Thursday, October 8, 2009

"Best Brittle" Says Martha Stewart Living!!

Other than a few references here and there, I really haven't used this space to write about my husband's labor of love, Morning Glory Confections. It always felt like some sort of weird conflict of interest as I'm a food blogger (or, internet food writer, if you prefer) and he's a confectioner.

But folks, I must say it's time to break the rules because my honey's brittle has just been featured in October's Martha Stewart Living. This is beyond huge for him and I couldn't be prouder.
After grad school, Max worked as a private chef for an LA family, cooking to his heart's content with few limitations. He often made nut brittles for them to snack on, eventually incorporating various herbs, spices, and other ingredients not usually associated with peanut brittle. The family loved the results of his experiments as did I.
In Fall of 2007, Max decided to make it official, creating, refining, and finalizing brittle recipes, using family and friends as focus groups, and basically jumping into this totally new terrain. Our friend Liz, of Department of Graphic Sciences, helped Max realize his vision for the packaging, modern and minimalist.
Fast forward to October 2008, Morning Glory Confections' artisan brittle landed in stores around LA, some of our favorites in fact: Susina Bakery, Lark Cake Shop, Auntie Em's, Cheese Store of Silver Lake, Clementine, and more recently Joan's on Third, Bottega Louie, Cube and others. Pat Saperstein, of Eating LA was the first blogger to take notice of the brittle after tasting a few bites at an Obama bake sale.
A Daily Candy mention in early 2009 was a thrilling indication that Max's brittle was filling a void in the confectionary world. Next came a glowing mention on the LA Times' food blog, the Daily Dish, a Tasting Table post, and other posts from the food blog world.

And now Martha Stewart Living:

Brittle often has a Goldilocks problem: It's either too hard or too soft, too sweet or not sweet enough. Morning Glory Confections, however, has made its artisinal brittle just right. Produced in small batches in California, the candy has an excellent snap and balanced sweetness, and comes in six delectable flavors. Our favorites: Fleur de Sel & Peanut and the new Thai Curry & Peanut.

I'm constantly impressed with Max for all sorts of reasons, but I had to let you know that, in addition to running almost every aspect of Morning Glory Confections, he's also been a stellar new dad to our precious Tater. Where he gets the energy, I do not know!

Check out his website for brittle descriptions, the full list of retailers, his online store, and to sign up for his mailing list. And if you're around Melrose and La Cienega on Sundays, do stop by Max's booth at the Melrose Place Farmers' Market to sample his six flavors and market exclusives (recently: bacon brittle!).

Morning Glory Confections
MGC on Twitter
MGC on Facebook

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Andre Guerrero's Movin' into Glassell Park!

I love this news because:

1. Echo Park's minutes away from Glassell Park

2. While we're occasionally disappointed by The Oinkster's fries, their always good veggie burgers, pulled pork and pastrami sandwiches make it a reliable favorite. I'm confident Andre will create a similar neighborhood favorite in GP.

3. I know they had their fans, but we found Butter Tart's butter tarts icky. It takes a lot to keep me away from a cute bakery close-by, but it was easy to stay away from Butter Tart after that first visit.

4. The eastside (or whatever you call our side of town) needs more neighborhoody breakfast/lunch joints.

5. Intelligentsia coffee without the wait or parking nightmare of the Silver Lake branch? Yes!

Thanks to Food GPS for breaking the news.

Butter Tart Bakery
4126 Verdugo Road
Los Angeles, CA 90065

Saturday, October 3, 2009

We've Got a Winner!

Congratulations to May, who won two tickets to next weekend's Los Angeles Luxury Chocolate Salon in Pasadena. For the rest of you, there's still time to buy tickets, which are an extremely reasonable $20 ($25 at the door) for a serious chocolate feast. Click here for all of the details. And thanks for entering and sharing your favorite chocolate dessert.

My favorite, by the way? An old-fashioned chocolate layer cake. Just had a great one at Jongewaard's Bake 'N Broil in Long Beach.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ticket Giveaway: LA Luxury Chocolate Salon 10/11

Do you love chocolate? No, I mean to you love chocolate...lurve chocolate? If so, do I have a giveaway for you. If you're free on October 11th, enter below for your chance to win two tickets to this year's LA Luxury Chocolate Salon. What is a chocolate salon, you ask? From what I gather, it's non-stop chocolate: chocolate tasting, book signings, chocolate demos, chef/author talks, and more.

