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The artists live and work in the Mosaic Tile House, so the kitchen is fully functional, and their studio in the back is where they create their tiles and where their bigger pieces are displayed.

Even though I have lived in Los Angeles for decades, I had never been to the Mosaic Tile House in Venice until recently. Today and tomorrow’s photo posts will be a kaleidoscope for your eyes, a challenge for your brain, and a feast for your imagination. Enjoy the adventure on Saturdays between 1-4pm $20 for adults $15 for seniors and children under 12 get free admission.

Wrenches, pliers, anything you can imagine are incorporated.

Yes, those are spoons!

The details are amazing.

Walls, ceilings, and floors are all part of the canvas.

The artists appear in the artwork throughout the house 🙂

I was happy to finally try Felix Trattoria; a very appropriate emotion since Felix means “happy” or “lucky” in Latin:) 

There is a huge window in the dining area so that you can see the handiwork being done to prepare your meal. Whether you have tasted handmade pasta and loved it, or always wanted to try traditionally made pasta, Felix will make you happy if you are lucky enough to get a reservation. Delicate squash blossoms filled with ricotta and green garlic for $15 were light crisp bites filled with creamy goodness, a great way to start off a meal.

They had a lemon spaghetti with sea urchin on the menu, served with a portion that could have been eaten separately, but I preferred to mix it in to enhance pasta with more of the flavor of the sea. This was a rich dish, so the small portion was plenty considering the satisfying umami on the plate.

The hit of the evening was the oxtail ragu with DOP Pecorino Romano for $26. Meltingly tender meat coated the hearty pasta accented with the sharp salty sheep’s milk cheese. It was perfect and if you only order one pasta, I highly recommend this one!

We chose a wine from Sardinia based on the waiter’s suggestions. Gostalai Nepente di Oliena 2012. It was my first taste of Sardinian wine and I look forward to trying others 🙂

They have a small bar area and valet parking for $10, which is highly recommended unless you can find parking on Abbot Kinney.

The good thing about living close to the beach but not AT the beach is that I don’t have to suffer the throngs of people who descend on the week-ends, I don’t have to deal with cars blocking my driveway (“for just a minute”), and I can enjoy virtually marine layer free blue sunny days. Can you tell that I am glad I no longer live at the beach? All this being said, it’s still fun to GO to the beach. Just like it’s fun to rent a convertible even though you may not enjoy owning one (yes, I’ve been there and done that too).

So when friends came in from out of town who also used to live at the beach, we went to the beach! Venice’s Abbot Kinney was a funky artsy area before all the high end hipsters, but the “revitalization” has added some great places to eat in addition to what used to be the only good place to eat, Joe’s.

Feed Body & Soul has a beautiful facade, a covered patio, and that rarity that makes it worthy of a visit even on Summer week-ends, an adjacent valet parking lot.

We sat on the patio and since we all wanted to taste everything, we decided to literally taste three dishes by each eating a third of a plate and passing it on to the next person.

The crabcakes with a habernero sauce on a bed of organic greens with avocado was not as spicy as it sounds, but rather a lightly spiced salad that highlighted fresh crab. If you are a crabcake lover, you will be pleased with this choice.

The sesame crusted seared ahi with micro greens, wheatberries and a wasabi sauce was done perfectly rare. If you don’t like tuna tartare or tuna sashimi, do not order this, but if you do, this is a whole grain version of a dish you might find in a sushi restaurant. The wasabi sauce was quite spicy, so be forewarned.

My favorite dish was the one I ordered, the wild salmon on a bed of quinoa with spinach and a pea shoot sauce. The fish was perfectly cooked, the greens and grains moist and tasty, and I would have definitely eaten all of this dish without sharing!

The portions were not huge and our total for the three of us including tax and tip was about $90 without drinks, but for the atmosphere and the food, this is definitely worth the price for the quality of ingredients.

We went across the street for dessert at N’Ice Cream. They make their gelatos and sorbets fresh every day from ingredients that are organic in other countries but have not been certified as organic in the US. If you love creamy gelato, this is the place to go in Venice. In Hermosa, I prefer Paciugo, but for a place closer to me and with excellent flavors, this is a great find. Prices are about the same starting at $4 for a single serving. I chose the pistachio, a very creamy version made with imported Italian pistachios.

