I’m off to Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Charlotte for an extended long weekend.
I plan to eat this:
And then this:
|North Carolina whole hog barbecue|
And then this:
Although I lived two blocks from Fraiche for a year, I never went. Why? Because with entrees hovering around $24 a pop, it seemed more like a special occasion restaurant than for everyday dining. Then there was Groupon with a $25 for $55 worth of food deal, and then my sister came to town. I know when opportunity hits me in the face with tasty discounted French food.
I arrived first and was seated inside. Fraiche has a lovely covered patio, but I was afraid there might be a lot of dogs. I saw my sister arrive, but she walked past the entrance twice before realizing she had to enter through the clear plastic curtain that covers the patio.
To start, we shared the beef tartare. The beef was beautiful and lightly dressed in a citrusy and peppery sauce. The arugula was a crisp contrast to the meat and bread.
|Monkfish “Francaise” with
spinach, white wine, potato puree, shallots
|Torta della Nonna with
fuji apples, pine nut streusel, mascarpone ice cream
Unfortunately, I will definitely not be visiting Fraiche again before my move east. There are less than 40 days left and so many new things to try still!
Fraiche Culver City
9411 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232-2616
LAist turned me onto this amazing hike off PCH in Malibu. The hike to a set of very lovely waterfalls was probably the most sketchy hike I’ve been on in the Malibu area, but it was well worth it to see this most unexpected place in the city.
To get to the trail, we parked in a lot off of Winding Way and then walked about a mile along a paved road to a sign marking “Edward Albert Escondido Trail and Waterfalls.” We found an assortment of wildflowers and greenery along the road.
|Wildflowers along the paved road|
|A Christmas tree and a broccoli tree along the road|
Once we made it to the trail, we crossed a small creek a number of times before reaching the base of the lower falls. We were met with a strong smell of sulfur but this scent may have just been a result of the moss covered pool at the bottom of the falls.
|Wildflowers along the trail|
|The lower falls|
We decided to continue onto the upper falls and were met with a number of fellow hikers who had a difficult time coming back down from the falls. The second part of our trip required a great deal of rock scrambling and there were parts where there was nothing to grasp onto. It wound up being more dangerous than we had wanted, but what we were met with was a beautiful sight.
The upper falls cascades down from four mossy tiers into a large pool at the bottom.
Views from the bottom of the upper falls:
Our return to the trailhead resulted in one minor injury, so please make sure you are careful on your way up and down from the upper falls.
Escondido Canyon Park
27200 Winding Way
– Anne Lamott hates Mother’s Day and so do I (salon.com)
– Beavers in Canada built a dam that is visible from space (The Sun)
– UCLA never bestows honorary degrees, but it will this weekend to former Japanese-American students who were removed from school during WWII and placed in internment camps. (UCLA Today)
– Before I go to a new airport, I try to look at the airport map to see where the local eateries are (say bbq in Houston), but undoubtedly, there will be a last minute gate or terminal change and I am stuck eating at Burger King. Now, there is GateGuru, which helps you locate amenities in airports around the world. (GateGuru)
Ludo Lefebvre was featured this week by Time Magazine as their third “Chef of the Future.” He is the chef making food on his own terms, without boundaries and without walls at least in terms of the physical location kind.
My LudoBites 4.0 meal was undoubtedly one of my top 5 culinary highlights to date but getting in required some advanced planning and waiting. I was more than slightly disappointed when I tried to make a reservation for LudoBites at Royal/T Cafe and failed! It would not happen again. I signed up for the LudoBites email list, happened to check my phone right when the email blast for LudoBites 4.0 went out and made a reservation for 7:30 pm on a Saturday no less!
Upon arrival at Gram and Papa’s, which is a sandwich/salad shop during the day, we were promptly seated by Krissy Lefebvre, Ludo’s lovely wife. The walls were decorated with Ludo’s rooster logo, which he told us he had tattooed on his arm two days prior, but they didn’t hide the fact that this isn’t their restaurant. The sandwich menu hung prominently on the wall.
