Thursday, August 6, 2015

Visiting Los Angeles

Visiting Los Angeles is fun and exciting for many different reasons.  Having lived and gone to school there, the L.A. area holds a special place in my heart because it is all familiar to me.  You can put me just about anywhere in that city and I can navigate my way through antique shops, cafes, bistros, restaurants, all the while visiting with some of my closest friends and my entire family.  I love it there. 

With a milestone birthday under my belt, a small vacation with those whom I love most was definitely in order.  I had many family members visiting the area for a large reunion at the beginning of August, some of whom I hadn't seen in twenty years (gasp!), and let me assure you, the three day affair was worth every single minute.  Between the endless feasting, singing (yes, some of my aunts were in top form) and reminiscing, I don't think there was one moment without the cackle and laughter from one or all of us.  That's just the way we are.  Good times to be had no matter what!


I can't visit Los Angeles without getting together with some of my favorite individuals.  Even though I keep in contact with everyone through social media and via phone, it's important for me to reconnect with my friends & family with a tête-à-tête.  What better way of doing this than by sitting down to a delicious meal?

I try my hardest to visit Monsieur Marcel at the Farmers Market on 3rd. St. and Fairfax whenever I go to Los Angeles.  The market itself is such a marvel to walk through early in the day.  With fresh fruits, vegetables, pastry shops, cafes and restaurants, the Farmers Market always has something for everyone.

Click on the highlighted link to one of my past visits.
My ultra-chic cousin that lives blocks from that area wanted to lunch there, so I gladly accepted the invite.  When visiting Monsieur Marcel, don't be surprised to find expats or French-speaking individuals sitting here for a meal.  Everything on the menu is very good and the wine list is quite extensive.  
On this particular day I ordered the linguine e vongole with bottarga.  I hadn't tasted bottarga caviar before and was pleasantly surprised at its salty goodness.  A few fine shavings of this roe over the creamy linguine made my dish perfect.  Nothing was left on the plate.  My cousin had one of their famous panini sandwiches.  Delicious!

You can't lunch at Monsieur Marcel without taking a stroll through the market afterwards.  Those cakes in a jar looked so tasty sitting on the shelves next to the jams and jellies.  I stopped in front of the tea aisle to check out their fine selections from around the world.  Be it coffee, tea, wine, Laguiole flatware, freshly-baked canelé or pastel-hued calisson d'Aix, you can find anything French here.  I highly recommend this store and bistro to anyone.

Antiquing is a must in Los Angeles.  I'm always on the lookout for items I may not have and want, but that doesn't mean that I buy with abandon.  For some reason, my eyes always find the 'green'.  I fell in love with the St. Denis jadeite cups from the breakfast line, because of their generous proportions and their beautiful shape.  The Tom & Jerry mugs are somewhat of a rarity, but I passed on those.  The small duckling jadeite plate from Westmoreland is one I had never seen before.  It almost looks like an ashtray, don't you think?

Sitting on top of this vintage O'Keefe range was a set of Martha by Mail Fenton jadeite glasses  and a pair of jadeite lampshades.  Although the glasses were priced right, I already own them and passed on them as well.

Dim sum is something I had been craving for a long time.  With a few of my friends in tow, we headed to the San Gabriel valley to find a traditional dim sum restaurant.  As I was parking my car I noticed a very long line of people waiting to be seated.  This is when I knew the place would be good.

Sure enough, as soon as the ladies came around with their carts of freshly steamed dumplings and pots of jasmine green tea, we began to feast. Everything from pork, shrimp, crab, taro and greens, were stuffed into small, bite-size parcels of tastiness.  One dumpling of each flavor quickly filled us up.
  
Freshly steamed Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce was delicious, but so were the variety of sweets.

