Daily Archives: August 10, 2011

Spreading the Love

store

Spread has been on my radar for a few years – their farm-to-table vegetarian restaurant, catering/events and gourmet nut butters have gotten a lot of media coverage, and have a reputation for being the best in the world of slow and organic food – with a high-end clientele and private membership club.

I never got a chance to stop by their San Diego flagship location, so when their popup shop opened on Melrose I made sure to be there.

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I was greeted by chef and owner Andrew Schiff, who started Spread with his wife, Robin. Once law school students, they deviated from that path and the start of their business went something like this…

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…okay not exactly. You have to let Andrew tell you the whole story; he is one highly energetic and entertaining fellow. I went in the store expecting to pop out 5 minutes later with a couple jars in hand. Instead, I was taken by the hand and seated outdoors….

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…to a tasting pavilion….

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…called nut butter heaven

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I ate over 20 (yes, that’s TWENTY) samples that looked like this…

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…pausing once for this gastronomically perfect mini pb cup

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Spread has hundreds of flavors, numbered in the order they were created. All of them are seasonal, organic, and made in small batches to ensure quality and commitment to sustainability.

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My favorites were the White Chocolate Pretzel (featured on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate“), White Chocolate Strawberry, Cookies and Cream, Seasonal Cinnamon Gourmet (one of the last six in stock!)

Obviously, I liked all the dessert-ish flavors the best, but I also really dug the Golden Raisin Curry, which would be GREAT as a dip for satay.

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If you just want simplicity, there’s #1 – just peanuts – no salt or sugar. Like everything else, it was amazing – perfectly flavored, not thick or chewy.

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Inside the store, their 4 oz. jars sell for $10 and up…

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…some may be slightly more expensive, containing unique ingredients like edible gold and silver. And other “stuff”…

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I was sent home with four…

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…including one for Julius!!!

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Agave Lavender Bacon. Andrew threw in a feeding spoon too!

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I can’t make any promises that I won’t be digging into the dog’s stash…neither can Abe – it’s totally fit for human consumption, and they use veggie bacon!

You can visit Spread’s retail shop at 7350 Melrose through February (they also plan to pop up in Austin, Miami, and NYC) or buy their products online – they ship anywhere and also do personalized gifts. Follow them on twitter too for special offers, including freebies!

But I’m Still, I’m Still an Animal

bakeries/cafes/dessert places - dessert - restaurant

Abe had a Dodger Dude Date last night so I made my own lady plans with Michelle and Andrea. Hmmm….where to go without my vegetarian husband?

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There’s no sign on the door, but Animal has been very popular with the carnivores since they opened.

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Despite it looking empty, there were no tables free – I had left a message on Monday for a reservation, but they never got it. Luckily, we arrived just as they opened, so there was seating left at the bar.

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The menu is dizzying, filled with animal parts I’ve never heard of. Small plates, ranging from $10-$35.

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We got a few dishes to share, starting with one of two vegetarian options – the shaved zucchini salad with pecorino, purslane, and sungold tomato

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Smoked trout salad with corn vinaigrette, benton’s bacon, and crema

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Hamachi tostada, herbs, fish sauce vinaigrette, and peanut

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Michelle ordered the foie gras with biscuit and maple sausage gravy. I wasn’t too keen on eating goose liver, but I did try a bite. And then another one. (This actually wound up being my favorite dish.)

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Finally, the barbeque pork belly sandwiches with slaw

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Andrea doesn’t really eat pig, so Michelle and I each had our own slider. This is one the restaurant’s most popular dishes; a little too fatty and vinegar-y for me.

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But all in all, the food was terrific! I definitely want to come back with other meat eaters and taste more.

We decided for a change of scenery after dinner.

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Susina is a bakery/cafe that I’ve been to a couple times, but never blogged about.

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Along with caramelized pear tea, I ordered a slice of the signature “Berry Blossom Cake” – described as “3 layers of Vanilla Sponge Cake brushed with orange liqueur, filled with white chocolate mousse, and fresh berries. Decorated with curmbled meringue and white chocolate shavings.”

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But I tasted no orange liqueur, no meringue. Definitely no chocolate mousse. That was whipped topping on there. I think they gave me a regular shortcake instead?!?

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Nonetheless, it was delicious – I attacked almost all of it. Cause I’m an animal.

Animal on UrbanspoonSusina Bakery on Urbanspoon