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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Eat In. Top 10 sangrias for the summer.

What's better than coming home to a chilled pitcher of sangria on a summer evening?

Recently The Travel Connoisseurs posted their top 10 sangria finds, including peach white sangria (made with pinot grigio, champagne, and apple juice), pomegranate sangria, and a "red and white sangria."

A few of the ingredients used in the mix are ones I never considered using in a sangria, like Captain Morgan Spiced Rum or 7Up, but each of these recipes sounds delicious and a nice way to mix up your summer sangrias.

-- Lauren Williams

Check It. National Candy Month.



June is national candy month, and that's reason enough for me to indulge. While unfortunately there is no Dylan's Candy Bar in L.A., we do have the delicious and historic See's Candies. Their La Cienega location, which maybe you've seen on the way to the airport, was training grounds for Lucy and Ethel before the famous chocolate assembly line show.

Another great chocolate shop in Los Angeles is Teuscher, which I've already written about here.

Whether it's lollipops, Snickers, Swedish Fish, or gourmet chocolate that's your fix, grab a bite (or two ...) of your favorite candy before June is over!

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: coolchaser

Advance Notice. The Edison's Radio Room.

The speakeasy-themed Edison is one of my favorite bars in downtown, if not in all of L.A. even. I love the relentless commitment to its theme (even down to the dress code), and they've always got something special going on, from the absinthe fairies to the burlesque performances to those infamous soup kitchen happy hours.

And of course, let's not forget the drinks! The Edison's got a great cocktail menu; and even if it can set you back quite a bit money-wise, the attention to detail put into the drinks is definitely worth it. They care about their cocktails here, and that's even more evident on Radio Room nights. Radio Room is the Edison's monthly cocktail event, when acclaimed mixologists (fun word for those fancy trained bartenders who create new cocktails) from all over the world are invited to come and offer their array of unique concoctions, alongside appetizers and live music. It's one of those fun, in-the-know kind of events, guaranteed to offer some of the best in drinking.

The next Radio Room is happening Tuesday, July 13 at 8pm, and you can get your tickets now. There is a $10 admission charge for the event, on top of drinks (usually around $12-$14 each), but we're talking about exclusive here!

But of course, if you're not down for dropping serious money on serious drinks, you can celebrate the grand return of the 35-cent martini happy hour, happening Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5pm-7pm. You get one (usually quite strong) special Edison martini for 35 cents, and 40% off all other cocktails. See you all there!

The Edison is located at 108 W 2nd St. in downtown.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Eater LA

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Check It. New on DVD this week.

Two very different--and worthwhile in their own rights--films are available on DVD today.

Michael Haneke's (The Piano Teacher, Funny Games) Oscar-nominated film from 2009, The White Ribbon, is set in pre-WWI Germany and has a similar sense of darkness done well as other Haneke films.

Hot Tub Time Machine is on the other end of the movie spectrum, but is also a great pick for a DVD purchase or rental. Four buddies are transported back to their heydays (1980's) by a ... you guessed it, hot tub time machine. With John Cusack leading the pack, you know it's going to be fun as well as funny, also thanks to the whole group of actor-comedians who star, including Rob Corddry.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: filmofilia.com

Advance Notice. Zidane at the Hammer.

Although he's officially retired and not in this year's World Cup, his shocking headbutt four years ago is one of those amazing, crazy moments recorded forever in soccer history.

Next Tuesday, if you haven't yet gotten your fill of football, the Hammer Museum in Westwood will be showing an art film shot from the footballer's perspective, shot one year before the fateful game between France and Italy.

The 2006 game was the first time I had heard of the Marseilles-native Zinedine Zidane, but for his French fans Zidane is a long-time household name. For those of us who haven't known Zidane since he was with Real Madrid, a look into what a soccer match looks like from the perspective of a major footballer could be very interesting, especially as the World Cup comes to a close July 11.

The documentary is being shown July 6 at 7:00 p.m. for free at the Hammer Museum. The Hammer is located at 10899 Wilshire Blvd.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. Submit a video to the Guggenheim's YouTube Play.

There's no doubt about it--YouTube has changed the world. It's changed the way we use the internet, the way we interact visually, the way we live our lives. In the simplest terms, it's done all this by having given everyone the ability to be a filmmaker, for better or worse.

But the Guggenheim Museum is thinking for the better. Inspired by the fact that YouTube allows for creativity and creation regardless of budget, background, experience, etc., the museum is presenting "YouTube Play," a global online initiative in search of the most innovative and original videos out there. They're looking for what's next in the online video world, and what kinds of creative opportunities the rise of YouTube has brought to this generation.

So let's show them what you've got! Got a creative video from the past two years? Be it a music video, narrative work, animation, documentary--anything original--you can submit it now to youtube.com/play. From there, 200 videos will be selected to go up for judging by a select group of experts, then pared down to 20 to be shown at a special event in October. But hurry--you've only got until July 31st to submit your video. Can't wait to see the submissions!

-- Chau Tu

Monday, June 28, 2010

Check It. Entourage Season 7.

The boys are back, and much is the same for Vinny Chase's entourage. The Season 7 opener felt very familiar, with Vincent in the hands of a wild director, Drama trying to get work, E cruising around in his Masarati, and Mrs. Ari complaining at her husband, via iPhone, that he's not at their children's school. Ari Gold did have a moment, when the power agent said "I represent everybody."

While some sameness is nice after a break between seasons, I'm hoping next week's episode will bring something fresh to the story.

Entourage is on HBO Sundays at 10:30 p.m.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: HBO

Check It. Aquarium Drunkard's "L'Aventure" compilation [The Monday Download].

