Original Farmer’s Market
It was another lazy morning, as we casually stroll out at noon to the Original Farmer’s Market for some lunch. Luckily, there was parking on-site with the first 90 minutes free with validation. The market was very lively given it is a weekday. Before arriving, I was expecting the market to be 90% groceries, 10% hot food stalls. On arrival, I realized it was actually the inverse. This market was basically a huge outdoor food court. What a pleasant surprise! We did some research and decided we must get something at Gumbo Pot – a Cajun food stall. We looked through the “New Orleans Favourites” and chose the first item on the list: The Gumbo Ya Ya. It came with a side of their “killer cornbread” as well as a choice of salad. We chose the coleslaw. I’ve never had Gumbo before. It is basically a hearty stew, and in this case it had chicken, shrimp and andouille sausage. I couldn’t really taste the chicken but it was nonetheless a very comforting stew. The coleslaw was lack-lustre but it’s good to get some veggies in. I must bring your attention, though, to the “killer cornbread”. It was probably the best cornbread I’ve ever had in my life. It was so soft and buttery. Dip some of that in the Gumbo or just eat it by itself.
Aaron found out that there was a Singaporean stall so we stopped there to grab some roti or paratha as they called it here. As a seasoned roti-eater, Aaron felt their curry was legit but their roti had the texture of the frozen ones you can get in the supermarket.
We were heading towards the Brazillian food stall but then our nose came across a buttery pastry scent we could not resist. It was coming from Noona’s Empanadas. We had to get one but there were so many options. We asked what was their most popular ones and they suggested a few but we decided on the Chicken Mushroom & Cheese. They also asked if we wanted chimichurri Sauce and I said sure. This was probably the best decision I’ve made all day. Sometimes I’ve had pastries which are dry and are gross from sitting there all day, but this was fresh. Every bite was nice and hot – both on the soft pastry outside and the creamy contents inside. The chicken and mushroom was already flavourful, but with the melted cheese, it was truly amazing. Next we poured some of the chimichurri sauce and my mind was blown. This pesto-like sauce was the perfect balance of oily and spicy! They also sold this sauce in jars for those interested! Because of our happy detours, we weren’t left with much space in our stomachs for the Brazillian meat stall. I was pretty disappointed but perhaps we will return another day.
On our way out, we saw a bunch of visitors on a market tour eating donuts from Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts, so we decided to pick up one. We had the simple glazed one and it was one of the lightly, fluffiest donuts I’ve ever had.
The Grove was literally next the market but I was pretty pleased with the fact that we managed to get free parking while at the market, so we continued the trend by moving the car to The Grove parking lot for another hour of free parking while shopping there. FYI, you can also get further validation if you spend $250+. There is also valet parking for those who want to be all fancy. Our intention wasn’t to buy anything but it was a nice place to just walk around. There was a nice grassy area in the centre as well as a music fountain. We also hopped onto the trolley, which turned out to be an advertising vehicle informing us of all the newest stores and trends. There are also various bars and cafes as well, including Ladurée, with a lovely patio in the grassy area. The complex itself wasn’t too big, so 1 hour was just the right amount of time for us to spend here.
Walk of Fame
We figured we should not come to LA without visiting the Walk of Fame. We managed to find some free street parking on a street a few blocks away. Just like other big cities, it’s not uncommon to see the juxtaposition between luxury condos (i.e. the W) and the homeless in the same area. The Walk of Fame itself was definitely underwhelming, but we were getting thirsty, so we picked up some juices from Pressed Juicery before heading home for a break.
As it neared time for sunset, we headed over to watch it at OUE Skyspace in the US Bank Tower, which until recently was the tallest building in California. Unlike other iconic tall buildings such as The Empire State Building and CN Tower, there were no crowds at all. There was hardly a line up to purchase tickets and we basically had our own private elevator going up. We stopped at the 54th floor for some “interactive exhibits” and the obligatory green-screen photo, which you can choose to purchase later, Then we headed up again, this time to the 70th floor. Here you can see the view of the LA with its many skyscrapers. It was interesting to see the helipads on many of these tall buildings. After you are done with this floor, you can simply walk down the stairs to the 69th floor to enjoy the view from the outdoor terraces, or you can take the SkySlide down through a slide made entirely of glass built to loop outside the building. Aaron was very keen on this experience so this is the route we chose; however, it was incredibly disappointing. The experience itself lasted a mere few seconds and you couldn’t really appreciate much of a view on the way down. Save your $8 and spend it on some good empanadas instead.
Speaking of food, it was dinner time! Aaron had thoughtfully made reservations at one of the top restaurants in LA – Broken Spanish. The vibe was chic casual with room for large or small groups. For the food, think upscale, modern Mexican. We started with some pollo prensado, which used the best parts of the chicken, i.e. the thigh and skin, as well as the cockscomb in a saucy chilli. We had ordered some corn tortilla to go with this. I was blown away at the first bite. It was so flavourful with just the right amount of heat. The chicken was so tender. There was something in there that had the consistency of tendon, which we assumed to be the cockscomb – so good. This all went very well with the tortilla, with which we made our own tacos.
Next came the oxtail quesadilla. They again used the same purple corn tortilla, with gave it a different texture than the usual flour tortillas I’m used to. The quesadilla was unlike any I’ve had in the past. It’s nice and saucy owing to the salsa quemada. There were dollops of sour cream and lime cream on the side which brought the flavours to another level.
Next, we had the duck, which was absolutely not what I expected. Presented to us was half a duck bathed in peanuts, grapes and of course, the mole. The meat was probably the most tender duck meat I’ve ever had. It had the texture of bone marrow or fois gras. It was rich and delicious. And it matched so well with the sauce and toppings.
We were pretty stuffed after the duck but we had to try one of their desserts. We chose the cafe de olla which was a beautiful art piece. You have artisan chocolate, crunchy pastry, silky ganache and ice cream on the side. We were glad we pushed ourselves to get some dessert. Overall, we were very impressed by this restaurant. This was probably our best meal in LA to date!