Brown Butter Almond Brittle Ice Cream

1954 Hillhurst Avenue

Last night, after a casual dinner in Silver Lake, my friend Bill and I drove over to Jeni's for ice cream. (Getting ice cream after dinner is such a nice thing to do with friends.) I like the ice cream at Jeni's because of the integrity of their ingredients–they don't use emulsifiers or stabilizers in their products so it never tastes too sweet or artificial. To boot, they have the most unusual array of flavors: Juniper & Lemon Curd, Genmaicha & Marshmallows, Cocoa Curry Coco... And every season presents a new collection of flavors. A small order at Jeni's ($5) gives you two scoops of any flavor. You also have your choice of a cup, a sugar cone, a cake cone or–for an extra dollar–a waffle cone.

I almost always stick to my favorite one: Brown Butter Almond Brittle. It has a buttercream base and is laden with crunchy chunks of almond brittle, which possesses the sort of honeyed, buttery, nutty notes that go so well with the creamy tang of buttercream. It's for us "plain vanilla" fans who want to take a walk on the wild side. My usual order is the small–with both scoops being the same flavor–in a cake cone, which I then eat with a spoon. (The only other flavor I've considered is the Goat Cheese with Red Cherries but haven't pulled the trigger on it yet.)

"I'm surprised they offer cake cones," I noted, as we happily ate our ice cream on the drive back to his place. "They're a dying breed of ice cream vessels."

"Children like them," Bill replied as he crunched down on his sugar cone.

"I love them," I said, scraping my spoon around the scoop of ice cream, "They're my favorite. I like their plainness. And the compartments around the top are a good design feature. Every bite of cone has ice cream encased inside."

"I've never seen someone order an ice cream cone and eat it with a spoon before," he pointed out, glancing over at me as he switched lanes, "But, of course, you'd do that. That doesn't surprise me."

"My teeth are sensitive," I explained, "And I use the back of the spoon to pack the ice cream into the cone compartments as I go."

Ice cream. It's serious business. I bet Jeni's would tell you that.



Somewhere Beyond the Sea

If you take Highway 1 for about an hour north of San Francisco, you'll find yourself at my favorite place in the whole world: Point Reyes National Seashore, a nature preserve with expansive beaches, jagged cliffs and rolling green hills. This majestic landscape is in distinctive class of its own. Its beaches are neither sunny and hippie like Venice Beach nor is it exotic and tropical like those in, say, Hawaii. There's nary a palm tree in sight. Instead, the Bay Area's signature fog holds court over the skies, rough winds will lap at you, and it's likely you might not see another soul on the sand for miles around.

I would've never known about this place had it not been for a wrong turn made many years ago by an ex who had intended on taking me to Napa Valley. Even upon realizing his mistake, he kept on driving in the wrong direction anyhow, which, to be honest, unnerved me–at least initially. As we drove further and further from the Golden Gate Bridge, however, the more lush and breathtaking the scenery became. I no longer cared where we landed. The ride itself was mesmerizing and the long stretches of road felt liberating, especially after years of being accustomed to the suffocating confines of Manhattan. 

We finally came upon a small town and stopped into a store to pick up provisions–a bottle of wine, a loaf of sourdough bread and a wedge of blue cheese. "Where are we?" we asked the shop owner. "Point Reyes," she replied. "If you take a turn and go down that road there, you'll find a wild beach." So we followed her advice and took an endless road that wove its way through miles and miles of pastures dotted with grazing dairy cows before finally arriving to what felt like the ends of the Earth.

As we sat on a sand dune with our goods, watching a gorgeous sunset sink into the abyss of the Pacific Ocean, with rabbits and deer darting around in the tall grasses behind us... I remembered thinking: Point Reyes. I must return here one day. I suppose I was afraid that I might never find myself there again because it was a relatively obscure place and required a bit of driving to get to. (I'm terrified of driving.)

While my travels thereafter took me to Spain, Japan, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Caribbean and beyond, I'd never forgotten about the magic of Point Reyes. 

Two years ago, my boyfriend convinced me to go on a motorcycle trip up the coast of California. We stayed in Paso Robles for a night, then rode up through Big Sur and stayed for a few days in Carmel. Our last stop was supposed to be San Francisco. Truth be told, I don't care much for San Francisco at all. It was then that I proposed we extended the boundaries of our trip just a little more and visit this very special place that I happened upon over a decade ago...  

When I was in Point Reyes last weekend, it occurred to me that, sometimes, the memory of how you discovered a place loses its meaning over time, especially when you're there creating new moments with the person you're with. What was past faded into a misty backdrop; what was real was before me... Until that fades away too.

