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Los Angeles Favourites, Part 2

May 3, 2013

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Now for part 2 of my Los Angeles favourites! You can find part 1 here (link), which involved a hearty amount of salad, a hefty dose of pie and a side of burger. Part 1 was delicious. I hope you’re still hungry for part 2, as there’s more tasty travel tales to come.

Let’s drink some green juice and do this!

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Ben and I stayed at The Standard in West Hollywood for one night, which was completely über everything cool. This move kind of blew our minds and budget, and landed us in separate hostel dorms the following two nights. But it was totally worth it for the retro radness and late-night cocktails in our room…

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Next stop? Santa Monica!

The Santa Monica Farmers Market has long been on my list, after hearing my parents rave about the produce you can get. They’re KCRW fans who appreciate Laura Avery. I really need to get on that bandwagon and stop listening so much to parenting podcasts. I don’t even have children but I sure know a lot about potty training.

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Browsing the stalls was a lovely way to ease into the morning. I arrived on a Wednesday before 8:30 to check out the chefs purchasing their goods, ticking off lists for their kitchen cravings. My favourite stall? The sprout man.

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Now onto some eats…

Huckleberry is a dream – self-service coffee, gangster good doughnuts and other delectable baked goods (flaky, oh so flaky), as well as loads of yummy salads. Oh and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot some celebrities. Frances McDormand and Matt Armendariz in one day? No big deal (huge, huge deal for this Fargo and food fan).

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For a fun activity, I recommend hiring a bike and cruising along the coast from Santa Monica to Venice. This was a really sweet afternoon date, complete with flowers, helmet hair and multiple attacks of sand in mouth (it was windy).

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On this date day, we visited Gjelina Take-Away for lunch, refuelling with caramelised fennel pizza for my fennel-loving husband and albacore and caper salad on olive bread for my tuna-mad self.

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After riding around the canals and selecting dream houses, we headed home and drove to malibu, just to say we did. Then in the evening we headed back to Venice for a drink at Venice Beach Wine bar. Here we had red wine, parmesan and truffle oil dressed crisps and conversation about business. Business conversation + wine = enthusiastic grand life planning. I love those dates.

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While waiting an hour for our table at Gjelina we headed to The Tasting Kitchen for a most refreshing gin and cucumber cocktail. Once seated at Gjelina we got to ordering like true professionals. Spring onion, leek and potato soup and roasted cauliflower to start…

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…followed by mussels and bread, then the best roasted chicken and kale I’ve ever had – note, wine and gin and significant hunger may have bumped this chicken-love up a few points. Either way it was truly dreamy and I have never appreciated the LA emphasis on local and organic more. The quality of this produce sung through so beautifully, wooing me very successfully.

And that is that!

Thank you for the glorious visit, Los Angeles. I like the cut of your chicken jib and your green juice drinkin’ ways.

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Los Angeles Notes

Length of stay: 4 nights, which I believe to be a good amount of time. 1 night in Downtown, 1 night in Hollywood, 2 nights in Santa Monica. You could certainly extend this to explore more extensively (or if you’re into shopping, which we’re not, unless it involves food). I think anywhere between 4 nights to 1 week would be a nice time, certainly spending some of this outside of LA and in Santa Monica for a change of pace/scenery.

AccommodationJerry’s Motel in Downtown LA – brilliant! So affordable ($85 per night) and such clean and comfortable rooms. Not the most attractive area but close to our downtown wish list of a Lakers game at the Staples Centre and also good eats such as Pie Hole.  The Standard, in West Hollywood – a worthy splurge ($275 per night), such a funky hotel, with a bar and pool area, serving truly delicious gin cocktails. After this splurge we headed to Santa Monica Hostelling International ($38 per night) in separate dorms (female/male). This hostel is clean and well organised, and was one of the best hostels we’ve stayed at. We just felt like 22 year old backpackers again.

Recommendations:
* Hire a car. Do it! It is the easiest, best way to get around and is quite cheap. Parking is easy and generally very cheap, too. Being able to drive through Silverlake, Beverley Hills, Laurel Canyon, etc to just check out the areas was awesome. We picked ours up from LAX and dropped it off there too, using Alamo (taken to their lot by a shuttle at the arrivals curb). But there are lots of other cheap finds such as Dollar rental. Oh, and pay for GPS – you’ll need it!

* The eats listed & part 1 and in part 2, above are all highly recommended.

