Sunday, August 31, 2014

Last day in LA - Union Station, The Cheesecake Factory, LA Public Library and Border Grill

On our last day in Los Angeles, we went to a nearby Starbucks for breakfast - I ordered their blueberry porridge, which I alas discovered way too late, as it is not on the menu board.  As we were leaving Starbucks, we were witness to the chopper at the top of this post, flying very close to the buildings as part of a movie being filmed nearby.  Many of the streets in the area were cordoned off to facilitate filming.

After breakfast, I took Tim to Union Station.  We didn't want to catch the train - rather, I wanted Tim to see the Union Station building, which is striking both inside and out:

Our next stop was to visit the Farmers Market and The Grove in West Hollywood.  We made the mistake of choosing to go there by bus instead of train, and ended up on a Saturday morning bus so crowded that we couldn't see where we were going for most of the way. 
After a brief turn around the Farmers Market and picking up a couple of bargains at Sur La Table, we went for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, our homage to The Big Bang Theory:

We were not familiar with the system for getting a table at The Cheesecake Factory, so went upstairs and sat down. We were promptly shepherded back downstairs, as you have to register at the counter first, then wait in a teeny tiny reception area with a lot of other people until your beeper goes off to let you know that it is your turn to ascend the stairway to heaven:

On being seated, we were presented with a menu with a dizzying array of choices:

We were also presented with a bread basket with some very nice bread:

I made the serious mistake of trying to save my calories for cheesecake, and ordered the SkinnyLicious Hamburger:

It comes deconstructed and you put it together yourself with as much ketchup as takes your fancy:

Unfortunately, it was not very tasty - it rated up there with the Denny's  Fit Fare meal in lack-lustreness.  There wasn't even any salad dressing.  Yeah, I know that it was meant to be "skinny licious", but low calorie doesn't have to mean rabbit food.  I was wistfully eyeing off Tim's normal burger and fries for the whole meal.

I was having some serious food envy in the dessert department too.  I ordered the Mango Key Lime Cheesecake, which I expected to be fresh and zesty:

Instead, it was way too sweet and cloying for my tastes.  On the other hand, Tim's White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake was just devine:

Luckily he did give me a taste.

We travelled back to downtown LA by train, being a quicker and easier option than the bus.

I then took Tim to the LA Central Library:

That might sound weird, but again, it is a fabulous building and well worth a look.  For example, they have an amazing art installation, visible from the atrium at all levels of the library:

And lovely wall murals:

And crazy book-themed statues:

If you are tired and need somewhere to chill for a while, the library is a great place to do it, as it is cool and quiet with chairs to sit on and books to read.

Before departing for the airport, we had dinner at the LA Downtown branch of Border Grill, a Mexican establishment:

Our friendly waitress loved our Aussie accents, and brought us out the ubiquitous corn chips and chilli to start:

I ordered the Tortilla Soup ($10) - roasted tomato chipotle broth with chicken, corn tortillas and panella cheese:

and the Carne Asada Tortillas ($17) - grilled steak, caramelized onions, salsa fresca and guacamole served with rice and black beans:

I also ordered a final margarita (the prices were too good to refuse).  We enjoyed the Border Grill - it was a great place to have our beloved Mexican/South Western cuisine before heading back to Australia, our Route 66/US odyssey complete.

800 N Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
United States

189 The Grove Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90036
United States

189 The Grove Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90036
United States
Ph: +1 323 634 0511
630 W 5th St
Los Angeles, CA 90071
United States
Ph: +1 213 228 7000
Downtown LA
445 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90071
United States
Ph: +1 213 486 5171

Friday, August 29, 2014

FFWD - Chanterelles with Napa and Nuts - Sort of

For our final August French Friday with Dorie recipe, we were to make Chanterelles with Napa and Nuts.  Luckily Dorie said any mushrooms were OK, as Chanterelles are not common in this part of the world.  I used white cap mushrooms instead.

However, in the spirit of Cher, I didn't stop there.  I swapped Napa for drumhead cabbage (because it was a quarter of the price), and I swapped hazelnuts for walnuts (because that is what I had).

This was such a delicious, interesting way to serve mushrooms.  It was so easy, and so much more tasty than just frying mushrooms in butter.

