Los Angeles is not known for trains or gardens. Normally, the Land of Pretty People is thought of as a place of vast asphalt and traffic jams. Where a minor fender-bender can result in a manslaughter charge. Tonight though, Lulu, Don and I were going to high-tail it on three trains to get to Highland Park, a small off-shoot community populated with Hispanic families and which is fast becoming one of the new hipster areas that will soon be teeming with tattooed skinny boys, multi-colored haired women and piercing aficionados who know nothing about BDSM.
First, it was an early dinner of Gazpacho and Pasta at Lulu’s. When I arrived at Lu’s house, Don was in the backyard picking tomatoes but Lu was already setting up the image of the washed arugula and other freshly harvested vegetables to be shot for this blog. After the requisite but lovely air-kisses, I was given the task of squeezing the meat from the large and beautiful heirloom tomatoes. (You don’t have to ask me twice!). It was a very Nigella Lawson moment as the joke abounded “about squeezing the meat”. Essentially, I was extracting the juice and pulp from the tomato so that it would be easier to puree into the soup leaving the…ahem…seeds from the meat. (Sorry, I said that it was very Nigella Lawson-like.)
Anyhow, into the blender went the squeezed tomato pulp, cucumber, onion, garlic and a little green pepper. and out came a sweet, refreshing chilled soup.
After this delicious dinner, served with Shrimp and Arugula Pesto and a Smokey Roasted Tomato Pasta, we began our adventure of riding the Los Angeles train system. Getting on at Exposition and La Cienega, which we needed to take a car (only in LA), we bought our TAP cards and away we went. This particular line traveled by Leimert Park, Staples Center, Civic Center, University of Southern California and was almost completely above ground. It’s really a good way to see Los Angeles without the stop and go traffic. We swtiched to the Red Line for a bit of time and then, transferred to the Gold Line which took us up into the streets again. We slipped past Chinatown and South Pasadena and arriving at Highland Park, which is neon lights, tree-lined avenues and Latino thumping music.
It was an art gallery opening that we are in the area to see but the subway or elevated or whatever transportation system Angelenos start calling our “train”. It’s a great way to avoid traffic, not worry about parking and see The City of Angels without wings.
Garden Fresh Gazpacho
You Will Need:
2 to 3 lbs Heirloom Tomatoes
1 large, peeled, seeded cucumber
2 cloves garlic (peeled)
1 half onion/ shallot chopped.
1 chopped bell pepper (red or yellow are preferable)
Let’s Finish This Puppy
1. Using a fine mesh strainer, squeeze out the meat and push through gently. Leaving behind the skins and seeds.
2. Place everything into a blender or food processor including the tomato pulp or liquid.
3. Hit that button marked “puree”. Voila, gazpacho.
Ideas: Taking this basic premise, you can add vegetable stock to make it thinner. Add some sour cream or creme fraiche to finish it. Maybe a little cilantro to make it feel special.