The lyrics to that Beatles song "In My Life" encapsulates this sentiment perfectly:

There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more
In my life, I love you more



On Being Brave

A person could come to a show like mine, and they could disagree with me, and it wouldn’t ruin the show. They just wouldn’t agree with me. People say I’m brave. Well, it’s like mutual brave, like we are all in this together. It’s a messy intersection of what you think about things, what you feel about things, and I think people find solace in informative art, because it reminds them that they’re now–oh!–thinking and feeling this way.
— Dave Chappelle

The Single Girl Dinner Detox Menu

I recently took a week to myself in L.A. to press the reset button on my diet. When I'm alone, I find that: (a) I don't feel as hungry, (b) I usually crave simple foods, and (c) my portion sizes are a lot smaller. 

It was time to get clean.

For inspiration, here's my detox menu:



Daikon radish has many health benefits, including enzymes that aid in digesting fats and starches. This soup is soothing and light. I'd recommend adding an immersion blender to your arsenal of kitchen tools. It's absolutely indispensable! 

To make: Chop 1 leek and 1 large daikon radish. Heat a saucepan and add a slick of olive oil. Sauté the chopped leek and daikon radish until softened. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the saucepan from heat and use the immersion blender directly in the pot to blend the soup until smooth. Ladle into serving bowl. Sprinkle with freshly snipped chives. (I added black truffle zest for a touch of luxury!)



As you probably already know, salmon is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which lowers inflammation and helps the cells in your arteries function. Searing it in coconut oil adds a lovely coconutty flavor. In addition to converting "bad" LDL cholesterol into "good" HDL cholesterol, coconut oil is a powerful weapon at killing harmful stomach bacteria. 

To make: Season your salmon filet with salt and pepper. Melt a tablespoon of coconut oil in a hot skillet over high heat. Place the salmon in the skillet and, depending on its size, sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer the salmon to a plate and let it rest for a minute or two before serving. 



I love ending a meal with a small serving of fresh fruit and berries. Papaya contains enzymes that helps break down protein and reduces the amount of free radicals in your body that contribute to the development of cancer; blackberries and blueberries are excellent sources of antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. Add a mug of hot sencha green tea on the side as a metabolism booster. 

The Little Next Door

8142 West 3rd Street

As a creature of comfort, I rarely delineate from my trusted stand-bys–one of which is having breakfast at Joan's On Third. In my humble opinion, Joan's consistently makes the best eggs in town. There, they've mastered three basic egg-cooking techniques to perfection: Their soft-boiled eggs always have a warm, yolky center; their scrambled eggs are always scrambled into creamy-soft, fluffy folds; and their omelettes would make Chef André Soltner proud. Despite the number of breakfasts I've cooked over the years, I still feel iffy about how my eggs turn out. I don't know how their kitchen manages to churn out perfection day after day.

This past Sunday, when my boyfriend and I arrived at Joan's for breakfast, we saw that it was closed for the Easter holiday. Quel dommage! Our attention then turned to a small, ivy-covered patio with café tables and rattan bistro chairs next door, which is literally called The Little Next Door. (I've passed this French restaurant numerous times on the way to Joan's and paid no attention to it previously. In fact, I believe it was my friend Bill who once told me this place was nothing to write home about. When it comes to restaurants, I always ask Bill for his two cents.)

We started off with a warm pain au chocolat as we decided what to order. (If you don't already know this, it must be said that you should always judge a café/restaurant/bakery by its pain au chocolat or croissant–especially if it's "French".) Thankfully, theirs was a promising sign. 

My boyfriend ordered his usual omelette; I went with "Two Eggs Your Style, served with bacon and potatoes". Whence dining at an unfamiliar establishment, I tend to order my eggs over-easy because, in my opinion, it's a foolproof method of cooking eggs. (Sunny-side up can be tricky if the whites aren't cooked through on top.) Given the interesting variety of eggs Benedict on offer, it might sound like I ordered the most boring thing on the menu, but the aforementioned "potatoes" weren't your run-of-the-mill hash browns... Imagine my delight when I was surprised with a serving of pommes dauphinoise, the Queen of Side Dishes: thinly sliced potatoes cooked in milk, butter and cream underneath a bubbling blanket of grated Gruyère!

My eggs were good–because, like I said, it's pretty hard to screw up eggs cooked over-easy–but the pommes dauphinoise is truly what took this breakfast to the brink of divine.