October 25, 2011
The Wine Sisterhood has been on the road for the past 10 days traveling to events in Los Angeles and Washington D.C., with a side detour to shoot a Purple Cowboy video in Paso Robles, California.
Along the way, we dined at some tasty restaurants and saw some interesting things that we thought we’d share with the Sisterhood. We’re going to start at the beginning: Los Angeles, then later share the scoop on Cowboy Wine Country and our nation’s capital Washington D.C. There is just too much to dish about for one post.
In Los Angeles for the first annual Los Angeles Food & Wine event, we found ourselves staying in the downtown area around the convention and Staples Center. This used to be an area seriously lacking in interesting places to dine, but we found one that we liked so much, we visited three times!
Bottega Louie is a stylish combination of bumping bar, spacious dining room, chic gourmet market and amazing patiserrie under one roof. It’s better quality and a lot more fun than the hotel restaurants and chains typical in the neighborhood.
The eat-in menu is extensive with a giant selection of salads, pizzas, pastas, soups, sandwiches, entrees and small plates. Since the Sisterhood is into family-style eating (so we can test as many treats as possible), we ordered a bunch of the small plates including meatballs marinara, Oysters Rockefeller, asparagus with fried egg, Burrata and vine-ripened tomatoes and the house specialty, portobello fries. Yumminess all around, although we found the portobello fries a little underwhelming considering they are the “house specialty”. Oh well, they were the healthy(er) choice.
The wine, cocktail and beer list is dandy. We had a couple glasses of Sancerre with our meal, then a couple more and wished we’d just ordered the bottle.
Tip: wine by the glass is always the pricier way to go, so if you’re having more than one or two glasses, definitely consider ordering the bottle.
One other caution: noise level in the high-ceilinged dining room is seriously LOUD. Be prepared.
The gourmet market area at the front of B.L. features a small but lovely (and a bit marked up) wine selection and shelves filled with tasty prepared food to go. But nothing could surpass the amazing patisserie counter filled with exquisite French-style breads and pastries. The star of that show is clearly the lighter-than-air house-made macarons in every color of the rainbow. Truly stunning! @girlinthevalley put a box together as a birthday gift for a friend. We’re sure she was beyond excited to receive it.
Before the Friday event, we took a quick drive out to the beach (well, quick in L.A. terms) to visit Venice’s famous Abbot Kinney neighborhood. According to Discover LA: “Abbot Kinney Boulevard is one of LA’s hippest areas for unique shopping, featuring home-grown artists and designers in a mix of modern chic and old school vintage”.
One of our favorites shops, aptly called Bountiful, features a show-stopping window display of stack upon stack of colorful cake plates. Since we needed to kill time while we waited for our table at the über-hot restaurant Gjelina (we didn’t have rezzies which are supposedly hard-to-come-by anyway) we spent a good 20 minutes checking out the merch.
An eclectic mix of afore-mentioned cake plates and other unique culinary and home decor items were jammed in next to lavishly gothic rosary bead-inspired jewelry (apparently favored by famous rock stars, rappers and divas), religious and other unusual l’objets. This cozy shop is definitely the sort that makes you very sad you don’t have an endless bank account but very happy to visit.
We wandered back to Gjelina (pronounced “jewelina” and named after one of the owners’s mothers) and our table was miraculously ready, so we sat back and enjoyed the scene. Who were all these people having long, loud, wine, beer and booze (correction: artisanal cocktail lunches on a Friday afternoon? No star sightings (although we’re told it’s a fave hangout) but lots of beautiful creative types (are they producers? directors? writers?).
Everybody looked like they were somebody–somebody who lived in Brooklyn, New York. We’re not sure how cool and comfortable leather, boots, beanie hats and cords are under the hot L.A. beach-town sun but we guessed it was just the dress code for “successful Hollywood movie mogul”. Service was a bit snotty but food was pretty delish—and the people-watching off the charts! One of the stand-outs for us was the Squash Blossom, Cherry Tomato, Garlic and Burrata Pizza. You can check out the menu here.
