Cool Comfort Food @ Kitchen 24

It's been awhile since my last post, largely because life has been chaotic.  New job, new home, and a move — I confess my little obsession suffered under the pressure of real life obligations.

However, this new reality also brings me back to an old favorite, which is now, after my move to West Hollywood, a new luxury: Kitchen 24, which I first experienced at a ridiculous hour after a night out in Gay WeHo with some of my fabulous boys.

Now just minutes away, I have become addicted to their lazy, casual Sundays with bottomless mimosas, spicy tomato soup, bacon avocado sandwiches and sweet potato fries.  Much of their food is classic diner fare, but with a spin and a quality that makes it a must-have.

Kevin, one of my boys and a no big fan of sweet potato fries, surprisingly ate nearly my entire cone of them on our recent lunch (which is fair, since he put my kitchen table together).  I'm a fan of saying it doesn't need to be unique to be amazing, and most of K24 fits this bill.

Um ... but then there are the desserts.  Ridiculous.  They change, and there are secret desserts, like their "special shake," a vanilla milk shake with one of their signature cupcakes blended into the ice cream.  Heartstopping (literally).  My favorite, though, is probably the Reese's chocolate cake Kevin and I devoured after about 17 mimosas ... a frothy mix of peanut butter icing, chocolate cake, and a strategic smattering of various Reese's candies.  Remarkably, light and not too sweet.  Just delicious.

I'm thrilled to be in one of my favorite eatery neighborhoods in all of LA, so I promise ... I'll try not to disappear again.  Welcome back to gluttony! :)

Bullet Cufflinks + Bond = Badass

Having been a moderate Bond fan my entire life (loving Sean Connery but not all of his successors), I was thrilled to see Daniel Craig refresh the role.  I was even more thrilled to see Skyfall, which firmly shoved me from moderate to ridiculous in my love-of-Bond (no, not just because Craig is delicious, but because the story, action, gadgets and eye candy were all equally fun ... and smart).

The film is a perfect blend of new world and old school, and I've been eating it up ever since I left the theater.  That said, I absolutely had to share these clever 007 Bullet Cufflinks from Dupont Collector.  They are hot, they are genius, and they are, unequivocally, Bond.  James Bond.

All-American Eats @ Kate Mantilini

One of my favorite dishes on this planet is a seared pork chop with mashed potatoes and applesauce.  Simple.  American.  Glorious.  Trouble is, it's uncommon to find a chef that gets a pork chop right these days — most are so afraid of not cooking it enough that they cook it to death.  Nothing more depressing.

So it was with delight that I tried the pork chop with applesauce at Kate Mantilini in Beverly Hills.  It is, friends and readers, my favorite pork chop ever.  Juicy, juicy, juicy, with a delicious salty crust, homemade applesauce, and creamy potatoes.  Stop it.  I now go there just to order this dish (plus a plate of oysters).  The best thing?  You can place a double order and take the second chop home for lunch the next day.  Amazing.

Even more amazing is the hot butterscotch sundae with glazed walnuts to go with it.  You know how I feel about old-school comfort food, and when it's done right, it's art.  And in this lively space with its crowded, almost diner-esque menu, fantastic service, and comfortably modern decor, you can't lose.  A favorite time and again.

The Peephole Gun Sticker

Some things are just stupid.  Others are stupid and awesome at the same time.  This is one of the latter things.

Door Peephole Gun Sticker from The Fancy
Get it?  The front door peephole is the scope?  Stupid.  But awesome.  If I lived in an apartment and weren't obsessed with my decor and aesthetic being as pristine and magazine-worthy as my shoe collection, I would have twelve of these.  $15 bucks.  I spend more than that on eggs every Sunday.

Off the Hook Brunch at CiCi's

That's right, I said off the hook.  On point.  Out of bounds.  Or, to quote myself instead of Guy Fieri, freakin' magical.  CiCi's Cafe in Tarzana, California is the first restaurant I've been to ... and I've been to many eateries ... that literally inspired me to write an email to Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives begging them to get Guy out there immediately.

