Sunday, April 3, 2011

The 1st LA Food Swap - A New Community

Last Sunday, a small group of Angelenos came together with our handcrafted preserves, herbs, tinctures, cookies, pastas, tomato sauces, cocktail mixers, and more with one mission: to trade our goods. Of course, after everything was said and done, something else emerged: a new community.

We circulated for a while in a mellow frenzy, checking out what everyone else had brought, chatting along the way. And then the swap began. I swapped my brown butter shortbread and lavender, oatmeal, brown sugar scrub for a bounty of treats:

- rosemary tincture
- herb salad
- garlic confit
- clementine margarita marmalade
- satsuma dust
- two lemon curds
- onion marmalade
- blueberry preserves
- strawberry rosemary jam
- rosemary bundle
- blood orange marmalade
- artichoke cheese biscuits
- brown butter muffins
- cherry pistachio cookies
- fig scones

We've continued the party on Twitter and will reconnect at the next LA Food Swap, happening on April 9th at the Good LA's Launch Weekend.

Big thanks to Emily Ho, who was inspired by other food swaps around the country and decided that LA needed one too.

Read more about the 1st LA Food Swap:

LA Food Swap

LAist: An Old Fashioned Good Time: The 1st Ever LA Food Swap

Fudge Ripple

Everything But The...

Roberta Romero

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Street – LA’s Most Toddler-Friendly Restaurant?

Neon Sign at Street Restaurant

We met Valley-based Grandma for Friday night dinner at centrally located Street last night, not sure it would be kid-friendly for our almost-three year old. It quickly became obvious that Street is a restaurant that welcomes everyone, even sometimes crazy toddlers.

Top 8 reasons we'll return to Street often:

1. Reservationist assured me, “kids are welcome!” when making our reservation. Always a good sign. And, she gave us a perfect corner booth, comfy and easy to navigate.

2. “Ugh, there’s a toddler” looks from co-diners quickly ameliorated by warm welcome from everyone from the busser to our server. People, we have an iPhone with toddler apps, it will be ok, promise!

3. Our lovely server assured us there were no pecans, pistachios, or walnuts (our guy’s allergic) in anything, but would make a note for the kitchen just in case. So much better than the annoyed reaction we often get.

4. Kajsa Alger, Street’s Executive Chef and Partner, visited our table with a bowl of strawberries for our guy. She chatted with us about kids (she has a 4 year old) and how they either love or hate Street’s food. Our guy inhaled everything, from the millet rice krispie treat amuse to the carrot & harissa salad, short ribs, Brussels sprouts, and shitake & shrimp fritter.

5. The one bummer, especially on a triple-poop night (sorry, overshare), was the absence of a changing table in either bathroom. Luckily, two big chairs outside the bathrooms were easily dragged into the single-occupancy men’s room for our makeshift changing table. We got an ok from our server before we started moving furniture.

6. On our way to the bathroom for diaper change #3, our server and two others stopped us to say how much they loved having our son there and asked us to come back to Street soon. Non-parents, this is an extremely rare sentiment. Shocked, I told them how much we appreciated their warm welcome and support as we try to raise a well-mannered little diner.

7. Sheparding our guy out the door, we were sent off into the night with sweetly enthusiastic thank-yous and “please come again!” from Kajsa and others.

8. Almost forget to mention, the food was fabulous. Loved it all. Favorites included:
- Black Kale with Refried White Beans
- Braised Short Ribs
- Tatsutage Fried Chicken
- Sauteed Brussels Sprouts
- Kaya Toast
- Shrimp Stuffed Shitake Mushrooms
- Carrot and Harissa Salad

742 North Highland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038-3415
(323) 203-0500

*Image courtesy of Muy Yum:

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.