Baked pork buns were irresistible with their sweet dough and savory filling. The pineapple buns and sesame seed lotus buns were out of this world.  I could have eaten every single one.  Last, but not least, were the egg custard tarts.  These were a treat from one of the ladies at the restaurant.  She happens to be a friend of Patrick's (he visits here often), and took it upon herself to surprise us with a platter of them fresh from the oven.  We did not waste a moment to devour them.  

We vowed to explore other Chinese restaurants in the area the next time I'm in town.

My first visit to the Long Beach antique mall was so much fun.  Several things caught my eye, including that vintage penny candy jar with the rooster head on it.  I believe Martha by Mail reproduced that particular jar in green glass.  If I had a Fiestaware collection, I think I would have added that turquoise teapot and the green water pitcher.  Aren't they wonderful?

The pressed glass cake stands and that two-tone Mosser green glass set on the bottom were on my radar, but I did not purchase them.  I did come very close to getting the akro agate child's play set (top right photo).  

My younger brother and sister in law love sushi, and have it when there is something to celebrate.  The three of us visited a restaurant that they enjoy, with each of us ordering something completely different.  Sampling one another's dish was a great idea because we were able to try a bit of this and a bit of that.  A classic rainbow roll, some smoked salmon and tempura rolls, along with edamame, vegetable tempura, sesame chicken and miso soup made for a very tasty lunch.  Lots of freshly pickled ginger completed everything.

I loved the crunchy gyoza!

I would definitely come back to this restaurant for more sushi, but I think for my next visit, I will go to a Japanese restaurant that specializes in ramen.

A proper Los Angeles visit has to include Mexican food.  Since I never make fish tacos at home, I had to order some Baja-style ones.  Packed with crispy, succulent fish, each handmade corn tortilla was topped crunchy cabbage, queso fresco, salsa cruda and minced cilantro.  I was in heaven eating these, but as much as I tried, I could only eat two of them.  The other one was put in a take out box and devoured later.  

As I was posting these photos on some of my social media accounts, I was asked by friends if I was eating my way through Los Angeles.  What can I say? I love to eat!  Good food, great friends and family, along with good conversation is what it's all about.  I love Los Angeles and will always consider it a home for me, but when it's time to head back to Pennsylvania, I am ready to hug my little furry kitties and put things in order.


That relaxing feeling that all is right in the world is what I felt the moment we drove down the clean driveway, and I spotted a deer in the distance.  When the front door was opened as I was getting out of the car, my cats quickly ran out the front and up the steps to where I was standing.  As silly as it may sound, there really is no place like home.  Your home is where your heart longs to be, and I'm glad I made it back safe and sound to my family. 

I hope you're all having a great summer!

5 comments:

  1. It's funny David, but I live in Santa Monica and I'm originally from Chester County, PA! I've lived in Los Angeles for over twenty years, and you know, I still don't feel like it's my home. Every time I go back to PA it seems like that is where I left my heart. There is something special about PA, but I wouldn't trade it for L.A. weather, shopping and the food. Yeah, part of my heart may be in Pennsylvania, but I'm definitely an L.A. girl now.

    Great post!

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    1. Thanks Emily.

      Santa Monica is a very nice area and there is a lot to do there. That reminds me that I need to visit the 3rd St. Promenade the next time I'm in Los Angeles. There is a wonderful farmers market there I have never been to.

      Chester County is beautiful and not too far from Philadelphia. It's OK to have your heart in two places. I almost feel the same way sometimes.

      Enjoy the summer. :)

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  2. Who says you can't go home again? Sure sounds like you did David. A very happy belated birthday! Your trip sounds just marvelous and while reading your post I thought too of all my friends and relatives in California. But at the end of the day as wonderful as it is (ohhhh the weather) there is NO PLACE like home whether it be PA or ID. Glad you had such a great time. Loved the post.

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    1. Hi Joy!

      Thanks for the birthday wishes. :) My trip was something I desperately needed and I'm glad I was able to see so much, eat a lot and get together with friends and family.

      I hope you're enjoying your summer in Idaho!

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  3. Once again, California embraced you and you took full advantage! xo

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