Jackson Market – Culver City, CA

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One of Culver City’s best kept secrets, in my opinion, is the neighborhood haunt Jackson Market. A quaint little market and deli in the heart of the residential area across from the Sony Studios, Jackson Market serves up custom, made-to-order sandwiches featuring Boar’s Head meats and cheeses. Call ahead to place your order or just swing by, grab a form, and browse the wares while you wait.

My usual spinach wrap

My usual spinach wrap

I usually get a spinach wrap with prosciutto, mozzarella, spinach, cucumber, sprouts, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar. The sandwich makers are always generous with the greens, making the wrap somehow light but satisfying at the same time. Martin gets the honey roasted turkey on toasted sourdough with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and mayo; he loves his usual so much that he always digs in before I have a chance to grab a photo.

Caprese Sandwich

Caprese Sandwich

Custom order forms aside, Jackson Market offers about a dozen pre-designed sandwiches and wraps available for the choosing. On one occasion, my hand decided that it would scribble only my name and one (I repeat, one!) check mark, so I selected the Caprese - Fresh Mozzarella, Basil, and Roma tomato on lightly toasted Sourdough with Pesto and Garlic-infused Olive Oil and Balsamic. The panini-pressed sourdough offered a crunchy contrast to the soft and creamy mozzarella in the center. Delizioso!

Red Velvet Cupcakes, baked on site

Red Velvet Cupcakes, baked on site

Right next to the register, like the impulse buy section at the grocery store, sits the glass display case filled with desserts. Some are brought in by local bakers and some are made right on site. Our favorites are the super moist red velvet cupcakes slathered in cream cheese frosting.

Red Velvet Cupcake

Red Velvet Cupcake

They are baked fresh daily, but nothing beats catching them when they have just barely come out of the oven and cooled just enough to frost. $3 well spent.

Red Velvet Pancakes

Red Velvet Pancakes

Jackson Market is good for more than just lunch – they do breakfast foods too! I rarely order breakfast here (mainly pancakes, crepes, and omelets) but one day, my eyes locked on the Specials menu — Red Velvet Pancakes.

Red Velvet Pancakes... serendipity

Red Velvet Pancakes… serendipity

Reminiscent of giant whoopie pies, my order arrived personally delivered by the chef himself – four 8-inch diameter pancakes sandwiched with cream cheese frosting. Fluffy and bright red, the pancakes were dusted with powdered sugar and surprisingly were not sweet at all. This worked well with the frosting, which was a bit sugary for my liking. The combination made me feel warm and fuzzy.

The next time you’re in the Culver City area and in the mood to check out a place off the beaten path, cruise on over to Jackson Market. Be sure to allow some extra time to admire their eclectic selection of drinks and snacks, including Leninade, Kinder chocolates, and Uncle Eddie’s vegan cookies. After making your purchase, wander past the wine racks to the back patio for plenty of outdoor seating.

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Check out Jackson Market: jacksonmarketanddeli.com

4065 Jackson Ave
Culver City, CA 90232

See their Yelp reviews here!

Tip: Don’t forget to check in on Foursquare or Yelp — they sometimes have “check-in offers” that provide discounts to frequent visitors.

Rutt’s Hawaiian Cafe – Culver City, CA

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Anyone remember the scene in 50 First Dates when Lucy hangs out at the Hukilau Cafe building cabins out of waffles? That was the first thing that came to mind the very first time I walked through the yellow screen door of Rutt’s Hawaiian Cafe. We frequently stop by on lazy Sunday afternoons for one thing — the royales.

Kalua Pork Fried Royale

Kalua Pork Fried Royale

Royales are basically a Hawaiian style mixed rice — generous mountains of rice mixed with bean sprouts, strips of egg omelet, green onions, and your choice of meat ranging from kalua pork to Portuguese sausage to the Hawaiian staple SPAM. Even better – you can order them fried! They come in three sizes: the junior (one scoop of rice & two eggs), the regular (two scoops of rice & three eggs), and the king (three scoops of rice & four eggs). Don’t be fooled – each “scoop” is giant. The one pictured above is only a junior!

A closer look - kalua pork royale

A closer look – kalua pork royale

If I am ordering takeout or otherwise intending to have leftovers for the next day’s lunch, I would order a regular sized royale. Otherwise, the junior is more than enough especially when paired with the (free – just ask!) Hawaiian sweet roll that comes with it. The kalua pork is my favorite as it is always juicy, flavorful, and reminiscent of luaus (no matter how touristy).  An artistic drizzle of sriracha and I’m set!

