California Pleasures

Avocados are plentiful in California and a healthy staple in our kitchen. Packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber and high in monounsaturated fat, their creamy texture and mild flavor lend well to dips, smoothies, even ice cream, while their coolness provides a foil to spice and heat in salsas and salads. Having said that, my favorite way to eat an avocado is on grilled bread with lemon and sea salt. For an extra fancy adornment I take a cue from one of my favorite appetizers at Larkspur's Picco Restaurant, and paint the slices with a thick balsamic vinegar reduction.

Avocado Bruschetta with Balsamic Syrup

Serves 1 to 2


  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • Sea salt

  • 2 slices levain bread, 1/2 inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled, partially smashed

  • 1 ripe but firm Hass avocado

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Combine the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and a pinch of sea salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer until the vinegar reduces by half and has a thick syrup consistency, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
  2. Preheat the oven broiler or a grill pan. Lightly brush the bread slices on both sides with olive oil. Toast in the oven or on the pan until golden brown, turning once. Transfer to a plate and rub with the garlic clove.
  3. Trim the tip of the avocado. Run a knife vertically around the center of the avocado, cutting into flesh until knife meets the pit. Gently twist the avocado open and remove pit. Carefully remove the skin, keeping the avocado intact. Thinly slice each half crosswise. Arrange the slices on the bread, overlapping. Brush with the balsamic syrup. Season with sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper.