Plan Check

I’ve made a really obvious recent discovery: The LA Times website has an entire section devoted to food on the Westside! How did I not figure this out sooner? Obviously, the second I figured out that this section of the site existed I read all the entries that have been posted in the past year.

In one of the more recent entries there was a description of Plan Check, a new gastropub in the Sawtelle area in Los Angeles. For those not familiar, Sawtelle is basically referred to as Little Osaka. The area is near the 405 and boasts tons of delicious restaurants featuring Asian food, specifically lots of Japanese food. There are two Japanese grocery stores and shops. I have come here in the past for noodles, sushi, and boba tea.

Plan Check popped up on some of the twitter feeds of foodies in LA I respect so it obviously shot to the top of my “must try” list. Obviously I enlisted my friend Kelly to check it out with me. She was in the second she heard that the former executive chef from Umami Burger was behind this bar.

Kelly and I went early on a Wednesday and had no issues getting in. We immediately plopped down in a booth and interrogated the drink menu. I decided on a Little Osaka Sour, which is a whiskey sour with sake!

I’ve probably been ruined by living in cities but $9 doesn’t seem that bad for a special cocktail. This drink was similar to a traditional whiskey sour and it was strong! I got my $9 worth.

Kelly had this one night only drink that I forgot the name of but it was pretty.

Kelly is more or less my dining soul mate. We like all the same things and we both like to split our dishes to maximize the food we get to try.

We started with the beet salad with whipped goat cheese, spinach and balsamic vinegar because, you know, whipped goat cheese.

Whipped goat cheese is the food of the gods. I highly recommend this dish. It reminded me of summer and it was light. Plus did I mention the whipped goat cheese? Yep. Delicious way to start the meal.

Kelly and I wanted to try one of the burgers and one of the entrees. I am not a huge fan of eggs but I took a chance and ordered the Chef’s Favorite burger. The burger is cheese two ways, bacon two ways, ketchup leather, sunny fried egg, hot sauce. Behold!

I feel like that parmesan crisp on top is a dead giveaway from Umami. This was delicious! I was quite pleased. It wasn’t overly eggy or hot saucey. It was super baconey and cheesy. These aren’t words but don’t worry about it. I would order this again. Once we cut into the egg the yoke went everywhere which I really liked. I would order this again.

We also tried the fried chicken.

Crispy skin, gravy and yams. This was also quite good. The skin was crispy and the meat was very moist. Note that when you order the fried chicken there is also a fried chicken sandwich which I want to try when I go back.

I gleaned from yelp that the fries aren’t that great but the veggie chips are delicious so that’s what we ordered as a side. They came with guac and were delicious. Perfect size for sharing.

For dessert there was only one thing we wanted to try: house made donuts.

I was overcome with excitement when they came out to the table and I ate them before I got a picture. Whoops.

Cinnamon sugar deliciousness.

I would totally come back to Plan Check. It’s near where I live, has great drinks and enough menu options that I want to have again, or try for the first time. I didn’t have one but there is a great local beer list for those who want beer and there are several other cocktails I still want to try. Definitely will be making a return trip to Plan Check!

In other news: I have a week and a half left of law school class. Who let that happen?! I also was a beast on my 10 mile run yesterday finishing it in an hour and 33 mins. The last time I ran ten miles nearly that quickly was in the Rock n Roll San Diego 1/2. Not sure I’ll be able to bust my PR in Pasadena next month but fingers crossed. These training times bode well.

Drinksy Carter

When I first was accepted at UCLA Law I came out to LA to tour the campus. At the time I was very anxious about moving cross country (again) and leaving my adopted city, Boston, behind. I went to LA thinking there was NO WAY I was going to leave Boston to attend UCLA. Of course, we all know how that worked out. But at the time I was convinced I couldn’t do another cross country move to a city where I didn’t know anyone. Lucky for me, I wasn’t totally alone. I had my Mom’s cousin Joe to guide me.

