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Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

I remember the night I first tried Baco Mercat…and it was love at first bite. I was at the DTLA Artwalk in late 2011, and I knew Baco was coming…but not sure when they would be open. It just so happened that they decided to soft open that night. It was all about being at the right place and the right time. Since then I have been to back to Baco many times with various friends and my man of course. I remember when I first took him to Baco it had only been open a few months and told him that it was one of my favorite places, I was worried that maybe he wouldn’t like it. Turns out I had nothing to worry about, he’s a Baco fan.

The other night, he had to go to DTLA to pick up his new Hedley & Bennett apron (my man is a chef…I don’t think I’ve ever revealed that on this blog before – pretty fitting right?) and decided to have an impromptu date night by taking me to Baco Mercat.

Some time ago, when I last went to Baco I had ordered a bunch of other dishes besides my usual original baco, and was so disappointed. Its been a long time since I’ve been back, but this time I decided to just stick with my usual. The baco is a flatbread sandwich with crispy pork belly and carnitas. It is one of my top five dishes within the City of Angels. I could eat one of these everyday. So good.

Here is what the inside of the original baco looks like. There are some greens and an amazing sauce. The baco has tomato but I don’t care, its THAT good.

I’m not sure why I’ve never blogged about Baco Mercat…I have tons of photos from various meals in my Flickr photostream…but on this particular night we had a new dish that I’m absolutely in love with. I love bone marrow, and I’ve had it at Bestia, Mozza, Father’s Office, in menudo, and many other places. But this preparation was different…on the menu it said “crispy bone marrow” and curiosity got the best of me.

What followed was beyond my wildest dreams. Fried bone marrow served with lentils and grapes. So buttery…so different…so amazing. This trumps shrimp toast from Son of a Gun as my favorite dish in LA right now. Wow. Its not for everyone but if you love marrow and want to try it in a different preparation, head over to Baco Mercat asap. This. Wow.

I love Baco Mercat. I love Bar Ama. I love DTLA.

Baco Mercat

408 S Main St

Los Angeles, CA 90013

(213) 687-8808

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Los Angeles, my beloved City of Angels, and more specifically Spring Street in DTLA has a new coffee bar. One that I fell in love with as soon as I walked in. One that instantly transported me back to Portland.

I love my job, and I love nothing more than teaching the children, but this past week was full of long work days since I was busying organizing and planning future units and getting ready to start a new novel. What really kept me going on those long 14 hour workdays was the fact that as soon as the weekend hit, I would finally be able to make it out to Coffee Bar! I had been following their progress on the Twitterz and was really excited because they would be slanging Water Avenue (my favorite while in PDX) and they would have a variety of other coffees too.

When I got there I was a bit shocked. I didn’t expect it to be so big. How awesome is this? Once inside I loved the layout and the wood bar. This place was GORGEOUS! I felt like I was back in Portland…

In a display case they have a variety of coffees, but only a few are on bar at any given time. They also have different coffee beans for sale…to take home. I came for the Water Avenue, but was told that would be on bar next week.

For round 1,  super awesome Portland Barista Dave made me a latte using Intelligentsia’s Black Cat. Smooth. So smooth. Love it. In my mind I was back in Portland. After all, my barista was from Portland. My logic.

Here is Dave pouring a drink for someone else. One day I’ll be able to capture a pour on camera…but for now I leave that to RE.

I grabbed a seat at the bar and looked around at this great space. It was busy but not annoyingly busy. People were working on laptops (there are plugs), chatting with friends, hanging out. It was really nice. Penny from Dr. Horrible was there. I know her real name is Felicia Day…but to me she is super sweet Penny. Then her co-star from The Guild showed up. Then I saw a guy in the corner that looked just like N8. Complete with the MacBook Pro. People watching is great.

At some point I went out for Round 2. I wanted something from the Slayer, which I just finished blogging about here. Super Awesome Barista Jared Mockli pulled me a shot of Verve from the Slayer machine. We are so lucky to have a Slayer in Southern California. I may have gone fangirl. And if you have no idea what I mean by Slayer…read up on it here.

