Tuesday, February 16, 2010

1st Annual Food Truck Fest

If you have a short attention span here's my recap of the 1st Annual Food Truck Fest.

Holy bad planning Batman.

If you have a slightly larger attention span, I'll expand.

Ok, so if you've been here before you know I have a deep unexplainable love of the food trucks. I find it obvious, even if most of the people in my life think I'm crazy - good food, cheap and in not huge portions. Seriously, its like a dream come true for a foodie girl who doesn't cook. So, imagine my glee when one of the creators of Unique LA (one of my favorite events) teamed up with another person who does this sort of thing to create the 1st Annual Food Truck Fest AND she was going to have some Unique LA vendors there too. WIN!

I was able to control myself and not buy the $30 VIP tickets. (Yes, I did strain my shoulder patting myself on the back, thankyouverymuch.) But, I did jump at the $10 pre-sale tickets. Duh, an extra $5 so I don't have to stand in line. Easy. So, in true me fashion, Todd & I left at 10am for this extravaganza. It was set to start at 11am but since I didn't know exactly where I was going or parking, I felt a little extra time wouldn't hurt.

We scored $5 parking right across the street from our pre-sale entrance. However, when a group of us were wandering, looking for the pre-sale entrance, we were all a bit worried of what was to come since there wasn't a sign. Seriously, no sign. We didn't need a big one, just something that said "Pre-sale Entrance" or "Bike Valet Entrance." We're not picky. We just hoped for a sign.

Being the bright people we are, we figured out which unmarked gate to stand at. And we stood. And I stared at the volunteers on the other side of the big black padlocked gate. And I relayed their announcements to the waiting pre-sale masses. And we waited. After the fire marshall did his walk through, at 11:20am, we stormed in.

First up, Ludo Bites. Ok, all you Top Chef people know this dude. I've read about him but, uhm, yeah, we got in that line first because we knew it would be the longest. And, let me tell you, this was the best planned truck of the bunch. They served ONE THING. Freakin' brilliant for this crowd. $5 = two balls o' fried chicken. It was good. It didn't change my life, but it was good.

Komodo. Yes, those of you who are subject to my tweets know I've been hunting the elusive Komono for weeks. And by hunting I mean I've been waiting for them to show up within 5 feet of wherever I am. Finally! Todd & I accidentally double ordered at this truck. But, neither of us minded. I would totally go there again. They weren't serving burritos on Saturday (tacos only), but I hear the siren-song of the burrito. It must be mine. Yes, their "signature" taco had beef and guac good enough for me to wistfully dream meeting them again in burrito form. Not that the chicken didn't rock my world. It did. Twitter. Web.

QZilla. I don't think these boys knew what they were in for when they signed up for this event. Don't get me wrong, they had the best potato salad I've ever had IN MY LIFE. Yeah, it was that good. But if they had known what they were in for, I think they would have modified their menu just a touch. But holy crap, the potato salad? And their smack'n'cheese was darn tasty too. If you held a gun to my head and told me I had to pick a food truck that would appeal to EVERYONE I knew, foodies as well as picky-non-adventurous eaters. This one would be my choice. Besides, I'd be able to have their potato salad again. Twitter. Web.

Cool Haus. What? Why am I mentioning a truck I've already blogged about? Because, they get 1st runner up for proper planning for this event. Though I didn't understand the menu (thankfully Todd was on hand to explain it to me in small words), their plan of having mini-ice-cream-sammies in groups of two with pricing to mix & match the twosomes was freakin' brilliant. These ladies rock my world again, first with edible wrappers (with advertising no less) then with fabulous ice cream sammies and finally, their fabulous handling to this event.

But wait Jenna, why are you talking about trucks you've already had. Why are you not regaling us with tails of Japanese hot dogs and other trucks you hadn't yet tried.

I'm so glad you asked that.

Uhm, I think the THOUSANDS of fans on the Facebook should have tipped off these crazy kids that they might be over their head. That the 30 or so trucks/vendors they had might not be enough to serve the masses. Yeah, we were there for about an hour and a half, walked the whole space, ate, got our free drink (pre-sale tickets AGAIN FTMFW!) and knew that if we got into one more line, it would be at least an hour before we would get food. And really, I don't roll like that.

I felt bad. I was full, Todd wanted a hot dog. And really no one should attend an event like this and leave wanting a hot dog. That's just cruel. There are Japanese hot dogs just steps from us and yet the wait would have been an hour. Yeah, event fail.

With our positive attitude and love of the food we had already eaten, I promised Todd a hot dog for Valentine's Day and he was fine with that.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Westside Food Truck Round-Up - An Ongoing Series

I don't think I've told you Dear Diary about First Friday. My bad. First Friday on Abbott Kinney is well, the first Friday of the month along Abbott Kinney between Venice & Westminster. The shops & restaurants stay open, the food trucks come en mass and everyone walks their dogs, kids, and friends along the street. Its now a staple in my social calendar. Join us....just don't take my parking spot. Get there after 6pm, after I park. That works for me.

Where to begin? Obviously, I'll start with my new FAVORITE truck and it isn't just because of the name....

The Flying Pig - Its big, its pink and its FABULOUS. Duck? Braised pork? Crab balls? Yup, you betcha. So. Good. Steve & I have decided this is our new favorite truck. Now, I don't think I can say its better than the Godfather of all nouveau Food Trucks but it is my current favorite. Twitter. Web.

BoolBBQ - When I saw the menu I can tell you I honestly wasn't expecting much. It looked like several other trucks we'd seen. Then Steve spied a piece of paper taped up that read "Fish Taco." SOLD! Seriously, best fish taco I've had in years. I'd like another one right now actually. And, k8 & mrk were very taken with their taco. I can't tell you which one it was but they LOVED it. I'll be more open-minded next time and just order one of everything on the menu. Twitter. Web.

Dainty Cakes - I'm a food truck nerd. I admit it. And when I saw these guys running amuck I wanted to make sure they were going to be at First Friday on Abbott Kinney since there was a derth of desserts last month. So I messeged them on Twitter. And they wrote back! I was so excited. And then they were at First Friday! And I was even more excited. And then I told them about Twitter and they were so happy to see me. And then they gave me an extra cupcake with my order because they're nice people. And the cupcakes were good, way better than Sprinkles. The red velvet was excellent, probably one of the best I've bought. So, go support a nice food truck and have a cupcake. Twitter. Web.

Fish Lips - I've seen these guys around. Sushi chefs making each order fresh. And, I can honestly report, the food was just as good as I had hoped it would be. I think we'll need to time our next lunch-time JoAnn's run on a day when these guys are parked over at T Lofts (Tennesse & Butler). Their sushi would be an excellent lunch. Two thumbs up. And, as an added bonus, an actual MARKET, like one that doesn't move, will be carrying their sushi. Twitter. Web.

Dosa Truck - This truck has been quite ellusive. I follow it on Twitter but until tonight it was just a myth. Well, the myth is now fact and I can report that this would be another great lunch stop. Their wraps are yummy and not at all heavy. Mina & I both agreed that the bread (I'm sure there's an Indian word for it) for the wrap was great. And, unlike most of the food trucks roaming the streats, Dosa is very vegetarian friendly. Twitter. Web.

Next up, Buttermilk!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Westside Food Truck Roundup - Part II

South Philly Experience - I had heard mixed reviews on these guys so I really wanted to try them. Holy wow. I managed to share the sandwich (steak with onions and cheese whiz) with the group and I think that shows my love for the people in that group. I mean, it was that good. If I didn't like those people as much as I do, I would have snatched their portions out of their hands. But, I knew I'd find SPE again, and I did and it was just as good. Twitter. Web.

Marked 5 - When I first heard about these burgers with rice as a bun, I thought, hmm, interesting. Now that I've had a burger with rice as a bun, I think, hmm, when can I get another one? Do I get the lamb again or do I try something different? So. Good. and so many questions to ponder. Twitter. Web.

India Jones - I've heard of this truck but I don't like Indian food (or rather, Indian food doesn't like me) so I opted not to follow it. In the immortal words of Pretty Woman: "Big mistake, huge." Needless to say, I'm following the truck now. It doesn't matter if you do or do not like traditional Indian food, this truck is good. It was even a wee bit spicy and I don't do spicy and I still liked it. Twitter. Web.

Border Grill Truck - Like the Sprinkles truck, I don't tend to follow the more corporate trucks. I mean, I'm two doors from Sprinkles every month and I pass by Border Grill on a semi-regular basis. I like the trucks because they serve food to which I don't normally have access. Yeah, there's a reason I don't follow the Border Grill truck, and I'll leave it at that. Twitter. Web.

Del's - Del's, for the AZ folks, is similar to Eegies, in that its a light refreshing sort of icee. I dug it and the boys who work there aren't hard on the eyes either. We also found out that they have a shop on Lincoln so I'll be going there. And they're bad @sses as they'll come visit the forbidden zone (aka Century City). They SAVED me and a few of my friends here when we lost AC a few weeks ago. Light & refreshing...I dig the Del's. Twitter. Web.

The Grilled Cheese Truck - If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you'va already had an earful regarding the opening night for these guys. (And really Steve does a better write-up than I can.) And I get TGCT's point that they're not mechanics. I'm ok with that. But, I'm not ok with a grilled cheese that isn't grilled. I mean, the cheese wasn't even melted. But, their cheesy mac & rib with grilled pork & onions is brilliant. If you do want to try them, get that. Seriously. You won't be mad at me. Twitter. Web.

Let's Be Frank - Ok, its not a truck but a big trailer, whatever, it parks & serves food. Now that Spoc's stopped serving hot dogs, I can easily say this is the best turkey dog in L.A. and Todd rates their hot dog as better than Pink's. Overall review - They're organic, they're friendly, and they serve a d@mn good dog. Go visit. Twitter. Web.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Westside Food Truck Roundup - Part I

This will be the first in an ongoing series. I know some of you scorn the idea of the truck. Why follow a truck on twitter when there are like a thousand restaurants around. Here's why I love the food trucks:

1. You can't beat the price.
2. With this new wave, the food is incredibly good.
3. The portions are just the right size....large enough for a meal but you don't need to roll yourself home.
4. No valet parking.
5. Tips are appreciated, not expected.
6. No charge for sharing.

Without further delay, I bring you my first food truck round-up.

Kogi BBQ - The truck, the myth, the legend. Yes, it is as good as everyone says it is. Would I wait an hour or two in line, no. Would I wait 25 minutes with a friend, you betcha. My only warning on the Kogi is order appropriately. If you don't like spam, don't order it. If you don't like spicy, don't order the Blackjack Quesadilla. I think some people over estimate their magical powers. If you stick with what you like (or more importantly, what I like) you won't go wrong. My favorites: Short rib taco or burrito and their hot dog. Find them on their blog or twitter. They now have three trucks running amok.

