Nibble, Nibble, Nibble, Nibble, Nibble... Yeah!

Word of caution to my Paleo friends - if photos of gluten, dairy, sugar, or any other inflammatory ingredients may cause you to break out in hives - avoid reading this post and go whip up a batch of grass-fed beef jerky instead.  For the remaining foodies and food lovers... this post is most definitely for you.

Lunch dates with friends is the best type of therapy I can think of.  I have mentioned before the planning that takes place when my Los Angeles friends and I coordinate a date and I can't help but get excited about exploring the city and finding new hidden gems.  My most recent lunch with my friend K was like a full summer's worth of lunch AND exploring the city. 

I have had my eye on a great little tour company in Hollywood for about two years.  They offer a half day tour of Hollywood, highlighting some of the hot spots for eating while in the area.  And by highlighting, I mean sitting down at quite a few places along the tour and STUFFING YOUR FACE.  With the intent of squeezing in at least one more lunch together before K welcomes baby J at the end of October, we decided to go big!  Let the face stuffing begin.  We contacted TOURific Escapes and booked our lunch date for a Thursday in August. 

First of all, have any of you seen Confessions of a Superhero?  Watch it.  Seriously.  It's crazy.  And if you've ever been on Hollywood Boulevard, you'll have an even greater appreciation of the Creepy that you have to pass by to get that picture of the new Slash star on the Walk of Fame.

K's and my lunch date started at the gorgeous and historically significant Roosevelt Hotel where we met the rest of the tour group and our tour guide/concierge/fellow foodie/new best friend Trish, the co-owner of TOURific Escapes


After a quick introduction of names and favorite foods (what better way to start a food tour?!), we were on our way to learning all the juicy deets about Hollywood, its history, and the food that speckles its landscape.  I'll spare all the cool tour tidbits for when you go out and spend the day with Trish and will instead rave on about the mouthwatering morsels that we devoured throughout the day.

Our first bite awaited the group after a short walk through the courtyard at Grauman's Chinese Theater...

For my hubby, Matt, who adores "The Duke"...

Also for my hubby, who adores making bad jokes...

At the Kodak Chapter 11 Dolby Theatre, we were greeted by Steve the Tour Bus Driver, a refreshing glass of lemonade, and a mini-cupcake from Crumbs Bake Shop.

Each cupcake was adorned with toppings that beckoned - mini M&M's, an Oreo cookie piece, graham cracker and mini marshmallows, sprinkles, and chocolate chips.  I went for the Cookies And Cream with the Oreo topping.  Creamy and moist, as to be expected from a top cupcake contender like Crumbs.  K's cupcake, the S'mores, even had filling inside!  One very tasty bite down and many more to go.

We continued on with the tour, learning about the Academy Awards and the required setup and stories surrounding their presentation each year.  Even as an LA local who avoids Hollywood hoopla at all costs, I loved hearing about how the steps up to the theater are for nominees only and are shallow and wide to accommodate the high heels and stunning long gowns of the starlets.  *mental note for next house - build accordingly to suit my personal wardrobe*

Looking at the Hollywood sign through the structures surrounding the shopping center at Hollywood and Highland...

the El Capitan Theatre, which K informs me is a MUST for Valentine's Day "Lady and the Tramp" watching with a loved one...

and a little more Hollywood sign... which is much more pleasant to look at from this angle than sitting in standstill traffic on the 101 or the 10 during rush hour any other day.

Then we were off to enjoy some "California Comfort Food" at Grub.  Any place that serves bacon referred to by restaurant frequenters as "crack bacon" gets a special spot in my reservation book.  Quaint restaurant with a charming patio... I couldn't be more happy taking pictures of flowers and food!

Creamy Dreamy Tomato Soup: rich and flavorful with fresh tarragon and a touch of cream.  I'm pretty sure K and I weren't the only ones licking the bottom of the cup.  And if we were, there's no shame in enjoying every last savory drop.

"Crack" Bacon Quesadilla with Apples: spinach tortilla with cheddar, Granny Smith apples, caramelized onions, pear and apple butter drizzle, and crack bacon melted to perfection and topped with sour cream.

