Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Photo flickr

Sid Hudgens: [voiceover] Come to Los Angeles! The sun shines bright, the beaches are wide and inviting, and the orange groves stretch as far as the eye can see. There are jobs aplenty, and land is cheap. Every workingman can have his own house, and inside every house, a happy, all-American family. You can have all this, and who knows... you could even be discovered, become a movie star... or at least see one. Life is good in Los Angeles... it's paradise on Earth." Ha ha ha ha. That's what they tell you, anyway. – LA Confidential
Fig. 11 "5529 W. Sunset Blvd." from Ed Ruscha's A Few Palm Trees (1971)

When I think of Los Angeles, I think of palm trees. Skydusters that sprout out of the urban sprawl and dot the skyline. Tall, and spindly fan palms that strain upwards in ecstatic abandon, with arching trunks and rustling fronds. They're like hula dancers that shimmy and sway, telling stories of dreams made, or lost. Like so many transplants that come to LA to reinvent themselves, palm trees aren't native to California. They first came with the missionaries, and then were planted by developers to sell the city as a sun-soaked paradise. Those palms now fading with age, and disease are being replaced with oaks, sycamores, and other native trees. And that's a shame because palm trees are as iconic to Los Angeles as the Hollywood sign, and congested highways.

As a transplant from New York City, I've had a tough time swallowing all the hype and hoopla people try to dish to me about LA. Even after 4 years, I still feel like I have one foot out the door. Maybe it's all the the grit and grime, cheese and sleaze, smog and smack, but sometimes I wonder what I'm doing here in La-La land. Days when it's impossible to be optimistic about working the Hollywood grind, and I see-saw between ditching or staying. But when all else fails, the sight of those palm trees as I'm driving down Sunset Boulevard makes me deliriously content. I'm convinced they're why I stuck around, that and the weather. By January most of the country is buttoned up in heavy coats, teeth doing the rat-tat-a-tat-tat, as they brace themselves against the bite and chomp of Jack Frost. But winters for Angelenos are more often than not deliciously, and delightfully bright and sunny. Enviously cheery and effervescent. And that's good enough for me.


Let's play word association... palm trees remind me of hula dancers. Hula dancers remind me of tropical paradises. Tropical paradises always come with a refreshing, slushy cocktail served in a coconut or pineapple, and topped with a pretty umbrella. Voila! Pina Colada! Recently, a friend passed along this recipe for Pina Colada Pie which was originally published in Bon Appetit of their August 1992 issue. Normally, you'd associate this cocktail dessert with summer, sun, sand, and sea. Need I remind you I live in Los Angeles? Mmmm...tropical flavors in a cool indulgence.


7oz roasted macadamia nuts

3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 pints pineapple sorbet, softened

1 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut

1/4 cup dark rum

1/2 teaspoon imitation coconut extract

3/4 cup (packed) sweetened shredded coconut

2 pints vanilla frozen yogurt, softened

1/2 large pineapple, roughly diced

Toasted sweetened shredded coconut

Fresh mint sprigs, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 10-inch glass pie dish with foil, overlapping sides.
  2. Finely chop first 3 ingredients (nuts, shredded coconut, and brown sugar) in food processor. Add Butter and blend until moist crumbs form. Press mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides (but not rim) of prepared pie dish. Freeze 10 minutes.
  3. Bake crust until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and freeze 20 minutes.
  4. Spread sorbet in crust; smooth top. Place in freezer.
  5. Boil cream of coconut in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 3/4 cup, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Pour into large bowl. Mix in rum and extract, then 3/4 cup coconut. Cool slightly.
  6. Add frozen yogurt to coconut mixture and fold in until blended. Freeze until semi-firm, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.
  7. Spoon filling over sorbet in pie dish, mounding slightly. Cover and freeze overnight.
  8. Turn out pie onto platter. Peel off foil. Turn pie right side up. Sprinkle generously with pineapple, toasted coconut, and mint.

1 comment:

  1. I completely sympathize with what you are going through out there in California. Just waiting for the Californication to set in. This is Darrick, Jennifer Owens friend. L.A. is summed up in just a few words. Either it will chew you up and spit you out or it will make a no one a someone. Depends on the desire. May I suggest renting or getting from the library the book or video to THE SECRET? You might find it helpful with the land of constant change. And to think, there is not one single Dunkin Donuts anywhere out there to keep us running.