Today’s Contender: McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Flavor: Vanilla Bean
This not so boring Vanilla Bean ice cream may just be the best vanilla ice cream I’ve ever had. I have in fact, tried a few of McConnell’s flavors and think the texture of their ice cream to be exactly what I love — rich and creamy, smooth beyond compare made with premium, all natural ingredients. Which makes their vanilla bean to die for. Just as the carton says, a perfect accompaniment to pie! But it’s damn good alone as well.
McConnell’s ice cream is a Santa Barbara, California tradition going back over 70 years. But of late, they have joined the Los Angeles ice cream boom with scoop shops downtown, in Los Feliz and Studio City. You can also find them in nearly every grocery store here in town for those that don’t live on the east side — at the premium price of $9.99/pt.
There may be more trendy ice cream shops everywhere here in LA these days but I’d pick McConnel’s over any of them to be honest.
Today’s Contender: Nancy’s Fancy by Nancy Silverton
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Flavor: Butterscotch Budino
The Butterscotch Budino at Nancy Silverton’s Pizzeria Mozza is undoubtedly one of my favorite desserts in town (one she stole by the way from restaurant Jar and then made famous) and now she has interpreted that same amazing dessert into a gelato version. WOW! Just WOW! It’s f-in amazing. Rich and thick and smooth and creamy. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! And it’s available in your grocery store — although I hear scoop shops are in the works.
There isn’t anything Nancy Silverton does that isn’t the best in class. I dream of her pizza. Now she’s tackled my other favorite food and it too is worthy of dreams. Even though super rich, I couldn’t stop eating it. You will be marveled at the texture — and let’s face it, ice cream or gelato is all about the texture. This version is like nothing I’ve ever had in the smoothness category. In the richness category, it’s akin to Magee Beer’s ice cream from Australia (another grocery store favorite). The flavor is deep yet subtle, sophisticated and luscious. Well worth the $8.99 price tag for a 4 oz container.
Next her Roasted Banana flavor . . .
Not from LA? For mail order Fancy Nancy’s go here.
When you don’t want sugar or dairy but you do want creamy goodness try some Hakuna Banana. Happened across this perfectly lovely frozen treat in my local Whole Foods store. Turns out it’s the creation of two Angelenos and while only available in the general Los Angeles area for now, look for it to go wide one day soon. It’s the no fuss nice cream you’ll love at first bite. Available in four tempting flavors:
Yummm! Yummm! Yummm!
Join the Sqirl Jam Club: 2 jars of scrumptious jam made in Los Angeles, delivered every other month for 4, 6 or 12 months. Yes it’s $15 for each tiny jar but it’s the bomb!
Petit Trois, Los Angles
718 Highland Avenue, West Hollywood
It’s been voted the #1 restaurant in LA. That’s because it’s seriously good! I ate there. I dreamt about it. I woke up wanting to go back. Need I say more? Ok, I will:
- The drinks: Fresh and imaginative and curiously strong.
- The Bread & Butter: They say a restaurant is judged by its bread offering. This is perfection. Crusty warm baguette served with salty salty French butter.
- The Moules Frittes: That broth! And the best part, a piece of broth soaked bread waiting for you at the bottom of the bowl.
- The French Onion Soup: Oh so rich and full flavored. Cheese, cheese and more cheese. Quote of the night, “There’s no going back to Trader Joe’s onion soup now.”
- The Omelette: The stuff dreams are made of. This may sound strange but it tastes like buttered popcorn only with the texture of smooth and silky, perfectly cooked eggs filled with creamy cheese. And the bibb lettuce accompaniment — exactly the salad I ate in France every day when I summered there in ’85.
- The Chocolate Mousse: Sickeningly rich in a good way. Not too sweet and decadently smooth, topped with copious amounts of freshly whipped cream. My insides were shaking (that’s no lie)
And you wouldn’t guess it being in LA, but the restaurant is wholly unpretentious. It’s all about the food here. Just 20 stools, in a simply decorated, dark space (pictures are hard to achieve but skip that part and just eat) with a bustling open kitchen. You’re greeted with hellos from the bar tender and kitchen staff when you walk in like you’re seeing old friends. The portions are more than ample — actually quite large — and the prices fair.