I really loved Coffee Bar. I didn’t want to leave. I honestly felt this whole Portland vibe. Nothing pretentious about this place at all. Not only is this spot beautiful, but everyone working was so nice and polite. Plus, they are going to be slanging beans that other places don’t. Water Avenue? Hello! What a great addition to Downtown LA! I love it! I can’t wait to go back with the SCV Crew!
Coffee Bar
600 S. Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90014

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It wouldn’t be a complete birthday bash without a proper after party! After dinner and cake, a group of us headed over to Chinatown for Summer Nights!

I had been to the event last summer, and went again last week. The vibe is hard to describe in words. You need to experience it. The streets are alive, the people are nice, the feeling is one that encompasses that magical feeling that can be found within the City of Angels.

Since it also happened to be so close to Wurstkuche…it seemed natural to spend the last few hours of being 26 here surrounded by my friends.

We must have gotten there around 9pm so the party was totally underway. As we all texted each other in an attempt to meet up, the large white balloon seemed to be the best spot. It was there that we were able to catch a cooking demonstration hosted by Eddie Lin of Deep End Dining. As the ladies were cooking, we nudged Mariano towards the front so he would be close when they chose volunteers, but then he got shy. The guy works at the best restaurant in Bakersfield but can still be shy. Adorable!

After watching the demo for a bit, we headed back over to where the rest of the group was and were joined by Nate and Aleks! Aww!

Half of the crew went over to the Lake Street Creamery truck (which I absolutely adore). I think that after tonight, it is safe to say we are all big fans. Especially Greg. Amiright?

Next we went to the Drip Bar cart, which is serving Blue Bottle. I tried them last week at a Farmers Market and told the girls I would be back during my birthday bash so that my friends and I could indulge in some Blue Bottle goodness! They told me to come back for my birthday coffee!

This Blue Bottle New Orleans Iced Coffee was pretty fantastic! Thanks girls!

Coffee in hand, we all headed over across the street to explore some more!

We were met by the sounds of KCRW DJ Jeremy Sole! Nice!

Aleks was ready to jump on the dance floor, but Mariano and Sara needed some convincing…

Meanwhile the boys were not excited about the thought of dancing the night away…

Aleks went to go check it out for us…

We’ll come back to the dance floor portion of my birthday bash a little later…wink wink.

As we went through the streets exploring and wandering, we came across people playing Ping Pong. Random. Totally random. I had a total flashback moment when I remembered that E was really good at Ping Pong, and I mentioned this to Aleks. She said we should play…and then I realized…wow. I have never played Ping Pong! The next thing I knew, we were signed up! I’m not sure what association this was with, but I will say it was completely free and the people hosting it were really nice!

I proceeded to get a Ping Pong lesson from Mike Cruz…before getting completely PWND. However, it was just a random silly thing to do on a summer night and it was a lot of fun! The big surprise was when it was Aleks’ turn to play. She was AMAZING! She was so good in fact, the a Chinese man came over to challenge her to a game.

The boys were less than impressed at us girls playing Ping Pong and proceeded to chat in the corner. Silly boys!

After Ping Pong we proceeded to keep walking and came across a wishing well. We all took out some change and made wishes. Nate got Long Life, Mari got Love, Sara, Shawna, Aleks missed, and I got a coin in the cup but it bounced back out! Sigh. Everyone saw it bounce back out, so I can’t even make that up.

We walked over to the food trucks but most everyone was too full to eat anything else. There was a nice variety available though. Mike Cruz and Mike D. separated from the crowd and when we found them again they were eating some street tacos with Mexican coke. Yes. that is why we are friends. High Five!

Something that often gets overlooked is that most of the shops and galleries are open during Chinatown Summer Nights. My favorite gallery is 5th Floor (of course) but there are other little shops to sneak into. There was one near the dance floor that had some really nice cutesy artsy things that can’t be found just anywhere! Here is Sara posing: Nom Nom Nom.

