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Athena Scalzi

Day 3 of Santa Monica

Athena ScalziI find it funny that my father and I are doing “Day X of ___” at the same time. At least his numbers match the actual day of the month.

Anyways, Day 3 of lovely Santa Monica! I started this day out right by going to Huckleberry Cafe for breakfast. I’m one of those people that loves breakfast foods more than anything, and loves the idea of getting breakfast at cute cafes, but has a hard time getting up for it. Usually I look for somewhere that don’t have a hard cutoff time for breakfast, or serve a “brunch” until 3pm or something along those lines. However, Huckleberry is one of those places that has cutoff for breakfast at eleven, and closes for the entire day at three, so if you want it, you have to get the fuck up.

And I’m so glad I did! Because this place was totally awesome. When you walk in, there’s a counter to order at, huge blackboard menus, and a display of the most amazing looking pastries.

I had a hard time deciding which to get. The girl working recommended me the coffee cake (all the way on the left), so I went with that. I also wanted to try one of their housemade iced chai lattes, but they were out of chai so I opted for an iced matcha latte instead. She asked me if I wanted sweetener in it, which was shocking to me because I didn’t know that they could even come unsweetened, since the ones I get from Starbucks has 28g of sugar in it. I said yes to the sweetener, and then asked for extra because I had a feeling their idea of sweet wouldn’t be enough for me (I was right, it was still pretty unsweet).

I saved the coffee cake for after my slightly more nutritious breakfast, though, which was this “bagel breakfast”:

You can’t even see the bagel under all the toppings, but it was a plain bagel with cream cheese, spinach, avocado, scrambled eggs, and cherry tomatoes. It was fuckin’ fire. The eggs were cooked perfectly, the avocado was super fresh (I assume it has something to do with California avocados just being superior), and everything went really well together.

The bagel was $16.50, the iced matcha was $6, and I’m not sure how much the coffee cake was, but after a $5 tip my total was like $35 dollars so I guess it must’ve been close to $8? That sounds like too much, but it would make sense if they’re going to charge over five bucks for a mason jar worth of matcha.

Oh, there was a healthcare fee, too, so the place could provide benefits to the workers, but I don’t remember how much it was. Which was a brand new concept to me, as we have nothing like that in Ohio.

Moving on from cost (which I think can be important to mention when recommending or reviewing places), they also had a few grab-and-go items, like sandwiches and salads.

Definitely worth checking this place out if you’re a bit of bougie bruncher like myself.

After finishing eating, I walked down the street to the post office, because I wanted to see if they had any different stamps than the ones my hometown post office did. They did not. I also asked if they had any postcards and they said no. I was devastated. I wanted a postcard that said like “Los Angeles” or “California” or anything like that! How does a post office not have postcards?!

Moving on from my disappointment, I went next door to See’s Candies, a long standing favorite candy shop of my mother and grandmother’s, to get them gifts.

If you’ve never heard of it, See’s Candies is a California based chocolate shop that now has over 200 locations. However, none of those are located in Ohio, so it is only on rare occasion that my mom gets to have some (yes, she could just order them online, but that takes the special out of it). Usually it’s only when we venture to California, or happen to find some in an airport, that we have See’s Candies.

They’re cool! I recommend them, they have tasty candy. They have tons of different chocolates and variety boxes, and also some great hard candies!

Both of these little jars were $10, and the box of chocolate (not pictured) was $26.50 for 28 pieces.

One thing I really like about them is any time you go to one of their stores, you get a free sample, and it’s always like one whole chocolate, not like a quarter piece or half a piece. My favorite thing from them is the lollipops, especially the butterscotch and the vanilla ones.

After See’s, I went across the street to Ulta, and had to tweet about the experience.

Totally upsetting, but I tried to move on from it.

I found out there was a stationery store called Paper Source down the street, so I hurried over there because I could not wait to see a whole store full of stationery! It was beautiful. I practically walked through heaven’s gates. The walls were lined with cards, there were rotating stands full of sticker sheets throughout the store, the entire back wall was a stamp station, and they even had plushies!

I promised myself I wouldn’t spend more than a hundred, and actually only ending up spending seventy!

I got two sticker sheets:

A box of mini notecards plus stickers (it came with twelve notecards total and three of the strips of stickers):

This set of 12 cards (with envelopes):

I love all of these so much, but if I had to pick a favorite it would probably be the Manhattan.

And finally, I got these vintage-style postcards that came in an awesome metal tin:

There were nine designs and eighteen cards:

These are super cool, I’m probably going to mail nine out and keep the other nine just because I like the art so much.

