

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fix Coffee - Echo Park

I love living in Echo Park. We moved here from Silver Lake back in October, a few days before we found out I was pregnant. One of my favorite things about Echo Park is the true collective appreciation you sense when new cafes and restaurants open up in our still up-and-coming neighborhood.

There have been a slew of openings in the past few months with The Park (love it!), Lot 1 (before Josef Centeno left), and the soon-to-be-opened Two Boots. We thought 15, which has received much attention and is just down the street from us, was boring, overrated, and seriously mediocre. Too bad, as it seemed to have much potential.

Fix Coffee just opened this past week and, sure enough, it's already a community hub. Max went for morning coffee yesterday and then the three of us went for afternoon coffee. We weren't sure of their hours as their website is still under construction (c'mon guys, add at least the phone # and hours!) but we decided to head down the hill around 5pm to see if they were still open.

There were local moms and toddlers hanging out on the patio, people working on their laptops, curious locals eager to try the gelato and coffees, and even one of our favorite yoga teachers. It was bustling.

What a great space Marc, the owner, has created in the most odd location up the street on Echo Park Avenue. Modern, with dark woods and bright orange, the space is spare yet warm, probably due to Marc and his manager's enthusiasm. Marc introduced himself to us, said hi to Nate and quickly made our cappuccinos.

What am I most excited about? First of all, they are not messing around with the coffee. Even my decaf, non-fat cappuccino was superb and Max, ever the picky coffee snob, was equally impressed. The pastries, from Susina, are hard to resist but resist we did! The kind folks at Fix will even order Susina stuff for you if you don't want to make the schlep to La Brea.

The paninis offered included brie with pear, tomato and white cheddar, and gypsy salami and provolone. They also have a few salads, which were sold out by the time we were there. The gelato, which Marc insisted we try, was dangerous. Usually the short drive to Pazzo successfully prevents us from indulging but this may be irresistible. He gets it from a friend in Michigan (Palazzolo's?) and is eager to share tastes with his customers.

Most importantly, Fix is very baby-friendly with a big outdoor patio (more landscaping to come) and low-key Echo Park vibe. I'm certain the three of us will be spending many more mornings, afternoons, and evenings at Fix.

Fix Coffee
2100 Echo Park Avenue

Reservation for Three - Me, You, and Baby

Our lives changed in countless ways when Tater was born back at the end of May. In addition to sleepless nights, non-stop diaper changes, and every other facet of new parenthood, the way we ate changed dramatically. Our home became "The Land of Cold Dinners" since Tater had an uncanny ability to wake up and cry the moment we sat down to eat.

And eating out? An ever-evolving adventure as Tater continues to change. Back in June, we could eat anywhere, enjoy leisurely meals as he peacefully slept hour after hour. Now that he's almost three months old, our meals have become slightly less peaceful. It's a gamble now. Sometimes he's asleep, dead to the world and we get "what a good baby!" compliments from other diners. Other times though, he is fussy throughout our whole meal, which means we take turns holding him while we quickly finish our meals.

Reservation for Three is going to be a place for me to jot down and share our experiences at LA's restaurants with baby in tow. In addition to general reviews of new and existing places in LA, I'll cover all of those newly desirable restaurant elements:

- Is it loud? Or, if Tater starts screaming will other diners hear him?
- Are babies welcomed? Accommodated? Accepted? Merely tolerated?
- How does the stroller or car seat fit in the available seating arrangement?
- How is breastfeeding handled?
- Did the staff adequately fawn over Tater? Ok, this isn't essential, but always appreciated!
- As he starts eating real food we'll be interested to know how restaurants handle baby/toddler requests.

My hope is that Reservation for Three will be a resource for other parents who are unwilling to stop dining out just because there's a baby in the picture. Join us as we experience LA's dining landscape as a party of three!