As we left this shop, we were met with some entertainment!

Fire + Hula Hoop = Wow.

After exploring Chinatown it was time to hit up Jeremy Sole on the dancefloor! Aleks and I headed back into the crowd and got our groove on. I assumed everyone else would follow but I soon realized we were on our own…so I ventured back out and found everyone just standing around. Sara and Shawna were feeling shy, and Mariano said “I don’t dance”…

So I pulled the “but its my birthdaaaaaay!” line and the next thing you know there we were, Sara, Shawna, Mariano, and Aleks, dancing, as Nate and Jason and everyone else looked on.

And so the last few minutes of me being 26 were spent out in my beloved City of Angels, surrounded by friends, outside, dancing, laughing, smiling, under the Chinatown Summer Nights. It was magic.

Thanks to those brave enough for the after party: Jason, Mariano, Sara, Shawna, Mike Cruz, Mike D., Scott, Bree, RE, Jeffrey, Greg, Kendra, and Yeekai.

As midnight struck, and I was now officially 27…I realized how blessed and lucky I am to have spent the day surrounded by my friends and family. I realized how good life is. Although stressful, I’m really happy with my career choice, and this new philosophy of just living life and exploring is really working out for me. Not only was this my birthday celebration, but it was also my real end of summer. August is officially coming to an end…

I can’t wait to see what Fall 2010 brings…because I don’t know how Summer 2010 can be topped.

And how can I top a wonderful day like today for when I turn 28?

Yikes!

XoXo

-L

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Your birthday party was such

an epic smash! Mike

I heard that earlier today, and I loved it so much I had to quote it. In reality, Saturday night was definitely tops. Last year was fantastic, but something about this night, being out in the heart of my beloved City of Angels, surrounded by 30+ of my friends and family…well it is going to be hard to put into words…so thank goodness for photos! Sidenote? As you know I fail at taking pictures in bad light situations, and combined with the fact my lens was acting up…my pictures came out a bit blurry. I decided to just make all but one in Black and White in NX2…

The day started off early for me, as I made my way over to Magnolia Bakery to pick up my order. As my friends know, eating a Magnolia cupcake was on my list, so when they finally opened in LA I was all over it. I knew that since it was my birthday I wanted a really special cake…so after debating for a few days and passing on Urth Caffe (which was the original plan) I thought, you know what? Its my special day and I want a lovely cake! So I called two days prior and placed an order for my special red velvet cake, 24 of the famous egg carton mini cupcakes, and a big bowl of their famous banana pudding. Last year, I got Sprinkle’s cupcakes as party favors, but this year I wanted to step it up, and Magnolia was the perfect bakery for that.

I don’t even know how the idea of picking Wurstkuche as the location of my birthday dinner came about, but I also don’t remember there ever being another place on my radar. I definitely knew that I wanted it to be in LA though. I made the reservation a little less than a month ago and requested the private room off to the side. There are a couple of small steps and its closed off enough to give the appearance of a private room, but still open enough to where there is enough breathing room. It was perfect!

Of course, the day before I started to get a little nervous. I didn’t know if everyone would get along because there would be people from some of my different worlds present. Would it be awkward? Would people be bored? Luckily my boyz knew just what to say to make me feel a little more confident about my birthday plans!

We’re all gonna get along fine…there’s food involved! Mariano

There’s a time, a place, and a purpose. Who needs more? Daniel

Wurstkuche is a gourmet sausagefest, amiright? Well, I always get the bratwurst and keep it simple, but some of my friends were a little more adventurous. Mariano (chef extraordinaire) ordered snake and gator. Of course, he offered to let me try but I graciously passed…nothxbai.

Here is David acting as waiter for our side of the room…

I didn’t manage to get photos of everyone, which makes me a little sadface, but at the same time, allowed me to really enjoy the time spent among my friends. That…and also I left my camera by Jason and Daniel for most of the night…

Here’s some of the left side crew! Including Turner, Scott Jackson, Mr. and Mrs. DavidRo, Adrienne, Sara, Mariano, Shawna and Carrie and Brian who are hidden behind the Wilsons. This is such a great picture that captures what I mean by so many of my worlds (in regards to friends) colliding that night.