I still remember the first time I listened to Television. It was in college, a few years ago, and although I had heard of the band before--namely for their association with the New York punk and CBGB's scene--I'd never really paid much attention to any of their songs. But it was summer, and a friend was introducing me to Marquee Moon, and most pointedly, its title track. With those dueling guitars and the snarling punk vocals, I've never looked back.

And admittedly, I didn't look forward either. I neglected to listen to the band's next and basically last album (they broke up soon afterward, and then reunited in 1992, but it's just not the same), Adventure, but it seems like a lot of other people haven't listened to it either. L.A. music blog Aquarium Drunkard hopes to change that.

With its new compilation L'Aventure, AD rounded up a few local up-and-coming bands like The Henry Clay People, Foreign Born, The Deadly Syndrome, Local Natives and The Growlers to do covers of songs from Adventure. What I've heard so far has been great, and has definitely piqued my interest in the original album.

Get a taste of the covers album by clicking here. What's even better: the entire eight-track compilation is free as a high-quality download, but you can also make a donation, of which 100% goes to the Silverlake Conservatory of Music. Even with just a $5 donation, you'll be supporting local music in so many ways. What a deal!

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Aquarium Drunkard

Do It. Meatless Mondays.

Started by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to encourage a more high-fiber lifestyle and lower global emissions, the Meatless Mondays movement has become insanely popular. The movement has a regular spot on the Huffington Post, Paul McCartney is all over it, Mario Batali is implementing it in his kitchen, and restaurants around the world are trying to go vegetarian once a week.

On the Meatless Mondays site you can find all kinds of recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacking, including over 30 breakfast options that include the apricot pistachio baked yogurt and the southwestern breakfast tortilla.

It can be really hard for some people to go all-out veg, but one day a week is a really tangible solution so give it a shot! It's just one day.

-- Lauren Williams

Friday, June 25, 2010

Do It. L.A. Record's 100 Festival.

Music publication L.A. Record is one of those local hard-working, grassroots efforts that unfortunately seems to go underappreciated most of the time. The free independent broadsheet is short but sweet, available at hip spots like Amoeba and Origami Vinyl, and all about promoting some of L.A.'s best musicians and artists from the bottom up--their website says they were the first to give bands like No Age and Cold War Kids interviews, and put others like Flying Lotus on the front page (which is usually fashioned after a well-known album cover).

And L.A. Record isn't backing down yet. Five years after their first issue, they're celebrating their 100th release, and bringing you along for the fun. The L.A. Record 100 Festival is kind of ridiculous, in the best way--purchase an L.A. Record 100 card for $24.99, and you instantly have the chance to head into about 100 of the city's best concerts for free or at a deep discount. That's right--A HUNDRED concerts featuring local and well-known bands, in the span of the next month. You can even bring some of your friends in for some of the shows too, with just one card. Beyond that, 100% of the proceeds from the card sales go to the CalArts Community Arts Partnership program.

Check out the entire list of available shows here, and get your card quickly--the kick-off concert with Abe Vigoda and a very special guest (which I'm going to guess has something to do with the ever-present-in-the-local-scene No Age guys) is tomorrow, and the shows only last until the end of July. And remember that some of the shows require RSVPing beforehand. Happy 100th issue, L.A. Record!

The L.A. Record 100 card is available online here, Origami Vinyl in Echo Park, {open} in Long Beach, or the kick-off show at the Nomad Gallery.

-- Chau Tu

Do It. The Leopard at L.A. Film Fest.

Luchino Visconti's 1963 film, Il Gattopardo (The Leopard), has been part of the restoration works of The Film Foundation. This means that it will look beautiful, like when it was first screened. Luckily for us, it's playing at the Orpheum Theatre (what a great place to see a film with a renowned ball scene--the lobby and basement always feel like a party scene of another era to me) this Saturday.

If you haven't yet taken part in the Los Angeles Film Festival, this is a great time to, as tickets are still available.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Eat Out. Philippe's before the game.

The Dodger's are back in town today playing the Yankees, and if you want to beat the traffic heading into Chavez Ravine come into town early and spend a few hours before the game at Philippe's, known for their French dip sandwiches.

They have lamb, turkey, pork, ham (is there a difference between pork and ham?), and of course, the traditional beef dips.

Now that tailgating is no longer an option, other pre-game traditions need to be established. I know everyone has their before-the-game-we-go-here place and for everyone I know, that place is Philippe's. Prices here are astonishingly affordable with most plates under $5.

But be warned: vegetarian fare here is limited.

Philippe's is located at 1001 N. Alameda St.

-- Lauren Williams

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Eat Out. Joe Jost's [Thirsty Thursdays!].

The above pictured green blobs covered in pepper and resting in a nest of pencil pretzels are pickled eggs, and Joe Jost's in Long Beach goes through about 10,000 of the seemingly unappetizing eggs each year.

Joe Jost's has the distinction of being Long Beach's oldest standing pub and one of the oldest standing bars west of the Mississippi River (and also, strangely, doubling as a bait-and-tackle shop). It's been up and running for over 80 years, once serving as a drinking hang out for Navy men in the 1940s and now serving all kinds of locals, from cool fixie-riding college students to older salts.

Despite it's age the place is in great shape, and has old barbershop-style chairs in the back, along with traditional pub games.

Sandwiches are very affordable costing about $3-5, but a large mug of beer can be a bit hefty, around $6.

Joe Jost's is located at 2803 Anaheim St.

-- Lauren Williams

Check It. Entourage Season 6 on DVD.

Just in time to get caught up on HBO's Entourage before the new season begins Sunday, the Complete Sixth Season is available on DVD this week.