One friend got the maple and it tasted as fresh and creamy as my pistachio.

The third person of our trio chose the chocolate which was soooo chocolaty that I my one bite taste was enough to satiate me!

Maybe next time we’ll rent a convertible when we go to the beach 🙂

Feed Body & Soul on Urbanspoon

N'ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Cafe Gratitude is one of those places people will either love or hate. With locations in Santa Cruz, Venice and Larchmont, it is the epitome of 100% organic vegetarian California cafés, including a spiritual vibe and raw/vegan options. If you’re still reading this, then you either live in California or are OK with eating a meal without any meat or fish. Since I get my weekly rations of meat at Lindy & Grundy, I have no problem going vegan for a meal or two.

They offer beers and wines by the glass from $5-12, but I decided that since I was going meatless, I would also go without alcohol while I was here. It was fitting that I chose the drink called I Am Healthy for $5.25. Made with cold pressed vegetable and fruit juices, it was a refreshingly simple mixture of cucumber and pineapple juice. Every drink and dish is listed as an affirmation so when you order it you must say it. Yes, I know some of you are rolling your eyes now, but I think it’s a better idea than naming a three pound burger a Triple Bypass (however appropriate that name may be).

Staying with my clean meal theme, I had the I Am Pure salad for $13. It’s a ginger tahini marinated kale salad with avocado, sea palm, nori, cucumbers, carrots, cilantro, basil, green onions, sunflower sprouts, and sprinkled with teriyaki almonds. It was indeed pure and I loved the ginger tahini marinade which tenderized the kale without overwhelming it. The sunflower sprouts were a bit hard to eat because they were so long, but the varied textures of the ingredients and the savory dressing made this a delicious way to eat vegan.

I came on another day when my stomach was not happy after a heavy meal the night before, so I ordered the I Am Fiery, a digestive 1 oz shot for $3.50. Made with Noni, ginger turmeric, cayenne, and colonial minerals, it is spicy and it definitely cleared out my system. Do not order this if you can not handle heat; it is about as hot as diluted Tabasco in a shot!

The neighboring table had two I Am Awesome sandwiches and they looked so good, I ordered one too. It’s a herb cornmeal crusted eggplant Parmesan on grilled panini with marinara, cashew ricotta, sliced heirloom tomatoes, arugula, basil, and served with a side salad for $12. This is the perfect sandwich to order for someone who isn’t sure they like vegetables. The crunchy cornmeal crust with the creamy ricotta and fresh tomato marinara tasted just like a fresher version of the traditional eggplant Parmesan sandwich. There is an option of hemp seed pesto with this sandwich for an additional $2.25, but I felt the flavors were fine without any addition. The side salad dressed with a balsamic dressing was as tasty as the sandwich.

All their teas and coffees are also organic, and they offer desserts, but since I rarely have room for anything after my main meal, I did not partake of either. Other tables did order desserts, so I can only surmise that the mostly coconut based sweets are as good as their other offerings.

The sweet ending to my meal came from my server who asked if I wanted to hear the question of the day. When I said “Yes”, she asked “What would you like to be acknowledged for?” I could tell you my answer, but as the saying goes, I would have to kill you, and that would be very unVegan 🙂

Parking in this area of Venice can be tough, but the restaurant will validate for the parking lot on 5th Street.

Cafe Gratitude on Urbanspoon

Sometimes an intention is all that is needed when you head towards a goal. My intention was to eat lunch at a nearby place which served local or organic ingredients in creative and tasty combinations. I’ve been meaning to try Gratitude Cafe and Superba Snack Bar for quite awhile, so I simply parked on Rose and walked around figuring I would choose a place to eat lunch once I got to the area. Superba was closed and Gratitude was just a block too far to walk to in the 90 degree heat.

Serendipitiously, I ended up at Cerveteca. They have a large enclosed patio, so you can enjoy sunny Southern California beach weather even when the beach (six blocks away) is overcast.

This marvelous place serves some of the best Latin inspired food I’ve ever eaten. They use free range chicken, wild caught salmon, and organic mixed greens for their salads, so quality is paramount. The fact that they use handmade tortillas speaks volumes about how much they care about their food. It’s the equivalent of using bakery bread rather than using cellophane wrapped supermarket bread when you are making a sandwich.

