Friday November 20th, 2009 in On the Road
Two weeks ago, Mr. B and I left the cornfields behind and headed out to Los Angeles for a long weekend. We flew West so I could attend an incredible two day course on food styling and photography. Taught by Denise and Cindie, the dynamic duo behind Food Fanatics
, and the totally terrific Matt of Matt Bites
, it was an information packed hands on weekend and I loved every minute.
As soon as the plane touched down Mr. B and I hopped in a rental car and navigated our way to the closest Kogi BBQ truck. If you haven’t heard about the Kogi Trucks, they are a street food phenomenon that has taken L.A. (and much of the food world) by storm. Serving tacos with Korean flair, they announce their locations daily on Twitter and are known to attract long lines of followers. Fortunately when we pulled up to the truck parked by the curb of a Toyota dealership only a dozen people were waiting in line. Having avoided airport food all afternoon we were starving. We ordered four of their famous short rib tacos to go and devoured them while standing under a street light and watching people wait in line. Each bite of the tender meat was juicy, flavorful, and lived up to my definition of good street food. (An interesting story about how Kogi launched a business using Twitter can be found here on NPR.)
Over the next two days Mr. B gallivanted around the city visiting museums
, wine stores
, and Nordstroms
, while I sat in class and soaked up a wealth of tips, celebrity gossip, and useful information from Denise, Cindie, and Matt. I learned that food stylists will often use many inedible tools to make food look perfect- including polygrip, scotchguard spray, and even museum wax! It is a mix of art, food, and science that is fascinating. In the pictures below, pancakes are perfectly stacked with makeup sponges acting as hidden ‘lifts’, Cindie styles a hamburger that was finished using a kitchen torch, and Matt’s studio is as stylish and beautiful as his photography.
The second day was dedicated to sourcing, styling, and photographing our own ‘shot’. I went the no-cooking route as our hotel room didn’t have a stove, and created this image of wine and cheese.
In the evenings we took full advantage of being in a big city and lived it up a bit enjoying incredible hummus and delicious Lebanese food at Open Sesame
and a boundary pushing omakase dinner at Mori
. Several different types of uni
, a sweet shrimp Fuji apple confit, and homemade tofu made eating at Mori an incredible experience.
One evening, we had the pleasure of a meal with Catherine from
Unconfidential Cook and her lovely family. Catherine pulled out all the stops and made a killer dinner with Mexican-Chicken lime soup, the best bacon wrapped meatloaf, and out-of-this-world I-want-to-faint-just-thinking-about-it chocolate cake. It was wonderful to meet them in person, and oh man can she cook!
Despite all of this incredible food, Mr. B still had an itch to scratch. And that itch was an In-N-Out cheeseburger. I can’t really put my finger on what makes In-N-Out burgers so special or why they have a cult-like-status. They are simply great fast food- a phrase you usually don’t see on this site! Our first stop came just after we finished the incredible sushi at Mori and I was full to the gills (sorry). As we got into the rental car Mr. B looked over at me and said, “In-N-Out?” Incredulously I looked at him and said, “Are you serious? I’m so full I can’t think of eating anything until tomorrow!” He was quite serious, and so we found ourselves sitting in the dimly lit parking lot of an In-N-Out at 11:30 pm while Mr. B gleefully savored every bite of his burger. Maybe sushi really is chick food…
On our last morning we squeezed in a few more visits to wine shops and Trader Joe’s, before driving across L.A. to check out Cube Marketplace. You may remember Cube as the source of wonderful artisan polenta and secret ingredient apricot vinegar. Well I wanted to visit the store in person and see what a place that sells such special food looked like.
Imagine a cozy neighborhood café with soft lighting, warm red walls, and friendly staff. Now add shelves all around the café filled with unique, fascinating, and delicious items handpicked by a buyer with excellent taste and imported just for you to enjoy. Then notice a bar in the center of the cafe filled with the best artisan cheeses and charcuterie available in the U.S. Yes a place like this really exists! Upon seeing my wide-eyed excitement, Mr. B immediately threatened to make me drive to the airport through traffic to remember why packing everything and moving to L.A. wasn’t a great idea. (I’m still not quite convinced.) We sat down and enjoyed a memorable meal, ordering more food than was reasonable because it all sounded incredible.
Burrata cheese (my favorite
) on a bed of heirloom tomato slices and roasted cippolinis in aged balsamic. Apple balsamic braised bacon with Italian white figs. Grilled cheese on a house made brioche with a velvet tomato soup. A Naples style fresh black truffle pizza with a fried egg on top. Pumpkin pie ice cream with chocolate covered pepitas, and a warm persimmon tart with cinnamon ice cream. It was serious food in relaxed and casual atmosphere. We paid for the meal and begrudgingly left for the airport with full bellies and the desire to visit L.A. again very soon.
*All meals, mentions, and reviews in this post were unsolicited, paid for by me, and represent my own opinions- since you would expect nothing less!*