Landing in LA is always a slightly surreal experience. For us it is made even stranger by the fact that we are exhausted and on the tail end of our Canadian adventure and we have an afternoon to check out L.A. before we head home. We hop into a taxi to the Venice area to Abbot Kinney Boulevard. I've got to do some last minute gift shopping and we're a little bit early for our reservation so I thought I would see how much shopping I could do in an area with tempting shops a-plenty. On this stretch of road that we're wandering down there are a proliferation of home ware stores and young designer fashion boutiques. They've certainly got a way with merchandising here with eye-catching window displays designed to lure one in and hand over the credit card. Well this is my story and I'm sticking to it ;)
Remy the adorable French Bulldog. I want to keep him.
Venice has the chilled beachy aspect of Bondi meets fashionable Paddington. I go slightly crazy at Plantation where I buy three hourglasses and a Voluspa candle in what other flavour but "macaron" (a steal at $35!). Plus they have the cutest ever little French bulldog Remy who has the most charismatically soulful face. We hear from the helpful owner Ashley that he is about to grace the cover of a dog magazine!
Absolute essentials dahlinks!
And it was a given that I'd buy a macaron scented candle no?
We also visit Bountiful, a gorgeous shop overflowing with some absolutely arresting displays of cake plates, jewellery, candlesticks and matches among many other things. Matchboxes you say? Yes, matchboxes in every colour and design imaginable!
This is just a few of the matches...
And even more matchboxes!
Before I know it I've spent my time shopping, darting in and out of shops collecting boutique shopping bags and Mr NQN is getting fidgety at the amount of money I've spent in this short time so we make our way to Gjelina where we meet Robin. Gjelina is all about fresh and simple dishes and great pizzas with a very pretty but not intimidating crowd. Inside it's all wooden tables with bowls of rubied red tomatoes and lush overflowing silver bowls as well as a lovely courtyard out the back. The menu tell us that "changes and modifications politely declined" and "we support local, sustainable & organic practices wherever possible."
Watermelon and ginger Italian soda $4
The watermelon and ginger fizzy soda is refreshing (hey shopping is thirsty work!) with just the right amount of sweetness.
Kumamoto (Washington) oysters $16
We start with some Kumamoto oysters. I love trying oysters from the different regions that we visit as they vary so widely. Having said that, these are very close to the Sydney Rock Oyster! We take our waiter's recommendations for other dishes and service is very friendly.
Salt and pepper frites with romesco and aioli $8
_ _The serving of salt and pepper frites is enormous (those legendary American servings here). They're fried very crisp and dry so that they aren't greasy. It's almost as if they're coated in a super fine cornmeal or something similar that gives it an extra crunch.
Sweet corn with creme fraiche, smoked paprika and chive $8
I have a serious love for sweet corn and Mr NQN does not so I thought that I would get his share. Sadly not-he loved it as this corn is creamy and slightly smokey and spicy from the paprika with a delicate sprinkling of chives with the corn having a natural sweetness.
Wood roasted cauliflower with garlic, chili, parsley and vinegar $8
The florets of cauliflower and broccoli are roasted on wood with garlic, chilli, parsley and vinegar. The predominant flavour is garlic which is slightly blackened and almost bitter but stops just before it becomes too bitter and the florets have a slight crunch.
Pomodoro Pizza $12
The pizzas here have a great thin crust and a very light topping with a fat puffy crust (and I still can't believe the prices given that this isn't exactly an inexpensive area!). The topping for without cheese with fresh, sweet tomatoes, garlic, chilli, oregano and green olive oil. Extra chilli, cheese and oregano are given on a side plate and I enjoy adding chilli flakes to it.
House made chorizo pizza $15
The house made chorizo pizza comes with small balls of uncased house made chorizo which is a looser mince than the chorizo we are used to which is usually coarsely ground. The base for this is slightly wetter and I like the topping with the chorizo, tomato, cream fennel, chilli and basil which packs a flavour punch with a slight taste of aniseed from the fennel.
Grilled Monterey Bay Squid $12
The salad of grilled Monterey Bay Squid is lemony the squid soft and tender. At first we think that it comes on a baby spinach and cucumber salad but the cucumber is actually in fact honeydew melon ("Cavaillon" melon) with a piquant salsa verde which is refreshing and sweet when combined with the melon.
Homemade olive oil gelato $3
Honestly I thought LA people didn't eat desserts, I mean have you seen the red carpet lately? Anyway, we were eager to try the olive oil ice cream. I've tried it a couple of times already and one time it tasted incredibly strongly of olive oil (probably too strongly) and the other time I couldn't taste it at all. When our scoop arrives it has a drizzle of olive oil on top. I take a spoonful and lo and behold, it has got to be the best olive oil ice cream ever. The secret? Adding vanilla bean to it which enhances the dessert like quality while still being able to add enough olive oil to give it that distinctive taste.
Butterscotch pot de creme with salted caramel and creme fraiche $8
The waiter's recommendation was one that had us all swooning. It was a silky butterscotch custard with small liberally sprinkled salt crystals and a scoop of creme fraiche. It's delightfully good and perfectly balanced.
Black bottom banana cream pie $8
The black bottom to this banana cream pie is a thin layer of dark chocolate. The banana cream layer has fresh banana and custard which is light in texture and topped with sweetened whipped cream and chocolate shavings. It's good certainly but after the olive oil ice cream and butterscotch pot de creme it doesn't seem quite as exciting.
But no time for dawdling as we have a flight to catch home to Sydney! But not before I show you a few more of the interesting sights.
So tell me Dear Reader, would you rather shop or eat? And what's the shortest stopover you've made where you've left the airport and what did you do?
Oh how I'd love to live in America! Imagine getting your fortune told with your manicure?
NQN and Mr NQN travelled to Canada and Los Angeles as guests of Tourism Canada. They explored Los Angeles as a guest of LA INC. The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau
1429 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, Los Angeles, United States
1340 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice Beach, Los Angeles, United States
Tel: +1 (310) 392 6888
1335 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice Beach, Los Angeles, United States
Tel: +1 (310) 450 3620