Thankgiving, California style

No, not this year. This year I’ve been relaxing in the woods of Matinecock, Long Island, with my friend Charlotte and her family. And there has been good food and drink abounding, let me tell you. Not to mention the great company, or the sallying forth to the beach on bikes, into the forest to the natural spring, or around the property at night armed with cameras and huge lamps.

But there comes a time in every life when a little spot of retrospection is just the thing to do. And so, I look back to last Thanksgiving, when I had the bizarre fortune of spending a week in LA. C was our guide in a whirlwind tour of favourite places, scenic vistas, and a whole lot of good food.

Lunch at Forage.

The Venice walk streets.

They call it Venice for a reason I guess.

Cauliflower at the Santa Monica farmers’ market. The latter wonderfully, overwhelmingly huge; the former scrumptious.

Griffith Park.

Pumpkins at Culver City farmers’ market.

The lamp installation at LACMA.

One of many beach walks.

A short list of some places we went, in case you’re visiting LA and want some ideas:

Lemonade (venice, with other locations around the city)
cafeteria-style, updated 50s diner decor, huge selection of all sorts of healthy gourmet sides with lots of local seasonal produce.  Good food for the masses for cheap.  Great for lunch – and big portions!  go for the half-portions – you can try double the dishes.

Intelligentsia (go to the one in venice, it has the coolest decor – modern exposed metal, wood, and glass.  they also have one in silverlake and I think another somewhere else)
great coffee shop.  always really busy, so you know it’s good.  great espresso, they have their house one and they rotate through different other ones every week.  plus: they serve their espresso with sparkling water, euro style.

Forage (silverlake)
amazing.  started out as a community kitchen/restaurant, where people would bring whatever food they had or could find and the cooks would make meals out of it.  they had to stop that because of safety regulations or w/e but still has a great community vibe.  simple design, white walls and windows with big racks of shelves with all their ingredients.  lots of seasonal, lots of local, lots of organic, but does not reek of hippie at all.  also very reasonable, and very delicious food with creative combinations and good execution.  perfect for lunch with a friend.

Akasha (culver city)
went there for the bar – really interesting cocktails with a lot of seasonal inspiration and local sourcing.  really beautiful space.  great with a couple friends.

Gjelina (venice)
such a cool spot.  try to get a reservation in advance, like a week or more, because it is always packed.  big high ceilings, dark walls, distressed wood tables, cool bar and awesome lighting.  the menu changes seasonally and i believe they source most of their food from the market.  known for their pizzas especially, but everything’s great.  would be really fun with a group of people.

Huckleberry (santa monica)
it is crazy busy, the line is always long long long and there are so many staff you can’t keep track of them all.  delicious food, simple and rustic aesthetic, focus on the ingredients.  beautiful space.  go for brunch.  get the blueberry muffin.

Paulette (beverly hills)
the best macarons in the city.  if you’re at all a fan of the french pastry, you must go.  such incredible flavours, and such perfect execution.

Cru (silverlake)
some of the best raw vegan food i’ve ever had.  such creativity, both in conception and execution.  everything was delicious.  the mezze platter really shows off what they can do, it’s delicious.  and the quinoa risotto with shiitake, coconut milk, spinach, and fig reduction – amazing.  their key lime pie is also remarkable.  and byob!  it’s small and no reservations so you might have to wait – but it will be worth it.  check in, head to the liquor store down the road, and you’ll be set.

places I wasn’t able to go to but you should:

The Varnish (downtown)
an awesome speakeasy-style bar with really fresh ingredients and a cool vibe.  check it out, the bartenders are really friendly and they’ll make you a unique cocktail if you give them something you like as inspiration.

Caña (downtown)
same owners as varnish and similar idea, but this is specifically a rum bar.

LAMill (silverlake)
big focus on seasonal local ingredients, and amazing coffee.  creative revisionings of classics.  lunchy or suppery or a nice java in the afternoon.

Rivera (downtown)
a little on the pricier side, but if you’re at all into latin cuisine you must must go.  draws on regional inspiration from different areas of central and south america, with an eye towards haute cuisine.  up-and-coming star restaurant.  if you do go, get the flower petal tortillas.  amazing and stunningly beautiful.

We also went to the Santa Monica and Culver City farmer’s markets, hiked the hills in Griffith Park, and climbed the riverbed in Solstice Canyon in Malibu with picnic in tow. If you’re looking to be downright bamboozled by a farmer’s market, go to Santa Monica. They close down like four square city blocks, and there are vendors selling all sorts of incredible things. Not to mention there had fresh figs in November.

Speaking of which, it’s about time to discuss the Thanksgiving meal itself. C and I had a big list of things we wanted to make, which made shopping at the market the day before that much more exciting.

The final menu:

Canapés (I bet you can guess whose idea this was) with blended goat’s cheese and crème fraîche, sliced pear, and finger limes (the most amazing things ever! Long dark limes with pale pink caviar-like bursts inside); whipped Valdeón with fresh figs and lavender-infused honey (with lavender from across the street); and Beecher’s flagship cheddar with glazed carrot tips and blueberries

Arugula salad with avocado, pomegranate, and balsamic reduction

Pumpkin ravioli with brown butter sage sauce

Roasted heirloom carrots with shallots and herbs

Chanterelles poached in butter and white wine

Smashed roasted fingerlings (with some mashed for Fiona, her favourite)

Roasted brussel sprouts

Shaved kale with crème fraîche and sherry vinegar

Herbed rolls (by C’s mom)

Vosges chocolate for dessert

It was good.

We found a live jellyfish on the beach walk we all took together earlier in the afternoon. Fiona was fain to save it, so we took it back home and put it in the aquarium. We named it Jelly. We watched it for a long while, mesmerised.

This entry was published on Friday, November 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm. It’s filed under events, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Thankgiving, California style

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