While I was in LA, I was able to spend some time with friends Jenny and Andy, who just recently moved to LA from New Jersey (remember Jenny's farewell dinner?). They were wonderful hosts, and they took me to some fabulous places to eat!
After getting milkshakes at the nearby Farmer's Market (hey, it was hot out!), we went back to their apartment and relaxed a bit before heading out to dinner. (I must note that I loved their apartment and felt very comfortable there because there are pictures of Xani all over the place!) We ate at Kate Mantilini, a sort of upscale diner in Beverly Hills.
I had a hard time deciding what to order because the menu was HUGE! But, we ended up ordering calamari as an appetizer, which was served with marinara sauce and an avocado-flavored aioli. The calamari was perfectly cooked, and the sauces were good (the avocado was a surprise...), but it wasn't very hot. I think the dish could have been a slam dunk had it been the right temperature.
For our mains, I got pasta with peas and proscuitto, which was served with both long and short pasta in a creamy sauce. This dish was excellent - normally I don't get pasta in restaurants since BCD Dad makes a mean bowl of spaghetti, but I was glad I went with this dish.
Jenny got a pasta dish too, with broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes, and Andy got an open-faced turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes - both looked great.
After dinner, we ordered coffee and were browsing over the dessert menu, when Andy said to Jenny, "Should we take her to Diddy Riese instead?" While I had no clue what (or who?) they were talking about, Jenny was clearly excited about this idea, so we abandoned our dessert menus, paid the check, and hit the road.
I soon learned of the gloriousness that is Diddy Riese. It is a wonderful little shop in Westwood (near UCLA) that sells two things: cookies and ice cream. While you could just order a cookie or a scoop of ice cream, the majority of DR's patrons order an "ice cream sandwich," where you choose what kind of cookie you want on the outside (you could even pick two kinds), and then you pick a flavor of ice cream to go in the middle. Genius! And SO DELICIOUS! I got chocolate chip cookies on the outside, with cookie dough ice cream on the inside. Jenny got white chocolate chip cookies and cookie dough ice cream, and Andy got chocolate chip cookies with mint chip ice cream. Yummm...
Not only was this delicious because it was two sweet treats in one, but Diddy Riese was smart about it: they added what seemed to be extra salt in the cookie to play off the extreme sweetness of the cookie and ice cream combo. SO GOOD. And like I said, GENIUS!
As you can see, they were a bit difficult to eat! But, well worth the struggle.
Also, note the price of these babies: $1.25 each. No wonder they're so popular amongst the UCLA kids (as evidenced by the long line running out the door!).
What a delicious treat that was - it's something that's now on my "must-eat" list for my next trip to LA!
The next morning, Jenny and I took a short tour around the nearby La Brea Tar Pits, and then it was time to eat again - oy. We went to a cute little restaurant called Toast, not too far from Jenny and Andy's house. Apparently lots of celebrities frequent Toast, but of course none were there when I was there (I have terrible celeb-sighting karma!). While the celebrities were lacking, the food was AWESOME.
Now, I am not normally a breakfast person, and I'm definitely not someone who's into eggs, but I ordered "The Oscar" on a recommendation from Jenny (who mentioned that it had been featured on FoodTV), and it was probably the best egg dish I've ever had EVER. Described as "thin strips of chicken, guacamole, fresh salsa, eggs over medium and melted cheese, sitting atop grilled corn tortillas," it was absolutely delicious. I still can't believe that "eggs over medium" is part of the description! Xani and I order our eggs this way and it's so obscure that no one ever gets them right. Well at Toast, they got it right! The broken yolks of the eggs really brought all of the ingredients together, as did the large amounts of melted cheese, and the salsa and guacamole were super-fresh and flavorful, and brightened up the whole dish.
The Oscar was served with a fruit cup filled with fresh fruit, and Jenny and I shared a side of their breakfast potatoes, which were also great - crispy and well-seasoned, and a generous portion to boot. Jenny got an egg dish too (though I can't quite remember what it was called), and it too was good - great fresh veggies in an egg-white omelet. Delicious!
Clearly Jenny is a fan of Toast since she goes there all the time, but I would seriously recommend this place for a wonderful LA breakfast (although I'm told that there's usually a line to get it since it's pretty popular - thankfully there was no line for us!).
Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to group all of my lovely meals with Jenny and Andy together since it was such a treat to visit with them. Thanks again, Jenny and Andy! See you when you come back east!