Art district and Guerrilla Tacos

We went back down to Hauser & Wirth in the arts district because Guerrilla Taco truck is there on Fridays.  An essential LA must try….and then figure out where they are all the time because it is so good.

This area will soon be spreading its wings with more shops and galleries.  Across the street just opened Guerilla Atelier.  There is another one in the area and this is their latest.  They have a mixture of art, books, clothing, accessories and more.  It is really well curated.

We came for tacos and tacos was the key thing here.  We split a few things.  Each one was better than the next.  Roasted sweet potato with almond chile, fried corn, scallions and feta cheese.  Wow.  The little bits of corn with the soft consistency of the potato and a little spice is incredible.

Braised beef short ribs are hiding underneath the fried egg quesadilla with chile morita, oaxacan cheese, market greens and habanero chiles.  Incredible.  Everything is intensely flavorful and perfectly cooked.

Yellowtail poke tostados with raw tomatillos, chiles and uni on top.  Who comes up with this?

We strolled through Hauser & Wirth and although they were closed for an installation it is an amazing space that we continue to return to.  We had dinner there and weren’t so wowed but the space is just great.  In the picnic area they is a chicken coop.  Certainly the most stylish chicken coop I have seen.

Across is the graffiti building sitting inside the museum area.

There was one installation up of Rashid Johnson.  Pretty cool seeing the art in a long bricked hallway.

Always good to get a small dish from Salt and Straw before leaving the area.  I love how all the new ice cream shops give you metal spoons for tastes and describe the ice cream for you in details.

We went over to Koreatown to check out a few galleries.  Our first stop was Commonwealth and Council.  There are two galleries set inside this building.  A old building with long hallways.

The artist is Danielle Dean.  Her work was a mixture of videos, sculptures and drawings.  Very raw.

The other gallery is the Visitor Welcome Center.   The work is from Iris Yirei Hu.

We stopped by a few others but nothing else was open.

There is a definite edge happening here.  LA is having a moment.  There is a lot of creativity from the art to the food.  There are neighborhood pockets that are each unique but are blossoming in their own way that creates a real individual vibe.  The more we explore the more you see it.  LA is definitely a cool spot right now.

A day in the San Gabriel Valley

Last year at this time we went with Ben Leventhal, the founder of Resy among many other things, down to the San Gabriel Valley for a full on day of eating.  This year our friend Jeff, aka Chef Jeff who is the founder of Love Yoga among many other things, joined in on the fun.  We hit the wall after 6 stops but the conversation continues throughout the day and not only did we find ourselves well-fed but we definitely left with a lot of food for thought…no pun intended.

Our first stop this year was at Delicious Food Corner.  They are one of the few places that open early and serve a Hong Kong style Chinese breakfast.  Before we go on this journey I do the research on what is the thing to eat at each stop so we pace ourselves.  Here we had two things.  Pineapple buns that are soft yet crispy on top with a pineapple tasting sugary sweetness with a tab of butter stuffed inside that melts the second they serve the dish.  It is pretty damn good.

The other is congee which is similar to porridge but savory.  You can order congee with chicken, fish or meat.  We went with the meatballs that are tiny and flavorful.  It was the good start to the day.

Second stop was Elite Restaurant.  This was a return from last year and we would all go back again.  Elite is elite.  We had three things.  These shrimp dumplings are perfect.  Poached flavorful shrimps wrapped in a translucent covering and steamed served with mustard and chili oil.

The other is the pork shumai.  Dense flavorful and juicy at the same time.  These are amazing.

Last was the crispy shrimp noodle dumpling.  Crispy noodles wrapped around shrimp that are deep fried and then lightly wrapped in a dumpling dough.  They come out whole and then the server takes a pair of scissors and cuts them into pieces and poured a vinegar soy mixture over the plate.  Wow wow wow.

Sam Woo BBQ was next.  This is a place we would definitely not return to.  We got a BBQ duck.  It is served cold and it was very greasy.  Tastes good but just not up to par.

