Monday, August 30, 2010

Echo Park's New Greengrocer: Cookbook

Cookbook is the corner store Echo Park has been waiting for and it's finally opening up tomorrow. We had a chance to take a sneak peek during tonight's friends and family night, where Echo Park locals, Marta Teegan and Robert Stelzner(below), opened up their beautiful space to share what they've created.

It's a small shop, and you can tell that they thoughtfully edited the store's offerings. Craving ice cream? Only one brand to choose from, but it's cult favorite Dr. Bob's in several luscious flavors. They've worked hard to bring some of the best from the Farmers' Market scene: Weiser's padron peppers, McGrath's haricot verts, Givens' carrots, Kenter Canyon herbs, plus heirlooms, avocados, late summer fruit, and more. Motivating to get to the Sunday market just got a bit harder.

Aside from the lovely selection of organic produce (at reasonable prices, by the way), Cookbook is the gourmet marketplace I honestly never thought I'd see in Echo Park. I need a few more visits to take everything in but some of the items I spotted included: Fermin Jamon Iberico, Sightglass Coffee (ex-Blue Bottle & Four Barrel guys), Cafe Fanny granola, Rustic Bakery sweets, Morning Glory Confections' artisan brittles (disclosure: my husband)and Strauss Family Creamery dairy.

In addition to organic produce, gourmet finds and staples, Cookbook will also offer an ever-changing array of prepared foods, a blessing for the neighborhood's busy parents. Recipes will come from Heirloom L.A., Marta's archives, and the week's featured cookbook. Tonight's dishes included a fatoush salad with cauliflower and eggplant, gazpacho, roasted asparagus and potatoes, a fava bean & pea tendril salad, pesto gnocchi and grilled corn. We devoured every bite and, more importantly, my two-year-old loved it all. That's him with some corn.

Oh, and there's a huge selection of Heirloom L.A.'s lasagna cupcakes, pasta sauces, lasagnas, and fresh pastas.

On our walk back up the hill, we imagined all of the times we'll head to Cookbook: When we're too tired to cook, if we just need a bottle of milk or some herbs for a recipe, if we skip the farmers' market but need some veggies for the week, when we're in need of a hostess gift, or if we just need to indulge in some Dr. Bob's.

1549 Echo Park Avenue
LA, 90026
Open daily, 8am-8pm

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tater & Mommy: Forage

OK, so Forage has the basics every parent needs: plenty of high chairs, booster seats, and a changing table. What sets Forage apart is the TLC the staff provides, not as some customer service schtick but because they're all just so darn nice. Can Tater have a side of avocado instead of one of their available sides? Of course! And for $1.50, it's a bargain, trust me. They have little kiddie plates they provide if your kiddo's into his own special plate.

Other than the warm, family vibe they've cultivated, the food keeps us coming back again and again. Succulent Jidori chicken's always a hit with Tater, but so is almost everything else we've ever tried. They always seem to have a pot of Rancho Gordo beans available, another no-brainer for our guy. Today we both gobbled up the watermelon, feta, and arugula salad, the heirloom tomato & ricotta salata salad, and the Jidori. The tomatoes were summer in a good. And the classic watermelon dish was juicy, sweet, and salty. I'm still thinking about the fava bean, mint and ricotta crostini and avocado sandwich I had months ago.

Forage is great too if you just don't have time to cook, but you still want your kid to eat whole foods. On our way out, I picked up dinner for him tonight: those heirloom beans, roasted summer vegetables, and navy beans & couscous with cherry tomatoes.

If Tater's losin' it, the crazy good pastries and cookies keep him planted in his seat long enough for mommy to finish chatting with her friend. Forage gets the beauty of thin, buttery cookies - today's oatmeal raisin was perfection. And the cream cheese bundt? Cushiony and creamy with a tender crumb, another winner. Would be perfect with any summer fruit.

Some complain it's expensive. I always end up spending a ton at Forage, though you don't have to. It's just impossible for me to resist the expertly-made food, prepared with the finest and freshest ingredients, much of it from the backyards of local amateur farmers.

We're never the only family there because Forage is a godsend for parents who want the very best for their family in a comfy setting.

Monday, July 26, 2010

In the mood for a little aloha? $50 Roy's Gift Card Giveaway!

Has it really been almost five years since our honeymoon in Maui? After all the stress of the final weeks of wedding planning and the intensity of the wedding itself, Maui was just what we needed. I remember being there and thinking that the landscape looked a lot like parts of Southern California, but the air, the people, the light, the scents, and the food was unmistakably Hawaii.

Is a dinner at Roy's like going to Hawaii? Well, of course not. But there are hints of the Hawaii in the flavors of the food, the decor, and, forgive me, but I completely fall for the copious use of "Aloha!"

Want a tiny slice of aloha? I have a $50 Roy's gift card for one lucky person! Just leave your memories or idea of Hawaii in one word in the comments and make sure to add your contact info so I can find you. I'll use to randomly pick the winner on August 2nd.

