Monday, November 24, 2008

I love LA

New York may be rich with incredible restaurants, but given the current state of our bank account, we barely get to sample its fruit. Los Angeles, on the other hand, reigns supreme on thestreet food/cheap eats front. Which is why I always look forward to visiting the city I grew up in.

Case-in-point: after arriving Saturday night, we awoke (unfortunately at 4am--the boys had yet to adjust to the time difference) to a weather forecast of 70 degrees. We jumped in the car and started driving to Santa Monica, not really knowing where we would end up, but with a goal of a little beach time and some Mexican food. Driving down Main street, we discovered a farmer's market two blocks from the beach, parked for free (with a validation from the farmer's market) and set up chairs on the enormous beach. I went searching for lunch while the boys set about digging in the sand.

Back at the farmer's market, I bought some strawberries and took my time walking by the stalls lush with several colors of vegetables and fruit. By now, in NYC, our farmer's market is mostly just apples and a few winter squashes, but here, the bounty of local produce was still rich. I could get used to this.

The market also featured several prepared food vendors. I looked for the one with the longest line, a stall named "Gourmet Tamales."

I took my time in line debating which tamales to buy. There were several varieties of both sweet corn and more spicy, savory options. I ended up with a chicken and oregano, a chipotle beef, a goat cheese and basil with sweet corn, a cheese and poblano chile tamale and an order of rice and beans.

Back on the sand, Steve and I inhaled the lunch; the boys were too ecstatic from the open expanse of the beach to eat. The tamales were the best we've ever eaten. We unfolded the cheese and poblano tamale first, breaking it in half while the cheese stretched on and on, needing to be broken up by my fingers. The corn was perfectly stiff, the cheese was soft and the pepper piquant; all balanced together and made only better by dipping it into the smokey-but-not-too-hot accompaniment. The chicken tamale was heavy with oregano flecks, which gave it an herbal quality. I was surprised to find that my favorite, by far, was the goat cheese, basil and sweet corn. The cheese was warm with a bit of barnyard funk, and mellowed out by the delicious sweet corn crust.

Our bellies full, Steve and I sat back and enjoyed the view. The boys each went in their own direction, ridiculously happy with the sand and the sea.

Information on the Santa Monica Sunday Farmer's Market can be found here.

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