L.A.'s locavores are lining up in front of Santa Monica Place today. Why? At 10 a.m., the doors will open to The Market at Santa Monica Place. The Market is like a cross between the prepped-food section of your local farmers market and a posh mall food court. Walk in, and you'll be greeted with a curated collection of small, indie shops offering everything from organic ice cream cookies to biodynamic hand lotion. Here are 10 of my favorite treats to try:
1. Beachy Cream. You'll be hard-pressed to miss this booth. Not only is it right at the very front of the market, but it's also run by retro swimsuit-clad girls. Stop by to pick up an organic ice cream sandwich.
2. Groundwork Coffee. In addition to organic coffee from this local roaster, this new small cafe has a delicious treat: Organic, fair trade, and gluten-free cookies from Gluten Free Goddess Bakery. Some of these square cookie slabs were a bit too dry, but I liked the moister texture of the chocolate chip flavor.
3. Magical Blooms. This flower shop is the best place to pick up an eco-friendly letterpress card made by Elum from eco-friendly cotton rag paper using soy-based inks.
4. The Curious Palate. Get farm-to-table meals at this cafe, which embraces carnivores and vegans alike with its eclectic menu.
5. The Cookie Guru. Love organic, fair trade TCHO chocolates? Get them embedded in an all-organic chocolate chip cookie. This is one eco-luxe, moist cookie, made by a local baker using local eggs.
6. Artisanal LA. Once an occasional seasonal event, Artisanal LA has now become a permanent fixture — at least for a month. Stop by the pop-up booth between now and June 12 to discover new local, sustainable, and handmade products, featuring companies like Raw Bites and Bare Skin Organics.
7. N'ice Cream. Can't do Beachy Cream because you're lactose-intolerant like me? N'ice Cream offers both organic ice cream and sorbet cones and cups. I recommend the sweet-and-tart raspberry sorbet flavor (above), which you can get a scoop of free if you stop by between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. today!
8. The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories. At the preview party last night, LA Weekly's Pulitzer prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold and Evan Kleiman of KCRW's Good Food did a cooking demo for a hungry crowd. Such yummy events will happen all the time at this small school, where you can drop by to take a sustainable cooking class. In fact, free demos are planned all this weekend — like a chef demo with Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farms and Chef Walter el Nagar of Lagunda del Lago and a sustainable chocolate making demo with Patricia Tsai of ChocoVivo.
9. Benedetta. After a day at the beach, pamper your sand-and-sun roughened skin by stopping by this booth, which offers handcrafted organic and biodynamic skin care. The Neroli Body Lotion is an especially moisturizing skin treat, and the store is offering free hancials all weekend.
10. Movies on The Deck. Enjoy the outdoors while taking in a couple free screenings of food films this weekend. "Ratatouille" screens at 8 p.m. on Friday, "Julie & Julia" at 8 p.m. on Sunday.
The Market at Santa Monica Place also boasts local and sustainable treats like beer and wine, charcuterie, and cheeses — none of which I tried, but you may be curious about. Enjoy the artisanal delights all opening weekend and beyond.