Entourage has its moments where everything comes together in a way that's funny and cool, but even when it doesn't, it's fun to watch because it captures the Los Angeles of the moment, and that's always worthwhile. From the gang's early days at Urth Caffé, to filming at Hyde Lounge, and of course at Beverly and Robertson where there is both a Starbucks and a Coffee Bean (one of the most "L.A." intersections there are, if you ask me). My Entourage watching has been spotty for the past couple seasons, so I plan to catch up with DVD rentals before Sunday night when I'm looking forward to seeing their latest locations.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: amalgamdigital.com

Check It. Criterion's soon-to-be out-of-print releases.

For a fan, there's nothing more devastating than finding out that a favorite release is going out-of-print. Unless, of course, you find out before it leaves the presses. (Then you become the envy of all the other fans, which hey, is almost half the point.)

So here's your chance, cinefiles: the acclaimed Criterion Collection has given the official heads-up for the titles that it's officially losing its publishing rights to after June 30th, which means you need to act now to grab the remaining copies in these exclusive formats before they sell out forever (and/or their prices shoot off the roof). The list does include some gems--Godard's A Woman is a Woman and the David Bowie-starring The Man Who Fell to Earth--so don't hesitate!

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Scene from A Woman is A Woman, courtesy of the Criterion Collection

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Eat Out. Sunset Strip's Mass Happy Hour.

As if the Sunset Strip wasn't enough of a party as it is, it seems they're kicking off summer in style with a Mass Happy Hour every Wednesday with more than 20 participating locations. In addition to regular happy hours, these locations will be offering their special prices from 5pm-8pm, as well as the exclusive "Sunset Strip" cocktail for $4.

So yes, this means you can get two drinks for the price of one at Borracho Cantina for the extended happy hours of 3pm-8pm and 10pm-midnight, or half-priced drinks and small food plates at the Den from noon-8pm. My picks? There's the ever-popular Saddle Ranch, where you can get half-priced drinks and appetizers from 4:30pm-8pm, or the same offer from 5pm-8pm at The Standard. But for the ultimate, so-Hollywood party, hit up the RH Bar at the Andaz Hotel. It regularly boasts an awesome view of the city, and for happy hour offers free valet parking until 8pm, a DJ set and $6 bar bites, including triple-fried French fries with truffle oil. Oh, and the happy hour goes until midnight on Wednesdays.

Happy hour, indeed. And remember this is only on Wednesdays in the summer, so take advantage--the season will fly by!

-- Chau Tu

Do It. Harold Lloyd shorts.

One of the big three silent film stars Harold Lloyd (of Keaton, Chaplin, and Lloyd) will have a few of his best early works screened at the Cinefamily Silent Movie Theater tonight as part of the theater's Silent Clowns series.

Lloyd is best known for his shock of black hair, goofy round glasses, and that one scene where he hangs from a clock (clip below), and if you haven't yet made it to the Silent Theater (the last in the entire United States of America!) it's worth venturing over. The theater has all kinds of relics from the 1920s film heyday and has piano accompaniment.

Buster Keaton will be rounding off the Wednesday series next week a series of his shorts.

The show starts at 8 p.m. and is $10. The Silent Movie Theater is located at 611 N. Fairfax Ave.

-- Lauren Williams


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Check It. "A Family."

In today's media-drenched society, it can be difficult to be surprised about new releases. But that's where the fun in film festivals lies--amongst all the galas and world premieres and flashy stars (trying to retain their cred in indies), there are those smaller films that are finally getting their chance to shine, and deservedly so. I took in a screening at the L.A. Film Festival sort of on a whim this past Saturday, and ended up seeing one of the best dramas of the year.

Denmark's En Familie (A Family) follows the Rheinwalds, a storied history of whom is told in a charming prologue with cute titles and photographs. They're a baking brood, to understate it; carrying the family's deep responsibilities as official purveyors of bread to Danish royalty, and (in a running gag) as the offspring of the great-grandfather who created the bakery after walking from Germany to Denmark with just a sack of grain over his shoulder.

It's an emotional pressure that comes all too harshly in the present world upon Ditte Rheinwald, the oldest and most adored daughter in the family, the one hand-picked to take over the Rheinwald Bakery. The weakening of her father's health comes all too coincidentally with her big chances in her career and life, and it's not for the better.

With notes of Ingmar Bergman's stark beauty and Noah Baumbach's and Jonathan Demme's familial turmoils, A Family is a gripping and emotional tale. As with any family, there are the highs and lows, the sacrifices and the responsibilities, and this film tunnels you through them all. But with wonderful acting and beautiful cinematography, you can't help but get wrapped up in it. Let this one take you by surprise.

A Family is screening as part of the prestigious Narrative Competition at the LAFF. The next and last showing will be tomorrow, Wed. June 22nd at 4:45pm at the Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live. The LAFF continues until June 27th.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: L.A. Film Festival

Eat In. Sopaipillas.

I really do love squash, and this traditional Chilean fried squash bread is squash at its best. The most comparable U.S. food is funnel cake, except this can be eaten with savory or sweet condiments (the above photo shows sopaipilla with butter and honey).

Chilean mothers will make this if it rains outside, but you can catch anyone walking the streets of Santiago, Chile eating this any time of the year.

What you'll need:

-- Cubed squash, about three to four pieces half the size of your palm.
--Flour, half a small container
--Butter or vegetable shortening (butter makes them richer I'm told)
--Yeast, 1 tablespoon
--Oil for frying

What to do:

1. Boil squash in about one or two cups of water. The cubes should not be totally covered by the water.

2. While the squash is softening, mix flour, yeast, and softened butter/shortening.

3. When the squash is very soft, pour squash and boiling water into mixing bowl.

4. Knead and set aside, allowing the dough to rise.

5. Pour two to three cups of vegetable oil into deep frying pan and allow the oil to get hot.

6. Once the dough has risen, pinch off pieces and flatten with the palms of your hand. Carefully drop the dough into the hot oil. When the pieces are golden brown on all sides, remove from oil and pat dry.

