Oh Joy

career day / an ice cream maker... 25 Mar 2015

Jeni's Ice Cream / Career Day Field Trip

If you’re from the Mid-West (or if you’re a huge ice cream fan like me), then you may have heard of Jeni’s Ice Cream. Jeni Britton Bauer (aka “Jeni”) is one of those entrepreneurs to appears to have a job that anyone would want—making ice cream, coming up with flavors, and creating joy for people all over the country with her sweet concoctions.

Jeni’s Ice Cream recently opened up a new shop right near me in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, so Ruby and I stopped by to chat with Jeni and get a behind-the-scenes peek at what it’s like to live and breathe ice cream. And (of course), to eat a little ice cream, too!

Jeni's Ice Cream / Career Day Field Trip

Here's a look at our visit to Jeni's for a Career Day field trip. I’ve also asked Jeni to share a bit about her history, growing an ice cream empire, and what she’s hoping it’s all leading to some day...

Jeni's Ice Cream / Los Angeles

When and why did you start Jeni's? / In the early ‘90s I was messing around with ice cream, collecting scents, and studying art at Ohio State. During a figure drawing class one day, a model I didn’t like to draw walked in. So, I got up, left my portfolio and all my supplies at my desk, and just walked out. I thought, ‘I don’t want to do this any more. I want to make ice cream.’ I quit everything else, too—school, side jobs—just threw myself into making ice cream and figuring out how to create a living doing that.

Within six months I started my first ice cream business, which didn't work. So, I took time off, traveled, lived, learned, and studied customer service. The thing that didn’t work at my first ice cream business was surprising people with new menus all the time. When I opened Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in 2002 in the North Market in Columbus, I made sure to offer signature flavors along with just a few surprises. 

Jeni's Ice Cream / Career Day Field Trip

When did you know you had something good? / The day we opened for business in November 2002—the day of the OSU/­Michigan football game. We thought we’d open that day to give ourselves a little warm up, to open softly, you know. OSU/­Michigan game day in Columbus is a holy day. Every man, woman, and child is glued to the TV on that day in Columbus. But much to our surprise there was a giant line all day. We’ve never looked back.

Jeni's Ice Cream / Los Angeles

If there were two of you, what other type of business would the other Jeni have? / I grew up in Peoria, Illinois, in the cradle of the greatest sandwich on earth, the breaded pork tenderloin. Other Jeni would open a joint that served from­ scratch breaded tenderloins on tiny white buns, served with dill pickles, homemade mustard, and potato salad. One pilsner on tap to wash it all down. 

Jeni's Ice Cream / Los Angeles

Do you take off on the weekends? / I’m never not working. I’m working the same way today as I did when I started making my own ice cream in the mid ‘90s: pretty much every moment I’m awake. I’m not bragging or complaining—whatever I’m reading, watching, listening to, and doing goes into whatever the next ice cream flavor is.

Sometimes I feel like a character in a comic book, like I fell into a vat of magical ice cream a couple decades ago and emerged with ice cream fused to my DNA. I go to work everyday thinking of how to improve the texture or body of my ice cream. Or how to get one flavor just right. I think about it constantly. And when I’m not thinking about it actively, there is a little spot on my brain that is always dedicated to only thinking about ice cream. It’s on no matter where I am or what I’m doing. It’s even on while I sleep. 

With 20 stores currently, what is your dream for your brand? World ice cream domination?  My only dream for this company is for us to make better ice cream tomorrow than we did today. One day at a time, that is what we’re trying to do here. As far as shops go, the goal has never been and never will be to open a chain of cookie-­cutter, look­-a­like shops. We own and operate our shops and I have my hands in every detail of the way each one looks and feels. I can’t imagine just opening a bunch of clone shops and just sitting back. I like the work too much. 

Jeni's Ice Cream / Los Angeles

Favorite ice cream? / I’ll never get tired of Lemon Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt. It’s so creamy, tart, and refreshing. I also LOVE it on pies in the summer!

Worst part about your job? / The existence of deadlines. I always think I can improve whatever ice cream we’re about to release! 

Best part about your job? / Being able to create something out of everything I absorb every day. This job didn’t just fall out of the sky for me. I had to make choices to create the opportunity for myself, but I’m proud and thankful I’m able to earn a living by creating something I dream up.

Jeni's Ice Cream / Los Angeles

One thing that has happened in your career that you never expected? / Giving speeches. It still floors me that people want to hear me tell my story. I’m always flattered.