My Mom literally has dozens of cousins, and that trip to see UCLA was my first time I actually meet Joe. He and my friend Catie greeted me in LA for dinner after my campus tour. Joe, my Mom, my friend Catie, and I rolled into an Italian restaurant in Brentwood and Joe immediately pointed out the “plastic surgery gallery” sitting in front of the window. That was the moment I knew Joe and I would be friends.

Joe filled a role that I didn’t have in Boston: that of caring adult willing to guide me through some major “20 something moving to LA” milestones. Joe brought me to Target (before we both started boycotting it) when I didn’t have a car to help me buy essentials (by essentials I clearly mean Christmas decorations and flip flops). Joe introduced me to some stellar east side restaurants like The Kitchen, Masa, Mohawk Bend, Taylor’s, Local, and Allston Yacht Club. Joe taught me how to drive defensively on the 101. Joe also came with me when I bought my car and I could not have completed the process without him. He also refused to let me drive the streets of LA without a GPS -> seriously, the best gift anyone has ever given me. He helped me move more than once. He let me tag along at a United Way event where I met Arne Duncan and cosigned my weirdo politico crush. For more than two years Joe listened to me complain, try to cope with struggles, and gossiped with me about my 20 something girl problems, always providing seasoned guidance without being a parent about it.

Joe announced a month ago that he was leaving LA to perform in a play in Houston. Of course, I was borderline devastated at the news. We decided to have one last LA dinner at Mohawk Bend. I parked at his place, took in the emptying apartment. We had a fantastic meal at Mohawk. I haven’t blogged about Mohawk yet, but it’s a great restaurant with a fab California craft beer list. Seriously, one for the ages. On the way back he said that there was something he wanted me to have…

Drinksy Carter.

Drinksy is a cocktail cart that Joe had in his apartment. Longtime readers might remember my obsession with getting a cocktail cart. I actually blogged about it nearly 2 years ago and have been on a prowl ever since with a tiny budget and minimal luck. I even threw in the towel and bought a cocktail tray for my new apartment. Joe graciously gave me Drinksy as a parting gift before he left LA and I promise I’m giving her a good home. Drinksy is adorned with martini glasses, vermouth, St. Germain, Bordeaux, a jigger, and my cocktail mixing supplies (which I outlined in this post).

Drinksy also has some new additions. I snagged this amazing vintage glass cocktail shaker at the Fairfax high school flea market (which happens every Sunday). Obviously, I decided it was perfect when I realized it was old and had a Parisian theme. I also have a 1950’s bar towel compliments of my mother. I think it fits well with the feel of Drinksy. Drinksy is also now home to a super old meat thermometer one of my friends found at an antique store in Utah and brought back for me because it’s two things I love: old and kitchen. There really isn’t another home for it so Drinksy is providing a resting place.

I also repurposed my old cocktail tray into a jewelry tray. I moved my California National Horse Trails award to my dresser and simply laid out some of my jewelry. I almost never remember to put on jewelry and I’m hoping that being able to see it in the morning will inspire me to wear it more. I have some great pieces that are completely underutilized.

I must say that I am very pleased to fulfill my dream of owning a cocktail cart but I’m sad it had to come at the expense of Joe leaving LA. Joe leaves this weekend and while I am sad to see him go I am thankful for all the support he gave me over the past 2 1/2 years (and for Drinksy). I know you’re going to be successful Joe. After all, you bloom where you’re planted.

San Francisco Treats

Oh kids. Buckle up for an insane post. I have been to the promise land (San Francisco) and the food is good!

Why did I go to San Francisco? Well, normally I wouldn’t go out of town once during a semester let alone twice, two weeks in a row. Last week, after coming back from Chicago, I made the decision to go to SF this weekend. My law school friend Chrissy has been living in SF externing and my college roommate and treat soul mate Carolyn was also going to be in town to run the Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon. When another friend agreed to carpool it became clear that this trip was meant to be.

I drove up Friday, checked in with friends in Berkeley and went to a pot luck in the city. It was an awesome night and there are no photos.

