Sweet Lucie’s

When Mike and Geri Czako first founded Sweet Lucie’s, their organic ice-cream company, they were renting the Nosh kitchen after hours to create and perfect their signature flavors and premium product, seemingly years into a painstaking restoration of their 1959 vintage ice cream truck and juggling full time careers in advertising and business…

and parents of a very sweet little one year old girl called Lucie.

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Fast forward to 2014: hundreds of appearances and events under their belt, products on the shelves at WholeFoods and speciality retailers, collaborations with artisan bakers and a whisky producer, and a new addition to the Czako family, a baby boy, Jack.

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From a craving for ice-cream when she was pregnant with Lucie and a desire to eat well and organically, Geri is justifiably proud of the company she and Mike have created and their USDA certified organic product.

They now produce over 28 flavors and 18 fresh fruit sorbets (plus toppings and sauces)
at their immaculate manufacturing facility in San Pedro. All made from scratch in small batches using locally sourced ingredients. Banana, Black Sesame, Blueberry Pie, Butter Pecan…and that’s just the B’s!

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Their yummy ice cream and iconic truck are much in demand for celebrity and media events, and both the truck and the very cute gelato carts have been featured in magazines (Sunset and C to name a couple), pop videos (Katy Perry!) and catalog shoots (the adorable Pottery Barn Kids).

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The company is now full time for Mike and Geri, with leaps forward almost every week: a brick and mortar store to open soon on the Westside, Sweet Lucie’s now scooped on the USC Campus, and even more flavors and ice cream treats being added to the mix.

http://www.ilovelucies.com

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The world is your oyster.

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I thought when I started writing this blog that I would be mostly sharing stories about food.
What I mocked. What I cooked. What I loved or loathed. Maybe my adventures in the food industry, off and on for 30 years.

However, it seems people or poems or places occupy me and it made me ask myself, “what food DO I love?”

The answer came in a long, tedious and still not completed transfer of photos from my old to new computer.

What treat is documented every time I indulge?
How many photos do I have of oysters in my files?!
Guess what I could eat every day??

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As a kid I was mystified by my dad’s love of oysters… straight from the rocks, opened with his penknife and slurped down immediately. We would walk for miles along the river just hoping to find a renegade, a freebie not on an oyster lease, waiting to be devoured.

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Second best, a jar of opened: squirrily looking jars of grey floaty gobs in brine.
Mum would turn them into Oyster Vol au Vents. Oysters in a rich creamy sauce and baked in the oven until we couldn’t wait any longer… nothing like a cheesy sauce and buttery pastry shells to turn doubters into lovers.

On those rare nights out at a restaurant (probably the RSL Club) we would be allowed to share a plate of Oysters Kilpatrick.

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Broiled with a little bacon and Worcestershire Sauce, it’s still a favorite: freshly shucked and perfectly “just cooked” with crispy, salty, smokey bacon.

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My first fall into oyster oblivion (heaven) came one weekend at college when we camped at a friend’s place on the coast. His family owned oyster leases so we gathered buckets full, threw them on an improvised grill over a fire and waited as they popped open. Warm and juicy. No frills. Accompanied by hoots, hollers, beer and wine.

A favorite from then on.

oyster harvest

2 years ago, bored with the Thanksgiving routine we drove downtown to Los Angeles Fish Co, struggled out with as many as we could afford and set to opening, in-between turkey prep, household art direction and cooking chores.
2 oyster knives and 2 chain mail gloves from the kitchenware store and we were ready to go.



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Slow to start, our speed picked up and by the time thursday afternoon arrived we had platters of Oyster Rockefellow and Oyster Kilpatrick ready for the oven as well as iced trays of Kumamoto and Malpeque.
Some mignonette dressing (re wine vinegar, shallots and onion), some lemon, sweet chili for the beginners, and it was time to celebrate.

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And did you know Oysters were served at the first Thanksgiving? Justification indeed!

Road Trips Rule

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There is nothing so awful that can’t be improved by a road trip..( and not to trivialize truly tragic, awful things).

Give me that moment, the heightened sense of expectation as the car is loaded and the house is locked.

Time for an adventure!

The best place for a road trip is my adopted home, the US of A.

Along with great good roads, cheap gas ( and my baby Prius) , you can’t help but stumble upon mythic otherworldly landscapes, folk art extravaganza and weirdly quaint, niche businesses, cultural icons of every sort: the place where the movie was filmed, the star was born, the songwriter died, the poet or the president lived, the novel described.

Uber Americana as far as the eye can see!!

road 1 Note: The best trips start here in the West. (Sorry, but explorations of the green East are never as epic.)

From LA there’s a first long day of driving to get anywhere. Brutal moonscapes, big dry mountains, stretches of interstate, desolate and dissolute…life slows and one becomes introspective. Alone, I talk to myself- animated arguments or rants, poetic and witty observation or sing at the top of my lungs, favorite songs over and over. ..and over and over again.

Bliss.

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With a friend or husband, it’s hours of chat, sometimes a nap, but definitely a stop at the In & Out in Barstow, or at the bottom of the Grapevine. Opens at 11am, perfect timing to get that fast food monkey off your back AND in a social justice, sorta healthy way. From now on, it’s picnics,fruit and nuts and margarita dinners.

roadiburger Depending on the direction, the first night can be Grand Canyon or Chinle, Winslow or St George, Utah , maybe San Francisco or Tuscon. The West rules!!

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When it comes to beds on the road the trick is to alternate .Cheap as chips ( but clean, not scary) OR ultra splurgy .  The more remote and less traveled, the more meaningful the historic hotel/motel becomes.

Often the mainstay of what’s left in main street, they hold the stories, the economy, the history and the community within their walls. Think La Posada, Winslow or Hotel Capitan, Van Horn Texas, Price Tower, Bartlesville OK, Hotel Paisano , Marfa …cool architecture and public spaces .

They are the historic beating hearts of their town.   hotel2The other useful rule of thumb:the further you are from a city, the better the Motel 6 ! Chatting to the chic woman in black at the concrete Motel 6 pool in Utah as we watched  kids swimming (yes,an editor of German VOGUE) I was reminded of how the Euros travel in the Southwest: clean cheap beds, bespoke tours and helicopters at sunrise.

road666 My necessities. A cooler on the back set with picnic stuff (fruit, salad and water), tea kettle and caffeine supplies ( hot, black tea w non fat milk & sugar for when I open my eyes), wine (not always available ), lots of paper maps to spread out and see the possibilities, story books to read and whatever device to photograph.

Sunglasses, swimmers, hat and sneakers. A phone.

An excuse to get in the car ( destination, baby) and at least a week or more… mmmmmmmm