Sopaipillas can be eaten with jam, butter, mustard, pebre (like pico de gallo), ketchup, bascially anything you have in your fridge. I like mine with mustard.

Enjoy!

-- Lauren Williams

Check It. Ben Affleck at L.A. Film Fest.

Last night was the "Conversation with Ben Affleck" event at the Los Angeles Film Festival. It took place in the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live, and began with an introduction from the festival's artistic director, David Ansen, and a montage of clips from Affleck's many films.

Entertainment Weekly's Sean Smith interviewed Affleck about his career, before actor Jeremy Renner joined the two on stage, to discuss The Town--a film opening September 17 that Affleck wrote the screenplay for, directed, and stars in.

I learned--not that it's much of a surprise considering his success--what a strong work ethic Affleck has. Speaking of his early career, he said "I probably worked too much.", and "I always believed in working." He started at eight years old, and today, nearly 30 years later, he's a member of the Hollywood elite, the A-list.

He was funny and charming, and answered all Smith's questions thoughtfully--even his thoughts on the idea that Matt Damon went the Oscar-bait route while Affleck made blockbusters. "I would have done Saving Private Ryan if it was offered to me." he said, sort of laughing it off, then asking the audience in a joke why we're not all working with Spielberg. He says he doesn't worry about Damon's career anymore than he worries about Nicholson's.

Directing doesn't come easy to Affleck, he said he has to do a lot of work to prepare, and was scared every day on The Town. The film is based on the book Prince of Thieves, but the film couldn't be named that, because of its use in the 1991 Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie, another funny point of the evening when that was brought up.

Renner and Affleck got along well, and mainly just complimented each other a whole lot. Renner cracked a few jokes himself, saying that when he went to maximum security prison Walpole with Affleck for research (his character in The Town is meant to have spent nine years there) he went "by choice!".

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: the BEAT

Monday, June 21, 2010

Advance Notice. Chopin marathon.

This year has marked Frederic Chopin's 200th birthday and there have been celebrations worldwide (mainly in February-March when the composer "turned" 200.)

However, incase you missed the festivities LACMA is joining up with USC's excellent music department to put together a Chopin marathon this Sunday for free. If you're not entirely familiar with any of Chopin's nocturnes or moving piano solos,

The show begins at 6 p.m. at LACMA's Bing Theater.

LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd.

-- Lauren Williams

Check It. Snoop Dogg's "Oh Sookie" music video [The Monday Download].

Already off to a strong start in the summer TV season is none other than True Blood, the modern vampire story actually worth your time. The season 3 premiere last Sunday boasted a 40% increase in ratings, and you can bet Snoop Dogg was watching.

Yes, Snoop Dogg. The d-o-double-g already name-checked his vampire loyalties in the earlier radio hit "Gangsta Luv"--"It's like True Blood/I sink my teeth in"--but now he's going all out in his fangbanger love. Check out this inescapably hilarious ode to True Blood damsel Sookie Stackhouse, and keep your ears tuned for the Tara shout-out.

-- Chau Tu

Check It. Kate Spade's literary clutches.

Kate Spade always has the best print ads, but it was a blurb on an editorial page of the July issue of In Style magazine that caught my eye. Coming in August, Spade will release these clutches, one at a time, styled as classic novels. So cool.

It has been pointed out by some fashion followers online that designer Olympia Le-Tan already has a similar line, which I have to admit, is pretty nice too.

Kate Spade "Book of the Month" clutch, $325, (800) 519-3778.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: stylehop.com

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Do It. Taschen sale.

Today and tomorrow Taschen is holding a Warehouse Sale, "thousands of slightly damaged and display copies from Taschen on sale at bargain basement prices, 50% - 75% off".

Sounds like an amazing sale. Taschen books are great for gifts, but not so much if they're bashed up, so this sale is a nice excuse for some "me" shopping.

at Taschen Store Beverly Hills and Taschen Store Hollywood (Farmers Market)

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: dezeen.com

Friday, June 18, 2010

Check It. Laker gear.

They won!! Now let's buy some awesome gear. The hat pictured above is the official "Locker Room" hat--worn on court by the team right after last night's victory over the Celtics.

There are plenty of Lakers/2010 Champions clothing options, including T-Shirts and sweatbands, even socks! The timing of their big win is perfect for Father's Day if your dad is a fan, although ordering online might be risky (and shipping expensive), so I suggest finding this stuff in-store if you want it by Sunday. Adidas stores, shops in the mall like Lids and even kiosks should be well-stocked with 2010 Champions items throughout the weekend.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: footballfanatics.com


Advance Notice. Derby tourney.

Long Beach's roller derby leagues the Bixby Rollerettes are going head-to-head with The Terminal Island Tootsies next Friday at the Long Beach's Queen Mary Dome, and these women losing it on the rink is sure to be a sight.

The popularity of roller derby in the past few years has mushroomed with tons of women joining leagues across the country. Even a major motion picture has recently been made about the booming sport, (Whip It! with Drew Barrymore and Juno's Ellen Page -- trailer below).

The event also includes a live band. Presale tickets are $16; $20 at the door.

The Queen Mary Dome is located at 1126 Queens Highway. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Friday June 25.

-- Lauren Williams

Advance Notice. Local Natives at the Fonda.

