Fiona Bakery was a cute little cafe in West Hollywood serving up seasonal dishes and baked goods that truly allow California’s bounty to shine. I say was, because unfortunately I just got word that they closed their doors for good this past Sunday! Such sad news, to be honest. But with crazy high rent costs and never-ending competition, the restaurant industry is a super difficult place to find success. Ever since I first spotted their sesame butter toast on Instagram, I knew I had to check it out. So when I stopped by for lunch with a good friend recently, the aforementioned bread was obviously ordered. I’m pretty much obsessed with anything involving sesame or tahini, and this did not disappoint. I loved the sweet and savory vibes going on- the sea salt honey was the perfect complement to the creamy sesame butters and chewy, yet fluffy brioche! After ogling over the beautifully impressive pastry case (and vowing to return to try more items soon), we decided to balance things out with a couple of their fresh salads. I loved the Vietnamese-meets-Cali-influenced menu- both the shredded cabbage & chicken salad and little gem salad were bright and flavorful. The menu also featured rice noodle salads and savory sweet potato pancakes- not to mention classic banh mi sandwiches that my husband absolutely adores! Those cookies stacked high in the pastry case (and the carrot cake!) continue to call my name to this day as well. Although I’m super bummed Fiona has since closed its doors, I remain hopeful the team will open another spot soon!
My love for casual, but consistently tasty breakfast and lunch spots is no secret. When we started spending more time in Los Angeles, one of my top priorities was to find a few neighborhood spots at which we could become regulars. These places need to be warm and inviting with a nice atmosphere, the food not too fussy, brew great coffee, and even better if they bake delicious pastries in house. I’d heard several people rave about Go Gem ‘Em Tiger, and once my husband and I stopped by one morning, we realized why. After scouring the menu and narrowing down our breakfast choices (no easy feat!), we snagged a table outside in the sun and sipped our coffees (they roast and sell their own beans!). I highly recommend getting yours made with their housemade almond macadamia milk! Yum! You’ll find some classics on the menu, like homemade granola and a breakfast sandwich, but we went for some of GGET’s more unique offerings. My husband loves a hash, and was all about his Spanish chorizo hash with eggs, potato, and aioli (he only wished it was bigger!). I went for the chickpea frittata, served with seasonal veggies and pickled beets! The only thing missing was hot sauce. We also shared a side of the roasted cauliflower salad, which was served cold and visible in their ready-made section, among many other tasty looking sides. Go Get ‘Em Tiger is the perfect spot for an easy, but enjoyable breakfast or lunch with friends, but also works for a quick coffee and pastry to go. I love getting to sit outside, catching the breeze and soaking up the sun. Lucky for me, they recently opened another location in my new neighborhood- I cannot wait to stop by soon!
One restaurant opening I was pretty bummed to miss while in LA was Dez, a fast-casual Middle Eastern spot in Nolita. Specializing in vegetable mezes, chef-crafted salads, bowls, and pita sandwiches, plus a a seasonal soft serve as well as housemade baked goods, this place is basically my ideal restaurant. Not to mention it was opened by one of my fave people to follow on Instagram, and fellow Brooklynite, @EdenEats (go follow her if you don't already- trust). No surprise then, that I put Dez at the top of my priority list on a recent trip to New York. I brought along my favorite eating partner, my husband Derek, and we had the perfect Middle Eastern lunch feast in the dez. I'm a huge fan of their bright and colorful mezes, vegetable-focused small plates best enjoyed with their freshly baked pita. The heavenly mix of flavors and textures did not disappoint- from the fire roasted cauliflower with crispy capers and currant chimichurri, to the honey and harissa roasted carrots with dukkah, I don't think I could pick a favorite if I tried! Derek throughly enjoyed his shawarma burger, complete with its giant shard of crispy eggplant sticking out the top! We were somehow too full for dessert (who even am I?), but I def need to get back to try their soft serve and baked goods soon. And brunch too? Sign me up!