Baby's Badass Burgers - Two things need to be known about this truck. 1) Its a slider truck. 2) They have very friendly attractive women working the truck. If that's not enough motivation for some of you, the food was surprisingly good. Todd & I shared the Original Beauty and the Mamacita. You get two of everything (except their one MONSTER burger) so its easy to share. We also ordered sweet potato & curly fries. Stick with the sweet potato. They're some of the best I've had (though in a tie with Gastrobus) and the curly fries needed to be cooked a wee longer. Shockingly you can find them on the web and on twitter.

Barbie's Q - The first truck Steve & I hunted together. Yeah. They get booked for a lot of private catering events and their bbq sauce is some of the best I've had. Web. Twitter.

Gastrobus - I was ridiculously excited to try the yellow food truck. And, thanks to the Abbott Kinney Festival, I was finally able to catch up to them. Regina & I ordered the same thing...BLT and sweet potato fries. Both, darn good. We agreed the Joan's on 3rd BLT was better, but lets be realistic. This is not a restaurant and the sandwich cost a fraction of what Joan's cost. I'll absolutely hunt down the Gastrobus again...probably at the Brig as it seems to be their only Westside dinner stop these days. I love that their menu changes & I look forward to trying something different next time. Web. Twitter.

CoolHaus - What could possibly go wrong about an architecturally themed ice cream truck. NOTHING. I love this little short bus. Its cute and the ice cream sandwiches are the best ever. Cookies and ice cream are fresh and delicious and they even come with an edible wrapper. Brilliant. My only complaint is that they don't have mint chip ice cream at every stop. But, their vanilla bean was some of the best I've had and the cookies...I'm stopping now. If you're going to cheat on your diet, cheat with CoolHaus. Web. Twitter.

NomNom Truck - I agree with Steve, this truck has the best look to it. And, thankfully, their food is as good as their look. I loved their Grilled Pork Banh Mi as well as the Lemongrass tacos. I'd skip the spring rolls...but I know a few other people who LOVED them. So, yeah, to each their own. Web. Twitter.

Coming soon, Dosa, Grilled Cheese Truck, South Philly, Chef on Wheels, Fish Lips Sushi and Marked 5.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I think I found the best burger place in L.A.

So, I have three three books on how to make cool stuff from felted sweaters. (Wow, more on those adventures later.) So, one day I hit a few thrift stores in search of cheap sweaters to felt. During my adventure, I pasted Danties. But it wasn't Danties anymore, it was a Hole in the Wall. Literally, they transformed their space into Hole in the Wall Burger Joint. Same owners as Danties, same amazing ingredients, but they turned their attention to burgers.

Thank you nice former Danties people. Thank you very much.

As you'll see on the website, you pick the meat, the bun, and the toppings. And, since the nice owners take food very seriously, all of the above is fresh and made to order. So. Good. I'd even say its better than In'n'Out. Mom & I agreed its better than The Stand (don't get me wrong, The Stand still has best burger in Century City). But Hole in the Wall fries kick all kinds of fry booty. So good. And, apparently, they're doing well...which is awesome.

Seriously, its 9am and I'm getting hungry writing this.

So yeah, do me a favor and run over there. Its at Santa Monica & Bentley, just one block east of Sepulveda on the south side of the street, behind Winchell's. Pick me up a burger on a wheat bun with onion mayo, provolone, lettuce, onion, tomato, and a side of fries. You can order online, call or just show up. But, there's my order. Bring it over anytime.

Thanks.

Hole in the Wall Burger Joint
11058 Santa Monica Blvd.at South Bentley Avenue
310-312-7013

Hours:
11am to 8pm Mon.-Fri.
11am to 6pm Sat.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A New Love

So, you might remember last year when I asked the interwebs if they wanted to go with me to this. Well, in my attempt not to eat every cupcake within reach, I resisted both years. Instead, I read the flier intently, looking for new local cupcakes to sample, in the name of research of course.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that one of the competitors sold cupcakes just steps from my office. Blue Cupcake sells her wares every week at the Century City Farmer's market. (My directions last night: Go to Sees, walk past See's, walk over the bridge, yeah, there's the Century City Farmer's Market.) And, I just learned that she also sells at the Downtown Farmer's Market at Pershing Square on Wednesdays.

Ok, her cupcakes aren't just good, they're gramma-approved. Seriously. And not just the chocolate, and that's really saying something. So, on Thursday, pop over to the Century City Farmer's Market. She's over with all the food people, just a few steps from the chicken guy (look for the HUGE line).

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Huckleberry Cafe

For the record, I'm a devoted Daily Candy follower. I can't remember how I first heard of them. But they've served me well for years, haircuts, food, sample sales and such what not. So, when they talked about Huckleberry Cafe, I tossed it on my to do list.

We went on a Saturday, about 11ish. I thought we'd be safe, before the lunch rush. We even scored a spot in the parking lot in back. This is already going really well!

Then we walked in.

Total. Chaos.

This contrast off good news/bad news becomes a theme.

Its not super clear how to order but we figured out that there's sort of a line that you stand in until someone talks to you to take your order. But, the HUGE menu board above the counter...yeah, that doesn't apply on the weekends. You can order only from the wee weekend menus on the counter.

The girl taking our order was sweet and answered our questions as far as how to order, what they specialize in and all the things you ask the first time to a place. As luck would have it, what we wanted to eat were on both boards. She hands our order down the line. After we shuffle down to pay. I'm asking the cashier questions....silly things like, can we sit outside, how do we get our drinks. She's ignoring me. Awesome. Whatever, we pay. I'm committed and hungry at this point.

No tables.

Seriously, if I'm paying $35 for lunch for two people (and by I, I mean Todd) and I'm ordering at a deli counter, I don't think a table is too much to ask for.

A few minutes pass and we were able to scout a table. Score! But one of the many, many employees there didn't really appreciate my asking for it to be cleared. As I watch the many, many employees mingle I see they're divided into two camps - 1) those who are serious about the food service industry and are obviously there to learn. They hustle and get stuff done and have a great attitude; and 2) those who are just there for a job and would rather serve food than clean up after the patrons.

I have to say our food was fantastic. For what it is, its expensive, but really good. (In case you're curious, I had the meatball sandwich while Todd tried the Fried Egg Sandwich.) The bread? Outstanding, baked fresh there. The pastries? Yup, made fresh there too. If I could convince someone to bring me lunch RIGHT NOW (whatever I'm hungry), I'd ask for them to go there. Yeah, it was that good. But, would I go there to sit and to eat again? No. For the cost, its far too much work. Should you try the food? Absolutely. And, you should bring me some bread, or at least a pastry.

Huckleberry Cafe - Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica at 10th - check their hours, they're still in their soft opening phase.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Curiouser and Curiouser

Day 4 and the hits keep coming...

For anyone going to the Mar Vista Lanes and doesn't want "bowling alley food" have I got a treat for you. Directly across the street The Curious Palate has opened. I've read about it. I've wanted to go. And really, it surpassed the hype.

You walk in and it looks like a local deli. There are meats ready to be sliced, salami ready to be served and pickles ready to munch. But, if you look a little closer you see that every item is hand-picked. The pastrami is from Berkley. The pickles are home made. The drinks are somewhat unusual and somewhat familiar. It all sort of knocks you off your game, but in a good way.

I had the prosciutto panini with a small order of mac'n'cheese to share with the table. And by share I mean everyone got a bite while Steve & I pretty much hoarded the mac. It worked out well. The other sandwiches enjoyed were the pulled pork, egg salad and a meatloaf burger. Everyone was happy and no one shared...always a good sign.

I might have disagreed when one girl exclaimed that it was the "Best Chocolate Chip Cookie I've EVER had. And you know, I'm a chocolate cookie connoisseur." It was good. And they do have samples out so you can try it. And if you try it, you'll probably buy one. But since my mom doesn't bake commercially, I can't make statements like that. Though the "Not Fudge" brownie was tasty. I'm not sure why it was "not fudge" and I didn't think to ask. But it was good, "not fudge" and all.

For drinks, don't expect to order a Diet Coke. They do have the bottled Mexican Coke but their other sodas are fairly eclectic. I tried their Apple Cider. Yum!

Yeah, I don't think you'll go wrong here. Except you might show up for dinner when they're closed. Right now they're only open 10am - 6pm. Hopefully that'll change.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"And it was a land filled wit yogurt..."

Day three and I still have food to tell you about.

Yogurtland

This is Jenny's fault. And, by the way, since she is my self-appointed food Sherpa she really needs her own blog. Anyways.

Jenny comes into sewing class one night...

"Have you had Yogurtland, so good!"

Jenna: "No, what's Yogurtland?"

Jenny: "Its above Beard Papa on Sawtelle."

The conversation ended there; I was getting hungry and there was much sewing to do.

Fast forward a few weeks and I drag Todd in. And by drag I mean I asked if he could forgo Beard Papa for something new and he kicked the dirt a few times and agreed.

It was yogurt heaven. There were flavors upon flavors. And you get to do it yourself. And you can ask for wee cups to try the yogurt before you commit. And they have all these toppings. And its only $0.30 an ounce.

Jenny was absolutely right. It was so good. Unless you're my mom and frozen yogurt doesn't agree with you, you really need to try this place.

I was about to give you the address, but I just discovered that its coming to Westwood Village soon. This is going to be bad.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Santa Monica Seafood - New! Improved!

Apparently its food week here at Dear Diary. That's not a bad thing. Its about time I shook up my culinary routine. Eating in all the time, though good for the waist and the wallet, doesn't do much for the blog.

Santa Monica Seafood has comfortably moved into their new home at Wilshire & 10th. Its a beautiful space with an incredible array of food and, important to any Angelino, a parking lot. You can get, obviously, seafood as well as flowers, spices, beverages, salads and entrees either to eat in or to go. Saturday we seemed to arrive just before the mad rush of people. We even had time to be confused by the new layout. I mean, there are tables but at first we didn't see any servers but we did see the HUGE menu board. Do you order then sit down? Finally I saw a server and she pointed me to the empty host stand. We waited about 10 seconds before we were seated. Approximately 2 minutes after that about 8 different people wanted tables. Obviously, they didn't have my back up plan, so the had to wait and gaze longingly at our food.

Todd started with a New England Clam Chowder (yes, they have Manhattan as well). Why I didn't order a cup will forever confuse and haunt me. It was really good. For lunch I had the cioppino while he had the grilled Mahi Mahi. My cioppino was fabulous and they were kind enough to give me a HUGE wedge of bread with which to enjoy the broth. So. Good.

The food was excellent, the service was good and the prices were totally fair. However, this place is not for the timid. I will give the same advice for going to the market portion as for going to the restaurant: If you don't speak up you're going to get passed over for a table, or for us, our place in line at the market. With that said, I'd go back in a heartbeat and I've already told my mom to tell one of her friends that this is a must visit for her & her husband.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Korean + Taco Truck = Good Food

Anyone who has ever met me knows that I am really bad at math. But, they also know I'm really good at incredibly random combinations of ideas...hence the English Lit. major and the obsession with the legal system. So of course the idea of a Korean Taco truck just undid me. But their hours and locations weren't my thing. So I waited. And eventually they came to my hood at a time I was actually hungry.