Next stop was Mian.  This place is incredible.  It is a little more upscale than the other places we have been.  Perhaps the next generation of spots in the area.  The thing to get here is probably anything but we went with the popular dish of Chengdu zhajiangmian.  A bowl of spicy thin spaghetti noodles topped with ground pork, scallions and a fried egg. The chili sauce in this just packs the right punch.

On the side they serve a cup of cold murky bean broth that is to be sipped with the noodles.  Think of the right pairing of wine with a dish.  This really works.

The placemat is definitely a next generation.  They explain the concept with the first thing at the top which is take a picture.  Gotta love that.  In the parking lot we started talking to a guy who noted that we were on a food journey.  He had been doing it for years.  Gave us some great input which confirmed we were hitting the high notes.

Our next stop was Din Tai Fung Dumpling House #2.  There was a slight line so we got our ticket and went across the parking lot to the J.J. Bakery.  The bakery is filled with savory and sweet pastries.  Nothing is more than a few dollars.  We tasted a few things but nothing to rave about.

Our number came up and we sat down.  Great service and a nice spot.  You know you are somewhere legit when the kitchen looks like this.  They closed the original one and opened up this chic new one in the summer of 2016.
The soup dumplings is the key here.  We had the pork crab soup dumplings.  So good.

We also had the pork soup dumplings.

Our server recommended the spicy wontons.  Also incredibly good.  Everything was excellent.

Our last stop was Savoy Restaurant.  Not a fancy place but a fashionable high end Asian crowd.  Its a funky place.  They serve pizza and pasta dishes including the “house” speciality Hainan chicken.  The presentation is not great but the taste is delicious.  Poached chicken served along side simple rice made with chicken broth and butter.  I am definitely going to try and make this at home.

On the way back to the west side we hit up Amoeba.  One of the most incredible records stores I have ever been to.  It gives you this sense of stepping back in time but also this feeling of glee that people are still buying albums.

At the front there is a bucket to give to the ACLU.

And in the back there was a mixture of t-shirts.  This one describes the place.

What an awesome day.  Already thinking about next year…

 

 

Destroyer, a big walk and a very other things

Emily came to LA for a few days to see friends, relax and spend sometime here.  As always, it gives us some time to explore and knock some things off our lists.  We started at Destroyer for breakfast.  Jordan Kahn of Destroyer has brought Nordic fare to Los Angeles.  The space is minimal, the plating is beautiful and the tastes are deliciously subtle.

We had a few things to split.  Raw oatmeal with almond milk, red currants and hints of vanilla.  The white disc on top tastes like cold frozen cream.  It definitely tastes like it sounds but the flavors just keep you going back for just one more bite.

This breakfast bowl has quinoa, mushrooms, crispy potato chips, a mixture of greens and herbs with an organic egg inside.  It is really creative.

Even the coffee cups are well thought out.  We had a pastry, a combination of banana and ginger, that was unbelievably moist.

Had to have the Icelandic rye bread that is so dense but it is the whipped butter that is the key to bringing out all the flavors.

Behind Culver City, where Destroyer is, sits Baldwin Hills State Park.  It is pretty awesome that this park sits smack in the middle of an urban area.  In the middle of this park is the Culver City stairs.  The stairs were constructed in 2006 by a couple who goal was to create a non-traditional park environment inside the park.  We walked up the stairs and took the path on the way down.

The views from the top are amazing.

We roamed around Platform before making a stop at Surfas that is a culinary store filled with everything from cheese to sprinkles to deep frying vats for a restaurants.  Great store!

We stayed west so we made our way over to Venice to figure out lunch.  Wanted to show Emily the new Parachute Store on Rose.  Next door is now a Jeni’s ice cream who happened to be there that day.  We spoke to her awhile.  This is their 27th store.  Decided it was ok to have some ice cream before lunch.

Then we went to my favorite taco stop in Santa Monica, Tacos Punta Cabras.  Small dive with solid tacos.  The scallop, the shrimp and the fish was my faves although cauliflower tostado is pretty good too.

A little stroll down Abbott Kinney, bought some stationery and a few things before regrouping for the night ahead…

 

Platform

What has happened in Culver City over the past few years is pretty amazing.  As the new rail grows so will the areas around the stops and Culver City is a perfect example.  There are plenty of restaurant, stores, residential and commercial spots that you can walk to.