The Original Royale - fried, no bean sprouts

The Original Royale – fried, no bean sprouts

Martin’s usual is the Original Royale fried with no bean sprouts. Though his plate is always sadly devoid of vegetables, I think the chef sometimes makes up for it with extra meat. That or the Original Royale is like the Meat Lover’s Pizza of mixed rice dishes. Chopped slivers of Chinese BBQ pork (char siu) and rounds of Portuguese sausage add savory flavor to this royale. (PS: Martin only asked for that Hawaiian roll so I could have it. Isn’t he the best?!)

Filet of Sole

Filet of Sole

Occasionally I’ll stray from the Royales section and try something different. The plate specials are good (especially the mixed plate special that features a combination of kalbi, kalua pork, and teriyaki chicken for only $8!) but my latest discovery was the filet of sole. A football sized, 1/2-inch thick filet of white fish breaded in panko (?) and grilled to perfection. The fish was flaky and moist, barely opaque. It comes with two scoops of rice and (of course) macaroni salad.

To round out my island adventure, I sometimes splurge on either a can of ice cold UCC Kona Coffee or, if I spot it on the specials menu, a manapua (BBQ pork bun or cha siu bao). On my first visit, I also ordered the haupia for dessert, but I don’t think I have seen it recently. A traditional Hawaiian dessert, haupia is essentially a coconut pudding, and the one at Rutt’s was topped with extra toasted coconut shavings. Yummy coconutty goodness.

As if the food weren’t enough reason to swing by, the prices can’t be beat! About $10 will usually get me enough food for two meals. The parking is rarely a hassle with plentiful metered street parking immediately in front, and the service is so friendly. Do yourself a favor and hula on over to Rutt’s! Alooooooooha~

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Check out Rutt’s Hawaiian Cafe: ruttshawaiiancafe.com (recently redesigned!)

12114 Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066

See their Yelp reviews here!

Olive Oil Tasting in Los Olivos

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On our recent road trip along the California coastline, we stopped by Los Olivos in hopes of finding a place that offered olive oil tasting. The city’s name did not disappoint and a quick Yelp search led us to a quaint little shop just off the 154 called Global Gardens.

What an adorable little store!

For just $5 per person, the friendly storekeeper guides a small group of enthusiasts through a sampling of the many varieties of olive oils and vinegars they have in the store. Each of us was given a mini loaf of ciabatta and a plastic palette numbered 1-12.

So many varieties!

I’ll try to describe the different oils as best I can, but honestly I’m not much of a connoisseur and many of them tasted similar to me. The first one (the Greek Kalamata) is the standard olive oil you could find in any grocery store, but you could really taste the higher quality of the one sold here. The manzanilla blend (from the root manzana for “apple”) had a (surprise, surprise) apple aftertaste. The one that stood out the most to me was definitely the meyer lemon oil. We ended up bringing home a bottle of this. I couldn’t try the walnut oil thanks to my mild walnut allergy, but Martin said it was really nice and subtle in flavor.

The tasting also included other products sold at Global Gardens including a hoisin-based Asian glaze, a Mediterranean seasoning spice blend, and Mediterranean spiced roasted almonds (sorry, the almonds were too delicious and were devoured too quickly to be captured on film). All were delicious and really captured the cuisines for which they were named.

Then came my favorite part — the vinegars! The first one turned out to be our favorite of them all: a peach cinnamon balsamic vinegar. It was tart and light and fruity, plus it comes in the most adorable bottle. We discovered that it paired well with the meyer lemon oil, so we brought home a bottle of this as well. Moving along, the blood orange balsamic was extra tart, and the blueberry balsamic seemed like it would make a really great salad dressing. The black currant and fig vinegars were good and the fruit infusions added a great depth of flavor to the balsamic. Last was a generous drizzle of balsamic reduction, which tasted incredible!

The store itself is adorable, although you’ll be able to cover all of the products on the shelves after about 10-15 minutes of browsing. In addition to the edible products, they also sell olive oil soaps, lotion, and woven baskets perfect for gifting. We enjoyed our little detour at Global Gardens and will definitely be back the next time we’re in the neighborhood.

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Check out Global Gardens: www.globalgardensonline.com

2477 Alamo Pintado Ave
Los Olivos, CA 93441

See their Yelp reviews here.

They are located just off the 154 freeway. Stop by and join the Olive Revolution!