Monday, June 23, 2014

Bottega Louie Lunch and MOCA

As some of you may know, I went to boarding school in New Hampshire for high school and made some truly incredible friends during my time in the most boring state capital in the country. Naturally, it's hard to keep in touch with some of them, being in California, but I'm lucky that Cara goes to school with me still. We somehow became friends in my freshman year, when she was a junior, and have stayed friends until now. She is just about to start her fifth year at USC for her second degree and she and I try to get together every month or so to just catch up.

Now that it's summer, she and I both had a totally free Friday to do with as we wished. We concurred that we should try and get cultured, so we took the Metro downtown and started the day at Bottega Louie for an early lunch. I started with an iced tea, which was accompanied by lemon, mint, and orange on the side. 

Cara went for a soy milk latte, and found it fantastic. I regarded the foam with great interest, since it was particularly thick and delicious-looking! 

She and I split the bruschetta for a starter, and it was truly delicious. The bread was crunchy, the tomatoes fresh, and there was a great garlic flavor. The garlic still had a pretty raw flavor, but it was tempered with the tomato and bread, and didn't overpower the rest of the dish. It was a little messy to eat, but so good!

I ordered the Louie salad without shrimp. It consisted of iceberg lettuce, hearts of palm, avocado, sweet onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and dijon vinaigrette. I was impressed with this salad! The avocado gave a great deal of creaminess to the salad, even though all the ingredients remained very crisp and fresh. The hearts of palm were also a fantastic addition--I rarely encounter them and have actually never cooked with them, so it was nice to be reminded of an ingredient that I'd like to add to my homemade meals.

Cara chose the Ceppo Gamber, which was made of jumbo shrimp, ceppo pasta, broccolini, cherry tomatoes, and garlic, with a fleur de sel and pepper topping and an olive oil broth. She really enjoyed it! It looked very fresh, and while an indulgence, not too heavy.

We sat in the restaurant eating and talking for well over an hour, until we finally decided to mobilize and walk over to the Museum of Contemporary Art, or MOCA. I understand very little regarding contemporary art, and Cara's the same, but since it is an important museum in Downtown Los Angeles, we figured it would be good to experience it. Also, tickets are only seven dollars with a student ID!

This painting here was created by Andy Warhol--while he's obviously famous for other more psychedelic works, it was fascinating to see a more technical and simple painting of his.

Cara and I both stopped to admire this wall of photos, and in particular, their arrangement. We almost simultaneously said that we'd decorate our future houses like this--birds of a feather, perhaps? The photos displayed were all black and white subject photography pieces, ranging from a gas mask to a grandfather clock.

These little carved dogs were created by Jeff Koons, the artist most famous for his giant balloon dogs. I looked at this piece for a few minutes--they were intricately carved and their expressions, minutely different in person, give each of the dogs such a genuine and real personality. 

This is why I don't understand contemporary art--it's pretty and I love string lights, but I find it hard to discover more meaning behind lights hanging from the ceiling and pooling on the floor. Folks, that's why I stick to science!

This is simply a painting of Jane Fonda with the feminist logo coming from her eye. She has been known as an active supporter of feminism for a long time, so this was an interesting conceptualization of her opinion.

After we wandered through the gallery, we headed on foot to their other gallery downtown, the Geffen Contemporary, which currently houses an the largest exhibition of artist Mike Kelley's work to date. No photos were allowed in the exhibit, but trust me when I say that this is worth a visit. It's weird, unsettling, and thought-provoking, which I truly believe is its point. Both weird and cool at the same time, I enjoyed walking through and experiencing the mixed-media art, but Cara and I agreed that returning to the quiet sunshine was certainly welcome after such an immersive experience.

Since the Geffen Contemporary is right in Little Tokyo, Cara and I decided to grab an afternoon coffee and people-watch at Café Dulcé, which specializes in various coffees and pastries. We decided against their crazy doughnuts, which range in flavors from fruit to Cinnamon Toast Crunch to bacon!

However, I got a delicious (if not overpriced) Vietnamese Iced Coffee... after I ordered, I immediately turned to Cara to explain that I had no idea what I just bought. Luckily, it was delicious. Vietnamese Iced Coffee consists simply of a dark roast coffee with sweetened condensed milk, and it's addicting. It's quite sweet and rich, but the depth of the coffee makes it extremely pleasurable.

Cara went for an iced soy milk latte, which she really enjoyed as well! Café Dulcé had a lot of very good reviews on Yelp (my best friend) and I think its main strength was in its well-executed coffees and creative, unique combinations. If you factor in its location in a bustling square in Little Tokyo, it's very easy to see why it's so popular!

After we finished our coffees and people-watched to our hearts' content, we walked back to the Metro and parted ways. According to my FitBit, she and I walked 15,000 steps and about seven miles together! I always enjoy spending time with Cara, and the added culture and delicious food really made it fantastic. However, she and I have had great nights alone and with takeout, so maybe it's just the company!

She's actually moving downtown soon, so we're planning on exploring more of what Downtown LA has to offer. Stay posted for some more delicious eats and cool sights!

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