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Entries in Coffee (6)

Friday
Aug312012

Short Cake & Single Origin 

*Post by Mark.

When Short Order debuted in the Farmers Market last winter it was only one half of the equation. Soon thereafter Short Cake was born - a bakery located just a scone's throw from the farm-to-table burger restaurant - making the entire vision of Chef Nancy Silverton and the late Chef Amy Pressman complete. 

Whether grabbing a pastry to go or a more savory meal at Short Cake's counter (think open-faced toasts, salads and sandwiches), market-goers can appreciate an extensive menu of baked goods made with top notch, locally-sourced ingredients like Straus Family Creamery Dairy and TCHO chocolate. And the caffeine is provided by Single Origin Coffee, brewing up a collection of jitters-inducing espresso drinks and hand-brews from Santa Cruz's Verve Coffee Roasters

 

 

If Short Order and Short Cake have breathed new life into an old guard of restaurants and vendors at the market, one needs look no further then their young chefs for the inspiration. Christian Paige embodies the ingredient-driven mission statement at Short Order, while Amy Pressman's vision lives on through Short Cake's head baker Hourie Sahakian. The Glendale-native's passion for baking was discovered by Pressman in a chance meeting at, of all places, the gym. A few short years and a career-change later, Sahakian finds herself entrusted with running Pressman's dream bakery. One need only gaze into the cornucopic glass cases, brimming with unique, alluring treats to see how well she's capitalizing on the opportunity. 

 

 

Nick of Treasure LA and I recently had the privilege to sample our way through Short Cake's glass case. We munched on chocolate chip cookies, walnut shortbread, and house-made jam crumbles (all pictured below) that use jam made specially for the bakery by LA's own small-batch preserve company SQIRL. Let's file this experience as way too much of a good thing... the delicious goodies just kept coming and coming.

 

 

And how about a few signature drinks from the coffee bar with which to wash all the food down? Why not! There's the Salted Caramel and the Affagato, sure... but the highlight of the bunch is Aunt Nancy's Shakerato. The aptly named drink combines whole milk, Pacifica wildflower honey and enough espresso to jump start an eighteen wheeler. Who needs bath salts when you can have four shots of espresso coursing through your bloodstream? This stuff is as good as it is potent. 

 

 

And because the blondies aren't the only ones who get to have fun, Sahakian proudly offers her own creation, the Brunette (below, top). Pinenuts and thyme highlight the rectangular bar, while its darker complexion comes from the use of brown muscavado sugar. We're also treated with cornflake-topped cereal cookies (below, top). My chocolate and peanut butter cravings are sated by a Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar and a delightful triangle that layers two types of chocolate over crisped rice (below, left). And we have two slightly more savory show-stealers in the bacon cheddar and Comté thyme croissants (below, right).  

 

 

To top all this off, we get to share an off-menu Short Order Black Forrest custard shake (below) with Short Cake regular and pastry enthusiast Nastassia of Let Me Eat Cake. While I was lucky enough to head home to nap off the ensuing sugar coma, I'd recommend enjoying the treats in moderation, or along with some of the savory options like a house-made tuna salad croissant sandwich.

 

 

Short Cake / Single Origin Coffee - Mid-City West
The Original Farmers Market
6333 West 3rd St. (Stall 316)
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 761-7976
Hours:  Mon-Sat: 8a-9p  /  Sun: 8a-7:30p

 

Short Cake on Urbanspoon Single Origin Coffee on Urbanspoon

Wednesday
Feb082012

Black Cat Cafe & Bakery

*Post by Angela.

Based on our posts, it would be easy to assume that we never eat at a place more than once. That's mostly true - even if we like a place a lot, there are countless wonderful food adventures waiting to be had, and limited time, money and stomach space. But when we don't have the energy to devote to the quest for new restaurants to try (which happens most often at lunch on the weekends), we do have our neighborhood go-to options, like All About the Bread, Food + Lab, and new-to-the-roster Mendocino Farms. Recently we visited Black Cat Bakery on Fairfax, a potential addition to the weekend rotation.

 

 

Black Cat Bakery is cute as all get-out, exactly the kind of place I could see us visiting often for brunch. The outside patio, with plenty of seating, is a great place to lounge with a canine friend on warm days. Inside, an array of baked goods takes up a substantial portion of the tiny establishment.

 

 

The food here is pretty solid with a nod to the healthy and a tiny twist of the unexpected. For example, we've seen the combination of applewood smoked honey-cured bacon bits, apples, shallots and cheddar before, but never in the middle of a four-egg omelette. The result isn't mind-blowing, but it's nice and different. In contrast, the accompanying skillet potatoes are pretty standard.

 

 

The bibimbop-style farro takes us on more of a left turn. Swiss chard, roast tomatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, fresh burrata, and a sunny-side up egg top a heaping helping of farro for a dish that fills us up without weighing us down.

 

 

Black Cat also does lunch and dinner (though it's never open past 8 - click here for hours), offering a selection of sandwiches and salads.

