On a cold December day in New York, I took the 6 train down from the Upper East Side to the Astor Place stop with porchetta on my mind. No, not Sara Jenkins’ glorious Porchetta sandwich served at her sandwich spot so devoted to porchetta it’s called, well, Porchetta. This time I was headed to Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria to try a porchetta sandwich that made a bit of a splash when it first appeared a year or two ago. Now the New York food media has moved on, as it tends to do, and that sandwich continues to be served with slightly less fanfare. I knew I had to give it a try before it disappeared entirely.
When I lived in New York, my body was composed of 90% hummus. That’s because I lived close to Hummus Place on 7th Ave. and I’d go there a few times a week for lunch (see this post). And though I’ve attempted to recreate a Hummus Place meal for dinner here in California, it never hits the spot in quite the same way. Which is why, last week, I found myself seeking out a west coast alternative. First place to check out: The Hummus Bar & Grill in Burbank.
When I was invited to give a cookbook-related Google Talk in Mountain View, CA last Friday, I was incredibly honored and flattered but, also, I was really keen on checking out the cafeteria. I mean: what kind of food would I find there? What do people who work at Google eat?
Luckily, my host Chris invited me to lunch first. And not only that, I was allowed to take lots of pictures. So prepare yourselves for a journey, a journey to the Google Cafeteria.
Yesterday I crowned Forage my #4 favorite place to eat in Los Angeles. Even if you don’t live in L.A. or don’t plan to visit any time soon, this is relevant, I think, because what I’m praising here isn’t just a restaurant that makes good restaurant food. I’m praising a place that does something instructive: it makes Michael Pollan-ish food that’s not obnoxiously healthy. It’s all seasonal, it’s all colorful, but mostly it still tastes like a treat when you eat it. Compare the chefs at Forage to the chefs who use fat as a crutch and a calling card, who wrap chunks of lard in bacon, deep fry it in duck fat and call it dinner. Sure that’s sensational and will get you written about, but it may also kill you. Forage shows us how to eat in a way that’s exciting and stimulating while still being healthy and sustainable. What follows are photos of my lunches there over the past year.
See the way the light is hitting the white wine in my glass?
That’s a summer moment, a California moment; it’s a moment that transcends anything critical I might say about the restaurant where this moment took place. Not that I have anything critical to say. Blue Plate Oysterette is situated on Ocean Blvd. in Santa Monica and if you took this same restaurant and relocated it to a shopping mall in Minnesota, you would think it had no reason to exist. And you would be right. But sitting there in Santa Monica, as it is, facing the Pacific ocean, the sun hitting it on its way down in the sky, it’s a perfect summer seafood restaurant.
A date shake. Ok. I like dates. I like shakes. So after eating dinner at Wang’s (which I wrote about in this week’s newsletter), we found ourselves walking down the main drag of Palm Springs–there was a very cute street festival going on–and finding one of the more celebrated date shake destinations (according to a Google search): Palm Springs Fudge & Chocolates.
Our neighbor Chloe is a godsend. Not only did she plant the Meyer lemon tree near our door, but when we go away on vacation, Chloe watches our cat, Lolita. If the list ended there, Chloe would still be a hero in my book. But then the other day, I received the following e-mail: “Hi Adam, do you have time to step outside to the garden? Chloe.”
To get to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market from where I live, you have two choices: you can take highways (the 101 to the 110 to the 10 West) or you can take streets. If you do take streets, there are probably many speedy options; streets that take you far west with minimal traffic. Of all the streets that you can take to Santa Monica, the slowest is probably Santa Monica itself–it moves at a crawl–and that’s something I learned the hard way (even though I’d be warned!) as I chose that as my primary route last Wednesday to the farmer’s market most frequented by chefs and food lovers here in L.A.