8:30pm Friday night:

Jenna: [GPS in hand walking towards the door] "Ok, lets go!"

Todd: [reading the sports section of the paper] "What?"

J: "Aren't you hungry?"

T: [confused] "Yeah."

J: "Ok, lets go."

T: "Ok."

J: "You're driving."

T: "Where?"

J: "Head towards the village..."

And so it began. The area the truck was parked is technically in my hood but its behind fraternity row in that mess of apartments and narrow winding streets. I don't pretend to know that area well. So I grabbed the GPS, plugged in the intersection and we were off.

Since we'd never had their food and there was no formal menu ("Verbal menu tonight") we ordered a few times. Watching everyone order, most people had heard about Kogi but hadn't had it yet. So, don't feel stupid if you have a bunch of questions. They're used to it and were super cool to everyone.

I had the signature short rib tacos (FANTASTIC) while Todd tried the spicy pork (he loved it.) I did try the slider...not quite my thing but Todd was kind enough to finish for me.

After talking to the nice guy who takes your order (Eric?), we learned that there are now two trucks in this budding empire. We had the pleasure of eating from Verde. (Apparently Rojo is the original.)

Pretty much everything is $2. We were quite full when we left and we spent under $20 for the two of us. Honestly, its worth following them on Twitter (or the Twitter feed on their website) to find them; the food is that good and that unusual. For the Santa Monica kids out there, they go to SMC a few times a week. Apparently they could use some love at that location so go try a few tacos. You'll thank me.

Oh, and Ellen, if you'd like some pictures, here you go. Far better than what I would have taken with my camera phone in the dark.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A bit more on Ft. Myers

If you're in this area during Spring Training, I really can't recommend catching a game highly enough. The stadiums are small, pretty, new and the fans are super friendly. And, for the crafty girls out there who would sooner poke their eyes out with knitting needles than spend 3 house watching baseball, I've brought both knitting and needlepoint to the games and security couldn't have cared less. Total bonus.

Assuming they survive the recession, next time we travel down there, I'm going to hit one of the Italian markets. In our travels I saw two which didn't really surprise me given the number of east coasters who migrate to this area.

In willing violation of my own no chain rule, I took Todd to Five Guys for lunch on Saturday. He had never heard of it and based on recommendations from friends who had eaten at other branches, I knew he'd like it. What I didn't know is that they have huge open boxes of peanuts to keep you busy while you wait for your food. Yeah, they had Todd at the door. He agreed with my overall review of the place: GREAT burgers, so-so french fries and therefore very similar to In'n Out.



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Monday, December 22, 2008

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

Keep them holiday gifts rollin'
Rollin' rollin' rollin'
Christmas!

Yeah, I just made that up.

Here at the cube farm there are many people who make my job possible. Several people I know call that "doing their job." Since, I'm also support staff, I understand that in theory, but, its still nice to say "thank you" and "please eat this." Besides, when I really need something I can say "would you like another cupcake?" and then magically files appear in my office. The people I work for think its my winning personality that gets them everything they need done in record time. The truth is my mom is an exceptional baker and I'd rather share than gain 100lbs.

Since it is the holidays, I wanted to give mom the weekend off (and besides I think violence would have occurred if I had tried to add to her already busy baking schedule) Therefore, today I handed out chocolate dipped hand-made marshmallows. They're fantastic, if I do say so myself. And, since I pretty much dislike everything I make, that's saying something.

Cute right? And I so don't do cute well.

You too can do this! And cheap!

Packaging:

  • The boxes are from Smart & Final ($6 for about 50 - 100 of them).
  • The gift tags are from Costco (seriously people if you're buying gift tags anywhere else, even those sticky ones for $3 at Target, stop now. 100 of these tags were $10. Aren't they cute? And, they have different ones every year. Next year pick them up. Seriously.)
  • The stickers are from Target.
  • In stuffing the boxes...you know those wax paper sheets they use at the bakery to give you your muffin? Yeah, you can buy a box of those for $6 at Smart & Final as well. Voila! Instant non-stick paper for the gift and it looks fancy too.
The actual gift:

Ok, you already have the link to the recipe (which I'm printing again right now since mine is covered in Pam.) Here's how we do it my house, with a few tips the recipe doesn't give you but my mom gave me.
  1. Spray any utensil you plan on using with Pam. I don't know how you're getting your marshmallows out otherwise.
  2. Senior Brown uses a metal baking pan, we used our silicon baking pan. Honestly we haven't loved how many of our baked goods have cooked in ours (hence our sacrificing it to the marshmallow doGs) but nothing sticks to it. Its sort of brilliant. Don't get me wrong, you need to do the Pam & the powered sugar/cornstarch lining to it. But, when my marshmallows got a wee out of control and went up over the side to the other side of the pan, I peeled it right off...no drama!
  3. Cleaning your stuff is super easy. Two words: Hot Water. I found this to be an easier clean-up than making cookies.
  4. You need a Kitchen-Aid mixer. I'm sorry, it won't be the same otherwise. You need a big engine and the ability to flog your machine to mix on high for 12-15 minutes. Any other mixer in our house would have caught fire from trying this. I'm not trying to be a brand snob here people; I'm just looking out for your safety.
  5. Follow the recipe. Since this is complete chemistry if you do something silly like mix the marshmallows on low instead of high you'll end up with taffy, er, so I heard.

As for the chocolate dipped part...

  • Let the marshmallows set for at least 3 hours. We usually do overnight but I didn't have that much time and 3 hours did nicely.
  • Get a big knife and, all together now, spray it with Pam. Then, cut whatever size you like!
  • Mom picked up a bar of Bittersweet chocolate at our brand new Trader Joe's but you can use anything. My absolute favorite was mint chocolate chips. Mmmmmmm.
  • If you're not using chips, chop up some chocolate (about a cup's worth), as small as you can, put it in a small bowl, nuke it for a minute, stir and if its not melted keep nuking in 30 second increments.
  • Make sure your marshmallow is dusted on all sides (again, not that I made this mistake or anything) with the sugar/cornstarch mixture, then dip into chocolate and let it set on a wire cooling rack (wax paper will do if you don't have the wire cookie cooling rack thingies.)

My mom did the math and I think all 20 of my boxes cost me a total of about $20 since everything except the containers were on hand. But really, if you had to buy all of the ingrediants that might set you back like $10.

I have a few extra...please come visit me and take them away before I eat the leftovers. .

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Enzo & Angela

Like everywhere else I seem to end up, I had heard about Enzo & Angela. I mean, we've all driven past it about a thousand times, up there on the second floor of that cheesy mini-mall at Wilshire & Barrington.

But then, a lunch was given for a very dear friend of my mother's by one of the owners. And that lunch was so sweet and unnecessary, I promised myself that I had to go there. I couldn't even remember if my mom liked the food, but I felt that I needed to pay forward the nice thing this nice person did for my mom's friend.

On a whim, we went to Enzo & Angela's on a Friday night with no reservation. Please note that although we had a great experience, I don't recommend this, even in the current economy. All the tables, save one small one on the far side of the restaurant, were booked. We were lucky. Learn from us. Go here and make reservations.

Typically, I have very low expectations for Italian restaurants. Very few people or restaurants can touch what my mom can make. Valentino rocks my world, but really, I don't roll like that, unless someone else is paying.

Ok, so mini-mall, low expectations...great introduction, right?

The restaurant itself is relatively quiet and the staff is very knowledgeable about the food. The menu is quite diverse but to obtain the full experience, you need to order from the specials. They're the same price as the regular menu items but holy wow are they good. I'm a sucker for risotto and had my heart set on a seafood one. After hearing the specials and insisting on my beloved risotto, our waiter walked over to the kitchen and asked a question. Upon his return he said the special risotto was the same price but is a completely different experience...its made and then baked and then covered in sauce. I was sold after "special" and "risotto" so really he could have said anything.

Rocked. my. world.

The entrees were great, the salad we shared was fabulous...all in all it was a fantastic experience. Is it cheap? Nope. Is it worth it? You betcha! In fact, mom & I are doing our annual Christmas Eve dinner there. Seriously, Enzo & Angela were able to steal us away from Mimi and that's no small feat.

Enzo & Angela
11701 Wilshire Blvd (at Barrington)
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: 310 477-3880 Fax: 310 477-388

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Monday, December 01, 2008

A Moment of Thanks - A Thanksgiving Wrap-up

Obviously, I'm thankful for my friends, my family, my dogs, my home, my job, my Miu Miu shoes. With that in mind, here is what I was most thankful for this holiday weekend:

As you've read by now, Regina has created some unbelievable holiday hats. I'm thankful that she allowed me to share in her fabulousness and I was able to model my very own pie fascinator at our modest dinner for 41.


I'm thankful no one caught me in the bathroom taking headshots of myself.

I'm thankful for untraditional Black Friday sales at Wildfiber, A Mano, Giant Robot, Cusp and J.Crew. Not that I bought anything at the above stores, I'm, uhm, just thankful for them generally.

I'm thankful for the 3 pies I was able to score on Friday night. I made a call to my dealer (aka the scene of our Thanksgiving) for a piece of leftover pie and was sent home with 3 pies and homemade ice cream. (OK, the ice cream I lifted, but whatever, I left the other flavors behind.)

I'm thankful that I still have two dogs after one of them allegedly ate about 3 lbs of turkey off the kitchen counter on Saturday. Not that I'm naming names or anything...


I'm thankful that I live with a chef who felt the need to make mashed potatoes, Waldorf salad, and soup to go with the last of the turkey I was able to salvage from the above-mentioned turkey incident.

I'm thankful for two days of errands, dog walking, left-overs and knitting with nowhere really to be, no time to really be awake, and no tight fitting pants really to wear.

Now, I need to be thankful for a treadmill.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Felt Club/Nickel Diner

Really these two deserve their own posts but I enjoyed them back to back so you can too!

First rule of Felt Club is that you talk about Felt Club.

Well, it seems that everyone important was talking about Felt Club before the event. I didn't feel the need to toss my two cents in before. But, now that its over, I'm happy to chatter.

Since most of the outlying areas of L.A. seem to be burning, creating this creepy orange-grey look to the sky, there was no one on the road. We left the house late, circled for parking4 times, bought bagels and then headed over to Felt Club. My thinking was that I didn't want to stand outside for an hour for a swag bag so I might as well just get there on time and saunter in. Yeah. Right. I got there at about 10:30 am (opening was 11am). Right when we jumped in line I saw a blue car that I was about to point out to Todd that looked like Regina's. Turned out, it was Regina's! She had the same plan I did...get there at 11am. Yeah, traffic from the side of the city she was coming from was just as light and she got there hella early as well. And we all ended up with a swag bags. Woo!

Ok, onto the show...

