Three Great Stops in The Original Farmers’ Market

Now that I’m rarely out and about alone anymore, I’m less inclined to drive very far to shop, grab a meal, or get some exercise in. If it’s not convenient or if the trip includes getting on the 405 at all, I try to make alternative plans. To that end, the Grove has become my go-to place for all things fun: coffee dates with friends, walking with O in the stroller, even daytime dates with the husband when a babysitter is available. It’s especially easy to while away time in the Farmers’ Market area, where there are enough food stalls to eat lunch everyday for weeks and not try the same place twice. It’s also rather baby friendly; most of the seating is outdoors (i.e. messy eater’s paradise) and it’s usually pretty busy (i.e. no one will notice if your baby is whining).

Here are my current FM’s favorites:

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1. Littlejohn’s Candies: Known for handmade batches of English toffee (pictured) and fudge, this is one of the oldest stands in the FM, moving in in 1946 (though they’ve been making candy since the 1920’s). Grab a free sample from the young ladies at the front counter, and look in the back room to see if anyone is prepping or baking fresh treats! Their toffee is so good– a great thought if you’re into the idea of giving locally-produced gifts that tell a little snippet of LA’s history.

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2. Short Cake:  Love or hate the burgers at Short Order (people get so riled up about burgers, don’t they?), Nancy Silverton and Amy Pressman’s adjacent bakery is a must-visit. I’m partial to the chocolate chip cookie and the mocha over ice– they make the latter with fancy TCHO chocolate. The perfect treat, IMO. If I’m feeling like the cookie is enough sugar for the day, I grab an iced tea instead.

3. Singapore’s Banana Leaf: At lunch time this counter is one of the busiest in the market, and once you’ve tasted the mee goreng (fried noodles) you’ll understand why. Add chicken or tofu if you like, but with or without the protein the dish is pretty heavenly. The egg rolls weren’t thrilling (too doughy), but the green curry with chicken was another winning entree. Next time the line at the Brazilian weigh-your-plate place is too long, be sure to head here– or, just head here first.

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The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck Returns to LA in T-Minus 3 Days!

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Photo of Big Gay Ice Cream Truck in NYC by chill via Creative Commons

I was so sad last year when the Big Gay Ice Cream truck came to LA and left before I was able to sample its goods. All the photos that popped up on instagram and facebook had me drooling (though the lines looked pretty yuck), so imagine my excitement when I read this morning that it’s BACK!

What’s the big deal about The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck? I think people dig it because it’s a mishmash of old and new: old-school soft serve adorned with not-so-old-school toppings like sea salt, olive oil, and beyond. Better than the creations themselves are their names, I think. There’s the “Bea Arthur” (vanilla soft serve, dulce de leche syrup, and Nilla Wafer crumbs), the “Salty Pimp” (vanilla soft serve, dulce de leche syrup, sea salt, and a crispy chocolate shell), Cococone, Mermaid Sundae, and more. I also can’t help but love how the truck is decked out in rainbows and sparkly fringe. It feels so 80s, so very My Little Pony-esque.

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Photo of Salty Pimp by gsz via Creative Commons

Here’s the schedule, so mark your calendars and don’t miss out like I did last year!

Saturday, June 1: Outside of Health Ceramics from noon to 4pm

7525 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

Outside of Lindy and Grundy from 6pm to 10pm

801 N Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046

Sunday, June 2: TBD from noon to 4pm

Outside of Faultline Bar from 6pm to 10pm

4216 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90029

Monday, June 3: Next to the Ludo Truck at NBC Universal from noon to 4pm

Outside of Myung In Dumplings (of Anthony Bourdain’s K-Town episode) from 6pm to 10pm

3109 W Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90006

Tuesday, June 4: Outside of Cakemix from noon to 4 pm

8302 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90069

Next to the Kogi BBQ truck (location TBD) from 6pm to 10pm

Visiting LACMA With Kids, or Just Kids at Heart

I’ve never thought of museums as particularly kid friendly, but thanks to the Next Gen program and how close we live to the grounds, my daughter and I have become regular LACMA visitors. While I do fear the day she has a catastrophic meltdown in front of Picasso’s Head of a Woman in a Hat, she’s been calm thus far and quite capable of perusing the art without disturbing others.

After about a half-dozen trips together (stroller and diaper bag in tow), little O and I now have our favorite nooks and crannies that we visit consistently. Here are the sights we recommend for other parent/baby parties; most of them are larger in scale, making it easy to involve baby.

1. Matisse’s La Gerbe in the Ahmanson Building. Huge and colorful, this is a great piece for tiny sets of eyes to look at. I always marvel that it was originally commissioned for an LA couple’s patio, but that they didn’t like and so asked Matisse to do another. Can you imagine a) being in a position to ask Matisse for a work for your own home, then b) having the gall to return it?

2. Metropolis II in the BCAM Building. I’ve dubbed this one the “kinex on steroids sculpture,” and I find it just as mesmerizing as the toddlers do. They run around trying to keep their eyes on a certain hot wheels car or train whizzing through the city. It’s only turned every other hour Fridays through Sundays. The first cycle starts at 11:30 am, the second at 1:30, and so on.

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3. David Hockney’s Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio in the Art of the Americas Building. At 243 inches wide, it’s best take to take it in from afar. I love that it represents a local destination, and the kiddos seem to love the scale of the piece and the vibrant colors Hockney used. It may just inspire your little ones to create a similar finger painting on your walls at home. Be careful.

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4. Levitated Mass on the north, outer grounds (no admission ticket required). What child (or adult) isn’t somewhat captivated by a 300+ ton boulder floating on a tiny ledge 15 feet in the air? The ramp that carries pedestrians below the boulder is a part of the piece as well; together the two components comment on the history of art, from pieces created with or in nature (represented by the rock) to modern design and engineering (the ramp). Not only is it awesome to look at and walk under, there’s lots of room for wiggly young things to cruise around on their own. And, since it’s outdoors, tots can make sounds above a library whisper without getting a sideways glance from a docent or fellow museum goer.

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5. Rafael Soto’s Penetrable installation, just outside the Ahmanson Building. Soto has made many versions of this kinesthetic, abstract piece, and the neon yellow one at LACMA is on loan (though the website doesn’t state when it will leave). It’s the only piece on this list that your child can go touch and play with, making it an instant hit. One art blog calls Soto “the Raffi of Latin American Abstraction,” which makes me laugh on one hand but get all stiff and uptight on the other; just because it’s tactile doesn’t mean it’s meant to be treated like an Amazonian jungle vine, right? Oy. Hopefully it’s still standing in a few months when O can walk through the noodles on her own and play peek-a-boo.

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6. C + M Coffee Shop, outside the Ahmanson Building. OK, this stop is really for mom or dad. Part of the Patina group, this ultra mod cafe serves great coffee, 1-inch thick cookies, homemade sweet and savory pop tarts, spiked milkshakes(!), simple sandwiches, and more. After all that parental hustling I always feel I deserve a guilt-free treat. If you think like I do, you’ll appreciate C + M.

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7. The Boone Children’s Galley in the Hammer Building. This beautiful space is all about hands-on art making (once again, can’t wait ’til O is ready to join in the fun!). Make your own brush painting inspired by works from Korea and China, or listen to a read aloud (they’re scheduled every weekday at 2pm).

There you have it, our top stops. Are we missing any must-see pieces? Please do tell!