Saturday, October 27, 2007

Abott Kinney Festival

This has to be one of the most eclectic street festivals in L.A. In the past 14 years this festival has literally outgrown this 1 mile strip of Venice. I remember back in 1993 going to this festival and there were maybe 10 booths and a few small bands, which consisted of a drummer and a base playing rythmic reggae tunes. This day there were over 300 booths and just about every restaurant in Venice had a presence.
All the local color and lure of this small town was out in full force.

Overall it was fun, though it was a bit crowded for my taste and you really see how much this place has changed. Venice still has it's artsy flavor but the money coming into this town shows the most on Abott Kinney Blvd. The shops have changed from local vegetarian stops to French fair and cheap clothing shops turn into high end boutiques. It's great eye candy, but not so nice on the wallet.

Cuba a Bittersweet Tale - Part II

So now we're ready to fly to Cuba, right? Not yet. With our paperwork in order, we fly to Miami to pick up our Visa's from our friends and family who arranged our travel to Habana. Once in Miami my dad starts taking me around to all these family members I've never met. Where have these people been all our lives? In fact my dad wondered the same thing. Old memories surfaced, stories unraveled as we drove from one families house to the next. Dad had been in a camp in Miami, conditions at the least in the camp were deplorable, he'd even written his mother in Cuba a letter with a drawing of the camp. The letter boldly said SOS, get me out of here! Family in Miami were alerted to this by my grandmother. They were none too pleased that he freaked his parents out in Cuba. However, when it came time for dad to leave the camp no family members in Miami would let him stay with them. So my dad got options to go to several different cities, he kept saying no, he wanted to go back to Cuba. The last and final option was Albuquerque. Which is where he ended up.

I was getting the taste, literally and symbolically, of what it would be like in Cuba once we arrived. I nearly choked the first couple of times I drank the Cuban coffee, so dark and sweet that it made you purse your lips. But the Cuban bread, how to describe this? It's got a flaky crust which is absolutely perfect and it's soft middle has the texture of finely ground flour. Toasted with butter dipped in Cuban coffee is an amazing breakfast, lunch, or dinner treat. While in Miami I spent time with my half-brother, who I had only seen once in my life (this is another LONG story). I neglected to tell SB I had a half-brother so that made for an interesting phone conversation. To say I was in the dark about these travel arrangements was an understatement. I had no clue and all the Miami relatives scare you to death on what to expect when you arrive in Cuba. We packed two humongous suitcases full of clothing and basic toiletry items. My neighbor who sells Italian import foods gave me two enormous tins of olive oil for my family so my suitcase was stuffed. After a two days in Miami I was antsy I was ready to go. Because we had relatives in Cuba we were allowed to travel directly from Miami to Cuba. Boarding the plane my dad had memories of his plane ride out of Cuba at 14. He said it was a huge plane with big propellors on the sides he was frightened that they'd crash. Now he was scared all over again for other reasons which were a mere 45 minute plane ride away.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Joe's on Abbot Kinney

Recently our friends took us out to dinner to Joe's on Abbot Kinney in Venice. I've passed this restaurant many times and have always wanted to eat there. Joe's sounds like a diner but it's not. Very upscale place, light and airy. My dear friend Conrad who recently passed away has a son who was the architect of this restaurant, so without even looking at the menu I wanted to try this place.

Our friends former boss and spouse love this place and told her about a particular waiter that they always request, Greg. Well this very nice gentleman proceeds to ask us if we've ever been to Joe's, "no", was our reply. He thought it funny that we were all locals and had never been there, my friend said "Abbot Kinney not my scene." Funny thing is he lives on AK. Loved the honesty and so did Greg. He said he could tell we were new since we were studiously reading the menu. He explained it all with confidence and warmth. My friend knew he must be Greg and indeed he was. I see why her former boss likes him. He's confident without being obnoxious, friendly without being snobby. It was already a good start.
Here comes the food. Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata Cheese, Pistou, Fine Herbs, Melon Marinated in Port Wine. Really I never get tired of this appetizer.

Then we all order something different. Silver Salmon with braised mustard greens, pumpkin puree, littleneck clams, white onion, water chestnuts, clam juice. New Zealand red snapper with potato scales, wild rice, crispy spinach & red wine sauce. The potatoes literally looked like fish scales. Sorry all these picture were too blurry to include, I'm sure the wine had something to do with that.
Finally one good picture the roasted sirloin of beef with mashed potatoes, crispy artichokes, brown butter balsamic vinaigrette, and red pepper juice. We all tried everything and it tasted as good as the descriptions. The fish was fresh tasting and seasoned perfectly, the steak was cook just enough to melt in your mouth like butter.

Finale was a pumpkin panna cotta with spiced ice cream, gingerbread, maple marshmallow, cranberries (everything around the panna cotta was good, but I was NOT fond of the panna cotta, it was very bland, definitely not my favorite). We also had what I call a chocolate dream, chocolate crunch cake with hazelnut praline and vanilla ice cream, candied hazelnuts I only had a taste of this but wow, it was superb.

We had a great evening again with good friends and Joe's stands as one of my favorite places on Abott Kinney.

Upcoming Stories

I'm apologize for the neglect to updating this blog. Real life has gotten in the way. I have many posts in the works: the continuing saga of my journey to Cuba, recent restaurant in Venice and the eclectic Abbot Kinney Festival. Stay tuned.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...