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Some granola lovers long for the perfect, trusty blend—that one granola with an ideal texture, spice combination and sweetness level—that they can turn to any time their yogurt needs topping. Others, like me, crave variety and maybe even a touch of exoticism when it comes to the baked grain. To both types, I present Granola Mama’s Handmade. Made in a home kitchen in Silver Lake, Granola Mama’s is a fantastic gourmet line inspired by global flavors, from Portland to Vienna.
I first sampled this scrumptious granola at last year’s Artisanal L.A., which is where many home kitchen brands—now possible thanks to California’s it-was-about-time-already Cottage Food Law—make their first impressions on L.A. foodies. Granola Mama’s owner Wendy Osmundson made her mark with an intriguing variety of flavors that aim to capture the essence of the placs they’re named after. One of my favorites to eat by the handful is the insanely addictive Paris Blend, covered in 70% dark chocolate, carmelized organic evaporated cane juice sugar, butter and sea salt with hazelnuts and freeze-dried raspberry mix ins. Freeze-dried fruit is one of the savviest elements of the granola, adding an unexpected texture that veers from the usual chewy dried fruit. It really works in the Hanalei Blend, which includes sweet freeze-dried pineapple chunks along with coconut chips and macadamia nuts.
But it’s not all about the sweet stuff—interestingly, savory flavors also make an appearance in Granola Mama’s concoctions. While still lightly sweet, the Bangkok Blend includes basil, mint, cilantro, lime juice and Thai chiles while the Milan Blend adds sage and white pepper to the mix. Chocolate and chili lovers can get their fix from the Oaxaca Blend, made with dried chiles, Mexican chocolate, pepitas, peanuts and almonds, a combination that lends nice contrast to fruit smoothies.
Granola Mama’s is available on the Granola Mama website and Good Eggs, where you can find lots of great local products. You can also buy the well-designed bags of granola locally at The LA County Store in Silver Lake, Earth Flow Urban Design Works in Highland Park, at the Los Feliz Farmers’ Market, and the Altadena Farmers’ Market (starting in July).
As if we didn’t have enough reasons to love Highland Park’s Good Girl Dinette, now there’s this: The Vietnamese comfort food haven has teamed up with Cognoscenti Coffee. The match made is foodie heaven combines Good Girl owner Diep Tran’s out-of-hand pastries—mini seasonal pies, slices of buttery pound cake, and even savory biscuits made with shrimp and lap xuong (Chinese sausage)—with Cognoscenti barista Jack Benchakul’s perfect brew.
The coffee is served from a very cool looking pop-up cart called a Modbar. You can check it out for yourself from 8-3 weekdays, when they’ll just be serving pastries and coffee, and on weekends from 9-2, when the full breakfast menu is in effect. Seriously, if you haven’t tried Good Girl’s breakfast, you are missing out, and the same goes for Cognoscenti’s super smooth espresso. I wrote about the former a while back, and I’m still in love with the Coconut Oatmeal with Ginger Syrup, that freaking Lady Boy, and (oh my god) the Tumeric Dill Hash—the Maggi Steak and Eggs has also had its way with me.
Here are some photos to get you all worked up, courtesy of Good Girl Dinette and Cognoscenti Coffee–photographer Amparo Rios of R.E. Photography took the fantastic Modbar shots.
Good Girl Dinette
110 N Ave 56,
I first tried EggSlut a year ago when it was serving out of a humble truck parked in front of Handsome Roasters in the downtown arts district. The gourmet egg sandwiches and imaginative potato concoctions (crowds fall over themselves for the often sold out pureed potato cooked and served in a dainty glass jar) coming out of its mobile kitchen were impressive. Recently, EggSlut upgraded just slightly to a permanent food stall as part of the changes to the Grand Central Market downtown. There was such clamor over a brick-and-mortar EggSlut that, on their opening day, they sold out of breakfast before 11am.