I have NO idea how I got so lucky, but I'll be at the Salon as a panelist, tasting and judging more chocolate than I've ever consumed at one time. It's quite a challenge, but I think I'm up for it. Won't you join me?
For a chance to win, just answer this question in the comments below: What's your favorite chocolate dessert? I'll be utilizing the number in a paper bag method to randomly choose a winner on Wednesday, September 30th.

Make sure to either log in using your Blogger ID or provide some sort of contact info. Good luck!

Friday, July 31, 2009

If You Leave, Don't Look Back - Blogger Prom 2009

When was the last time we had a fabulous night out, just the two of us? Now I'm not talking about the quickie coffee shop dinner with us scarfing down a tuna melt while Grandma patiently waits for us to get back home. I'm talking about heels and sequins and fishnets and an up-do. Yes, my friends, I'm talking about Blogger Prom.

Don't ask me why, but for some reason my mom had saved my prom dress from the 11th grade, and by some crazy miracle, it still fit. My better half initially wanted to go as his alter ego, a mulletted, bandana-wearing, trash-talkin', sleeveless denim shirt clad drunk dude last seen at Cal Arts grad night a few years back. I won the battle this time and he instead went for "Country Club Preppy."

Blogger Prom was held at the Andaz Hotel, more famously known as "Riot House" where bands like Led Zeppelin and The Who rode motorcycles down the halls, threw TVs out of the windows, and performed other forms of sexy mayhem.

Sometimes LA is just so beautiful. As we sipped our tequila cocktails from the rooftop at dusk, we gazed over LA transfixed by the endless sea of twinkling lights. The BP Committee arranged for some pretty substantial snacks, including caprese kabobs, charcuterie, beef & lemongrass skewers. We had rushed around town getting ready for BP, so we were starving.

Barrie Lynn, otherwise known as The Cheese Impresario, treated us to an incredible cheese plate. For dessert, we inhaled cheesecake pops and mini-cupcakes.

All in all, Blogger Prom was awesome. Not only did it give us a much-needed date night, but it was great to meet in person so many of my twitter and food blog buddies I've gotten to know over the past few years.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Dinner: Wurstkuche

Not sure what we were thinking, but after my brittle man's day at the Melrose Place Farmers' Market and Tater and my day in Santa Monica, we just wanted a no-cook night. So off we went to Wurstkuche. Tater's current bedtime is usually around 6:30pm, so if we have dinner out, we're with the early birders at 5pm or even earlier. Not tonight! We were living like gypsies, as my Mom says, leaving the house at 6:30pm.

Man, Wurstkuche gets crazy busy at night. The room was completely full when we got there, but luckily I spotted a lone table in a corner. The Wurstkuche guy kindly moved it over to a little space against the wall and thankfully the portable high chair fit on the table.
Ok, so by the time we got our food it was around 7:15, now way past Tater's bedtime and the poor little guy was on the edge. As always, we quickly ate our sausages while supplying him with cheerios, barley biscuits, napkins (he likes to rip them up into tiny pieces - yes, bussers hate us), his sippy cup, and little pieces of bun. Wurstkuche was quite loud, so Tater's brief outbursts were completely drowned out by the noise.
The sausages were awesome. We split the duck/bacon, sundried tomato/mozzarella and a small fries. After a string of so-so sausages (why did I even bother with the vegan dog??), I turned a corner and started ordering the right sausages, thanks to Twitter buds, Joshua Lurie (Food GPS) and Sam Kim (LAist). Thanks again, guys! We're huge fans of the near-perfect fries, which have to be some of the best in LA.
Tater was near delirious by the time we got home, falling asleep as soon as we finished Goodnight Moon.

800 E 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Quickie Lunch for Me and Tater: Porta Via Italian Foods

Tater & I were on our own today, so we decided that a lovely, yet quick lunch at Porta Via was in order. A little shrimp & calamari salad and arugula & beet salad for me, Tater got a jar of yucky organic chicken with pasta stars (Dad's been busy).

