4 Items at Pa Ord in L.A.’s Thai Town

Adventurous eaters flock to Pa Ord for the 1) boat noodles, a funky soup with broth that’s thickened with pork blood and full of offal. I’d never tried the it until this week, but I felt like I had to given that the dish is mentioned on practically every LA Weekly “You Have To Eat This Now” type of list, and while once was enough I’ll admit that it wasn’t terrible in taste. If you have a sliver of Andrew Zimmern in you, give it a shot.

It’s not just the boat noodles that keep people coming back to Pa Ord, however. Garret Snyder wrote it best, saying that Pa Ord offers “the Bitches Brew of Bangkok cuisine.” Though I won’t personally equate a bowl full of unmentionables to anything put forth by Miles Davis, I understood the metaphor when I went back for seconds and thirds of 2) larb, spicy ground pork mixed with lime, mint leaves. Packed with flavor (and spice), I felt sad to be sharing the dish four ways. Something to note: They’re not joking around when they label something spicy on the menu. Even if you ask for a specific dish to be prepared mild, it will burn your tongue. No matter what.

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We also sampled the 3) Thai sausage and an order of 4) crispy pork and veggies. That pork was really crispy. I’d call it overdone really, but others in our party dug it, so. To each his own. I ate all the pork-flavored choy, and it was heavenly.

It’s not the best place to dine if you’re a vegetarian, but you could go and stick with the papaya salad and some stir fried veggies over rice. Throw in some Thai iced tea or coffee for good measure.

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Classic Eats At Apple Pan

3/14 was National Pie Day apparently (which makes me laugh for various reasons), and by coincidence I had plans to visit Apple Pan with an old friend. We didn’t talk about the irrational number (you’re shocked by that, right?); we talked about future travel plans, career beginnings, and of course of the deliciously classic food we were about to gobble from one of L.A.’s most beloved mainstays.

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As much as I like modern cooking and food presentation, I have just as much love for paper-wrapped burgers and Diet Coke in a cone. Throw red swivel stools, cooks in paper hats, and antique cash registers into the mix and I’m a happy girl. Even if you don’t think Apple Pan is among the best burger purveyors in Los Angeles, you’d be hard pressed to name a place that offers a similar dining experience, one that throws you back into the 1950s in as real a way. I love the lack of pretense at the u-shaped counter; no one’s there to people watch or impress, just to eat good food. Plus, I’m an old soul at heart. I feel like I’d fit more neatly into an older time, and something about Apple Pan makes me feel right at home, as cliche as that may sound.

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Here’s what I order for a quick meal at AP — and I do mean quick, because part of the schtick here is that the waiters are as grumpy as my 90-year-old grandpa and don’t like lollygaggers taking up their seating. Once your food is down the hatch, pay the check and adios.

1. Steakburger w/ cheese

2. Fries

3. Soft drink

4. Slice of homemade apple pie, a la mode PicMonkey CollageApplePAn2

California & L.A. Love: Four Items To Love

I’m obsessed with maps and city skylines. To me they symbolize energy and adventure. That instance when you take in a city from afar or open a fresh map in a place you’ve just landed… man, those are moments to live by.

I also love things that scream California or Los Angeles, because both are so tremendous and awesome and there’s always more to explore. Here are four Cali/L.A. items I’d buy in a heartbeat — well, three items I guess, because we already own the poster (couldn’t help myself). 🙂

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LA print from Ork Posters

California stamp from Paper Pastries (via Cup of Jo)

Pillow from Etsy shop lovecalifornia

Watercolor tote by Isabelle Dillard via Society6

The Natural Products Expo Hits Anaheim: Which Would You Try?

Grub Street LA has a great list up today: The 17 Craziest Foods Found at The Natural Products Expo West. Only in L.A., San Francisco, and New York would an expo like this find a genuinely interested audience. Pre-natal Gatorade? Olive water? Bacon-flavored peas? Green tea vinegar?

I take it back. The peas would probably attract a good deal of interest. I can picture them now, sitting pretty on gas station snack shelves between the hot n’ spicy sunflower seeds and the Slim Jims.

I’d certainly give the bee-free honey, lentil flour pasta, and cacao bean coffee a shot, but I’d hesitate to try gluten-free muffins by Pillsbury (can they really be trusted?) or the egg white chips. I was never sold on egg white anything.

Which items would you try?

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Photo from Bee Free Honee/Facebook

Neighborhood Stroll: Downtown L.A.

There are few neighborhoods in L.A. changing as rapidly as downtown. Pop-up restaurants are settling down in brick-and-mortar spaces in the Arts District, money is pouring in for infrastructure improvements and new developments, and the Expo Line will bring downtown residents to the Pacific within a few years. Those of us in L.A. for the long haul will have the privilege of watching this historic neighborhood go through a renaissance of sorts. Soon we’ll all be saying “Remember when…?”