Still on our eats wish list:
Wurstkuche
*A Frame
Urth Cafe
N’ice Cream
Au Lac for vegan goodness
Swingers Diner for the best vegan breakfast, according to Sean

Highlights: seeing Ben enjoy the Lakers game, hiking adventures, eating crazy good salads and kale smoothies and then crazy good doughnuts and pie, meeting Lynn for tea, riding bikes to Venice, cocktails in our room at The Standard, watching Matt Armendariz shoot the Huckleberry cookbook and then shaking his hand *fan girl moment!*, wine and cocktails and chicken in Venice. Oh, and being with this guy after three months living apart.

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Heidi xo

Los Angeles Favourites, Part 1

April 28, 2013

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Ahh Los Angeles, I so enjoyed visiting your green smoothie, pie-kissed town. Though we were in LA for just four days, we got to see a nice little snapshot of this addictive city.

I did a little research prior to arriving, following recommendations from those truly in the know (Joy the Baker, lovely Lynn, my Dietitian friends Bhey and Nicole, my foodie friend Sean and my childhood friend George). I was in good hands, I was set, I was ready to roam and revel. And roam and revel we did.

I have a bundle of exciting eats to share with you today, and more to come in part 2. What a spectacular introduction to this USA adventure of ours.

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The farmers markets in LA were excellent, very produce rich. First up was the Hollywood Farmers Market on Sunday. Located right in the heart of Hollywood, I was dubious as to how they could get farm goodness near the walk of fame, however I needn’t have been. The streets were packed with fabulously fresh produce, as well as lots food stalls, juice and coffee.

Market tamale.

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Coffee
was so necessary, as this was our first stop after landing and checking in. I added almond milk and agave to my cup…and I knew I was in LA.

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Philippe the Original. I just loved this joint, lining up and ordering your roast beef sandwich with a side of pickles and coleslaw, getting your tray and then face-planting into said sandwich. It was all kinds of awesome. I went with a root beer specifically so I could say, “one root beer, please”. I was happy. Turns out root beer is just like sarsaparilla, which tastes like childhood to me. Comforting much?


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Pie Hole is everything I could ever want, always and forever.

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We were too late in the day to sample their reportedly divine key lime pie, however we greeted the earl grey pie (oh Lordy) and Mexican chocolate pie (seriously good) with great gusto. I also enjoyed a pomegranate kombucha, which was super refreshing. Ordinarily I’m not a huge kombucha fan. I tend to be in the camp of, “this kombucha tastes like rotten bacteria water left in the sun”, but on this jet-lagged day it just felt right.

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After the market, after Philippe’s and after pie for dinner, we saw the Lakers v Spurs at The Staples Centre. This was a true dream for Ben. Well, seeing the Bulls play would be his ultimate dream but this came pretty close. He was so so happy,  I may have cried seeing him this way. I may have also been extremely jet-lagged…

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Cafe Gratitude is everything you might imagine LA to be – alluring, health conscious, tasty and pretentious. All in one. It’s amazing and embarrassing at the same time. I sampled a few crazy delicious smoothies (including the “I am luscious”, as well as super fresh “I am fulfilled” salads, flax crackers and beans and sprouts and such.

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Now onto something far less wholesome – In-N-Out. We grabbed this obligatory bite on the way to Coachella, and boy was it rad. Yes indeed, I actually quite enjoyed the greasy burger. I have since learnt some tricks when it comes to ordering (from Martyna and other instagram peeps)…


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You can order their fries crispy (I found them to be distinctly bland and blah when ordered regular style), you can order the burger sans bun (with lettuce instead), you can order the onions to be grilled, you can get “animal style” fries with grilled onion and cheese on top (whoa) and you can get a shake neopolitan (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry). Boom.

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What else do we have in LA…oh yes! There was The Hart and the Hunter, which I wrote about in a previous post. You simply must visit and sample their worship-worthy biscuits and good coffee, as well as their gorgeous decor. And their bathroom door.

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A food truck recommendation for you? We liked the lemongrass tofu banh mi from Mandoline Grill. Tasty tasty.
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Canele serves a really beautiful brunch, including this fried farro and egg dish with sriracha. Lovely. Oh, and pop over to Proof Bakery nearby for coffee and pastries.

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For outrageously delicious Thai food, visit Night Market in West Hollywood. It’s the bomb. And they serve one of my most favourite dishes in the world, Pad Grapow.

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And lastly, for this favourites edition, part 1, we have a little nature. Hiking in LA was a treat. We hiked up to the Hollywood sign & also Runyon Canyon on two separate mornings. One cloudy…

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One sparkling…

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Hiking is my most favourite form of exercise, and being able to hike so easily in the city is just brilliant. I wish I had access to this at home. And all this pie and green smoothie business. I could get used to that.

There are more of my Los Angeles favourites to come in part 2, including tips on where we stayed and how we moved around this delicious city.