We sat outside on their shaded patio and had about as relaxing a lunch as it gets these days. For a dude who eats almost all daddy-prepared food, Tater didn't seem to mind the processed junk, happily devouring the whole jar.

My salads were just right for this scorcher of a day. The seafood salad was crisp and light, with just a hint of heat. The arugula salad was good, though a bit too sweet for my taste and maybe a little overdressed.

After a few minutes, Tater decided our leisurely lunch was over so I quickly devoured the rest of my salads, gulped down my Pellegrino and off we went to do errands in Old Town.

Porta Via Italian Foods
1 W California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sunday Picnic: Mozza2Go

Since Tater was feeling better after last week's tummy bug, we decided a picnic in Elysian Park would be a perfect way to celebrate his recovery. Plus, it was a stunning summer day and we were finished with the Hollywood Farmer's Market in the AM. After my first taste of Mozza2Go on Friday with a tuna panini my husband picked up, I was itching to check it out for myself.

Really, is there anything the Mozza team can't do? The Pizzeria is my official happy place, the Osteria is sublime, and the take-out operation rounds out this holy Los Angeles trinity.
Arriving just after noon, we opted for the simple tomato, evoo, and oregano pizza and the Italian Cobb. While we waited for our order, sweet Lucy cooed at Tater and didn't mind us feeding him his lunch. After a short wait, we left with our lunch and headed back to Echo Park.

Why in the world do we not picnic more often? We live a stone's throw from Elysian Park, surely an underappreciated LA treasure, so really we have no excuse.
Tater loved sitting outside and was pretty content with the Pellegrino bottles and my wallet. We were about as relaxed as we get, of course always keeping an eye on Tater who constantly puts everything in his mouth.
Will you please look at this salad? Everything from the gooey gorgonzola dolce, the sweet tiny tomatoes, woodsy grilled chicken and smoky pancetta, buttery avocado, egg and little gem lettuce came together beautifully. We had never had Mozza's simple tomato pizza, but it hit the spot with a tangy and subtly spicy sauce and a sprinkling of oregano.
Even though we've been able to score last-minute tables at P. Mozza in the past, it's usually for that really late lunch or really early dinner. And let's face it, eating out with Tater is often not the most relaxing exercise anymore as he's all over the place and needs snacks/books/toys, etc.

With Mozza2Go, we can get our Mozza fix without having to think about an open table or Tater's mood. Thank you, Mozza team for bringing this perfect solution for hungry parents on the go.

6610 Melrose Ave.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mozza 2 Go - Menu

Had the tuna panini today. Amazing, of course. Hubby chatted with Nancy and my big chef crush, Matt Molina, executive chef of the two (or three?) Mozzas. So glad it's not closer as we'd be there every day.

Here's the menu (uploading blue for some reason) for your viewing pleasure. Very similar to the Pizzeria.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Bonnie Brae Fresh OJ Cart

I work 4 miles from home, a trip usually taking around 15 minutes and I know that makes me one lucky Angeleno. Road work on Alvarado has made my route increasingly congested though, so I've started taking Bonnie Brae.

Oh, my love for Bonnie Brae has no bounds. Running parallel to Alvarado, it's a traffic-free secret route to Wilshire from Sunset. I usually pass moms strolling with babies, kids on their way to school, and folks waiting for the bus.

But this morning, just before I turned onto Wilshire, I spotted this shopping cart, loaded up with a portable fresh orange juice operation. It was quite lovely, each cup filled to the brim with bright orange oj, a sharp contrast to the grittiness of the neighborhood. I'm no juicing expert, but her juicer looked pretty impressive as well.

With no one behind me, I jumped out, and asked the older woman running the cart if I could take a picture. I think she thought I was going to bust her for her illegal juice bar, but I assured her that I just liked her cart.
I forgot to ask how much the juice was, but I can't imagine it was more than a buck or two. Next time, I'm buying some for the office.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reservation for Two: Osteria Mozza

Really, what more is there to say about Osteria Mozza? This was our first time at the Osteria (I'm so ashamed!) and we fell madly in love. I'm not sure why, but we just didn't think we were going to like it as much as the Pizzeria. Oh were we wrong. There were times I thought my husband was going to fly away in ecstasy. Really!