Why?  Check the menu.  Check their listing on Yelp, which had at last count 699 reviews and 358 photos (um, people don't take that many pictures of mediocre food).  Check that it's in the valley, when Angelenos are used to going downtown, to Beverly Hills or to West Hollywood for noteworthy grub.  It's unassuming.  It's accessible.  And they have unique, who-they-hell-thought-that-was-a-good-idea combinations like caramelized sweet corn and coconut pancakes and chocolate French toast with pistachios and strawberries.  It's just effing delicious.

Let's go back to the photos.  Each plate is enormous, ridiculous, impossible.  A mountain of beautiful food that was so clearly made with love and passion you can't help but order three different items off the menu because you can't narrow it down to one human portion (leftovers rule).  Okay, I was with my amazing friend Michelle, who's slender and stunning and eats like a longshoreman (I love you, Miche), but we still covered the table with enough food to feed 6.

Oh, and don't be sidetracked by the carbs.  The savory we shared — Cee's omelette, with turkey sun-dried tomato sausage, spinach, portobello mushrooms, tomatoes, boursin cheese and crispy potatoes — made me cry.  Eggs.  Made.  Me.  Cry.

Guy Fieri, if you or your team is reading this, get your ass to Tarzana.  Now.  We waited an hour to get a table (and it was worth every second), but I have a feeling they'll make an exception for you.  Oh, and you're welcome.

Jar Steakhouse

Some things are just simple and good.  Like Jar on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles, a retro-esque steakhouse owned and operated by chef Suzanne Tracht.  The space itself is the definition of simplistic — a mid-century modern enclave which borders on a shrine to brown paneling — but it's calming, and casually chic.  Honestly, I dig it.

As for the menu, the wine list is excellent.  I had a 2011 Altos Las Hormigas Malbec that drank like spicy silk.  God love Argentinian wines.  My filet was flawless.  Perfectly seasoned and rare, and it cut with my fork.  Sounds easy ... it's not.  Steakhouses fail at this constantly, and it's irritating given the usual prices.

Now, when it comes to steak, I can be a bit of a traditionalist.  Especially in a room that sort of makes me feel like I've accidentally fallen into the late '60s.  Creamed spinach, green peppercorn sauce.  Both were delicious.  Dining with my brother, whom I adore and can surprise me with his adventurousness, we decided to try the duck fried rice as our second side, in lieu of potatoes.

While he didn't adore it, I ... well ... did.  It was Asian and unctuous, and the duck fat gave it just enough body to let it stand up to the steak, yet not be greasy.  I ate the leftovers cold the next day.  That's a good bowl of rice.  A hit all around, and I can't wait to go back.

Zombies and Fake Eyelashes

I love two things equally: getting dirty and cleaning up.  Oh, and I love zombies.  Who doesn't love zombies?  The walking dead apocalypse is coming, peeps, and when the bullets run out, the only survivors will be those who can out run.

I got in some serious training this past Saturday at the Run For Your Lives Zombie 5K in Temecula, California — one part race, one part obstacle course, one part protecting your brains from the clutches of rabid zombies, and all parts adrenalin rush awesome.

This is a shot of my exhausted self after outmaneuvering hundreds of brain eaters while racing through mud pits, under electrocuted wires, up man-made towers and through pools of foul, filthy zombie guts and dirty water (that red flag meant I survived with my life, by the way). And oh, girls ... don't be afraid of dirt.  There's a reason boys have so much damned fun in it.

I was primed and ready for this session of fit fierceness after my previous Saturday, where I reveled in being the anti-tomboy.  All makeup and high heels and glamour, I wore amazing fake eyelashes for the very first time as my exceptionally talented friend Stephanie christened her new studio and photographed me for Full Metal Fabulous.

Her philosophy at Simpson Portraits is that all women are beautiful, and just as a pursuing zombie brought the survivalist badass out of me, Stephanie found my innate glamour girl and made me feel undeniably feminine.  She's truly gifted, and that day was an equally remarkable blast.

This is why it's so awesome being a girl.  Full Metal and Fabulous.  Why choose?

Best Mexican in Los Angeles

When I first moved to Los Angeles over a decade ago, knowing nothing yet of the city or its many pockets of social and culinary character, my landlady recommended La Cabanita in Montrose, California as the best Mexican food she'd ever found.  She is a genius.  To this day, La Cabanita is still the best Mexican I've found, and there is a lot of Mexican in this town.