One thing that has happened in your career that you completely expected and had hoped for? / When I was first messing around with ice cream, I mixed cayenne essential oil into regular store-­bought chocolate ice cream. I let it melt slowly on my tongue. It was cold, tasted like chocolate, and about five seconds later it burst into flames in the back of my throat. It was like the sky tore in two and light enveloped me. Right then I knew that ice cream would be my life. I didn’t know how I would do it, how long it would take, how many people, how much money, but I knew it was my path. For some crazy reason, I always thought there could be a place in the world where art, perfume, and ice cream could get along. I always thought that. And I guess it appears to be true. 

Jeni's Ice Cream / Career Day Field Trip

Jeni's Ice Cream / Career Day Field Trip

Even with a huge, booming business, Jeni remains kind, humble, and deeply grounded and loyal to her Mid-West roots. Thanks so much to Jeni and the team at Jeni's Ice Cream for an inspiring visit! I'm pretty sure Ruby enjoyed this Career Day field trip when she said afterwards that it was "the best day EVER!".

Jeni's Ice Cream | 1954 Hillhurst Avenue | Los Angeles, CA 90027 | 323-928-2668

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy} 

{los angeles} top 20 bites of 2014... 18 Dec 2014

Salt Air

As my mind and body prepped for a new family member this year, 2014 included a ton of places I simply craved (which meant lots of sweets and lots of carbs). Here are my Top 20 Bites of 2014 in Los Angeles {in no particular order}...

1. The lobster roll from Salt Air is like the runway model of lobster rolls. It's not the meatiest out there, but it sure is pretty.

Good Girl Dinette

2. The blistered corn from Good Girl Dinette. I don't know what they do to this corn, but it has this amazing mix of crispy, sweet, and soft that is unlike any corn on the cob I've ever had.

Black Hogg Cookies

3. The Cap'n Crunch Chocolate Chip Cookie from Black Hogg (recipe here) has become my favorite chocolate chip cookie in the city.

The Hungry Cat

4. For a meatier lobster roll, the version from The Hungry Cat with those amazing fries surely satisfies (we love their Sunday brunch!).

Dinette

5. The best waffle I might have ever had is this one with a poached egg and bacon from Dinette.

Hart and the Hunter

6. Because toasts are the new black, this Trout Toast from The Hart and the Hunter is one of my favorites.

Eggslut

7. The "slut" (a coddled egg over potato pureé) from Egg Slut makes for a comforting and cozy morning meal.

Republique

8. The double chocolate cookie from Republique (middle) is gluten-free but you'd never know it was missing anything—it's chewy, sweet, crunchy, and simply out of this world.

Faith and Flower

9. The kimchi deviled eggs from Faith and Flower take deviled eggs to a whole new level.

Sweet Rose Creamery

10. Cinnamon Buttermilk Sherbet from Sweet Rose Creamery offers a fun twist on a cold treat.

(see the other 10 below the jump...)

Continue reading " {los angeles} top 20 bites of 2014... " »

{oh joy eats} dinette in echo park... 1 Dec 2014

Dinette / Los Angeles

Sometimes you come across a new spot that has a combination of a close proximity, casual service, and delicious options that make you go back...every...single...week. You're worried the guy at the counter will think, "You again?" (But then again, that's not a terrible thing to see repeat customers, I suppose.) That newish spot for me is Dinette in L.A.'s Echo Park.

Dinette / Los Angeles

Dinette / Los Angeles

Dinette / Los Angeles

By the owners of Cafe Stella in Silver Lake, it's basically a mini restaurant tucked in a street corner with a fancy take-out window in an up-and-coming area. There's a mix of beautiful baked goods that sit in the window that tease you and tempt you to buy a cookie or slice of pie along with your breakfast or lunch.

Dinette / Los Angeles

Dinette / Los Angeles

Dinette / Los Angeles

But my favorite is the simple, yet beautiful, breakfast which includes the lightest, fluffiest waffles I've ever had topped with bacon and a poached egg, a ham and egg topped toast, avocado toast, and mini quiches—all perfect for sharing. As a milk tea lover, I also love the cardamom iced milk tea for a morning pick-me-up at my new go-to spot.

Dinette | 1606 W. Sunset Blvd. | Los Angeles, CA 90026

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

{oh joy eats} donut snob... 13 Nov 2014

Donut Snob Los Angeles

I've been eating like a 14 year old boy lately with my nursing mama's appetite! All I want is a ton of juice and water to drink and sweets of all kinds. So I welcome these seriously amazing donuts from Donut Snob.

The dough is light and fluffy and topped with just the right amount of glaze and toppings. With flavors like Chai Toasted Almond (chai tea glaze with almonds), Berry Best (cinnamon glaze with mixed berry coulis), Campfire S'mores (chocolate ganache and marshmallow), Pistachio Orange (orange zest glaze dusted with pistachios), and The Oinker (maple cinnamon topped with bacon), my sweet tooth is very happy indeed. 

