Eat California!

Ok when you are out of town you want to experience the flavor of the area, right? One of the last things I want to do when I’m away is cook. And since my blog is kinda foodcentric I would like to share some of the interesting places we went to eat while we were in LA.

First, Jerry took us to Bru’s Wiffle a waffle joint right in the heart of downtown Santa Monica that serves all kinds of interesting waffles, burgers, salads and more. Everything is made from scratch and the portions are huge so bring your appetite! We had chicken and waffles, Bru’s favorite breakfast and a breakfast burrito all VERY good and an amazing drink called the Sunrise, which was a combination of fresh squeezed orange, grapefruit, and carrot juice with a hint of ginger. A wonderful way to start the day. We would definitely go back!

Sprinkles

Sprinkles

Next we took a little trip to CBS Studios and watched the taping of The Late Late Show with James Cordon, so much fun! Then we ended up at The Grove and went to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner, everything was great, absolutely  delicious!  Of course, I had to have some cheesecake, you can’t go to the Cheesecake Factory and not have cheesecake, right? I ordered the turtle cheesecake, it was worth all the extra calories! And while at The Grove we had to pick up a few cupcakes for later at the iconic Sprinkles. We ordered the green tea, the chocolate coconut, the s’more, and chia cupcakes.  I must admit, they were all wonderful but my favorite had to be the chia cupcake, of course you know I am addicted to chia!!!

Norms

Norms

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The next morning we were heading to Fox Studios for Jerry to give us a tour, so we stopped at Norms for breakfast, a down home diner kinda feel. Speaking of diners, we went to Mel’s Diner, one night, after strolling on the Hollywood walk of fame, it seemed fitting! It felt like we were transported back in time! I am not a huge burger fan but I ordered the sliders and the one made with the grass fed beef was amazing!

Pho So 1

Pho So 1

Ok I had heard of Pho, a Vietnamese comfort food, on TV and it was one of my goals to find some out here on the west coast. I have never had it, and all I knew was that it was some kind of noodle soup. Now Jerry and Scott are not quite as adventurous as I am when it comes to trying new foods, so I kinda had to put my foot down! They are pushovers when it comes to me, so I got my way and we went to Pho So 1. It was everything I had hoped for, fresh, delicious, and comforting.  The guys even had to admit they enjoyed it and would eat it again. Yummy, I wish I had some right now! Then off to the La Brea Tar Pits for the rest of the afternoon!

So the next day Scott and I were on our own, Jerry had to work. We went out to find some adventure. We spoke to Elizabeth at the Brentwood Inn, she was awesome! Hooked us up with Uber and suggested a few things we could do. She also told us about a wonderful little restaurant, her husband owned, called Cha Cha Chicken. So we took Uber to the Santa Monica Pier and walked to Venice Beach. Met some amazing artists, bought some cool art, and spent some time people watching. As we were heading back, we were not sure where we were and we were getting mighty hungry! On a whim, we decided to turn and head down this random street, and to our surprise there it was…Cha Cha Chicken! A colorful beach shack with an island flare and wonderful Caribbean food! They are famous for their coconut chicken, yum! They have sandwiches, wraps, salads, and more. I loved the plantains and the watermelon Aqua fresca was so refreshing!

The next day we started off at an elegant boulangerie cafe called La Pain Quotidien. I absolutely loved it! Fresh bakery smells and wonderful atmosphere. They create their menu around seasonal, organic ingredients, which is right up my ally! The food was delicious, felt like I was in Brussels! We ended the day at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA philharmonic orchestra playing the Bugs Bunny symphony! What an amazing evening!

The next day we spent boogie boarding at the Santa Monica beach and strolling down Rodeo Drive. By the evening we were ready for some stick to your ribs kinda food and Scott suggested  BBQ. What? Do they even do BBQ in California? Well despite much joking we found one named Holy Cow and holy cow it was good!

One last place I want to mention is Barneys Gourmet Hamburgers in Brentwood not your typical burger joint. If you are in the mood for a really good burger and truffle french fries, go! You won’t be disappointed!

Barneys

Barneys

California here we come!

Beverly Hills Hotel

Beverly Hills Hotel

Last week we headed out to California! It was the first time for all of us. Well Jerry has been there since April, Scott and I where flying out to meet him. We flew SouthWest it was a long flight. We had a 3 hour layover in San Antonio and by the time we got there all the little airport shops were closing. Seems like they should stay opened when people are coming and going, what to do for three hours??? We made it! When we got off the plane we almost didn’t recognize Jerry, he had lost quite a bit of weight and had grown out his beard! I saw him first and even though I pointed him out Scott didn’t see him! We had made a pact to try and lose some weight and get in shape, it was working! So happy to see him!

