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Category Archives: Los Angeles

A Very LA Holiday

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So, the holidays in Los Angeles are strange. It’s warm, the city takes on a strange, Walking Dead quality (meaning it empties out, and someone might bite you if you’re stupid enough to go into a store).

But there is one tradition that feeds so on-the-holiday-nose, you’ll get all the friggin’ cheer you can stand in one sitting.

Dinner at the Tam O’Shanter.

The Tam is pretty festive during the non-holidays. The servers are dressed like they live in a cuckoo clock (is that how you spell that?), the walls are lined with framed family tartans, there’s a ‘Steak and Ale Bar’ (where Hubs had part of his bachelor party, I’m told), and the average age of the crowd is 150.

But come holiday time, in addition to the massive tree, cozy fireplace, and tinsel/garland/holly explosion, there are wandering carolers in Dickensian dress, regaling diners with all manner of holiday madrigal – and those diners are DRESSED TO THE NINES. But they’re still 150 years old, and for some reason they bring shopping bags full of wrapped gifts, which make it impossible to navigate between tables, nevermind dodging the carolers… But seriously, it’s awesome.

And then, there’s the food.


The Tam prides itself on its Moscow Mule, which comes in an icy cold pewter mug, and is all gingery and lip-smacking. It’s also famous, as it is a Lawry’s establishment, for its prime rib. After flirting with the idea of goose, I stuck with the classic – opting for the California Cut, ‘a smaller portion for lighter appetites’. Of course, I also had sizzling mushrooms in garlic and parsley butter, mashed potatoes and gravy, creamed spinach, yorkshire pudding, most of a side of mac & cheese, at least one glass of wine, and a chocolate soufflé for dessert – so let’s keep that light appetite in perspective.

You can see Hubs’s Toad in the Hole across the way, accompanied by some steamed vegetables. (Wuss).

We rolled out of there plump and happy, having joined the frequent eaters’ club (or whatever it’s called), and swearing to come back for pub trivia super soon.

Aaaaaaaaand now I’m starving.



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Once upon a time, I was at one of those horrible week-long corporate retreat things, and as part of a painful ‘get to know your fellow captives’ exercise, we were asked to draw a picture of our perfect weekend. I should have anticipated that we would then have to present our creations to the group. When my turn came, I pointed to the giant glass of wine in the center of the paper, and said, “We go wine tasting every Sunday. We call it church.” Turns out the rest of the table was populated by religious folks who did not appreciate my co-opting of the word. But I share this in order to raise two points: 1) I am immensely grateful not to work there anymore, and 2) Every Sunday, Hubs and I go wine tasting at Colorado Wine Company.

If you like wine and want to know more about it, there is no better or more enjoyable way to get there than to taste a lot of wine. At first, it’s just yummy. Then, you’ll start noticing that you like some grapes or styles better than others. Then, you might notice that you don’t like a particular grape when it comes from Region A, but when it comes from Region B, YUM! Then one day you’ll hear yourself guessing that the wine you’re drinking underwent secondary malolactic fermentation, and you’ll be embarrassed and proud at the same time.

What makes Colorado Wine Company our favorite place to do this? First and foremost, we love owners John and Jen Nugent. They’re unpretentious, funny, generous with their wine smarts, and they have great taste in music and employees. We love that they focus on affordable bottles – they’ll help you splurge if you want to, but for the most part, the shelves are stocked with bottles that will taste way pricier than they are. They’re also opening a specialty beer shop nearby, the bathrooms are lined with sleeves from ridiculous records, and they serve free cheese at tastings. FREE. CHEESE.

So basically, we’ll see you there on Sunday.

Auntie Em’s

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I would have come up with a more pithy title for this post, but I spent the morning with two sets of twins under 5, so literalism is all I can manage.

We’re here today to talk about brunch. This is not the same as breakfast. Brunch is for weekends, pre-shower, no arriving before 10, and nowhere to be afterwards (except back in bed.) Brunch is for carbs and syrup and runny eggs and melty cheese. Bunch is often too dressed up. Brunch should not require makeup or nice shoes. A brunch destination should be populated by more hungover college kids than senior citizens or toddlers. It is for all these reasons that we celebrate Auntie Em’s.

The place feels like your favorite post-binge breakfast joint. They’ll probably be out of the thing you want by the time you get there, but it’s ok because the thing you order instead is amazing. Yes, the hipster factor is high. Yes, you’ll probably have to wait a bit for a table. Yes, the coffee is self-serve. Get over it.

This Sunday, I had the spinach strata (because they were mercifully out of sausage and cheddar grits), and Hubs had the pancakes. Those are blackberries, strawberries, and coconut shavings – he left off the bananas. Thank Jeebus, because those pancakes took some work. The strata was excellent – like a slightly deconstructed quiche, with ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella – but light and savory with a perfect burnt cheese crust. 

They do lunch too – delicious fresh soups, non-boring sandwiches, and mac and cheese – my heroin. Follow Auntie Em’s on Twitter, and you’ll be tipped off to the specials. If you’re ambitious/sober enough, you might even get there in time to catch the grits.


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Tonight, my dear friend D and I had a friend-date. Unremarkable Thai for dinner (how great would it be if that had been the name of the restaurant?) and then a special performance of Easy Targets by The Burglars of Hamm at Sacred Fools. It’s a show I’ve done by people I like at a place I’ve worked, but the real draw was that it was a fundraiser for The Uma Fund. (If you need some good juju in your life, donate $5. Then brag about it to anyone sitting near you.)

Good deeds aside, one of the best parts about Sacred Fools is its proximity to Scoops, a small, cash-only, hipster ice cream parlor. I know, it sounds annoying – but the ice cream is SO STRANGE AND YUMMY. And these hipsters suck at math, so 1 scoop = 2 flavors. The flavors are ever changing, and I always feel a little guilty about the number of little plastic spoons I go through while narrowing down my choices, but I’m sure they have a magic recycling robot out back.

Anyway, behold tonight’s combo – Chocolate Lavender, and Mascarpone with Cacao Nibs.

I was shocked not to want the Jim Beam Coffee & Cream, as I usually love the boozy selection(s), but this was the way to go. I believe D got Banana Hazelnut (which tasted like ice-creamified banana bread) and Pistachio Melon. Both stupidly good.

And then we got to throw things at our friends for a good cause. Can you say perfect evening?

Let the Yums Begin!

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Last night, over dinner at Drago Centro, I announced to my husband-of-one-month, “I’m going to start a food blog.” He thought it a fab idea, as I already constantly take pictures of food, and I think he wants me to spend more time in the office room with him.

(The photo above was my entree – the special, wild mushroom risotto with shaved black truffles. It is my strongly held opinion that when the special has ‘shaved black truffles’ in the name, one will never regret ordering it.)

To be clear, I know the internets are not clamoring for another food blog. Thing is, I want to write one. I’m going to write about my cushy foodie thoughts and experiences. (And by “cushy”, I mean better-than-world-average. We just got back from a honeymoon in South Africa, so you’re going to have to endure a certain world-conscious tone for a while. It’ll wear off.) Yes, there will be swanky restaurants. There will also be food trucks and roadside stops and whatever’s happening in our kitchen. I will ask questions, state opinions, and share drool-worthy anecdotes.

So as the chefs say, please enjoy.