Thankfully it was at the Shrine this year. And I say thankfully because the last Felt Club event I attended was in a venue so small that the Fire Department was dispatched. (Hey! Felt Club! Over here! How about Santa Monica Civic next year? Just an idea.)

By getting there early, we actually saw all the vendors and their merchandise. As the day wore on, we literally made our purchases and ran as it was getting more and more crowded. I mean really crowded, push-through-people crowded, hey-I'd-like-to-look-at-that crowded. Anyone who questions the power of craft right now, need look no further than Felt Club. Crazy crowded. But, I would do it again, in a heartbeat. Yup the vendors were that strong.

Here are my favorites...

Ex Libris: Seriously brilliant. He takes old books and turns them into journals. He even keeps the pages and tosses them in with the blank pages. And, the dude was nice. Regina snagged my absolute favorite...a book about lawns. That's ok. I grabbed Dehydration Made Simple. I was happy to see that although a few of us were just buying one or two, there were people buying ten to twelve at a time. I hope he sold out of his entire stock yesterday.

My Imaginary Boyfriend: She has these log pillows and even kits to make the log pillows. And, seriously, the cutest robots EVER. Freakin' brilliant. I saw one little girl holding her robot like a doll after her mom bought it for her. That little girl couldn't have looked any happier with her robot. It was awesome. If I ever do get my own house, you are all buying me log pillows. I want a stack of them. I'm not kidding. And really, that's the only reason I didn't buy the kits myself. I couldn't stand the thought of them just sitting sadly waiting for a place to be put.

Biggs & Featherbelle: So I got bath salts & soap & Todd got lip balm. Todd's working in Albuquerque today so I can't ask him to comment on the lip balm, but Oh. Mi. Gawd. I love the bath salts. I have the Muscle Soak. Not only does it smell yummy but it is amazingly relaxing. I know, I know, baths are relaxing in general. But this stuff is way better than what you're buying in the stores. Once I run out I either have to mail order, go to some yoga place in Hollywood or call Twin Cities Green to make sure that they really are carrying everything from Re-gifts and send Todd over to dreaded Uptown to pick up some more. Hmmmmm....

I Melt with You: Sadly, only their candles are up on their site. (Not that there's anything wrong with their candles, they just have so much more.) I picked up the yummiest smelling body balm ever, Mint Mango Tea. I don't know what it was about this scent but everyone in our group agreed that it was the best ever. They also had a clean laundry scent that made for the best candle ever. And, like all of the othe vendors I mention above (even if I don't say it in the individual write-up), they were just so nice and excited to talk about their product. And, for me, that's what makes shopping and gift buying fun.

With our purchases and swag bags in tow we headed over to Nickel Diner. Horray! I finally made it! I'll be honest, I'm not sure what I liked more...the food or the vibe. We'll start with food and you can decide later.

The menu is fabulous. There were at least six things I wanted to order, and that's really saying something. Three of the sandwiches looked good, the French toast was tempting...hey, I'm making myself hungry again. Anyways, I settled by trading half of my sandwich so I could try two different things. Oddly, I loved both. Usually, I'm all smug that I ordered better. Yeah, wasn't so sure. And the french fries are worth the tightness of my waistband today. And the desserts.... So, she left the desert tray right in our field of vision. Not cool. We kept staring at it. Wondering what was on the side we couldn't see. Finally, she saw our drool and brought it over and introduced us. We were all in love. Homemade pop tarts, ding dongs, red velvet cake, chocolate cake, the list goes on and on. Everything we ordered was great.

The vibe was cool and I don't mean in an eastside hipster sort of way, which was going on as well. I mean the owner works the door and greets her clients like friends....completely old skool. In my opinion, that intimacy has been lost in restaurants today. It was incredible to see it back. She knew her regulars, greeted them immediately, seated the new kids, made sure everyone had what they needed, cleared a table because the busboy was busy...it was a very cool ballet to watch.

I don't spend as much time as I used to in Downtown but I can tell you that I'll be back to Nickel Diner. There are too many things on that menu I need to try and maybe one day I'll be greeted at the door.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Updates and random stuff

Really this should be titled guilt about not blogging but whatever...

On the craft front: I'm in the middle of a few projects (crochet, knit & counted cross-stitch), I need to block a finished project (knit) and hand-finish another finished project (felted knit) so I haven't had anything pretty to show you lately.

On the food front: I had lunch at Craft today and that was nice, not mind-altering, but nice. The maple bacon ice cream was good but tasted mostly vanilla, in case you were curious. In other food news I'm on a mission to eat at BLD and Nickel Diner. If anyone wants to help with this issue, I'll be available Halloween weekend.

Oh, the SCV and the SFV are on fire and I'm a smidge scared that my breathing will shut down like it always does. So this can be my official l.a.-is-on-fire-again post that I seem to do every year. Because of the winds and their unexplainable fear of the winds, my dogs are passive aggressive to each other because they both want to sleep in my bathroom and neither of them want to make room for the other. (Yes, I used two clauses starting with 'because' in one sentence. You'll be ok.) Why the bathroom is so much safer than their dog beds 10 feet away is beyond me. But, they obviously know something I don't. So there's that.

On the internets front: I just entered 2006 and joined Facebook. I'm so hip its unsettling. Though, I will say that the facebook is interesting in the personas that develop on that site. Obviously we all show different sides in different situations, like work, social, interwebs, etc... but facebook is fascinating in how the application gets people to share much more than they would, lets say, on a blog or MySpace. Speaking of facinating, did you see the CNN.com write up of The Oxford Project. If you're looking to kill a few hours, pull up a chair and start reading.

So, that's what's going on right now.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

If only *my* father's office was this cool

We all have that person we call or email when we need a food recommendation. But what happens when you're the food person and you need a recommendation? Well, you turn to Jenny, who should have a food blog but doesn't. But she reads this blog. So that makes her cool but doesn't change the fact that she doesn't have a blog. Point being, she's a foodie's foodie.

When Jenny recommends a place you don't walk, you run over to it. So, when we were casually talking about the new Father's Office, she mentioned that the burger at the Culver City location is just as good as the Brentwood location. My ears perked up. Now, I haven't had the burger in Brentwood but this intrigued me.

Since it was Monday and the start of Rosh Hashanah, I thought Steve & I would have a good shot at a table at the Culver location. Although I was right, I was incredibly surprised at the number of people there. It was crowded, not in a can't-move sort of way but more of a what-are-all-of-you-doing-here-isn't-it-a-holiday-and-isn't-the-country-in-an-economic-downturn sort of way. But, we got our table and easily placed our order and we were happy.

Ok, I'll warn you, the burger ain't cheap. This isn't some cheesy bar burger. This is good stuff. And you taste it. OMG. I'm bringing everyone who digs burgers here. I'm taking all of my meat eaters here and not at the same time. I would totally come back again & again. When I say I don't eat fast food burgers because its a waste of my calories, this is what I'm talking about. People, don't diet. Give up crap, eat healthy as a general rule and then when faced with a great meal, enjoy it.

So yeah, go to Father's Office during non-peak hours (you couldn't pay me to go when it should be crowded) and order a burger. It'll make you a better person.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

L.A. County Fair

Sorry for the radio silence last week. We had a sick dog (she's fine...she's back to chewing on her brother's head and stealing food) and without blogging about work, 'cause I don't blog about work, that's all I have to say about that and then I was off to Portland with Regina.

But yeah, L.A. County Fair.

Ellen was super nice about it. But Ellen is super nice. Its why we love her.

I'm not nearly as nice. That's why you like me. But, I will tell you that the company I had was fantastic! But the fair itself...to me it felt like a Hollywood set director decided what a County fair *should* look like....which is incredibly L.A. and oddly appropriate if you think about it. There were corporate sponsorships and sets and really it was quite pretty.

But the food.

I had a better corndog last night at PDX than I did at the fair. And that's wrong I tell you. Fairs should have the BEST corn dogs. And they shouldn't be from Hot Dog on a Stick. They should be from mom'n'pop vendors that do fairs and really bad for your food really well. This sums up my feeling about the food at the L.A. County Fair. Seriously people, I came home, went to Gelson's and ordered a Wolfgang Puck pizza. I should come home and roll around the house for DAYS full from the fair food. I shouldn't be hungry and sad.

But, there was one glorious and wonderful thing about the fair and it wasn't the chocolate covered bacon (which, by the way, isn't nearly as frightening as you would think...its like a chocolate covered pretzel) it was Dr. Bob's Ice Cream. Oh. Mi. Gawd. For the sake of your waistline do NOT eat this stuff. It is great ice cream. Fabulous. I hope to never see it in my grocer's freezer or else I may be forced to buy it and eat it and that's BAD.

You've been warned.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Where was I?

Oh yes, food at the fair...

After enjoying our "Veggie Fries" we made our way to visit with all of the crafts and veggies on display. (No, not in the same building, in case you were curious...but they are across the street from one another.)

As you would guess, Minnesota takes their crafts very seriously. The sheer volume of knitting, crocheting, felting, weaving, etc... is something to behold. With my trusty cell phone in hand I tried to get a few of my favorites as well as demonstrate the volume. Lets see how successful I was.

That's a lot of blankets. And that's just one case.

Its about 90 degrees out. Need a hat? Perhaps a scarf?


Ok, here's my favorite item displayed. Obviously, I wasn't the only one who felt this way.


If you want to see more of my fantastic reflective shots of the crafts, feel free. I'm getting hungry so lets move to the veggies.

Giant pumpkins!

As you can see in the background, its a whole room of veggies. There area behind the pumpkins are all the largest varieties. On the outer band of the room are all of the best of winners. Todd was impressed by the volume of varieties of pepers. Yes, he's easily amused. Of course, this is coming from the person exicted by the angry granny TP cover, so really its all relative.

Enough with the healthy stuff. Our next new culinary taste were the always popular cheese curds (from a different vendor...we live life on the edge people!). I really wish someone would rename cheese curds 'cause to a west coaster, that just sounds bad. But really, there is nothing bad about deep fried cheese. That is all good. Next was the porkchop on a stick. Not new to the fair by any means but we had never had it before. Apparently we didn't go to the stand that made these famous but ours was pretty darn tasty.

We also had the Nitro ice cream (always a favorite of mine) and Todd tried the Bell Pepper rings. As you would guess, instead of onion rings, they're deep fried bell peppers. Sadly, they're not on a stick but Todd liked them.


As a take home bonus I did a bucket o' cookies. They load up the bucket above & beyond so you can't close the lid. Here's a suggestion to all of you dropping cookies or feeling that you HAD to eat a dozen in the first five minutes to shut the lid...grab a plastic bag from one of your earlier purchases. That way you can take the excess cookies, put them in the bag and then close the lid on the bucket and eat at your leisure. I know this doesn't sound all that ground breaking but you didn't see the chaos with the cookies. It was cookies everywhere...cookie anarchy really. So with our $1 all you can drink milk we enjoyed the overflow of the bucket and I was able to bring home cookies to mom and the nice people here at work who are moving me from cube to office.

