Eating L.A.

The first order of business is a big platter of thanks to those of you who shared your favorite things about Los Angeles. It was gratifying to read all of your suggestions while I was out there, and as a gesture of gratitude, I've scribbled the following report.

Local dried fruit and nuts at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. (Kim O'Donnel)

As I mentioned last week, it had been at least eight years since my last visit to sunny L.A. (temperatures climbed to 90 on Sunday), so I had a lot of catching up to do.

I suppose a trip to Los Angeles is incomplete without a celebrity sighting, and even I, who never gets any star-eye candy, had my fair share. Thursday night's supper at Suzanne Goin's Lucques included a full-on view of Zachary Quinto, the "Heroes" guy and the new "Spock" in the J.J. Abrams version of "Star Trek."

Out of the corner of my right eye, I got a peripheral of Sharon Stone, holding court in a horseshoe-shaped banquette. Her hair was something along the lines of Pat Benatar -- or as this blog suggests, maybe Don King?

We got our brush with food celebrity fame as well. It was a one-of-a-kind experience on Friday, when my friend Bill Addison and I had lunch with LA Weekly's Jonathan Gold, the only food critic to ever win a Pulitzer prize. We met him for "mind-bending Thai" at Jitlada (52331/2 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; 323-667-9809), a nondescript storefront that cranks out the spiciest food I have ever put past my lips and truly the most interesting Thai food I have ever encountered. It was an orgy of food for a group of 11 that included Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery fame (and most recently, Mozza, her pizzeria and osteria projects with Mario Batali -- and yes, Bill my friend the serial eater insisted that we eat at both places) and Phil Rosenthal, the creator of "Everybody Loves Raymond." It was nothing short of surreal for this kid from Philly.

If you were to ask me today name one thing to do in Los Angeles, I would say, hands down, go to The Getty. Set on 750 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains, the J. Paul Getty Museum is so much more than art hanging on the walls; it is an architectural masterpiece, a campus designed by the renowned architect Richard Meier and a spectacular 134,000 square-foot garden designed by artist Robert Irwin. Make time and go. You will feel like you are in the hills of Europe. It is a breathtaking, awe-inspiring experience.

I promised myself I'd make it over to the Santa Monica farmers market on Saturday, when most of the goods are certified organic, and boy am I glad I made the trip. The market itself is far from huge, but it was such fun checking out the local offerings which are much harder (and more expensive) to come by on this side of the country. I couldn't get enough of all the citrus - the oro blano grapefruit, the Meyer lemons and yes, the blood oranges! Better still, there was blood orange juice, in its purple-tinged glory, for sale, and Bill and I snatched up a few quarts for a morning quencher. Yowza.

I fell under the spell of the dried fruit and nuts on offer at one stand, most of which is processed without preservatives. I'm talking dried peaches, nectarines, pluots and persimmons, stuff straight from farm to table that just doesn't compare to what we get in the supermarket. I was in heaven.

Before heading to the airport on Sunday, we strolled around Hermosa Beach and had a late breakfast at Martha's (a place recommended by a reader named "KL") with friends who live just a few blocks away. It was a casual and fitting end to our trip, looking out at the surfers riding the waves and the kids setting up their lemonade stands.

Short answer to your anticipated question? Yes, I will be going back to Los Angeles. I had a ball and would love to keep exploring, even if it means sitting in traffic every time I merge onto a freeway ramp.

Today's Eco-Bite:
The Green Fork is a new blog on eating and dining with a sustainable palate. So far, so tasty, and check the handy list of green-eating links in the right margin.

By Kim ODonnel |  April 28, 2008; 11:27 AM ET Travel
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Are LA restaurants still required to post placards in the window indicating the score they received (letter grade) on their most recent health inspections? I was there several years ago and after I realized what the placards were for, could not fathom why EVERY city does not do likewise.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 2:33 PM

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