Lucky us, my father and his girlfriend treated the two of us to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversry. Grandma babysat! It was less formal than I had imagined and the food was incredible. The one and only so-so dish was the burrata from Puglia. Surprising, but Gioia's was creamier and richer than what we had at OM, though the bread it came with, soaked in EVO was perfection.

Our waiter was predictably everything Batali's servers always are: real, knew the menu inside and out, really wanted us to LOVE our meal, and a perfect guide to figuring out the dishes we would love (no calf's brain raviolis for me!).

We split the Ribollita "Da Delfina" - amazing. Like a savory french toast/bread pudding. Bread soaked in minestrone that's been reduced, then pan-fried. Ok, that description so does not capture how good it was. After the aforementioned burrata, we moved onto pastas. The orrecchiette with sausage and swiss chard was wonderful but the fresh ricotta and egg raviolo with browned butter was a showstopper.

For our mains, I had the Grilled Beef Tagliata, rucola, and Parmigiano with aceto balsamico and M had the Grilled Quail wrapped in pancetta with sage and honey. Again, perfection.

The bombolini with mountain huckleberry compote and vanilla gelato put the whole meal over the top and we agreed that this was one of our best meals ever.

The icing on the cake was meeting Ms. Silverton herself. What an honor and yes, I did feel like such a dorky groupie. But it was a thrill nonetheless. I just wanted to take a picture of her from a distance, but a server mentioned that she'd be happy to take one with me so now I have a pic of the two of us! That poor woman must get approached constantly by food-obsessed groupies.

Anyhow, here are some highlights from our meal. Entrees and desserts were dark so I'm not including.
Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 297-0100

Friday, April 17, 2009

From an Empty Fridge to an Especially Good Lunch

Empty fridge...nothing for lunch. Someone's at the kitchen making brittle all day so he got dibs on the leftover Thai. Then suddenly I noticed a bounty:

~ avocado
~ greens
~ pepperoncinis
~ feta
~ red onion
~ yellow bell pepper
~ radish
~ cabbage
~ rosemary
~ whole wheat bread
~ the last drops of dressing Daddy recently made

Bless his heart, Tater sat patiently in his high chair watching me prepare lunch all the while dictating and singing every step to him. He even nibbled on a tiny piece of avocado. This ended up being an exceptional lunch, with the rosemary unexpectedly elevating the salad to greatness.

Woo-hoo, BabyCakes NYC Headed for Downtown LA!

In a sudden turn of events, BabyCakes NYC, originally headed for Beverly in West Hollywood, is now landing closer to our neck of the woods in the Old Bank district in Downtown. Thanks for the good news tweet, Angelenic!

From their Twitter and blog post, it sounds like there are some folks who are disappointed by this decision. But c'mon Beverly Blvders, you have so many baked goods options to choose from: Joan's on Third, Susina, Milk, La Brea Bakery, Toast, and more. And you can get your vegan cookies at Whole Foods and Real Food Daily. We do have our share with Delilah's, Lark, and Auntie Em's close by, but BabyCakes NYC sounds like a completely different animal, so to speak!

BabyCakes NYC caters to those with sensitive systems with baked goods that are vegan, gluten-free, wheat-free, casein-free, soy-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free, and kosher. Honestly, I have no idea what casein is or why one would need to abstain from it, but I'm glad BabyCakes NYC is there for these intolerant folks.

And let me just say that it took me awhile to come around to the idea of vegan baked goods. I mean, the thought of using anything other than butter and eggs seemed sacrilegious, unnecessary, and downright wrong. But as someone who loves to bake and share the wealth with her coworkers, I started feeling guilty for contributing to an unhealthy work environment with my fat-laden creations. So I started looking into low-fat baking and found Isa Moskowitz's recipe for vegan pumpkin oatmeal cookies on the Post Punk Kitchen website. After some modifications (I couldn't resist throwing in some vegan chocolate chips and used whole wheat pastry flour), I made what turned out to be some of the most deliciously tender and all-around scrumptious cookies. Seriously, my co-workers and skeptical husband raved. But I digress - long story short: I'm no longer opposed to vegan baked goods.