Better even than the fare one can find on Olvera street downtown, this food is simple, fresh, authentic, regional, and just freaking delicious.  Everybody offers free chips and salsa, but these aren't just chips and theirs isn't just salsa. The chips are warm, thick and home cut, the salsas a selection of light and spicy salsa verde and deep and smoky red sauce.  You'll be addicted in under a minute.

On the main menu, the many varieties of stuffed poblano peppers are remarkable, and a true standout.  Another standout is the soup -- whether it's carrot soup, corn soup, or their ridiculously cravable caldo de pollo, with its fresh onion, lime slices and corn tortillas, you will go home warmed, amazed, and satisfied.

But my favorite dish is still probably their carnitas platter.  Delicately fried chunks of pork with rice, beans, guacamole, and tender homemade corn tortillas ... all the usual suspects, but all elevated in their authentic taste and superior quality.  The downside? This dish and this place with ruin you for pork or Mexican anywhere else.  A risk worth taking, I say.

9 Millimeter Bullet ... Earphones

Listen up, gun junkies.  Literally.  I own a Glock 19.  I buy 9mm ammo by the bucket load.  I therefore feel it is my personal responsibility to own a pair of these, and I think you all should join me.

9mm earphones.  Bullets you put in your ears.  On purpose.  That is all I have to say.

BTW ... I may need to rethink my relationship with the dear friend who turned me on to these via because he's going to send me to the poor house.  I just needed to say this publicly.

Red O = Outstanding

Everyone loves Mexican food.  Well, not everyone.  I don't.  I don't dislike it, I just don't crave enchiladas and tacos the way the rest of the world seems to.  I prefer my tacos filled with Korean BBQ or something fusion, in fact ... I prefer the unexpected.  Which is why I may be so fond of Red O.

For me, someone who doesn't line up for refried beans, mushy guacamole and melted cheese-covered everything, I much prefer the simplicity and freshness of authentic regional Mexican cuisine ... especially when it's fused with the lightness of California-style cooking.  Fusion = magic in my world.

As well, being a girl who eats jalapeños out of the jar, I am crazy about spicy cocktails, and Red O has one of my favorites: the La Dama, a mix of Karma tequila, serrano chile, mango grenadine, lime juice, a drizzle of  pomegranate liqueur, and a garnish of fresh pomegranate seeds.  Served in their moody lighting and modern, upscale-yet-organic decor, it's a gorgeous way to start the night.

The menu isn't huge either, another plus.  It's full of favorites and twists, made with the best possible ingredients.  My tops are simple: Tropical Tuna Ceviche, with fresh ahi tuna, papaya, mango & citrus-avocado tomatillo, served with fried plantain chips; Pork Belly Sopes, made with Niman Ranch pork belly, black beans, salsa negra, and sesame; and Fresh Corn & Goat Cheese Tamales, which are, I believe, the best tamales I've ever had. The blend of sweet corn, roasted poblano chilies and tangy goat cheese is unexpected, and as with everything else, vibrant.

And for dessert?  The Cajeta sundae, another surprisingly combination of Mexican goat milk caramel with a buttered pecan and bacon streusel.  That's right, bacon streusel.  It's so delicious it's cruel.

So ... beautiful space, good drinks, smart menu, excellent service (and a very attractive staff, I might add).  What's not to love?

'47 Chevy Envy...

When I was a kid, I used to call this a milk truck.  I have no idea why.  As a grown woman, I've since learned it's a classic '47 Chevy Short Bed Stepside, and I want one.  In teal blue.  I have no idea why.

Maybe because it's awesome.

Training Day

I love bringing newbies to the range.  And I love when my training meets the natural raw ability of a good friend, and I am happily surprised by her performance.

This collection of shots was just a warm up using a Glock 19 at 7 yards.  All the shots in red thoracic and head are mine, after having been away from the range for two months.  The remaining shots, including several in the red, are those of a good friend who'd never held a gun in her life.

She started high, in the throat, but within about 7 shots I course corrected and had her on target, directly in the heart.  Days like this are why I truly love this hobby.  :)

Eva. Brunch. GO.

