A passion for food + fashion

Posts Tagged ‘Santa Monica Seafood’


In Food on September 13, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Two years ago this weekend, my sister, Claire, moved to Los Angeles. And so we thought it was time to celebrate by murdering some lobsters. I’m completely embarrassed to admit this, but I’d never tried this at home before because I was sure I couldn’t handle hearing the lobsters “screaming” in the pot. Of course the rest of you know that they don’t make a peep, not to mention that—like insects—they don’t have brains and can’t feel a bloody thing. But I digress. Back to our lovely little guys…

We picked up a few at Santa Monica Seafood for about $15/pound, which sounded almost reasonable until I had lunch today with my friend Zinzi, who just got back from Maine where they were under $4/pound. I would eat lobster every single day if I lived in Maine. Provided my husband was there to help with these little snappers. On Sunday night he did the honors of transferring the lobsters to the pot to steam for about 15 minutes. It’s like a mad science experiment watching them turn to coral red.

Now through the end of November is prime lobster season, so get ’em while they’re hot (i.e., cheap, in lobster terms). Oh, look! One just crawled onto my plate…


Coconut Shrimp with Cauliflower Couscous

In Food on May 9, 2011 at 9:57 pm

My younger, fitter, blonder, nicer—and all around fantastic—gorgeous sister came over for dinner tonight. She’s been giving the Paleo (aka “Caveman”) diet a whirl. It’s based on meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, and nuts, and avoids grains, dairy, refined sugar and processed oils, which sounds reasonable enough. That said, Claire rightly points out that Cro-Mags did not have the highest of life expectancies, but we figured one meal probably wouldn’t do any more harm than 13 misspent years during which I smoked a daily pack of Marlboro Reds. But I digress. Dinner was delicious. Claire brought over some gorgeous Mexican shrimp from Santa Monica Seafood, which simmered in coconut milk, a tablespoon each of minced garlic and fresh grated ginger, with a little salt and pepper for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, I steamed a head of cauliflower until just tender and then chopped in food processor until it looked like couscous. The “couscous” went into a skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of curry powder, a pinch of ground ginger and pimenton. I sautéed for about 5 minutes:

We spooned the shrimp over the cauliflower couscous and my, my was it good. But the real takeaway here is the Cauliflower Couscous. So freaking great and I loved the way it soaked up the coconut sauce; the couscous was so toothy and a little bit nutty. Next time I order any kind of Indian or Thai takeout, instead of steamed rice I’m going to make this instead.

Foodinista’s Night Off

In Food on April 17, 2011 at 9:04 pm

On Friday night, my sister and my husband conspired to cook dinner. Claire picked up a few fillets of black cod at Santa Monica Seafood, and made a Nobu-style Saikyo Miso that the fish marinated in before being baked in the oven. Meanwhile, Mr. Foodinista stir-fried bok choy from our weekly CSA farm box along with loads of garlic, soy sauce, peanut and sesame oils. Can you believe this???

Bagna Càuda Grilled Oysters

In Food, Recipes on December 30, 2010 at 9:09 am

Oh my god I love oysters. And that 18th century adage about only eating oysters in months that contain the letter “r”? Welcome to the 21st century where sustainable farming and advanced wet storage for freighting means you can enjoy oysters year round. Yes, there are seasonal crops, so do ask your fishmonger what’s best to grill, what’s best to eat on the half shell in any given month. And while now is the height of the season to enjoy Pacific oysters raw, last night I had grilled oysters on the brain. Something about the pouring rain and hot-off-the-grill garlicky oysters sounded super. Back at home, Mr. Foodinista shucked away.

First, a word about gear. We have a French-style stainless oyster knife with guard by Rösle that is ideal for smaller oysters, like my favorite Kumamotos. That said, with our monster Canadian mollusks, last night we were wishing we had an East Coast-style shucker with a long flat blade (also called a “stabber”) given the deep cup of the shell and flat top. I think I’m going to order a four-inch Dexter-Russell with a high-carbon-steel blade for Mr. Foodinista. Hog Island Oyster Company sells them online for $15.

Dexter-Russell oyster knife via HogIslandOysters.com

While Mr. Foodinista shucked, I opened up a little tin of Trader Joe’s anchovies. I keep a few of these tins on hand at all times. Sometimes, when I’m feeling nostalgic for my starving student days and craving a sodium bomb, they stand in for lunch in a pinch.

Last night, however, a filet or three found their way into a modified bagna càuda (traditional Piedmontese warm dipping sauce of garlic, anchovies, oil, butter). I threw the anchovies, a bunch of Italian parsley and about 8 cloves of garlic into a mini food prep and chopped the hell out of it.

