September may technically be the end of summer in other parts of the country, but it kinda feels like we’re still right in the middle of it here in Los Angeles! Dan’s cocktail menu featured seasonal ingredients, starting off with a simple and refreshing gin cocktail called the Pipe Dream with watermelon and mint. Next was the Sinker, which always tends to convert people who think they don’t like Scotch into loving Scotch. And lastly, the Grand Canal, a stirred drink with rye, cardamaro, cucumber, and an absinthe rinse. Cardamaro is an amaro flavored with cardoon, a thistle like plant in the same family as an artichoke. Chef Frank Anderson (and Rebecca Ambrosi!) joined us again and really pulled out all the stops. The beef tartare with quail egg was my favorite. Hello. Also, how pretty are those little quail egg shells? Next month will be our one year anniversary of The Whaling Club! We love hosting and sharing cocktails–it always feels celebratory! Dan and I were just talking about when we sent out the first invite–we were so worried no one would come! Thank you to all who have supported this adventure over the last year and attended TWC.
When Dan and I were in Mexico last month we picked up a few bottles of Havana Club rum for a very special Whaling Club. Havana Club is an awesome Cuban rum that you can’t buy in the United States. Chef Frank Anderson joined us again with adorable and delicious Cuban sandwiches (I had three, no big deal) and Dan’s cocktails were the perfect way to celebrate the last month of summer. He started everyone off with a classic shaken Pineapple Daiquiri followed by a gorgeous Queen’s Park Swizzle over crushed iced. He finished with an Old Havana, which I think was many guest’s first stirred rum cocktail. We had all new-to-whaling-club guests, and it was such a pleasure meeting everyone and enjoying cocktails together! I have a feeling they won’t be first timers for long.
I’m thrilled to share these photos! I had such a wonderful time shooting some of Allumette‘s gorgeous dishes and drinks. Chef Miles Thompson’s plating is such a treat to photograph, as is capturing Serena in action behind the bar. These images really speak for themselves.Allumette | Echo Park Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90026
My parents and brother came to LA this year for Thanksgiving. My mom did an amazing job of trying to recreate our traditional Thanksgiving at home in Lake Bluff at our apartment in Los Angeles. And I think we were pretty successful! Some things were perfectly the same; my dad’s homemade pies, my mom’s cooking, the “kids” watching the parade on TV. And some things were new; Dan’s awesome Thanksgiving cocktail menu, Dan and I doing the dishes, Willy falling asleep before pie (that jet lag will get ya). I did all the shopping before they arrived, including some cookware we didn’t have, and my parents brought a few key things like pie weights and a turkey thermometer. The day was so fun and cozy. How cute are those turkey tea lights?? I loved having everyone in our apartment and eating on our new dining room table. On Friday we went to LACMA and saw the Stanley Kubrick exhibit among others, and they came to see my play. That weekend flew by! Thank goodness Christmas is right around the corner, and I’ll get to see everyone again. I’m also happy Dan and I spent Thanksgiving together, since we’re each going home for Christmas.
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food? Mine is a perfect bite of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. We still have an extra bag of stuffing in the cabinet…I’m afraid to make it because I know I’ll eat it all in one day!
I had the pleasure of shooting some delicious photos for Wood & Vine a few weeks ago. I had never been there before, and was so surprised to find a big, open air patio in the back! From the street it looks like a smaller, dimly lit space. Once you step inside there’s a long bar, a second level of seating that looks out over the restaurant, and that lovely patio. The patio is incased by tall buildings (feels very NYC) so it feels both cozy and spacious. I can’t wait to go back asap and feast! That gnocchi doesn’t stand a chance!Right across the street is the Pantages Theatre, where Book of Mormon is currently running for a couple more weeks. Our friend Doug is in the show, and we scored lottery tickets. I definitely recommend trying for the lottery (the run is sold out). Even if you don’t win, you can have dinner at Wood & Vine! And if you DO win–both!
I recently celebrated my friend Jackie’s birthday with a girlfriend’s lunch at Sage in Echo Park. I loved the adorable succulents on every table, and the bright, airy atmosphere. I don’t always love vegan products (cashew cheese…no, thank you), but they serve these delicious bowls filled with a variety of veggies, grains, and spices. Plus, are you seeing this vegan cake masterpiece? Yes, please! Isn’t Jackie the cutest? I love these girls!
Dan and I found ourselves with a free Friday (surprise!) and decided to venture downtown to try a few food haunts we had heard a lot about. First stop was Umamicatessen. Here’s a little (non)secret: I live for Umami’s Hatch Burger. Like, I’m dating the Hatch Burger. And Dan…likes all of them. So I guess that means he has a lot of girlfriends. Umamicatessen is neat because it’s a big dining hall style with five different kitchens, inspired by (quick, guess) the American delicatessen. I’m dreaming over those mini knish’s and grain mustard below. Dreaming, I say!
We then jumped in the car and went to the Arts District for some ooey gooey goodness at The Pie Hole (best name ever/great website/watch the film). They write the menu daily on a big sheet of paper. My friend, Allison, always says she’ll serve pie instead of cake at her wedding because she loves it so much. I’ve always thought that was sweet! Would you serve something nontraditional at your wedding? Dan says he imagines tray passing awesome craft beer cans instead of champagne! I dig.
Guys, I try not to be the girl who takes pictures of food. I try. Or I take ’em real fast when Dan’s not looking. Don’t get mad. You love to hate it. So it’s a win-win!
While home in Chicago over the weekend for a bridal shower, my parents and I had dinner at Ruxbin Kitchen, one of my favorite spots to dine. You must go! I’m smitten! My first trip there was back in November with my boyfriend Dan, and we absolutely fell in love with the food, decor, and spirit (did I just say spirit? yup!) of the place. I mean, real yum. In November (when it was freeeezing), we savored an unbelievable calamari dish with Korean flavors, garlic fries, and an epic linguine and clams. This time around, highlights were the escolar crudo, octopus with fried chickpeas, beef and broccoli, and the lightest pot de creme EVER. Nate, the kitchen manager, door greeter, expediter, and in-house dry soda maker has welcomed me both times–and remembered that I was from LA. We also got to chat with Vicki, who opened Ruxbin with her brother and chef, Edward Kim. It’s so obvious they’re all passionate about what they do, which is part of what makes it such a special place to visit.
Bon Appetit named Ruxbin one of the best new restaurants of the year in 2011 (along with my one of my favorite LA spots, Son of a Gun). It’s just one of those places that manages to feel special and new every time you go. AND it’s BYOB–both times I’ve taken this bottle of Pinot Noir. One time I saw a table shaking their own martinis! They don’t take reservations (both times I went at opening on a Sunday and was seated right away–but there was a gathering outside before the doors opened). See the current menu here.