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Sustainability Los Angeles

The Curious Palate

12034 Venice Blvd.

L.A., CA

On Sunday morning I found the place I was looking for when a kind pedestrian pointed me in the right direction and said the words “The Curious Palate.” I skateboarded on to the familiar café I stumbled upon once before but had forgot to notate properly. All I knew is they had a remarkable quiche lorraine.

Pretty soon I’m sitting outside under the awning at a very comfortable table, while reading excerpts from Patti Smith’s memoir, Just Kids, in Rolling Stone magazine and commenting to myself what a creamy egg part of the veggie quiche I’m enjoying this time. I ordered o.j., but they ran out. Instead, the astute server offered up their rosemary lemonade, a tart & piquant elixir. I spaced it out during my meal because it packs a punch, but one I kept coming back to savor down to the last ice cube. I also had their rich and delicious coffee.

One of the employees arrived carrying crates and brown boxes, and I vocalized my enjoyment of my meal to him. He was one of the co-owners, Elliot Rubin, who had just come back from the local farmers’ market for the second time that day. Everything on the menu is made from fresh ingredients, he said. They have a small refrigerator, so that forces them to buy only what they need for that day. When they run out they run out, like with the o.j.

“In Europe, you go to the market and they have ugly looking apples but they taste amazing,” Rubin explained. “Here [in the U.S.], we want perfectly looking apples on the outside, and taste is secondary. But I like the taste.”

As an agricultural engineer, Rubin said he knows how to talk to the farmers to find out how they cope with insects without using pesticides. He buys strictly organic produce, he said.

I told him how much I liked the quiche, and how the egg part seemed creamy.

“That’s because they are farm-fresh eggs,” he said with a smile. “Oh, they have to be to get that creamy consistency in the quiche.”

Rubin then described how he can tell a farm-fresh egg from another kind of egg, even when it has been cracked. The yolk has a curvature to it, like a domed building, and the white part doesn’t run all over but stays in somewhat of circle.

As I finished reading the published vignettes of Smith’s bohemian-coming-of-age-story in 1960s Manhattan (which I also thoroughly enjoyed), I ate the fruit garnishing my plate. Like royalty-size, multi-colored gems, two raspberries and two blackberries crowned the splayed petals of golden apple slices and blood-orange persimmon slivers. Each berry burst with flavor. Every crisp bite of apple and supple nibble of persimmon had a pinch of seasoning on it. Everything on my plate was curiously palatable.

This is Sustainability Los Angeles. With tastes this good we’re going to need more farmers’ markets.

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