[Update: ARRGH!! I'm an IDIOT!!! I only just discovered what "sugar daddy" really meant...I always assumed it meant a rich daddy who pampers his daughter. I never bothered to look the definition up, and now I've unwittingly called Mimi a whore. Sorry, Mimi!! Thanks Carrie for pointing it out to me!]
I received the sweetest card yesterday.
I know it’s self-serving to post a picture of the card to Instagram, but it’s the kind of news you just really want to share it with everyone. It was a “Thank You” card by one of the summer camp organizations…actually, from the same foundation funding the family I wrote about before on my blog.
It was a simple card, but it moved me in a deep way. I am but the transcriber of these people’s way of overcoming their lives and hardships. Yet it reminded me that writing about the “little people” is just as important as news on the “big people” like say, President Obama and Prince William (by the way, I get irritated by the American media’s obsession with a royal family of another country).
There is one gripe I have about my summer camp stories, and it’s that I can’t write more than a few paragraphs. It’s really just a mini article squished into whatever space is left in the Calendar section. I wish I had pictures of the wonderful kids to go along with the article, and dang it, I wish I could write a full-length article on them. Their lives are short, but their stories are big and touching.
But that is again my pride talking. I want big jazzy stories that will rock the city and I want to see fantastic, generous results of people scrambling to help these kids. Once again, I have to remind myself that this is not about big stories. It’s about the people, and though the impact is small and limited, it’s such a warm reassurance to know that for the few individuals who do feel the impact, it is a positive one. And I’m truly blessed to be one of them.
My spirits have soared since…the “incident.” For some reason I’ve actually gotten busier. I got to write my first long post for the Food section, and my Calendar editor (who just returned from vacation and wasn’t here during the fiasco) was super duper kind to me. He even gave me a new assignment!
Anyway, my moods have lifted since, and having a long weekend really helped. Especially when it was spent with my awesome red-haired friend Mimi. And oh, especially when her sugar daddy dished out some birthday cash. His words: “Take your best buddy out for a grand meal.”
And by best buddy he meant me, of course. Or so Mimi told me. The two of us did a lot of researching. We don’t get to eat out in nice restaurants much, so we intended to gobble this opportunity well. After much painstaking consideration and heated (and drooling) deliberation, we finally decided on a darling place called FarmShop at Santa Monica.
I am so pleased with our choice. You’ll see why.
The FarmShop is located at the Brentwood Country Mart, which was built in 1948 as a conglomeration of quaint shops and stalls. I think it was originally intended to imitate the Original Farmers Market but then morphed into something more high-end and high-profile. This is, after all, Santa Monica.
You reach the marketplace, and you feel like you’ve gone back in time. The place is built in this old country style, almost a barnyard or farmhouse feel. As you walk between the alleys, you feel like you’re intruding a little village.
I think the best time to go is early morning and afternoon, so that there is plenty of sunlight, but I wonder how it will look when it’s dark, too.
Don’t be fooled though. The Brentwood Country Mart is for people with dough. Everything in there is pricey and it’s a place frequented by celebrities. It probably serves as a sanctuary for these ridiculously rich people who don’t want to get jostled by common folks at mega malls. If I sound bitter, I swear I’m not. Just stating it as it is.
Okay, back to food. That’s what we were here for. We wanted to fill our bellies with wonderful, overpriced food.
FarmShop, I have to say, is really nice. The people there are all nicely dressed, the servers are really nice, the interior is nice. Nothing too ostentatious; simply nice.
There is a stretch of long communal dining table in the middle, probably to exude some sense of cozy community. It kind of works for me.
Love the open kitchen, but I didn’t get the chance to observe the chefs much.
The place was packed so Mimi and I had to wait. While we were waiting, we drooled over the pastry counter a bit:
Looking at tarts and pies always gets me in the baking mood, even though I don’t like pies.
I always love a good muffin though. The lemon-yogurt one sounds good.
Dense, chunky granola bar. For $3? Hm…
Almond croissants probably twice the size of real Parisian croissants…
Big-ass chocky cookies!
And my favorite of them all, open-faced savory tartines.
After a few minutes of drooling, we finally got called up to take our seats.
We started out with coffee.
I only drink one cup (well, a big cup) of coffee a day, so it killed me to have to wait for this cup. I made up for the wait by allowing the server to pour me several cups more.
We started out with an appetizer first, chosen by Mimi:
Chicken liver with grapes, caper berries and tavern sourdough bread.
I’ve never had caper berries before. I think they were pickled. They had a sour and pungent taste, almost like olives. I was fascinated by these little bulbs. They look like alien food!
Also the grapes. I think they were macerated in wine or something. They tasted like red wine in whole solid form. Interesting.
Now about the centerpiece, the chicken liver pate:
This was Mimi’s reaction to it:
“Yum,” she says, spread a toast with the goopy gray stuff. “Delicious.”
I followed suit and spread my toast with the pate.
But my reaction was more like: “WTF?”
The chicken liver tasted exactly like what it looks like: pureed dirty pink intestines. Or rusty blood. Reminds me of that time with soon dae. Blergh!!!!
”You just don’t appreciate the taste of iron,” Mimi admonished me as I washed down my disgusting bite with heavy gulps of coffee. “Liver is actually one of the most nutritionally dense food.”
Nutrition, iron, whatever! I’m never eating liver again. Thankfully, our main entrees arrived soon after. I got the Pastrami & Eggs:
Heirloom cauliflower, pole beans, wild mushrooms, green tomato ketchup and poached eggs.
It was lovely. The green tomato ketchup was vibrant and flavorful, but I wished I had more.
The only complaint I had about this dish was my eggs. Those were completely over-cooked poached eggs. Made me a bit huffy, because I dislike hard yolks. Perhaps I should have sent the dish back, but I’m a meek little Asian and don’t like to kick a fuss over eggs.
My dish also came with a side of toast and butter sprinkled with coarse salt, which I didn’t even notice until much later.
Man, I loved the butter with salt. It was really fresh, creamy butter. The salt added a nice texturally crunch and a pow.
Mimi, the sweet toothed one, got the French Toast:
Macerated strawberries, creme fraiche, pistachios and hobbs’ bacon.
How gorgeous is this dish?!! I was lucky that Mimi is generous with her food so I could snag a fat bite. The french toast was perfect: fat, plump, without being too wet or too dry, just rich and saturated with awesome egginess and fluffiness.
And then…when we were about to pay our bill—excuse me, when Mimi’s daddy was about to pay the bill…FarmShop surprised us with a free dessert:
Mimi had mentioned to the server that we were celebrating her birthday, oh the clever one. So the server dished us this amazing pavlova drizzled with macerated strawberries and fresh whipped cream. And candles, to boot!
It was SO GOOD!!!!!!!! And I thought I didn’t like meringue! Maybe it was just because I’ve had crappy store-bought ones? But this big fat pavlova was just…fantastic. It had this thin crackly crust and a chewy, soft inner sweetness that was just right. And of course, whipped cream makes everything much more luscious and delicious.
We demolished the plate in six seconds.
Look how happy I am.
Look how happy we are!
It was truly a glorious afternoon. We even stopped by Costco on the way back. Perfect capping to a perfect meal with an awesome friend, thanks to a generous daddy in Houston, Texas.
Thank you Mr. Honeycutt! And thank you, Mimi, for always being my wonderful buddy, both in foodie adventures and out.
Question of the Day: Brunch: sweet or savory?