jujubes, falling fruit, and secret Venice
It began with sandwiches. My fabulous friend Laura lives in Venice, California, near Gjelina, where we ordered the finest chicken sandwich with anchovies I’m likely to encounter and a BLT with a fried egg.
And so began five food-filled days in Southern California as I relaxed into the sound of the ocean you can hear softly from Laura’s apartment. We both look for food preparations to adapt to a home kitchen, and this Turkish squash had a beautiful savory hit of rosemary and crunch of salt.
We headed from our early lunch into the AFI DigiFest in Los Angeles to see public and private media collaborate on mobile applications, low-budget production, and short content. And later that night, I presented to the estimable Dr. Ben Bateman’s class at Cal State LA on online identity, representation, and asymmetry.
The next day, Laura and I walked the Venice boardwalk, watching the skaters and those aspiring to be skaters,
spying someone who might be part of the nearby Cirque show practicing on the rings,
on our way to tapas and the shops of Santa Monica. With very different orders at Bar Pintxo, I ordered classic wrapped dates, pine nuts in wilted spinach, and crab ringed in salmon and roe,
while Laura started with a pumpkin-apple soup,
and then a tossed Niçoise salad (that we’ll both recreate, as I find composed salads tedious and this clever version piqued my interest).
On the way back, we passed the Santa Monica Community Garden (more on that next time I visit),
just in time for the sunset.
(Later, we went with Laura’s friend (and now mine) LJ to The Foundry on Melrose, where they serve extraordinarily large scallops on the tasting menu.)
The Venice Farmers’ Market makes for a nice Friday tradition, with the sprouts you expect,
the Asian date called jujube fruit, you do not,
and then, the baby bok choy that inspired dinner for seven,
that combined with beautiful mushrooms from an inspiring and civically-engaged forager for a rice dish made perfect by Dr. Bateman’s (it’s too much fun not to include the title, Ben) punctilious rice technique and by conversation in the kitchen spanning wigs, karaoke, and terrible dancers before the dinner party progressed through Venice’s First Friday galleries.
Before all of that, though, there was a bouquet with eucalyptus,
and a surprise tour of secret Venice. Laura explains:
A tour complete with wildlife and speckled flowers, of course.
On to hipster Silverlake, we spotted Chloë Sevigny in hush puppies (yes, we groaned) while engrossed with burgers at The Local—this is their pork burger and special sauce of roasted chiles.
The requisite celebrity sighting complete, we traced the Silverlake Fallen Fruit Map to find oranges, limes,
a golden couch on the side of the street,
and a pomegranate tree that wowed us.
I had no idea that pomegranates begin like Dr. Seuss blossoms.
Recovering from Friday’s adventures, we began Saturday with a hearty brunch (steak was appropriate as Laura is soon to vacation in Argentina),
and we wandered the Venice vintage troves (ask me about trying on a diaper dress sometime), then took in the Pacific Coast Highway on our way to Malibu’s Sip, the wine tasting room for Cielo Vineyards:
Meeting new people from old places we have lived, we sat around the fire pit as the sun sank,
and decided fried seafood at Neptune’s Net biker bar was in order (listen to what our research uncovered their chowder is as good as) before discovering why men stare at goats:
I walked more slowly to the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market on Sunday morning as if to prolong my last day in Southern California, and just past the circling ponies,
there were persimmons, pomegranates, and dragon fruit,
bundles of herbs,
carrots and parsnips,
and yielding Halawy dates that I am portioning out, a few a day. We resisted the large pancakes,
to order savory crêpes from a line with fascinating rhythm,
and I boarded the plane that afternoon, shaking the sand out of my shoes, wondering what the next adventure with Laura will hold…
More pictures of our adventures in the Flickr set.