The weather in LA was amazing! We had just come from hot humid Florida. Florida in August is almost unbearable, I like the heat but…I don’t like opening my door at 6:30 in the morning and getting a wet slap of humidity first thing! At this time of the year everything is struggling, even the plants, horses are sweaty, bugs are bad, there is a never ending load of laundry to do because you have to change out of your damp clothes so often! So it was quite a nice surprise to step out into 70 degrees with a light breeze and NO humidity! Ahh heaven.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

We were going to be in LA for ten days and what a ten days it turned out to be! We were staying at a cute little inn in Brentwood. The first day we ventured out to a place for breakfast called Bru’s Wiffle a Waffle House and we had chicken and waffles, delish! Jerry was our tour guide and showed us all around. We walked on Santa Monica beach, went to the pier, took a quick dip in the Pacific, went to the Pallisades. Tried to get our bearings. Growing up on the east coast it’s funny when you are in California because you feel like your always going in the wrong direction, the ocean is now to the west! I am a fan of interesting architecture and LA will not disappoint. You can tell it must be an architects dream to work in California. I don’t think there are two houses the same in any neighborhood. I loved the uniqueness of each place. Lots and lots of plants and interesting trees I am not familiar with. We got to tour a celebrities house and imagine how the rich and famous live. It was beautiful. So much fun, so much to see!

One of the most striking things to us was all the people. Now we are not from a big city, but there were people everywhere! And the traffic, omg the traffic! And parking…forget about it! To be continued…

Chica Chica Boom Boom!

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The crew!

The crew!

It is that time of year in Florida, in July and August when you step outside you just can’t breathe the air is so thick! As soon as you step outside in the morning the humidity slaps you right in the face! You will be dripping with sweat just sitting outside, let alone doing farm chores. Even the plants seem droopy and tired this time of year. This is the time of year you lose lots of plants to the heat and moisture. Everything seems damp and moldy, even me! There is a never ending amount of laundry to do since you have to keep changing into dry clothes throughout the day. More cleaning of coops and barns as animal bedding stays damp and gets mildewed quickly. Horses are sweaty and gummy by 11:00 am. Bugs are lovin it! Frogs too, on some nights the neighbors pond is absolutely roaring!

We are in our rainy season which just adds to the dampness. We have been getting lots of thunder and lightening every day, in fact a house down the road got struck by lightening last Monday, yikes! The storms can be pretty powerful here. My dog McKenzie hates the thunder, she has a thunder shirt that seems to help, but she is still not happy about it. It is supposed to rain all weekend, I heard we could get up to 12″ of rain, better get the Wellies out!

If you have things to do outside you better get them done early in the day. Yesterday we made nesting boxes for the chickens. I just found out last week that we do, in fact, have two roosters. They were having a lovely crowing contest! So now we know for sure! We really don’t want to get rid of one as long as they get along, so far so good. But I think I might need a couple more chickens to try and keep the peace! Over the last few weeks I have been letting them free range during the day and putting them up in the coop at night. So far so good. It is very scary because we have lots of predators around here but I prefer not to keep them locked up. We have fencing and plenty of cover for them. I really enjoy them in the yard! They seem so happy running around chasing bugs, scratching around in the grass, and taking dirt naps! It is so peaceful and fun to watch their silly antics. They seem to be pretty aware of their surroundings. If I go out to check on them they come right over and if I sit on the adirondack chair they like to come and sit with me. No eggs yet, but I think it will be soon.

Just found a new pet sitter. We are heading to LA in a few weeks, can’t wait! Looking forward to a much needed break from this humidity! Can’t wait to hit the beach!

Pickin and a Grinin!

Berry good!

Berry good!

Where we live it’s blueberry season. Everywhere you look there are you pick signs, enticing you in to get some of these delicious little jewels. Blueberry bushes are beautiful with their silvery green foliage and the varying shades of blue/purple berries. They are one of those foods that are not only delicious they are power packed full of healthiness too! They serve as a major antioxidant source because of their high vitamin C content, they are also anti-inflammatory because of the phytochemical resveratrol levels. It has also been said they could help in the prevention of Alzheimer’s, hepatitis c, uti’s , and lowering cholesterol, they’re just really good for you!

So last weekend we went to Sugarhill Farm and picked to our hearts content. They hooked us up with these little blueberry picking harnesses and buckets (really?) We had a blast! It was so beautiful and peaceful out in the field, listening to the birds and watching the butterfly’s fluttering around, not to mention the silly banter of my brother, Scott and his mother! We got lost in our picking and came away with about 3 buckets full! Of course we had to pretend we were dragging in, heavily laden with berries! I have to admit the harnesses were helpful you could use both hands to pick!  I can see why poet Robert Frost was inspired to write a poem entitled “Blueberries”

Ok now what to do with all these berries? Well we ate our share right off the bush and when we got home we washed them and dried them and we juiced some and froze some. I have made a blueberry crumb cake and blueberry turnovers. I made some delicious jam and next I want to make some muffins and maybe even some blueberry pancakes for the weekend. You would think I would be getting sick of blueberries but no…I think I might just have a glass of blueberry wine this evening!