While we won't write about it again, I wouldn't be surprised if you find us here on a sunny weekend in the future.

Black Cat Café and Bakery on Urbanspoon

Friday
Jul012011

(How to eat your way through) San Francisco's Ferry Building & Farmers Market

*Post by Mark.

Staying in a hotel in San Francisco's Financial District has its perks. $50 overnight hotel valet parking isn't one of them, but being able to saunter over to the Embarcadero each morning to enjoy the Ferry Building certainly is. Even if we weren't already close, this is an essential destination. The Ferry Building hosts a variety of high-end culinary delights, be you in the mood for coffee, pastries, meats and cheeses, oysters or even dinner and drinks at fine-dining restaurants like Il Cane Russo or the Slanted Door. Come on Thursday or Saturday during the day, and in addition to the gourmet artisanal servings from the brick and mortars, a jaw-dropping farmers market wraps around the entire building that puts Los Angeles farmer's markets to serious shame. Keep your eyes peeled, you're likely to run into a slew of San Francisco's top chefs, rounding out their restaurants' market-driven menus for the week. 

 

 

On our most recent trip to the Ferry Building, we arrived with a checklist of destinations and every intention of turning a walking tour through the building and market into the perfect multi-course meal. 

 

 

We got an early jump on the masses, which meant we also needed to kick things off with a jump start of drip-coffee from Blue Bottle. This was clearly an idea that all the other early-risers in the building had. After about a half an hour in line (below, left), we were sipping away on our pour-overs (below, right).

 

  

 

We also snagged one of Blue Bottle's caramelized 'Beligian Style' leige waffles (below). The attractive treat was far more savory than sweet and gave us just enough fuel to forge towards our next destination.

 

 

Our next stop was Boccalone, San Francisco's premiere stopover for all things pork-related. "Tasty Salted Pig Parts" is both an efficient and enticing description of what you're getting yourself into.  We'd had more than our fair share of Boccalone meats the night before at Incanto (and if you squint, you can see a Food Network poster featuring Incanto Chef Chris Cosentino in Boccalone's store (below, left)). Before we left, we eyed their tasty meat cones (below, right).

 

 

We walked out with a handful of purchases (below) to bring back to Los Angeles with us. Angela found some head cheese, lardo (for only $20 more we could've gotten the Lardo Iberico de Bellota, which is imported from Spain and I'm sure would've totally been worth it) and some spicy Nduja sausage. The head cheese would make a great snack later, and Angela made a fantastic meal using the Nduja and lardo

 

 

Oh yeah... and I got one of their Salumi Cones (below) - the perfect pre-breakfast treat with which to stroll further down the Ferry Building. 

 

 

With *only* a coffee, waffle and meat cone in my stomach, I was starting to get hungry for breakfast and stopped in to Sidekicks. This is Cowgirl Creamery's sandwich-dealing right arm, located next door to the creamery. Their sandwich de resistance is their gooey grilled cheese sandwich. I was drawn in by the special egg and mozzarella sandwich (below), which featured hard-boiled farm eggs with creamy buffalo mozzarella cheese. Unfortunately, the sandwich was sorely lacking in the mozzarella department. 

 

 

Next up? Far West Fungi, the storefront for a family-owned farm, which is equipped to handle all of your fungal needs. 

 

 

Our main intention was to get our hand on some of their dried candy cap mushrooms (below, left). Candy caps have a unique taste and smell very reminiscent of maple syrup. The mushrooms have even inspired an ice cream flavor at Humphry Slocombe, and Far West carries pints and popsicles (below, right) of it in their freezer.  We just made our own version of the ice cream at home, but H.S.'s version is spot-on - smooth, creamy, and never in a million years would you guess it's made from mushrooms. 

 

 

On Thursdays and Saturdays the real treat is outside at the Farmer's Market. Not only will you find all the fresh produce you could ever dream of, there are also all sorts of vendors slinging lunch options. We were drawn towards 4505 Meats on the lookout for some of their world famous, melt-in-your-mouth chicarrones (we ended up taking three bags home with us). 

 

 

Their bacon maple breakfast sausage sandwich (below) comes with aged gruyere, an over-easy egg and peppercress, served on a housemade griddled bun. It was delicious, filling and messy.

 

 

I can't imagine a better way to spend a Thursday or Saturday morning then gorging myself on such inexpensive, amazing food with a backdrop as beautiful as this (below).

 

 

Boccalone on UrbanspoonFar West Fungi on UrbanspoonBlue Bottle Coffee on Urbanspoon

Cowgirl Creamery on Urbanspoon4505 Meats on Urbanspoon

Monday
Jan312011

Food + Lab

*Post by Mark.

The simple signage (below) out front of the Santa Monica Boulevard storefront says it all. Food Lab brands their store with the international symbols for 'Heart', 'Food' and 'Happy'. Does the heart stand for love or heart-healthy? A strong case could be made either way. If it's not the collection of quality ingredients served inside that keeps me coming back, it's the superior service and branded smiles on the baristas and servers who man the register and deliver your lunch.

