1 One of our first stops was Bottega Louie, a 255-seat restaurant, gourmet market, patisserie and cafe located in the historic Brockman Building in Downtown Los Angeles. It is known for its large open kitchen, where guests can watch how the many dishes are prepared. https://www.bottegalouie.com
2 Just behind the kitchen's huge glass were clean, organized prep stations - complete with all the fresh ingredients for their extensive menu of delicious eat-in salads.
3 They also served freshly made pizza that was cooked in their huge brick oven.
4 Bottega Louie also has a large selection of take-out salads, packaged in these artistic boxes. This was the Modena salad, with Bibb lettuce, goat cheese, walnuts, shallots and a creamy balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
5 The Louie salad, with Iceberg lettuce, shrimp, hearts of palm, avocado, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and Dijon vinaigrette. All the salads looked very tasty.
6 The traditional Cobb salad - each ingredient was so neatly lined up in the box over the bed of greens.
7 A classic Caesar salad with chicken, Romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and Caesar dressing.
8 The bakery had a huge variety of more than 20 different breads, and pastries, artisanal pretzels, croissants, cookies, etc. Louie's bakers turn out about 800-pastries per day.
9 The tidy displays of loaves, muffins, baguettes and other baked goods had many people stopping to take a look.
10 In their shop, lots and lots of candy in decorative boxes - the packaging was just as appealing as the contents.
11 Fun rainbow sprinkled pretzels stacked in clear plastic containers with Louie's signature pink label.
12 These pretzels were hard to resist, especially in the fanciful packaging with silk ribbon.
13 Bottega Louie's "Le Dome" dessert cake. Do you know what it is? It is a white chocolate cream dome filled with lemon curd and bits of pineapple.
14 All the cakes were stunning, and perfectly decorated.
15 A petal cake and a double bow cake
16 Delectable chocolate and fruit tarts
17 More fruit tarts and decadent cakes
18 Everything was presented very nicely in the refrigerated cases.
19 Small tartlets also looked so beautiful.
20 Colorful macarons
21 And, spaghetti packaged in long colorful, cylindrical boxes. The 21-inch long pasta is 100-percent natural. Each tube is 12-dollars - expensive, but worth every penny.
22 More beautiful pink boxes wrapped in satin ribbon.
23 For lunch, we went to Otium, a contemporary restaurant also in Downtown Los Angeles. Here I was with owner and chef, Timothy Hollingsworth. http://otiumla.com
24 I ordered the oysters, with shallot mignonette and horseradish. They were delicious.
25 After I finish my oysters, I always turn them upside down, so the waiter knows I am finished eating - I learned this from Kevin. The shells look just as beautiful after I was done.
26 This was the hamachi, with nori, avocado sauce, and sweet and sour tomatoes. The "schmear" is a popular trend - sauces just swiped along the plate add delicious flavors to the foods.
27 Kevin Sharkey took a photo of his pasta dish.
28 Here was his photo - a tempting forkful of delicious bucatini pasta.
29 Kate Berry had the same pasta dish - green bucatini with egg, bacon, clams, and creme fraiche.
30 This was Otium's little gems salad with a shaved bottarga vinaigrette. I love bottarga - it was so delicious.
31 These shrimp and rice dishes were not on the menu, but made especially for us by chef Timothy. Both dishes were cooked Thai style. The shrimp was smoked over coal.
32 The shrimp were delicious and so fresh.
33 This was a spicy rice with pineapple and peppers, cilantro and pignoli nuts - also very good.
34 This was coconut ice cream with crushed nuts and a peanut butter sauce artfully "schmeared" on the side.
35 I was joined by Kevin, Kate Berry, and Victoria Pearson, a very talented photographer who has worked with me for many years on our Living magazine. She recently co-authored and photographed a new book called "Citrus: Sweet and Savory Sun-Kissed Recipes". See her beautiful photos in our February issue of Living. http://www.amazon.com/Citrus-Sweet-Savory-Sun-Kissed-Recipes/dp/1607747677
36 I visited Gjusta, a bakery, deli and cafe located on Sunset Avenue in Venice, California. Created by the same team behind Gjelina restaurant, the Gjusta bakery provides some of the most delectable breads. http://www.gjusta.com
37 The deli offers a variety of smoked meats, porchetta, and roast turkey.
38 Toward the back of the shop, a case filled with cured fish, and many other deli favorites - all the curing is done on the premises.
39 There was another case filled with artisanal cheeses.
40 There was freshly made flat-bread pizza - this one looked so tasty. It's made with sausage, rapine, and Fontina cheese.
41 So did this pizza covered in wild mushrooms and Gruyere cheese.
42 There is a beautiful large marble bar surrounding the coffee area, where guests can gather and eat.
43 I admired the marble counters - so thick and beautiful. They came from a salvage yard in Camden, New Jersey.
44 Chef and owner, Travis Lett, and Gjusta manager, entrepreneur and "Survivor" reality show contestant, Oscar Lusth.
46 We stayed at the famous sunset Tower Hotel designed in 1929 by architect Leland A. Bryant. Many celebrities have stayed there, such as Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, and Elizabeth Taylor.