Jackson Market – Culver City, CA

Food Adventures, Los Angeles

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.

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Comfort Food: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Main Dishes, Recipes

In college, Martin and I were camp counselors for UCLA UniCamp, an organization that sends under-served youth to week-long sessions of summer camp run by student volunteers. In fact, that’s how we first met; we were in the same camp session – Martin as arts & crafts specialist and I as archery specialist. One of our (and the kids’) favorite camp meals has to be Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup day. Crispy, gooey sandwiches paired perfectly with piping hot bowls of comforting soup, complemented by a snack of celery sticks and peanut butter! Okay, so the celery and PB are optional, but on cold winter nights, we love to whip up this classic combo. While we did not succumb to the convenience of the iconic red and white can of Campbell’s, we frequently purchased the boxed soups at Trader Joes (roasted red pepper and tomato — yum!!). Recently, however, we started making our own soup, somewhat from scratch. The result is a rich, creamy (even without the cream!) soup that tastes dramatically better and the amount of additional effort is minimal.

Iconic Americana: grilled cheese & tomato soup

Iconic Americana: grilled cheese & tomato soup

This recipe for tomato soup is quite simple – just a few ingredients and perhaps 30 minutes of your time (maybe 40 if you’re slow at prep like I am).

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

1 small/medium sweet onion, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large fresh tomato, diced

28 oz canned tomatoes (diced or whole; I used 2 14-oz cans of diced)

Dried or fresh thyme, about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon

Dried or fresh basil, about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon

Salt & pepper to taste

Yields 4-6 servings; leftovers freeze well

Step 1

Step 1

Step 1: Prep

Mince the garlic. Scrape into your stock pot. Move on to chopping the onions. Cry. Wipe tears from the corners of your eyes. Add to the stock pot. Drizzle in the olive oil and sautee on medium-high heat with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Meanwhile, dice the fresh tomato; leave the skins on.

Step 2

Step 2

Step 2: Sweat

No, don’t go for a run. Stir the onions and garlic frequently to keep them from burning. “Sweat” the onions; cook them until they are translucent and have lost that onion-y sharpness. This may take about 10 minutes… just be patient. When you’ve got them where you want them, add the tomatoes and let them cook until the pieces start to wilt and fall apart.

Step 3

Step 3 & 4

Step 3: Can Opener

Stir the tomato-onion mixture and break up the pieces a bit. Open the can(s) of tomatoes and pour them in. Wait – don’t throw away the can yet! If using a 14 oz can, fill it up with water and add to the pot (if using a 28 oz can, fill halfway instead).

Step 4: Season

Mix in the sugar and herbs. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the soup has heated through and the flavors have begun to meld. Take the pot off the heat.

Step 5

Step 5

Step 5: Blend

Usually I don’t like recipes that call for special tools that you’ll rarely use again, but in this particular case, I’ve been converted — immersion blenders rock. Also known by its less intriguing name of “stick blender,” this easy to clean kitchen accessory makes it easy-peasy to make smooth soups like butternut squash and creamy tomato soup without any cream. Be sure the blending end is completely submerged before pulsing or you’ll end up wearing this soup. At this stage, you can make the soup as creamy or chunky as you’d like. As you can see, I pulverized it till it was silky smooth. (Note: to get it even smoother you can strain it through a chinois if you’re feeling fancy.)

The finished soup

The finished soup

Step 6: Melt

In a frying pan, melt some butter over medium-high heat until it foams and starts to brown. Gingerly place your assembled bread-cheese-bread, rotating it a bit to pick up all the buttery goodness. Toast for a minute or two. Flip with a spatula. Watch for the perfect balance of letting the cheese completely melt and not burning the bottom slice of bread. Cut into triangles and serve with a hearty bowl of soup (Steps 1-5). Voila!

Bon Appetit!

Bon Appetit!