P.S. Donut Snob doesn't have a retail store yet, but you can find them at cafes around Los Angeles or order them to be delivered or picked up locally.

{Photo by Casey Brodley, styling by Julia Wester for Oh Joy}

{oh joy eats} honeymee ice cream... 16 Oct 2014

Honeymee Ice Cream / Los Angeles

Honeymee Ice Cream / Los Angeles

Honeymee Ice Cream / Los Angeles

Some days you just need a refreshing, cold treat (well, for me that's like every day). So yesterday, we stopped at Honeymee in L.A.'s Koreatown to have an after lunch snack. Sometimes simple is better, and Honeymee makes all-natural vanilla soft-serve ice cream with a just a couple topping options like a honey swirl, honey comb chip, or chocolate sauce with sea salt. It's creamy, refreshing, and not too sweet. We loved the honey comb chunk on top for a little extra chew and sweetness...yum!

Honeymee | 3377 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 116 | Los Angeles, CA 90017

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

{oh joy sips} home brewed bar in pasadena... 14 Aug 2014

Home Brewed Bar

I'm not a big coffee drinker, but tea is my jam. One of my cravings lately (well, maybe always) is a great boba milk tea. Boba tea can be hard to find if you're not in an area with lots of Asian eateries that usually sell them, but in Los Angeles, more and more places are offering the chewy addition to their existing coffee and tea menu.

Home Brewed Bar

Home Brewed Bar

Home Brewed Bar in Pasadena has fun options like Salted Caramel Milk Tea, Vietnamese Iced Coffee, Vanilla Berry Truffle, Plum Oolong Tea which you can add regular or mini boba tea to. Just talking about it gives me a hankering right now...

Home Brewed Bar | 39 N Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA | 626.397.2887

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

have friday + the joy of east coast bagels... 25 Jul 2014

Philly Style Bagels

Whenever I'm home in Philly, there are a few things I have to get—pizza, a soft pretzel, any kind of sandwich on a hoagie roll, and a bagel. It sounds crazy, but you just can't duplicate those things anywhere else. They say East Coast water makes bread better, and I just make sure I get my fill while I'm here.

Philly Style Bagels

Philly Style Bagels

Philly Style Bagels

While in Philly this week, I satisfied all of the above cravings, but I especially got my bagel fix when we visited the Philly Style Bagels pop-up in Philly last weekend. I love New York bagels and Montreal-style bagels. These Philly bagels are made with dough built on a sourdough base and fermented overnight. Then they're hand-rolled and boiled in water mixed with Yards IPA. After baking first on bagel boards, the rounds are flipped straight onto the stone in the pizza oven to finish. The result is chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside. With a little veggie cream cheese, I was pretty much in bagel heaven.

Philly Style Bagels

Is there anything you crave and must have while visiting your hometown? Oh, and have a great weekend, guys!

Philly Style Bagels at Pizzeria Beddia | 115 E. Girard Avenue | Philadelphia, PA 19125 | bagel pop-up dates listed on their blog

{Photos by Oh Joy}

a mini ice cream social... 9 Jul 2014

Mini Ice Cream Social

With a new baby on the way, we thought it would be fun to do something just for Ruby and her friends to celebrate summer before our lives change and our family grows in the fall. So when our friends at Carmela Ice Cream created a new space at their W. 3rd shop to use for an ice cream party, we quickly took them up on the offer to spend a little time inside away from the summer heat to cool down with a few bites of food and scoops of ice cream with Ruby, her besties, and their parents.

Mini Ice Cream Social

Mini Ice Cream Social

We certainly tested the patience and decision-making of two year olds, as they had to wait in line for their turn to get ice cream and then they could only pick two flavors out of the four that we offered them. It was fun to see what they decided on.

Mini Ice Cream Social

Mini Ice Cream Social

Topping time! Everyone's favorite part...

Mini Ice Cream Social

Mini Ice Cream Social

As much as I usually love outdoor parties, it doesn't work as well with melting ice cream. And it was just nice to have a space where the kids could play and draw and get out all that extra pre and post-ice cream energy.

Raspberry Rose Sorbet

We loved this raspberry rose sorbet so much that Carmela kindly offered the recipe for us today!

Raspberry Rose Sorbet
(serves 8)

You'll need:
2 cups purified water
1 1/2 cup cane sugar
1 Tbsp rose water
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Here's how:
1. Combine water and sugar in medium saucepan. Remove from heat once sugar fully dissolves. Set syrup aside to cool.

2. Once syrup is cool, blend with raspberries, rose water and lemon juice. Strain into a glass or stainless steel bowl. Let cool for 4 hours or overnight.

3. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.

