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Nov 1, 2007 02:31 PM

Christmas in LA

We'll be coming from the East Coast to visit our daughter for Christmas for the first time. Could use the LA 'hounds help on several matters:

1) Any suggestions on great places to shop for groceries for "splurge" meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Our tradition is usually seafood (shellfish) on the Eve and a big roast or bird on the Day. Maybe some caviar, too? Daughter lives in Brentwood, we'll be in Beverly Hills, but we're willing to drive most anywhere in the general LA area.

2) To go with #1, how about wine shop suggestions? Christmas Eve is generally a sparkling wine (if we were home, it would be a selection from the NY Finger Lakes region: try 'em!). Christmas Day is menu-dependent.

3) We're not much for baking, but love our breads and pastries. Any bakeries that are particularly worthwhile?

3) Should the cooking spirit not be present, any dining places of note that will be open on Christmas Day? A man still paying off two daughters' college tuitions has no business saying this, but high-end prices are OK if met by high-end quality.

Any other comments or recommendations are most welcome, too. Thanks for your help.

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  1. The best shellfish would come from Santa Monica Seafood, but expect a long line before Christmas. For a turkey, I would go to Whole Foods in Santa Monica, Vicente Foods in Brentwood, Gelsons in Century City or the Palisades. For caviar there is Petrossian on Robertson near Beverly HIlls and I think they have it at the Beverly Hills cheese shop. They may also sell caviar at Santa Monica Seafood. Bakeries: most markets sell La Brea Bakery bread-or you could go to Il Fornaio or La Provence in the Beverly Hills area and Amandine in Brentwood. My favorite wine store--and this is the only place I am mentioning where you can get something great on a budget-is the Wine House on Cotner. Their staff can recommend so many interesting wines-sparkling or not, and at all price ranges. As you know, high quality seafood and caviar cannot come cheap. I am not sure which restaurants are open on Christmas Day.

    La Provence Patisserie
    8950 W Olympic Blvd Ste 110, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

    Vicente Foods
    12027 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

    The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills
    419 N Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA

    Santa Monica Seafood Co. - SM Retail
    1205 Colorado Ave, Santa Monica, CA

    Whole Foods Market
    2201 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA

    Gelson's Markets
    10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

    Wine House
    2311 Cotner Ave, Los Angeles, CA

    321 N Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA

    1. Bristol Farms is by far the finest grocery store chain in los angeles. they have best meat and fish selection. (much better than whole foods or gelson's). They also have an extensive selection of wine and liquor (and caviar too!) I always do my big holiday grocery shop there. It ain't cheap. In fact, it's so pricey, you'll never have to wait in line to check out (cause it's never crowded). There is a Bristol Farms located at Beverly Blvd. and Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills.

      1. My family had Christmas 2006 in LA. Finding a good restaurant open on Christmas Day is almost impossible, but the hotels serve meals. We couldn’t even find a place to eat breakfast outside of the hotel. After looking for hours, we ended up having a delicious burger-brunch at Original Tommy’s on the corner of Rampart and Beverly. They are always open. For dinner, we really enjoyed the excellent, Champagne buffet at the Huntington Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena. I had so much fresh seafood that I didn’t get to the Asian section nor did I have room for the made-to-order crêpe suzettes among the desserts. It turned out to be a great day of fine foods.

        1. I disagree about Bristol Farms. For me, food, service, and value wise for what you get, Gelson's is the best, from heirloom birds to pre cooked menus. A darn good bakery. Caviar, too.

          For freshest shellfish, I second Santa Monica Seafood.

          Belwood is a good bakery, as is Breadbar. I like the pasteries at Susina.

          For wine, try Du Vin for good French wines (West Hollywood) or Vendome. Wally's Wine and Spirits is also good.

          As for dining out. Well, I just am shocked when people do that. to me, the day cooking is part of the family togetherness. Still, my mother insisted on going out to Thanksgiving this year when she visits, as the men always whine so much about having to do the cleaning up (after watching the wives cook all day, no less)

          A lot of places are closed on Christmas, as people are with their families. I imagine some great Dim Sum places would be open in San Gabriel. not very Christmassy, though.

          If you hate cooking, I would opt for a Gelson's Holiday meal-in which you can order sides and courses already done, you just have to warm them up. I forget if the bird is partway cooked, I think not. Other places such as whole foods and Bristol farms do a similar deal. All three places offer gourmet sides and options above and beyond what the usual market will offer.

          A strange twist on the market pre-done meal option are the ones to be found at 99ranch asian markets. It's a traditional menu with an asian twist.