Blueberry Jam

Blueberry Jam

Enchanted

Santa Fe

Santa Fe

Last summer we got to spend some time in Santa Fe. I was enchanted! I knew as soon as I got off the plane. Flying in from the Dallas airport into Santa Fe was a culture shock! Dallas is HUGE, one of the largest airports and Santa Fe is tiny probably one of the smallest! Very different from anyplace else I had ever been! The colors of the landscape are breathtaking! From the terra cotta color of the earth to the mountains that seem to change color all day, orange to pink to purple. There are large bushes of lavender growing everywhere their cool sage green leaves and lovely purple flowers look so perfect in this landscape. There is an amazing smell of, I think, mesquite in the air. The days are hot and the nights are cool. The heat in Santa Fe is different from Florida, there is no humidity. So no matter how hot it gets, if you stepped into the shade it felt comfortable!

We got to stay in this amazing Adobe house updated and modern, absolutely wonderful! The house was beautifully and thoughtfully decorated, so comfortable and inviting, cool granite counter tops warm radiant heated wood floors! The kitchen was gorgeous, I would have been happy even if all I got to do was stay in this house and cook in this kitchen! A large Adobe wall surrounded the tiny yard but it felt so cozy and private even though the houses were very close together. There were echinacea flowers and roses, beautiful vines growing along the covered porch. Large swags of beautiful dried red chili peppers hung in every doorway.

During our stay we went white water rafting down the Rio Grande. Driving up towards Taos the mountains got larger and more magnificent! Mountains always make me feel humble and these were no different they took my breath away! Richie, our guide, was great! I think he could have navigated down the Rio with his eyes shut! What a wonderful way to take in the scenery and atmosphere of this amazing place! We even got to take a dip in the Rio in a calm area of the river. Everything about this place seems so healing and nourishing I can understand why one of my favorite artists, Georgia OKeefe, called it home.

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Hummingbird tree
Richie told us we should check out this little restaurant named El Paragua in Espanola. When we pulled into the parking lot we parked under this beautiful flowering tree and to our surprise it was covered with hummingbirds, I have never seen so many in one place! It was beautiful! El Paragua started as a roadside stand created by two entrepreneurial boys and was supported by thier parents. It is still family owned and operated and has been in operation since 1966. The food was amazing, I wish I had some homemade plum jam and sop papilla right now! If you ever find yourself 24 miles north of Santa Fe you must check it out! You won’t be disappointed! Www.elparagua.com

There is something I love about Santa Fe, a different kind of vibe!

Boston Bound 2

Boston

Ok so after a long road trip with plenty of trials and tribulations we make it to Boston. Boston is charming! The streets are lined with quaint little homes with flower boxes and gardens everywhere. The roads are crazy and everyone walks, I can see why as I would rather walk than drive here! You can take more in by walking, driving is a learned skill here. They say the roads follow the old cattle trails and I believe it! We were hungry from our travels so we stopped at a little place right by our hotel called Florentinos. Very good Italian food and seafood, delicious New England Clam Chowder! The menu is large but everything we tried was pretty good.

Some of our adventures included The Boston Museum of Fine Art, simply amazing!  The Constitution, a beautiful ship which was first launched in 1797, docked in the Charleston Navy Yard. We saw the Bunker Hill Monument, Fenway Park, Cheers. We walked around the Boston Commons and watched a crazy one man band playing some great music, we strolled through Boston Gardens, beautiful. We went to Bobby From Boston, a wonderful vintage clothing store. The old floors even creaked as we walked around! So much to see.

Boston has a strong local food scene and a tradition of holding weekly open-air farmers markets, http://www.BostonFarmersMarkets.org There are plenty of foodie options in Boston. Chinatown has variety of Asian inspired cuisine and medicinal herb and spice vendors. Little Italy, as it sounds, has all the italian food and bakeries you could think of, try Mikes. And the influence of my mothers favorite, Julia Childs a longtime resident of Cambridge, lives on in many of the eateries. The Union Oyster House is the oldest operating restaurant in the United States. Quincy Market, part of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, has a variety of restaurants and food shops. We ate at Dicks just for the fun of it, insulting waitresses, goofy hats and all!

We love hockey and went to a Bruins game at the TD Garden, we had a blast! Also stopped for lunch across the street at Halftime Pizza, a game day must! The town was humming because their beloved Red Sox had just won the world series. Statues throughout the town wore Red Sox jerseys!

One last place I must mention was in Salem Ma, a little place on the corner of Derby called Scratch Kitchen, it is a wonderful little place with a focus on regional and local farm fresh ingredients, right up my ally! Handcrafted sandwiches, soups and salads. I enjoyed it so much we ate there twice!

As for Boston, we loved it, a vibrant fun city. With so much to see and do. I am sure we will be back!