See, with cookies and tshirts and a sweatshirt, you can take the fair home with you!

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Off to the Fair!

One of the myriad of reasons I go to Minneapolis over Labor Day weekend is the State Fair. Unless you've been there or some other farming state's fair, you've never seen anything like it. You and your closest 100,000 friends in one place. Though, because the fairgrounds are so large, you're not in any long lines or get pushed around too much.

We usually park in the front yard of one of the houses along the fairgrounds in St. Paul. For $20 you drive up, hand them your keys and walk right into the fair. No shuttles, no walking blocks and blocks to your car...just drive and go. Because of obvious traffic concerns, this year we decided to try something different and take the shuttle near Todd's house. $10 for the two of us round trip. And, oddly, as advertised, we walked onto the bus, and left about 5 minutes later. When we took the bus back, we walked onto it, and left about 5 minutes later. It really couldn't have been easier. And, we skipped all the traffic we usually sit in to get near the fairgrounds. Though, the rumors that you get discounted fair admission for taking the bus are false. Don't believe them. They lie. Admission is still $11. I'm just sayin'.
Because we took the shuttle we entered at a different gate over by all the live stock.

(By the way, that isn't the full fair map. I cropped it. There's more.)
Even at 9:30am, just a half hour after opening these areas were crowded. People here take their livestock very seriously....just so you know. First stop...corn dog. I mean, what says healthy state fair breakfast like a corn dog. Because we entered at a different gate, we got our dog at a different vendor. Usually we do Pronto Pup, this year we did Poncho Pup. I know, super exciting right? But, until you've had a corn dog at the fair, you haven't had a corn dog.

After our first food tasting, we did the swine barn. They pigs and sheep were very cute, despite my trying to figure out how to use the camera in my new phone.

Most of the sheep were either wearing their hoods and coats to keep them clean before they were shown, or had just been sheared. I thought it was mean to take pictures of them in their hoods (they look like unofficial members of a certain cult and really, I'm sure the sheep don't want to be seen in that light) or without any fleece. They looked so naked...cool, but naked. So here's a little guy with no hood and with his fleece just chillin'.


Here's the top boar:



I thought I got all of his stats in one picture but obviously not. As you can see Squeaky was quite content, taking in all of the attention.

Next we headed to the cattle barn and watched a few minutes of the milking demonstration. (I got bored when they hooked up the cow to a machine. Wow, watch the machine milk. Milk, machine milk. Not that advances in farming aren't fantastic. They are. Its just not super exciting to watch the machine milk.) We went inside and visited with the nice cows. I had no idea there were so many different kinds. It was cool to see them by category all in the same area..definitely gives you a good appreciation for what cattle people do and the size of these animals.

Outside of the cattle barn were the nice Alpaca people. They had alpacas and yarn and items made locally like scarves and hats and mittens. Everything was just beautiful. I chatted with Pat Hansen who owns Pure Country Alpacas. They doing a farm tour at the end of September...if I were in the metro area I'd totally go. I learned all sorts of things about alpacas and their fleece and the mill she uses the co-op she belongs to. It was pretty fantastic. Of course I had to buy a little yarn for myself, milled from her Alpacas! And, I bought a bit of hot pink roving from one of her friends who gave her roving to sell at the fair. Both are incredibly soft and if I weren't on such a spending spree that weekend I would have bought more. She had both hand spun and mill spun yarn. I'll admit, I went with the mill stuff but it wasn't for the quality. The hand spun was some of the nicest I've ever seen. But, how do you say no to 200 yards of lime green alpaca yarn? I'm so excited to have met the person who cares for the animals it came from.

Here's a (bad) picture of the alpacas they brought to the fair:

After the alpacas we went in search of more food. I mean, we had been at the fair for almost 2 hours at this point and only a corn dog to sustain us. My goal this year was either to eat stuff we hadn't had before, or, if we were going to repeat, like the corn dog, get it from a different place.

While looking for food, and for Raven, we stumbled upon "Veggie Fries." It was their first year at the fair.

As part of our food strategy, we opted to share everything so that we wouldn't explode, er, would be able to try more stuff. As you can see Todd is getting a jump start on the "Veggie Fries." Maybe it was just me, but it reminded me of vegetable tempura. But, it was darn tasty, on a stick and deep fried so it met all of the fair requirements.


Now might be a good time to let you know that Minnesota takes "on a stick" very seriously...and not just their food. I have Change on a Stick for Barack Obama that I got at the fair. They really like their stuff on a stick and take it just as far as they can.

Ok, I'm getting hungry...more food & fun tomorrow.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Taco Truck Day!



I haven't done enough research to be for or against the actions of the Los Angeles County supervisors. I mean, I see the restaurant's gripe and I understand the Taco Trucks need to make a living.
But seriously, there's an organized Taco Truck Day. That's pretty cool. That I can get behind.


















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Friday, April 25, 2008

Thrill A Minute

Not only does Gelson's have fabulous honey bran muffins for breakfast, but you can see celebrities in their sweats doing their grocery shopping. (And, if I may add, she looked quite fetching in her sweats.)

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Cookie Puff will Change your Life

Seriously. I can't make this up. Go to Beard Papa. Have a Cookie Puff. Personally I'd recommend the vanilla filling, but ya know, go with whichever you love.

Let me know if you're not hooked.

I can't do the regular cream puffs anymore.

I can't even think about the regular cream puffs anymore.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Cupcake War 2008 - Week 2

The site of the second battle: Eagle Rock, CA

The second victim: Auntie Em's.

Battle Recap:

As Auntie Em's is a restaurant as well as a bakery, I wasn't too sure what to expect. I mean, usually you have a really good restaurant or you have a really good bakery. Oddly enough Autie Em's was able to pull off both beautifully.

Now, don't get me wrong. This isn't "fine dining." The tables don't match, the chairs don't match, the waitstaff is, ahem, very friendly and the odds are good that you're going to have to wait for a table. But the vibe, man, the vibe is fabulous.

This place is friendly and fun and yummy...so very yummy. All of us ordered different food and every damn one of us was pleased.

And then we come to the cupcakes.

I'll be honest. I'm not a fan of red velvet. Mom made them on a lark and they were fine. But Auntie Em's...she provides one fine looking cupcake. (Of course Heather has mad photo skills but still, a fine looking cupcake nonetheless.) And then Steve was kind enough to share.

Do we start with the cream cheese frosting or the moist happy red velvet cake? I have no idea because they both rocked. I am now a Red Velvet fan.

And then the chocolate.

Why doG, why did I not buy one to take home?

After a full meal of half of my tuna sandwich (for the record it was huge) and Todd's Cobb salad (again amply endowed) I could only vanquish one fourth of the cupcake. One fourth went in trade to Steve and the other half went home for gramma's evaluation. She categorized the frosting as fudge...a compliment of the highest order. And, not only was she happy with what I brought home, but she saved half of what I brought her for later. Now, that is saying something.

Out of all of cupcakes bought before this one, no solid chocolate compares. This is in the land of gramma-baking. The frosting was fabulous and the cake was moist and fresh and happy.

Seriously people. I'm not really in favor of driving this far east without a good reason. Autie Em's is a damn good reason.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cookie Monster

For S'n'B tonight, we have a yarn swap and cookie exchange. Last month I brough a bunch of yarn I didn't want which quickly found an much more loving home so I can't contribute any yarn as I like what I have. But, I can bring cookies. mmmm, cookies.


Part of the cookie exchange is to bring the recipe. As mom's copy of the recipe left much to be desired (i.e. you needed psychic abilities to understand the directions), I took it upon myself to expand the directions for people other than mom to understand and add a Tools Needed section as I didn't want someone to get all excited about making these one evening only to have them look like blobs instead of happy snowflakes because they didn't know they would need a Pizzelle iron.

Pizzelles

Ingredients
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter (melted and cooled)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp anise seed or anise extract

Tools Needed
pizzelle iron
large bowl
small bowl
Italian mother
wire cooling racks
electric hand mixer (optional)

Directions
1. Place the Italian Mother ("IM") where you can see her.

2. Plug in pizzelle iron to heat while you work.
3. In the large bowl beat eggs. If you have an electric mixer place on a high setting or else the IM will tell you that you're nothing beating the eggs enough.
4. Add sugar and continue mixing.
5. Add melted cooled butter. (If the butter is hot you'll cook the eggs. Don't do that.)
6. While doing the above have the IM measure out the 1 1/2 cups of flour into the smaller bowl. Have her add the 1 tsp of baking powder to flour and mix together. (According to the IM, this is obvious as everyone knows that you are to mix baking powder and flour together before adding to the mixture.)
7. Have IM add flour slowly into larger bowl while you continue to mix & try not to choke on the flour dust. Understand why the only other person in your family with asthma was a baker. Continue until all flour/baking powder has been added & mix well.
8. Add vanilla while continuing to mix.
9. Add anise seed or anise extract while continuing to mix.
10. Once the anise is added you should have a smooth mixture. Congratulations! You now have your cookie dough.
11. Take a spoon and scoop a dollop into the dead center of each of the pizzelle mold. Don't move the dollop around if you dropped it in the wrong place or else you'll be chastised by the IM.
12. Close pizelle iron and let cookies cook for approximately 45 - 60 seconds. (After 20 seconds you can start checking to see if they're done.)
13. Once cookies are a light golden brown, remove gently. (We use a butter knife but you can use whatever you like to grab a corner and transfer to the cooking rack. They're oddly sturdy when you transfer them.)

Once you start making the cookies you can adjust the size and crispiness based on your personal taste. I like them a bit bigger and less crispy but it's a personal preference.

Let the cookies cool for about an hour. (You can start to stack them as soon as they're not completely hot) After the hour, seal them in a Ziploc sort of container to keep the moisture out.
Eat and Enjoy!


My family has been making these for generations. Although Wikipedia credits the Abruzzo region for these, my family comes from the Campania region (near Salerno) as well as an Albanian settlement somewhere in the Cosenza region. And, according to my grandfather, everyone in Italy made these and crediting one region is silly. He's 92 so he knows these things.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Cupcake War 2008 - Week 1

The site of the first battle: Pasadena, CA

The first victim:Dots



Battle Recap:

Dots is fabulous and cute with a very helpful, quick and attentive staff. Love that. In addition, there is street parking as well as a lot they share with the Pasadena Inn. Finally, a cupcake shop where I don't have to hate it before I walk in because I'm driving around the block twice and praying to the parking doGs only to have them mock me so I have to hoof it 2 blocks. Ahem, Sorry, yes, there is parking available.

As for the cupcakes themselves, they were really good. They didn't change my life the way the Cookie Puff did at Beard Papas, but if you're looking for a yummy treat in Pasadena, you need to go.

And, just to point out the obvious, they're beautiful.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Inspired!

