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Gluten Free in the City of Angels

Santa Monica in February

Random Notes:: 

I've been back in New Mexico for a week - a week that has skidded by at an alarming rate (it's true what they tell you about time accelerating as you advance in years, I'm sorry to say). Monday morphed into Friday with nary a blink. I've been playing correspondence catch-up, shoveling snow, doing heaps of laundry, and sifting through e-mails. I slid through Valentine's Day with a yawn and a shiver and a rain check in spite of good intentions and an armful of  red roses. Steve and I are both nursing a cold- the first we've caught in three years. Memories of those balmy afternoons sipping vanilla lattes in Santa Monica are fading fast.

Albuquerque was dark and well below freezing when we boarded the plane to LAX. Two and a half hours later we were strolling the Santa Monica farmer's market in the morning sun, inhaling the ocean air, our winter jackets abandoned, tossed in the back seat of the rental car. It was lovely if not surreal.

After scoping out the nearby Wild Oats, Whole Foods, and Third Street Promenade, we headed up to The Grove to drop in on our son, Colin, who was teaching a class at The Studio/Creative Bar at the Apple Store.



The Food Issue::
We stayed at The Embassy Hotel and Apartments so that I could have a kitchen. I'm not adventurous when it comes to dining out. Truth is I waited five gluten-free years before I took the risk. Those of you who were undiagnosed for years understand. Flirting with celiac symptoms is not sexy. I'd rather eat rice cakes and peanut butter and be able to cruise the town without testing out every powder room between Hollister and the Miracle Mile. 

Luckily, in Los Angeles I had more choices than rice cakes.

I found plenty of things to stock the kitchen at Whole Foods and Wild Oats - gluten-free bread, Applegate Farms organic smoked turkey, beautiful cheeses, berries, Redbridge sorghum beer (my first gluten-free beer!) and even a decent frozen GF pizza shell we topped with spinach and jalapeno jack cheese. We broiled fresh salmon from Trader Joe's, and made roasted potatoes. We made blue corn nachos. Scrambled eggs with corn tortillas. Easy and good.

The best dinner out was at The Border Grill in Santa Monica- owned by the Too Hot Tamales. It was a quiet Sunday night (some kind of game was on?). After ordering some lip smacking top shelf margaritas and settling in with Colin for some getting caught up chit chat- nourished by blue tortilla chips and lime laced tomatillo salsa- hunky Chef Ishmael came to our table to discuss the meal preparation and offer his gluten-free recommendations from the menu. The chunky guacamole we shared was robust and authentic. I ordered the smoky-garlicky grilled shrimp and greens with rice. Babycakes, it was to die for. The best shrimp I have ever eaten. Seriously. And for dessert, there was flourless Aztec chocolate cake, aka melt-in-your-mouth chocolate orgasm. Yes. This was one happy and contented gluten free goddess. My heartfelt kudos and sigh-of-relief-thanks to Chef Ishmael for a not only safe, but fabulous meal-- You rock, dude!.



Our apartment view, the local surf report and Venice Beach.

Hangin'::
While Steve took meetings in Santa Monica and Culver City [Steve sold his first screenplay, this winter- did I mention that?] I got to hang with Colin, as he had the week off. We lunched safely vegan-style-- three times-- at Real Food Daily, once sitting next to one of my favorite actors, Alan Arkin - nominated for Little Miss Sunshine this year.

We shopped at
Wasteland on Melrose [both of us snagging several Diesel and LA designer bargains], sipped Jamba Juice, walked Venice Beach, talked about [Colin's] music, my impending artistic choices, movies we loved (and hated) this year. Not to mention, the various ironies and synchronicities of life.

To have one whole week to listen, to witness, to soak in the presence of your amazing twenty-four year old son is delicious beyond words.

 I came home well fed.