I'm a big fat liar.  In my very last post, I claim to have had the best fried chicken I've ever eaten at Laurel Hardware.  And yep, while Laurel's was amazing, this morning I had its superior ... with a side of Louisiana hot sauce, maple syrup, and brioche French toast (you know how I feel about French toast).  Oh, crap, I'm in trouble.

One of my most memorable dinners in recent years was at Eva Restaurant on Beverly Boulevard in WeHo — a rare occasion when the dollop of truffle foam on top of locally sourced filet was actually delicious, not pretentious.  So it came as no surprise when Eva was recommended to me as a top LA brunch spot, and my friend Sam was eager to try it with me.  Our thoughts?  Um ... we were there for three hours.

We sat at the bar and shared their incredible fried chicken, as well as their poached eggs served with red salmon, heirloom tomatoes and hollandaise, and washed it all down with a seasonal cocktail called the Ginger — a mix of bourbon, ginger, Italian bitters, lemon, and a bunch of other yumminess that made it so good we each ordered a second ... before the food came.

Our bartender, Ali, was fantastic.  Memorable, talented, friendly.  And chef/owner Mark Gold popped out of the kitchen long enough to tell us that he too adores the fried chicken, and thanked us for coming.  It's things like this, in a city crowded with good food, that make you determined to come back.  Well done.

Mimosas, Fried Chicken & Laurel Hardware

If you find yourself hungry in West Hollywood for, oh ... say, some fried chicken and mimosas in a hardware-store-turned-industrial-chic-eatery, head directly to Laurel Hardware on Santa Monica Boulevard.  My friend Kevin and I recently decided to fuel up there before tackling a day of apartment hunting, and after our unexpectedly awesome brunch, we almost never made it back out.

The place is all distressed wood, exposed beams, metal, glass, and eclectic, funky design elements that set a hip yet inviting tone.  We slipped into a booth where our fabulous server sold us immediately on peach mimosas, sold by the carafe.  Brunch and mimosas?  Done and done.  Then he started going on about the fried chicken.  Right.

Now, the entire menu was unique and tempting because of it, but this fried chicken, served with its Jidori fried egg on two homemade biscuits and pancetta gravy just kept coming back to us.  In fact, a recent patron, we were told, actually exclaimed he was offended the chicken was so delicious.  Who says no to that?

An idiot.  Like me.  I ordered an omelette because pancetta gravy after a week of indulgence seemed ... well ... indulgent, but one taste of this dish turned me around.  I have rarely had chicken so moist and juicy, and the pancetta gravy, with the runny egg yolk, all sopped up by the fluffy biscuit, was a culinary symphony.  Finding a home within walking distance of Laurel Hardware is suddenly a new top priority.

iPhone 5 Apple Spoof ... a Foodie Must See

You will laugh.  And cry a little, because it's really kinda true.  A little.  And I promise right here and now that I will never post dimly-lit photos of Indian food that look more like dog puke than they do like actual food ... and I also swear, on my shoes, that I do actually have friends and a life.  A real one.  Even without my phone.

Please don't let this be me.  Ever.  

S'mores, Siberians & Other Simple Pleasures

Some days you need a little reminder as to why your life is pretty awesome: a raw deal at work, a friend in crisis, a flat tire on the way to the airport.  And just as some days, any little thing can come along to pop your joy bubble, there are so many equally little things (all actually pretty big) that can keep you afloat.  These are a few of mine.

S'mores indoors at Henry's Hat with good friends.

A perfect, award-winning burger, like the California Roll Burger from 26 Beach.

An expertly foamed vanilla latte from Blu Jam Cafe.

A Bloody Mary by the beach, like this one from 1500 Ocean at Hotel Del Coronado.

A happy, healthy dog.  :)

Olive & Thyme

I recently stumbled on a little slice of New York masquerading as a gourmet market and wine bar right here in LA: Olive & Thyme, in Toluca Lake.  I'd been for breakfast and adored their yummy breakfast paninis (particular the Farmhouse Panini with applewood smoked bacon and white cheddar), but it wasn't until a Friday night that I experienced the true heart & soul of the place ... which feels influenced by Manhattan.  