LudoBites is usually BYOB, so I brought a bottle of Samantha Starr 2006 pinot noir for us to have with our meal. This also significantly cuts down on the cost of a nice dinner. After reviewing the menu, we decided to go heavy on the appetizers and share one entree.
After placing our order, we had a few minutes to look around. The kitchen is completely open and the chef was working furiously along with his small team to prepare our meals. First up was the white asparagus veloute. This was my favorite item of the night. The combination of flavors was so delicious but fresh. The dish was balanced with so many different flavors and textures. Creamy, salty, and crisp.
|White asparagus veloute, mozzarella mouse, fennel, candied olive, salmon roe|
|Scallop, almond puree, pickled grapes, capers, curry oil and cauliflower ice cream|
|Burgundy escargots, garlic flan, green jus, violet flowers|
|Seared foie gras “pina colada”|
I loved the lamb with goat cheese, but I didn’t quite get the smoked eel. I found it to be a little odd, but again, these dishes were so well executed and so creative that I didn’t really care too much.
|Rack of lamb, fresh goat cheese, smoked eel, artichokes, mint|
|Activity in the open kitchen|
|Chef at work|
|Dark chocolate souffle, vanilla-whisky ice cream, hot chocolate cream|
Near the end of our meal, the restaurant was starting to fill up with people for the next seating, so Ludo made the rounds. I found him modest and friendly, not exactly how he was portrayed on Top Chef Masters. Anne Hathaway happened to be there that night with a large group of Hollywood types.
|Chef Ludo and me|
People often wonder how Raisin Bread and I met. (Raisin Bread and I formed a committee of two and decided that we could both live with this moniker.) The conversation usually goes something like this:
Inquisitor: How did you met?
I: Oh, really??? Which site?
I: Did you initiate it?
Me: No, he did.
I: So what happened?
Me: Well, we finally met after messaging online for a while and then talking on the phone, and then we went on a couple of more dates.
At this point, I don’t know what else to say because really that was it. Well, that wasn’t IT. There was so much more. There was laughter, kisses in the night, chasing each other down hotel hallways, conversations, greeting cards, and love limericks. I usually describe as it as “easy.” I mean all relationships are hard and require effort from both parties. By “easy,” I mean that I knew. I knew that I could love him. I knew that I could tell him how I felt and what I wanted and knew that he would still call me the next day, instead of falling off the face of the earth like some men in the past. I knew that he thought about me a million times a day. I also knew that I was lucky. Lucky, not confused, worried, scared, or upset. And happy. I was very, very happy.
Most importantly, though, I knew I was myself and he was okay with who I was. But not just okay, he also wanted to be my best friend and wake up next to me in the morning and would pout when I didn’t cuddle the entire night.
What was different? I think it had a lot to do with me and a little to do with him. I finally felt free enough to say what my needs were from a man and from a relationship. I finally knew that keeping my mouth shut was worse than being afraid of how he might react to what I might say. It took about 9 months of therapy for me to fix this part of me, and I was lucky to have met Raisin Bread soon afterward. Otherwise, I don’t think it would have worked anyway.
In fact, one month after we started dating, we became a couple because he claims that I said, “I’m not going to Mexico unless you’re my boyfriend.” How is that for speaking my mind? I didn’t actually say that, but that is what he heard and four hours later, he called me back and said, “Okay, we can still go to Mexico.”
And that was it.
When I was growing up in Texas, I would go over to my friend, Stacy Jackson’s house after school on a regular basis. Hanging out with her usually meant watching one of two movies, Mary Poppinsand The Wizard of Oz.
Last weekend, Raisin Bread was in town so I took him to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve to see the poppies at the height of their flowering season. The reserve is located about an hour and a half northeast of Los Angeles. It is kind of a drive, but well worth it to feel like Dorothy in a field of poppies. We just didn’t get high and fall asleep.
|It’s nap time for Dorothy|
|Rolling hills of poppies|
|Poppies, poppies, poppies.|
|Snow-capped mountains in the background
wildflowers in the foreground
|A closer view of the orange poppies|
|A cluster of poppies|
|The reserve holds a variety of wildflowers, not only poppies|
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
15101 Lancaster Road