To see what the other Doristas thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the website.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WWDH - Apple Date and Cinnamon Muffins with Maple Oats

My pick for this week's Wednesday with Donna Hay is Apple Date and Cinnamon Muffins with Maple Oats.  Donna's muffin recipes are always winners in my house, so I was happy to make another of her  great muffin recipes.

As with most muffin recipes, this one was easy peasy to make - no stand mixer required.  The hardest part was chopping the dates and peeling and grating the apples.

I didn't have quite enough maple syrup left, so I used some golden syrup to make up the balance.

The resulting muffins were delicious:

The Medjool dates added a lovely moist squidginess that contrasted with the coarser texture of the oats.  The grated apple also provided some welcome moisture to these muffins.
Verdict - I'd make them again.
To see what Margaret, Chaya and Sarah thought, visit their websites.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Red Velvet Cake from Sweet and Vicious - Take II

A little while ago, I made Libby Summers' red velvet cake from Sweet and Vicious for Edna's birthday.  It was so good that I got a request to make it again from someone who hadn't tried it the first time - and I readily acceded.

The results are pictured at the top of this post - I think it went even better second time around with the same adaptations that I made last time (including making just one third of the icing).

Here are some of my colleagues enjoying the cake with me (the cake is sadly out of view):

This is my slice:

I was so disappointed when I dropped the last bite on the floor!  This cake has the most wonderful smooth texture, a tangy taste, and goes perfectly with the cream cheese frosting.   A perfect cake from my perspective.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

La Brea Tar Pits, Beverley Hills, Hollywood and Caffe Primo


Our Los Angeles hotel was near a Starbucks.  Our branch of Starbucks was hidden inside an office building, and on weekday afternoons, sold half price frappes from 3pm to 5pm.  Tim and I felt like aliens buying ordinary coffees, as frappes were clearly the drinks du jour.  The office workers snapping up the frappes looked as though they worked at a trendy IT company or similar, so we felt pretty daggy in our T-shirts and jeans in that crowd.

We also headed for Starbucks for breakfast.  I bought the gorgeous slice of raspberry yoghurt loaf at the top of this post as a takeaway treat for later.  It tasted as good as it looked - a rare thing with bought cake.

I started off with a raspberry lemonade iced tea that I remembered from my last visit:

and supplemented it with a yoghurt and granola with blueberries:

Tim had this cheese, spinach and sun-dried tomato panini:

After breakfast, we joined our coach for a city tour of LA.  I saw this cool Chihuahua mural on the side of a building:

and this garden of lamp posts, which has apparently appeared in heaps of movies, but I've never seen it:

Our first stop was at La Brea Tar Pits:

Never fear, the elephant is not real.  However, it is rather creepy thinking about all the creatures that have drowned in the murky depths of those thick black tar pits.

Here is a little plaque explaining how the tar pits came to be gifted to the people of LA:

There are statues all over Hancock Park of animals that drowned in the tar pits:

Next stop was The Farmers Market in West Hollywood:

before continuing our journey to Beverley Hills (that's Dennis's arm in the shot): 

There were no swimming pools or movie stars, but there were lots of famous streets and places:

Pretty Woman anyone?

Or Norma Desmond?

We then cruised into Hollywood:

We visited Grauman's Chinese Theatre:

Here's Gregory Peck's hand and feet prints (I adore Atticus Finch) in the concrete outside the theatre:

And nearby is the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

Across the road is the famous Roosevelt Hotel:

Tim and I then went on an optional Movie Stars Homes tour - you can't not do something touristy and tacky.   Our bus driver was a lady who drove at top speed, up hill and down dale, round winding bends and through thick traffic, and all the while taking non-stop.  It was a wild ride!

Among many, many other things, we went past the infamous Chateau Marmont:

and got a fantastic view of the Hollywood sign:

and saw Mulholland Drive:

That night for dinner, Tim and I went to Caffe Primo in downtown LA:

I ordered the turkey meatloaf with brown rice and kale, a bargain at $10:

It was pretty tasty.  For dessert, Tim and I shared this lovely slice of tart:

and I finished off with a latte ($3.50):

It was a perfect end to a perfect day.

612 S Flower St, Suite 103
Los Angeles CA 90017
United States
Ph: +1 213 895 5012