I know I've already raved about Local Natives enough, so I'll try not to repeat myself, but really--it's time to jump on the bandwagon. The local band put on a breathtakingly energetic and passionate earlier this month at the Troubadour, living up to the hype and expectations better than anyone could have imagined. The harmonies soared, the drums rumbled in everyone's hearts, and you could just see in their eyes how in awe they were of the audience as the audience was with them. I don't know if they'll still be setting up their own instruments during soundcheck come September, but it's sure to be an amazing show nonetheless. Don't miss out this time--trust me, you'll regret it.

Local Natives will be playing the Music Box at the Fonda on Sept. 17. Tickets go on sale today at 10am, and it will sell out quickly.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Local Natives

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Eat In. Summer brews [Thirsty Thursdays!].

If there's ever a time for a refreshing beer, it's summer, and what better way to celebrate than with a seasonal ale from our favorite craft beer breweries. Often only available for the few summer months, and boasting light, invigorating flavors, summer brews are definitely a fun way to spice up your drinking routine. And they usually have some clever names, too--how summer-like. Here's a short list of some of my favorite summer beers:

- Blue Moon's Honey Moon Summer Ale: definitely a player in the cute name game. But so appropriate too--the ale has clover honey that sweetens up the Moon's signature citrus taste (there's some orange peel in this one). Available May through August.

- Sierra Nevada's Summerfest: this one's a lager, and has some extra hop bite to it. They use floral in the description, which I thought was funny at first, but there's really no other way to describe it.

- Samuel Adams Summer Ale: this ale definitely has some tanginess to it, with a strong aroma of lemon. Apparently they use something called "Grains of Paradise," or the Melegueta pepper, which is probably what gives it some bite. Available April through August.

- Pyramid's Audacious Apricot Ale: so this one isn't technically a summer ale because it's available year-round (and apparently there is an actual Pyramid summer brew, but I've never tried it), but the sweetness of this beer makes it a perfect hot-weather treat. Plus, 'Audacious'--come on!

Happy summer drinking! And if you know of any other summer brews worth trying, comment below--we'd love to hear from you!

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Samuel Adams

Check It. Bret Easton Ellis event.

Largo put on a really nice celebration of Bret Easton Ellis' work last night. It was a sold out event with special guests that included James Van Der Beek (who hosted), Jerry Stahl, and Joel McHale. They read excerpts from Ellis' previous novels, before the author himself came on stage to read from Imperial Bedrooms, which came out Tuesday.

Van Der Beek, who played Sean Bateman in the film interpretation of The Rules of Attraction, interviewed Ellis with a mixture of funny and serious questions, some of which came from Twitter. Apparently a journalist got Ellis to join the Twitterverse when she was assigned to write a story on him when the film The Informers was coming out, which most everyone agreed didn't work. Rather than write about the author and the film, she changed the piece to his joining Twitter, which he was more than happy about. Now he says he 'tweets' about favorite films and books--stuff he wants to recommend to the world (or, the part of the world that follows him on Twitter), not about what his favorite Starbucks location is.

In the audience q&a session, Ellis shared that his early inspirations were Hemingway and Joan Didion, and one of his favorite books is Gustave Flaubert's Sentimental Education.

And then there was a signing (see above).

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: the BEAT



Eat Out. Beard Papa's.

These giant, flaky cream puff pastries are absolutely wonderful. I've actually heard a coworker once describe them as "life changing". Although I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that I'm a different person because I've eaten Beard Papa's cream puffs, they are quite tasty.

Much bigger then the profiteroles one can buy at Trader Joe's, these pastries are just a bit crunchy on the outside and have soft flaky bread and a wonderful cream on the inside. The inner cream comes in seven different flavors: original vanilla, coffee, chocolate, strawberry, pumpkin, earl gray tea, and green tea. Vanilla puffs are the classic.

Beard Papa's is hard to miss with its logo as a bearded man in a yellow hat with a pipe.

Beard Papa's has seven locations around Southern California, and several around the country and even a few abroad.

-- Lauren Williams

Photo credit: Beard Papa's website.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Do It. Make Music Pasadena.

Don't you love it when certain songs or albums just transport you back to a specific memory, no matter how long ago that was, or how many times you've listened to them? For me, re-listening to Matt and Kim's Grand will always take me back to last summer, on my lone commutes into downtown. It was summer, I had my first post-grad job, and all I wanted was to be young and free out in the sunshine. And "Daylight" just got me through that treacherous 110 traffic.

Which makes it seem all too appropriate to me that Matt and Kim will be headlining this year's Make Music Pasadena music fest, right on the verge of summer. They were amazing at Coachella this year, and will surely thrive again in this outdoors environment. The FREE event will be taking place this Saturday right in the heart of downtown Pasadena, and will also feature up-and-coming bands like The Antlers, Warpaint and The Growlers. Definitely a great excuse to breach the 110 again.

Make Music Pasadena will be taking place in various venues all over downtown Pasadena, from 11am-11pm on Saturday, June 19. Check their Facebook for the best information, although the full line-up with set times is available on their otherwise info-less main site.

-- Chau Tu

Eat Out. Queso.

Going out for Mexican food is one of my favorite activities. From tortilla chips to various salsas and guacamole, and entree combinations of all kinds, I feel like I know a fair amount about the cuisine, at least how it's served in the United States anyway. Until I had Mexican food in Nashville, where a delicious cheese dip, "queso", is as common as guacamole.

While it must be entirely unhealthy, it's also creamy, cheesy, spicy, and all-around delicious. Now try to find it out on the West Coast. There are Chowhound threads dedicated to this problem. It's nearly impossible, but was achieved this weekend at El Segundo's Cozymels. The small chain has locations sprinkling the map fairly evenly, and fortunately doesn't reserve the queso only for Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee.

There are plenty of recipes for making queso at home, and you might even be familiar with the Tostitos jar of it (which actually isn't half bad), but the experience of having it out, with a full Mexican meal, is pretty nice.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: rssmemphis.com

Do It. Hike Runyon.

