Saturday, Feb. 16 is National Almond Day. It is a day for nutty almond fiends to seek out and enjoy all the ways in which almonds are used in various dishes across Los Angeles. A small handful of nuts can satisfy midday hunger pangs, and they are a versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into a number of recipes in a variety of ways. Best of all, they contribute to lower cholesterol, provide healthy fiber and protein and serve as a good source of unsaturated fat and antioxidants. From garnish to foundation, almonds fit into make an appearance in restaurants across the city. Here are a few that feature almonds for your enjoyment.
The Market on Holly
57 East Holly Street
Pasadena, CA 91103
The French may insist that they make the best almond croissants in the world. If you cannot make the trip to Paris this weekend, hop over to The Market on Holly and grab one of their almond pastries. What makes any croissant so great is the sheer amount of butter in the dough that, when baked, is flakey, crispy, soft and chewy all at the same time. What makes an almond croissant so great is that perfect bite of baked dough and just the right recipe for the buttery almond paste filling. Grab one for yourself or half a dozen to share with anyone who can appreciate an almond croissant that may rival its Parisian cousins.
9575 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90035
If you thought creamy soups were only possible with the inclusion of dairy, then someone gave you the wrong information. Sotto manages to create a bowlful of decadence by simmering a pot of cauliflower, almonds, sultanas and onions until soft and blending the mixture until smooth. If you have a sophisticated palate, pay attention to the slight sweetness of honey and spice from red Fresno chilis. A garnish of fried capers, chewy sultanas and crunchy almonds top the smooth soup. It is just the dish to keep you warm during the cool winter.
AOC Wine Bar
8700 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, California 90048
Check out AOC Wine Bar’s new location while enjoying forkfuls of the Spinach and Yellow Lentil Salad. The touches of Indian flair are very evident. The yellow lentils are spiced with cumin and ginger with coconut milk adding a velvety texture. They are then tossed with a tangy yogurt dressing and topped with a mix of raisins, scallions and crunchy almonds. The salad is a perfect starter course for an evening of wine and food, or pair it with an item from the restaurant’s daily happy hour menu.
Santa Monica, CA
1104 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Mélisse offers a classic dish with its Almond Crusted Dover Sole. The delicate cut of fish is coated with a blend of blanched almonds, dried chanterelle mushrooms and Japanese panko and pan fried until crisp. The dish is finished with a sweet corn brown butter jus studded with diced tomatoes and sliced scallions. The entrée is a playful mix of textures from the flakey fish with its crusty coating to the smooth, silky sauce on the side. It is a five-star offering at the two-Michelin Star Award restaurant.
8588 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
What began as a roving Los Angeles ice cream sandwich truck is now a brick-and-mortar store in Culver City. The gluten-free Coconut Almond Cookie should appeal to the chewy cookie lovers out there. It is made of almond flour, shredded coconut and dark chocolate chips. This cookie is currently only available at Coolhaus trucks and in the store, but it is available in all cities (LA, Austin, Dallas and NYC). Coolhaus recommends eating it with Jennifer’s Joy ice cream — a salted chocolate treat studded with Almond Joy bits. Make sure to grab a cup of Blue Bottle coffee or Coolhaus’ blend of hot chocolate.
1416 4th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Mixologist Gilbert Marquez concocted a new twist on the old fashioned by replacing the usual whiskey or brandy with a something unconventional. Marquez named it the Almendra Old Fashioned — a blend of almond infused tequila, vanilla simple syrup, cherry bitters and orange oils. It is not just the cocktails that catch the public’s attention. Mercado’s modern twist on traditional Mexican dishes have made it a notable newcomer, especially for Westside residents and big spenders near the Third Street Promenade.
13033B Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA 91604
Juice bars and juice cleansing are all the rage right now, and Pressed Juicery’s line up offers a number of fresh-pressed concoctions to rejuvenate and rebuild your system. There are three almond-based drinks on the menu — Almond Milk, Chocolate Almond Milk and Spiced Almond Milk. Each one of these drinks is naturally sweetened with dates. The chocolate variety features cacao, and the spiced blend is a mélange of cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg. The drinks are a healthy way to take in a snack or light meal replacement while on the run. Walk into the store (there are seven locations in Southern California) for a single bottle or grab a few to stock up for the week.
Chrystal Baker is a freelance food, events, culture travel contributor for CBS Los Angeles, Basil Magazine, Frugivore Magazine and Politic365. She is the co-editor of a recipe blog, The Duo Dishes, and manages her own lifestyle and travel blog, Any and Everywhere, as well as the Farm 2 Plate Culinary Club site.