We stopped in for a late weekend brunch, and the hearty egg sandwiches left us feeling as happy and bright as the sunny-side-ups we just devoured. The egg, sausage and cheddar served on a biscuit was a triumph of baking chemistry and flakiness. To borrow from the recent craze over Cronuts, Cro-doughs and the like, this biscuit should be deemed a Cro-scuit for its combination of light, flaky layers and dense, hearty biscuit dough. I also give them an extra special gold star for heaping their sandwiches thick with ooey, gooey Tillamook cheddar cheese. Every bite left me going back for more, if only because the springy, melted cheese strands acted like boomerangs that returned me happily to the home base of my biscuit-wich.
We went big that morning and also ordered the EggSlut burger, topped with avocado, caramelized onions, over-easy egg, cheddar and served on a fluffy brioche bun. The beef patty was thick and juicy, with the full, buttery taste of quality meat. The melted cheddar and the runny yolk mingled beautifully together, and, with the smooth avocado, caused each bite to be creamy and indulgent.
The potato dish on offer that day was a Pavé—imagine a precisely layered au gratin, cut into individual bricks and toasted to a golden brown. It was a refined and delicate counterpoint to our messy runny sandwiches. Our meal ended with lots of discarded napkins as we wiped the yolk off our hands and from the corners of the huge smiles on our faces.
at Grand Central Market
317 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Jennifer is a staff writer for Eastside Food Bites. Learn more about her on our Contributor’s page.
Since their opening last October, I find myself at SQIRL once a week, mostly because their food tastes like home cooking ratcheted up to a notch that I myself would never bother with, but am happy paying $5-12 dollars to enjoy. SQIRL summons a steady cult following that consistently crowds its small Silver Lake space for their simple, farm-fresh fare (focusing on homemade jams and ingredients sourced within 350 miles) and adventurous daily specials. Their changing chalkboard menu lists such basics as brioche toast slathered with nut butters and house-made jams, pesto rice bowls, pies and quiches as well as unusual seasonal specials, like squid ink cavatelli, lobster rolls and duck confit.
My usual meal at SQIRL is some variation on their brioche toast—they make it savory or sweet, buttered and browned with any combination of spreads, house-made ricotta, jam, and nut butter, or heaped with sautéed kale, tomatillo jam, a subtle lacto-fermented hot sauce and a fried egg. This week I settled on the brioche topped with a silken ricotta and Black Mission Fig & La Clarine Mourvedre jam. Basically that is a fancy, hifalutin way of saying fig and red wine jam, but SQIRL, with their tiny kitchen and mismatched serving plates and silverware, does not come off as pretentious in their execution or follow the farm-to-table fad blindly. There is an earnestness and sincerity to all that they do.
My brioche toast, as usual, was optimally crisped on the outside while remaining soft and buttery in the center. The warm toasted bread paired well with the slight chill of the smooth ricotta, and the fresh fig jam added just the right note of sweetness, with satisfying chunks of chewy, marinated figs.
If there’s one thing Figueroa Boulevard needs it’s breakfast. There are some notable staples—Antigua Bread, Metro Balderas, La Fuente—but there’s no denying that some new blood is in order. That’s why I was intrigued when I heard that Good Girl Dinette is now serving breakfast! Owner Diep Tran says she labored over the new morning menu, and it shows. The meticulously edited “American diner meets Vietnamese comfort food” menu hits all the necessary sweet and savory notes while offering something novel to the complacent breakfast goer.
Ordering oatmeal at a restaurant is usually a mea culpa for eating three chili dogs the night before. Inspired by chè, a Vietnamese pudding, Tran’s Coconut Oatmeal isn’t useful for such self-flagellation. Steel-cut oats are made creamy and decadent with coconut milk and topped with sweet ginger maple syrup and crushed sesame seeds. The oats are soaked overnight, so they’re only minimally cooked, giving the dish a lightly grainy texture.
Not too far from Verdugo Bar, hiding under a “Bakery #1″ sign in a strip mall, is a breakfast and lunch spot that should be packed every day. It’s not, and selfishly I’d like to keep it that way, but I believe in restaurant karma. So, here it goes: Lemon Poppy Seed Kitchen is a small restaurant run by friendly people that specializes in Romanian flatbreads called plachintas—two tortilla-like layers stuffed with feta, dill and scallion or bacon and cheddar, for example. They are divine, scrumptious, lovely, addictive, and served three ways: warm and sliced with a side of sour cream; folded over melted mozzarella, greens, olives and tomatoes; or under two yolky eggs, swiss chard and onions.