4. To make a fun summer drink, combine a couple scoops of sorbet with sparkling water!

Raspberry Rose Sorbet Spritzer

P.S. We made sure to feed the kids, too, before letting them inhale all that ice cream. Stay tuned for some pretty fun, kid-friendly food coming next week!

{Photos by Bob Cho. Ice cream by Carmela Ice Cream in Los Angeles. Plates and decorations by Oh Joy for Target.}

{oh joy eats} hero shop in downtown la... 7 Jul 2014

Hero Shop / Los Angeles

Sandwiches are pretty much my jam, and it can be hard to find a really a good sandwich in Los Angeles (I am from Philly, afterall). So I'm always excited when a new place pops up that offers a fun alternative to the usual sandwich. Hero Shop in Downtown Los Angeles takes a twist on bánh mì sandwiches with really delicious fillings and flavors mixed with the traditional garnishes of the Vietnamese style sandwich.

Hero Shop / Los Angeles

Hero Shop / Los Angeles

Hero Shop / Los Angeles

Some of our favorites include the Spicy & Sour Chicken, Lemongrass Tofu, and BBQ Pork sandwiches. They mix a bit of spice and tanginess into a filling and satisfying sandwich that I'm craving more of already.

Hero Shop | 130 E. 6th Street | Los Angeles, CA 90014 | 213.265.7561

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

parent's night out... 12 Jun 2014

Room Forty / Los Angeles

Room Forty / Los Angeles

Room Forty / Los Angeles

Before I became a parent, I said I would never become one of those people who doesn't get to hang out with my friends as much. But it totally happened. Life changes, you get busier, and you have to make a way bigger effort to maintain friendships—especially with other friends who have kids. Because, chances are, they've been too busy to make plans, too. Bob and I are usually pretty good about having date nights, but it's more rare that we get to see a handful of our friends all together in a kid-free and relaxing adult environment.

So I thought it would be fun to gather a small group of our friends who are parents together to have a nice dinner out all together at Room Forty's tasting room at The Fig House here in L.A. It was a way to have a private dinner that was cozy enough to feel like we were at someone's house without all the clamour and difficulty of a big reservation at a restaurant.

I chose a mix of friends who didn't all know each other super well but had a couple things in common in addition to being parents—everyone was creative in some way and at least one person in the couple was a self-employed business owner.

Room Forty / Los Angeles

Room Forty / Los Angeles

Room Forty / Los Angeles

To start off the evening, I thought it would be fun to have wrist corsages for the girls and boutonneires for the guys to really relive the days of our youth. It brought me back to my first date with Bob—the senior prom! Botany Flowers made some beautiful wildflower versions for each place setting, and we had our own "Bachelorette" moments pinning them on.

Room Forty / Los Angeles

Room Forty / Los Angeles

It's funny to hear what goes on in a dinner with ten parents—from labor stories to our shower habits to drooling over the food which was way more amazing than anything we'd be having at home.

Room Forty / Los Angeles

Room Forty's chef, Libry Darusman, created an amazing menu for us to enjoy which included these drool-inducing dishes:

-Gin agar noodles with green olive bolognese and blue cheese

-Fennel soubise, house-made tofu, compressed pear, regianno foam, and crystal flower

-Diver scallops, raw coco mustard, butter popcorn tortellini, and puffed black rice

-Black cod, beet duxelle, nicoise pain perdu, red wine butter, and tomato foam

-Gazpazzo consommé with smoked street cart fruit

-Rib eye cap, cheek pastrami, shitake tartare, smoked corn jam, carrot confit, and pea ice cream

Room Forty / Los Angeles

All topped off at the end with this S'mores made of graham soil, chocolate and coffee ganache, housemade marshmallow, and hickory smoke. I'll be sharing the recipe for this with you guys next week as it's too good not to duplicate at home!

Room Forty / Los Angeles

At the end of the night, we got to hear how the chef made various dishes (um, like the butter popcorn tortellini!) which is such a treat and something we never get to experience at a regular restaurant. There's nothing like getting a custom catered dinner on an intimate scale. With full bellies and refreshed minds, we all came out of it feeling like we had such a special night just for us and walked away with a stronger connection to everyone else we dined with that night. Catching up with friends over food is probably one of my favorite things to do ever. Thanks so much to Room Forty for the amazing meal and beautiful space to have our dinner.

I hope our night out will inspire you to make time for yourself and make a special night out to reconnect with your nearest and dearest.

P.S. As a catering company Room Forty's primary function is private events, but as big believers in community, they’ve opened up their tasting room for private dinners like the one I hosted. If you're in Los Angeles, it's a treat I hightly recommend.

{Dinner by Room Forty at the Fig House, flowers by Botany Flowers, photos by Ryan Haack.}

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