Saturday, May 26, 2012

This week's theme: Favorites! Santa Monica Farmers Market, Malibu and whales

Hipp Hipp Hooray! The new Wes Anderson movie just came out! Anyone as excited as I am??? My favorite movie of all times is Wes Anderson's Hotel chevalier. Not a scene too much, not a detail too much, not a word too much. 13 minutes of perfection. Funny how I can have a favorite movie, but not a favorite dish. When it comes to food, I am very indecisive. I guess that's because there are a lot of incredible products and creative people preparing them but very little talented movie makers...
Anyway, let's stick to the theme of favorites. My all time favorite farmers market in California is in Santa Monica. It's a true must to visit it on every Saturday I am in town. 

Here is my plan for a perfect Saturday morning (and sometimes, morning can mean mid-day...) in Los Angeles and its surroundings.
First, take the car and drive down Wilshire Boulevard from downtown LA. That might take longer than the interstate, but I like Wilshire and you get to see quite a lot of the town.
Second, when in Santa Monica, stop at Huckleberry Bakery & Coffee and buy an iced coffee latte. It's the best one I have had during my entire time in California.
Third, drive all the way to dowtown Santa Monica and take your time strolling around the farmers market. 

Buy a danish with caramel and fleure de sel as well as a crostata with strawberries from Valerie at the market

Try the strawberries and raspberries at each and every stall until you found the best ones. Buy at least one basket of each. Don't forget to sip on your iced coffee latte every now and then. Buy some freshly squeezed orange juice. 

Stop buy the Santa Barbara pistachio stall. Buy the breathtakingly cheap organic pistachios. My favorite kinds are the unsalted and the slightly salted ones which come already peeled for 10 $!!!! Buy some pistachio flour, and ask the unbelievably kind lady what to do with it (bread some schnitzels with it, she said and I did, and yes, yummy yummy yummy). 

Buy some dried nectarines and peaches to nibble on right then and there.
Fourth, get back into the car. Drive along Pacific Coast Highway 1 to Malibu. I know, it's a cliché, but Malibu really IS that pretty. I wouldn't have gone back there if it wasn't. Stop at the little mall right when you get into Malibu. Buy a turkey, melted brie and lingonberry sandwhich at the Malibu Kitchen & Gourmet Country Market. Sometimes, nothing tastes as good as a slobby sandwhich. 

Fifth, drive to Zuma Beach in Malibu, spread your picknick blanket in the sand, place the strawberries, the raspberries, the orange juice and the cakes from valerie's within reach, and the sandwhich in your hand. Munch on your sandwhich and nibble on the fruits!

 copyright of all photos j.
Sixth, just so happen to be there when a family of three whales swims up the shore! Impressive! Magical! Surreal!

See more photos of the Santa Monica Farmers Market from when I was there last time here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ocean Beach, San Diego, Farmers Market

No, we did not have parrot rôti in San Diego, duuuhhhh!I just liked the picture of this beautiful parrot which we saw in the San Diego Zoo. The Zoo was alright, but a Zoo remains a Zoo, no matter how hard people try to make the environment accomodate to the animals' needs. Which is why the place we went to after the Zoo was more to my liking. Of course it was another farmers market. "What did you do during your vacation, j.?" " I flew 12 hours to spend each and every day at a different farmers market." Yepp, that's sort of my ideal vacation.

Arriving at Ocean Beach near San Diego reminded me very much of the summer vacations of my childhood which we quite often spent at le pin sec, a beach close to Bordeaux, France. If you know the place, you know its magic. If you don't: it used to be a pine-tree-scented hippie-surfer-no-hot-water-right-behind-the-dunes, little-to-no-frill-lots-of-freedom place. Ocean beach has the same feel to it. It's packed with hippies, surfers, hobos, and the atmosphere is incredibly laid back.
Every wednesday, the main street is turned into an open air restaurant, aka a farmers market cum food truck fair. Cale juice seems to be the new botox and everybody seems to drink it, so I tried a sample and it tastes as disgusting as it looks. I will never understand why people will eat/drink something just because someone claims it's healthy.

