Los Angeles Restaurant Standbys

Los Angeles Restaurant Standbys

“In Los Angeles, everything is 100% organic, except the people.” Kris Kidd

I’m a foodie and my first choice is to try a new restaurant. There are certain restaurants that I often return to because they are comfortable and consistently delicious. They are always crowded and fun. The list is in no particular order.

Matsuhisa was opened in 1987 by Nobu Matsuhisa.  I had been there a few times but I  was not much of a fan of raw fish in the eighties. His cooked food was amazing. Many trips to Japan later have really made me appreciate raw fish and  his attention to quality and detail. Nobu Matsuhisa  was responsible for bringing sushi culture to the forefront in America. The restaurant is always packed and delicious https://matsuhisabeverlyhills.com/

Angelina Osteria feels very authentic. An osteria is a casual eatery similar to a neighborhood tavern where one enjoys rustic Italian food alongside carafes of wine. Chef Gino Angelini understands this. I have never had a meal here that wasn’t cooked to perfection.  The sea bass baked in salt is impressive. https://www.angeliniosteria.com/

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Charcoal is the newest restaurant from Josiah Citrin, a Westside local best known for his French restaurant Mélisse. It is more casual and near the beach with an open kitchen, craft beer and ambitious cocktails. The best dish might be the charred cabbage with tart yogurt and sumac. The Goldster also loved the vegetable dishes. I have been there a few times and  so far it is always spot on. I am a big fan of the peanut butter chocolate cake. https://www.charcoalvenice.com/

Gjelina is on everyone’s favorite restaurant list. No matter what time of day you arrive, it is always packed. People love the pizza but I prefer the small plates and salads.  It says on the menu ‘changes & modifications politely declined.”  If you are a sauce or dressing on the side person, don’t go. They aren’t kidding.

Tsujita Sushi is the third Tsujita restaurant on Sawtelle Blvd. Ramen fans queue up at the other two noodle bars. I’ve had the omekase dinner a few times and it is interesting and tasty. It is high-end sushi and  starts at 120 and up. I prefer the more cost friendly lunch special and often run in and sit at the sushi bar. There are various rice bowls topped with fish. They are artfully presented  and contained lovely, fresh and unexpectedly generous pieces of fish. It is my go to lunch place when I am in that area. The Goldster is a fan.

Il Pastaio has become a Beverly Hills landmark. It is always packed. The restaurant  has a large menu and pasta is the star which makes sense because the translation is the pasta maker. There are also really delicious and interesting salads, seafood and steak.  I consistently have good meals here and would probably eat there more often if it was not always so crowded. http://www.celestinodrago.com/

Republique definitely lives up to the hype. Every dish I had at dinner was some of the best food I have ever tasted in LA.  It is one of my favorite places to take out-of-town guests. The food and lighting are very instagram friendly as well. I love it for breakfast and lunch. The salted caramel chocolate cake and the shakshuka are worth the traffic.  http://republiquela.com/

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Sycamore Kitchen is described as New American cuisine. It is a breakfast and lunch place in the Mid Wilshire area. It is not a brunch place. Breakfast ends at 1130. They have amazing pastries and coffee. The egg tartine is one of my favorite breakfasts and served all day. I like all the salads and sides. The line moves pretty quickly and you don’t have to wait long for a table.  http://thesycamorekitchen.com/

Baco Mercat’s food is always fantastic and creative. The restaurant is named after the baco sandwich (on flat bread and served in a bowl ). I like the ‘original” one when I am eating meat. I crave the brussel sprouts (really, they are that good).The owner and chef Josef Centeno has a few restaurants in the old Bank district downtown. They are all amazing. I also love Orsa And Winston. All the foodies in LA will agree with me on this one. (baco sandwich)  http://www.bacomercat.com/

Rose Cafe is  very new stylish Venice. I love it. It’s a big restaurant,  hipster designed with plenty of takeout food and parking. There are  interesting healthy breakfast choices  eggs with sweet potatoes , avocado and greens,  superb pastas at lunch and dinner and elaborate beautiful main courses. It is delicious all day dining and my new neighborhood go to restaurant.  http://rosecafevenice.com/

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Fly safe,

JAZ

My Ten Favorite LA Restaurant Dishes

My Ten Favorite LA  Restaurant Dishes In No Particular Order 

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world”. JRR Tolkien

Sea Bass Ceviche at Lonzo’s Bakery Restaurant http://www.lonzosperuvianrestaurantbreadcompany.com/

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Turkey Burger at Golden State http://www.thegoldenstatecafe.com/

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Charred Cabbage with Yogurt and Sumac at Charcoal https://www.charcoalvenice.com/

Pasta Al Pomodoro at Ponte (formerly the Pasta Al Pomodoro at Scarpetta)  http://thepontela.com/

Roast Chicken with Panzanella and Olives at AOC http://www.aocwinebar.com/

Salmon Sashimi with Dried Miso at Matsuhisa https://matsuhisabeverlyhills.com/

Any hot dog at Pinks http://www.pinkshollywood.com/

Shakshuka at République http://republiquela.com/

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Glazed Donut hot out of the oven at Krispy Kreme https://www.krispykreme.com/