Platform is an open mall area that has recently opened in Culver City.  The name is great.  Think of it as the next generation mall for Millennials.  All the brands are this generations shops.  The area is small, intimate and has lots of greenery.  It has a different vibe and the key is the few restaurants that pull people into the space all week long.  I wonder if that really helps the retailers or not.

The Cannibal is the gastropub attached to the area.

Poketo which is a bit like a concept shop.

Surf Shop.  Not seeing how this store will make it.

Hat and shoe store.

Floral Art which used to be on Abbott Kinney.

Aesop is there and their store is really nicely done.

There is also Linda Farrow with a deep selection of glasses.

Curve has a huge space filled with clothing and a lot of Tom Dixon products.  Next door is a Soul Cycle

Juices, a Sweetgreen and Loqui that serves tacos.

Even Roberta’s has a pop-up restaurant there right now.

The developers did an incredible job.  Someone should hire them to take over the dead outdoor space in Santa Monica that is the old school open outdoor mall.  The issue there is the stores are so unappealing and not fresh.  This feels fresh and definitely geared towards the next generation of pocketbooks.  Yet I do think that they have to do things to draw people in that are not just working in the area.  The neighborhood is booming so maybe that is just the point, small and local.  The Roberta’s pop-up is certainly a smart draw.

Time will tell.

 

 

The big disconnect

I went to the Upfront Summit last week.  It was really a fantastic event put on by Upfront Ventures.  Two days of content and conversation.  I got to meet a bunch of new people, see many people I know and get a face to face with many I have talked to but never met face on.

Jared Diamond was one of the speakers.  He spoke about the divide in this country and why.  I keep coming back to what he talked about.  I know the world has shifted dramatically because of technology.  That shift has changed our workforce but it has also changed the way we live.  When we spend a majority of our time looking at a phone where we connect with the world at large through our Twitter feed or text with friends or just get information around work it has changed the way we interact with each other.

I see people sitting around a table having dinner and half the people are on their phones not communicating with the people they are present with.  The ability to follow people and talk with them around the globe has made it so that most of us really follow and talk with only people who agree with our own sensibilities.  In the past we had to go down to the local hub for our day to day needs from groceries to banking to clothing.  We were forced to have conversation and interact with many who might not believe in the same things that we do.  Now that we only connect with others like us it has created a severe divide.  We are seeing this play out in the media, in government, in protests and pretty much everything.

I am not sure what the solution is but in the past our elected officials found a way to agree to disagree and found a way to move forward but the divide, the grab for power and the divisiveness has become so angry and untenable that there is this cacophony that is surely going to either make a path for a new voice of reason or we are all going to find ourselves in a very bad place.

Dana Cowin, Lead and Exceed, Podcast

I met Dana Cowin more than a several years ago now.  I was in London having dinner and she was a few tables over from me.  I recognized her as I have been an avid subscriber of Food and Wine for now over 30 years.  I went over to her table and introduced myself.  We had a few friends in common and when I returned to NYC one of them reached out for us to connect and have dinner.  We have been having dinner and more since then.  Her birds-eye view of the food industry is like no other.  It was really fun to sit down with her and chat about her career starting as an editor at Food and Wine to her next journey in the world of food.  Highly suggest following her on Instagram for some fantastic photos.

The Apple Pan

The Apple Pan opened in 1947.  Not much has changed since.  It is an institution in Los Angeles.  The seating is a U-shaped counter surrounded by the food prep area with a huge vent hanging over head.  If you are lucky there is a seat available if not you just wait.

The Apple Pan has been on my list and I am so glad I finally got there.  We ordered burgers and fries.  The fries come quickly which was great because we were starving.  Crispy, warm and good.  Nothing like ketchup and fries.

We all had the hickory burger with cheddar cheese.  It is insanely good.  It worked in 1947 and it works today.  Juicy, flavorful and just the right size.

Pies are another must have.  Banana cream.  Those bananas pretty much say it all.

Coconut cream was an added bonus the night we were there.

