Thursday, November 1, 2012

A WEEK IN SHANGRI LA - Part One - Feast Bistro

Part One
(Feast Bistro)

Recently, our friends, Stu and Kyle, asked us if we wanted to spend a week house/dog sitting in their lovely home in the town of Ojai, surrounded by mountains with “pink moments” where the mountains literally turn pink in the sunset.  Who can turn down an opportunity to sip wine and gaze at a pink mountain moment or two?  Not Richard.  Not I.

Made famous as Shangri La in Frank Capra’s “Lost Horizon,” Ojai is a mystical, spiritual valley littered with artists, farmers, hippies and Hollywood stars with renowned theater, music, art and lavender festivals. Some Native Americans believe mankind was born out of its mineral springs.  I’d be hard-pressed to argue that point.

After a mere hour and fifteen minute drive from our home in Studio City, we settled in and explored the neighborhood as we walked the dog and drove around town.  After spending many sleepovers in Ojai, the terrain wasn’t totally unfamiliar, but we found new neighborhood pockets and fun markets to explore.

Saturday was “Ojai Day,” a yearly event in town.  The main street was blocked off and filled with booths selling herbs, jewelry, soaps and scents, sidewalk art and all sorts of local artists’ wares.

Our friend, Candace, decided to drive up from L.A. for lunch and to browse the booths.  The town turned out en masse, enjoying the street food while watching children play in various playground venues set up for the day as they shopped and mingled with their neighbors.

We opted to have lunch at Feast Bistro, one of my favorite restaurants in town. Started by Beryl Schwartz, Elio Zarmati and chef Susan Coulter, Feast Bistro offers healthful, delicious gourmet food at affordable prices.  It has patio dining, a wine/beer/espresso/tea bar where you can also get Belgian chocolates and pastries from local bakers, but we chose a table in the front room where we could watch the action on street.


back room

open prep area

front room
Richard and I had never lunched there and were pleased to see such a full, diverse menu:

from Eel River organic beef burgers to veggie burgers of brown rice, mushrooms, sweet peppers and oats; a Vietnamese chicken sandwich to a Memphis-style pulled pork sandwich; cheese tortellini in bacon and tomato cream sauce to spicy chicken breast w/ greens and veggies topped with bleu cheese crumbles; homemade soups to steamed mussels and clams; salads to a bacon, caramelized onion and smoked mozzarella flatbread.  Something for everyone.

Richard ordered the Memphis-style pulled pork sandwich topped w/ tangy cole slaw and a side of pommes frites.  Of course, I had a bite.  Tender and savory. We both loved it.

Candace had the day’s flatbread special with assorted cheeses and veggies and I opted for the flatbread on the menu (put bacon on something and I’m ordering it) – both were delicious (yes, I had a bite of Candace’s) and both were served with a little salad in the middle.  It looked gorgeous and tasted even better.

We toured the booths a bit more and discovered a collection of antique cars – well antique to some -

This car was just like Candace's lst car

This is the car (an MG) I always wanted
Now that's a real antique car
then waved goodbye to our friend, as she left for her short journey back to L.A. 

It was time to walk the dog and a wait for some pink moments.

Feast Bistro
254 East Ojai Avenue
Ojai, Calif. 93023

Below is the dinner review I wrote a couple of years ago:

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