Our relatives in Spain couldn’t stop laughing when we showed them the photo of our skinny young avocado tree. Just a year old and not even four feet tall, its trunk was as slender as a thumb. But it wasn’t the tree that was funny, it was the large pink umbrella set up next to it, protecting the poor thing from the blazing midsummer southern California heat. It hung on for dear life, but didn’t survive the brutal days of September when Los Angeles makes its annual transformation into a walk-in pizza oven. So we replaced the torched avocado with a tropical loquat tree that loves the sun and has been generously producing plump, juicy fruits these past two years. Eventually, we’ll find a shadier spot and plant another tree where it can flourish and make millions of avocados for us. Considering they sell for two or three dollars each in the store, one could save a lot of money owning a tree, especially if you’re a fanatic follower of this fantastic fruit like we. You may have questions at this point: Where is this going? And what the heck is broccamole? We promise this is leading somewhere… and of course, it happens to be somewhere incredibly delicious. To learn more, simply scroll down to the next paragraph…
Yesterday we got to meet Oliver the pig. He’s the mascot for Hedley & Bennett, a local company known worldwide for their stylish handmade aprons. His owner Ellen was co-hosting a Southern-themed Sunday brunch at her house along with the folks from Bake From Scratch Magazine, and we were two of the lucky attendees. Tucked away in the steep hills of Echo park, this colorful and artistic home has breathtaking views of the city. Lush gardens filled with native plants and purple sages surround the property which is also home to a half dozen chickens as well as our new friend, Oliver. Apparently he was misbehaving before we arrived, so he spent most of the afternoon in a “time out” behind a wooden gate atoning for his sins. But after a welcoming Southern brunch featuring Rebecca’s homemade melt-in-your-mouth Meyer lemon scones, Brian’s brown butter hummingbird coffee cake, Gaby’s beer bread, and a live demonstration from Callie’s Biscuits on how to make authentically Southern buttermilk biscuits, we took a peek behind the gate and introduced ourselves to the peppy pig before saying our goodbyes. It was hard to leave of course, but we had some important business to attend to at home. And by “business” we mean peanut butter cheesecake.
Everything is going to be fine. You’re cooking tonight’s Valentine’s dinner, but still haven’t decided what to make. First, take a deep breath, and realize you’re not the only one browsing the web for “romantic home-cooked meals” right now. We’ve gotcha covered, and have definitely been there before. There was the time we waited to buy champagne on our way to a New Year’s party, only to learn the store was sold out of everything bubbly. And the time we tried to buy eggs on Easter morning, finding the dairy case completely empty. Sometimes procrastination works, and sometimes it does not. But no worries: your Valentine will never know you were browsing our site at the last minute on this intimate holiday. In fact, from the very first sip of the evening’s cocktails, it will seem as though you’ve been planning this special night for a long time. And when you bring out this first course, pan-seared artichoke with an aioli trio, and see the smile on your date’s face, it can be our little secret that you just discovered it today.
Adam: It didn’t matter that Ryan had to get up at 4:30am yesterday. He was determined to test these cocktails with me late Sunday night after his choir rehearsal. Energized from making beautiful music with his friends and excited to spend this week filming a part in a new television show—which we will tell you more about once we are allowed to—he rolled up his sleeves and together we began testing after 10pm, even though he had to wake up in just a few hours. Thankfully, this drink didn’t take long to perfect, and after sampling a bit of this and a touch of that, we literally stumbled upon a secret ingredient that turned this delicious cocktail into one of the tastiest we have ever tried. Ryan was able to get to bed quickly while I finished the dishes, and because of his hardworking dedication, today we are able to present a hopping new beverage that will soothe your soul and alleviate your winter. Say hello to the white rabbit.
Being a vegetarian in Spain is not easy, but if you know what to look for you can eat like a king. Ryan has family in Bilbao and we have been fortunate to visit them a few times together over the years. Our first experience was in the summer of 2011, and while the trip was amazing… getting there was not. Thanks to weather and other delays, our sixteen-hour travel time turned into an unpleasant (and uncomfortable) thirty, leaving us exhausted and worn out by the time we arrived. But the huge hugs and warm welcome we received from all the relatives waiting at the airport made us forget the ordeal we had been through, and for the next four days we had the time of our lives. We had planned our trip to overlap with the city’s annual festival, Aste Nagusia, or “big week.” From morning till night, there were tens of thousands of locals and tourists partying in town, with colorful floats, jaw-dropping fireworks, and delicious street foods on every corner, and this is where Adam tried churros con chocolate for the first time: thin, extra-crispy churros dipped in a cup of rich, thick melted chocolate. Ryan’s family showed us all their favorite local bars and restaurants, took us to the Guggenheim Museum of modern art, and we basically spent the entire visit eating and drinking our way through this lively Basque city. At times, it was tricky to find tapas that we could eat, but almost every bar had a few classic dishes we could enjoy, like traditional Spanish tortilla de patatas, roasted pimientos de país, and the crispy, spicy, dangerously addictive potatoes known as patatas bravas.