Heidi xo

 

Coachella

April 26, 2013

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Before last weekend I had never been to a music festival before. Falls? Nope. Port Fairy? Not even. I appreciate music and I love to camp, so I thought it was about time I took myself to a festival. And why not start at the top?

Ben and I are now in California with his business partners/friends for work. And a bit of play, clearly. These guys have been working so hard, it was high time they had a little down time. So after our four days in Los Angeles, Ben and I met the crew and headed to Indio for Coachella.

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Despite struggling with the dichotomous weather (from oppressive desert heat from 7:30am to shivering cold when the sun goes down) we had a blast. We were complete desert camping newbs, and did not bring suitable gear, but that was all part of the fun. Food was expensive but we found some gems amongst the food truck brigade. Oh, and now that we’ve left, I’ve never appreciated a working toilet more. ‘Nuff said.

In terms of music, highlights were Alt J, Jurassic 5, Vintage Trouble, Theophilus London, Major Lazer and Hot Chip. Here are some snaps of our Coachella weekend.

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Farmers Market morning fun.

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Guacamole, corn chips, cucumber and an avocado strawberry smoothie for breakfast with Ben.

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My usual breakfast, an acai bowl topped with fruit and granola.

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Craft time. I made an iphone case, a fan and loads of badges. This was a most excellent idea.

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Doppelgänger.

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I survived on loads of water and coconut water, as well as the occasional magarita.

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The Lime Truck served up scrumptious tuna nachos with pickled vegetables and edamame hummus, and we also ate kale salad. Only in California…

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The best food truck? Surely Kogi, Korean-style tacos. The. Bomb.

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Alt J love Δ

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Shirts high in the air at Major Lazer. And that’s Coachella for you.

Heidi xo

Los Angeles, You’re Awesome

April 21, 2013

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Just a little snapshot of our first four days in California. It’s been foggy then sunny, and all the while elating.

Ben and I stayed in Downtown LA, which was surprisingly awesome, and then moved on to West Hollywood, which was unsurprisingly awesome. Then we headed out to Santa Monica, where we checked out Venice Beach and consumed many delicious beverages.

I’ll be back with recommendations for all the tasty eats we encountered, yes indeed, but right now I’m  busy living it up at Coachella. I’ve crafted a flower crown and no doubt I’ll be drinking coconut water and stalking Alt-J like it’s my full-time job.

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Heidi xo


 

The Hart and the Hunter. Biscuits.

April 16, 2013

Ben and I have been in Los Angeles for a few days now, visiting before we head to Coachella and then onto San Francisco. We’ve spent our days hiking in the Hollywood hills, replenishing with vegan salads and green smoothies, cruising around in our uber cool mustang sensible Nissan rental and insisting on early cocktail hour. It’s pretty rad.

We’ve also been learning about the local cuisine, a job I take terribly seriously. The best biscuits were reported to be found at The Hart and the Hunter, and so I marched there as soon as I could for a buttery bite. Now, you might be thinking that I could not have possibly had these for my Wednesday Breakfast Club because as I publish this post, it is not yet Wednesday in LA. And to that I say, you are correct. This was my Monday breakfast. I got nothing, people. Nothing. But I mean, it’s biscuits! I know you forgive me.

The decor at The Hart and the Hunter is beautiful, with gorgeous wooden tables and ornate chairs, blue tiles and a retro-style wall seat. I adored the floral cushions.

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We ordered a latte and a cappuccino and were overjoyed with how dreamy they were. The Hart and the Hunter use Handsome Coffee Roasters, and make a darn good cup. Who said coffee in America sucks? This was gooooood. Now I just need to have a store like this wherever we go and I’ll be happy.

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♥ For eats we shared the scrumptious smoked trout on toast, which was embellished with capers and pickled onion and parsley and was just lovely. Extra avocado on the side.

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♥ And, of course, we ordered a serve of biscuits, which came with pimento cheese, sugared berries and honey butter. I’ll say that again, honey butter. Yep.

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The biscuits were perfect. Absolutely divine. Bright and buttery and flakey and honest. I adored them. Ben adored them. Usually I hand him a bigger portion of whatever we’re eating. Not these. I split them down the middle, focusing on making it even like my life depended on it.

Although I feel I may have spoilt Ben. His first introduction to biscuits and he went straight to the top, to perfection. He’s keen for biscuits with eggs and a side of American bacon, like what I ate at cookshop in NYC. He’ll get it and I’m sure it’ll be delicious. But I’m also sure it won’t be as scrumptious as Hart and the Hunter’s lovelies.

Wednesday Breakfast Club, LA style. What did you have for breakfast today?

 

Heidi xo