Sunday, March 18, 2007
In my travels to Europe, New York and San Francisco, I realized that I love to walk to local places for a cup of coffee or for some food. Unfortunately in my suburban neighborhood in Long Beach, there aren't that many good places that are in walking distance. So when they were building a new modern looking structure close to my house, I was hoping that it wouldn't be another cell phone store but something food related. I was out walking and noticed that they finally had signs up to promote what would be moving into one of the spaces and that is how I found out it would be Famima!!
I didn't know exactly what Famima!! was so I went to their website to find out. It is a chain of stores that began in 2004 and are located in Los Angeles. They describe themselves as a "Convenience Store", "Premium Grocery" and "Quick Service Restaurant". In describing the store to a friend, I realized that it could be described as a gourmet Asian-fusion convenience store. The kind of place that you can make a quick stop at if you need something fast to eat, a snack, a loaf of bread or some milk. The difference between Famima!! and other convenience stores is that Famima!! offers good-quality sushi, specialty teas, gourmet chocolate, pocky and many, many more unique items.
With deli choices, magazines, stationery, snacks and beverages, this is a wonderful store that you really must visit. You can enjoy a cup of coffee or a fresh grilled panini, sit at the round tables and enjoy the clean, bright atmosphere. Stop by sometime to check it out--and it is open late for those of you craving some sushi at 11:00pm. A question that I still have yet to be answered, why the two exclamation points after Famima?? I hope to find out soon.
Locations in Long Beach:
Los Coyotes Diagonal
Open 7 days/week
2nd Street COMING SOON
A few years ago I found out about the farmers markets in Long Beach. There are three different markets throughout the week and each of them are unique. They have many of the same vendors but take place on different days and at different locations. For farm lists, websites and more information, visit harborareafarmersmarkets.org
Thursday's from 4pm-7:30 pm. This market is in transition. It has moved around multiple times and is now held on the southwest corner of the Long Beach Health Dept. parking lot, a block south of E. Willow St. and just east of Redondo Ave. along E. Burnett St. This is the smallest of the three markets and seems to lack the most customers. I think it is at an odd time, but they were probably trying to get those people who come after they get off work. I would like to go to this one more often but I honestly forget about it.
Friday's from 10am-4pm. The downtown area market is busy and has a lot to offer. Located on the Promenade North between E. 5th and E. 4th Streets, this is a fun one to visit. On one side of the street are the food vendors, selling shaved ice, kettle corn, Mediterranean bread and on the other side are the fruit, vegetable and flower vendors. Then you turn the corner and there are more vendors. Then another corner and you are surprised with just a few more. This one also moved locations awhile back and I felt that at the old location, there were many more food vendors, music and it was just larger. This is still relatively a nice size, but doesn't seem to have the same feel as before. You could go there on your lunch break and choose from many different types of food, take it and sit down on the amphitheatre steps while enjoying some entertaining, and sometimes cheesy music. I wish that it had that same atmosphere now, but it is still a good market. On the other side of 4th street is the craft fair, for those who enjoy the handmade candles, purses, art and other craft items.
Sunday's from 9am-1pm. I haven't been to the Sunday market in awhile and just went this past Sunday and told myself that I need to go more often. Located in the parking lot of the Alamitos Bay Marina, on E. Marina Drive one-quarter mile south of E. 2nd St., just west of Pacific Coast Highway. Some of the unique items at the Sunday market are: grassfed bison meat, fresh fish (first come, first served), Japanese maples & bamboo for sale, face painting, and the list goes on and on. I knew that I would pick-up some bison meat because I have read a lot about how good and healthy it is for you and I had a few other items on my list as well. As I was walking along on the cold, drizzly morning I was hit with so many different wonderful smells. The first was kettle corn, then tamales, then fresh flowers. I wanted to try everything! There were a few newer vendors there and so I had to try a few things that I have never seen before. Chinese artichokes were one of them. I asked the owner how to prepare them and he said they could be eaten raw or sauteed with olive oil, salt and pepper. The flavor is a bit like jicama and has the texture of a radish. I can't wait to try those! I wish that I had brought more cash so that I could stand in the long line and get some fresh fish--it looked amazing and I know that you have to come early to get the best and when they run out, they run out. Across the parking lot is the craft fair and I was so cold that I didn't have a chance to stop and browse. It was a fun morning and I came home with lots of wonderful fruit and veggies.
Farmers Market Tips:
1. If you are planning to purchase a lot of items, bring a rolling cart. This can save you from having sore arms from carrying so many heavy items.
2. You must have cash and the vendors appreciate smaller bills.
3. Keep your cash in your pocket or a small change purse so that it is easier to get to (but be careful and keep a close watch on it!).
4. Walk through the market once to see what each person has and to compare the prices and quality on the items you are looking for before you make a purchase.
5. Try something new. There are so many items that you won't find in a grocery store and what better way to expand your culinary tastes than to find something and try it out.
6. Accept the free samples! Even if it is something that you don't normally eat, try it--you could find that you really enjoy it.
7. Go to the market on a regular basis and get to know the sellers.
Monday, March 5, 2007
The Travelers Lunchbox is putting together a comprehensive list, from food bloggers, of the things to eat before you die. I think this is a wonderful idea and it has challenged me to keep trying new foods until I try everything possible that is out there! In thinking about my favorite's I thought about those that I remember with the best memories or the foods that I can eat over and over again.
It was tough but here my list of what I think you should eat before you die:
1. Pho. An amazing Vietnamese beef noodle soup that you can tailor to your tastes by adding cilantro, thai basil, lime juice, jalapeno, bean sprouts, soy sauce and rooster sauce. I have only had the Pho here in California and I can't wait to be able to take a trip to Vietnam to try the original, authentic Pho. Check out the Pho-King blog for all Pho news, all the time.
2. Fresh Baked Homemade Bread. If you have never tried to bake your own bread, not in a bread machine, you definitely need to put this on your list. The fragrance of bread baking is amazing and the taste is incomparable to what you would purchase at the store. My favorites to bake are baguettes, ciabatta and pane siciliano.
3. Chocolate Truffles. From La Maison Du Chocolat--stores in New York, London and Paris. Amazing.
4. Fish and Chips. Preferably at a pub and washed down with a Boddingtons (or two). A comfort food of sorts--crispy, hot & fried.
5. Cinnamon & Sugar Crepe. When the weather is cold, get a crepe from a Paris street vendor. Walk along the Seine, inhale the sweet fragrance, let it warm your face and savor every bite.
As I was thinking about the list, I kept debating on what were the top foods and I'm sure I will think of different things as the days go on, but these are the first that I thought of so I am sticking with them. I encourage you to try these and check out all the others on The Travelers Lunchbox website (click on the guide to the globe logo).