With its marble bar, sweets display cabinet and eclectic epicurean pantry, it feels like the kind of place you end up at after a long day of walking the city — like Casellula in NYC, only more casual and rustic Californiam.  Having popped in after a disappointing meal nearby (I wish we'd just gone to O&T first), my friend Lisa and I decided to get a glass of wine and something sweet to round out an exhausting week. 

It was burger night, we learned, and from the smells and happy, boisterous patrons, it seems they do burgers right (next time I'll skip the crappy Mexican and head here instead).  As for us, it was a glass of Prosecco and Strawberry Rhubarb pie.  Tart, sweet, flaky, amazing.  I would go back in a minute for it.  That or their selection of fine cheeses, salts and flavored oils.  Eatery + market = genius.

The Weaver Stance

Perhaps it's because most of my handgun and combat training has been at the hands of current / ex-military and law enforcement, but I must admit, there is something about the isosceles shooting stance that drives me absolutely nuts.

Me, at Angeles Shooting Range, teaching a friend to shoot my Glock 19 using the weaver stance.
With its limitations both in flexibility and motion, I'm surprised anyone teaches it at all.  Who can check their world when rooted like a tree, arms locked?  Um, it's tough.  If you need to move or twist away from an enemy, or god forbid, pursue one, you're not going far standing there like a big triangle.

Now, like anything else, I realize this sport/hobby is a personal thing, and each shooter must engage in behavior that makes the most sense to her (or him).  And there is research suggesting that in high-stress situations, the body's instinctive reaction to real-life danger is to assume an isosceles position.

Yet, as I've conditioned my body to react with a weaver stance, just like the S.E.A.L.S. and police officers with whom I've trained, I'm more inclined to think it's in any shooter's best interest to become better acquainted with this method.

Plus, you look cooler.  Case closed.

Sunday Funday at Zengo Santa Monica

As I live in the valley and it's been hot as blazes here, I decided to head over the hill on Sunday to take in some cool ocean breezes near Santa Monica ... get a bite, do a little shopping, see a good friend.  Clever me, I called Michelle (also a valley girl), who was more than happy to brave the 405 for Sunday Funday. She took me someplace new — Zengo in Santa Monica.  Holy crap.

ZENGA in Santa Monica.
At the end of the day, I'm all about the food, but this place had it all goin' on: a beautiful space, ocean air, great views, spectacular food, and an all-you-can-eat brunch with unlimited cocktails.  Yes, you read that right.  Understand, there was no buffet line, no mass-produced buckets of mediocre hash slung out for the public to consume en masse.

No, I'm talking brilliant Asian-Latin fusion fare, like Thai Chicken Empanadas, Coconut Scallop Ceviche, Chipotle Spicy Yellow Fin Tuna rolls and Sake Sangria.  Outstanding. 

Thai Chicken Empanadas.
Chipotle Yellow Fin Tuna Roll.
You order off menu, anything you like, as much as you like, for $35 a head.  There's a two-hour time limit, but let me tell you, Mish and I made good use of the time, the drinks, and our 35 bucks.  They probably lost money on us that day, but not really, as I'm blogging about it here and Mish and I plan to go back once a month.  It's already tradition.

Bay Scallop Ceviche.
Beef Sliders with Manchego Cheese.
Sincerely, it was one of the most enjoyable, relaxing, delicious, perfectly California days I've ever spent, and also one of the best meals I've had.  The ceviche was unexpectedly refreshing and crisp, with its hint of grapefruit, and the empanadas were impossibly complex and delicate.  Flaky homemade dough and deeply flavorful filling with a mango salsa.  Crazy good.

So go.  Brave the parking nightmare.  Ignore the crowds on the 3rd Street Promenade and get the to the delectable oasis that is Zengo.

Give and Take Chicken Salad
Bacon Fried Rice.
Sake Sangria.

The Bullet Ring

Straight up, I think this may be one of the coolest fashion pieces I've ever seen — for a girl like me.  I've been looking for a unique day ring that captures my own ... well, uniqueness ... and this may be it.

Designed by Karla Fox (whose Cutthroat collection is equally stunning and whimsical), this bullet ring has precise mini-bullets that spin in place.  14K gold is $1950, sterling silver is $495, and you can easily order online.  Who needs diamonds when you've got bullets?