If a cupcake tastes as good, if not better, than the real thing but is a little less unhealthy I'm totally into it. Ok, I do have to say that baking w/o butter and eggs, not to mention refined sugars is a very tricky operation often resulting in cakes that taste like bricks, cookies reminiscent of hockey pucks, and frostings that are gummy. But I say hoorah to those magicians who are able to master the craft.

I've never tried anything from BabyCakes NYC (feel free to send samples or sign me up for a preview tasting, BabyCakes NYC! I have no shame.), but if their positive press (Gourmet, W, In Style and more) is any indication, these folks know what they're doing. They do it all: cookies, cakes, cupcakes, scones, muffins, cookie sandwiches, cinnamon rolls and more. I, for one, welcome the BabyCakes family with open arms!

A few comments to BabyCakes:

~ Yes to the dessert truck in Silver Lake or Echo Park. Park outside the Echo after a show and you'll sell out in no time.

~ Yes to the free parking in Downtown. Parking is such a pain during the week.

~ Please consider accepting cards for any amount. I rarely carry cash but sometimes just want a little something.

~ Look into collaborating with another NY transplant, Two Boots in Echo Park. I seem to recall they have some sort of dessert, but your cupcakes would fit right in.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

And The Scary Chinese Restaurant in Silver Lake is now.....

David - The Restaurant on Sunset!

A little background: I lived a stone's throw away from the Sunset/Silver Lake intersection for years and for the whole time, LA Chinese Restaurant was technically a functioning restaurant, though I'm certain I never saw anyone inside. In fact, it was so scary that Eating LA included it in her "Scariest Restaurant" contest a few months back. (This Losanjealous review (and photo below) is a hilarious must-read, seriously lol funny)

For some time now, LA Chinese Restaurant has been shuttered and appeared to be going through some sort of renovation. I seem to recall a few chowhound posts wondering just what was going in but it seemed like one big mystery. Noticing an open door on a drive-by last week, I stopped by and chatted with two of the guys working inside. They kindly gave me the owner's phone number and after a quick phone call with owner David Sutton, the mystery is solved!

Sutton, who's had his own catering company for 5 years and has been in the restaurant business for 40, is planning a fusion/comfort food hybrid for David - The Restaurant on Sunset. Opening for breakfast and lunch at first, the menu will most likely include homemade breads and muffins, oatmeal brulee, salads & sandwiches, Vietnamese garlic noodles, Korean BBQ (is Korean BBQ going to be the next "ahi tower" that every restaurant puts on the menu?).

Other ideas he's considering include Hawaiian shaved ice with homemade syrups and a stuffed hamburger. He plans to change the menu every two weeks and is hoping to open somewhere around June/July.

Sutton imagines David to be a dog- and baby-friendly restaurant that will have reasonable price points (unlike some recent Silver Lake openings) and a welcoming, neighborhood vibe. Still many unknowns, but it will most certainly be less scary than its previous occupant.

David - The Restaurant on Sunset
2852 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, 90026

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Winner of Cupcake Challenge - Polkatots in Pasadena

While I agreed that $40 was just too much to spend for an afternoon devoted to mini-cupcakes, that doesn't mean I wasn't sad to miss last Sunday's cupcake challenge at the Roosevelt Hotel. Thankfully, the LA Times' Elina Shatkin was twittering from the event and then posted a zillion pictures on the Daily Dish, but I was still bitter. So when the winners were announced, I had to hurry over to try Polkatots shop to try their Dulce de Leche cupcake which won best original and best overall.
The two owners had just found out that morning and were understandably thrilled. Cute, little shop tucked away in a mini-mall on Lake north of the 210. I picked out a bunch of minis and a large Dulce de Leche and had to devour one as soon as we got to the car. While the flavor and texture of each cupcake was spot on, I made a discovery: I hate coarse sugar on cupcakes and all of theirs had a generous amount sprinked on top. But aren't they just the prettiest little guys?

