I just got back from California, and boy are my arms tired.
Well, that’s a lie- I didn’t just get back. Physically I’ve been back for a week, but mentally I’m still on the plane eastbound. It’s hard to get the West Coast out of your mind: It took me two/three days to relax into it, by which time I had to start thinking about the return trip, because East Coasters? We’re a tense, driven bunch. Bleah.
Luckily, though, we had time to do some really good meals, including a to-die-for brunch. I love brunch- the mix of sweet breakfast foods and savory lunch dishes is perfect for someone like me who can’t commit either way. Clicky for more, including pictures of bacon-y goodness…If you ever get to Santa Monica, make sure before you cruise the pier that you head over to the Fairmont Miramar and have brunch poolside at Fig. Their menu includes a section titled “Bacon and Sausage”, which sells it right there. I made the reservation before I went out, and although my friend Jess isn’t the ravening carnivore I am, she was game- always good when you can find a willing cohort for foodie adventures.
Saturday we drove to L.A., checked into the Mosaic Hotel and had an early dinner at 208 Rodeo before catching Chris Pine, Chris Noth and Olivia Thirlby in “Farragut North” at the Geffen. (That Noth and Thirlby were good was no surprise, the revelation was that Pine is a brilliant stage actor- if you ever get the chance to see him onstage, take it.)
Sunday morning Jess and I strolled up and down Rodeo Drive in L.A. This “strolling” entailed the following:
- a stop into BCBG Max Azaria to drool over the red carpet worthy gowns,
- ducking into Stuart Weitzman where we ended up chatting with the manager- an up and coming comedian,
- a visit to Williams Sonoma where I bought my first Nigella Lawson cookbook (the cashier was a Maryland native),
- stopping at M Cafe for a beet lemonade,
- wandering into The Farm for one of their vaunted brownies,
- a quick stop at Crumbs Bakery (the cupcakes looked good, but were a bit too foo-foo) before rounding on Sprinkles (which is a lot like Red Velvet in DC and just as good if not better).
Then we jumped into the car and headed for Santa Monica.
The clean, cream colored restaurant opens out onto the pool and is the place for “like”-spouting sundress-clad blonds, as well as church-goers and professionals. The noise level was low, which was a nice change- and a big part of why I love outdoor places.
Our waitress was amazing- at 208 Rodeo we got a tight-lipped blond who sort of lived up to the stereotype of the person who sizes you up and decides you’re not going to be a big tipper (we had drinks and salads because we’d had a big lunch) and gives up on you. At Fig, we got Isabelle, who was cheery, gave great recommendations, and was just the right amount of attentive. If anything, she added to our experience.
After the requisite complimentary bread (with the decidedly UNrequisite arugula butter on the side), we started off with the watermelon salad- which Isabelle thoughtfully split for us prior to serving- at no charge.
Matchsticks of juicy melon on a bed of greens and fresh basil sprinkled with flax seed and dressed with vodka was a good way to begin the meal. Fresh, crisp, and everything you usually get out of a salad you make yourself, but without all the work.
Jess went with the spinach and Gruyere quiche- the crust was the best I’ve ever had on a quiche that I didn’t make myself- and I had the bacon waffle a la mode. Yup. Went there.
The waffle was basically two massive slices of bacon laid across a Belgian wafflemaker, the batter poured over and then cooked. It was topped with a scoop of creamy bacon ice cream and served with a pitcher of Trockenbeerenauslese syrup laced with shards of bacon.
“Trockenbeerrenauslese” (say that 5 times fast) is a dessert style wine which, just as Isabelle promised, was a nice counterpoint to the saltiness of the bacon. The waffle was hot, crisp and ridiculously delicious.
For drinks, Jess went for a Marmaduke- featuring Orgeat and Remy VSOP- and I went for the Eggs and Bacon. Because it had bacon-infused Hendrick’s and egg whites. And that’s just… wow. To say it was something I’ve never tried before is an understatement. Being a fan of infusions I had to try it. Isabelle cheerfully told me how the infusion was done- something I might try one day when the words “pour the fat into sth” don’t fill me with abject fear.
The bacon and eggs came garnished with, what else, bacon. The drink was oddly refreshing, and while the blood orange and beet mimosa will probably be my choice next time (dare I say this drink was the final step in the quick slide into bacon overload?), I’m glad I ordered it. Definitely worth sampling.
Next time I go (because believe me, there will be a next time), I will bring more people so that we can order and sample more of these fabulous dishes- the curly endive salad with pig’s ears and duck, or the bacon wrapped bacon with bread pudding and maple, and so on. The creativity of the chef, the staff, and the setting all made this a memorable experience.
101 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica CA, 90401
Phone: (310) 319-3111