When people ask me to describe my mom, I can only explain her as the perfect combination of a country-southern girl and a California hippie. A North Carolinian born and raised, my mama has been a San Franciscan for the majority of her adult life - it is for those two reasons that she is the world's greatest.
When I'm having a bad day, in the same sentence, I have heard my mom sequentially suggest I find something strong in the house to drink, then ask, "have you done any deep breathing and really focused on the matter?"
This woman will greet all visitors, strangers, and delinquents with open arms and the name "sweetie," "honey," or "sugar". On any occasion I can come home and just as easily find a pot of homemade mac n' cheese and biscuits on the stove, or a quinoa salad with local mixed greens. She claims to be a vegetarian because pork products, from what I can understand, are not a meat, but rather a dietary staple that should be eaten without question. If something on your plate has bacon on it, she will eat it. Before you can process the story about that childhood friend of her's named after a sandwich, she's talking about why you should never cross a picket line, and the importance of supporting public radio. My mother...is a gem.
Why do I say all of this, you ask? Well, as it turns out, I dined at Venice's Willie Jane on Tuesday night and everything that I loved about the place is a result of my upbringing. The first two things I saw on the menu were buttermilk biscuits with burnt orange honey butter, and a cheddar ham hock. I thought...ah yes...this is the place. Next to Willie Jane's property is a lovely garden where much of their ingredients are grown and in which many of their vegetables are harvested. It's a real farm-to-table style joint, which is super en vogue. It has true southern soul (demonstrable via a majority of their signature drinks having a bourbon base) and in my opinion, more things should embody just that.
As for the food? I love a good brussel sprout dish and this one gave my favorite preparation, duck-fat fried brussels from Atlanta's Local Three, a solid run for its money. Pimento cheese on grilled bread, Bosc pear salad, bourbon smoked rib rack, and a sweet tea brined pork chop...lift your jaw up off the ground and get over there. The dream is real at Willie Jane.