Sunday, January 2, 2011

LA Trip Day 2 - Thursday 12/30 Part I/I


Intelligentsia - 55  E. Colorado, Pasadena
First stop on this lazy morning was Pasadena where I met the East-Coast twin and partner-in-crime, Lola.  After strolling the downtown area, we decompressed at Intelligentsia, a stylish but unpretentious coffee bar that specializes in some of the finest coffee there is.

                                         OMG, Intelligentsia has food too!  A trail of enticements.
This is the Ivy League of coffee bars, people. Their baristas know what they are doing.  My capp' was concentrated, hinting strongly of caramel. Heaven.

Cappuccino that tastes like love.
Pastries come from the bakeries Cake Monkey and Bottega Louie. I ordered a banana bran muffin, which coupled scrumptiously with my cappuccino. It was neither dry nor oily, and tasted a bit like green tea. The muffin was topped with a shower of oats, seeds of various kinds, and large granules of sugar.  Delicious.

Very possibly the best banana bran muffin I've ever had.

Intelligentsia also has a small lunch menu of salads and sandwiches. There are fewer than a dozen Intelligentsia locations and three of them are in LA. (Hey, what's up with that?) Anyway, the cool thing about this particular location is that it also has a wine bar in the back. The interior of this bar is gorgeous with high ceilings and wood paneling...and the noise level is low for a coffee place...unless I was too caffeinated to notice.  I don't ever recall feeling like I was in a construction zone, as I do at other coffee shops.

                  Deadly looking cookies. Glad I wasn't having one of my chocoholic episodes.

Lots of caffeine and sugar options.

Lola's green tea drink (it looks red, but that's because the cup is red). Doesn't it look refreshing?
Pasadena was getting ready for its Rose Bowl Parade in two days. Barricades had been put up along some streets, as were some port-o-potties.  Along the way, we stopped at Birdpick Tea & Herb, which features potpourri of loose leaf tea in glass containers.  

All kinds of teas at Birdpick.

Lots of fine gifts for the tea lover...or the potpourri lover!
We also stopped in both shops of the Euro Pane Bakery, on Jonathan Gold's 99 Essential Restaurants list, where we picked up some macaroons. Below is a deceptively yellowed photo of the hazelnut macs. In fact they were the color of sand with flecks in them. In the mouth, they were slightly chewy and had a distinctively hazelnut flavor--I loved them and, after one bite, declared that Euro Pane deserves the reputation it has in Pasadena, of being a local favorite.

After spending a lovely afternoon in Pasadena, I put on my heavy traffic armor and headed to LA.  It took an hour to get to West Hollywood, which is not bad for LA standards.  According to Google, the distance is only 21 miles and should take 28 minutes. But this is LA folks.  I was satisfied with my time, especially given the hellride from Ventura to Pasadena that morning.

After much agonizing over where to eat, I decided to forgo swank and go for cheap vegetarian eats. It was a very difficult decision, but not one I regret for reasons I will explore in the next post....that is, if I survive this first week back to work. Help!!! LA! Macaroons! Coffee--I need you. 


  1. wow. your pics are even more gorgeous than things looked in real life. and how did your macaron compare to the gold standard? wait, maybe i should see for myself, given that bouchon bakery is practically across the street from me now...

  2. yeah. i considered this question myself...

    as i recall, the insides of the bouchon macaroons had a bit more of a custardy feel (even though their outsides had a delicate crunch to them).

    let me know what your assessment is!