What could be a better way to spend a day than touring Hollywood and filling your tummy with delicious food?
On Tuesday morning, June 21, a dozen intrepid adventurers, otherwise known as tour guides, joined Trish Proscetto and Matt Rubenstein, the husband and wife owners of Tourific Escapes, for their Hollywood Sites and Bites Tour.
The trip was sponsored by the ITMI So Cal Network, an organization consisting of graduates of the International Tour Management Institute who live or work in southern California.
We met at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Since I last took a tour group through this 1927 hotel it has been remodeled and all the wonderful photos of old Hollywood have been removed from the mezzanine. This saddens me and I wonder if they are still displayed somewhere else?
We began our food safari with a walk around the Hollywood Highland Center. Trish showed us a secret corner in the shopping mall for an unobstructed view of the Hollywood sign. I hope I can remember where it is next time I give a tour there.
Our first tasting was at Crumbs Bake Shop, just off the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where we sampled a specialty coffee and mini cupcakes. I am not a cupcake fan myself, but if you are, Crumbs boasts more than 50 varieties baked fresh daily with a new cupcake of the week every Monday. And you can’t quarrel with the location!
We then drove up the hill behind Hollywood Boulevard past the Magic Castle to Yamashiro’s restaurant on Sycamore. Although we didn’t go inside, the gardens afford a spectacular view of the city below.
Next up was Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles on North Gower Street. I have eaten at the original location in Long Beach but I was not aware there was one located in Hollywood—until now. We were each presented with a quarter of a waffle (made with their secret recipe) and a fried chicken wing. People always seem to think I am being polite when I choose the wing off a plate of chicken pieces, but that is my favorite part, and apparently I am not alone as this is their best seller. You have to eat the chicken and waffle together with maple syrup drizzled over the concoction.
What separates Trish and Matt’s tour from the ordinary food tour is that Trish is very knowledgeable about the area and was able to regale us with a plethora of information and stories as we traveled from eatery to eatery—not to mention her charming and effusive personality.
Our third stop was at Susan Feniger’s STREET on North Highland Avenue. We were treated to a ginger tamarind cooler, Susan’s unique Kaya Toast and a variety of sampler platters. Each new taste was simply amazing. I would go back there any day. And eating outside in the patio we were bathed in a red glow from the canopy.
Although by now I was stuffed to the gills, we were not done yet.
Greenblatt’s Deli is located on Sunset Boulevard. We ate upstairs overlooking colorful stained glass windows. While the others were served pastrami sandwiches and pickle spears, I enjoyed a very good potato knish with excellent coleslaw. Downstairs is the wine shop and a takeout counter stocked with eye-catching delights such as maple-mustard chicken, stuffed cabbage and garlic broccoli. It might be worth stopping in there to pick up dinner on my next visit to the area.
After the deli I really had to take a break from eating. Our next venue was John Kelly Chocolates on N. Sierra Bonita Avenue. They have some unusual flavors such as sea salt and chili. Perhaps it is fortunate that I do not care for dark chocolate or at that point there is no doubt I would have burst at the seams. Everybody else was obviously enjoying the samples, so I am sure the chocolate was first class. We were afforded the privilege of taking a look at the chocolate production in the adjoining space where the confection is all handmade. It is encouraging to see such a small operation thriving as a business.
As our final port of call was Mashti Malone’s ice cream store (on North La Brea Avenue) I was indeed happy that I had left some space for some serious sampling. Mashti Malone’s Persian creations include exotic ingredients such as rosewater, saffron, cardomom, orchid root and Arabian gum. The more I sampled, the more indecisive I became! I finally settled on the rosewater saffron combination just because I had to choose one, but I could easily have ordered them all. In my opinion, ice cream is the true nectar of the gods. I like to eat it and savor it ever-so-slowly so I had to finish my cup on the bus.
Matt drove us safely back to the Roosevelt Hotel. After our four-hour expedition I felt like I had been on vacation for a week.
For information about other Tourific Escapes tours, you can visit the website at http://www.tourificescapes.com/.
(All photos copyright roslyn m wilkins.)