Home Grown Culver City

Here are some photographs from the Home Grown Culver City event that took place on Saturday October 23rd. It was a great day of workshops, kids activities, great food and terrific music. Check out the website for more info Homegrownculvercity.com






I haven’t written for two weeks. Maybe I have been lazy or maybe it’s been the distraction of the LA county health department that has kept me busier than I wish or maybe it’s been the falling rain. It’s been raining in LA for days which is extremely unusual for this time of year.

Today the clouds parted and gave us a  brief glimpses of a blue sky. I drank an espresso on the patio at Fiore while I pondered the leaks from my newly installed prep sink. I spent  too much time taking the fixtures on and off, tightening them before adding more white tape, putting them back on only to be greeted by the long slow drip of water from the back of the sink. By the time I left the restaurant I got the leak down to about 4 seconds from when the leak formed on the bottom of the flex pipe until it dropped to the floor. The puddle was small but definitely present. I pretended it wasn’t too bad. I’ll give it another try tomorrow.

Anne set tables on the patio last week to see how they look. We ate lunch on the tables and watched the people pass by. Immediately we were interrupted by mothers with strollers wondering if we were open. It was an encouraging sign.

I’ve posted some new pictures. Some of them are rather crude. They show our current reality. A month ago I posted some really sweet looking pictures of my ideal kitchen. I was so damn proud of how it came together, but now after consultation with the health department the kitchen looks like a motorcycle workshop. There are  tools everywhere and those tools are surrounded by dirty espresso cups, used espresso, a bottle of olive oil and my beautiful and wonderfully performing espresso machine that was on hiatus in my garage for 7 years. Now that i have it working like a dream I was informed by the health department that I can’t use it because it is not NSF certified. It doesn’t have that little blue sticker. Those inspectors are like blood hounds, but instead of looking for something good they spend all there time looking for these little blue tags. The tags glisten on the stainless steel sinks. They are usually hidden on equipment, but if caught in the right light they stand out like a light on a Christmas tree.

The work table is my 8 foot long wood table that I bought to use in the kitchen. I was inotified by my new friends that it was too old and worn to be used in the kitchen. I must replace it with a shiny new stainless steel table. Oh the warmth of it. Can’t wait.

Sorry for the deep sarcasm.

We’re actually ok with everything. Fiore is moving along. I hope to have the majority of the work finished by next week. It’s been a fun ride so far.








Health Department Part II

It’s been a few days. I have been preoccupied with Fiore and the health department. The health inspector was very good about the first round. It should have taken 20 days but she made the corrections in three. She called me yesterday about 3pm to let me know I could pick them up. Yes. that was quick. The woman behind the counter was condescending. She said, “now make sure you read the instructions carefully and when you are done call for an appointment”. I felt like I was  5 listening to my kindergarten teacher give me instruction on how to open a book.

The corrections are not too complicated. A few of them are simple. I named items incorrectly. I  labeled  a service counter a pastry display counter which requires a special NSF certificate. We named the floor sink a floor drain.  On the drawings we did not state that they were drawn to 1/4 inch scale which they were. A few items  require more money as usual. The most expensive being the certified air balance test in the kitchen. The test was done early this morning.

My friend Gary and I will work on the drawings this weekend. I should say he will redraw them I will do my best to help. Thankfully we made a few extra copies of the original drawing. Thankfully they were done in pencil. I will stop by Staples for an extra large erasure. I wore the other one out.

Here are some pictures of the South Pasadena Farmer’s Market. I took them with the hipstamatic app.

Brother Bob back to Chicago

Brother Bob flew back to Chicago today. We had a great time this week laughing our asses off. Bob is probably one of the funniest people I know. He has a gift at making people laugh. I will miss him.

We ate and drank much too much coffee and espresso. Every morning we had to figure out  where to find the best espresso for the day. A few places that we checked out. Cognoscenti in Eagle Rock. Intelligentsia, Cafecito Organico in Silverlake, Kaldi in South Pasadena, Peets in Pasadena and finally today at Fiore Market Cafe. It took us a week but we eventually made a good espresso at Fiore. Grazie mille Bob. Sei un fratello molto buono.

