A Monday in Los Angeles

Maybe you've noticed that I love dim sum. I also have strange ideas about what might be a fun tourist attraction. For example, the last time I was in Paris, I visited the Paris Sewer Museum... neat!

Anyway, on our recent trip to Los Angeles we stayed an extra day to be touristy, and my family was super sweet by accommodating BOTH of my touristy requests: to visit Lunasia for dim sum, and to visit the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Lunasia--super premium dim sum restaurant. Five stars!

Lots of dark wood and sunshine.

Deep-fried Taro Cake (wu gok!!) Perfectly crisp and sweet.

This was a new one for me and a fast favorite: Pan Fried Turnip Cake with XO Hot Sauce

Pork Siu Mai

Pan-Fried String Beans

Soup Dumplings were another first, also known as XLB (xiao long bao). Inside each whorled dumpling is liquid soup--place one in your mouth carefully and all at once to get a delicious exploding soup experience.

Veggie Bean-Curd Wrap

Our table

Oh wait, more is coming...

Excellent and fluffy Char Siu Bao.

Shrimp siu mai.

Rice Noodle with Beef

The finisher: Sticky Rice Wrap. I learned from our hosts that when you eat these, you're admitting that you are done with everything else and ready for the "filler."


But it is such good filler! I'd eat a sticky-rice wrap anytime.

Lunasia doesn't have carts, instead you order from a menu. Our hosts told us that menu-ordering can be good because food is super-fresh and hasn't been pushed around on a cart for X minutes. It was pretty yummy, though I also enjoy the adventure of cart service.

Saying goodbye to Lunasia. I love you!!!

Next stop, Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood.... and the people who rest in peace there.

The younger Chaplin and his mother

We drove around a bit and could not miss Johnny Ramone. 

Till next time, Hollywood!

What I Ate in Los Angeles

One word: Amazing. We had so much good food during our long weekend in LA. It was truly an epicurean paradise, and site of a few foodie firsts for me.

We arrived around noon on a Friday and were immediately whisked off to the excellent CaCao Mexicatessen for lunch. GO THERE! I had a Michelada and a Carne Asada Sope. A lunch companion had a spicy cucumber margarita and let me have a taste. Amazing.

 Michelada to the left, spicy cucumber margarita to the right.

Carne Asada Sope

Next, we went to our rental house in Altadena. It was, naturally, amazing. Mediterranean villa style with immaculate interior and lovely patio and pool. A fellow foodie and I ventured forth to get provisions for the place, including some hard-to-come-by ice and way more alcohol than we could ever drink. We had a lot of fun. We also found a cute watermelon and some fresh figs.

We were in town for a family wedding, so next was rehearsal dinner. This was in a great spot in Old Pasadena called AKA Bistro, on a European feeling patio that backed into a square that happened to be showing their weekly movie... Chicken Run.

 Deep fried portobellos with truffle aioli

Salad course included beets, tomatoes, and goat cheese.

My neighbor and I shared entrees. Here's his burger.

And here's my huge platter of pacific coast mussels (that also included sausage, peppers, and clams).

The next morning we made eggs in our rental house and noshed on spinach boreg. I tried to catch up on some sleep while others accidentally purchased more watermelon.

Then... the wedding. I love weddings, particularly how a wedding is such a unique expression of the couple who create it. This one was completely charming and surprising and lovely and fun. We loved seeing two good people tie the knot, and being able to celebrate with them.

And next... the 9-course Chinese banquet. I never thought I'd get to do this, and it was AMAZING.

Cold Cuts Platter

Chicken soup with "bamboo pith." Not advertised but present was fish maw. It was quite delicious!

Stir-fried lobster with garlic. I took big bits because I don't know how to deal with these bugs.

Honey Walnut Prawns--one of my favorites. Sooooooo good. I took seconds.

Andrew Style Filet Mignon--we figured out Andrew is one of the co-owners of the catering company. I like his style.

Peking duck fixin's

Peking duck ready to eat. YUM!

Andrew Style vegetables.

Whole fish, scraped off the bone at-table. Skeleton at front, tender fish pieces at back.

There was much dancing and enjoyment and use of fans (no AC) after dinner. There was a DJ and there may have been some Hey Ya and some All Good People. And then we still had two days left in Cali!
On Sunday morning we went to a family brunch at Amalia's in east Hollywood. This low key treasure serves Guatemalan food. Do NOT ask for a burrito, as they will politely inform you that a burrito is not Guatemalan at all.

September in Los Angeles deserves a large ice water with lime. And an unsweetened iced tea, too... I had two, not shown.

Delicious appetizers, very simple flavors from black bean to meat to guacamole.

I never get a chile relleno by itself (left) when I can get a tamale too (right). These were very different from the Santa Fe versions I'm used to, but tender and yummy!

Coming up next... dim sum on an LA afternoon!

Thrifty tip: Don't buy a whole bag of grapes

My weekly grocery bill was unusually high on Sunday. I couldn't figure out what I'd done wrong. I scanned my receipt for errors and found the following 5 items that cost more than $10 each. Can you spot the huge problem?
  • Unscented Aubrey Organics Sunscreen, 1 tube 11.03 (on sale!)
  • Cabot Creamery Seriously Sharp cheddar, 2-pound block 10.07
  • Breakfast blend coffee, just over a pound 10.01
  • Organic Red Seedless Grapes, 1 bag 10.28
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, 12-pack 14.71
Lightbulb! It was the GRAPES! I really wanted to spend about $4 on grapes. But grapes get packed in giant pristine bags. Even though it's allowed at our co-op to split up a pretty bag into smaller bunches, I am reluctant to do so. Also, four dollars worth of grapes would be so small it would look pretty pathetic.

Children have already consumed half the bag--there is maybe $5 dollars' worth left?

I am aware that conventional grapes are cheaper. But did you know that grapes are on the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen " of high pesticide residue crops? So I do try to go organic with grapes at least every other time. I think that I'm evening out the pesticide odds.

What do you think--this is pretty old news, right? You've heard about stupidly large bags of grapes already? A great Vermont alternative just happening NOW is to simply buy... local apples!