Grand Time at Grand Lux

I'm not a big fan of chain restaurants or packaged foods.  This is no secret.  However, I am not so highbrow to miss the fact that some chains and franchises became brands because they do, in fact, know what they hell they are doing.  Can you expect wildly creative, locally-sourced, genius haute cuisine from a Cheesecake Factory?  Probably not.  But you can expect consistent food and service, simple pleasures, and a few favorites.

It is with this knowledge that I happily joined Joel at one of his favorite spots, Grand Lux Cafe in LA's Beverly Center.  I let him pretty much order (which you know means I must love him).  Gotta tell you, I was a little surprised at how yummy the food was.  Cozy booth, perfectly fried volcano shrimp and a smooth extra dirty martini?  Sign me up.

But the kicker — OMG I can't believe I'm going to admit this — was their chicken parmigiana.  I have been conditioned, as an Italian, not to like anything I don't either cook myself or get on the east coast.  Well ... I think I have to give that up.  This chix parm was pounded to the size of a small hubcap, perfectly seasoned, cheesy, tender, and came with al dente pasta in an amazingly garlicky marinara.  Shut up.  

I couldn't stop eating it.  I hate myself.  But I couldn't.  Mind you, it was so enormous that I shared it with a grown man and we still had to struggle to finish the plate, but then, that's why you go to chains, right?  Value.  Value + yummy is a pleasant surprise.

Then, oh sweet heaven, Joel insisted we get the Build Your Own Cupcakes platter for dessert.  I don't even need to describe this thing.  Look at the picture.  Pick up a cupcake and put sugar on it.  How can that fail?  When the cupcake is moist and they give you peanut butter frosting, toffee and confetti candy, it can't.

My FMF rating on this chain experience?  Amazeballs.  Thanks, Joel!

Red Obsessed

There are two critical fashion staples that I don't own: a versatile black handbag and a killer red dress.  Shocked?  Don't be.  I'm a perfectionist, and I gravitate to colorful accessories.  So ... that makes it tough to find a great black bag when I usually prefer the style in whatever other color the designer is offering.

As for red dresses ... ugh.  The combination is so easy to get it wrong.  I hate tomato red (too much orange), hate brick red (too much brown), hate pinky red (looks too cheap), and even with the right red, if the cut is wrong you can look like you're trying too hard ... at the wrong thing.

Now this, ladies and gentlemen, gets my attention: a super-hot RAOUL Wallis gown from Bloomingdales.  It's truly red but doesn't scream, it's soft, with cool overtones — and the cut is flawless.  The draping is stunning and that slit ... sexy as hell.  As my darling Joel would say, SOLD!

Sprinkles vs. Big Sugar

Look.  I'm not going to lie and say I don't worship the Sprinkles cupcake.  I do.  Frankly, no one does a chocolate cupcake better: Belgian.  Dark.  Awesome.  That said, I do believe sugar genius can be found beyond the Beverly Hills ATM (a true stroke of brilliance on the part of Candace Nelson and co.).

Yes, there are a bajillion cupcake shops around the globe thanks to Candace, many of them with yummy offerings.  But there is a simplicity and quality to Sprinkles that is like no other, keeping it tops in my book.

BIG SUGAR BAKESHOP: the Daily Special (chocolate cake with strawberries & cream filling & whipped cream frosting) and the Chococcino (chocolate cake with mocha icing).
That said, there is another player in the world of cupcakeries that I like equally, if not more, than Sprinkles ... and that is Big Sugar Bakeshop in Studio City, California.  Why the love?  Well, one observation of a Sprinkles cupcake is that it is, in itself, a meal.  Delicious, beloved, but kinda huge.  Lots of frosting.  It's indulgent.

Now, if it's possible for a cupcake to be both remarkably delicious and yet somehow not entirely guilt-laden, then it's true of a Big Sugar cupcake.  Smaller, with less frosting (and slightly less sweet), these cupcakes are light and airy ... like little sugary clouds that melt in your mouth.  I can eat two without feeling stuffed, and that's sort of amazing.  Their vanilla cupcake (and I'm not a vanilla girl) may be my favorite, simply due to its ... well ... simplicity.  It is perfection, not a production.

