To me, SkyMall is an essential part of every air travel experience. Flipping though the 150 pages of merchandise that ranges from ridiculous to practical and downright brilliant is a ritual of past, present, and future trips. Perusing SkyMall during my flights parallels my habits of over packing my suitcase and forgetting to put my carry-on liquids in a clear, 3 quart Ziploc bag.
I noncommittally browse SkyMall or ‘window shop’ while looking out the cabin window every so often, to pillowy, white, cloud-covered atmosphere, high above the world below. I have a little game where I go through each and every product and say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to if I would ever conceivably buy it. It is a remarkably effective way to kill a couple hours on a flight if you’re feeling too brain dead to read or do anything productive with your time.
I got to page 139 and saw the Hollywood Cookie Diet. A definite ‘no, I would never buy this’ but in the name of research, as I was on my way to Los Angeles, I took interest and read on. Only $19.99 for a three-day supply... Why are gimmicky offers always $19.99; like that extra cent saved is really going to sell you on the product? I laughed to myself and felt sorry for any overweight cookie monster that actually thought this fad diet was a sustainable way to loose or maintain weight.
I wasn't trying to lose any weight for an upcoming film and I didn't need to sausage myself into a little dress for a red carpet strut, so I abstained from trying the ludicrous Hollywood Cookie Diet and formulated a healthier and more moderate, travel-oriented, food-obsessed, L.A Cookie Tour. It’s less of ‘skip a meal, have a cookie’ and more of ‘have an incredible meal and finish it off with a cookie'…you’re on vacation after all. A real cookie monster, undeterred by thoughts of a slightly enlarging waistline, cannot miss Huckleberry Café and Bakery in Santa Monica, Clementine in L.A., and Jin Patisserie in Venice Beach.
Huckleberry Café and Bakery
I arrived at Huckleberry to find a long line of anxious food lovers waiting to lunch on farmer’s market-fresh salads, hearty chalkboard special sandwiches and drool worthy desserts. The smell of the buttery croissants wafted through the packed Santa Monica café.
I inched past the crowd to the back of the line where I picked up a menu. My mouth began watering as I pondered what to order. My husband and I decided to share the turkey meatball sandwich and the market-fresh roasted beet salad with burrata. For those who haven’t tried burrata: step away from the computer and immediately go get some. It will change your life. The soft, Italian cheese made from part cream and part mozzarella dribbled down the field greens and covered the salad with a rich, creamy loveliness.
As good as the lunch was, the dessert was even better. I enjoyed a peanut butter tart and a salted caramel cookie. If it wasn’t for the ravenous crowd behind me and the massive selection to choose from I would have ordered more. The tart was smooth, velvety, and tasted like a delicate cloud of peanut butter. The cookie was buttery, sweet, and salty and left me desperately wanting another one.
How did Clementine brighten my morning? Let me count the ways…Clementine is a cute little bakery in Century City (Westside L.A.) that serves cookies the way your grandmother used to make them, with love. It’s a family owned café and bakery and is a local favorite for fresh-baked pastries, seasonal salads, sandwiches, and homemade soups.
I arrived at the tiny neighbourhood bakery early in the morning to find it packed with Hollywood types, fringe artists and CPA’s, stopping for breakfast before a day’s work. I ordered the house granola- crunchy, flavourful, and just sweet enough. In the name of journalism, I also ordered a German chocolate cookie made with Valrhona chocolate. The sugar from the batter had crystallized on the top leaving a shiny, crunchy exterior. The inside of the cookie was soft, spongy, had crunch from the walnuts, and decadence from the chunks of Valrhona chocolate. I dipped a portion of the cookie into my morning coffee and just about died from pleasure.
Imagine if Tokyo and Paris got together and had a baby…a baby bakery that is. Jin Patisserie is a smart cross between Japanese perfectionism and French passion. Linger over high-tea, gourmet finger sandwiches, and house-made chocolates in the Zen garden located in the front of the restaurant.
I enjoyed a tasty roast beef sandwich while cocooned in the lush paradise of the Jin garden. The garden is simple and elegant with trees, bushes, and grasses that made me almost forget I was in the middle of a metropolis. A water fountain bubbled in the centre and mixed with sounds of French electronica which created a peaceful, hip feel.
The pièce de résistance of the meal was the selection of French macaroons. Let’s just get this straight… a French macaroon is not just a cookie, it is the cookie. I’m not talking about those overly sugary, grainy, coconut monstrosities that are popular in America. I’m talking about flawlessly attractive, delicate, meringue-based, domed cookie sandwiches filled with flavoured butter cream.
I savoured three macaroons while the world around me stopped completely. First, rose. Second, salted caramel. Third, raspberry. Quiet, quiet, quiet and then… taste explosion! I was speechless and you will be too.
The moral of the story: skip fad diets, resist the urge to try to look just like celebrities (can anyone really eat puréed Gerber baby food for an entire week?) and enjoy life. I understand in order to look slim and glamorous at all those Hollywood premiers eating cookies all day isn’t the best way to maintain your girlish (or boyish) figure....that's just how the cookie crumbles. However, in moderation, life is all about enjoying and indulging in simple pleasures. Go forth, travel, eat, and enjoy.
Next time you’re in the City of Angels try my L.A. cookie tour. You’ll think you were in heaven.
P.S. A shout out to my best friend...thanks for some amazing recommendations and for being such a sweet cookie!