Of course! What’s a party without Mr. and Mrs. ScottE and Bree!

Here, from left to right, Mr. and Mrs. Scott Wilson, Mike D., Jeff, Mike Cruz, Daniel and Jason. I love this picture of the SCV political boyz on the left and my two favorite musicians on the right. Worlds colliding some more!

Everyone really seemed to like the food which of course is a success! Although soon came time for dessert! The question was where to set up the cake and dessert! Yeekai totally saved the day by suggesting moving one of the tables towards the front of the room! Genius!

As I was unpacking the cake, D offered to help (such a gentleman). I asked if he could grab the banana pudding that Wustkuche had let me store in their fridge, that would be great! He thought I was joking! Who jokes about Magnolia’s famous Banana Pudding?!?! Although, I do joke about Vegan cake…

The egg carton mini’s are famous at Magnolia and I thought they would be perfect for my guests. I love cupcakes and it was nice to be able to share something from my list with them. Here is a photo that RE took of me getting ready to blow out the candles. I absolutely adore this photo. It should be noted that Scott Jackson had the honor of lighting the candles on my cake!

Overall, the night was amazing and one that I will always remember. It was such a surreal feeling to see all of these people from different aspects of my life, interacting and getting along so well. I want to think EVERYONE for coming and making my birthday dinner so special.

Guest List – From Left to Right

Scott Jackson – who I randomly met on New Years day after traveling all day. His taste in music is legendary, by the way! So happy we’ve managed to keep in touch for so long!

Mr. & Mrs. DavidRo and Adrienne – super fun people that I met through Scott Jackson!

Shawna – the BFF

Carrie and Brian – the smartest most loyal people you will ever meet. I love you guys!

Turner – didn’t even bat an eyelash at the Hello Kitty treat bags!

Mariano – who I met at the Anthony Bourdain concert in Bako, thanks to our mutual friend Mike M.

Sara Moffett – the sweetest and most generous person I have met recently. Seriously. Its like we’ve known each other FOREVER!

Mr. and Mrs. Scott Wilson – did you all know Jeff has a brother? Trivia.

Jeff Wilson – Mr. SCV! So happy he made it out! You are awesome Jeff! Top 40 for sure!

Mike D. – D’uh!

Mike Cruz – if you want entertainment…this is your guy!

Daniel (D) – Maximus. Yes, he totally passed the friend test.

Jason McKay – who rushed over and totally made it in time!

Mr. and Mrs. ScottE – seriously, the hippest kids around!

Bree – the coolest 18 year old around who doesn’t mind hanging out with a bunch of us old people!

Greg, Kendra and the kids – it doesn’t matter what we are doing, they are always down to hang!

Yeekai + guest – it was so nice to see them in a different setting! Thanks for coming out!

RE and Jeffrey – thanks for everything!

William – total surprise to see him show up! Really. It meant so much! Aww!

Aleks and Nate – despite having so much to do that day, they still came out and met up with us!

Afterparty: Chinatown Summer Nights!

Next Post!

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Last Saturday, our SCV crew had a Bottega Louie fail that was so massive, Nate immediately declared war. Well, I have been to Bottega Louie 234242 times and have experienced my fair share of service fails, yet I keep going back. And, this is why.

Their pastries are incredible! As I mentioned in this post, if you are ever running late and need a gift? Stop by Bottega Louie for a fruit tart or a box of macaroons. They will box them up for you and even add ribbon. Seriously. Sidenote? Last year, I used pink Bottega Louie ribbon to pull down the projector screen in my classroom. Trufax. Have I told you how much I love the pastries here? Well on this particular Sunday, I ordered my usual cupcake. You may remember last year we had a cupcake tasting at work. Check it out here.

This time around I noticed a flavor I had never tried before. I figured it was strawberry, so imagine my surprise when I was told it was a raspberry cupcake. Yes please! It was amazing. Just amazing! Loved it so much! I don’t think they have this flavor all the time, so I was just there at the right time. I’ve tried about four different flavors and all of them are good too!