Except this one:

Saturday, however, I made up for it. Chrissy and Kelly brought me to the San Francisco Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building.

It was love at first sight.

I even tried a new variety of apple: Hawaiian apples! It was sweet and crisp. In addition to the regular farm stand items they also had prepared food and the venders inside the Ferry Building.

Chrissy started me off with what was probably the greatest thing I’d ever eaten (Note that I said that statement a lot yesterday).

The first item we ripped into at 10:30 was this amahzing Porchetta sandwich with arugula from Roli Roti. The three of us split the sandwich and it was far and away the best pork sandwich I’ve ever consumed.

Crunchy, saucy, spicy perfection. We all split it and it was so so so so amazing. I would have this weekly if I lived nearby.

Then we moved to another stand, El Porteno.

First we got an empanada. I chose cheese and caramelized onion and again, we split it.

Again, cheesy perfection. I loved it and couldn’t get enough.

Chrissy they said that the dolce de leche cookie looked really good and maybe we should split it. This is why I’m friends with Chrissy. Obviously.

This was a delicious buttery cookie with dolce de leche caramel in the middle. It was as good as it looks.

Once inside I made sure to make a pit stop at Blue Bottle Coffee.

I’ve had this place on my radar for a while and, as a coffee aficionado, I couldn’t wait to check it out. The wait was long but I knew I had to try this coffee so I persevered and stayed in line. It was so worth it.

Smoothest latte of my life. Love this and if I lived in San Francisco I would probably quit Starbucks and Coffee Bean cold turkey and only drink this. I know that is an extreme statement but it’s true!

After the Farmer’s Market I said goodbye to Chrissy and Kelly for a while and I went on a walk through San Francisco to meet Carolyn at, where else, a bakery.

When I travel I really like to wander the city I’m, absorb the spirit and stumble upon new things. The walk to the bakery was three miles so I got to see a lot of the city everything from the Mission to city hall to the tenderloin which is famous for crime, drug use, and Hastings law school.

Streetcars.

City Hall. This building reminded me of Milk and made me want to run for office so badly it’s not even funny.

Trees near city hall.

Houses in the Mission.

After a long walk I made it to my destination, Tartine Bakery.

Tartine came heavily recommended from several people and Carolyn had already made one trip there so I knew I was in for some delicious eats.

I hopped in line and salivated at everything in the case.

Carolyn had already warned me about the croque monsieur and I knew that in addition to treats I HAD to order it.

I was not disappointed.

This may be one of the best things I’ve ever had to eat. A bold proclamation but I feel confident making it.

This sandwich is an open face sandwich with béchamel, gruyere, thyme and pepper. I want another right now so badly.

Oh, and it was topped with heirloom tomatoes.

Carolyn soon joined me and we ate our treats.

First I had a chocolate walnut cookie. Obviously, it was delicious.

We also got some delicious macaroons.

How adorable is it?

We decided, however, to take the treat up another notch.

Clearly, Carolyn and I sniffed out soft serve ice cream like a couple of bloodhounds. It was from Bi-Rite creamery across the street from Tartine.

This is good.

But this….

Is even better.

We sat down in Dolores Park, got a second hand weed high and ate our treats.

Pure excitement.

After treats we stumbled upon $2.50 sangria, had a drink and then made our way back to Chrissy and Kelly’s for dinner.

But first we had a friend photo shoot.

I love everything about this.

Then we went to Slanted Door for appetizer and drinks with Chrissy and Kelly…

And Osha for a pre race dinner for Carolyn. We had Thai food. I enjoyed dinner, my friends and was too busy having fun to take pictures. Even though there aren’t words I promise it was delicious. After dinner I said bye to Carolyn, foam rolled my legs.

Chrissy and I took her dog Penny on a long walk through Chinatown to North Beach, areas of the city I hadn’t seen. On the way home we were part of a police chase! You can read about our police chase here. Literally, we were standing on a corner one moment and behind a police line the next!