Since their Happy Hour lasts from 3-7pm, you can get here earlier for drinks and appetizers before your dinner, or make your dinner from the Happy Hour menu which offers smaller bites of the menu items.

Mama’s ceviche, made with lime cured fish, tomato, cilantro, radish, jicama, mango, and cucumber for $9 at Happy Hour ($16 regularly) is a fresh citrusly medley of ingredients. We added some of the pickled relish from the table to perk it up with some jalapeno, but for those who want no heat, it is good by itself. The accompanying chips are made from the handmade tortillas, so they can be addictive.

Since we couldn’t decide whether to get the barbacoa beef or pulled pork slider, so we got one of each for $6 at Happy Hour ($14 regular). The five spiced beef was the clear winner of the two with a marvelously subtly smokey spice (but not hot) flavor.

The Baja taco was the best fish tacos I’ve ever eaten. Period. For $4 at Happy Hour or $12 (for three) on the regular menu, the beer batter dipped and fried cod with slaw, crema, salsa, and aji sauce was the perfect combination of soft, crunchy, warm, creamy, and  spicy (if you add the sauce served on the side). If anyone you know does not like fish or tacos, I would bet that after a bite of this taco they would change their minds (and I’m not a gambler).

The special of the night was seared Diver scallops on a bed of Romesco sauce with grilled and raw asparagus. The scallops were perfectly seared and slightly under done, so it was almost sashimi. The Romesco sauce added a nice flavor with a counterpoint of creamy texture to the scallops and asparagus. If this is on special when you go and you like scallops, make sure you save room for this dish.

I chose the Herb and Garlic Basted Game Hen for $18, made with achiote, tomato, thyme, rosemary,  arroz ajillo, with a side (I chose the brussel sprouts with bacon), and tortilla. This game hen was one of the best versions I have ever eaten, with the skin and meat both infused with achiote and perfectly roasted. The brussel sprouts had incredible chunks of thick bacon, but it was a bit overwhelmed by the cider finish. The Arroz Ajillo was delightful, with just a hint of flavor that complimented the game hen perfectly.

Serendipity is defined as a “lucky coincidence”; I’m glad my luck was good enough to end up at Cerveteca.

Oscar's Cerveteca on Urbanspoon

A couple I met at a wine tasting event at Wally’s recommended Ado to me, and since people who know good wine usually know good food and visa versa, I went to taste for myself. Ado has two locations, the original, located in a converted house, and a smaller more casual outpost, both located in Venice. Both locations are in areas where parking can be a challenge, but the larger one has valet parking, so that was the one I chose.

The current menu is somewhat different with slightly higher prices than what is on their website, so be aware of that if you are planning to go based on what you see from their menu online.

The house is charming with a seating area downstairs, upstairs and on a terrace outdoors.

I rarely see watercress available, so I chose this salad with hearts of palm, roasted almonds, pecorino cheese and watercress for $13. It had a light balsamic dressing and the textures worked well together.

I wanted to order the menu item I saw online for tagliatelle with wild boar, but it was not on the menu. Instead I ordered the tagliatelle with rabbit and dried figs for $24. The pasta was wonderful, freshly made, light, and al dente, the ground rabbit was tasty, and the unusual addition of dried figs somehow worked with this dish, giving it some sweetness, but mostly some texture and a slightly earthiness with the crimni mushrooms.

I had a nice glass of Rosso for $15 with my meal, and a very good decaf espresso to finish.

The service was excellent with professional Italians who were clearly trained professionals, and the ambiance is relaxed yet upscale enough to make this place a destination for either a special occasion or a place to go in the neighborhood when you don’t want to cook. They are open 7 days a week, so you can go to their house for dinner any night you wish:)

Ado on Urbanspoon

A superfecta of rarities converged at Joe’s in Venice this Sunday:
1) I woke up early enough to go to brunch
2) I met the family of a friend whose current and past spouses who get along
3) A new moon

Our meal started with delicious brioche bread, walnut bread, and home made strawberry jam. We had to remind ourselves to stop devouring this side so we would have room to eat our meals.

The professional chef in the group, Cathy, ordered the Little Gem Wedge Salad for $6 which was served with pickled shallots, walnut crumble, pancetta with a blue cheese dressing. She generously shared bites of this fresh salad with the table.

