Luscious and Vivid

Springtime to me still means the sound of lawn mowers and leaf blowers, the sound of birds, and the chatter of people while lingering in the sun on the grass (Sarah Lawrence lawn) or at a park (Regent’s in London being my favorite).  Ah, Los Angeles and it’s lack of “definite seasons.”  Nonetheless, there is indeed a slight shift in LA as there always is when a new season arrives.  We still get excited and embrace it with fashion and seasonal eating—well I hope we do.  I am furthermore always excited with the changes of a season.

This year, it’s a time when my younger brother is reviewing the colleges he’s been accepted to and scheduling college tours; he’s just beginning his college adventure.  It’s been an anticipatory and joyful time at the Shauk residence lately; the youngest Shauk is about to embark!  He stands at about 6’1—a shocking presence with a strong math/science mind.

Anyways, yesterday, I went to Huckleberry Café and got their mixed berry trifle in honor of this miraculous and colorful time of year.  This to me is the quintessential English spring/summer dessert that I can imagine Sophie Dahl enjoying among an array of vivid flowers in the English countryside.

Let’s enjoy this weather and all the sweet changes it brings.

Below is a food critique I wrote last Autumn:

Milo and Olive is the latest neighborhood restaurant by Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan—the collaboration behind Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry Café, and Sweet Rose Creamery.  In relation to their other spots, it’s located closest to Sweet Rose, just a few blocks further from the Brentwood area—on the corner of Wilshire and Harvard, still in Santa Monica—thankfully for us Santa Monicans.

Once inside the minimal, clean, and cozily small interior, the walkway ramp leads up to the pastries.  These are chef Zoe Nathan’s wondrous concoctions ranging from skillet flatbread, valrhona chocolate croissants, strawberry jam scones, and whole wheat chocolate chip cookies—all made with care and a true knowledge of French traditions yet with a twist, such as using whole wheat flours more—making things healthier.

On opening day, I rushed out of bed eager to try something from their breakfast menu, which had caught my attention when I noticed the bagel section (the menu was on their website shortly prior to opening day).  After living in New York for three and a half years and just recently moving back to LA, I was craving a good bagel.

Breakfast is served till 11am every morning at M + O, and as I’m not a morning person, I barely made it—I actually got there just after 11, but it was their first day and they weren’t going to say “no” surely.

I sat at the bar, facing the open kitchen, providing a full view of the creative process.  I was anticipating a whole wheat bagel with onion marmalade and cream cheese.  It took some time to make everything fresh and get it all just right.  What made it perfect was the presentation—it shocked me—exceeding my expectations.  Chopped Green onions were carefully placed on top of this open faced cream cheese shmeared bagel with a rich sweet onion marmalade jam piping hot off-the-stove and layered just over the cream cheese.  One bite and I said “Wow.”

My next visit to M + O was for dinner with a friend, a good friend whom makes for a great dining buddy because we just share everything and really taste the food.  We came in for a dinner around 7.  It was still early enough so the wait wasn’t too long.  The two communal dining tables were full and the crowd, the buzz, and plates of food lent to a convivial neighborhoodey feel.  They don’t take reservations but waiting is no problem since they offer hor dourves and you can start ordering appetizers and drinks at the waiting bar—the wooden table along the entryway.

We got lucky, and were seated within a few minutes.  After looking over the menu repeatedly, thinking carefully, talking to each other about it, then asking the waiter, we came to a conclusion.  To start, we had the roasted pumpkin with honey and sage—a seasonal wintry dish—seemed perfect on that night.  Neither of us had ever had anything like it, and we were rather pleased with its sweet, soft warm pumpkin, yumminess.

Next, we shared the Roasted Potato Pizza, a pizza with rosemary cream and parmigiano reggiano.  I realized I couldn’t really cut into my slice so reluctantly I picked it up—something I rarely do.  Nonetheless after a bite and then another I said “I’m in heaven.”  The waiter saw my smile and he too felt good and even made a comment about it…something like, “YES.”  The taste of the pizza was also really unique to us.  The cheese the tastes of the rosemary those potatoes that granier chewy dough it all came together so wonderfully.  A little messy with the potatoes sometimes falling off the pizza while eating it, but the tastes were in harmony.

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About ravishingshaukwaves

Leila Shauk is a recent graduate from Sarah Lawrence. She studied Poetry, Philosophy, Art History, Literature, Music, and Fiction Writing. She has a penchant for good writing and good food. Apart from good eats and literature, she loves practicing yoga, playing bass, and exploring other forms of creativity like abstract painting, and cooking.
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