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Caesar Brussel Sprouts at Baco Mercat http://www.bacomercat.com/

Fly safe,

JAZ

I Don’t Eat Meat Except When I Do

I Don’t Eat Meat Except When I Do

“Life is too short for self-hatred and celery sticks.’ Marilyn Wann

I’m not a meat eater. I can live without bacon. I don’t have a plant-based diet. I’m not a vegan or a pescetarian. I don’t have a superior I’m going to be healthier than you while saving the planet attitude. Meat is just never my food of choice unless it comes in a casing or is ground.  It is my occasional secret guilty pleasure. I’ve switched to chicken sausage and  turkey burgers in public but the truth is that it is just not the same.

I’m not even an ethical carnivore. Can one still be spiritual and eat the occasional ground meat? Even if it is not grass-fed, free range and organic? I pride myself on being an honest person. Is it dishonest to be a secret fast food eater?

Once in a while I need a real burger. I want an In N Out Burger or a Pink’s real hot dog every time I drive by. I rarely go in. Comfort food  is comforting – as long as you don’t overdo it. I’m not buying the 24 pack of hot dogs or burgers at Cosco. There is a difference between getting McDonald’s for dinner or scarfing down a bag of cookies or pint of ice cream so fast you didn’t enjoy it.

Quarter Pounder with cheese is my go to when necessary comfort food. You can’t beat McDonald’s prices and it’s only 600 calories if you were counting calories at a fast food restaurant. I feel like McDonalds is getting better at making their burgers look good and hiding the grey meat in the middle so you can’t see it. I notice when McDonalds says Deluxe it means they  add lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, because apparently nothing adds class like mayo.

It brings up a cherished memory of how much my son and his friends enjoyed going to McDonald’s. Waiting in line at the drive through, I think about all the Happy Meal toys we collected and all the Chicken McNuggets they consumed. I was not allowed to eat sugar or junk food as a kid which is why I crave it. I made sure it was a part of my children’s childhood.

Stored in my brain is the memory of when McDonald’s came to Brooklyn. I went with my boyfriend and all our friends for the first time. We  cut classes to have lunch there and ordered everything so we could try it. I believe everything was Filet of Fish, Cheeseburger, Hamburger and Fries. If there was chicken it was not McNuggets and no one ordered it. We thought it tasted good and was definitely cost-effective. There were no fancy burger options then. I take the first bite and I see them all dressed in their cool seventies fashion once again.  

And of course there was the movie Pulp Fiction. “What do they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris? They got the metric system. They don’t know WTF a quarter pounder is. They call it Royale with Cheese”’

I  call it the taste of memory.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

Foods I Ate In A Day On A Road Trip Through New Zealand

Foods I Ate In A Day On A Road Trip Through New Zealand

“On the road again. Goin’ places that I’ve never been. Seein’ things that I may never see again. And I can’t wait to get on the road again” Willie Nelson

When it comes to eating healthy on a road trip through New Zealand, the struggle is real. Most people look for food that’s quick and convenient when traveling. There is typically neither time or patience on your side. You have to make do with the options available in the time and space you’re given. Unfortunately, New Zealand doesn’t cater to healthy fast food though gluten-free has come to even the smallest town. 

Breakfast. Breakfast is usually included in many hotels outside of the United States and often served buffet style. Ours ranged from light to full breakfast. I tried to fill up at breakfast eating scrambled eggs (often greasy and not that warm), yogurt (some flavor in a container), fruit, coffee, tomatoes and avocado if available. I  would take apples or bananas if I saw them for the road.

Morning Stop New Zealand makes great coffee so there was always an interesting coffee shop wherever we stopped. Sometimes the coffee was more interesting than other times.

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If I was already car sick, I would have a donut or scone. New Zealand food is very influenced by the UK. Carbs, diet coke and sweet hard candy help me with carsickness.

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I drink a lot of water and I am happy to say that I saved money because New Zealand has the best tap water. I just refilled my bottle where ever we stopped.

Snacks  There is something about being on a road trip that makes you want to eat the kinds of foods that you would never eat at home. Orange cheese chips (called Twisties), Burger Rings (chips that taste like a burger?) and unidentified dried meat in a package look appealing – especially when you are in another country with different snacks.

I bought almonds, walnuts and kiwi fruit. I  bring vitamin C bars, gum, hard candy and Jelly Bellys from home.

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Lunch   We always stopped somewhere that had shopping or photo ops so I wanted to eat fast and not spend the time sitting. Every roadside restaurant serves quiche and mince and cheese pies. Pies are a staple of the New Zealand diet and everyone is eating them.

