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

Day Dates In Los Angeles

Day Dates In Los Angeles

“A sip of wine, a cigarette, And then it’s time to go. I tidied up the kitchenette; I tuned the old banjo. I’m wanted at the traffic-jam. They’re saving me a seat.” Leonard Cohen

L.A. is a car city. Most people drive; whether it’s to work or to grab a coffee at the Starbucks down the street. It doesn’t matter if your office is in walking distance, you’ll hop in your car to get there. Since everyone drives everywhere, LA traffic can turn a quick trip into a long commute.

Los Angeles had the world’s worst traffic in 2016  beating out Moscow for the top spot in the rankings released by traffic firm INRIX. According to the survey, Los Angeles motorists spent an average of 104 hours stuck in traffic last year. The worst traffic day is Friday.

I moved to the Venice Marina Del Rey area last summer if you did not read my sad moving blogs. My friends and family live on the other side of the 405 freeway. This means that the city’s congestion now confines me to my own area on week day evenings. Local neighborhoods have had to become more self-sufficient with interesting restaurants, bars, cultural and recreational sources as more and more  people do not want to sit in traffic to go out at night.

It’s traditional to make plans with people at night. I tried when I first moved here to continue to meet people during the week. “I’ll be there in twenty minutes,” I would say when I was in standstill traffic and knew it would be at least an hour. I would have to leave at four o clock for a seven o clock dinner. A two-hour dinner in town became a five-hour dinner with traffic and parking.

I began to only accept invitations to things I had to do – celebrations, rock concerts and a few events. I stopped going to the theatre, ballet and gallery openings downtown on week nights.  All these things were available on weekends. I started to stay home on weekday evenings unless people wanted to drive to the beach or at least to my side of the 405.  I blamed it on my puppy’s anxiety (which is sad but true). My friend’s and family did not want to make the drive here after the first new house inspection. Guys will do it.

 Recently I started making day dates with my friends on the other side of the 405 and the east side of town. If you go to a movie in a crowded mall on an afternoon, the theatre is empty. You can park on the first level and not spend a half hour getting out of the parking lot. The ridiculously crowded restaurants have plenty of space available. The concession stand is empty and will even make a fresh batch of popcorn or pot of coffee if you ask nicely. There are no lines for the bathroom. I do the weekend theatre matinees  downtown and have an early dinner to try a trendy downtown restaurant. Weekend brunches are my best friend though as it gets closer to the summer the traffic  near the beach will be a problem.  Lunch dates always work.  My friends aren’t thrilled with the new arrangement but they are doing it and agree it is relaxing and fun.

I am no longer losing entire days of my life sitting in traffic. There are plenty of other things I can do with those 104 hours.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Eleven Of My Best Instagram LA Photos That Are Not On A Beach (travelwellflysafe)

“California, that advance post of our civilization, with its huge aircraft factories, TV and film studios, automobile way of life… its flavorless cosmopolitanism, its charlatan philosophies and religions, its lack of anything old and well-tried rooted in tradition and character. “J.B. Priestley

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Fly safe,
JAZ

Make America Hate Again

Make America Hate Again

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” Maya Angelou

It turns out that it was not just the economy that brought out the Trump supporters but the shame that the white working class had previously felt about themselves. The Right was very successful in campaigning on the premise that it wasn’t the white working class that failed but some other villain – Muslims, Jews, Liberals, African-Americans, Immigrants, Gays, Feminists, the Media  – the list keeps growing.

The liberals and the media did not understand this deep level of classicism between the haves, have less or have-nots.

Right or wrong Donald Trump gave them back some pride. In doing that, he gave license to their rage and has done nothing to stop that.

I now live in an artsy, racially mixed (and by that I mean interracial couples)  neighborhood. I am at the beach and there are many visitors on the weekends. I was walking my dog and  there was a truck double parked facing in the wrong direction. A man driving by got out of his car to ask him what he was doing.  They were both white. The truck was an Escalade type thing. The car was the cheaper Mercedes model. The Mercedes driver wore a Hawaiian flowered shirt. They were arguing and it was getting ugly. As is my New York custom,  I crossed the street to avoid trouble. The truck driver yelled, “You are such a fucking faggot. You are a big loser. Did you vote for Hillary?”

The racism, sexism and xenophobia that Trump used to advance his candidacy had found its way to my street. When things happen right in front of you,  it is hard to stay open and indifferent. White hate speech against white people in a very liberal neighborhood is new. It is nothing new for black or gay people anywhere. Venice is the kind of mixed arty community that people move into to avoid this. The big conversation among strangers here is how are the waves today or look at that sunset. The lid against hate has been blown off. 

I still say that I wasn’t brought up to hate. I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust, McCarthyism and my parents’ fears.  I was raised not to sign anything, peacefully protest but not call too much attention to yourself by leading the march.  

A younger couple had heard it as well and they walked up to me. He is blond. She is Asian. They asked how it started. “Stay safe,” they say when they walk away.

Fly safe,

JAZ