If you find yourself in the mood to explore, here’s a suggestion or two for your next DTLA stroll.

EAT:

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BAR Ama, Josef Centano’s newest kitchen venture on 4th Street at Spring, has been on our list since it opened late 2012. We love baco mercat, so of course hopes were high as we stepped into the space — a cool, open dining room with exposed brick, campy metal dishware, and a jolly staff (I feel like I’ve had some serious friendships form while dining at Baco — where do they find such jovial dudes to work the floor?). An order of puffy tacos were a must (we tried the pork and pineapple), and everything beyond them was just for gluttonous fun: Tex-Mex queso and chips (fancy nachos, really), green enchiladas with a kick of heat, and a duck chalupa on special. We didn’t leave disappointed or able to walk well, and the first thing we’d do again is the taco, but of a different type for variation’s sake. The shells are deep fried in peanut oil to achieve their airy, bubbly texture, the waiter explained, and the pork and pineapple made for this awesome sweet/salty combo that I loved.

SHOP:

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One should not leave the area without whiling away an hour or two in The Last Bookstore — though two hours may not be enough. The store is housed in an old bank building and takes up the street level and second floors. Below is The Crocker Club, above are artist’s live/work spaces. It feels a bit post-apocolyptic and lawless inside: a few shelves are easy to maneuver (the bestsellers wall, the used fiction section), but the entire 2nd floor has few labels, some shelves organized simply by spine color — the pre-Civil Rights area of books, I guess — other books glued together to make arches you can walk under or book windows that serve no purpose (other than being awesome) that I can discern. It’s an experience, and if you’re a book lover, it’s one not to miss.

DRINK:

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A short drive away is Demitasse Cafe, a Little Tokyo coffee shop often recognized for it’s hot sipping chocolate. It was too warm of  a day for the likes of hot anything, so an ice coffee it was. Their pastry counter deserves a once-over as well — every month they source the goodies from a different local bakery.

Day Tripping: Possibilities in Palm Springs

ImageIt’s bound to happen. A few months staying put in town and I start to feel a tad stir crazy, a bunny rabbit in a pen too long. The tipping point is usually this: We’re having dinner with friends when our casual conversation sways to someone’s upcoming plans to travel. I later think to myself, “Hey! I deserve a vacation, too. Something beachy and breezy, perhaps, or something urban and raucous.” Then I check my savings account and start regretting that string of recent impulse buys that have made my balance dwindle to near zero.

Though I love L.A. more than I ever thought I would, all of us locals need a short respite from the beastly speed of city living every now and then. Just a day or two away helps us recharge, and makes me appreciate my neighborhood, my house, my bed. So when the dollar bills aren’t stacked as high as I’d like, I plan a day trip — the kind of vacation that happens sans airplane ticket, sans five nights of hotel fees, and sans mucho stress. L.A. has so many neighbors worth a visit. By The List’s first day trip spot: Palm Springs, baby.

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STAY:

The Ace Hotel hardly needs introducing: simple yet hip, comfortable and gorgeous without excruciatingly high prices. Highlights: 1) the pool area, complete with mod, circular sun shades (b/c we’re over 30 now and need to be more mindful of burning and wrinkles), ping pong tables, a cocktail bar, and mountain views, 2) the colorful, artsy grounds (particularly fond of the giant white wall painted in the vein of Jackson Pollack), 3) plenty of outdoor fireplaces (should you visit when it’s not 100 degrees), 4) in-room record players (Clapton? Don’t mind if I do), and 5) private patios if you’d like to bring Fido (small fee applies).

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4 Reasons to Love Alfred’s, a New Coffee Shop on Melrose Place

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I can’t afford anything on Melrose Place, save maybe a $50 phone case from the Marc by Marc Jacobs accessory store. But that silly little fact doesn’t mean I don’t like strolling through the area pretending I belong. Ever visited the 2+ blocks with that famous name (famous to us 90s kids especially who watched Heather Locklear and Daphne Zuniga et al on TV)? When you do you’re in the company of Oscar de le Renta, Chloe, Carolina Hererra, Temperley — a host of friends that are certainly not in my closet, nor will they likely ever be.

So when Alfred’s opened shop on Melrose Place a little over a month ago I decided to visit soon, because I do have three bucks for an Americano. And what a cute shop it is, with a great vibe and happy people working behind the counter. Here’s what I love most:

1. The shop has two levels, and it sorta feels like a coffee speakeasy: Guests enter via the cafe/dining room space then walk down a set of steps to the dark bunker-like lower room. Here you’ll find the counter for coffee and pastries.

2. The upper room has this great grandma wallpaper along the top edge of its walls: magenta florals against dark grey background. Can you make it out in the lower left picture? If I was a cat lady in my own craftsman house, I might just wallpaper every room with a different floral paper. Call me crazy but I just love the stuff. Too bad husbands get to have an opinion when it comes to home decor.

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