 

 

Breakfast, sandwiches and salads can be spruced up with a supplemental selection from a case full of fresh sides (below, left). Those browsing the case will also discover an assortment of winning takeaways, like housemade speck, Boccalone salami and Dean & Deluca sauces.

Diners sip on coffee or house-made juices while eating pastries out front or in the larger seating area out back (below, right), where the only thing that disrupts the tranquil afternoon is the occasional rumbling engine from the Thunder Road Motorcycle Shop next door. 

 

 

Coffee drinks come in big ol' bowls (below). The portion is appreciated, though a handle would be a nice gesture to keep me from slurping and dribbling my latte down my chin. In spite of how much may or may not make it into my mouth, it's some of the better coffee in town.

 

 

The organic European-style yogurt with berries (below, right) is one of the lighter options on the breakfast menu. During the weekends, you can also fill up on organic egg dishes like the smoked salmon and creme fraiche omelette. 

 

 

The breakfast menu also hosts a collection of sandwiches. The hard-boiled egg sandwich (below) is served on wheat bread and loaded with juicy ingredients like farm raised bacon, watercress & aioli. Sandwiches are served a la carte and range from $7-$12. The price is usually justified by the quality of ingredients, as you'll find stuff like fresh figs or lingonberry chutney on your sandwich.


 

Salads are no different, ranging from $9.50-13. Food + Lab's plates of greens are loaded with impressive toppings. The crispy prosciutto & fig salad is served with halloumi, candied pecans, balsamic and apricot over a bed of arugula. 

 

 

For lunch, you'll find an entirely new assortment of sandwiches. I enjoyed the chicken salad and Cuban-tyle sandwiches, respectively. The delicious organic turkey breast (below) is served on wheat with brie, pear, honey and fig compote. Balancing out the perk of the extensive menu is that Food + Lab tends to run out of some of those quality ingredients with regularity.  

 

 

Having already catered and cooked for celebs like Gwen Stefani and David Beckham, the mother and son team of Esther and Nino Linsmayer has turned their catering business into a collection of storefront Food + Lab markets around town. Come for lunch or just for coffee, Food + Lab is a great place to meet friends, get some work done or just waste a couple hours on a warm spring afternoon. For those wanting to finish their meal with dessert, the Lab also carries ice cream sandwiches from @Coolhaus and delicious cookies from @DeLuscious to sate your sweet tooth.

 

Food + Lab Cafe & Marketplace on Urbanspoon

Thursday
Aug192010

Busboys & Poets

*Post by Mark.

Much like the name already suggests, Busboys & Poets is quite the jack of all trades. The giant restaurant also doubles (quintiples? sextoubles?) as a bookstore, coffeehouse, theatre, performance center, speakeasy and community center, among other things. For us, the 14th and V location (BusBoys & Poets has three locations in the area) has become the perfect Saturday morning hang. The casual environment lets us relax, read and write as we sip on coffee and work up an appetite for lunch.

 

 

The large, brightly painted interior is formed into several sections: a bookstore, a lounge/coffee shop, a bar, and then a more traditional dining area. Much of the restaurant, as a splattering of quotes through the menu will tell you, is inspired by the life and poetry of Langston Hughes. With a reference to the poet's early life as a busboy in the 1930's, Busboys & Poets meets us at the intersection of the food, politics, literature and the arts. 

Started in 2005, by Anas Shallal, an Iraqi-American artist, Busboys immediately became a common meeting place for progressive activists, artists and particularly those opposed to the Iraqi war. If you look hard enough, you'll also find a few Iraqi touches on the diverse menu.

 

 

Speaking of the menu, Busboys and Poets still lists 'food' before any of its other trades and the food-first mentality shows with approachable menu options that defy expectations of coffee shop grub. I got the chicken salad sandwich (below), which to my delight was filled with apples, golden raisins, and walnuts, and served with avocado, lettuce, tomato, and onion on multigrain bread. Not only was the presentation artistic and colorful, but it's also served with some delicious sweet potato fries. 

 

 

Angela got the yellow tomato gazpacho (below), served with guacamole and basil oil. When another colorful dish arrived at our table, I almost started wondering if all the food had been designed to match the brightly colored walls. As for the taste, the yellow tomato gazpacho was really good, tart, and creamy.

 

 

Angela also got the Cobb salad, with mixed field greens, grilled chicken, bacon, tomatoes, avocado, hard-boiled egg, and caramelized onion tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette with blue cheese. While pretty straight-forward, the salad didn't disappoint in the least. Using freshy, hearty ingredients, the salad was more than worthy of being its own meal. 

 

 

While I still may prefer the layout and server-less scheme over at Clarendon's Northside Social, I can't help but love what Busboys has going for it. Not only has the venue helped bring the respective communities together and helped educate and inform its patrons, it also has very solid food for very solid prices. 

Busboys and Poets on Urbanspoon