Archive for May, 2011

The Market at Santa Monica Place is Open

May 20, 2011

Santa Monica Place is the new mall at the start of the 3rd Street Promenade. Panda Express used to be the anchor of the old mall’s food court. On the 3rd floor a new high end “dining deck” and “market” just opened and it’s a nice place for tourists and well-heeled locals alike.

Focusing on artisanal and organic gourmet food, drinks and gifts it embodies the current trends in cuisine and shopping. The opening night party attracted attractive westsiders who sampled goods from the many purveyors.

The highlight was Norcino Sulumeria and Cheese Bar.

Who can resist an overflowing stock of meat and cheese.

They were slicing fresh mortadella, prosciutto, salami and more.

They were even hand-pulling fresh burrata.

Norcino is the perfect place to come for a sampling on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Another Italian option is Primi al Mercato. Serving as both a retail outlet and causal trattoria, Primi dished up piping hot al dente pasta.

Rockenwagner is a beachside staple. They have a bakery at The Market, serving pretzel baguettes amongst a variety of other items.

They even adorned a mannequin in pretzels, because salt is the new black.

Venokado wine shop has armies of bottles standing at the ready.

Their tasting room and gifts make this a good pre-dinner stop.

There were plenty of desserts. Nice Cream, The Cookie Guru and Beachy Cream all will vie for your sweet tooth.

L’Artisan du Chocolat and Groundwork Coffee round out the after dinner offerings.

Magical Blooms is the sole flower shop in The Market.

The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories will host three and four hour cookie classes, demos, signings and special events. The culinary stylings of Kleiman and Gold took their Good Food banter on the road for a special demo in front of a packed house.

The Curious Palate seemed very busy cooking but I didn’t see any food so I didn’t try anything. Here is a sample of their menu.

Overall The Market at SMP could use a catchier name like Eataly. However, it does serve as a nice place to spend an afternoon or evening. It’s certainly a step up from Sbarro and Hot Dog on a Stick.


Cinco de Mayo Dinner and a Movie (Maker)

May 4, 2011

It’s very rare that my day job and blog collide. So here’s a post that combines the two:

A few months ago I saw a preview screening of Casa de Mi Padre– the comedy where Will Ferrell performs entirely in Spanish alongside Mexican superstars, Gael Garcia BernalĀ andĀ Diego Luna. It’s shot like a telenovela and worth watching when it hits theaters.

Right now there’s a great movie called Private Perez in theaters in Mexico. It will be released stateside on September 16th. It’s also a comedy, but follows a group of drug traffickers in search of the cartel leader’s lost brother, who went missing in action in Iraq.

On the heels of both films, and with Cinco de Mayo in the air, I thought it was an appropriate time to write about my recent dinner with the producer and director of Private Perez. They made tacos at my business partner’s house and invited me to join in the fun. Although Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, and really is just an excuse for Americans to get drunk, it’s also a reason to post about this simple, homemade Mexican meal.

Happy hour consisted of Tecate with salt and lime and cool, fresh slices of jicama.

Guacamole, rice and beans topped the steak and chicken tacos in a choice of either flour or corn tortillas. Two salsas, cilantro and onions were available for added flavor (as well as fresh habaneros).

Mezcal made its way tableside halfway through the meal. It was very smokey, almost like Talisker scotch, and had the requisite worm floating at the bottom.

For dessert, this simple princess cake:

The playlist for the evening included banda hits and Lila Downs.

Between the princess cake, pug, mezcal and Monkey House beer it was an international celebration in the end.

Remember, tomorrow night, don’t drink and drive.