This is a sponsored post
Have you been to Downtown Santa Monica lately? We experienced a Day of DIY in DTSM and had the most incredible time. We shopped at the world-famous Santa Monica Farmers Market, learned how to cook Shakshuka at The Gourmandise School, made Halloween Cards at Paper Source and enjoyed delicious food at The Gables LA.
I was part of a group of journalists and social media influencers invited to spend the day shopping, cooking, eating and crafting in Downtown Santa Monica. We started the day at the Santa Monica Farmers Market with Clémence Gossett, the co-founder of The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories.
Santa Monica Farmers Market
If you’ve never been to the DTSM Farmers Market, it’s pretty incredible. Located on Arizona Avenue between Second and Fourth Streets, it’s the largest grower-only market in California. Chefs from restaurants all over Los Angeles visit the market to buy produce.
While we were there, we ran into the hottest cocktail chef in town right now, Matthew Biancaniello, who opened Mon Li in Malibu last week, as he shopped for produce for his cocktails and we chatted with growers from Fat Uncle Farms.
We also ran into Laura Avery who has worked with the market for more than 35 years and often does the Farmers Market report for KCRW’s Good Food show and podcast. Here she shares how the market became such a magnet for Los Angeles chefs.
You can get everything you would get at the grocery store at the farmers market (minus plastic sandwich bags, etc.) – fruit, vegetables, grains, meat, eggs, milk, cheese, flour and flowers – all of which was grown in California. We went away with eggplant, lettuce, pomegranate, eggs and feta cheese and followed Clémence to The Gourmandise.
The Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories
The Gourmandise School, located on the third floor of Santa Monica Place, is a cooking school that focuses on teaching classic techniques using locally sourced and sustainable ingredients, many found at the farmers market. They have classes for all cooking levels.
We learned how to make my new favorite, quick dish – a Shakshuka. Clémence was a fountain of useful information. I cook a lot, but I’ve never cooked eggplant because I thought you had to soak the eggplant for hours. Clémence had us start the eggplant in a pan with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic and then roast it in same pan in the oven with rosemary. We topped it with tomato sauce and feta. It was fantastic and it took 20 minutes from start to finish.
But that wasn’t all. We learned how to make the perfect poached egg and a delightful pomegranate salad with homemade dressing.
The best part of the salad was learning how to seed a pomegranate.You cut the pomegranate in half then tap on it with a wooden spoon until all of the pomegranates come out. Then you put the seeds in water and run through a strainer to get the remnants of the pomegranate out.
After our delicious meal, we headed over to The Paper Source on Wilshire Blvd. and Third Street.
The Paper Source
I’ve never been into the store and, honestly, crafts intimidate me – I don’t have that gene. But I didn’t have to worry; Paper Source crafter Lauren Davidson showed us the ropes and I was able to make adorable Halloween greeting cards that I would be proud to give a friend.
We had our own crafting workshop party in the back of the store. Tables were equipped with cards, stickers, washy tape (tape with pumpkins, skulls, bats, etc.), stamps, embossing powder and a dryer.
We could create unique cards or follow the sample card made for us. I came up with these two. They had drawer after drawer of paper, cards, stickers – everything you need!
Crafting made us very hungry so we walked a couple of doors up Wilshire to The Gables, a new counter-service restaurant that serves market-driven California cuisine.
The Gables LA
The Gables had delicious, beautiful food. We had a kale Caesar salad, a salad with fresh seasonal vegetables, a waldorf sandwich, a pesto chicken sandwich and seasoned French fries (my favorite. I love good fries). Everything was flavorful, fresh and tasty.
I ended up staying for a while with my laptop. The patio is gorgeous with plants hanging from the ceiling and lining the wall. The inside is full of natural light and beautiful furniture and fixtures.
I’ll definitely be back for breakfast one of these Saturdays after a trip to the farmers market. I bought cookies and a sweet bread to take home to my kids and, of course, I had to try them. The baked goods are made by Chef Vicki Fan Matsusaka and the ones I had were wonderful. The chocolate cookie was rich and not too sweet.
My day of DIY in Downtown Santa Monica was fabulous and I can honestly say I will do it again. Since moving to Los Angeles 13 years ago, I spend a lot of time in DTSM and I still haven’t done all that there is to do.
This post is part of a sponsored campaign with Downtown Santa Monica. All opinions are my own.