This particular day I also had two mini fruit tarts which were CRAZY GOOD! They also have OG Dr. Pepper! Total score! I have had plenty of FAIL service at this place, but if you just want to stop in for dessert you can just grab a seat in the cafe area and enjoy! Seriously! One day I hope Nate will give BL another try, because if I keep coming back despite the service issues, it must be for a reason, amiright?

Bottega Louie

700 S Grand Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90017

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The last stop of our trip was Phillipes, always a classic. I’ve been going to Phillipes since I was a child because…well, its just what you do when you are from LA. It isn’t a life changer or anything, but supposedly they invented the french dip (Cole’s makes the same claim) and its part of history or something.

Can you tell I don’t love Phillipes? I don’t. I think this place forever traumetized me in terms of community tables when I was a child. At any rate, it is across the street and one block over from Union Station so it made sense to conclude our Sandwich Train adventure here.

The place was crowded and the lines were long. Unfortunately I got stuck in a line that did not move. About twenty minutes later everyone had gotten their food and had pretty much finished eating. I was still in line. Honestly? I don’t do well in lines and I wasn’t incredibly hungry. I was more grumpy than hungry at this point. Luckily Jacob had half an uneaten sandwich he offered to share with me. Thanks buddy!

The crew waited for me as I ate my sandwich and then we were off to Union Station to catch our train home. We made it with under 4 minutes to spare! There was running involved. Trufax.

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Everyone has heard about Babycakes, right? You know, the famous vegan bakery in NYC? Well, a little bit ago I learned that they would be opening up shop here in LA! Then, two days ago I found out that their grand opening would actually be today! Now, I’m a huge fan of going to places on the first day, even though it is a foodie faux pas.

Turns out this place is right next door to Cole’s on 6th street. Nice location! I got there expecting to see a line, but I must have gotten there after the morning rush because although there were some people hanging out, I got to order right away. There are about 3 very small tables inside, and plenty of seating outside. I mean, improvised seating along the walkway and a couple of chairs.

I’m not vegan or vegetarian. I can eat gluten. Aside from my fake tomato allergy, thus far in life, I don’t have any food allergies. I decided to order a chocolate cupcake (spelt) which is sweetened with…wait for it…AGAVE! Sounded like a safe bet!

Everything was running smoothly for the first day! The bakery isn’t that big, but you can tell that they are baking throughout the day. Nice! The decor all has a recurring theme and the shop is actually really cute.

The ordering process was a little difficult. They list their offerings right on the case, handwritten, but it is hard to distinguish just what is being offered because it is all just written together. Also, they take your order through a partition glass separating the customer and the employee. However, unless you are taller than the partition (nobody there was taller than the partition – well maybe one guy) you can’t really hear what they are asking you, and they can’t really hear what you want to order. When I indicated that I couldn’t hear, the girl helping me moved over to the bakery case, and that was easier. Did anyone else have this issue?

The coffee was served in a Hollywood Park “vintage” mug which was cute and unexpected. I wondered if it had been thoroughly washed before using it though. Then, after looking at the bottom of the mug, I could still see the thrift store black wax pencil markings. Not going to lie. It made me a bit uncomfortable. Maybe it wasn’t washed as well as it could have been…

Since I paid for the coffee and the cupcake together (and a carrot loaf that I didn’t end up eating) I’m not sure how much the cupcake cost. However, thinking back, it may have come out to about $4 for the cupcake! Yikes! As you know, I have been known to pay $$$ for my cupcakes, but I didn’t feel that the cupcake matched the price.

If you have dietary restrictions, then I’m very glad that you have a bakery to call your own now that Babycakes has come to town. However, I don’t think I will be back to this place. I will continue going to Sprinkles and Big Man Bakes for my cupcakes out in LA.

BabyCakes NYC

130 East 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014

(213) 623-5555

Babycakes NYC in Los Angeles

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