One thing that will never change about Los Angeles is the fact that it is always changing. I grew up in West Hollywood, and I have seen more hot new restaurants, gyms, and coffee shops come and go than I can honestly even remember. Now I live full time in Italy, but every year I go back to my hometown with my family and marvel at what has changed, and get super excited about all of the newness.
In transition between houses last year, we tried our luck staying in Venice Beach, one of the hottest neighborhoods in LA right now. And if you’re an Angeleno you know that you never leave the bubble of your neighborhood if you can help it. Traffic is too bad to experiment with new locales when everything is right there at your door in your own neck of the woods.
So anyway, via the generosity of some close friends of ours who so graciously allowed us to stay in their home last summer, we were in Venice. I have no idea why they signed up to have our whole circus stay with them, but that is another subject all together. And as my luck would have it, around the corner is the ever world famous Gjelina and my crutch and savior, GTA. My son was still a tiny baby, and we cruised Abbot Kinney together while I sipped my GTA cappuccino and scarfed my avocado toast, and he checked out all the hippie beauties gracing the buzzing streets. Love it or hate it, I’m fairly certain Gjelina is one of those LA spots that will never disappear.
So, I am delighted to say our circus has packed up its bags once again, and we are now on our way back to Los Angeles. For the next two months, I’ll be sharing my California adventures here, as I completely immerse myself in all of the food, wellness, and health obsessions that are just not available in my beloved adopted country, Italy. I’m riding out the rest of the winter at the beach, and currently taking suggestions on all of your favorite local haunts, so please comment/DM/email everything you’ve got!
To follow up my everyday visits to Gjelina last year, I am super excited to start working their bakery, Gjusta, into my daily rotation, and to get you in the LA mood right along with me, I thought it only fitting to cook up my favorite of their recipes on the eve of my departure. Enjoy, pretty birds – next time you hear from me I’ll be in the sunshine, eating the real thing!
Gjelina Mushroom Toast
One 6 inch ciabatta, halved horizontally and then crosswise to yield 4 pieces
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 lb mix of mushrooms (you can try nameko, hen of the woods, chanterelle, porcini, matsutake
6 cloves of garlic confit
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup of dry white wine
1 ¼ cups of buttermilk Crème Fraiche
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Heat a large cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil. Cook the bread until brown and toasted, about 3 minutes on each side. Set the slices on a cooling rack.
In a large frying a pan over high heat, add olive oil and then the mushrooms when pan is hot. The mushrooms must sear and not steam. Cook for about 3 minutes until the mushrooms are well browned. Toss the mushrooms a bit to make sure the other side is seared. Set aside.
Add the garlic confit to the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. With a wooden spoon, stir in the crème fraiche until well incorporated. Cook until slightly thickened, season with more salt and pepper if necessary, and stir in the parsley and thyme.
Place the toasted break on individual plates. Spoon the mushrooms and sauce from the pan on top, dividing it evenly. Serve hot.
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
8 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
12 fresh thyme sprigs
3 bay leaves
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a medium baking dish, combine the olive oil, garlic, thyme and bay leaves. The garlic should be completely covered by about 1 in of oil. Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the cloves are soft and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature.
You can keep it for about 2 months in your refrigerator in an airtight container, covered with olive oil so air does not reach it.