This spot is really a perfect hiking area for those who aren't exactly seasoned hikers. Right now is the perfect time of year to go for a hike through runyon. It's cool, but sunny and this place is super dog friendly; one of the few places you can let your dog off the leash.

Runyon gets a lot of flack from the hardcore hiking crowd because it's kind of posh. It's right off Laurel Canyon Drive, and is a regular spot for celebrity sightings. ... and it's surrounded by gigantic homes.

But the view of LA from these trails is beyond comparison, and it's light enough to do very casually on a Sunday afternoon since it's only three miles. But the eucalyptus, small brooks, and the rope swings (when they're up) make for an excellent hike.

Get there before 10:30 a.m. though, otherwise it fills up pretty fast.

-- Lauren Williams

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Eat Out. Abbot Kinney Pizza Co.

There is definitely an LA way to do gourmet pizza, and Abbot Kinney Pizza Co. has mastered it. With nearly ten different vegetarian options and the same number of fancy meaty pizzas, this place is not for the indecisive.

Some highlights are the wild mushroom pizza which comes with four delicious fungi in a variety of cheeses, and another of my favorites the garden pizza, which marries two wonderful partners: salad and pizza.

All the crusts are bagel-like, very dense and occasionally coated with sesame or poppy seeds. Slices are in the $5-$7 range.

Abbot Kinney Pizza Co. is located at 1407 Abbot Kinney Blvd.

-- Lauren Williams

Photo credit: Abbot Kinney online.

Eat Out. ESPN World Cup Match Truck.

Well surprise, surprise: L.A. has been hit with yet another food truck. This one, however, sure has some hype going with it--not only is it being sponsored by ESPN in honor of the World Cup, but it also happens to be backed by food truck godfather Roy Choi (of Kogi fame). Talk about an unbeatable matchup!

So what's the final score? Our special foodie correspondent was out on the field for a preview tasting, and tells us that overall, everything was pretty tasty, adding extra flair to 'worldly' fare. She tipped that the lamb gyros are the way to go--"easily the best of the three items sampled." She also liked the Kogi-popular sliders, which I've tasted before and absolutely loved (they use sweet Hawaiian rolls!). Check out more of her review here, and the rest of the menu on Grub Street.

And while you're picking up your worldly food, the truck will be conveniently screening all the World Cup matches live in HD. You'll practically have the world in your hands! (ha) See the full schedule here (it corresponds to the matches, so be ready to get up early!).

NB: For more food truck action today, hit up Americana at Brand tonight at 6pm for another edition of Street Feast, featuring the Grilled Cheese Truck, Coolhaus (who's giving out FREE ice cream sandwiches all week!) and more. Happy eating!

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Tovan Tran; clockwise from top: lamb gyro, sliders, and carne asada burrito

Do It. Mary McNamara at Book Soup.

Los Angeles Times television critic Mary McNamara (and author of Oscar Season) will be at Book Soup tonight at 7:00 p.m., presenting and signing her new book, The Starlet.

The 320 page paperback sounds like a fun book to bring to the beach, if you like reading about the drama of young Hollywood. The longtime Times staffer is a talented writer who's sure to bring a level of quality to the subject matter of affairs on set, murder, and drug addiction. There's some Oscar winning in there too, for good measure. Publishers Weekly called it a "seriocomic romp".

Book Soup is located at 8818 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: Simon & Schuster


Monday, June 14, 2010

Do It. A new suit.

Shopping isn't usually of my favorite activities, and swimsuit shopping can be excruciating. Checking the material, the make, the cut can be exhausting. That, and so many stores have only one style with the least amount of material they can get away with.

But I do love the chain Diane's Beachwear, which have 18 locations all over Southern California. They have tons of designs, cuts, and labels, and their prices also vary accordingly.

At the beginning of the season if I go out looking for new swimwear, Diane's will have something that suits me.

Diane's Beachwear has locations in Manhattan Beach, Long Beach, Newport Beach, Calabasas, Huntington Beach, and Santa Monica. Check their website for the closest location.

-- Lauren Williams

Check It. Youth in Revolt on DVD.

Yes, we told you about Youth in Revolt back in January, and even about the band the Fruit Bats who are featured on the soundtrack. If you didn't listen then (or just didn't want to invest theater money), please at least rent this now.

It's available on DVD tomorrow, and I highly recommend it for some laughs. If you did see it in the theater, it's just as good the second time 'round. (I got my hands on an early copy over the weekend.) Michael Cera is at his best in two roles, Nick Twisp and Francois Dillinger. His newcomer co-star Portia Doubleday holds her own on the big screen among a cast of stars including Justin Long, Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta, and Zach Galifianakis (who is hilarious as Nick Twisp's mother's deadbeat boyfriend).

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: filmofilia

Check It. NPR Music's streams from Bonnaroo 2010 [The Monday Download].

Privileged enough to be able to listen to whatever I want as I work during the day, I have become a huge fan of NPR Music. They may not exactly be the tastemakers the Washington Post recently made them out to be, but by curating their content to feature great artists and offer awesome coverage like that of SXSW, they're the tops!

And they'll be a true savior this week with their archived coverage of Bonnaroo, which took place this past weekend in Manchester in Tennessee. With all the World Cup and NBA Finals craziness going on, you probably missed out on hearing about the manic, performance-packed musical fest, but now's your chance to catch up. NPR Music is streaming more than 30 performances on their website right now, with sets from artists like She & Him to Dave Matthews Band.