After my exciting day of shopping for dry shampoo and postcards, I ended up having dinner at the place I originally wanted to go to the previous night that had stopped serving food by the time I got there (Longitude, inside the Marriott).

The lobby was like any Marriott, elegant and ornate, and the bar/restaurant was at the back of it. There was literally no one there, so I sat at the bar. I decided before arriving that I didn’t want to get an entrée, I wanted to get an appetizer, a soup or side, and a dessert. I wanted to be able to try a variety of things instead of just getting one dinner and that’s it.

So I started with a pesto burrata crostini:

As someone who is a fan of pesto, burrata, and balsamic, this shit was fuckin’ bomb. The bread wasn’t too crunchy, the burrata was wonderfully soft, and the balsamic was the perfect topper to this dish. It was a little messy though.

I settled on the French onion soup after that:

The soup was good, but it was pretty much just regular French onion soup. There wasn’t anything special about the way that the Marriott place did it. Though I will say there was definitely a lot of cheese, which is a plus. ‘Twas a sizeable portion of soup.

As for dessert, they offered crème brûlée, so I obviously had to get that. If you didn’t know, I’m on the search for the greatest crème brûlée in the world. So if a place offers it, it is my duty to try it.

While this crème brûlée was good, it was certainly not the best in the world, so my search continues. While I did think the custard part was actually super good, the top was too torched for my liking. I’m more of a golden brown person, so the extra dark top was too burnt for me. Still very impressed with the custard portion, though.

So, yeah, that was my fun-filled day yesterday! All this walking around is definitely starting to take a toll, but it’s been great regardless.

What pastry would you have picked from Huckleberry? Do you like your matcha sweet? Have you ever been to a stationery store (and was it glorious)? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

-AMS

By Athena Scalzi

Twenty three year old girl living life.

29 replies on “Day 3 of Santa Monica”

My mom grew up in California and so every Christmas she would mail order big boxes of See’s Candies to put under the tree. I’ve continued the tradition, although I now order mine online! See’s Candies are awesome.

Also we used to have a Paper Source nearby and it closed a few years ago. I still miss it. I’m one of those people who like to send cards and real, hand written notes, and I miss having a fun paper place nearby.

Glad to see you’re having fun on your trip. <3

It’s great reading about your adventures. Paper Source is a beautiful store! I’m hoping that w your love of all things stationary that you might find some funky independent shop too. Your love of crème brûlée makes me smile because my husband John Scalzi would change his middle name to crème brûlée if it insured him a lifetime of yummy dessert. If it’s on the menu when we are first placing our order I’m sure that he no longer is paying attention to his food, and is eating his dinner just to finish so he can tackle the dessert. Lol! We live in New England but I’ll have to follow your quest and reviews. I know he’s a golden brown guy too! Enjoy your time in CA!!

I am so with you on the crème brûlée. If a restaurant offers it, I have to try it. It is my favorite dessert and I’m looking for the perfect one. If you find it, let me know!

I am very much enjoying your posts about your time in Santa Monica. I live in Los Angeles County, and now I want to make a day trip to Santa Monica and check out some of shops and restaurants you mention! (And I read a review of Verity and it sounds like just the sort of book I enjoy, so I’m now on a waiting list for it at the library.)

Yartine is an awesome French bakery and their bread is world famous. There’s a bakery in Santa Monica now, so I highly recommend getting a loaf of bread and a chocolate croissant. Sometimes, if it’s not too busy, they’ll sample you breads, to help you decide.

And I had an awesome creme brulee at Frito Misto, along with everything else I ordered. I don’t see it on the website, so you may want to call ahead to ask if it’s on the evening dessert tray. But we ordered three different desserts, and they were all superb, so I doubt you can go wrong.

Glad Paper Source made you happy. I love that place ❤️.

Those healthcare fees are bogus. They are an attempt by businesses to stir up resentment against the costs of a business providing proper benefits to its employees. Just raise the prices, folks.

Then again, I’d like to see a tax-supported single payer health care system in the US. But that’s another discussion. If these fees help make it more politically feasible to enact such a system they could turn out to be a good thing.

My favorite restaurant for breakfast here in Oaxaca is called Pochote, after a weird, spiny tree native to the area. There are a couple of them growing up and through the roof of the restaurant. Anyway, it’s really a group of little kitchens with tables scattered around. Each has its own menu. You are brought the whole stack when you sit down, and, conveniently, one bill (very inexpensive) at the end. I usually get huevos rancheros, which is generally my go-to breakfast when I eat out. But, the coffee place, and this is why I am even commenting here, has the most amazing cinnamon rolls. Instead of those wonderful, doughy, carmelized sugary confections that we are used to in the States – Cinnabon, I am looking at you – these are made in flaky, buttery layers, like the croissants in your photo. They are otherworldly.