So I'm reading Eating L.A., a blog I visit about three times a year. Its not that I don't dig Pat Saperstein's blog....just the opposite, I always enjoy it. It just isn't on my usual radar. And no, I don't need to add to the list of blogs I check every day. Seriously, that list both for work and for personal is out of control as it is. So, on a day like today when I have a few extra minutes, I read the whole thing at once. Her blog is just full of useful information. And you know, I'm all about blogs giving useful information.


Inspiration No. 1:

A cupcake map. That's right, I said it. I even linked it. (Thanks to the L.A. times for creating the map and thanks to Pat for tossing it onto her blog.) How cool is that? Most of the westside shops I've hit and blogged about. But there are more still waiting for me. In fact, I think I need to hit one new cupcake shop per week until they are all conquered. This will be a stretch as several of them are in the *gasp* valley as well as Torrance and Pasadena. But, I'm guessing I can find the will to drive.


Inspiration No. 2

Lately I've been in a bit of a rut...no fault of anyone except myself. I just haven't put the time into finding new places. Half of that is based on my new mission to save money and cook more when Todd is in town and half of that is sheer unadulterated laziness.

Last night Steve & I ventured out for chow and ended up at one of my all time favorites, Ramenya. (Don't worry, we're getting to the inspiration...) They had a sign on the wall as well as a menu for Asian-ya. Dude, its called Asian-ya. And its owned by the Ramenya kids. Seriously, how do you go wrong with a restaurant that hyphenates a "ya" in their title? The reviews aren't too promising yet but I'm still trying it. You can't stop me.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Over January

Sorry about the no posting thing. I'm of the blogging theory that if you have nothing nice to blog, you should just keep quiet.

Work has been good...super busy but I like it that way. FYI, litigators take the holidays off and then come back with a vengance after they catch up after the new year. So yeah, that's been fun. And then I'm still dealing with my own private Idaho of post-pred issues...hence the radio silence.

But, I got a fabulous haircut. Don't you just love the blurry picture? Tres artsy I know. We have high-lights, low-lights, base color and cut. Patty is the best. And she's totally reasonable in her pricing. And, she knows color. I don't say a word about the color I want 'cause she knows FAR better what looks good on me than I do. But, I do discuss what cut I want. And I'll admit that's a work in process. And I say work in process 'cause my idea of what my hair should look like and well, lets say what my hair actually is, are two very different things. So yeah, we're trying to marry fantasy with reality. Brilliance takes time.

And then to top off the fabulous hair day, I had a hot date with one of my favorite chicks. Her fiancee was trapped at sea at a company function so we headed over to Nook for dinner. YUM. Unless someone can point me elsewhere I'm confident in saying that they have the best mac'n'cheese on the westside. Of course the rest of the meal was fabulous but finding great mac'n'cheese is always worth mentioning.

I'm telling you guys, Nook is a great date place. Not too big, food is always good, staff knows what they're doing, pricing is not too cheap and not too expensive and the vibe is super comfortable and jeans with a sweater or fabulous boots casual. Seriously....I know my date restaurants.

On the knitting front I finished another Hello Kitty hat. It was a request from my hot date. Of course I couldn't show up to dinner empty-handed. She loved it so I deem it a success! I also finished the knitting on a bag but I still have to line and sew it so it doesn't count as being done yet.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Please sir, I want some more

and more we had, let me tell you.

I had every intention of being good this weekend. I cooked dinner AND breakfast and for those of you who know my eating habits, cooking two meals IN A ROW is not my usual. And I planned on cooking 2 meals a day.

Then it all fell apart.

Saturday Lunch:

Novel Cafe: I dig this place. Its in Westwood, has free Wifi, good food and both indoor and outdoor seating. Every time I've eaten here I've had something different and I've always been happy. For lunch I had the veggie burger. And, unlike most places, this one gives you the option of white or wheat bun. Nothing cancels out a veggie burger like a white bun...I mean, might as well have the real hamburger if you're going that way. But, encased in a fresh wheat bun, it was tres yummy.

Diddy Reese: Of course with all that healthy eating, we had to have dessert. I've been going to Diddy Reese since I was a kid. $0.25 for a cookie was the right price on my allowance. Yeah, we're up to $0.35 now, big spender. But, on this special occasion, I opted for a fresh ice-cream sandwich...$1.50, seriously you can't beat it. And, if you've never been there because you're scared of the line I have two suggestions for you: go early or brave the line, it only takes a few minutes and its totally worth it.

Saturday Dinner:

Fufaibo: I've blogged about it before, so I won't bore you again. But, there was some FANTASTIC people watching there on Saturday. For the Minnesota kids, lets just say we had two townies on a date. Yeah, they were special. We loved them.

Beard Papa: Ok, maybe you can eat somewhere on Sawtelle without stopping there for dessert. But I can't. Don't judge me.

Sunday:

Breakfast:

Ok, it really wasn't my fault as I needed to get new tires put on whtvr so our options were rather limited. But, I will tell you that I'm digging Liberty Tire. If you need tires, go there. My mechanic recommended them and really the boys couldn't have been nicer.

Lunch:

Lawton's: Todd and I walked by this place when we were down at the Convention Center for the Eukanuba Dog Show (yeah, I just realised that I forgot to post about that.) Anyways, we were on a hunt for pretzels and although Lawton's doesn't have pretzels, we made a mental note about this place. Boy are we glad we did. We popped down to the Aquarium with Steve and Melissa and after a few hours of staring at really pretty fish we were hungry.

Lawton's might not look like much as they're just a counter with no tables and chairs but the food is cheap and they make everything fresh to order. We were all super happy with our food...we had a veggie burger (yeah, me), fries, onion rings, hot dogs and fish and chips...we sat on the grass a few feet away and had an impromptu picnic...if you're in the area and chain restaurants scare you (as they do me), I highly recommend Lawton's!

Dinner:

Yeah, 'cause we haven't eaten enough yet.

Brasa Brasil just opened in Culver City. (I now have only one more restaurant to eat at in this mini-mall before I have it conquered.) If you're a meat eater, you need to try this place. All you can eat meat. Seriously. You start out with the all you can eat salad bar and sides. Both are quite good. Between the cheesy bread and the mashed potatoes, I was a happy camper. But then we come to why we go to Brasa....the food is Brasilian bbq which means that the waiters bring out meat cooked on what looks like a sword for you to yay or nay. We did a whole lot of yaying. Yum. And, if you have your table marker pointed to yes, the food just keeps on coming...bacon wrapped chicken, garlic beef, lamb, etc... and coming until you cry uncle. Granted, as some Yelpers have said, this is not Fogo de Chao. Duh. The 6 of us at (with tip) ate for about $150. Seriously, you can't do that at Fogo. And, like its neighbor Giovonni's, you can bring your own wine to Brasa and they don't charge you a corkage.

And then Monday lunch was Pink's (I had a Turkey dog...even that's good!) and dinner consisted of gramma's homemade Italian Wedding Soup and pasta with gramma's homemade vodka sauce.

Yeah, I'll be eating veggies and popcorn for the rest of the week....

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Trying new things

We all have our comfort zone. I know I do. When I go to the mall, I park in the same area so I can always find my car. You know, that sort of thing. So, since I'm getting out of the house again, I wanted to try a few new things, and try not to stick to the same things I always do/eat/whatever.

Miyako: Brigitta and I finally had dinner on Thursday. (My fault, not hers). She was tossing out various places to eat (one of the perks of Culver City living) and we both agreed on Miyako. It was the one place in that minimall I hadn't been yet. Despite the casual look of the place, the service couldn't be better. The ladies were just lovely. The food was quick, inexpensive and quite tasty. One word of advice, try to order what you can eat. I brought my extra tempura home and tried to eat it as leftovers. Yeah, that didn't work too well. But, I think if I was more careful to order only what I could eat, I would have been a perfect inexpensive meal.

Dupars: k8 and I finally had lunch on Saturday. (My fault, not hers). We were tossing out various places to push around the baby and we both agreed on Farmer's Market (one of the perks of Westside living). Upon wandering around Farmer's Market we decided Dupars would be a good place to try. Neither of us had been and there were waitresses to bring us our food...a definite perk considering the crowds at The Grove/Farmer's Market on a Saturday. Despite the casual look of the place, the service was quite good. Our waitress was lovely. The food was quick, inexpensive and quite tasty. We sat outside on the patio and watched the cars go by and gave us some room and an easy exit for when our guest of honor needed to move around. If you're looking for a reasonably priced place to sit and eat at the Grove/Farmer's Market, I'd definitely recommend Dupars.

Guelaguetza: Ok, this is the inspiration for this post. I had been to Guelaguetza years ago. I really didn't like it. I couldn't even eat the food I ordered. And I was hungry. And it just sat there. And I was sad. But, its been a few years and those wounds have healed. So, when famished and facing the decision on where to eat, with Guelaguetza's Venice Blvd. outpost staring at me, I thought how better to try to step outside myself than to give a second chance to a place I know is good but I didn't like the first time. If you're not familiar with Oaxaquenan food, read the website or go to Wikipedia or something. This ain't your Taco Bell Mexican. This is something completely different. And inexpensive. And they have Mexican Coke. And it was all good. I think if I were to go again I would like to go with someone who really understands mole and Oaxaquenan food. I think that would make all the difference.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Good Enough

I try to keep this blog sunshine and moonbeams but I can't be adequately thankful for this past year without being completely honest about how this past year ended.

Its been an incredible year filled with a new job, new friends, travel, love and really just about anything a girl could want.*

Christmas held family and friends, even a logical sighting at Xian (the only yummy restaurant open in Beverly Hills on Christmas) and more gift cards and knitting books than I can still wrap my head around.

My birthday began at the Bel Air Hotel where we sat next to the Divine Miss M but ended almost going to the emergency room. I didn't go...I'm lucky to have the only pulmonologist on call during his vacation and he walked me through the medications needed to breathe again....medications I hate and will tell each and every one of you not to take unless its those medications or the hospital. But they work. And I blog now after 36 of the toughest hours I've had all year.

Therefore, I begin 2008 humbled and grateful for all that I have.

To my loyal blog readers, I thank you. I hope your 2008 extraordinary.

XOXO,
Jenna

*I must admit, I am still waiting for that Mini Cooper to appear in my driveway, with keys and a title in my name.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Guilt and then some

So I took this amazing class at the Urban Craft Center on Sunday. It was their yarn dying/painting class with John Pitblado. The class was fabulous. John was fabulous. The students were fabulous. My newly dyed and painted yarn is fabulous. But I haven't had time to upload my pictures or really review my notes to give you a good description about the class and how, well, fabulous it all was.

And I feel poorly for that.

So yeah.

My bad.

If you get the chance to take a class with John, please take that class; it'll change your life.

Seriously.

But lets talk about Craft. I had the good fortune to eat at Craft in Century City today. We were part of a 45 person private party so I'm not sure if my experience is typical but I really liked it. We had this super cute room at the back that sat all of us quite comfortably. Despite all the chatting, it wasn't too noisy. The staff inside the room was friendly. The food was good. And, best of all, someone else was paying. So, if you get a chance to eat there for free, I say go for it.