This morning I woke up and had to leave pretty early. I took one final spin through the Ferry Building this morning. I helped myself to another Blue Bottle Coffee and went to Il Can Rosso for breakfast.

I almost never order eggs but something told me to get the slow scrambled eggs with crescenza, chives, and garlic crostini.

I know, I know I keep saying this but these eggs are the best eggs I’ve ever had. They were drippy, cheesy and chivey plus the bread was fantastically toasted and added a bit of crunch.

Looking at this picture, all I want to do is lick my computer screen.

Don’t you?

I had no problems polishing this off.

And with that my first trip to San Francisco was a wrap! I wish I could have stayed longer and seen more but it was a great first trip to San Francisco. I foresee many more trips north in my future. I’m off to face plant in my bed because I have to go back to school tomorrow. All good things, like all good dishes, have to come to an end.

Apartment Spotlight: My Cocktail Tray

If you’ve ever met me or read my blog you know that I love cocktails.

I swear, I’m a classy person and in no way a lush.

I have wanted a cocktail cart for a while. I have many, many cocktail supplies that have never had a special home. Well never fear because the cocktails have a new forever home!

This is by no means anything. I like to keep most of my alcohol in the freezer (it’s where my gin, vodka, and limonchello reside) and I have martini glasses and wine glasses that are not out on display. Plus my lime was cut so it was living in the fridge.

I picked up the tray at a thrift store. LCCMom spied it, shined it up and now it looks fantastic.

Bet you didn’t know that I won the California Horse Trials in 1980! Oh yes, I am a grand horse lady. Just kidding.

My cocktail shaker holds my cocktail supplies of which I have many.

Let’s break this thing down.

1. Rubber bottle stopper

2. Fancy bottle stopper

3. Jigger

4. Bottle opener

5. Mini whisk

6. Juicer, which has holes in the bottom which ensures that seeds don’t get in your drink

6 (number 2, whoops!). Wine bottle opener

7. Peeler/twist maker

It’s so nice to have everything in one place.

Friday was a fun but crazy day. I was in Children’s Court and had a long drive home on the 10 (it took over 1 hour). I went on a run and then I came home and prepared myself a drink. It was well past cocktail o’clock and I needed some GTL and by GTL I mean Gin, Tonic, and Lime.

I made my new favorite drink, which is a take on a Gin and Tonic.

This drink is 2 jiggers Gin, 1 jigger St. Germain, topped off with tonic water, and two wedges of lime, one squeezed in my seedless juicer and the other just thrown in for fun. It’s a different take on a gin and tonic and is delicious!

How do you celebrate your Fridays? Besides listening to “Friday” over and over ad nauseam? I’m looking at you Kaitlin and Amanda.

Mint Juleps

As some of you might be aware, today is the Kentucky Derby. I decided long ago that this was the year I would make my own mint juleps, the traditional Derby drink. I made a half-hearted attempt to throw a derby party, but apparently law students with a massacre-like con law final two days away aren’t that into day drinking. Shock! Or not. I wasn’t that into hosting people over. That would require cleaning my apartment, making a lot of drinks, and honestly I have a lot of work to do also. So I decided to mix a mint julep, keep the con law flash cards in front of me and enjoy the Derby.

My Grandfather’s family is from Kentucky. As a child we took a lot of trips to the Kentucky Horse Park and we even have water glasses that list the winners of the derby. There’s lots of family lore which my Grammy would regale my brother and I with while we were growing up and every year we pay attention to the Derby. I don’t exactly put my hand over my heart when they play, “My Old Kentucky Home” but I’ve always enjoyed the Derby. It should also be noted that attending the derby is on my bucket list.

So this year, I decided to make Mint Juleps. The traditional Mint Julep recipe includes bourbon, simple syrup and mint. For my recipe I deferred to my Aunt who is the family expert. The Old Family Recipe includes: crushed ice, mint infused simple syrup, bourbon, and a mint sprig. First I made the mint infused simple syrup several days before the derby.

