Category Archives: Travel Adventures

Four Places To Nosh in Los Angeles

Addictive Short Order spuds.

Addictive Short Order Spuds.

 

On vacation late last year in Los Angeles, my husband and I were all about spontaneity — meaning we dined without reservations or a specific game plan in mind. And yes, that made it feel like a real vacation, indeed.

Here are some of my favorite eats from that excursion:

Short Order

Often referred to in shorthand as “Nancy Silverton’s burger place,” Short Order was created by Silverton, who started an artisan bread revolution in Los Angeles before opening her now famous Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza with celeb Chef Mario Batali and restaurateur Joe Bastianich.

Silverton planned to open Short Order in 2011 with Amy Pressman, once her former assistant pastry chef when the two worked together at Spago. But tragically, Pressman died of cancer shortly before the restaurant opened.

Today, Executive Chef Christian Page carries out Pressman’s vision of a gourmet diner serving food with top-notch organic ingredients.

Located in the popular Farmers Market on W. 3rd Street, Short Order is tucked in a quieter back corner of the complex. It’s two stories with seating both inside and out around glassed-in fire-pit tables.

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A Visit to Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel

Executive Chef Justin Cogley in the kitchen of Aubergine at L'Auberge Carmel.

Executive Chef Justin Cogley in the kitchen of Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel.

Justin Cogley’s first career may have been as a professional figure skater with “Disney on Ice.”

But these days, you can find him spinning circles around haute cuisine as executive chef of Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel.

Cogley, who started his culinary career working at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, developed a passion for fine food and wine as his skating career took him all over Asia, Australia and Europe. At Aubergine, a jewel-box of a restaurant in Carmel-by-the-Sea, he’s so dazzled diners that he was even named one of Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs 2013.”

He’s all about local ingredients, even going diving with his cooks to gather their own seaweed for beautifully composed dishes.

Late this summer, I had a chance to experience his skills when I was invited as a guest to stay overnight at the inn and enjoy dinner.

The inn is situated in the heart of the charming village.

The inn is situated in the heart of the charming village.

Housed in a three-story, European-style building constructed in 1929, the charming inn features 20 guest rooms set around a brick courtyard with a bubbling fountain and plenty of patio chairs for lounging.

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Maui Part IV: Eating Around the Island

Dining in the open air at Merriman's Kapalua.

Dining in the open air at Merriman’s Kapalua.

Merriman’s Kapalua

Thanks to the Maui visitor’s and conventioner’s bureau, which invited me to be its guest on Maui, I was able to sample an array of island eats — from low-brow to high-brow.

Chef Peter Merriman is one of the original founders of Hawaii regional cuisine, and his restaurants have long been a favorite of any visitor to the islands. Ninety-percent of his ingredients are sourced locally, and the seafood is caught sustainably.

With its ocean-side setting, Merriman’s Kapalua restaurant is a great place to watch the sunset while you dine.

An assortment of fried root chips is set down on the table, accompanied by smoked taro hummus, and fresh, crunchy slices of cucumber and radish.

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Maui Part III: Two Very Different Resorts

Sous Chef April Matsumoto delivers fresh-made garden smoothies at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.

Sous Chef April Matsumoto delivers fresh-made garden smoothies at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.

Ritz-Carlton Kapalua

When I was invited to tour the organic culinary garden at the posh Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, where I was staying courtesy of the Maui tourism bureau, I was expecting a modest plot.

Not the spacious grove of paradise that the hotel has managed to create past the swimming pools and near the auxiliary tennis courts, which will soon be torn out to enlarge the garden.

Frank the gardener, who’s a former engineer, tends the lush swath fragrant with kaffir lime and lemongrass. All manner of herbs, greens, figs and citrus grow here. Flowers are planted all around, including a shrine of orchids, the blooms of which had been discarded by guests that Frank has then brought back to life. Butterflies flutter all around, landing here and there on the many blooms.

A paradise for people and nature.

A paradise for people and nature.

RitzCarltonKale

The larger of two culinary gardens, which will expand to become even larger in the future.

The larger of two culinary gardens, which will expand to become even larger in the future.

Guests of the resort can enjoy herb garden tours on Mondays. The highlight is when Sous Chef April Matsumoto comes bounding down the garden path with a tray of smoothies for everyone. Made with many of the home-grown goodies from the garden, that morning’s smoothie was redolent of banana, papaya, pineapple, kiwi, strawberries, kaffir lime, spinach, celery and cilantro.

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Maui Part II: The Island’s Bountiful Agriculture and Aquaculture

Snails -- being raised for escargot and other gourmet dishes -- on an urban Maui farm.

Snails — being raised for escargot and other gourmet dishes — on an urban Maui farm.

Napili FLO Farm

If former massage therapist Monica Bogar has her way, Maui restaurants will some day spotlight organic snails on their menus.

After all, there’s already a waiting list of restaurants eager for the mollusks she is growing aquaponically in ingenious systems devised by her and her Uncle Tony. I had a chance to visit their homestead on the west side of the island, during my trip to Maui, courtesy of the tourism and conventioner’s bureau.

An urban farmer for the past 12 years, Bogar started her Napili FLO Farm a year ago. She now sells her microgreens, edible flowers and watercress to Maui restaurants such as Star Noodle, Hula Grill, and Pineapple Grill, the latter where Isaac Bancaco is chef and a huge supporter of hers.

Monica Bogar and Chef Isaac Bancaco inspect one of Bogar's aquaponics systems.

Monica Bogar and Chef Isaac Bancaco inspect one of Bogar’s aquaponics systems.

Pick you way through Uncle Tony’s backyard to find a miraculous series of tanks — built from scavenged items, including styrofoam boxes, old fish tanks and a grandson’s former wash tub. “We are aquaponics dumpster-divers,” Bogar says proudly with a chuckle.

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