Aspen Times Weekly: California Dreamin’ | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Times Weekly: California Dreamin’

by Amiee White Beazley

While it's full-on winter in Aspen, in Los Angeles it's like a spring day. Light-jacket, running-in-shorts kind of weather. But the sun and palm trees are not the only reason to head to Los Angeles for a long weekend. There is also shopping, art and great dining to be had. And during the winter months, there are several daily non-stop flights to Los Angeles from Sardy Field, making the two-hour flight easier than driving to Vail.

EAT

The Courtyard Kitchen: Since I was staying in Santa Monica, I wanted to find my "go-to" spot fast. You know, a small place that doesn't rush you out, has great coffee, food and people watching. The Courtyard Kitchen was that for me. Meticulously crafted sandwiches (stellar BLTA) soups and pastries, this little French bistro is tucked into a courtyard (hence the name) and situated next to a spinning studio (hence the people watching). I went there every day of my trip for breakfast, brunch and lunch. 1121 Montana Ave, Santa Monica.

The Spice Table: With authority over an open satay grill, brilliant Bryant Ng (Food & Wine Best New Chef 2012) has brought Southeast Asian cuisine into a new dimension. The flavors, textures and ambiance (antique bird cages!) were some of the best I've ever experienced. Every dish from the grilled scallops to the kaffir lime custard was a winner. Now here's the call to arms: The Spice Table in this location, in this beautiful historic brick electric company building is about to be no more. Thanks to eminent domain, one of LA's best restaurants is about to meet the wrecking ball to make way for a new MTA extension. Last night I hear is Dec. 31. Hopefully Bryant and team will find a new location, although one has yet to be announced. In the meantime, might I suggest you run to Chefs Club in Aspen where a selection of Ng's dishes are currently on the menu such as outstanding spicy ribs and delicately fried cauliflower florets. 114 S. Central Ave.

Ink: Michael Voltaggio (Food & Wine Best New Chef 2013): Where Spice Table is about memorable flavor, Ink is about innovation and presentation. I started dinner with a fragrant and flavorful earl grey tea cocktail and indulged on small plates like egg yolk gnocchi, with mushroom brown butter, hen of the woods mushroom, and octopus with fennel, just for starters. Ingredients, combinations, presentation one never thought possible. True culinary art. 8360 Melrose Ave.

STAY

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Shutters, Santa Monica: During my visit, I chose to stay in Santa Monica because of the neighborhood atmosphere and I wanted to be close to the beach and smaller shops. From its classic coastal architecture to its focus on wellness and food, Shutters is a perfect place to recharge and relax. For foodies, from Feb. 19-26, Shutters will host Matteo Temperini of Michelin-rated Le Sirenuse restaurant, and Shutter's One Pico chefs, Sven Mede and Isaac Gamboa, for a Coast-to-Coast menu with half the menu featuring Matteo's Coastal Mediterranean dishes and the other half of the menu with dishes from the Southern California coast and ingredients from Santa Monica's Farmer's Market. shuttersonthebeach.com

The Garland, Studio City: Keep this one on your radar for 2014. Following a $20 million multi-phase redesign to the former Beverly Garland hotel, The Garland, North Hollywood's newest boutique property, is slated to open next summer. Close to Hollywood and Universal Studios in Studio City, the Garland will offer travelers a new, retro-cool California hotel, event space and dining experience, as well as the addition of a pool bar and new "secret garden" outdoor venue for weddings and social events. thegarland.com

Amiee White Beazley writes about travel for the Aspen Times Weekly. Reach her at awb@awbeazley.com or follow her @awbeazley1.

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