The mixture then eased its way into a hot bath of melted butter and olive oil in a skillet.

Ideally you would have rock salt on hand and would first sprinkle that onto a baking sheet and nestle the oysters on the half shell on top to steady them. We did not have rock salt. Next time. I spooned the bagna càuda over the freshly shucked oysters and Mr. Foodinista disappeared with the tray and grilled them over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, when the sauce just started to bubble.

My husband noticed that the sauce that had spilled over onto the pan steamed up during the grilling, and I like to believe it added a little extra loveliness.

Since there was a fair amount of the bagna càuda left, I tossed some into a wok and added a ton of spinach leaves, along with some more chopped anchovies, red pepper flakes and mint leaves from our garden. You then sauté covered, over medium heat (stirring a few times with a wooden spoon) for three minutes. Pour yourself a glass of Gavi (a Piedmontese white), sit down around the table and make a wee bit of a pig of yourself.

Sushi Roller Derby

In Drink, Food on April 11, 2010 at 9:24 pm

We had been planning for weeks to go to dinner at my sister’s fab new apartment in Santa Monica off Montana, but when the moment arrived we were totally unprepared for the CRAZY sushi spread she had prepared. I mean seriously. Gorgeous sushi-grade hamachi and ahi, fresh crab and salmon roe—all from Santa Monica Seafood. Claire had prepared sticky sushi rice and julienned cucumber and sliced up avocados. My husband was particularly excited about the spicy tuna Claire had made by mixing together mayo and Sriracha:

From there it was an all-out sushi derby as we raced to create our ultimate rolls. Here’s Mr Foodinista spreading rice onto a seaweed wrapper, while my sister cuts one of her expert rolls:

Yours truly is obsessed with salmon roe and so was particularly smitten with these ikuro avocado rolls, while Mr. Foodinista scarfed most of my sister’s spicy crab and cucumber creations:

And what did she serve with this spectacular spread? One of my all-time favorite bubblies, Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose ($20). It’s a sparkling rosé from the Alsace region, made from 100% Pinot Noir using the Champagne method but because it’s from a region outside of Champagne it can’t legally be called that. It is a perfect sushi wine. And thank you, Claire, for a PERFECT evening! xx

Seared Scallops with Tarragon and Pea Purée

In Baby Love, Food on January 26, 2010 at 9:07 am

When I was pregnant, a coworker gave me a Beaba Babycook—a French baby food maker that steams and blends vegetables, and fetches a hefty $149. However, it’s probably the most useful baby gift we received and as a result, Tiny G eats fresh organic vegetables every day. A couple weeks ago, my sister wondered whether we might employ the Beaba Babycook to make a purée for one of our own dinners. So, while she steamed and puréed peas à la Tiny G…

…I seared scallops—just the freshest from Santa Monica Seafood—in a tablespoon of Irish butter….

Then I made a beurre blanc by deglazing the pan with a 1/4 cup each of of white wine and white wine vinegar, a squeeze of lemon juice and added a minced shallot. When the juices had reduced, I cut the heat to low and whisked in some butter and fresh tarragon.

Place scallops on purée and spoon beurre blanc over top. The tarragon is wonderful at balancing the richness of the scallops and beurre blanc, and the peas add a fresh, sweet note.

Launch My Line: Gaia’s Goodies

In Food on December 14, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Gaia Guidi was one of the first people I met when I moved to Los Angeles a decade ago. At the time, she was working for Tod’s, and then later for Bulgari—and always looking fabulous. Simply put, she has always exuded good taste. These days, she’s turned that good taste into a super successful business and has founded Gaia’s Goodies making the most INSANELY delicious cookies (like the flourless cocoa walnut cookies, above) for sale at finer food markets around town. And of course, she still looks impossibly glamorous while doing it. Pick up a bag of Gaia’s Goodies (retailers listed at end of post) for a deliciously tasteful hostess gift. I love how Gaia made the switch from fashion to food (a true foodinista!), and so asked her a few questions about “launching her line” as it were…

What inspired you to make the switch from fashion to food?

Gaia’s Goodies basically started at home – where all good things come from! There was of course a love for baking and pastry making and a growing obsession with the craft. One night, after having made a batch of cookies for dessert, my boyfriend, Marco, insisted I put them on the market…and so it began!

Though I had been out of the fashion biz for a little while already, it wasn’t as much a “switch” as it was a “realization.” Being from a food/ wine importer Italian family and one with a serious tradition for cooking and baking, all things food and drink run through my blood! I am definitely happiest in the kitchen and when people are pleased by the things I make, and I especially crave the precision and concentration I apply when baking. Call it therapy! So really, it had been as plain as the nose on my face for years – I just wasn’t seeing it for a long time.