Next up: Il Moro

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Crumbs

Ah, the beginning of a new blogging era. I'm so excited I could almost explode. I'm sorry for my absence last week. I didn't blow up the internet but I did blow up any desire to blog after forcing myself for 30 days. But today, today is a new day people. We have cupcakes and porta-potties and captive animals and Christmas, oh my!

We'll start with the cupcakes.

So I'm watching Access Hollywood last week (shut up) and they're talking about Crumbs in Beverly Hills. Well, its a good thing I drove by it later that week and saw it with my own two eyes, because according to their website, there is no Beverly Hills location. But, that was a petty annoyance from this morning...moving on...

After visiting Chroma and Arturo, I walked the two blocks to Crumbs to sample their wares. Let me tell you, its overwhelming in there. This is the anti-Sprinkles. Its bright, its crowded with merchandise, its colorful...I felt so at home. The nice girl behind the counter was well, nice and helpful.


I picked the obvious chocolate ding-dong looking cupcake that everyone photographs as well as the Carmel Apple. Ok, the chocolate was good but the Carmel Apple made me not want to share. And I don't love carmel, but I love this cupcake.

So, next time you find yourself in Beverly Hills desperately in need of a cupcake, I would suggest Crumbs. While you're there, please pick up a Carmel Apple and surprise me with whatever else looks good. You know where to find me.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

I understand the Boy Scouts a little more now.


Dude, I so earned that badge. Its mine. That's right. I did that. You have to look at it. Even if I did a mediocre job of blogging everyday, I still did it.
Ok, now that I'm done basking in my own glory, a brief wrap-up on the NaBloPoMo thang.
I agree its a great writing exercise. But, here's the thing, like any exercise, you shouldn't have to subject the outside world to your pain. Writing everyday is good. Having me share what I write everyday is bad. And that's really what I learned from this. For me, blogging for the sake of blogging is a really bad plan. Blogging when I have something amusing or useful to say is a really good plan.
For example, dim sum at CBS Seafood in downtown L.A. is a really good idea. And the kids on Chowhound were right. The larger your group, the faster you're seated. See, that's useful information. If you're looking for good, solid dim sum in downtown L.A. and you have a boatload of people to please, you just learned where to find it.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving came early

Because of Mom's mad cooking skilz, she's a wee busy this time of year. This week alone, she's already baked dog and people cookies and made two batches of soup. For Thanksgiving, she's doing two turkeys, one for my stepdad and one for the extended family. Then there's the salad and veggies she's making for 33 people. (No, I'm not kidding.) Did I mention she works full time? Yeah, she's a bit busy. I understand this. However, what I didn't understand was the announcement that she wasn't making stuffing. As someone else had that responsibility for the main dinner, she figured she wouldn't do it this year.

That's not funny.

That's like Christmas with no gifts.

That's like Halloween with no costumes.

That's like Jenna with no designer shoes.

We don't joke about things like that.

Needless to say, I was a bit disturbed. Several conversations ensued. Conversations turned to negotiations. The final agreement: in addition to my usual indentured servitude, I would exchange my chopping assistance for her willingness to making stuffing. Completely fair if you ask me.

Tonight, I chopped celery, onions and eight heads of brociflower, giddy with the thought of stuffing tomorrow.

I knew she was doing the stepdad turkey today. What I didn't know is that she stuffed it for me. I'm sitting upstairs knitting a gift and she pages me for turkey. After finishing the row I was on I saunter down:

"There's the stuffing. Its all yours."

(blink, blink) All of it?

"Well, leave a bite for Tony, but yeah, all of it."

Its sick how happy I was about this. I was dancing around the kitchen. It was so good. It was everything I've been waiting for for the last year. My blessed stuffing.

"The hills are alive, with the taste of stuffing...."

Plus, I get more tomorrow from the Turkey she's making for the family dinner. (There's a small group of us who share that stuffing. Everyone else gets the "other stuff." Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Thanksgiving came early today.

doG bless us, everyone.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Panic at the Disco

I'm a professional shopper, kids don't try this at home, filmed on a closed course, no animals were harmed in the shopping at this mall. I shop the department stores, big box stores, boutiques, sample sales, outlets, you name it, I'll shop it. I've been pushed, elbowed, glared at and threatened. If there's a deal, I'll find it and I don't care what you say, how you look at me or how you try to get by me, I won't be intimidated. But, with all that being said, there are certain understood rules to shopping.

Rule 1: Get in early, hit hard, and get out.
Rule 2: Don't Panic.
Rule 3: Use only as much force is necessary but don't hurt anyone enough to get thrown out.

And yet, this early in the game, all of the above rules are being broken. Not cool.

We went to Costco last Saturday at opening to get the majority of our Thanksgiving shopping out of the way. We grabbed our cart and sauntered inside. People were literally running through the aisles with their shopping carts. Running. Why are you people running? Seriously. Its Saturday. I don't understand. Why are you freaking out? That's so not in the shopping handbook; you're breaking all of the rules. Just so you know, Thanksgiving isn't tomorrow, its Thursday. The store is empty. The prices don't change in 10 minutes. This isn't Black Friday.

And that brings us to to Black Friday....

If people are freaking out the Saturday before Thanksgiving, what sort of chaos and anarchy are we in for on Black Friday? Unless requested otherwise, I'll have my booty firmly planted in my bed, watching bad TV, shows on my DVR, knitting, wrapping Christmas gifts (see shopping credentials above) and such what not. But, I don't really think I'll be venturing too far outside my neighborhood. I've seen the Walmart video. Those amateurs scare me. They don't play by the rules.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

File this under stuff I didn't know

Tito's Tacos chips never go bad.

I was the lucky recipient of boxes of tacos and bags of chips last Saturday. I put one of the paper bags full of chips into a very fancy Gelson's plastic grocery bag and tied it up. Its like a Ziploc only not.

Mom calls me at work today to announce we're going over to a friend's house for dinner. She grabbed the bag o' chips, and a bin o' Tito's salsa and a 3 chick party was born. Both the chips and the salsa tasted exactly as they did last Saturday.

I'm not sure if I'm excited or frightened by this discovery.

Then I came home, walk and fed the pups, watched Heroes on my DVR and knitted.

Do I know how to party or what?

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Other People's Opinions

Not that I really care what other people think, but here were a few votes on favorites in L.A.:

Tito's Tacos: The received two HUGE votes. (Warning, the website opens with a very, uhm, interesting theme song. So if you're reading from work or with a sleeping baby, you're warned.)

Gelson's Spinach Artichoke dip: You get no link because I can't even believe I'm telling you about it. Its the best Spinach Artichoke dip out there. Hands down. Chips down. Every other Spinach artichoke dip must bow in reverence. Best. Ever.

Have a Corn Chip: Love these. Like Pinkberry, they have a taste that's slightly different than what you're used to with your corn chips. And, like Pinkberry, they're vaguely addicting. But, yummy nonetheless.

Phoenix Bakery: Best bang for your cake buck. Super affordable, super yummy and a great excuse to run downtown for some art and some lunch.

Sugar cookies (with different kinds of sprinkles) from this bakery in the South Bay but I can't tell you the name because I tossed the box. (k8, could you comment or email me the name of the bakery? thanks. and, uhm, B could you send me the name of your Indian place. I forgot to ask about that.) Yeah, the cookies are freakin' spectacular. And I'm a sugar cookie connoisseur.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

A few of my favorite things

When I started this post I was going to write blurbs about all of my favorite restaurants around L.A. Then I realised that I eat a lot and the more I listed the more I thought I needed to add. Therefore, today's contribution will be various Asian restaurants I can't live without and the yummy deserts that often follow.

Westwood:
Mr. Noodle: Good, cheap, fast and nex door to Diddy Reese, which is also good, cheap and fast.

Sawtelle:
Little Hong Kong Cafe (Thanks to Catherine for letting me know this has reopened. I was sad when it was closed.): best inexpensive Chinese on the Westside.

Curry House: Best Japanese curry. If you like it hot or not (I order "white-girl mild" which they completely understand), its fantastic and even better as leftovers the next day.

Beard Papa: Cream Puffs filled while you watch for $1.75. (Ok, I think that's the dirtiest sounding sentance I've ever written.)

FuRaiBo: I don't even know how to describe the food. The linked website calls it Izakaya style but without wikipedia, I don't know what Izakaya style is. When I tell people about it I describe it as Japanese tapas. Its little plates of yummy goodness. And I also tell them to try the cheese filled fried fish balls. If I haven't scared them at that point, they're going to love it. Its not the kind of place for people who are afraid of new foods.

Blue Marlin: For years I didn't go in as the specials board outside sounded weird. Then Regina took me. Ever since, I go there when I need comfort food but I want something more interesting than a deli.

For those of you willing to go east:

Korean:

Tahoe Galbi: Recommended by the most rockin' Korean chick in L.A. She was correct. For two lovers of the Korean BBQ and two who have never witnessed the goodness that is cooking your own food, this was a great pick. Yummy, cheap ($16/pp all you can eat) and well-ventilated (we sat on the "patio" which is an enclosed space but has huge windows) and an attached parking lot, you can't ask for much more in Koreatown.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

To Ugo we go!

Last night I had dinner with the always charming B. You know you have a true friend when that friend is out running errands only to return to find you in their house, after letting their dog out of the kennel, with your feet up knitting away with the aformentioned dog hanging out by your side and their thinking that's a great way to start an evening.

Off to Ugo we go.

Now, I adore Culver City. I think Westwood could take a cue or two on this little slice of L.A. just improving by the day. Not only does Culver have food, but good food, interesting food. So, any suggestions B makes on a new place, I'm in.

Ugo is just darling with their main restaurant and then their separate gellato/dessert/light menu cafe next door. Because it was a nice evening we opted for the patio. Sadly, we were not informed that this patio is a smoker's paradise. (Note to smokers: This is your place. Anyone who gripes that you have no place to go and smoke, I've just given you a yummy one.) Also we were not informed that the service would be less than acceptable. (sigh) But, I will openly admit that the food was very good.

With the smoke and the level of service, there are just too many places to try in Culver City now to settle for anything less than fabulous. So, I think it'll be awhile before I give Ugo another chance-o. But, if you're a smoker and you want a friendly place to hang out, enjoy!

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Return of the Century City Farmers Market

Well color me excited! Not even oxygen related challenges could keep me away from the rumor of the return of the Century City Farmer's Market. Word on the mall was that if you crossed over the bridge (over Century Park East) there it would be in its market glory.

And there it was.

I was first met with my favorite flower place. I love these guys. The always have the freshest flowers at the best prices. And, every now and then, like today, they have really odd looking flowers (fuzzy, blood red, and $3, oh my!) which of course I had to buy.