And that’s only half of it. Lemon Poppy Kitchen’s menu also covers big, meaty (and vegetarian) sandwiches, a breakfast menu that includes a biscuit sandwich and polenta cakes, a solid pastry case, real coffee and house-made sodas. It’s that place you’ve been looking for…that we’ve all been looking for.
Drunk, ravenous and too late for anything else. For years, all three conditions had to be met for me to brave The Brite Spot. But, it’s a new day, and the classic Echo Park diner recently received a makeover by owner and habitual restaurant revamper Dana Hollister (she’s also behind renovations at Villain’s Tavern, 4100 Bar and Cliff’s Edge). The update brings new outside seating, a slightly more sparkly interior, fresher ingredients and an updated menu.
Breakfast is how I like to judge diners, so we decided to try out the new Brite Spot on a busy weekday morning. Chicken & Waffles, Brussels & Bacon Hash (yes, brussel sprouts) topped with poached eggs, and The Hangover, a scramble Chicken Andoullie sausage, potatoes and habanero pesto, all intrigued. However, we took one for the team and ordered the A Burger for Breakfast special—a turkey patty, hash browns, bacon, and fried eggs all crammed between a maple-aioli-smeared brioche bun. It was as tasty as it was ridiculous.
Sure, Griffith Park is one of LA’s most majestic treasures. The Central Park of LA, it’s truly an outstanding public space with lots of fantastic attractions—Travel Town, the Carousel, pony rides, hiking trails, baby swings…you name it. But, something it also has, though rarely acknowledged, is one of the best veggie sandwiches in LA.
The avocado sandwich at The Trails Cafe, a cute little outside eatery at the base of the Griffith Observatory trail, is a lunchtime triumph, stacked high on dark, sweet bread with at least half an avocado, tomatoes, red onion, cheddar and mayo. It’s even sprinkled with soy bacon bits, which would normally scare me, but on this sandwich it works very well, adding salty crunch.
I could eat the thing everyday.
And as if that weren’t enough, Trails also makes a bevy of baked goods, vegan and otherwise, all from scratch. This cheddar and chive scone is buttery, flaky, dense, and draped in cheddar that once bubbled and dripped. Other savory options include quiches, hand pies, cheesy tarts and even some fancy pigs in a blanket called “Snakedogs”.
This bread. It’s the reason I never miss Atwater Village Farmers’ Market on Sundays. To me, it’s the main draw. And that’s saying a lot because that little market, though compact, is full of all the stuff I love to eat—top notch fruits and vegetables, fresh meat, fruit pies, artisanal cheeses, and this bread from Mission Viejo’s Old Village Bakery.
There must be fifty Kalamata olives in every loaf. The outer texture is golden and crusty, the inside soft and chewy. It’s a fantastic (extravagantly fanciful; marvelous) addition/focal point to a Sunday morning breakfast:
Though not exactly necessary, adding a thick schmear of unsalted butter or some goat cheese from Soledad Farm’s (also available at the market) is pure bliss. But whether you doctor it up or not, this bread is ideal for sopping up yolky eggs. I imagine it would also be pretty spectacular as part of a chicken salad sandwich or dipped into some soup.
If I could ever make it past breakfast before tearing into it, I’d find out.
The speed at which York Boulevard’s food scene is developing has hit break-neck status recently. There’s that new French place Ba, a little place called Fusion Burgers has quietly opened across the street from Maximiliano, and now there seems to be enough room for two cafes.
That’s right. Highland Cafe has opened a few doors down from mainstay Cafe de Leche. The new place, housed in what was the Guatemalan restaurant El Chapin just a few months ago, stakes its claim with a small, Mexican-tinged breakfast and lunch menu along with a full coffee bar fueled by Downtown’s Handsome Coffee Roasters.
The new restaurant/coffee house courts a college crowd, offering a 10 percent discount to Oxy students and plenty of room (plus a few easy chairs) to hash out the deets of a class project. Even so, the crowd is mixed enough that older-than-22 patrons won’t feel out of place and probably won’t mind paying full price for above average egg dishes, pastries, sandwiches and salads.