Couple these factors with a dream team of cheerleaders and supporters (all with relevant experience, mind you)– my parents, Marco, my sisters, a fellow baker and many friends offering a helping hand with setting up a business, and there you have it. Oh yeah – and the will to get up earlier than I am used to!!

Having said all that – I may wear ugly shoes by day, but get me out of the bakery and I am back in my old fashion days’ get-up! [Foodinista note: Gaia does not look ugly by day.]

What flavors of cookies do you currently offer?

Flourless Cocoa Walnut

White Chocolate Apricot Oatmeal (pictured below)

Oatmeal Cherry Mixed Chip

….and more to come in the new year!

How are the flourless chocolate so damned good without flour?

Sometimes, ya just don’t need flour! Think if it as baked chocolate mousse. But also, as with all my children – I mean, cookies, we only use the very best ingredients. I just wouldn’t be doing this if I couldn’t make a cookie, or anything for that matter, that I didn’t think was perfectly delicious myself. As a food snob, that means excellent, natural ingredients – period. The other factor is method. The Flourless Cocoa cookie in particular is very challenging to make in large quantities, and this took many months to perfect. All the cookies are made by hand though, and in single batches.


A growing list of wonderful gourmet markets and cafés around town where you can find cookies and much more – Santa Monica Seafood, Wine House, Wally’s, Simply Italian (Woodland Hills), Hunger Market café (W.Hollywood), Bellissimo (Venice), Café Bello (Santa Monica) – for example. And, of course, at Guidi Marcello – Dad’s import biz in Santa Monica. They’re also available online at Olio & Olive.

Go Fish

In Food on December 3, 2009 at 6:58 pm

The holiday 5 lbs seem to have crept on already, and we’re barely in December. So I’m taking a break from marinating myself in eggnog and stuffing and such, and sharing this compartively light meal we enjoyed the other night, based on an Alfred Portale recipe, but using WAAAAY less butter, waaay more wine and one big filet. My sister picked up an enormous halibut filet at Santa Monica Seafood. Gorgeous. Sprinkled with salt and pepper and sautéed over high heat in some canola oil, about 4 minutes a side.

Meanwhile, I par-boiled some green beans and set aside on a platter. When the halibut was seared on both sides, I set on top of the green beans and covered it, then deglazed the pan with some white wine. Okay, quite a bit of white wine, which I cooked down for about 2 minutes. Then added a little bit of butter and some lemon juice for an additional hit of acid and tart, and then threw in some cherry tomatoes, chopped green onions and capers. Enjoy, and pretend there wasn’t butter involved.

Ten Years Ago Today…

In Fashion, Food, On Location: Out and About in L.A. on November 8, 2009 at 10:32 am

Beverly Hills Hotel

…I packed into a ’93 Infiniti and moved from a beautiful Russian Hill apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco into The Oakwood corporate housing—which featured a mirrored murphy bed and was teeming with child talent rehearsing songs from Annie in the common walkways—to take a job as a style editor at the Los Angeles Times Magazine. Things were different then. For starters, there was a Los Angeles Times Magazine. And like many of us raised in the Bay Area, I had preconceived notions about L.A., almost all of which, I’m happy to say, were wrong. I never imagined I’d still be here a decade later, nor that after 10 years I couldn’t imagine myself living anywhere else (despite occasional fantasies of a swank pad in Belgravia or a modest casa on Lake Como; a girl can dream). Here is a short list of reasons why you’ll have to drag me kicking and screaming from the City of Angels:

1. Langer’s. The #19 sandwich and a celery soda. Enough said.

No 19 sandwich

Langer's #19

2. The Beverly Hills Hotel. If you need a reason to fall in love with The Pink Palace all over again, rent one of my all-time favorite movies, California Suite. It is every bit as relevant 31 years later, from driving to the Valley for the best sushi to capturing LA at its elegant if absurd best. If you need another reason, rent either Designing Woman with Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall or Robert Evans’ The Kid Stays in the Picture for awesome scenes at the city’s best hotel pool. I used to go there on Monday nights for a drink and to listen to my former neighbor play piano in the Polo Lounge. More recently, it’s where I got my husband’s wedding band in the little Asprey shop tucked downstairs.

3. Lonnie Bishop / Neiman Marcus Shoe Salon, Beverly Hills. Lonnie has a preternatural ability to catalog one’s entire shoe collection, and never suggests a shoe resembling anything you already own.

