Friday, May 29, 2009

3 Square Cafe


I drive up and down Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, California on a daily basis. I rarely get to park, as parking in L.A. is so not fun. But this past week I found a primo parking space and went from store to store to explore. I use to live in Venice over 15 years ago, back then it was a artsy sleepy beach town with an edgy interior and all the eclectic people that make this place unique.

Now for the first part of my rant: Why aren't people as friendly anymore? Venice has change so much, with all the new money moving in, people have lost their sense of small neighborhood talk. When I lived in Venice, I knew all my neighbors. Across the street were the four channels,
an apartment building with four windows that faced us. On any given day someone would be hanging out the window strumming an acoustic guitar or in another "channel" changing into beachware for a quick run to the boardwalk. Next door was a lovable man, who also liked to get drunk and listen to Tina Turner "We don't need another Hero" (Thunderdome). He always watched out for us with all the crack addicts roaming the streets at night. I still giggle thinking of this man listening to that particular song.

And the second part of my rant: While visiting the
3 Square Cafe on Abbot Kinney and San Juan at 9:30a.m. on Memorial Day, we were told that the would only serve Brunch and not breakfast. Tell me if I'm wrong but isn't Brunch suppose to be breakfast and lunch so thus shouldn't it be served closer to the lunch hour, say 11a.m.? Oh and our waiter was so not friendly (which reverts to my original rant) and didn't seem even entertain our breakfast quandary. We considered leaving, but stood the course and order from the side menu. I have to say we created a lovely breakfast and the German Apple pancake my friends little girl ordered was delicious. Crispy on the outside and perfectly sweet and soft inside with delicious baked apples. Ideally it's served with creme fraiche, although we removed this for the lactose intolerant. We also order a tin of pastries and breads that was served with the best raspberry jam.The potatoes we perfectly crisping on the outside and soft and salty inside. I ordered a side poached egg this was delicious. For the past 3 days I've tried to recreate this poached egg, to no avail. I've even been told by SB that I'm starting to ruin pans with my experimentation's. I refuse to believe that I need a fancy pan to poach an egg. I will keep trying my experiments to perfect the poached egg. Any tips are welcome.

The ironic thing about this two part rant is I know I'll keep going to Venice and eating at these places, despite the unfriendliness and the early brunches. There is still an artsy side to it despite the gentrification of the place. Here's to hoping people start saying "hello" more often and being a bit more neighbourly.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Orange You Glad It's Friday

Many years ago I painted my kitchen nook orange. Immediately the conversation place in the house was the tiny kitchen nook. I loved it when I painted it with Sanre and still do. Here's to one of my favorite colors....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Cuba a Bittersweet Tale - Part VI

Everyday as we sat in Abuelo's home I had the opportunity to view many acts of kindness. One day a neighbor came by and kissed all the family on the cheek and then proceeded to give Abuelo and Berty a hair cut. No money was exchanged, just a cut and conversation. Then she left. Luis who took Dad and I everywhere came by and gave Berty a shave on the patio.

And then there is Rosa who has spent many years taking care of Abuelo and Berty, cooking, cleaning and just being a care giver to our family, extraordinarly kind.

Abuelo who struggled to get up from the pain he was enduring and settle in his chair.
Dad sitting down to converse with Abuelo, read a letter together, attempting to explain the last 40 years of his life. How do you do that in 2 weeks. Craziness. These are the portraits from those days that I just sat and watched these interchanges.

The innocence of children when there are no video games, TV, cell phones, text messaging is truly amazing. These kids would play baseball in the pouring rain, and I mean a torrential downpour, then they'd get a donkey pulled cart and ride around the block.
And then the innocense changes, as soon as I snapped this photograph I walked back into my grandfather's house. Out of no where one of these little boys came flying in the house and grabbed my camera, it was so lightening fast I didn't have time to react, however everyone else did, and I never let my camera down again, no matter where I was.

One thing I learned about myself, and any future photography career I wanted to have is that I am not cut out for photo journalism. On one of these observation days I was standing on the porch, this kid walked by a neighbor's house on is way home. Apparently he owed them some money for something, but didn't pay up. This was two teenagers arguing at a door. But then this older man with a huge belly and no shirt comes out and starts yelling at this kid, who knows what, the dialog was too fast. Then this kid walks away and grabs a brick. He takes the brick and runs up to this older mand and slams the guy in the head. Blood starts coming out profusely, down his face and large tanned belly. Everyone now jumps in to stop this situation, kids and adults a like. All this happened right in front of me and was incredibly violent, I went to snap a picture and then froze, I got scared as everyone was extremely edgy. Dad pulled me in the house and a never got a photo of the incident, but it's seared into my mind and that solidfied my non-existent photo journalism career, left to a life as a part-time blogger.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Potato Leek Soup

So today I had one of those Julie and Julia moments, though not as well written. I was out in Venice and stopped at one of the many local farmers markets. I decided to pick what was fresh, in season and just looked good. I choose a long white to pale green leek and a bag of fingerling potatoes. Then a quick phone call to SB to ask him to look at Ina Garten's potato leek soup recipe so I could get the missing ingredients. Cream and creme fraiche, arugula, I forgot the arugula, although I thought I had some at home. Yeah no. So I did without the "color" and got home to chop up the potatoes and leeks and seasoned them with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Ok so here's where I'm crazy. We have an event tomorrow, my hair must be dyed, yeah I hate when I start showing any greys. So I do this while I'm roasting veggies for 40 minutes. Then I wait the needed 20 minutes, for the hair dye, and watch a Champion League soccer match. Buzzer rings, for my hair, not my veggies. I sure take my time getting in the shower thinking I'm being so efficient. Not so much, seriously as soon as I turn the shower on SB comes in "hey there is a timer going off, what's that for?" Aaacccckkk. Dye in the hair, shaving and washing to be done, so I say, with frustration at my poor time management, "take them out, oh no, please flip the p&l's and I'll hurry up and finish my meal." Now I'm rushing, I quickly finish a not so relaxing shower and grab my clothes and bee-line it for the kitchen.

I take the sheet pan out and light up two burners, I add wine and chicken stock to the pan, but there aren't really any good bits that she described to scrape up. I grab my food processor and in batches I puree the veggies while adding chicken stock, and then into a stock pot. I had to add more chicken stock then I thought as it was way to thick for soup. I bit of heavy cream, creme fraiche and parmesan cheese (I used pecorino, seriously, that's all I had) and simmer till the soup is warm and everything is incorporated. I have to say it was quite tasty. I needed to add a pinch more of salt. However, next time I'll try to remember the arugula as I think a bit more color and another flavor might be good. I ate this with a glass of wine and a couple of slices of rosemary La Brea bakery toasted bread, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt.

Thankfully nothing burned during my multi-tasking moment. I do have to say at the very moment I sat down to eat this soup we had a nice little 4.4 earthquake that had my heart going. And, as all seasoned Californians, we keep on sipping our wine and go one with the task at hand.

Oh and the hair, it'll do. That is until the budget allows for a real hair salon visit and a proper hair style. This is not Mastering the Art of French Cooking, or styling by Rachel Zoe, but Ina's a good place to start if your wanting to cook great easy meal.


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