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Pre made sandwiches seemed to be the healthiest quick option most of the time.  Ham and cheese on white bread with lots of butter – sometimes toasted was my usual lunch. One day somewhere on South Island, I went to a bakery that had sandwiches. I saw a loaf of wheat bread. I asked for ham and cheese on wheat bread without butter. They said that they only made the ham and cheese on white bread.  It was my Jack Nicholson Five Easy Pieces moment.

“You have wheat bread. You have ham and you have cheese.”

“Yes, but we only make the sandwiches on white”, said the girl behind the counter.

“Well, I’d like a loaf of wheat bread – throw it away except for two pieces and I will have the ham and cheese on wheat, hold the butter.”

She said that she would speak to her manager.  She did not look happy but returned with my request and only charged me for the sandwich – best sandwich of the road.

Afternoon stop.  I was usually sleeping after my sandwich and needed a good New Zealand  coffee and something sweet. Hopefully, it would be a banana. Sometimes it was chocolate covered kiwi fruit, Pineapple Lumps( chocolate covered pineapple marshmallowy thing), chocolate covered marshmallow fish, Jaffa (chocolate covered in red hard candy), ice cream or yogurt blended with fruit, pie or Anzac biscuits (oatmeal biscuits from WWll).

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Dinner On long driving days, dinner was tricky. I wasn’t always hungry. Sometimes I would have a proper New Zealand dinner. I loved those green lipped mussels and fresh salmon -or a Maori Hangi – (could be chicken fish, pork, lamb potato, cabbage  and root vegetable such as kumara) cooked in the steam in the ground.

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 Other times dinners were Egg McMuffin, wine and cheese, protein bars, fruit and yogurt,  Fergburger or pizza.

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The thing about a road trip is that the same exact eating starts all over the next day.

Fly safe

,JAZ

Seventeen Ways To Tell If You Are A Foodie Even If You Do Not Cook

Seventeen Ways To Tell If You Are A Foodie Even If You Do Not Cook

“People who love to eat are always the best people. – Julia Child”

You read restaurant reviews in bed before you go to sleep to relax.

You refuse to eat a grilled cheese sandwich with less than three different cheeses.

Bacon or pork makes anything better.

You spend hours researching your dining itinerary whenever you travel including making reservations from home whenever possible.

Your day in a foreign country goes like this – wake up – eat breakfast, walk around city, think about lunch, eat lunch, take nap, walk around city,  think about dinner, go to dinner at pre made reservation restaurant.

The first thing you ask your friends when they return from vacation is “What  did you eat? What are the good restaurants there?”

You use words like truffle season, farm to table, organic, fusion, layers of flavor, deconstructed and tasting menu in an annoying way.

You can’t date anyone who is into health food, a vegetarian or a picky eater. 

You judge other people by the food they order. 

You refuse to vacation anywhere that is not known for its good food – like  Disneyworld.

You own more than three kinds of salt. That also goes for vinegar, oil and mustard.

You wait on a long line to try the newest must eat thing. 

You have more pictures on your phone of food than of your kids.

You feel obligated to try every interesting food  truck that you see.

You will drive for hours to eat a delicious  meal.

People give you restaurant gift certificates as a birthday gift.

You are planning the next meal before you finish the one you are eating.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

My Top Ten Desserts In The World So Far

My Top Ten Desserts In The World So Far

“I am starting to think that maybe memories are like this dessert. I eat it, and it becomes a part of me, whether I remember it later or not.” Erica Bauermeister

When the mood for dessert strikes, I am there. I consider it a necessity not a choice to try desserts when I am traveling.  There isn’t a problem in the world that a good dessert can’t make feel a little better. Here are some of my favorites in no particular order.

Pastel de Nata – Portugal

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Baklava – Greece

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Red Velvet Cupcakes – USA

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 Semolina Halva –  Turkey (nice with fresh fruit)

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Black Sesame Ice Cream – Japan

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 Malva Pudding  (poeding) – South Africa

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Sweet Sticky Rice With Coconut Cream and Mango – Thailand

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Dulce de Leche –  Argentina ( on ice cream, cookies, cake, bread)

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 Fresh Acai  and Tapioca Ice Cream – Belem, Brazil

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Mango Pudding – Hong Kong

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Fly safe, JAZ

Tip Jars In America

Tip Jars In America

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Mahatma Gandhi

If you come from another country, one of the first things you notice is how much tipping is expected in the United States. Tipping at a counter when I’m ordering take out is not what I am accustomed to. I worked for tips, when I was growing up, so I am a big tipper for good service. We now have electronic tipping when you are paying a bill at a register. I’m not quite sure what I am tipping for – that you are ringing up a juice I took from the case and handed to you? The first time I was intimidated and did it but I don’t anymore. Tipping for limited service is definitely becoming part of the American culture. There are tip jars everywhere. It’s a conundrum. What is the tip for stuffing a bagel into a paper bag? or for an already overpriced five dollar latte? My personal rule now is that it just depends on the experience or the creativity of the tip jars. There is a website called funnytipjars.com. I am a sucker for a creative tip jar.

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funny tip jars

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Daily Dose

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Starbucks

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Kreation

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Fly safe,

JAZ