4. Loteria. The best Mexican restaurant in LA prides itself on not offering a combo plate. Sidle up to the taco bar on a Friday night at the Farmer’s Market location and try any of number of tempting tacos and sauces , or head into the newer Hollywood location where you can order a first-rate margarita and my very favorite spicy Tacos de Camaron with avocado and crema. Amazing. The Chicarron de Queso (griddle-toasted cheese) is pretty epic, too.

5. The neighborhood farmers markets. Pretty much every neighborhood has a weekly, year-round farmer’s market that reflects the distinct personality of the neighborhood. You can’t beat the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, and when I’m training with my running group on Saturday mornings out at the beach, I always stop by after before hitting Santa Monica Seafood. But most weekends, you’ll find us at our neighborhood Larchmont Farmer’s Market (where a gent plays reggae for the kids) unless we need something a little harder to find, in which case Hollywood Farmer’s Market is the bomb.

larchmont farmers market

Multi-hued cauliflower at the Larchmont Farmer's Market

6. The Original Farmer’s Market. The Farmer’s Market has stood at Third and Fairfax for 75 years. It is also where my father, that rare breed of native born-and-bred Angeleno, went as a kid. In addition to the tacos at Loteria, I am crazy about the buttery hamburger buns at Thee’s Bakery and the alpha and omega of hamburger meat, Nancy’s Blend at Huntington Meats.

7. Rodeo Drive Chandeliers. During December, a million dollars worth of chandeliers light up Rodeo Drive. Pure magic.

8. Chris Burden’s “Urban Lights.” I think there is little more beautiful than the dramatic installation of 200 vintage Southern California street lamps in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Day or night, they’re spectacular. I make a point of driving home via Wilshire at night just to see them.

Urban Lights

Urban Lights © Museum Associates / LACMA

9. Yang Chow. I don’t pretend that this is the best Chinese food in LA, but it is my favorite. Every year we get tickets to several Lakers games with our friends Booth and Adam, and before each game we all meet at Yang Chow for Slippery Shrimp and Green Beans with Minced Pork. We try to sit in William’s station. He is a huge Laker’s fan, and is often wearing a team tie. In fact, guess where we’re going tonight? Let’s go, Lakers!

10. The Hollywood Bowl. My father took his dates to the Hollywood Bowl in the 60s and really, is there anywhere more romantic? Grab a picnic and a bottle of wine, and head for the ‘Bowl. Fireworks may ensue.

But of course the very best thing about LA, and the most unexpected part of living here, are the incredible friends and colleagues and colleagues who are friends whom I’ve come to know over the past ten years. So here’s to you, you know who you are! And thank you for making LA a place I am proud to call home.

J Schram

Honorable mention: Mikawaya mochi and Daikoku Ramen in Little Tokyo, omakase at Sushi Ike, Surfas, The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, hiking or hitting golf balls in Griffith Park, the steamed red curry with seafood at Yai Thai, Book Soup, Harry Winston, reserved seating at Arclight Cinema, sandwiches from John’s Garden and eating them across the PCH under an umbrella at Malibu Lagoon Beach, the view from the gardens at The Getty, Disney Hall, OK Store on Third, running with the LA Leggers at the beach before dawn on Saturday mornings, Dodger dogs, the clam pizza at Mozza, the Triumvirate (Barneys, Saks, Neimans on Wilshire), KPCC, and margaritas after work across the street with my neighbors Alyssa and Martha are RIGHT up there.

Addendum: Cannot believe I forgot to initially include: the Lakers, of course! I’ll be the one in the Pau Gasol Sunday whites jersey at tonight’s game…let’s go, Lakers!

Santa Barbara Spot Prawns (Ruh-Roe)

In Food on September 24, 2009 at 10:21 pm

spot prawn

Santa Barbara spot prawns are just one more reason why living on the west coast is superb. My sister stopped by Santa Monica Seafood the other day and picked up half a dozen spot prawns for dinner. These guys are technically shrimp, but are oversized and taste like sweet lobster. Our plan was to throw them straight on the grill for 2.5 minutes a side and serve with heart-stopping cheesy grits with bacon and grilled asparagus. I crushed some garlic into a bowl of olive oil to brush over before grilling, which is when we discovered the roe. Let’s just say we had a bunch of breeders on our hands and didn’t know how the hell to deal with them. I immediately texted my friend Katie, who replied “A delicacy?” Love caviar/roe, so we went with it. Does this look freaky to you?

spot prawn roe

Turns out the roe was scrumptious. As is every part of these little suckers. We skipped the shells and the eyeballs but scarfed just about everything else…

spot prawns