Libby's Famous Fosse Cookies: chocolate chip cookies rolled in salty potato chips.

We washed everything down with a cool glass of blueberry lemonade and were loaded back onto the tour bus for more sights and bites.

Our next stop was at LA hotspot, Mozza.  No, we were not treated to the most upscale of Italian dining at Osteria Mozza, but instead feasted on some of the most delicious pizza I have ever tasted at Mozza2Go.

"(1) The best meat is closest to the bone (2) Pepper is small, but it has a bite (3) At the table, one never gets old (4) Never keep the King or dinner waiting (5) There is no accounting for taste (6) One cannot exist on air alone"
Tour Guide Trish is lucky she didn't get stampeded by a group of tourists while she modeled the beautiful handcrafted pizza...

Margherita with mozzarella, tomato & basil...

Bianca with fontina, mozzarella, sottocenere & sage.  If you've never had crispy bits of fresh sage on your pizza, you have no idea what you are missing.  This was probably my favorite bite of the day!

By this point, I stopped taking pictures of all the sights and reserved my iPhone battery only for the bites.  As we made our way through Hollywood, Trish pointed out some of the celebrity-owned restaurants as we passed by... Susan Feniger's Street.  Michael Voltaggio's Ink and his more casual Ink.Sack.  I even learned about Ilan Hall's The Gorbals of bacon-wrapped matzoh balls fame.  Oh, sweet Jesus!  Bacon wrapped matzoh balls!

The tour bus then parked at Greenblatt's Deli where I picked up a day-old loaf of challah bread for less than $2 before K, the tour group and I made our way upstairs for even more savory bites of belly-busting eats.  We were informed that this is a great location for star spotting, as Topher Grace has been known to enjoy a tasty sandwich in the presence of previous tour groups!  Alas, no Eric Forman for us this trip.

How about a not-so-little bite of pastrami on rye?

A bit of coleslaw?

Don't forget the pickles and deli mustard!

Once my pants were nice and snug, it was back on the bus for more sightseeing and Hollywood story time.  And of course, more snacks!  John Kelly Chocolates was our next official stop where we were served a variety of samples of dark chocolate bedecked with a carefully selected matching sea salt.

The group was led on a factory "tour" of the bustling operation where a handful of delightful employees make the award-winning chocolate that is available coast to coast.  K and I stocked up on a few sampler boxes to take home and share with our hubbies.  My favorite John Kelly Chocolate?  The semi-sweet chocolate & caramel with Hawaiian Alaea sea salt.

Trish and Steve took us by the Jim Henson Company studios for a quick photo op, a peek at Kermit the Frog tipping his hat to passersby, and an onslaught of happy childhood memories.

When we had each taken our pictures and smiled our little girl and boy smiles, we waddled back onto the bus and continued to zig-zag our way through the streets of Hollywood.  Trish continued to share her wealth of information about statues, landmarks, songs, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, and many more details that make Hollywood as intriguing as it is.  I listened intently, trying desperately to locate at least one more square inch of room inside my tummy.

Our last and final bite: ice cream at Mashti Malone's.  I like ice cream.  I like it a lot.  But not just any ice cream.  I like ice cream with pure ingredients, rich flavors, and a good story.  Mashti Malone's certainly did not disappoint.

K and I tasted our way through the rainbow of flavor choices, each finally deciding on one flavor for our actual full scoop of creamy goodness.  My final bite of the day was a full scoop of Rosewater Saffron ice cream.  Light, floral, and fresh.  As I nibbled my way through my small ball of ice cream, I gave thanks that I live a hefty 78 miles from this little dessert haven.

We ended the tour right back where we started, at the Roosevelt Hotel.  My belly was pleasantly full, my face was sore from all the smiling, and it was time for K and me to say our goodbyes to Trish, Steve, and our fellow touring foodie family.  I'm pretty sure the next lunch date will be easy enough to plan.  K and I will be returning to Grub for another bite of that incredible "crack bacon!"

So who's coming to visit me in LA?  The tour bus is waiting.


For a full listing of available foodie focused tours with TOURific Escapes, check out their web page HERE.

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