Saturday, June 23, 2012

Los Angeles: Intelligentsia Coffee

When we hit the pavement on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice we came across Intelligentsia Coffee by chance. 

I was glad to find yet another coffee roasting house (thank you California) that took its coffee seriously and pumped out a tasty, fragrant brew. 

I was also glad to be proving wrong the misconception that there's bad coffee in America. Quite surprising really, this misconception, considering Americans are serious coffee drinkers. Throughout our trip in the USA I came to realise that its (coffee) is just different. Americans even have different coffee percolating apparatus that I am ashamed to say, I had never seen before until this trip. But then how many Americans can say they have the ability to make Greek coffee with just the right amount of crema? ...but I digress.

It was good to see a decent range of organic teas on offer as well. A hoorah to the past, a throwback to the good ol' days when America was under English rule. It seems one of the main reasons why coffee became so popular in the first place in the States was to stick it to the British once America became independent. They created their own coffee culture by relinquishing the culture enforced by the British during their rule.

This place was cool. The vibe was relaxed. The coffee was great. The crowd was varied and tech savvy, casually flicking through their smartphones while they lined up patiently. Hipster-ish even. Damn those head sock wearing hippies, they're everywhere and they find all the cool places!

What I didn't know then, was that Intelligentsia started out in Chicago, later opening up shop in Los Angeles and New York. Coast to coast domination.

If you're looking for an urban oasis with good coffee in Venice, check this place out, but be prepared to line up during peak times...which seems to be like all the time, at least the whole hour or so we were there.

Intelligentsia Coffee on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 22, 2012

Los Angeles: Pizzeria Mozza

According to some, Pizzeria Mozza has the best slice in LA. I didn't eat pizza anywhere else in Lalaland, so I don't have an opinion on this. I can only compare to pizza I've eaten elsewhere (Australia, San Francisco, Rome etc).

I'll be honest, when we hit up Mozza I wasn't too educated on things Mario Batali, Nancy Silverton or Joseph Bastianich, but they seemed to have a great reputation, especially if the line up to snag a seat in this place was anything to go by. I was prepared, our stopover in LA was only two nights so I wasn't going to risk it, I made a reservation ahead of time.

The pizza wasn't bad, just overcooked in my opinion and perhaps not the best combination of ingredients (they were competing for taste on this particular slice). What stood out for me were:
  • the appetizers
  • the dessert
  • what seemed to be (and I'm probably wrong because I'm only assuming) a local West Hollywood crowd
  • the ambience (its noisy so if you like a vibrant vibe, you'll dig it); and
  • the Italian wine list.

And I mean it about the appetizers (especially the bone marrow) and dessert, they were hands down delectable, finger licking good. The two lovely elderly ladies sitting at the table next to us got more than they bargained for that night - they delighted in my constant groaning sounds and exclamations of "yum!" and "that tastes sooooo good!".

Bone marrow al forno - $12

Rub that delicious pickled garlic on the bread, then spread the marrow on. Yum!

Insalata mista - $8

Burrata crostone with Swiss chard,spring onion & Balsamico - $9

Finnochiona salame, mozzarella, tomato & Fresno chiles - $17

Banana gelato pie with hot fudge & candied hazelnuts - $12

As our trip through the states progressed, I came to realise how popular and how much influence Mario Batali has in the culinary sphere. I'm still not quite sure what it is about him? Is it his business mogulness - the fact he has opened numerous (successful?) restaurants throughout the states and abroad; the recent controversy surrounding his businesses; his influences on cuisine (whatever they are); his expertness on regional Italian cuisine; being an author and television personality; or the mere fact that he just manages to make so many people happy with his food? I think it's a combination of all these factors, and the fact that he is not a skinny man.

Never trust a skinny chef, they have to be sporting a pot belly to be trustworthy and likeable, nay, to be passionate about and to produce delicious food. Mario's shape, his roundness, his pudgy pink rosy cheeks and neck rolls remind me of a happy free range piglet roaming through beautiful green countryside, fattening up for slaughter and my imminent delight and enjoyment. By no means do I intend to be disrespectful or condescending. It's this picture of him I see that makes me think "this man enjoys his food, I want to enjoy it too, I want to eat what he eats".

I know you want to eat it too. Next time you're in Los Angeles, make sure to hit up Pizzeria Mozza, or if you're after a slightly more upmarket non-pizza version, head to Osteria Mozza conveniently located next door.

Oh, and I still don't know who Nancy Silverton or Joseph Bastianich are...

Pizzeria Mozza on Urbanspoon