Because all the kids are not crammed up against half a sidewalk anymore, it *looks* smaller. But all of the usual vendors (organic and non-organic fruits and veggies, soap chick, cheese crisp guy, etc...) as well as my favorite vendors (almond guy, Greek guy, previously mentioned flower guy) were all there. And, there were quite a few new ones. Not to mention quite a bit of choices if you want to buy more than fruit and veggies for lunch. There's Korean food, Hawaiian food, African food, Mexican food, and at least 3 other food stalls I don't remember the type (please note the oxygen related challenges above). But, I'm super excited to make this a weekly walk.

So yeah, if you work in Century City or plan on stoppin' by the market, please do! I was told that the vendors are being charged more to sell there so they're trying it for a few months to see if its worth their time. Seriously, the prices and quality are fabulous go spend your money there.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Sawtelle, the untold story

Ok, seriously, have you ever eated at a restaurant on Sawtelle that wasn't good? I mean, some of the places aren't life changing, but they're at a minimum good. That just occurred to me.

You're welcome.

So Regina & I went to Fabulous Fiber Fest 2007 (summed up beautifully in both pictures and words by Ellen). I enjoyed it, got my annual fill of people in ren faire costumes without having to actually go to the ren faire, bought some fabulous yarn, regret not buying more yarn, and did lunch. A good time was had by all.

(Don't worry, I'm getting to the above random Sawtelle mention.)

Blue Marlin...I've walked by this place about a hundred times and have even glanced at the menu. I'll be honest. It scared me. But, not one to turn down a challenge and a promise of yummy food, in we went.

The menu is fantastically random. Apple pie, green tea ice cream, risotto (with either cream or tomato sauce), hamburger steak plate, the list goes on. Being a risotto expert, I decided to try the wild mushrooms risotto. And let me tell you, the title didn't lie, there were multiple mushrooms in it and it was really good. And, let me tell you another thing, I'm really picky with my risotto.

So yeah, next time you venture down to Sawtelle to eat at Little Hong Kong Cafe, don't be sad when you see the paper on the windows, the door locked and a really random ransom looking note that says no solicitors in several languages, go a few doors over and try Blue Marlin instead. You won't be disappointed.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Man fakes, women enjoy

So Carla knows like half of L.A. (all the kids I don't know); one of her former acting class buddies invited her to his one man show. Now, to be completely honest, I wasn't expecting much. I've been to a small play or two in this town and sadly, the small ones tend to disappoint.

Holy crap was I wrong on this one. Go see Men Fake Foreplay at the Hayworth. Ticket link here. The last performance is on the 24th so you have a few weeks. Seriously. Not only is it funny as all get out, but its raw and honest and just a great show. Carla and I are still calling each other up talking about different things Mike said.

Here we are, great show, great company, now all we need is great food. We head over to Sonora Cafe on La Brea. You all know it; its been there for about a zillion years and you've driven by it about a thousand times. We walk in and its just gorgeous inside. The staff is friendly the chips are yummy and the drinks are fabulous. We order a few appetizers (I mean its after 10, a whole meal isn't sounding like much of an idea) and here they come. I hate to say it, but my guacamole kicks their guacamole's bootay. That shouldn't be. Their guac was bland. Sad. Alone. Needing love and attention. Next we move onto the chicken soft tacos. Its the same. They look purty, but like your hot 21 year old date, that's all you get. Hmmm. Carla felt the need to say something so they knew. Since she's the super model cute one, not to mention the super nice one, I nominated her. Needless to say, the manager did the right thing (without her asking) and pulled the guac off the bill.

Review: Go have drinks here. The ambiance, the staff and the drinks themselves are worth a visit. Though, I need to hear from someone that the food for dinner is fabo before I return for a meal.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

E Baldi Birthday

Last night I ventured into Beverly Hills for a birthday dinner at E Baldi. Now, I'm not one for the Malibu scene so I didn't know or care that this place is owned by the same family that has Georgio Baldi in Malibu. But, the waiter will point this out to you on several occasions to impress upon you that yes, they do know what they're doing. Which leads to the question, why do you need to let me know that you know what you're doing? Surely your Cannon Drive location and the prices on the menu allude that you know how to prepare food.

Ambiance.

Sparse. That's OK...minimalism works for me. However, the tables are very small and having a party of more than 4 is dinner suicide. We had 11.

Now, I didn't realise that our large party was a bad idea until we were hours into the meal. Here we are chatting and eating and what not and there are all these people gathered at the hostess station waiting for their table glaring at us. Nothing is better than having an agent and his team of minions glare at you for taking up a good portion of the restaurant. I just gave my best look to say "Hey buddy, I'm not in your business...your glare means nothing to me." So, that was amusing.

What wasn't amusing was their putting a party of 3 next to us that no longer allowed any movement from one side of the table to the other. We had to go around the ENTIRE restaurant any time we wanted to talk to someone at the opposite end of the table. Yeah, they crammed that many tables into that small room.

And I haven't even started on the noise.

Holy crap was it loud in there. I mean, we lost the father of the birthday honoree as well as the brother, sister-in-law and niece due to the noise. Thank doG this is L.A. and everyone, even those that live together, took separate cars, otherwise, this would have been a taxi-heavy evening.

It was loud.

Really loud.

Chiniose on Main loud.

Don't eat dinner there loud.

OK, so we've covered that its loud. Lets move onto the service.

OK, if I'm paying that much for my dinner, I want brilliance. I want stellar service and I want amazing food. I didn't get either. There was no follow-up on the drinks (wine glasses were left painfully empty), no bus boys to clear in a timely manner, no attention to detail, nothing. Yes, our waiter was charming with his Northern Italian accent and knowledge of the preparation of the food. But, for me, that's really not enough.

Food.

Now I understand why agents and actors love this place. The food is fine. Its expensive and tasty but you're not going to break your size 0 diet by insisting on your own appetizer and licking your plate after your entree. You're happy to split something and the portions are fair to small so you're really not breaking any rules here. Now granted, I'm tough to please on Italian food based on my background (Southern Italian from mom, Northern Italian from dad) but it is possible to do. Give me fresh ingredients and chef who knows what they're doing and I'm a happy pasta-eating camper. Give me food that's been sitting and chef who feels rushed and I'm not overly amused. Now, several people loved their food. And that's nice. I'm happy for them. Was it great? Nope.

So why is it becoming the new darling of Beverly Hills where restaurants die on a daily basis?

Heck if I know. I can tell you there were more agents and industry people in that one small restaurant than I've ever seen in one spot before. And remember, until recently I worked next to CAA's new Deathstar. So, that's really saying something. At one table, we had an actress politely waiting for not one, not two, but three agents for dinner. Now that I'm looking at IMDB I think my first identification of her was wrong. The others I'm quite sure of. We had a very pregnant wedding crasher with her exceedingly attractive girlfriends as well a Jack with a female friend.

So, if you need to industry gawk, here are the details:

E Baldi
375 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 248-2633

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tsujino Hana

Its been years since I've been to Tsujino Hana. Back in the dot.com days, it was a regular haunt for us. First dot.coms went boom and then k8 and mrk moved and then s.ly moved and then we really had no reason to go. I mean, its in this little strip mall in the Marina and unless you live in Marina Del Rey or Venice, it is truly traffic suicide to get there.

HOLY CRAP is it worth death by traffic.

Its like having o.k. pizza and then having REALLY GOOD pizza and you remember why you don't waste the carbs and the calories to eat pizza until you know its going to be REALLY GOOD. Or, maybe that's just me.

But anyways, I overheard the following words last week in the office:

"Yeah, lets go to California Roll. The sushi is really good."

Ok, I haven't had sushi in a few months and I was cringing at that statement because: a) its a chain; b) I've been to that West L.A. location (as well as the Downtown location); c) its fine; and d) its not really very good. If someone in the office had the nerve to say that within earshot of me now that I've been reminded of the happy goodness of Tsujino Hana, I'd cry. Or, maybe I'd grab them by the shoulders and shake them. Neither would be good for my career but if I talked them into truly fabulous sushi, it would be worth it.

Tsujino Hana
4714 Lincoln Blvd., D3
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
310.827.1433

P.S.-Happy Birfday s.ly!

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Friday, June 08, 2007

X marks the spot

I actually went out on a Friday night, seriously shocking, especially considering the options available in Century City.

Houstons - Personally, I'd rather stab myself with a pencil than brave the happy hour crowd here. Its beyond crowded. Its Christmas mall crowded. Its not fun crowded. Its I'd rather hand with Dick & Jane crowded.

French 75 - Been there, done that, don't want to go back. My main complaint with this place both for lunch and happy hour is the service. No matter how empty or crowded they are, the servers are always overwhelmed and inattentive.

The Cellar - The constant stand-by - There are people who work in Century City who don't know about this place which is surprising all on its own. Despite being under new ownership, the Cellar is still the same as its always been. If you feel that drinks in L.A. are obscenely expensive, hit the happy hour at the Cellar. It'll restore you faith in the existence of reasonably priced alcohol.

But wait, there's more! We have a new kid on the block! X bar just opened. Its inside the Century Plaza and quite pretty really. The drinks tasty, the food quite addictive and we're already planning another outing. I don't think they've attracted the full crowd that they're after. I didn't see much of the CAA-ICM peeps but they are getting the office kids and really, our money is just as green, even if the CAA-ICM contingent dresses better.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

View from the Top

I had the pleasure of eating at the Roof Garden Restaurant at the Peninsula Hotel. It was just gorgeous and I'm not just talking about the hotel itself or the view. Let me put it to you this way, you're sitting in the path to the pool. And, people who stay at the Peninsula don't tend to be ugly. Cowboy up, grab a seat and enjoy the scenery. But as I've said before, the food is not perfect. It was fine, but really, you're paying for the atmosphere...not that its a bad thing mind you. I just wanted to warn you in advance.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Before I start the actual post I feel the need to explain my crap titles. One of you has registered a formal complaint and I'll take this time to respond.

I really don't believe in titles. I mean, they're good for books, but for my own essays and such, I have never found them necessary. However, Homer always gave me crap about that and insisted that I title my essays. So, I used cheesy titles just to appease him. If he had insisted on good titles, I would have worked harder at it. But just having a title seemed to work for him and really it was all about Homer. The joke is on me since I'm incapable of liking anything but horrid titles.

Today is gramma's birthday. (Gramma styled this photo in case you were wondering; she LOVES it.)

Since she wouldn't let us plan a party, we went out to dinner. Wow, the Sultan of Brunei is a hellova hotel owner. The Bel Air Hotel is stunning to the point where the grounds even smell good. Seriously. When was the last time you were in a parking lot and it smelled good? The food was spectacular AND the staff was genuinely nice. I was overwhelmed.

As expected, I had a celebrity sighting. There was also some musician guy who pulled up in a yellow Porche while we were waiting for our car. But, I'm musically challenged so I haven't a clue who he was. But I recognised him. Sort of.

If I win the lottery, I'm spending a large amount of time there. This place seriously kicks the Penisula and Beverly Hills Hotels' asses.

I know, I'm Klassy. Its a gift.

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