Love love this place!  I can hardly wait to go back…

Broken Spanish

Broken Spanish is in downtown LA near the Staples Center.  That entire area is spread out with almost zero vibe.  It is hard to describe.  There are hotels, restaurants, and the arena but there is not one thing that creates something unique where as over by the arts area that isn’t far from there it feels entirely different.

The restaurants architecture feels a bit like a suburban fern bar but the food is terrific.  How can you not be excited about a list as long as this that is only filled with different tequilas and mezcal?  Usually I’d go for a tequila on the rocks but a margarita was calling our name.  Just tequila, fresh lime juice and a shot of something else.  Perfect.

We ordered a bunch of things to split between the 3 of us.  Queso Fundido was a cheesy dream and with a side of corn torillas for dipping you can not go wrong.  This can be lathered on anything you get.

Lamb neck, king oyster, queso Oaxaco tamale.  Rich braised lamb over the tamale.

Oxtail, plantain, habanero and salsa Quesadilla.  I added a little bit of the Queso Fundido to this.  So good.

Pieces of chicken thighs, crispy chicken skin, cock’s comb and guajillo.  Super spicy.

Lamb shoulder carnitas with kabocha squash, escabeche and pomegranate salsa.  The lamb was so tasty.

Half a roasted duck covered with a mole sauce, sesame seeds, crunchy peanuts and pieces of persimmons.  This was amazing.  The duck slid off the bone when you cut into it.  I could not get enough.

I did something that I never do which is ask for the leftovers to be put in a box for the next day.  Everything was really delicious.  The mixture of spices and the preparation is a twist on Mexican that I’d love to see more often.  That duck….

Farmers Market

One of my favorite things about LA is the weekly shop at the Farmers Market.  I go to Mar Vista every Sunday.  It is just the right size.  I also know the spots I like now.  Where to pick up the right eggs, avocados, carrots, breads etc.  Makes a big difference.

I was wearing my new favorite gift from my brother.  My Fuck Trump t-shirt.  That’s me and my sister with our gear during the holidays.  I wore it all day and the amount of people that talked to me and commented was amazing.  I went to the beach later in the day and got more of the same thing.  A big hit!  I wish I had recorded everyone I spoke to.  But as my brother pointed out, if I was wearing that t-shirt in another part of the country perhaps the comments would not be as enthusiastic.

Here are some of the wares we picked up.  Did not buy this tomato but from the sign it is obviously quite a precious tomato.

A variety of dried fruits at this market.

Love the lavender

Beautiful romanesco and a variety of colored cauliflowers.

Carrots galore

Oranges are abundant.  Tastes everywhere too.

These broccoli sprouts are amazing on a salad.

Beautiful herbs.

Cherry tomatoes.

Strawberries are not quite ready but honestly they still taste delicious.

Ready for the week ahead….

Food 52

I have been receiving a bunch of 2016 wrap-ups from the companies I have invested in.  When I got Food 52’s I went through the info a few times.  I was much more involved at the very beginning as that is my sweet spot. I was and still am impressed with how Amanda and Merrill had a vision, a path and a process for growing their brand.  Through the years they have listened to the investors and others but at the end of the day they trusted their gut and built what they believed is the right business.

I went back to see when I invested in that business.  It was May of 2010.  They began as a place where people shared recipes and enrolled in their best recipe contest but now they are so much more but of course that was always the plan.  They have added products and some are exclusively theirs, video, partnerships with companies and chefs who do live Facebook events, “not recipes” Instagram, put out another book that is sold in multiple places, created a holiday swap from 14 countries, gave advice on starting an art collection and info on how to care for items in your home and they were acknowledged from Crains and Inc 500 for what they have built.  Food52 essentially moved from a food site to a life style brand while growing the company to 65 people.

Seeing what they have accomplished is one of the best things as an investor.  I love the journey more than anything else.  It takes time and a shit load of energy to build a company from a seed of an idea.  People who come back constantly to Food 52 love everything about the site.  The data is there.  I happen to love the site too but more than anything I am standing in the front of the room continuing to applaud for these ladies everyday.  I just love what they have built.