And beyond that, you can listen to an 11-song sampler of Bonnaroo artists compiled before the fest, in case you don't know which sets you'd like to listen to (but why not just listen to them all?). And while you're on the site, you may as well catch this awesome Tiny Desk Concert featuring Phoenix--short, sweet and absolutely gorgeous.

Happy listening, and thanks as always, NPR!

-- Chau Tu

Image credit: NPR

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Check It. World Cup 2010 - USA vs. England.

The game we've all been waiting for is today - USA vs. England in the World Cup. Kickoff is 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time, but the program will begin at 10:30 a.m. on ABC (7 in Los Angeles).

Celebrate with food and drink from the country you're going for--or a bit of both. English Breakfast tea or Starbucks coffee (hey, it's before noon), and maybe an English breakfast or a pancake breakfast.

While it seems like England is probably better at soccer/"football" than the U.S., I have some hope we can win--or at least play a good game.

Photo credit: shine2010.co.za

Friday, June 11, 2010

Do It. Saturdays Off the 405 at the Getty.

It's crazy thinking that even though the museums in L.A. are amazing enough as they are, they still offer great, fun and often-free entertainment on top of the usual exhibitions. And as the Natural History Museum ends its getting-better-each-year First Fridays 2010 season, everyone just has to look westward to keep their weekends rocking.

That's because this Saturday, the Getty hosts the latest installment in its own cool-concert offering: Saturdays Off the 405. A surprising choice of artist for a museum setting, Les Savy Fav, kicked off the series last month (if anyone attended, please comment, I'm curious), but this month's pick is sure to please museum goers of all types; who can resist the charms of Mayer Hawthorne and the County, after all? If you've been paying attention, I picked the Detroit transplant as a must-see at Coachella, and boy, they did not disappoint. With style and swagger, Hawthorne got the hot crowd grooving, and you couldn't help but grin your way through his cover of ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky." So what could be more perfect as you gaze your way out onto the California horizon from the Getty gardens?

And beyond that, there'll be a DJ, "Spotlight After Dark" tours of the museum, and food and drink (Getty-tinis?!).

Saturdays Off the 405 begins at 6pm on Saturday, is free (the usual $15 parking is also free after 5pm), and is located at the Getty at 1200 Getty Dr. in Brentwood. The series continues for the rest of the summer, check the website for more details.

-- Chau Tu

Advance Notice. Mad Men Season 4.

Well, summer is certainly not all about reruns. True Blood this week, and Season 4 of Mad Men coming to AMC on Sunday July 25 at 10:00 p.m. If you've been missing Don and Betty, Joan, Roger, or even Peggy Olson and Pete Campbell, there's not too much longer to wait.

In the meantime you can collect some cool vintage clothes and/or accessories and get your home bar ready to concoct some Manhattans. Or if you, like me, haven't entirely kept up with Seasons 2 and 3, you can catch up on DVD before Season 4 airs.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: amctv.com

Check It. True Blood Season 3.

This Sunday the super racy "True Blood" is coming back in it's third season, and I'll admit, I'm pretty excited. This season they're introducing werewolves, which Stephenie Meyer has taught us are a vampires biggest enemy.

I'm not so into the vampire aspect, as I am the characters (Lafayette is great), but I do like the show. I started watching "True Blood" with a few friends after learning that we lived across the street from "Fangtasia," which is actually a very cool punk bar in Long Beach.

If you aren't all caught up with the show, the first two seasons are online for free.

-- Lauren Williams

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Eat In. Lakers cocktail [Thirsty Thursdays!].

The Lakers will still be in Boston tonight, fighting to bring us home the ring, and here's how you can celebrate in style:

Morton's Purple & Yellow Cocktail

2 oz Absolut 100 Vodka
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Orange Juice
Splash of sweet & sour
Splash of Rose's Lime Juice

Combine all ingredients into a martini shaker, shake all ingredients until chilled, and pour into a chilled martini glass. Then, carefully pour .5 oz of Chambord into the filled martini glass so that it settles at the bottom. Garnish with a skewered purple grape through orange wedge.

Or, if you're lazy, just head over to any Morton's to have a fancy bartender fix it up for you. Beat Boston!

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Morton's

Check It. The Madonnas of Echo Park.

Books about L.A. are always interesting to read, because you know the landscape. In the case of The Madonnas of Echo Park, a time and a section of Los Angeles is being discussed that is a lot less familiar than the oft-documented Sunset Strip or Beverly Hills. As an Eastside resident for coming up on a year now, I picked up the novel to glimpse into a world I live very close to, but still don't know a whole lot about.

This is the life of illegal immigrants, people we rely on but overlook as actual members of the Los Angeles community. I've only just started the book, and from what I can tell it won't be as gritty and sad/depressing as El Norte, but powerful nonetheless. Set in the prime of Madonna's (yes, that Madonna) heyday, a group of young Latinas idolize her just as the rest of the young girls in the world did. MTV and pop culture is very important to the kids in this book, which creates a common ground for any reader who's been a schoolgirl or boy.

Author Brando Skyhorse will be signing the book at Vroman's in Pasadena on Tuesday June 15 at 7:00 p.m.

Vroman's Bookstore is located at 695 E. Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: books.simonandschuster.com

Do It. Visit the Arboretum.

The Arboretum in Arcadia is one of maybe two places in Los Angeles county you can see peafowl running loose, walking side-by-side with humans. (The other is Palos Verdes, but I don't think they're as prominent there).

I love trees and plants in general, and the Arboretum is like a giant park filled with diverse plants and a peacocks running wild.

This is another one of those activities that make for a perfect lazy Sunday afternoon. Go out to Arcadia, walk around the arboretum. And admission is pretty reasonable at $8/person.

The Arcadia Arboretum is located at 301 N. Baldwin Ave.

