Zingerman’s Deli

This post is less about food, and more about family. What a joyful weekend celebrating the marriage of Carmen and Jim! Friends and family reunited in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the city where Carmen and Jim met and fell in love. Carmen and Jim are beautiful, and their enthusiasm for life and sense of humor is contagious. The day was filled tears of joy, laughter, and of course, lots of dancing. (I had at least three people compliment me on my Papa’s dance moves. He’s good!) It sounds cliche, but the weekend was a strong reminder of what is most important in life. Through frolicking across the diag, rubbing Alicia’s baby belly, invading the Michigan Daily newsroom for photographs, improvising when aisle runners break, slow dancing with Grandpa Johnson, and spending the next morning recounting the reception with in-laws, I was reminded that there is nothing better in life than family. I don’t think it is possible to love a family more than I love mine.

“Ahh Zingerman’s… my temple of deliciousness…a national treasure. It is the center of my gastro-deli universe” – Mario Batali

On to the food. An Ann Arbor wedding weekend would not be complete without a visit to Zingerman’s Deli, “The coolest small company in America,” according to Inc. Magazine. I was lucky to enjoy the foodie heaven as catered lunch on Saturday while we got our hair done and brunch on Sunday morning. Carmen was also generous to treat guests with magic brownies in our hotel gift bags! You’d think a deli market selling bread, meat, cheese, gelato, cakes, pies and truffles would be mediocre at best. They might seem scatterbrained, with no real focus, but they are able to perfect anything they create. You will not be disappointed with any food item from this deli.

I’ll leave you with three closing words of advice.
1. You have not lived until you’ve eaten the classic reuben and a slice of pecan pie.
2. If you live in this hippy haven, hang out here late night. Zingerman’s prides itself on the freshest ingredients, meaning you might leave with a dozen bagels that would have otherwise been tossed.
3. Bring your family along for the ride.

“One of the top 25 food markets in the world.”- Food & Wine Magazine

Banana Bread Pancakes

Bananas are nature’s energy bar. I eat the potassium rich food every morning with my oatmeal, and before heading out on an afternoon run. I love bananas when they are bright and yellow, but I can’t eat them plain once they’ve started turning brown. Baking with brown bananas, however, is ideal. The browner the banana, the better the banana muffins, banana bread and banana bread pancakes. After devouring The Tripel’s banana bread french toast a few weekends ago, I decided to experiment with mini banana bread pancakes. I knew this dish would be a hit before I even made it. How could I possibly mess up with banana bread pancakes, topped with butter, maple-agave syrup, blackberries and golden raspberries? It’ll be a while before I make regular pancakes. Banana bread style is the way to go!

2 cups whole white wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Maple Syrup (or my new favorite maple-agave syrup blend from Trader Joe’s)

In a bowl or a mixer, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Measure out the milk in a measuring cup and add the vanilla extract to it. Whisk together the dry ingredients and add in milk and vanilla, stirring to combine. The mixture will still be dry. Add in mashed bananas last and mix. Pour in melted butter and stir until batter until smooth.

Heat a pan or griddle on medium heat. Using a big spoonful of batter, pour into mini rounds and cook until bubbles form on top – about 2 minutes. Flip and cook for a minute or two more. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve hot with butter and syrup.

Makes roughly 20 mini pancakes or 10 large pancakes.

The Tripel

When Brent and I found out we were moving back to Los Angeles, we were set on living west of the 405, ideally in Venice, Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach. Brent had just 24 hours to find an apartment before he had to fly back to DC. He found countless bungalows that were just steps from the beach, but they all lacked basic amenities. A few hours into the search, Brent called me telling me he found a great option in Playa del Rey. I was hesitant, never having spent any time there, but ultimately trusted his instincts and signed the lease to our new apartment. We have lived her almost a year, and I absolutely love it! Playa del Rey, tucked away between the Ballona Wetlands, is the epitome of a chill beach community in Los Angeles. 

Playa del Rey is a dive bar lover’s dream, but sandwiched between The Shack and Prince O’Wales is this gem. The Tripel has become my new favorite gastropub in LA. It’s walking distance from my apartment, which is unheard of in Los Angeles. Their snobby menu includes addictive sweet potato tots, the genius caramelized onion and slaw pretzel burger, and garlic fries you’ll dream of. For the adventurous, they serve crispy frog legs and charred baby octopus. Last weekend Brent and I spent a few hours reading on the beach, and on the way home we stopped by The Tripel for brunch. We had “The Cure,” the pretzel burger topped with a fried egg and avocado, banana bread french toast, and pear beer cocktails. The Tripel takes pride in their food, and has an incredibly vast beer selection. Perfect for brunch, lunch or dinner. 

Culver Blvd, Playa del Rey