The Dish

Smorgasburg

When We are Not at Our House, we are… 

Noshing and shopping with the family at Smorgasburg. Have you been? Here’s a guide to our favorite finds at this weekly hang in Downtown Los Angeles. 

Goa Tacos- the pickly bits cutting through the pork fat get us every time. 

The Nomad Truck- In case you haven’t yet tracked it down around town, a good bet to try Chef Daniel Humm’s (he of the current #1 Restaurant in the World, Eleven Madison Park) Humm Dogs that put Carl’s Jr. to shame. 

PopdUp – Sodas are banned in our house, so our kids love making a stop at this stand to get their naturally sweetened drinks.  

Todo Verde- Agua fresca that always has us going back for seconds. 

While these are just a few of our favorites, the lineup does change often so just go hungry and bring a stack of cash. Trust me, your kids will find a way togo through every possible dollar. And if you have any money left over, stop in at Milla Chocolates at Row DTLA on your way to the car. Their jars of candied chocolate nuts are our other favorite hostess gift. That is when we are not bringing a jar of Sommer House.  

A Wine and Kid Lovers Getaway

Yes, you can pair children with wine. Here is how! Take the kids to one of my favorite places in the world, The Alisal Guest Ranch in Solvang. Why is at the top of my list? Not just because the kids have free run of the place with nightly bingo, musical chairs and movies while the adults retire to the cowboy themed old-school bar, but more importantly because during the day as they search for frogs and play in the pool, we can hire a sitter for them and a car for us to explore the truly world-class wineries of the Santa Ynez Valley. Here is a round-up of some of my favorites and a few restaurants not to miss along the way:

The Wine Ghetto

While not exactly resort-adjacent, a drive through the sun-dappled hills will take you to the town of Lompoc, home to some of the most exciting up and coming small production wines. Get over the fact that you are in the middle of an industrial park and lose yourself in the tastings available at the following:

Jalama for Mark Cargasacchi’s traditionally-made small-lots wines, the Italian varietals at Palmina, Syrahs from StolpmanSamsara for Chad and Mary Melville’s vineyard-driven Pinots and Syrahs (and Rose if you’re lucky) and finally Tyler for its delicate and gorgeously bottled Pinots. Just make sure you have room in your car for all the bottles, growlers and magnums that will make it back to the ranch with you.

Los Olivos

An easy few minutes from The Alisal, this is one of my top places to walk and taste.

Favorite bites include a sandwich first at Panino to fuel you up or a dinner post-tasting at Sides Hardware & Shoes. And don’t forget bribes for the kids at Enjoy Cupcakes along the way. 

As for the tasting:

Andrew Murray for his big, namesake un-filtered, un-fined wines.

Byron for Ken Brown’s delicious Pinots and Chardonnay.

Carhartt for the way-too comfy lounging chairs on the cozy back-patio. My pick for the best place to end your day and meet new friends.

Epiphany for the brand new, drop-dead gorgeous tasting room and impressive wines from Eli Parker of the famed Fess Parker family.

Refugio Ranch for the white and red Rhones in a room with classic Western flair and on occasion, cooking classes.

Tensley for Joey and Jennifer, a husband and wife team making some of the country’s most-applauded Syrahs (Joey) and one of my favorite Roses (Jennifer.)

And finally a few places I always make sure is in my car’s GPS for stocking up before heading home. They include:

Beckmen: Where you will find some of my favorite go-to wines from this region. And the kids love the tasting room because of the picture-perfect picnic table and duck pond. Not a bad place to propose either… 

Cold Heaven: Morgan Clendenen is renowned for her Viognier, but doesn’t mean you should miss the Syrahs and Pinots.

Foxen: Sustainable wine-growers since 1989 in a solar-powered winery featuring stand-out Pinots found at the end of one of my favorite romantic drives.

And a final stop at the always-classic, always-delicious Hitching Post for a flight of their wines, kid-friendly atmosphere and a steak for the road. And don’t forget to feed the birds at OstrichLand USA but be warned, they are hungry not just for their feed, but for fingers too.

Here is reason to go soon, The Garagiste Festival is happening March 29th and 30th where you can taste the best from those breaking the rules and making new ones, as they turn-out some awesome small-production wines. But, in case your travels don’t find you there for a bit, here is one of my favorite desserts from The Alisal. Easy and a crowd-pleaser- just don’t forget the vanilla ice cream.

OATMEAL PIE

Chef Pascal Godé

Preheat oven to 350°

Mix together:

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

¾  cup oats

¾  cup corn syrup

1 cup melted butter

1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1 Tablespoon vanilla

Dash of salt

Put in an unbaked pie shell and bake for 45-55 minutes.

Makes 1 pie

We Scream, My Mom Screams...

...for the late great Marcella Hazan’s Strawberry Gelato. Now that summer is upon us and strawberries are in full, sweet swing, here is my sure-fire family favorite for an easy, crowd-pleasing desert. All you need is a basket of fresh strawberries (of course Harry’s Berries would be amazing), a few basics and an ice cream maker. Once you have realized how easy this truly is, you will be off and running on your own ice cream adventures including perhaps another favorite around our house- pixie cardamom sherbert. And for more ice cream making fun, take your kids to Williams-Sonoma in Santa Monica tomorrow at 3:00 pm and meet the ladies of Coolhaus who will be sharing their secrets and recipes from the Coolhaus Ice Cream Book.

Marcella Hazan’s Strawberry Gelato

From her absolute must have book, “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

1/2 pound fresh strawberries

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cold heavy whipping cream

1. Pull off leaves and stems from the strawberries (or better yet, grab the kids and a straw and follow this mad genius tip trick from my friend at Food & Wine, Justin Chapple. Click here.) Cut the berries in half, unless they are super small already. Wash the berries in cold water.

2. Place berries and all the sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process for a few moments. Then add 3/4 cup of water and continue to process until liquefied.

3. Whip the cream in a separate bowl until it thickens slightly, to the consistency of buttermilk. Put the cream and the pureed strawberries in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

4. Freeze according to the directions for your ice cream maker.

5. And a tip from Chef Sal Marino of Il Grano. Throw a small bunch of thinly sliced basil in towards the end of the freezing process and serve with a fresh basil sprig on top. Voila! Strawberry basil gelato.