We ordered sweet grits for $4 that was delightful. Sweetened with brown sugar and generously buttered, this Southern comfort side dish made me (a Northerner) a grits fan!

We also ordered two orders of the Brioche French Toast with Gravenstein Apples, Golden Raisins Orange Flower Cream for the table. Everyone agreed this was the lightest yet most decadent French Toast we had ever tasted. As someone who usually does not gravitate towards sweets, I was so impressed with this “appetizer” that I actually took TWO bites!

The teenager in our group, Sidra, ordered the Buttermilk Pancakes with Scrambled Eggs, Applewood Smoked Bacon, and Vermont Maple Syrup for $10. For a basic breakfast, the version here was done with better ingredients and a deft hand.

My fellow foodie friend David ordered the Open Faced Porchetta Sandwich, made with Salsa Verde, Fried Egg, Parmesan, Market Salad for $14 which he polished off with a smile.

The artist, Krista, ordered the Green Chili and Turkey Chorizo Breakfast Burrito, made with Ranchero Sauce, Guacamole, Sour Cream, Cilantro for $12 (she took this perfect picture) and enjoyed it.

I ordered the Pacific Stone Crab Hash with soft poached eggs, made with Red & Yellow Peppers, Potatoes, and Rosemary-Mustard Nage for $15. The eggs were so perfectly done the artist of our party wanted to take a picture from her seat at my side to capture their beauty. I should have taken her up on her offer to do that since my shadow detracted from this shot.

Cathy ordered the Grilled Jidori Chicken Breast panzanella salad, white balsamic, tomatoes and zucchini. Although the chicken was moist, it needed a bit more flavor, so she asked for a side of salsa verde which made the dish as tasty as it looks.

Perhaps Sunday’s Superfecta is a sign that the rest of year will be filled with the good food and friends:)

Joe's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

To many people, Sunday is the night to eat dinner with their family. If your idea of a family meal involves champagne or lobster, then today’s post is for you (and your family)!

This Sunday is your last chance to get half priced lobster at Chaya Venice, so celebrate the end of Summer and the holiday week-end with a meal at one of my favorite restaurants (as evidenced by all my posts on it).

Chaya Venice on Urbanspoon

Another option (which is available every Sunday) is “burgers & bubbles” at the bar at Tavern (another one of my favorites) for only $30 you get three sliders and a paired glass of bubbles! The sliders include an organic turkey with tomato confit & arugula, triple pork slider with manchego & romesco, and a Niman Ranch beef slider with fontina, lettuce & tomato. The bubbles include J. Lassalle brut chigny-les-roses, 1er cru, a prosecco de Valdobbiadene, extra dry, and a Veuve Fourny, brut rose, 1er cru.

Tavern on Urbanspoon

So while you are making your plans now for the week-end, make a reservation for Sunday night!

>If you haven’t made plans for dinner tonight, you might want to go to Chaya Venice tonight. They offering a Valentine’s Day menu for two today that includes choices like Antipasto for two ($38), or surf and turf for two ($48), or dessert for two ($22). To delight your chocoholic, they have a Valentini chocolate martini ($12) or for champagne aficionados, a Champagne cocktail ($13).

Their food is always on point and the service is top notch, although the dining room can be noisy at times (when it is full). I enjoyed my last Dine LA menu here before I left on my trip to Paris.

The menu offered three courses for $22 that included a Blood Orange, Burrata Cheese, and Wild Arugula Salad with Balsamic Reduction. This was a wonderfully refreshing salad with the acidity of the blood oranges adding a bright note to the young arugula and the creamy burrata.

For my main course, I chose the Grilled Angus Rib-Eye Steak, Pinot Noir Sauce
Mixed Potatoes, with Broccolini and specifically asked for it to be very rare (cold in the center). I have never ordered red meat here, so I was a bit tentative as I cut into the steak, but I did not need to worry; it was as I had ordered it, perfectly rare in the center. Since I am normally not a potato lover, I was surprised by the crispy medley of potatoes that were so delicious I nearly ate all of them!

I was so full after my meal the only dessert I had room for were the pistachio Chocolate Cookies that came warm so the chocolate chips were melting 🙂

I hope this sample of Chaya’s food enticed you to try them (or go back if you already have); did it work?

Chaya Venice on Urbanspoon




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