4 Culinary Adventures was founded on the proposition that travelers should immerse themselves in the culture & native food of their destinations. That begins with your lodging. On a recent trip to Southern California, my wife and I found lodging that fit the bill in a quiet neighborhood in West Hollywood. The Le Parc Hotel is a renovated four-story apartment building, which meant we had a large room that was once efficiency. It came with a fireplace, a kitchenette, and a large living area with a step-up bedroom. The icing on the cake, for my wife, was a separate dressing table and a walk-in closet. This was ultimate comfort for less than $220/night. PLUS free valet parking—you must have a car in California!
As if that was not enough, the roof area (they call it the Skydeck) reveals a picture-perfect pool area with a view of the Hollywood Hills. It has two bars, a tennis court, and— in the warmer months—dinner. We found our basecamp! The restaurant (the Knoll) is a cozy bistro for 42. It provides a creative & contemporary cuisine that satisfies both the all-American & continental palate. It’s California, so fresh, organic, and natural is assumed. We could have settled our cuisine & cultural immersion at just the La Parc. But Hollywood and nearby Los Angeles communities have so much more to offer. Our itinerary included a visit to the Original Farmers Market, a drop-in at the Sur La Table store to see their wares & check out their cooking classes, and grazing on the comfort food of Hollywood. Let’s get started.
The Original Farmer’s Market has offered fresh local produce since 1934. It started with 19 farmers selling from their trucks and has grown to more than 100 shops, restaurants, and grocers.
It’s a historical & cultural monument & a must-see stop for every tourist. N. Fairfax Avenue & W. 3rd Street. Just ask anyone. We jumped right in with a homemade crepe & an old-fashioned root beer float. And, yes I did spill it on my shirt.
At Sur la Table we browsed the store and lamented how we could not take everything back on the plane. Luckily, dozens are located throughout the United States and one is only five miles from my house. An informative discussion with Resident Chef Mike Schafer revealed that 4 Culinary Adventures could conduct Weekends 4 Foodies cooking classes at almost every Sur la Table in the country.
I know where my Southern California class will be. After walking off our crepes & root beer float, we made our way to Canter’s (416 N. Fairfax Ave.), just a few short blocks from the market. If you know Katz’s Deli in Manhattan, you will be happy to know Canter’s is the Los Angeles version of Katz’s. It’s a historic traditional Jewish deli with an enormous menu, enormous flavors, and enormous portions. Since 1931, Canter’s has been handing out great food, mother’s advice, and 24-hour service. My wife ordered her usual corned beef on rye. I ordered my traditional chopped liver & onions, but with a twist.
I wanted it on gluten-free bread. “Why would you want to eat that stuff?” asked our waitress. “I have a slight allergy to wheat & I get a rash. Can I have it toasted?” “Of course it’s toasted,” she retorted. “That’s the only way anyone can eat it. What did you do for the rash before?” “I scratched it.” “So scratch it & eat the chopped liver on rye.” Suddenly I was back in Brooklyn and my grandmother was telling me I must eat a peck of dirt before I die. The next day we ventured down the Sunset Strip & had a simple lunch at Carneys Express. A railroad car turns into hotdog heaven. Nothing fancy here, but about 10 different versions of the beloved hot dog. We got one Chicago Dog & one Manhattan Dog. Guess which one I got. The Nathan’s vs. Vienna conflict is always with us. Time was running out so we squeezed in a trip to the Hollywood Museum. Four floors of costumes, equipment, and memorabilia from both TV & movies. Well worth the stop. If you long for a malt, French fries, and a hamburger ala 1955, Mel’s Drive-in Diner is right next door to the museum.
On our final night, we went old-school 1940s. Miceli’s (1646 N. Palmas Ave.) is a 70-plus-year-old restaurant with traditional Sicilian food & about 5,000 basket-covered wine bottles hanging from the ceiling. In the old days, guests would sign & put notes on the bottles. Here we have real Italian comfort food: heavy red, I-cooked-it-all-day sauce with a hint of sugar, a simple red table wine, and garlic bread that makes you go home & brush your tongue. It’s a neighborhood place, so please don’t look like a tourist or ask for a “new Tuscany Blend.” You will leave stuffed like you just ate at grandma’s & still have money in your wallet. No time to return to one of my favorites, Barney’s Beanery (8447 Santa Monica Blvd.), a 93-year-old roadhouse that has served celebrities from Jean Harlow to Jim Morrison to me. Photos & news clippings cover the walls with the history of this Hollywood landmark. There is still more to see and do in Hollywood, especially on the side streets. We travel to great places to eat extraordinary food & learn history, culture, and how to have fun from the locals. What more could we want?
Join Patrick Barney as he explores his love of travel & food around the world & in his home town of Las Vegas.