I took equal parts water and sugar, one cup each, and heat it until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has all dissolved, the syrup will be clear at that time, turn off the heat and let the syrup cool. After turning off the heat, let a container of mint sit in the syrup until the syrup has completely cooled off.

Once I let the syrup cool off and the mint “infuse” I put the simple syrup in a container and refrigerate until I wanted to use it today.

I was told when making mint juleps its important to use a short glass…

And, crushed ice is also important… and since I don’t have an ice crusher I did this:

Eh, It worked! Then you measure out simple syrup and bourbon. I used a jigger of each because I have to run later. Also, I bought the cheapest bourbon that they offer (whoops, 101 proof).

As mentioned above, I bought the cheapest bourbon that Trader Joe’s has to offer. Wild Turkey doesn’t scream “class and distinction” but it was cheap and whoops 101 proof. Seems like I’m going to have an interesting boozy run later. Yeah, not ideal, but I’m at the end of my loan money so I have a hard time justifying more classy bourbon.

anddddd Viola!

Delicious. That’s all I have to say. The syrup definitely tastes like mint but isn’t overpoweringly sweet or minty which is good. This is the perfect warm spring afternoon drink, and no wonder its a derby staple.

The horses are getting into their stalls so I have to stop blogging and pay attention! Happy Derby Day everyone!

Welcome to left coast contessa!

Welcome to Left Coast Contessa!


My name is Katherine. This is the first post on Left Coast Contessa. Please bear with me while I work out the kinks and get my blogging groove. I am getting my digital camera this weekend, which I will use to document LA, law school, traveling, my life but mostly food and cocktails.

For my inaugural post I will blog about a delicious cocktail that I had last night. One of my main Boston besties, my former room mate Carolyn was in LA last week. For her last night we went to a Westwood favorite for happy hour, Palominos (http://www.palomino.com/page/home). They have a good happy hour menu with $4 drinks (although somewhat limited selection to choose from), $5 flat bread pizzas, and half price appetizers. Perfect happy hour staples. Of course, we roll in to the bar and immediately decide that, we don’t want a pomegranate margarita or house wines which populate the happy hour drink menu. Instead I ordered a Lavender Cosmo and Carolyn opted for a “hot and dirty” (or, you know, just dirty martini with jalapeno stuffed olives)

Disclaimer: I am a picky cocktail drinker. After weeks of self reflection I think it stems from turning 21 in Boston. Bars like Drink, Church, Beacon Street Tavern, Banq, and Living Room all have ruined me and turned me into a bit of a cocktail snob. Along that same theme, I like stronger cocktails. My default drink is a dirty gin martini and I also love Lillet Blanc, Gin, St. Germain. My second favorite “sweet” cocktail is a south side.

I have had drinks before at Palomino’s and found them to be too sweet. I am specifically referring to the ginger pear martini. I love pear martinis and I love ginger flavored everything, but needless to say it was a saccharin strike out.

So, getting back to the Lavender Cosmo.

I first feared it would be too sweet but I took a leap of faith and tried it. The drink is 1 oz cranberry juice, 1 oz mandarin vodka, 1 oz parfait amour. It is all topped off with lavender sugar on the rim of the glass. I had never had lavender sugar before, and it was one of the key elements of the drink which intrigued me. Overall it was light and had a mild flowery flavor. The only flaw was that the sugar got all over the stem of the glass and made it sticky. Luckily I hadn’t had anything to eat since 12:30 so I didn’t mind the stickiness once the drink was half gone.

Lavender Cosmo with Lavender Sugar as a garnish

Overall, this cocktail was a win. I will order a Lavender Cosmo again. I will be interested to see how a different restaurant (perhaps one less chain-y) would make it.  As for the hot and dirty? I love a dirty martini… they can do no wrong in my eyes.

Palomino

10877 Wilshire Boulevard,Los Angeles,CA 90024

Phone/Fax: 310-208-1960

http://www.palomino.com