Back to LA - Breakfast with Jen at Milo and Olive

While I'm on this journey to reduce, quite physically, my carbon footprint, there is a lot of inner angst I'm beginning to work through that I hadn't really prepared myself for.

Am I losing weight "fast" enough? Will I be able to keep it off? Am I getting enough exercise? And the question weighing most heavily on my mind - is this physical change going to give me the confidence I've been waiting for my entire life?

As an introvert and award-winning wall flower, that last question is something I think about every single day. Being "people-averse" the majority of my life unquestionably led to staying home alone and consoling myself with food. While I'm happy to see that I'm still deeply in love with cooking, my pots and pans, and my kitchen (surgery and not being hungry so far has not changed that) I'm nervously waiting for the switch to turn on - you know, the "awakening" that tells me I'm okay enough to get out into the real world and meet new people.

I should prepare myself for the reality that may not happen. Losing weight might not free me from the excuses I have been leaning on to understand my desire to withdraw. In a way, perhaps this is what I want to happen. When I admitted I had a problem with food, I made sure to place the blame where it belonged - and it wasn't on food.

Apparently I have a lot of work ahead of me - perhaps I should consider a go-fund-me site to finance my future therapy? Mmmmm, maybe - or I could just go back and relive one of the best breakfasts I ever had this past winter in Los Angeles at Milo and Olive with one of my favorite people ever.

I love California year-round, in my opinion there's no wrong time to go, but it's especially nice in late winter when it's dull and dreary and cold at home. LA is massive and busy and it takes forever to get from one side to the other (and you'll need to if you want to spend breakfasts near the coast and lunches in San Gabriel Valley - which you should) but it is redeemed by the razor-sharp gleam of the sun, the palm trees, Old Hollywood and, of course, the farmer's markets.

Portland is unquestionably the nation's Brunch Capital, but LA has it's fair share of exceptional bakeries and breakfast spots - they're just a bit more spread out. Milo and Olive, a neighborhood bakery and pizzeria nestled in Santa Monica, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner but it's best known for it's amazing pastries, its wood-fired pizzas and farmer's market-inspired salads. Owned and operated by Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan (of Huckleberry fame), I knew it would be the perfect spot to spend a leisurely Saturday morning breakfast with my totally not introverted sister, Jen.

The wonderful thing about my sister is that she's the polar opposite of me in most ways, and I'm smart enough to realize how lucky that makes me. Where I'm fearful and shy, she's adventurous and welcoming. Where I'm skeptical and judgmental, she's open-minded and accepting. She draws me out and I grow every time we're together.

I also love that she's a food lover like me and will try anything once.

Her one and only fault is that she never has sunglasses on her when she needs them (how many pair have you purchased, Jen?). She's from Seattle so I suppose I should cut her some slack.

Since I normally eat alone, I may have gone a bit overboard choreographing the meal to Jen: I suggested we order different things we could share, I asked that she refrain from EATING OR DISTURBING ANYTHING until I could photograph it first, and ashamedly, I even made her pose for some of the food photos (hey - I NEVER have a hand-model when I dine alone).

Jen, as ever she always is, was very gracious. When she suggested we order a pastry to share in addition to our breakfast entrees (she ordered a breakfast bowl with creamy polenta, a poached egg, braised bacon and baby greens - I ordered the breakfast pizza with house sausage, potatoes, pickled chilli, rosemary cream and a farm egg) I felt slightly guilty until Jen, who works out massively (the goal is to get swol!), told me to take a chill pill. I totally chilled.

To top things off, we also placed an order for house-made pork belly sausage and it was magnificent. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our sun-drenched, tasting-menu breakfast at Milo & Olive as you will too, no doubt, when you go.

I hope, for your sake, you have as enjoyable a brunch partner as I did. And don't pass on the pastry.