Ever since my trip to Australia a couple years ago, I've been loving all things Aussie- the food, in particular (case in point: The Boathouse, Two Hands, The Farm at Byron Bay, and Top Shop Byron Bay)! I'm all about healthy, flavorful, and simply-prepared food that really lets the fresh ingredients shine, and Great White Venice embodies just that. The Australian owners brought the chill vibes of Oz, mixed it with that coastal-Californian flair, and created the perfect neighborhood café in Venice right by the beach! You'll find the usual suspects like avocado toast. a brekkie sandwich, and hearty grain bowl, but I highly suggest trying one of Great White's more unique offerings, like the beautiful blue smoothie bowl with passionfruit, e3 live blue algae, and chia seeds! My husband raved about his corn fritter, which looked more like a crab cake than a fried fritter, and came topped with a poached egg, avocado salsa, and grilled halloumi! Acclaimed Aussie coffee brand Vittoria is served here, so rest assured you'll find a Flat White just like you would in Sydney. I personally loved that they offered a seasonal kombucha on-tap as well! Stop by after your morning surf session, or before you hit the beach for some afternoon sun- either way you won't be disappointed. Grab a seat out front in the open-air patio for some great people watching and soak up that salty ocean breeze!
My husband has been on a serious açaí bowl kick lately, and to be honest, I'm not complaining! They're refreshing, delicious, and packed full of healthy ingredients like açaí (duh!), nuts, seeds, and other fruit! The options are pretty endless, but a good place to start is with some high quality, unsweetened açaí, either puréed and frozen or freeze-dried and powdered. The recipe for our go-to version is listed below, but feel free to play around with your favorite superfoods! We love including chia seeds, matcha powder, coconut flakes, and almond butter for a healthy, yet satisfying treat. While artfully arranging the toppings over your smoothie is not necessary, it sure does make for a pretty darn beautiful breakfast or snack! PS- Make sure you go follow my husband's catering company, Beck & Call, as well as his soon-to-be casual eatery Scratch BK, for more delicious eats!
- 2 packs açaí purée, frozen
- 1 banana, frozen
- 1 cup mixed berries, frozen
- 2 cups milk of choice (we like coconut or almond)
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- 1 tsp maca powder
- honey or agave nectar, to taste
- toppings: fresh raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, bananas, coconut flakes, granola, almond butter, matcha powder, chia seeds, hemp hearts, flax seeds, etc.
Blend everything together in a high-powered blender, like a Vitamix. You're going for a thick smoothie consistency, so that it can be eaten with a spoon. Scatter desired toppings across the bowl. Enjoy! Makes two bowls.
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I've been following Camille Becerra for a while now. She's a female chef whose approach to creating beautiful food I truly admire. In the past, she would collaborate with other chefs on menus and host pop-up dinners, but I was so excited when she finally opened her own place. De Maria is an all-day hip café in Nolita serving up a contemporary menu full of vibrant and healthy dishes. Practically everything is up my alley, so it's really hard to go wrong when ordering. For breakfast, I recommend the banana bread with flax, ginger & coconut, or the tahini yogurt with apricot, sumac & urfa bieber. Housemade soft drinks like the carrot, cinnamon, and ginger tonic are super refreshing and not too sweet. For lunch, I love the summer dragon bowl with coconut grains, turmeric poached egg, sungold tomatoes, heirloom beans & tarragon tahini- it's so satisfying and just bursting with flavor!
I also got to host a group of friends for my birthday dinner at De Maria, and although I didn't snap any pictures, everyone totally raved about the food. The lemon focaccia is perfectly fluffy and chewy, and the halibut with pappadum, chickpeas, apricot-mustard chutney, fermented cabbage & curry cultured cream was to die for. Camille's tendency to combine unique flavors so seamlessly is truly impressive, and makes you question why you didn't think to do it yourself. Don't skip out on the simple, yet delicious desserts- the raw milk ice cream with almonds & lavender makes a wonderful finish to any meal. Click through the pics to read more about these tasty brunch dishes as well. It's safe to say De Maria has joined the list of my fave NYC restaurants, and I can't wait to go back soon.