Now it’s LA and what a change from modest San Francisco! It’s sunny, it’s flat and it’s massive. Joans on Third is the first stop and Joan gives me a reception of a lifetime, with enough food, actually, to last at least a lifetime or two. And if that isn’t enough, she brings some more goodie bags to dinner later on, just in case I am still hungry. Joan’s popular cafe/deli is a bit of a stars’ Mecca. But it is also pretty good! Joan’s pickles and short rib sandwich are heartachingly good.
Here’s Joan, on the right, with Lucy Lean, author, blogger, expert of all LA and food related topics and the worthy organiser of most of my LA engagements.
Dinner is at Animal, where chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo do the honourable thing and turn their meaty joint (think St John’s, but grungier) into a righteous vegetarian temple. They do it with style and grace and with no complaints. The dishes – perfectly executed – are all from Plenty and I have to pay the price and individually personalise 150 copies. Ouch!
Dinner is another Plenty event, this time at Soho House. With the help of Nikki and Max (actually, those two lovely people do everything, I just window dress), we serve 60 diners butternut, fennel and other veggies. But what I get most excited about is the design and layout of this member’s club, occupying the 2 top floors of 14 storey building on Sunset Blvd. Surreptitiously (photography isn’t allowed), I manage to take some pictures of the space and views. As Americans say, it’s awesome.
My last day in San Francisco I spend with Heidi Swanson, a venerated cookbook author and one of the first and most popular food bloggers. She’s also generous, kind, knowledgeable and a total pleasure to be with.
Together we visit Big Daddys Antiques and then Rainbow Foods, a quirky food co-op that couldn’t possibly exist anywhere but in California, with 6 types of organic peanut butter sold from barrels, hundreds of grains in jars and about a hectare worth of weird vitamins.
Lastly, Heidi and her partner Wayne treat me to a delicious goodbye from America at NOPA, the chefs’ hangout and centre of pure comfort. I think I’ll be back.