One reason why I love farmers markets: you can eat several small dishes, which is perfect if you are a person as afraid of making decisicons as I am. And I really make the most of it. In Ocean Beach for instance, I started with a lamb burger with a to die for avocado sauce, and of course I also did something for my karma!

One of the best things about California is the freshly squeezed orange juice, which can really give you wet dreams (not the kind you are thinking about, weirdo!). One reason to go to California again was the orange juice I had in Ojai almost 2 years ago, but more on that in a later post.  In Ocean Beach the farmer let's you sample different kinds of oranges before he squeezes your juice right in front of your eyes. Why can't Berlin be right in the middle of an orange-growing region?

My second dish that evening was tamale. I had been wanting to try tamale for quite a while, but it never seemed to be the right occasion. And I was actually quite brave to give Mexican food another try after we had had a not so lucky Mexican dinner experience in San Diego the night before. Well, this time, the food did me better, but  I found the taste quite dull. Might have been because it was the vegetarian version, I don't know. In any case I don't think that tamale will every become my favorite food. 
My sister on the other hand made a better coice, she had a delicious pulled pork sandwhich, of which I was allowed to eat a bite or two. Sharing is caring ya know!

Before I will now let you indulge in a few Ocean Beach early evening impressions, let me ask you something:
1. Have you noticed the change from verdana to times new roman? Do you like it? Do I like it? (Dunno.) Suggestions for an entirely different typo? No playful suggestions please, only classy, flawless, no-frill fonts!
2. Are the pictures as crisp as they used to be? I had to downsize the pictures as I have reached my free amount of server space. I can't decide whether they are crisp and clear or not. Can you? Cause I really hate blurry photos (unless it's night photography.)

Appreciate your help, folks!

copyright of all photos j.

Ok, I am also off duty for today! See you back here next week..or the week after next week, let's see how much time I can find writing...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Yamashiro Farmers Market, Hollywood, LA

There are soo many bites (pun intended) from California waiting to be shared with you that I barely know where to begin. After counting them out (eeny meeny miny moe...), I decided to start with Yamashiro Farmers Market in Hollywood, LA. It's a farmers market which takes place on Thursday evening during summer (yeah, right, as if there was such a thing as winter in LA...) on the parking lot of Yamashiro, a Japanese restaurant. Don't even try to get there by car, follow the valet parking signs instead. There is a free shuttle bus taking you up the hill to the market which runs every 5 minutes. 
We were heading home (haha, funny, as if I lived there) from San Diego and were stuck in traffic for like two hours so by the time we finally got to the farmers market, I almost peed my pants. So the first stop were the Yamashiro restrooms...
Since Yamashiro sits on top of a small hill, the view is spectacular! If it's not a hazy evening, you can see all the way to Santa Monica, it's almost, yet not quite as impressive as the view from Griffith Observatory. It easily wins the award for a farmer's market with a view, though. 
Don't expect Yamashiro to be a regular farmers market. It's more a food truck market with a few stalls, selling fruit and pies.
We shared a delicious salad with feta cheese, beetroot and chickpeas as well as two portions of different kinds of ravioli. Portion sizes were small and prices steep, but the food tasted great. I had the obligatory lemonade (love good old American lemonade!!) to go with it. 
For dessert, we shared a Dolce Monachelli's butter rum cake. Oh my. That clearly was one of the best cakes I have ever had. Moist, buttery, with the perfect amount of rum, yuuuummmm!
The crowd at Yamashiro Farmers Market is very young and hip, and to someone from Berlin, they look like they are trying very hard to appear all laid back-European, as in: hey, let's bring a bottle of wine and drink it there with friends, without a brown paper bag covering the bottle. I mean they really celebrate this, as if it was something special. One is of course also considering the environment, which is why the food is served in wooden disposable bowls. And then everyone drives home in their huge gasoline guzzler, aka SUV...
Don't let those last sarcastic comments put you down. If you have the chance to be in LA on a Thursday, go there. The view, the food, THE CAKE and the atmosphere are really worth it!

Farmers Market after dark equals blurry photos, sorry (I' m not yet a food photography nerd enough  to use a tripod...)!

 copyright of all photos j.

For more info, see

1999 N. Sycamore Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90068
Open in 2012: April 5- September 27