See you there because I will definitely be a regular.
Pizza Hot Spot: Mulberry Street Pizzeria Where: Beverly Hills, California Type: New York
What’s hot: Huge and perfectly thin pies. This is the best New York style pizza in Los Angeles. The ultra thin crust is topped with a layer of chunky tomato sauce and just the right amount of cheese. Due to the thinness, the very large slices fold automatically in your hand and disappear all too quickly. Rumor had it, once upon a time, that they imported their water for the dough from the Big Apple. But we all know that’s not true. It’s just good pizza done right. Eat in.Take it to go. Grab a slice or a whole pie. I’m actually glad they don’t deliver east of Fairfax or I’d eat this good stuff far too often.
Today’s Contender: Saffron & Rose Ice Cream
Location: 1387 Westwood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA
Flavor: Amazing Almond & Caramel Crunch
This is the real deal my friends! All natural organic Persian ice cream in the most intriguing flavors — white rose, cucumber, mango, guava, espresso bean, lavender, saffron pistachio and so many more. The woman behind the counter not only made me try most everything in the case but provided pairings that had to be eaten together which is how I ended up ordering a small cup with 1 scoop of Amazing Almond and 1 scoop of Caramel Crunch. It was creamy and soft, maybe a bit too sweet, but oh so good.
I was there mid-afternoon on a Thursday and there was a steady line the entire time. This place is a not so secret gem and I can only imagine a huge crowd on weekend evenings. Oh and look at the orange bio-degradable spoons they use — they’re ORANGE and they make me smile.
I think I will have to visit many more times to find my favorite flavor. Although I’ve already gotten a start by bringing home a pint of pomegranate to enjoy later on. It’s a seasonal flavor nearing the end of season so I just couldn’t resist.
With an ice cream boom happening in Los Angeles, I think this place tops the list in my book. It’s hot outside. We all deserve a little ice cream treat.
Hiking . . . Not that you can’t hike anywhere but I particularly love hiking in Los Angeles. Not only is it beautiful with views of lush canyons and the ocean (sometimes at the same time), but today I saw Goldie Hawn on my hike. BTW, shes pushing 70 and looks fabulous! Only in LA.
It’s funny — I first started hiking back in college when my sister suggested I go to The Ashram, a hiking boot camp in Calabasas, CA. After 6 days of hiking, hiking, more hiking and no eating I boldly declared, “I hate hiking!” But then I moved to Los Angeles full time and hiking became my exercise of choice. I even returned to the Ashram several more times. Who needs a gym with the abundance of natural beauty and trails that are free? Let me tell you, nothing works better than walking up hill to whip your fat ass into shape.
And that’s exactly what I will be doing over the next few weeks or maybe even months between afternoons hunting for a job. Being unemployed has its perks. (It’s also a great way to keep my extreme stress in check.)
My favorite hike: Sullivan Ridge in Pacific Palisades at the top of Capri Drive off Sunset Blvd. The smell of wild fennel abounds and the views are spectacular. While it’s a far drive from where I live, i know the road like the back of my hand and never get tired of it. It’s not too crowded like some other hikes closer to town and you never know who you’ll run into. This week, in particular, there has been more people than normal on the trail, all coming to see the final days of Murphy Ranch — a Nazi refuge built in the 30’s that has been in a ruinous and graffitied state since the late 70’s — down in Rustic Canyon and accessible from the trail.
But if what I saw today is any indication, these ruins will soon be history and the hike will be back to it’s normal minimal traffic.
Soon I’ll post more about other great hikes in Los Angeles so stay tuned.
images courtesy: hikespeak
Why is it you find your new favorite restaurant just before leaving town? I just couldn’t leave Orange County without sharing this fabulous little spot — a funny little spot really in a semi-residential/industrial part of Costa Mesa run by Aussie expats. Of course!
Nobody does breakfast better than Australians in my book and that is what Outpost Kitchen is dedicated to. I made four trips there in my last few days before moving to Los Angeles. I just couldn’t resist. Everything is as good as it looks. I highly recommend you stop by.
Clockwise from upper left: Aussie Scrambled Eggs; Granola with fresh fruit & almond milk; Poached Eggs with house smoked Salmon; Avo Toast with Poached Eggs
1792 Monrovia Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92627