For any upcoming cupcake cravings, I'll stick with Delilah's chocolate chocolate chip cupcakes with orange Jack Daniels frosting which I can get on a five minute walk from home.

720 North Lake Avenue
Pasadena, 91104

Canele in Bon Appetit

Atwater Village Newbie, one of my favorite local blogs, just noted that Canele, one of our favorite local spots, is mentioned in the new Bon Appetit. Somehow I missed it in my quick flip-through this morning.

Canele totally deserves the attention. Thanks for twittering it, AVN! Now when are we ever going to make it out for brunch?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cough, Cough - Langer's Chicken Soup

The three of us are finally coming out of an epic cold that lasted way too long. I'd say the one glimmer of light came in the form of Langer's chicken soup, picked up curbside. The reusable Ball jar was a surprise and so eco-friendly. The chicken soup was tasty and the matzoh balls were a nice sinker/floater hybrid, though I would have loved some bagel chips.

Langer's Deli
704 South Alvarado
LA, 90057

Friday, March 20, 2009

Baby's a Little Closer - Baby Blues BBQ in West Hollywood

We have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new Baby Blues BBQ in West Hollywood for a while now. I'd say we get over to the Venice original, oh, maybe a few times a year which is certainly not nearly enough. We love Baby Blues. Most importantly, the bbq is almost always near-perfect. Of course they have their off days, but most often it's smile-inducing stuff. And their apps and sides aren't too shabby either. Mac and cheese, corn on the cob, and the Suicide King (BBQ shrimp on cornbread with a sprinkling of cotija cheese) are great. The Venice branch is tiny and rustic, with loud and sultry blues and rock blaring and many sauce-covered fingers.
We read about Friday's soft opening on the Times' Daily Dish and on Thrillist the day before (Thank you!). On Friday afternoon, M called in our order and Tater and I headed over to the new Baby Blues after our day of shopping at the Grove. They actually didn't open until 6pm, so our 5:15 arrival was premature, but afforded us a slightly sneak preview of what's in store. (As you can see, last minute tweaks were still in progress)
The West Hollywood branch is a totally different beast. The former Cha Cha Cha space, it's huge and the Baby Blues vibe works, though it's so different than the original. Much more glossy and gussied up. Chairs hanging off the beams, a picture of Mick Jagger by the bar, beer bottles lined up above the open kitchen, plenty of tables ready for the crowds.
Baby Blues is known for their cute and sweet servers (I happen to think the owners and cooks are easy on the eyes too! Danny and Rick from behind, below) and they've continued on the tradition here. What I took as a good sign, there were probably around ten front-of-house ladies preparing for the opening. As we walked in they warmly welcomed us and let us stroll around as we waited for our order.
I guess we were pretty inconspicuous as the manager (?) called a front-of-house meeting without realizing we were customers. When someone called this to his attention he celebrated us as the very first customers and we actually got a round of applause! How can you not love these guys? So down-to-earth, genuinely gracious and proud of bringing the simple pleasure of BBQ to the masses.
I asked the cooks where the meats were smoked and they (was that Grill Master Eddie Jimenez?) asked if we wanted to take a peek - um, yes! Making our way back into the kitchen, I made sure to protect my sweetie (I had him in the Ergo so he was nice and close) as we quickly gazed at those smoky beauties, slowly rotating around the smoker.
Soon enough, we got our order and off we went. Back at home we went through our bedtime ritual and as soon as Tater was sound asleep, we tore into our ribs, pulled pork sandwich, mac and cheese, and creamed spinach. The ribs were tender and succulent with that familiar smokiness. The pulled pork had a layer of slaw and a complexity that made it our favorite of the night. Mac and cheese, cornbread, and creamed spinach catapulted our meal into total decadence. The only thing missing was the vinegar-based sauce for the pulled pork, maybe to liquidy for take-out?
I'd say pretty wonderful for their very first order! Can't wait to go back and eat there, maybe for lunch as dinners out are now few and far between. And they say that Tater can eat whatever we eat after he turns one (in May!) so perhaps Baby Blues will be his first taste of BBQ (processed through the food mill, of course).

Baby Blues BBQ
7953 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood