“The Pure Essence of the Good Life” (Chapter One – Without Taste Genius Is But Sublime Folly) by Gary S. Smolker

“The Pure Essence of the Good Life”  (Chapter One – Without Taste Genius Is But Sublime Folly)  by Gary S. Smolker


“Without taste genius is but sublime folly.”

Give yourself a treat and get a S’more Creme Brulee consisting of chocolate creme brulee, on cinnamon graham, topped with a house made marshmallow at The Restaurant at the Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA. 90049, phone 310-440-6810.

The Restaurant at the Getty Center is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., open for dinner on Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and open for brunch on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


“Tea duck” is a delicious Szechuan dish.  It is duck smoked in tea and camphor wood. Lately, restaurants have been cutting corners and deep fry previously steamed duck.  My friend NW has a search party out looking for the real McCoy. Stay tuned.

What is in a name? “Tea duck” sounds great … camphor duck sounds like a cold remedy!!!

I didn’t know of the existence of “Tea duck” until my good friend JAU told me he loves “Tea duck” so much that his wife is going to take him to the Kirin Restaurant in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia for his birthday to have “Tea duck” because they do not know of anywhere in the Los Angeles area that serves “Tea duck.”

JAU told me: The last time they were in Vancouver was several years ago.  At that time the Kirin Restaurant had two locations.  It apparently now has four locations. Tea duck is not listed but Szechuan Smoked Duck is listed on the on-line menu.


In the same conversation, JAU  told me that the best oysters in the world are served at Rodney’s Oyster Bar, 469 King Street. West, Toronto, Ontario M5V 1K4, phone 416-363-8105 and that it was worth while to go to Toronto to eat oysters at Rodney’s. However, JAU hasn’t been to Toronto recently.

There is now a Rodney’s Oyster Saloon located at 56 Temperance Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada phone 416-703-5111 which is described on-line as being the creation of award winning Chef Sonia Potochnyj and Oyster purveyor John Belknap to realize their vision of an elegant yet rustic restaurant in the heart of the financial district.

My friend, JF, advises that he is not a connoisseur of oysters, but he personally prefers the cooked oysters at Xam Yu in Toronto. They are a lot bigger, maybe 5 – 8 times as large, and the same price.

I will report more on this “best oyster bar in the world story” after my return from attending the Toronto Film Festival.

I find breaking bread with loved ones is memorable.

I plan to attend the Toronto Film Festival and break bread with one of my very best friends, JF, Sept. 7 through Sept. 17.

I plan to check out “oysters” while in Toronto next month attending the film festival and to report back to you my findings, observations and conclusions.


My friend HMH advises me that his favorite restaurant for view or setting is the Hau Tree Lanai at the New Otani Hotel in Waikiki.  You sit under a hau tree separated from the beach by a three feet high concrete baluster wall.  HMH takes all guests there, and everyone is fascinated by the setting.

Before he retired, HMH used to stay at the Plaza Hotel, the Waldorf Astoria, the Roosevelt, the Marriot and Hyatt Grand Central in the early 70’s and 80’s. He had a green card with Hyatt which gave him unusual privileges like eight room suites complete with a grand piano at the Grand Central, a multi room penthouse in San Diego and on and on.

During the 22 years running his company, he stayed in hotels three week day nights every week.


My favorite coffee is served at Nuts-N-Berries Cafe and at Aroma Bakery Cafe in Encino, California.

Both cafes serve completely different types of home made coffee.

Nuts-N-Berries has two tables and eight chairs at two counters on the first floor of a low rise office building on Ventura Blvd. in Encino, California.  It also has six tables taking up the entire patio outside of that office building.

It is open for breakfast and lunch six days a week.  Breakfast is served from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Monday through Friday.  Lunch is served from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Breakfast and lunch are served all day Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The coffee at Nuts-N-Berries is ground and blended by the owner.  It is smooth and robust. Nuts-N-Berries’ coffee is so spectacular that if I arrive too late to order breakfast, instead I order a Nuts-N-Berries’ coffee to go to take to another restaurant to drink while eating at the other restaurant.

Most remarkable to me is Nuts-N-Berries’ “Forget Me Not” salad which consists of romaine lettuce, red cabbage, cucumber, carrot, cilantro, avocado, cashews, dried cranberries and Nuts-N-Berries’ Spicy Peanut dressing.  People I have introduced to that salad, come back with their friends to have their friends enjoy that salad.

I also particularly like Nuts-N-Berries many unique soups made fresh daily and the “Turkey Breast” sandwich consisting of oven-roasted turkey breast, Provolone cheese, tomato, red onion, Romaine lettuce, mayo, mustard and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.

Nuts-N-Berries is the creation of Arash Majlessi, a forty one year old artist, who designed the interior, selected the music that is played and is there everyday. Nuts-N-Berries is a statement of who he is. Arash is an extremely creative, healthy food oriented, cordial and gracious person who has great taste.

Arash’s attitude is that eating should be a meditative experience in which you smell aromas, chew your food slowly, listen to good music and think.

Although there are only two tables in Arash’s cafe, Nuts-N-Berries it is a place for you to linger, enjoy your food, enjoy talking to whomever you are with: you are never hurried or rushed.

Aroma Bakery Cafe is a much larger cafe, probably 20 or 30 times bigger than Nuts-N-Berries.

Aroma Bakery Cafe is the sole occupant of a single story free standing building on Ventura Blvd., in Encino.

Aroma Bakery Cafe has many tables inside that building as well as many tables and a fire pit on the patio adjacent to the building.

Aroma Bakery Cafe has one entire wall filled with different varieties of cookies at the rear of the cafe, and a very long counter full of truly remarkable pastries in front of the “coffee bar.”

ABC’s pastries have to be seen and tasted to be believed.  ABC’s coffee and desert menu is nine pages in length.

“So Many Desserts, So Little Time” to describe them.  Here are some examples:

  1. Hot Chocolate Cake — A chocolate feast of Belgian chocolate, more chocolate and more chocolate. Served with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.
  2. Volcano — Almond cake with vanilla and hazelnut cream, topped with a chocolate mousse kiss.
  3. Concord — Cappuccino meringue with chocolate cream.

The entire desert menu, breakfast menu and lunch and dinner menu can be found on-line at www.aromabakery.com

My favorite entree is Anti Pasti Sea Bass — Portobello mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, grilled onions, and mixed peppers, all mixed in an antipasti style and served over pesto mashed potatoes and topped with an 8 ounce sea bass steak in a garlic wasabi sauce.

My favorite afternoon drink at ARC is Limo-nana (made with lemonade and mint and fresh herbs).

ABC  is open from early in the morning (7:00 a.m.) to late at night seven days a week.

The coffee at Aroma Bakery Cafe is ground and blended by its owner.  It is jolting.

Obtaining service at ABC is often challenging, even when there are not many patrons present.  One patron told me the food is so good at ABC the owner doesn’t care about the service.

Although most of the time, ABC is packed or becomes packed, I have never been hurried at ABC.  I often linger at ABC, either alone while reading a book or, in the good company of a friend or a group of friends.

While Nuts-N-Berries Cafe and Aroma Bakery Cafe are each a nexus of its neighborhood and though they each have their own patrons, there is always room for an additional guest.

Nuts-N-Berries Cafe is located at 15840 Ventura Blvd. #104, Encino, CA. 91436. Phone (818) 501-6808.

Aroma Bakery Cafe is located at 18047 Ventura Blvd., Encino, CA. 91316. Phone (818) 757-0477.


You are invited to share with me, and with the readers of the Gary S. Smolker – An Idea Exchange blog, your observations, findings, conclusions and recommendations on places to eat, books to read, and choosing a cheerful house, furnishing it with taste and propriety, such that everything in the house breathes you, including having good books, instruments, good friends and pleasant company — for me to include in my column on “The Pure Essence of the Good Life.”

I intend to update my “The Pure Essence of the Good Life” column at least once a month.

I invite your comments and suggestions bearing in mind that the quality of any collaborative creative endeavor tends to approach the level of the taste of whoever is in charge.


Gary S. Smolker

Copyright (c) 2011 by Gary S. Smolker

All Rights Reserved

About Gary S. Smolker

PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: No enterprise can exist for itself alone. Every successful enterprise ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others. Otherwise, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist. Imagination, open mindedness and flexibility are the most important factors in unlocking potential. Those who embrace innovation, improvisation, continuous learning, time management, are action oriented, high energy, passionate, creative, purposeful and intense individuals are best equipped to succeed. We all have ideas and the ability to make progress by sharing information and our ideas and also by changing our ideas when appropriate. We should always be on the lookout for teaching and mentoring moments. We hold time like water in our hands; however tightly we clench our fingers, it drips away. But, if it falls on a seed, a seed may grow to become something that will have a positive social impact. PERSONAL INTERESTS: I have a passion to learn, to innovate, to lead, to mentor and to teach. I seek to write things worth reading and want to do things worth writing about. I enjoy (a) driving a fast car, (b) having intense conversations (c) teaching/mentoring, (d) reading and (e) being involved in productive activity. PERSONAL: I believe in cultivating and backing passionate people, innovation, and old fashioned good ideas. I love making human connections and spreading good ideas. I am strongly motivated to achieve in situations in which independence of thought and action are called for. PERSONAL GOALS: I want to live life vibrantly, to be as sharp as a tack until my last breath and to change the world by being me. My personal goal is to be fully engaged in life, to lead by example, to set high standards and to continue to amass firsthand experience and knowledge in all that interests me. PERSONALITY: I love fun and mischief. I relish absurdity. I have an irreverent, facetious and satiric disposition. I dread boredom. I have spent a lifetime reading. I have no bias against people who have lived successful and/or complicated lives. I write to release tension, to get things off my chest. SOCIAL MEDIA: I post articles on the "Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange" blog at www.garysmolker.wordpress.com, and "Dude's Guide to Women's Shoes" at www.dudesguidetowomensshoes.com. I also post images and comments on Instagram @garyspassion. CONTACT INFORMATION: Gary Smolker, Smolker Law Firm, 16055 Ventura Blvd., Ste 525, Encino, California, 91436-2609, USA. Phone 1-818-788-7290, e-mail GSmolker@aol.com.

Posted on August 3, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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