Stuff to try on your travels along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Driving up the coast for LA to San Francisco is worth every saved penny you can muster. San Francisco is (in my opinion) one of the greatest cities on this earth, it attitude, beauty, diversity and FOOD come together perfectly – though it can be a bit cold…
The coast from LA up was an actual dream, not a difficult drive though getting out of LA was a little tricky (one way streets and pesky highway ramps looking like little derelict lanes). We went in September and had unprecedented hot temperatures, the natural beauty is astounding and seeing Humpback whales off the pier at Pismo beach was an incredible added bonus. If you’ve got a hankering for a road trip, this is definitely one to add to the bucket list – it’s not too long and the food you can eat along the way makes it a gourmands dream.
LA really is a sprawling metropolis. We were lucky enough to stay with friends in Echo Park which gives great views but rather steep hills. I didn’t do any food planning for LA, leaving it in the totally capable hands of Chris and Emma for our culinary experiences (ps don’t forget to tune into The Kennedy’s on the BBC Friday’s which was directed and produced by this uber talented pair).
Looking for a change from kale salads, frozen yoghurt or burgers? Try some Thai food at Night and Market Song in Silverlake .
This place is brimming full of people, tastes and colour. Try the startled pig – fatty crisp, hot, sweet and sour porkness. The Pork Toro is billed as ‘Grilled fatty pig neck, salty like bacon’ – delicious. And the Moo Yang Nom Kohn – pork shoulder steeped in condensed milk and turmeric then grilled. I’ve never eaten thai food like this at home. This place is all about authenticity, its not about trimming fat off things or describing them in ways which don’t scare us. Everything was delicious go and try it. Yes we ate a lot of pig.
Sunday Brunch at Soho House West Hollywood – if you can find a way to get in here the Sunday brunch is worthy of a mention. Pricey (as you’d expect but worth it). Served until three, eat anything from waffles and fried chicken to beef brisket and BBQ sauce and every other brunch food in between. If you want to eat for hours without taking off your sunglasses it’s the place to go. That beef was probably the best I’ve ever eaten. Of course there aren’t any pictures, You’re not allowed to take pictures. You may catch your entertainment hero in flagrante/eating carbs/drinking too much Rose and sell your story to the Daily Mail.
Also, there’s a lot of trees up there, inside, on 16000th floor and the view? Epic.
Brown butter and almond brittle icecream? Maybe wildberry lavender is more up your street? Jeni’s ice cream in Los Feliz will hit that salted caramel sauce craving right on the head. You get to taste a little of whatever you want before buying, a great way to make sure you’re not missing out. I had the brown butter, it called to me and it was so very good, Kate had the salted caramel – she describes it as rounded with a real depth, which is frankly a strange way to describe ice cream, but anyway. Taste everything, ask questions and leave eating a pretty darn good ice cream.
The Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, which is incidentally a hipsters paradise, was a great space with great food. From a menu with Italian leanings Kate had some delicious clams with fennel and Calabrian sausage, Chris’s duck with apician spice, roast peppers and polenta looked like it might just about feed an infant but again was completely delicious. They also had a pasta with bottarga on offer (which I’d just watched Rick Stein waxing lyrical about – the bottarga not the dish) I didn’t have it though, which I regret now.
We left LA for our first stretch of the Pacific Coast HIghway up to Cambria (where we stayed at the Moonstone Landing which I can highly recommend). We had major plans to eat amazing things in Santa Barbara but it was so very incredibly hot, Kate had some sort of heat stroke event where she became robotic and monosyllabic so we gave it a miss,,,
We ended up passing through Pismo beach at around tea time. I was very excited, having wanted to visit Pismo since Cher and Co. had a fund raiser for it in Clueless. It’s a beaut of a little place. I was desperate to eat a famous Pismo Old West cinnamon roll and Kate was set on some local fried fish. She got the fish, we passed a huge queue for the rolls and arrived back as someone turned the sign to CLOSED on the bakery door – deflated isn’t even the word…
We chose the fullest place on the beach to try some fish tacos and squid – The Splash Cafe.
There were plenty of plaudits on the wall exhaulting their clam chowder. Crispy coated Prawns and soft calamari made Kate’s day, she developed a new found love of fish tacos which elicited the ever faithful response of ” ooh I could easily eat these every day”. I sulked.
In part 2 – Big Sur’s coast and its BBQ bounty, Napa’s Tapas and glorious San Francisco.