Good luck!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Roy's Ohana Tour Preview

Can I blame parenthood for losing the ability to sit down and crank out a blog post? I sure hope so, because other than that I'm out of excuses. Tater's asleep on his Dad, so I'm going to hurry and finish this darn thing!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting some genuinely charming pr folks and the sweetest couple, The Roaming Belly plus one, at a tasting event at the Downtown Roy's. Strong, herby cocktails and hearty snacks were the perfect way to end my week.

The folks at Roy's were nice enough to include a gift certificate for a dinner on them to be given away or kept for us to use. Sorry, but this cash-starved little lady is saving it for a future date night with my hubby. Thanks Roy's and Kat from Formula PR for a fun night out!

For an actual account of the preview night at Roy's, please head on over to The Roaming Belly. Here's what you need to know about Roy's new Ohana Tour (from The Roaming Belly - my laziness knows no bounds):
  • An inaugural trip to a participating Roy's restaurant, where guests are awarded an Ohana Tour card to present at the next Roy's location.
  • On the second visit, guests will receive a complimentary Chocolate Souffle (with purchase of entree).
  • At the third location, guests will receive a $20 gift card (with purchase of entree) and entry into the Hawaii sweepstakes.
  • Restaurants participating in the tour include Roy's Anaheim, Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Pasadena and Woodland Hills locations.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Calling Moms and Dads: America's Next Great Restaurant

Finally, an invitation to an event that actually sounds interesting and one where kids are not only accepted but invited! Email your RSVP to for more details.


Bobby Flay, Curtis Stone, Steve Ells & Lorena Garcia

Are Inviting Families with Children Ranging in Ages from 4 - 12
for a very exclusive tasting and taping of a brand new show on NBC
from the production company that brought you “Top Chef.”

This Family Friendly Tasting and Taping will be on
Wednesday, June 9th in downtown Los Angeles.
Please RSVP to for more information
regarding location and time.

Please include your name, telephone number, number of guests in
your party and the ages of your children.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tater and the Trash Guys

We've been waiting for this day for weeks. Garbage trucks, otherwise known as Tater's favorite thing in the world, up close and personal at the Annual Bureau of Sanitation's Open House. I suppose we should have known how scary those enormous trucks would be for him, but we just thought it was a no-brainer.

While Tater was thoroughly freaked out, wanting nothing to do with the trucks, we were having a great time. Now, you should know we have watched way too many garbage truck videos on You Tube so we know our Heil DuraPack Pythons from the Heil DuraPack 7000's. Still, I must admit it was interesting to learn about the current fleet of local trucks.
I'm not sure what the Bureau of Sanitation is doing right, but everyone at the Open House was professional, friendly, and eager to tell us about their trucks and various programs. Really, this event was managed better than many weddings I've attended. Who knew the BOS was so on top of it? Free burgers, dogs, snacks, and drinks and the most charming group of high schoolers guiding visitors around the yard.
Above is Herbert, another friendly BOS staffer, who gave us kitchen oil disposal basics.

A DJ spun old R&B while we strolled around, learning about the recycling program, the best way to dispose of oil, how to compost, and other interesting tidbits. We saw their official electric Mini and learned how the fleet is transitioning to all natural gas trucks.
But the highlight of the event had to be the little recycling can they gave out to "winners" of the recycling game. It's Tater's new lovie.

Way to go, BOS!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fantasy Morning - Coffee and Doughnuts

Ok, here's my fantasy *: It's Sunday morning. We all wake up at 7:30am (this is already far-fetched), throw on some clothes, brush our teeth, and head down the hill towards Downtown. Still groggy, we arrive at the Lazy Ox Canteen where we're greeted as warmly as always.
There they are on the bar, luscious doughnuts just out of the fryer. Today's flavor is anyone's guess. Lemon, rosemary, and thyme? Orange blossom & vanilla bean? Simply perfect cinnamon sugar? We take two and they throw in a little doughnut hole for Tater.

Lucky for us, the Lazy Ox serves SF's Four Barrel coffee (they actually do!). As a decaf drinker, I so appreciate roasters like Four Barrel, who are producing decaf that's as yummy as its regular counterpart.

We get Tater settled into his highchair and give him his doughnut hole which keeps him busy for a half hour (ha!). Our doughnuts are heavenly, still warm, fluffy and perfect with our coffees. Tater is happy and content as we savor our doughnuts and coffee.

Will this fantasy come true? God, I hope so.

*Inspired by a recent morning at Oakland's Pizzaiolo, where their morning doughnuts sell out by 10am. Pizzaiolo's loud and bustling at night, but downright serene in the mornings. Coffee and doughnuts (just coffee and doughnuts - not a full breakfast) would be perfect at the Lazy Ox, but I'm sure would work at any number of places: Wurstkuche, Cole's, or....?