Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Taste of Home

by Allyson Haas
Sometimes, even grown-ups miss their Mommies (and the iconic foods of their childhood).
Caleb's birthday is fast approaching. During these times of celebration (and basically, in any spare moment I have), I really miss my family and my East Coast peeps. It seems crazy to me that the people I grew up with aren’t here with me, and that Caleb doesn’t get to see his cousins and family friends as often as I’d like (which would be every day if I had my druthers). Enter sappy Hallmark card music here, but yes, I do, in fact, get homesick. And not to go all Tupac/Biggie on you guys, (and I love me some Tupac – there’s an awesome exhibit at the Grammy Museum on him- tune in next week for that adventure) but there are just certain things NY does better than LA. I'm not talking about the old "brains vs. beauty debate, that's low hanging fruit. For me it's about things more carbohydrate in nature: pizza, bagels, black and white cookies. And let's not overlook the importance of vegetable cream cheese or Tuna salad.
In my moments of longing, I’ve scoured the city searching for the best places to go for these things in LA. So if you’re from the East coast and feeling a bit of nostalgia, take a trip to one of these locations and save yourself the 5+ hour flight with a screaming toddler in tow to get them.

131 N. Larchmont Blvd
Go figure the guy who opened this shop hails from NY and word on the street is that he brings in his starter water from Brooklyn. Whatever his secret, you can pop into this shop for a slice (a concept apparently unknown in these parts) or sit down for their daily deal. $6ish gets you a slice, a fountain beverage a salad and a garlic knot

Black & White cookies
Diamond Bakery
335 N. Fairfax Ave
Apparently, folks in LA didn’t even know what this was, which is surprising because, much like this town, the cookie itself can’t decide exactly what it is: is it a cookie? Cake? Vanilla? Chocolate? It’s got it all. And unless you are at Greenberg’s on NY’s Upper East Side, the only place to get a decent one here is at the Diamond Bakery. We ordered these in “blue and white” for Caleb’s Bris. Before I found this gem of a place, I missed them so much I made them myself. But they made a mess of my kitchen and take more time than a busy three year old will allow for, so just pick them up from here.

7825 Beverly Blvd
For most of my teenage years, I spent Sunday mornings schmearing cream cheese behind the counter of Suffern, NY’s famous Bagel Boys, so I felt personally insulted when I moved to LA and discovered the culinary atrocities being passed off here as "bagels".  I’m still trying to coerce Bagel Boys owners Mark and Eric Fried to open an outpost here on the West Coast, but until they do I’ll have to settle for these, which are the closest thing to New York style bagels I can find on the West Coast. I am, however, disturbed by what people here in LA consider to be appropriate ingredients for Veggie Cream Cheese (peppers? Yuck!).  Authentic East Coast Veggie Cream Cheese has only four simple ingredients: radishes, carrots, scallions and good quality whipped cream cheese.  If you're really going full East Coast style, try to find Temp Tee brand, a NY staple that you can sometimes find at that iconic Los Angeles temple of discounts, The 99 Cent Store.

Tuna Salad
So far, I haven't found anywhere that does this as well as New York's bygone Columbus Bakery.  While that place is no longer (sadly true of many of the NY landmarks of my formative years) I’ve eaten there enough times to have committed the recipe to heart.  And before you die-hard Columbus Bakery Tuna Salad fans email me complaints (ahem, Mom), I know the actual recipe calls for dried cranberries, but I prefer the cherries. Put a few scoops of this on a Bagel Broker bagel, and take a jetlag-free trip to NYC. 

2 cans Tuna (in water, from Trader Joes)
½ Pink Lady (or other tart) apple, chopped
couple scallions, chopped
¼ red onion or one small shallot, chopped
heaping handful of dried cherries
3 big spoonfuls of organic Mayo
juice of ½ lemon
pinch of freshly ground peppercorn
pinch of sea salt

Drain and chop tuna, mix in metal bowl with above ingredients. Pile high on top of a bagel, and enjoy with a side of Wise potato chips and a light and sweet coffee in a takeout mug.  

But when you’ve had enough of all that gluttony, come on back and dig into a nice kale salad, because LA has NY beat on that.  


  1. Great list, Al! We are regulars at Bagel Broker (especially since it's walking distance). I also love Brooklyn Water Bagel. Totally crunchy on the outside and soft inside (like its meant to be). Def recommend. Newly obsessed with VP. How did I have no idea? Pizza is good! For Jewish deli, have you been to Labels? Rye bread is to die for. My dad, who is the king of the NY vs LA battle, requires that his first stop off the plane isn't to see Madeleine but to get a tongue sandwich at Labels. I want your tuna now!

  2. I'm more of a Biggie guy. Also, I had to explain to my fellow new neighbors in San Francisco what a black-and-white cookie is. They clearly have not lived..


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