-- Lauren Williams

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Eat Out. Louks truck.

The oh-so-popular food trucks in L.A. are kind of hit-and-miss. While Kogi and the Grilled Cheese truck are consistently good, others are unsure bets. I had the Gourmet Greek lunch truck Louks for the first time yesterday, after hearing good things, and it definitely lived up to its rumored goodness.

The veggie gyro was fresh, hearty and delicious. Packed with lettuce, cucumber, tomato, feta, french fries, and falafel (an optional ingredient that adds $1 to the reasonable $4 lunch), it was really satisfying. Served on warm flavorful bread, it really couldn't have been better. What was also nice--it came in a little bag with two quality napkins, a fork, a Louks business card, and a magnet.

I also got a drink, which was $2, so my total for a really great lunch was $7, but could have only been $5 if I'd brought my own beverage. They have a nice selection of Izze, Orangina, sodas, and water, so if you're thirsty, they're certainly well equipped in that department.

When you see this truck, get in line!

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: the BEAT

Eat Out. Native Foods Cafe.

It's hard to find something that is equal parts healthy and delicious. Usually there's some kind of compromise, either a little less tasty to be "Heart Smart" or cooked in tons of butter and oil.

Native Foods Cafe in Westwood (and all over Southern California, actually) doesn't make this compromise. It's amazingly tasty and creative all-vegetarian cuisine is wonderful and even appeals to the skeptical-of-vegetarian-food crowd. I've taken quite a few non-veggie (or even anti-veggie) friends here and they've loved it.

The food ranges from "traditional" Southern dishes, like the Soul Bowl with "jazzman rice," to healthy Mexican, Moroccan, and Greek and all dishes are in the under-$10 range.

And if you haven't gotten your fill from dinner, nearby Diddy Riese is only a few blocks away, still serving up $1 ice cream sandwiches, with cookies of your choosing.

Native Foods is located at 1110 1/2 Gayley Ave. and are open 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

-- Lauren Williams

Photo credit: Yelp!

Do It. Joan Rivers at the Arclight.

Say what you will about Joan Rivers--but the lady's got charisma, and enough to give her a household-name career nearly half-a-century long (am I the only one surprised by the fact that she's actually 77 years old?! Do I even dare to say she looks..good?). But what's really behind that infamously plastic face?

The new documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work hopes to reveal a different Rivers, taking a look at the struggles and complications that come with being a groundbreaking female comedian, and how Rivers' personal choices in beauty and health work in an entertainment industry known for preferring youth. It's an interesting story to be sure, and you can get even more insight when Rivers participates in a special Q&A for the Friday 7:30pm premiere at the Arclight. Tickets are now available.

The Arclight Hollywood is located at 6360 W. Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood.

-- Chau Tu

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Check It. Shutter Island on DVD.

Scorsese. DiCaprio. Ruffalo. Kingsley. There is some big (an understatement) talent in 'Shutter Island', all working on a story written by the man--Dennis Lehane--also behind 'Mystic River' and 'Gone, Baby, Gone'.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives an amazing performance as US Marshal Teddy Daniels, Ruffalo is a perfect sidekick, and Ben Kingsley plays the bad guy eerily well.

I saw this in the theater, but will watch it again at home. While I wasn't crazy about the ending (which I obviously won't reveal here), it doesn't make the whole movie a bust, because it was thoroughly entertaining the whole way through.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: filmofilia.com

Eat Out. Grace.

Restaurants come and go (and sometimes even come back again!), but having a favorite L.A. spot move locations, only to be replaced by another favorite L.A. spot--that's pretty unheard of. But apparently, that's what's happening as Neal Fraser's Grace moves downtown into the Vibiana Cathedral on 2nd and Main, and John Sedlar opens up a second branch of his acclaimed Rivera into Grace's former Beverly Blvd. space.

Overall, it's good news: not only will L.A. have another great restaurant to add to the list, but Grace also just happens to be honoring the move with some cool specials before closing up shop for its last night of service on June 19.

As of right now, you have one more chance to catch Sundays' Burger Night, where you can have their delectable burgers (you can even opt-in for gruyere or truffle cheese, $18 and $21, respectively) paired with fun-sounding milkshakes like Caramel Tequila, Chocolate Brownie, Vanilla Malt and Dreamsicle ($6 each). But if you're not down for a milkshake, opt for a bottle of wine, especially since the restaurant is offering half-off select bottles until closing night.

But my pick for your last Grace on Beverly Blvd. dance? Doughnut Shoppe. This special night usually takes place on Wednesdays (two more chances!), and is sure to continue over in the new space, but you have got to taste these suckers right now. Everyone loves Krispy Kremes fresh off the rolling ramp, or even the more tough dough versions at Winchell's, but Grace's are surely something to be experienced: soft, buttery, melt-on-your-tongue good, with creative and not-overwhelming flavors. Definitely an L.A. specialty.

Sure, Grace is just moving locations and will be in L.A. all the same, but we'll still miss you on Beverly Blvd.! May your doughnuts stay fluffy as you hit downtown.

Grace is located at 7360 Beverly Blvd. in Mid-City, until June 19.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: The doughnuts! Courtesy of Tovan Tran

Advance Notice. Melrose Trading Post.

The Melrose Trading Post is the place where you can find all sorts of cool things and do some interesting people watching on a Sunday in LA.

I love to check out old antique-y things and imagine the people who first owned something, and there are tons of vintage gadgets and posters as well as some pretty cool (but definitely overpriced) clothes.

Admission is $2 per person ($1 for seniors and students) or free with an LA Weekly coupon that comes out every week.

The Melrose Trading Post is held in the parking lot to Fairfax High, at 7850 Fairfax Ave.

-- Lauren Williams