Monthly Archives: October 2014

OMG! Pie!

I have no desire to get into the hugely controversial pie vs. cake debate. For one, why must there be a debate? Forcing people to choose is just cruelty, and one of the many casualties in this current climate of polarization!

Anyway, pie and cake. Both good, and  the fact that I recently visited two places that focus on pie, is not indicative of me taking a side on this issue. #foodpolitician

The first place I visited Atticus Creamery and Pies, located in West L.A..

So the name instantly makes me think of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, but as far as I can tell, there is no egregious miscarriage of justice requiring the services of a good, noble man, taking a doomed stand against the racism emblematic of his time.

The second part of the name is accurate and not mysterious; you can get ice cream and pie. There are clever, somewhat hipster foodie combinations like lemon lavender and salted caramel popcorn.  But there are also plenty of options for people who complain “What’s wrong with just chocolate and banana cream!?!”

The pies themselves are more like tarts; small, single crust confections, with cold fillings; think coconut cream rather than apple pies. Atticus offers free samples of both their pie and ice cream options, which is a really nice touch.

It’s located across from the Landmark theater, so it’s easy to drop by before or after a movie. However, seating is limited and not really designed for socializing, so don’t plan on hanging out with there. I did smuggle some of my pie into the theater with me though.

For those whose pie in the sky dreams run more towards meat pies (cue: Sweeney Todd music), Aussie Pie Kitchen in Santa Monica is the place for you.

Now, I knew I was predisposed to liking this place because I have more of a salty than sweet tooth, and I was not disappointed. In addition to flakey, buttery crusts surrounding chicken, beef, and lamb fillings (with a vegetarian one for you joyless souls out there) they also offer what are essentially sausage rolls, but with croissant pastry, bacon, and cheese!  SWOON! I am coming back for you, bacon roll!

You can order said pies plain, or with any combination of mashed potatoes, minted peas, or creamy thyme gravy. For those who are unsure about the sides, the staff happily makes up little sample cups. I went for all of it, and it was delicious. The coffee was good too.

The pies are solidly into meal time, rather than snack time, territory, especially with the sides. Seating indoors is limited, but comfortable, and if you swing by slightly before or after lunch, it’s not a problem to snag a seat.

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Tea at the Getty Villa

I’m more of a tea person than a coffee person. I especially love high tea.

Now before you start imagining me as some “Downton Abby” snob, let me explain.

I have made some of my best friends over an invitation for high tea. Nothing is a better antidote to a disproportionately testosterone laden job (most of us work in tech) than tiny sandwiches, delicate pastries, all served on pretty porcelain plates.

After living years in San Francisco, I had gathered a nice little list of places for all moods. It’s been more difficult to find similar places in L.A., simply because everything is more spread out here.

But one recent discovery is the Getty Villa, which has high tea on Thursdays and Saturdays. It’s served upstairs from the cafe, in a room that is frankly, a little sterile (the downstairs patio for the cafe is much more idyllic). But the food is wonderful, and the kitchen very accommodating in that L.A. way that I find both comical and endearing. Gluten free? No problem! Pescatarian? Of course!

Even if you have no interest in tea, the Getty Villa is worth a visit. The locale is amazing, and it’s a fun contrast to its sister museum, the Getty Center. The Center is like a futuristic fortress for a vaguely European millionaire/supervillian; all clean modern lines and epic vistas. It was used as the setting for the Federation in the last “Star Trek” movie!

But the Villa is like an Alma Tadema or Maxfield Parrish painting; a “cosy” roman villa, complete with gardens and fountains. All that’s needed are flowers for your hair. As for its bit of Hollywood history, it was used for scenes in Elizabeth Taylor’s “Cleopatra”.

If you go, be sure to call and make reservations, even if you’re just visiting the museum. There’s no entrance fee, but it’s fifteen dollars for the parking and spaces are limited.

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I caught a little bug…and ate it?

There’s a restaurant in Santa Monica that serves bugs.

I don’t mean that families of cockroaches hang out, ordering drinks. I mean that bugs are on the menu.

Specifically, scorpions, crickets, ants, and pupae.

I know.

Gaaaaahhhhhh.

Recently, NPR did a story about “cricket flour” which is exactly what it sounds like: flour made from crickets. The creators of the product extol its virtues: high in protein, low cost, and gluten free! Although I guess not vegan or vegetarian friendly, since it’s made from crickets. You can even buy it on Amazon.

I’m hippie enough to understand, appreciate, and even respect all these pro “eat bugs” arguments. I also understand that the “ick’ factor of foods are largely cultural, and that there is nothing more inherently icky about eating crickets than say, eating shrimp, which are pretty much the insects of the sea.

But knowing something logically fares poorly when pitted again decades of cultural conditioning. I did not grow up eating bugs, so insects viscerally read to me as unsanitary. A few years ago, I had found a cockroach in my dish at a Thai restaurant, and my response had not been:

“If only they had put EXTRA cockroach!”

However, if you’re the kind of person who does have that response when finding an unexpected, exotic protein on your plate, then I highly recommend going to Typhoon in Santa Monica, CA.

My more adventurous friend ordered a plate of the fried crickets and I was impressed when he actually FINISHED it. He described the flavor as slightly grassy and reminiscent of something else, but he couldn’t pinpoint what.

The apocalypse, perhaps? I don’t know. I didn’t have the guts to try. Although I did like, in true gourmet fashion, the menu lists the provenance of the insects. Were I a connoisseur, I would have been able to debate the merits of Taiwanese crickets over say, those from Vietnam.

Instead my reaction was a pretty solid…ewwwww. Ew ew ew ew ew!

Typhoon is located at the Santa Monica airport and does serve a lot of other dishes. So even if you’re not inclined to eat bugs, you can order a drink, some non creepy crawlers, and watch the planes fly in, feeling rather continental.

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