Health Department

The health department came yesterday and shook our world. I felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest. She was tough and direct and unflinching in her demand to get this old restaurant up to the new codes. It has operated for years with an A grade in it’s current state, but if we wish to open it again we must make some major changes. The most significant is replacing all the dish-washing sinks with ones that have different dimensions. The prep sink, currently is too small. The 3-compartment sink is too large. The water heater must be re-placed with a 60 gallon unit.

Worst of all I can’t use the hardwood work table because it’s too worn. I also have to figure out a different location for the espresso machine. It must be close enough to the floor drain so that the waste water can be drained.

Well we press on. This weekend we do the plans for a second time. I hope to get them submitted by Monday or Tuesday. Here are some new pictures from the week.

I ain’t no artist or drawer I am just a bloody cook

I ain’t no artist or drawer. I am just a bloody cook, but I have to somehow figure out a way to diagram the kitchen and front of the restaurant by tomorrow at about noon. I need to get these plans to the health department. Yikes.

Today, Anne, Bob and I worked on the drawings. We also worked on the pizza oven. As I said in the first sentence. I am a cook not an artist so you can imagine the pizzas turned out much better than the drawings.

Brother Bob’s in Town

Brother Bob arrived this morning and we have already traversed quite a few miles in quest of great espresso, sausages and ice cream. I picked him up at 9:00am at LAX. We immediately travelled up the 110 freeway to the 5 and over to my new favorite coffee joint in Eagle Rock called Cognoscenti. We had cortados which in Italy are called piccolli cappuccini, the  smaller stronger versions of the original. From there we walked half a block for donuts (I know it sounds absolutely unhealthy). I had a glazed old fashioned. Bob had something that looked to be topped with chocolate chips.

We drove home to unload Bob’s gear.  James was up early for a Saturday and he was more than willing to go on  road trip that might eventually meander to the sausage place. We filled a large garbage can with dirt from the compost pile for our new herb garden. We also dragged along our potted herbs that have totally outgrown the their tiny homes. The new flower bed will give them lots of room to spread out.

Bob checked into his room which I must say looks really cozy. Annie did a great job setting him up transforming a teenage bedroom into a really comfortable guest room. (Patrick’s been gone literally a week and we already have his room looking completely different. Though I must say he did most of the work before he left for Santa Cruz.)

We eventually made it to Fiore. James and Bob unloaded the dirt and we re-potted the herbs. Take a look. It turned out pretty nice.

After our brief work it was time for lunch. We hit the freeway for our 3rd time and drove south to the Arts District  to a place called Wurstkuche where we ate sausages and Belgium fries with exotic dipping sauces which are really just ketchup and mayonnaise with fancy names and spicy ingredients. The place was jamming. We stood in line with lots of people with cameras slung over their shoulders. All were edging forward in anticipation for their special sausage. Bob ordered  a rattlesnake and veal sausage. James and I played it safe with two Louisiana hot links.

You would think that after  eating all of this that we’d be done, but NOOOOOO. I had to coerce them into sampling some of my favorite ice cream  at a place called Scoops. I take everyone to scoops. James was the only one who resisted and refrained from the having a cup. It was good really good. Today it was 100 degrees in LA and ice cream is always good when it’s 100 degrees.

Tomorrow, I am not sure where we’ll go, but today was a great start to the week.

Cupcakes and more cupcakes

Anne baked and baked today. A friend of mine had a birthday and I asked Anne to help me with cupcakes. She didn’t need anymore practice, but here they are. She made chocolate with chocolate frosting, vanilla with a vanilla creme frosting topped with sugared purple violets and coconut cupcakes with lots and lots of shredded coconut. They were awesome as usual.

Here are a bunch of hipstamatic photographs of the cupcakes and one of a really cool car I saw in the the early morning in Santa Cruz. I had just had my morning coffee and caught this on the road.

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