Crème Brulée is one of my favourite desserts, as long as they don’t start adding things. Egg custard and caramelised sugar is a perfect combination. A little fruit coulis, if you must, but under no circumstances should it contain lavender. Lavender in food is an abomination.

I grew up in California and your adventures are making me feel nostalgic! Sees candies are the best! You might find postcards in touristy shops near the beach. Postcards are much harder to find than they used to be.

My MIL loved creme brulee so much that when she slipped and broke her knee in Paris, she went and got dessert before going to the hospital.

I’m enjoying seeing you live it up in Santa Monica. I cat-sat for a friend in NYC over 20 years ago and I still remember how much fun I had.

I am also a Creme Brule junkie, and also haven’t found The Ultimate. Darn! Have to keep on looking!

There’s a winery in New Mexico, I think they have a restaurant in Albuquerque. It’s called D.H. Lescombes. I doubt you’d make it down to Las Cruces or Alamogordo, there’s also locations there. Anyway, very good food and I can def recommend their brule. My only gripe against it is the dish it is served in is too shallow. I’d prefer a smaller dish and it being thicker.

I’ve never had a problem with it being torched too much.

We had a restaurant just north of Alamogordo that had a fantastic brule, but sadly they failed several years ago.

Yup, California is expensive, but the food is awesome. My favorite thing at See’s is the chocolate-covered candied ginger. My favorite dessert is probably a custard-filled chocolate eclair, but creme brûlée is good, too. Definitely go to the Pier.

I have tried matcha tea and I didn’t like it. I like that bakery. I wouldn’t know what to get either. Every time I read the title of these posts I keep singing in my head the song All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow.

Hi, Athena–I’m so glad to hear you’re having a good time in Santa Monica, where I was born (over three of your lifetimes ago). Back then–and later, when I lived there for a time while working at the Santa Monica Airport (yes, it has its own airport–where Douglas Aircraft started), it was a very working-class community. (Since WW2, when it was a bedroom community for the workers who turned out thousands of the immortal DC-3 “Gooney Bird” cargo planes for the Army and Navy.) It’s now, of course, gentrified to a stunning degree–particularly the adjoining enclave of Venice (see below).

I’ve always found restaurants in hotels (at least in this country) both pricey and underwhelming–they tend to take advantage of the fact that they’re catering to something of a “captive audience.” And in Santa Monica, you have plenty of other options!

A couple suggestions for places you might want to check out (all within walking or, at most, rental bike or scooter distance):

The Santa Monica Pier–right downtown–has various shops and eateries, a small aquarium, and a delightfully tacky retro amusement park. You can fish from it, too–and there are often killer sunsets.

Venice is the beachfront community just south of SM, and was originally developed–complete with canals!–as a beach resort around the turn of the (last) century. By the 1950s it was largely abandoned by LA County services, and those renting cheap bungalows included members of the Beat Generation as well as many holocaust survivors. In the 60s and 70s, it was artists and musicians (including, for example, The Doors). By now, only Hollywood stars can afford to buy houses along the canals.

It remains a hotbed of artists, musicians, street performers, ephemeral specialty restaurants, similarly ephemeral specialty shops, etc. I’d recommend walking down to the northern end of its beach, just south of the SM Pier, renting a bike or e-bike from whatever shop you come to first, then riding down the beach boardwalk as far as you like. It’s a great beach (some sections clothing optional), and the businesses along Ocean Front Walk are a great mix. You’ll pass a funky little brick court, with green tile roofs, called Gingerbread Court. Now it’s a natural food market with other little eateries and shops, but in the late 60s it was rentals–for a couple of years, I lived in one of its beachfront bungalows for all of $64/month.

I hope you have a chance to visit Venice–and to write it up in your blog!

hmmm… a web site for nothing but crème brûlée

not just a mere book but an ever expanding inventorying of every crème brûlée you’d ever eat…

might make a wonderfully bizarre netflix series if you placed the crème brûlée as the unifying theme across an anthology of dark fairy tales with yourself in the role of voiceover ala Rod Serling…

You’re traveling through another dimension of indulgence, a dimension not only of sugar and egg but of searing heat; a journey into wondrous desserts whose boundaries are that of imagination…. the signpost up ahead…your next stop, the Crème Brûlée Zone….

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