Do your own taste test.  See for yourself.  Mind you, I prefer a world with both Sprinkles and Big Sugar in it, but if I ever had to choose...  Oh, let's just not talk about that special hell.

Neveux Artisan Creamery

I adore ice cream.  And I predict, here and now, that over the next several years, artisan ice cream shops will become all the rage, just like cupcakeries and froyo joints are now.  I also predict that few will be as good as Neveux Artisan Creamery on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, California.

NEVEUX ARTISAN CREAMERY —  (Clockwise from top left) Cherry Molasses, NAC Stout, Rosemary Butterscotch, Caliente Cinnamon Chocolate.
Tucked amid the cafes, tattoo parlors and fashion boutiques on this famous street in WeHo, Neveux is open and welcoming, and is run by a man who clearly loves what he does for a living ... and it shows in the ice cream.  I've blogged about it before, actually, following a day of fun on Melrose Avenue.  

Made in small batches, the quality of this ice cream is quite good.  But it's the flavors that knock me out and continually impress me.  Combinations of flavors that, if not deftly handled, could be disastrous.  But Neveux never misses ... at least, not yet.  And I've had a lot of their ice cream.

My favorites (so far):
  • Maple Fig
  • Strawberry Balsamic
  • Pepper Peach
  • Cherry Molasses
  • Caliente Cinnamon Chocolate
  • Rosemary Butterscotch 
  • Basil Olive Oil
  • NAC Stout
Those in bold are particularly amazing.  And I must recommend, to those who may not be as adventurous as I am, not to be afraid of the savory flavors.  Honestly, those are some of their best.  Go get some!

New Jersey ♥ Italian

This is what an eggplant parm sub should look like.  Simple, cheesy, good bread, plenty of marinara, and perfectly thin, lightly fried eggplant.  The first bite should melt in your mouth and make it impossible for you not to eat the whole thing.

Eggplant Parmigiana Sub from GENCARELLI ON THE LAKE in Wayne, New Jersey.
By the way, this is a sub.  Not a hero, not a hoagie, not a grinder, and definitely no ordinary sandwich.  This is Jersey Italian.  Show some respect, will ya?

Brunch at (Ben) Ford's

I've blogged before about Ford's Filling Station, and I've blogged about brunch ... my favorite meal of the day.  Naturally, this post was inevitable: a vignette of the perfect California Sunday morning (which would do nicely on a Saturday too), complete with deviled eggs, brisket hash, and a damn fine Bloody Mary.

Ford's Cure-All Bloody Mary is served with house-made spicy tomato juice, with the option to swap the vodka for jalapeño-infused tequila blanco ... and why wouldn't you want to?  The fresh lime juice and spicy horseradish make this particular Bloody Mary a favorite, and I can't think of a better way to start a morning (or cure a hangover).

Next, eggs.  And not the scrambled kind.  I was with a friend, Erica, new both to LA and to Ford's, so I naturally had to force the deviled eggs upon the girl.  She didn't mind.  In fact, her eyes nearly popped after the first bite.  "How can a little egg be so awesome?"  Because Indiana Jones' son made it.  That's why.

After an app of eggs, we had proper ones.  Sunny-side up, on top of beef brisket hash.  It's just what it sounds like, brilliantly seasoned, and somehow ... light.  That's not what you'd imagine of a hash, pretty much ever.  But the fluffy eggs, runny yolks, tumble of frisée and proper portion size made this dish savory, fresh and the perfect shareable.  Amazing.

Brunch ain't brunch without sugar, and don't think I skipped it just because I'd had two serving of eggs.  My usual favorite, the brioche French toast, had been updated with challah — now, possibly the only bread on the planet more incredible than brioche is challah, so I was totally on board.

Whipped crème fraîche and blueberry compote were less sweet than I remembered, and therefore perfect.  No syrup required.  Again, the dessertesque dish was delightfully shareable as we sat on the patio and watched the boring dolts at Tender Greens trying to enjoy their salads.

Don't get me wrong, I love me a good salad.  And I love Tender Greens.  One of these days, in fact, I'll make it to Culver Boulevard in Culver City and actually go through with my year-long goal of hitting up the Tender Greens on that side of town.  Maybe.

Well, probably not.  When you've got deviled eggs and challah right next door, who wants lettuce?
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