Damn you, flu, for making me miss Jeni of Oishii Eats' and Dylan of Eat, Drink & Be Merry's wedding celebration! Of all the weekends that my husband's and my immune systems decide to get freaky, it just had to be that weekend. Damn you to pieces.
Having been busy with growing a human being and with a crazy job that had me driving to and from the West 626 and Anaheim every day, it had been almost a year since I last saw the match-made-in-food-blogging-heaven. I was really looking forward to seeing the two of them because they're just such a fun couple who appreciate each other, their family and friends, and their endeavors with a commitment and enthusiasm that is unparalleled. But the other reason I was looking forward to seeing them has a slightly selfish reason to it.
Basically, Jeni and Dylan represent an aspect of my life that I've been itching to reconnect with.
2006 was the year my life took a major beating when my Dad passed away. But it was also a year of great change for me not only in dealing with my own pain of losing my Dad but also in helping my family cope, getting married and starting a new job. I went on quite an emotional and physical roller coaster ride that year, but I managed...largely in part by blogging. Because it gave me an outlet with which to mentally escape--even if for just a few minutes each day--my food blog saved my sanity.
2006 was also the year that was, in my mind, the Golden Age of So-Cal Food Blogging. Not because the food blogs at that time were any better than the ones that have sprung up since then--that's not what I'm saying. It was, rather, a time when there weren't as many of us around, and a time when food blogs were just starting to get noticed by the general public. It was still a novelty for restaurants to see diners pull out their cameras and take photos of what would in a few minutes be digested. I met Jeni and Dylan at a food blogger meetup at Musha Torrance in 2006, coincidentally, on the same night that they met each other. It was awesome to finally have a face to associate with some of their earlier posts that I remember reading: Jeni tag-teaming on a post with her ALL-CAPS slinging mom about the Wat Thai Temple, and Dylan teaching his neighbor how to cook a date-worthy meal. As the months went by and my own posting began to fizzle out and eventually grind to a screeching halt because of increasing work and family commitments, I watched Jeni and Dylan grow, both as a couple and as bloggers. I watched their blogs evolve into the noteworthy sites that they are today with accounts of their tasty travels, beautiful photographs, and educational information that any food lover would appreciate.
They have both told me at one time or another that I was an inspiration to them to start blogging, but now that I am writing again, I am looking to them for mine. We've all come a long way since 2006--alot of the bloggers from that golden year now have husbands, wives, children, more children, new jobs, new homes, you name it. I'm hoping that 2009, despite all the crap that's going on with the economy today, will be a renaissance of all things good from 2006, foodblogosphere-wise: The Rebirth of Slick, The Rebirth of Cool. I, myself, having started to write again, have already seen how it's helped me cope with all the recent changes in my life.
"Hey, let's hook up soon," I wrote in an email to Jeni recently, "It's been too long...I miss you, and I need some inspiration!"
So that's how we ended up at the newly opened Golden State Cafe one late Friday afternoon. The husbands were still at work, but that was fine 'cause that way we got to rant away about all the things that they do and do not do that bug the crap out of us. (Sorry, Isaac and Dylan...we still love you though.)
In a neighborhood that's already an eclectic mix of everything from Jewish delis to art galleries to turntable shops, Golden State Cafe joins the club by showcasing what owners Jason Bernstein and James Starr believe to be some of the best food and drink that our golden state has to offer. In this small but airy industrial space you can get dogs from Let's Be Frank, gelato from Scoops, beer from Craftsman Brewery, and root beer on tap from Virgil's, amongst a slew of other locally sourced goodies.
Jeni and I, feeling particularly snackish, opted for their burger--made with Harris Ranch beef, and topped with farmhouse cheddar, brown sugar bacon and arugula all on a brioche bun--and their Mild Italian sausage--grilled and topped with a choice of two toppings, which for us were the sauerkraut and garlic aioli. The not-too-heavy portions and flavors were fine for two girlfriends who wanted to chill and do lots of catching up. The inclusive sides that we chose--fries with hazelnut romesco, and a lemony Persian cucumber salad--were perfect for picking at while not only talking about the latest goings-on in our lives, but also snapping away with our DSLR's at our plates of food and the restaurant itself. Having a meal with someone else who understands why it's important to take a few seconds to style your food is inspiration at its best.
Had we gone to the Golden State any later that day, catching up and chilling would have been a little more difficult as I hear the place gets packed at night. But this new café has me interested enough to come back and try some of their other offerings like their salami sandwich or grilled vegetable sandwich as well as to explore some of their beer selections.
I'm so glad that I finally got to catch up with the so very kawaii girl that I first saw giving a thumbs up to some taco truck on Mulholland. And I couldn't be happier that you found true love with the guy whose post about a 12:30 am after-work snack at West LA's New Japan first caught my attention. I have a feeling that 2009 is going to be a good year for our So-Cal food blogosphere. Thanks for the inspiration, you two, and all the best in life and love.
(I think this post had more sap than the Sequoia Forest!)
Golden State Cafe
426 N. Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036