I’m not sure where April went. Maybe it’s an affliction of getting older (it was just my birthday after all), but this month seems to have flown by at warp speed. Even so, I managed to get out and about and find plenty of sources of creativity; here are the books, beverages, beats, and butchers that inspired me this month.
Saveur’s nominations for The Best Food Blogs are made up of an impressive cross section of the online food world. Among those listed are some of my favorite bloggers as well as ones I have yet to discover. Between the frame-worthy photos, witty writing, and range of recipes, it acts like a blog-based inspiration board.
There’s a perk to heading over to Chronicle Books for a cookbook meeting: the lobby doubles as a beautiful bookstore. It’s temptation at its best as I sit and wait because Chronicle’s books speak to me (hence the reason they’re my publisher). My last trip I fell upon the business-based self-help book for freelancers, Creative, Inc. It’s informative and inspiring and fun, as evidenced by this playful stop-motion video they’ve pushed out with the book.
Yes, I love my cocktails, but I’ve also done my best to save up for a small, but special occasion wine collection. To celebrate me and my sister’s birthdays this year (we’re all born in April), I opened a bottle of Krug Grand Cuvee and can say with its unique toasty notes and nutty flavors, it was well worth the wait.
Speaking of birthdays, I spent the weekend traipsing around dusty polo fields for yet another year of music at Coachella. Three days of festival-going makes for a lot of musical memories, but my pick of the lot is the relatively little-known band, Phantogram. I listened to them while I was writing my cookbook and only came to like them more once I heard them live — especially addictive is the groovy but eerie Mouthful of Diamonds.
A major downside to L.A. has been that it’s very far away from BiRite market. In case you aren’t aware, I’ve been a long-time shopper there and am a fan because they do their part to make community through food (check out my video ode to BiRite for more info). As if they heard my laments, Lindy and Grundy opened a beefed-up butcher shop (sorry, it was too easy) with custom spice mixes, farm-fresh eggs, artisanal cheeses, oh, yay, and local, sustainable meat that makes me proud to support the burgeoning food scene in SoCal.
Visiting Edendale Farms showed me that people like David Kahn are also working to support the L.A. food scene. But Edendale takes it to another level with hyper-local, sustainable farming out of the land. David’s unconventional and it’s reflected in everything from his composting toilets to his plans to build a backyard teepee, but he’s making a difference one permaculture plant at a time.
CicLAvia took over the streets of L.A for the second time in April and it was like a souped-up block party. There was mile-upon-mile of closed-off city streets with open businesses and lots of people with the idea being to get out and about on any means possible so long as it didn’t involve an engine.
Large chain stores aren’t my thing. I don’t mean to sound snotty but I like the eclectic, individual taste you find at boutiques. Luckily, there are a few chains that are so well-curated they don’t feel gimmicky and Anthropologie is one of those places. I’m starting to collect props and tabletop ideas for my cookbook photo shoot and these romantic plates have made it to my must-use list.
I credit my older sister with giving me a big dose of quirk from a young age. So, when I happened up the whimsical and witty ReForm School boutique, I knew it was only a matter of time before I dragged along my sister and we became regulars there. But I go not only because of the creative cards (everyone needs good stationary), but also because it’s the only place I find things like kits for how to build your own canoe — an obviously useful resource in the landlocked neighborhood of Silver Lake.
To say chef-owner Corey Lee’s put some thought into his restaurant, Benu, is an understatement — he meticulously ironed out every detail from food to service to design and decor. The restaurant has been open over 8 months but I haven’t had the time to do the tasting menu justice. Finally, I ended up there for a belated birthday dinner and went on a 3-hour tour of food that was beautifully inspired. Just as noteworthy as the elegant little bites were the daring pairings of sommelier Yoon Ha from Madiera mid-meal to a glass of Brettanomyces-brewed beer that made my last restaurant meal of the month a memorable one.