Tip: To fit in, do not remove your sunglasses when seated.
Continuing to soak in the sun and the vibe as we walked the ave, we noticed an adorably tiny boutique with the intriguing name, Show me your Muu Muu. This super-original line worn by such stars as Beyonce and Jessica Alba features fantastically fun and über-comfy pieces such as tunics, ponchos, topslips and mu mus in 70s inspired patterns and sexy fabrics.
Founded by two gorgeous and super-savvy young women, we fell in love with SMYMM’s playful attitude and sophisticated flower-child style. Oddly enough, in one of those funny life coincidences, we found out very shortly afterwards that one of the girls’ families owns the gorgeous Paso Robles vineyard ranch where we shot the Purple Cowboy vid the following week. What a coincidence!
You can read all about the Muu Muu girls and their “fairy tale” rise to fashion stardom and see and buy all the styles on the website. Loving the peacock fabric (their signature pattern) and the “Mrs. Brady” (yes, moms wear mu mus, too!). Be sure to look for the fashion spreads in the vineyards—that’s where our upcoming Purple Cowboy video was shot!
Tip: Cowboys may be Tough Enough To Wear Pink but you probably shouldn’t ask them to “Show me your muu muu”!
Between the Saturday afternoon and evening tastings, @girlinthevalley (who is a genius at snagging impossible-to-come by reservations) somehow landed us an early table at the hottest ticket in town, Osteria Mozza on Melrose. Created by the food-world superstars Mario Batali, Joseph Bastianich and Nancy Silverton, this restaurant also caters to the film world superstars. Dining at such an early hour, the only celeb in the house was George Lucas, but what we really wanted to experience was the food and wine. Mario’s known for pasta, Nancy’s known for bread and Joe is known for wine. How can you go wrong?
Since we were short of time, we got right to work with an appetizer course (including an tasty Burrata with Bacon, Escarole and Carmelized Shallots–YES @girlinthevalley must have her Burrata). One of Osteria Mozza’s star attractions is actually an amazing mozzarella bar where you can try any number of different house-made styles and preparations of mozzarella and Burrata. The appetizers were accompanied by your choice of Nancy Silverton’s world-famous breads. Clearly not going to be a low-carb night. ‘Cause next was the pasta.
As mentioned, we are proponents of the family-style thing so everybody ordered a different pasta, had a few bites and then passed it along. So very cornball and probably only works well with family (and really close friends) but we all got to have a taste of everything. The most unusual was Squid Ink Chiatarra Freddi with Dungeness Crab Sea Urchin and Jalapeno served cold. Wow, mom never made that. But then we had to run off to the tasting. Sad kids.
But the good news is with only two courses and one bottle of wine, we got away relatively easy—this restaurant is Spendy with a capital Spend. Everything was pretty delightful, however, and the wine list and service are top-notch. We had a delicious Bastianich “Vespa Rosso” 2008 from Friuli, a blend of Merlot, Refosco, which is indigenous to Friuli, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
The stemware was outstanding, too, and the sommelier did something interesting with the wine service which we hadn’t come across before. Prior to pouring a taste for the one who ordered the wine, he splashed a bit of wine in everybody’s glass. When asked why, he said it was to “temper” (season) each glass before the wine was served. Not sure about the science of that, but it did make everybody pay attention. Just a little set piece of wine theater in the ultimate Hollywood restaurant. Would you expect anything less?
Osteria Mozza has garnered more than its fair share of publicity due to the stars both in kitchen and dining room so it’s tough (understatement) to snag a reservation.
Tip: try dropping in for a seat at the mozzarella bar, look for an early booking time or check out the more casual Pizzeria Mozza next door. Or fly your jet to Singapore–there’s an Osteria Mozza there, too.
Coming soon: The Wine Sisterhood visits Cowboy Wine Country and spends a day on the ranch with three real cowboys.
top image: StockXchng